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As the House came closer Diggory slowed. Emmett glanced at him, before turning his attention back to the woman they were mostly carrying between them. Even though Diggory had the strength to carry her alone it was better that he didn’t, because the wound was enough for him to want to feed from her, and after all the hard work they’d done neither of them really wanted him to do something he would later regret. “We made this decision together.”

“Yeah, we did.” Diggory sighed. “I thought I could do this.”

“What’s stopping you?”

“I’m not one of them.”

“How can you know that when you’ve never met any of them before?” Somehow they were still moving, although they were going very slowly. “I’ve heard good things about the House, and you’re going to need someone to keep you strong, when I’m gone.”

“Emmett…”

“No, Diggory, I’m not going to let you change me. We’ve had that conversation.”

“That doesn’t mean you won’t say yes later on, and by then it might be too late.”

Once again Emmett glanced at Diggory. They’d been through so much together it was easy to understand why Diggory would find it hard to say goodbye. “I’m not going to change my mind.”

“You don’t know that.”

“I do know that.” Emmett smiled. “I’ve never felt the urge to be immortal, my friend, and I’m glad I’ll have a chance to see what comes next.”

“What if nothing comes next?”

“Then I doubt I’m going to know about it.”

“How can you be so calm? Not knowing…” Diggory shook his head. “That’s the worst part, to me.”

“Not knowing is simply a part of life.” Their eyes met for a moment. “Now, I need you to make a decision. Are you going to come with me to the Donor House?”

For a long time Diggory was silent. They kept moving, at that snail’s pace they’d been going for several minutes, before he nodded. “I want to. I want to understand more about what it is, and get to know the vampires there. Maybe they are the sort of people who can accept me for who I am.” He shrugged. “If they are then there’s nothing I can do about it. I can’t change who I was.”

“You’re a good person.”

“Now, maybe, but then… well, you know what I was like.” With Diggory’s decision made they started moving a little faster. The woman between them, even though she was weak, seemed to smile at the young vampire. “I know I’m not that person any longer. They have no way of being certain of that, and maybe they’re going to want to protect the donors by asking me to leave.” He glanced at the woman. “I’m still not strong enough to be around Abby with her wound.”

“Yet you were strong enough to help me get her here, in the hope the people here will be able to help her.”

Abby laughed. “No one’s going to be able to help me now.” She looked at Diggory. “I’d be better off dead, or a vampire.”

“Don’t say that.” Emmett shook his head. “I’ve heard good things about the vampires in the House, and what they’ve been able to do with the addicts who have found their way to them.”

“Why didn’t you just leave me?”

“Everyone deserves a chance to lead as normal a life as they can. I helped Diggory to find the balance he needed, because I believe it was possible he could walk a different path, even though it took me a very long time to convince him that was the case. You, if you’re willing to put the effort in, are more than capable of finding a way through this, and that’s why we’re doing this.”

Abby shook her head. “It isn’t going to work. It can’t work. I am what I am, priest, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

“No, there’s not, which is why I made the decision the House was the best place for you.” The steps up to the door were easier than Emmett thought they would be, and that was when he realised Diggory had taken most of Abby’s weight, doing his best to ignore how much he wanted to feed from her. It would be easy enough. She had thrown herself at him before, only to be turned down. Finding her again, even in the state she was in, was pure luck. Back then she’d wanted to go to the House, but as time passed and the urge returned she’d done more to convince Diggory to feed from her. “We’re here.”

Waiting might not have been the best choice, but Emmett knew the final decision needed to be Diggory’s. After a moment the vampire reached out with his free hand, and pushed the door open, which was enough for Emmett. Getting Abby through the door wasn’t an easy task. By the time they’d managed it there were four people standing in the reception. Diggory’s silence was enough to tell Emmett he needed to be the one to speak with those four people, certain that one of them was Alice, because he’d spent a lot of time learning about the House before he’d even thought about trying to convince Diggory it was a good idea.

“Abby’s an addict who need help from you. We brought her here because I thought it was her best chance of having a better life than the one she would have had out there.”

Laughing again, Abby shook her head. “You can’t help me. No one can help me.”

One of the four people stepped forward. As he opened his mouth to speak Emmett was able to see the fangs, so he was obviously a vampire. “We can help you. If Caleb can get to the point where he’s almost living a normal life then anyone can.” The vampire gently took one of Abby’s arms. “What happened to you?”

“I found a vampire who was willing to feed from me, and he took too much. He left me, on the ground, and if it hadn’t been for Emmett I would still be there now.”

