As promised, here is the scene that was deleted from the final version of the novel. Hope you enjoy your sneak peek into Zachary’s back story.
Zachary circled the plaza for the third time, checking to make sure no one lurked in the shadows. Though people filled the area, he did not want anyone to see him, knowing it was better that way. Most of the people he had known when he lived in Partheck three years earlier assumed he was dead; to find out otherwise would most likely cause more problems than he wanted to deal with. He did not want to explain to anyone what he had become.
Only two people knew the truth, his brother Oliver, and his close friend, Arianna. They were the only people who could call him back to Partheck, and this time it had been Arianna. The last time he saw her, nearly two months earlier, he knew something was bothering her, but she had refused to speak on it. Even her uncle, with whom Zachary had been staying, did not know what had caused the change in her. When he received a letter from her, asking to meet her at the Temple of Dagar, he knew he had to go.
But as he thought about the letter she left, he realized it seemed odd. There was an urgency to it, one that he did not quite understand. As the moments ticked slowly by, he thought about what it could be that she had to say. Was the news good? Or had something terrible happened? What if she had not sent the letter to him, and this was yet another trap set by her father?
Zachary looked up to see the sun setting behind the Temple. He could not allow himself to think negatively. She would be here soon, he was sure of it. Finally, just after the last person had left the area, he saw her approaching the fountain across from the Temple. He stepped from the shadows, allowing the moonlight to reveal his location.
She walked towards him slowly, her dark cloak billowing behind her. From her posture, he knew there was something wrong.
“Arianna, are you well?” he asked.
She did not answer his question, but posed one of her own, her eyes lowered to the ground. “Where have you been?”
“In Alles… I thought you knew?”
“I sent you four letters. I half expected you to not show up tonight, like the other times. Were you somewhere else, or…”
He sighed. “I only received one letter from you. Layla probably kept the others. You said that you had news?” He held his breath, almost afraid of what she would say.
“You will not be happy to hear it,” Arianna responded, turning away from him.
Zachary placed his hand on her shoulder. “We have known each other for years. We are practically family. You know you can tell me anything.”
“I know, but…this is so difficult. I…I have decided to marry Devlin.”
Shocked, his arms dropped. “I beg your pardon?”
“I have no choice. It is my only option.”
“No, it is not. What about—”
“He knows. I told him of my decision last week. Now he will not speak to me.”
He shook his head. “Of course not. He loves you.”
Arianna closed her eyes, and a tear slipped down her cheek. “And I will always love him. But I must do what is necessary to—”
“Is it really necessary to marry a man that you despise more than anything?”
“It is the only way my family will stop hunting you. They refuse to believe my uncle about our relationship, just as you refused to let me tell them the truth. It is hard enough knowing that I am responsible for what has happened to you already. I do not want to be responsible for your death too.”
“Let them hunt me. I no longer care. Nothing your family does can hurt me. I tried killing myself after—”
“Please do not tell me such things. It only makes this worse. I am doing this as a way to make amends. Please forgive me. It would have been better if the two of you had never met me. I can only hope that you will both find happiness in the future. Goodbye, Mr. Wilhelm.”
“Mr. Wilhelm? You have not called me that in years.” When she lowered her head, he ran his hand down his face. “So you are cutting ties with us both.” He sighed. “This cannot be what you really want.”
She shook her head. “What I want no longer matters.”
“Then what about what we want? Do you truly believe we want to lose another person we care for? You are the only friend I have left in the world, Arianna. To everyone else, I am dead.”
She turned back to face him and took his hands in hers. “Do not say that. You have already found a new family with my uncle’s. And you have forever to find the love you have been looking for. At least you do not have to marry someone just because your father commands it. Father promised he would leave you alone if I married Devlin, so that is what I am doing. Regardless of what has happened, you are family, and I would do anything for you.”
“Then leave. Go to your uncle’s, and…” Feeling a tightening in his chest, Zachary stiffened and looked around. He knew someone was watching them.
“I cannot. I must remain here,” Arianna responded.
“Shh. We are not alone.” He stared towards the Temple’s many broken, stained-glass windows, searching for whoever could be there. A shadow passed by one, and he counted the seconds before it appeared in the next. Though there was no light coming from any of them, he could see the outline of a man, could hear the steady beat of the man’s heart. But was the watcher friend or foe?
As soon as he stepped forward, he heard a snap from a bow and saw an arrow heading towards him. Moving quick as lightning, he easily caught it just before it struck him in the chest.
“You cannot kill me that easily, Francis!” he shouted toward the Temple.
“That could not have been my father. He cannot shoot a bow.”
“Then who…he has hired someone to kill me. Again.”
Arianna walked toward him and placed her hand on his shoulder. “You must leave now,” she begged. As he turned, an arrow tore into his chest. He yelped in pain before collapsing to the ground. Though he remained conscious, he found himself immobilized.
“Zachary!” Arianna cried as she knelt beside him. A growing ring of blood stained his white shirt, directly over his heart. As she pulled the arrow from his chest, she sobbed, “I swear, I had nothing to do with this.”
He desperately wanted to answer her, to tell her he was fine, but was still unable to move. The last time he was impaled, he had remained frozen for half an hour. He hoped it would not last as long this time.
He heard a male voice and knew who had attacked: her brother, Marcello. “Arianna, you were told to stay away from him. This was for your own good.”
“How could you, Marcello! Did Father ask you to do this?”
“He does not know of this. It would have killed him to know that you were meeting this monster again, especially after you promised not to.”
“He is not a monster!” Zachary felt her head on his shoulder, her tears wetting his shirt. “I just wanted to tell him goodbye.”
“It is time to go home now, Arianna.”
“No! Let me go!”
Hearing Arianna’s distress, Zachary managed to turn his head turned toward the direction of her call, but the rest of him remained frozen. When he saw Marcello dragging Arianna away, he forced himself to his feet and slowly crept toward them, doing his best to ignore the pain he still felt.
“Marcello, release her now, and I will not hurt you.”
“How can you still be alive?” Marcello asked, his eyes wide with fear.
“For being related to a vampire, you know so little about our kind. You may have hit me in the heart with that arrow, but when Arianna removed it I was able to heal.” He paused, taking a deep breath as his pain increased. He was beginning to wonder if some kind of drug was on the arrow. Something was not right. “What have I done to deserve this hatred from you and your father?”
“I know how you feel about my sister, how you have manipulated her. I will not let you use her any longer. The arrow may not have been able to kill you, but I am certain that even you cannot withstand the amount of belladonna that I coated the arrow with just to make sure you did not escape.”
“Marcello, you cannot do this!” Arianna cried.
“It is already done.”
Marcello was right. Zachary suddenly began to feel light-headed. Pain shot through him, and he cried out as he fell to his knees, clutching his chest. Within seconds, the pain was too much to bear, and he lost consciousness.
When he awoke, he found himself in darkness. Cool stone surrounded him. Barely able to move, he realized he was in a sarcophagus. Thankful for his vampire vision, he looked around, finding the words “Enjoy eternity” written above him. Anger and fear mixed inside him. He attempted to lift the lid, but could not move it more than a few inches. Even sliding it did not work. Whoever had trapped him must have wrapped the coffin in silver chains. Zachary shouted for help, but heard no answer. He continued to struggle with the coffin’s lid for what felt like hours. Unable to free himself, he finally gave up the struggle, wondering how much time would pass before someone freed him.