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A Wind of Change(A Shade of Vampire,Book 17)(9) by Bella Forrest

“Dafne’s mature for her age,” I said. “It might be time to just tell her the truth.”

Tears burned in my mother’s eyes. But she swallowed hard and held them back. “Next time she asks, I’ll tell her.” She breathed in deeply. “So, are you looking forward to going to Grandpa’s?”

“Yeah. I mean it will just be like always. It’s nice to have a break there, but… Mom, I’m so worried about how you will cope here all alone with Jamil.”

“Don’t think of me,” she said. “You just go and enjoy yourself. I’ll manage.”

I snuggled closer on the couch, resting my head against her shoulder. I doubted I’d be able to pass more than an hour without worrying about her here in this apartment.

She wrapped an arm around me and pulled me closer, brushing my forehead with her other hand. We remained silent in each other’s company for a couple of minutes before she reached for the remote and switched on the TV.

She began flipping through the channels, and stopped at a news channel.

“They’re still talking about these kidnappings,” she said. “I just can’t believe on some channels they’re bouncing around words like ‘vampires’ and ‘witches’… I mean, I’m talking about respectable newscasters here. They’re supposed to be delivering news, not spreading hoaxes. The footage they’re showing seems realistic—but so do sci-fi movies these days. It’s nothing a skilled special-effects team couldn’t pull off.”

“That footage of the attack in Chile,” I said. “You can actually see the man ripping into the person’s throat… And what about that dragon footage shot in California? Why would someone want to create an elaborate hoax like this? And what do you think is the cause of these attacks and kidnappings? What about all the missing people, and the witnesses?”

“I have no clue. I was hoping one of these news channels could finally shine some light rather than continue to spout this recycled crap… Seems I hoped for too much.”

“They even closed the schools along the West Coast,” I muttered.

“Well, some dreadful organized crime is clearly going on here. Whoever’s behind this seems to be having fun leaving this media frenzy after them to cover their tracks.”

I’d never witnessed such bizarre theories being broadcast around mainstream media. This was the type of thing you’d read about on sketchy conspiracy blogs. Of course, my mother was right. These media conglomerates were just spinning this story to get more views and sell more papers.

Witches didn’t exist.

And vampires certainly didn’t.

Chapter 3: River

The next few days passed quickly until our trip. Before we knew it, it was the night before and my sisters and I were finishing our packing.

I was kneeling in the bedroom I shared with Dafne and Lalia, making sure my purse contained all the important documents we needed—all three of our passports and other travel documents. My mother would come with us in a taxi to drop us off at the airport, and our grandfather would be waiting at the other end to pick us up. I’d made this journey several times before with my mother, and was used to it. Besides, the airport staff was always helpful if I wasn’t sure where to go with my sisters.

“You should put Lalia’s inhaler in your bag,” my mother called from the hallway.

Lalia’s asthma was better than it had been a few years ago, but there were still occasions when she needed her inhaler.

My little sister was lounging on her bed, humming an off-tune song to herself as she busied herself with a coloring book.

“Laly, where’s your inhaler?” I asked.

“I dunno,” she mumbled, making no motion to get up and look for it.

I guessed my mother had put it in the bathroom cupboard. I was right. Pulling it out, I placed it in my backpack.

We went to bed early that night because we were due to leave at 4am the following morning. The three of us woke up to my shrill alarm going off. Stumbling out of bed, we crowded into the bathroom. Lalia was falling asleep standing up, her toothbrush hanging lopsided in her mouth. I grabbed a washcloth and wet it with cold water, brushing it over her face to wake her up.

We took turns taking a shower and getting dressed. My mother was already in the kitchen, making sandwiches for us to take to the airport.

Once the taxi driver called up to say that he had arrived, I bundled out of the apartment with my two sisters and our luggage, while my mother made her way down after us with Jamil strapped into his wheelchair. I took the stairs while the rest of them took their chances with the elevator.

Arriving on the ground floor, we stepped outside and piled into the car. As it drove away, I couldn’t help but feel excitement for the journey. Although I wished that my mother and Jamil could come with us, I couldn’t deny that I would enjoy getting out of the neighborhood for a while.

Once we had arrived at the airport, my mother and Jamil stayed with us as long as they could until we got in line for the security checks. Then we kissed and said goodbye before my sisters and I passed through the barrier into departures.

We kept waving until my mother was out of sight. I looked down at my two sisters. Lalia was wide-eyed and looking around at the shops surrounding us in the departure lounge, clutching my forefinger in her pudgy hand. Dafne was looking up at me expectantly.

“What now?” she asked.

I took her hand too, holding both of my sisters close to me, and checked the departures board.