Nodding, the vampire looked up at the two men. “You’re Emmett, right?” He was looking right into Emmett’s eyes. “We haven’t had a priest visit before.”

“Yes, I am.” Emmett smiled. “I’ve been looking forward to this for a while.” He glanced at Abby. “She was okay for about four hours, but ever since then all she’s wanted is blood. Being weak means she hasn’t been able to react in the way I think she normally would when she was in this sort of situation.”

“That happens, unfortunately.” The female vampire stepped forward. “If you’ve been looking forward to this for a while I think you already know who I am.”

“Alice, the heart of the House.”

She made a face. “I really wish Nick hadn’t put that on the website.”

“Why? It’s true.” The male vampire, still holding Abby’s arm, laughed at Alice. “Without you the House would never have worked as well as it has.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Yeah, I do.” He shook his head. “Okay, we know Emmett, the human priest, but who is your vampire companion?”

Diggory was silent still, and Emmett took a step closer. “It’s going to be fine.” Their eyes met for a moment, before Emmett turned back to Alice, to see her looking between the two of them in such a way it was obvious she was trying to work out the relationship between them. “Diggory and I met about three years ago, when he was feeding off a young woman in my church. I chased him out. He seemed to think that was some sort of challenge, and, as time passed, we found ourselves getting to know each other.”

“It’s been a year now, since I fed from someone unwilling.” Diggory’s voice was little more than a whisper. “I’m trying to be better, but there are days when it’s harder than others, and sometimes I’m not as strong as I want to be.”

Alice and the male vampire shared a look. “Did you feed from Abby?” The male vampire turned to Diggory. “Either when she was throwing herself at you, or when she was weak.”

“He pushed me away.” Abby sounded more angry than anything right then. “I tried to get him to feed from me, and he told me no. He told me he wasn’t going to feed from someone who couldn’t truly make that decision.” The anger faded as quickly as it came. “He’s helped me, like Emmett. I owe them both my life, and I kinda hate them for it.”

“That’s normal.” The male vampire smiled at Abby. “You’re going to have moments like that. Time will pass and this will get easier.”

Slowly, her eyes on Diggory, Alice stepped forward. “We have vampires here who embraced what they were. They’ve changed, for multiple different reasons, and, for now, you’re welcome here. I want you to know you’re on probation. That means I’m going to be watching you closely, but I have no reason to think you’re not going to fit in here.”

As Diggory looked up Emmett studied him. The young vampire, so certain he wasn’t going to be welcome, had prepared himself for being kicked out. What he hadn’t prepared himself for, because he didn’t believe it was possible, was someone else being willing to give him a chance. “I…” He shook his head. “Are you sure?”

“You helped to bring an addict to us. One you wouldn’t feed from. That’s a good sign.” Alice took his arm, smiling. “You also have a priest vouching for you, so I can’t help thinking there’s some good in you.”

Emmett smiled, doing his best to hide his own relief, but he was certain the male vampire saw it. “You’re both welcome here, Emmett. Do you have a place to stay for tonight?”

“Had it not been for Abby I would have had a chance to prepare. Unfortunately she was a surprise, and I thought it was best to get her here as quickly as possible.”

“You made the right choice. We can find somewhere for you. I take it the two of you would prefer to stay together, at least for now.”

Nodding, Emmett mentally thanked God for how well things had worked out. Even though he’d had hopes for the House he couldn’t be certain. “We would. Diggory and I are good friends, now, and I trust him not to do anything untoward to me.”

Diggory made a face. “I wouldn’t have fed from you anyway. Men have always tasted wrong, but there were times, before, when I didn’t have any other option.” There was a flash of something in his eyes, a reminder that Emmett didn’t know everything that had happened in the young vampire’s life. “I shouldn’t be talking about that.”

“I think you should.” Had Alice seen it too? “A lot of the vampires here have been through difficult times in the past, and if you were to need someone to talk to I’m sure we could find someone who was willing to listen. John’s very good at that, as are a number of the others.”

“Maybe.” Diggory looked at Emmett. “I would never have come here if it wasn’t for Emmett. I wouldn’t be the person I am now if it wasn’t for him. I had a past, one he accepted without question, yet still believed I was capable of being a good person.”

Alice smiled. “It sounds like you have a story to tell. How about we get you all signed in, get rule books given out, and then we can start introducing you to some of the people you’re going to want to get to know.” She glanced at Alice. “We have someone here I’m really looking forward to introducing you to.”
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The Many Worlds of K. A. Webb

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