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       Fairest, p.18

           Chanda Hahn
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  “I’m not asking again, Jared,” she demanded.

  “Tomorrow night. Midnight. The reaping hour.”

  Chapter 22

  This was absolutely the worst possible idea ever in the history of history. She paced the front porch of the Carmichaels’ three story mansion while biting her thumb. She had already lied to security about why she was here. It was easy considering she had used the same excuse the first time she came to the Carmichaels to drop off a pamphlet of information from Happy Maids, the company her mom worked for. Well, since that got her in the first time, she didn’t see any reason for it not to get her in the second time. And it worked.

  Now she was a pile of nerves and had no real reason for being here. Except that she really, really needed to talk to Brody. Nobody answered when she rang the doorbell, and she was beginning to think that they were purposely avoiding her. One of the gardeners who was tending the bushes waved at her to get her attention and pointed to the back of the house.

  Mina knew what was back there; she had seen it when she walked up the driveway. It was the stables. Even though they were in the suburbs, the Carmichaels owned enough property to raise horses. Races, jumps, or show; you name it the Carmichaels competed in it. She followed the stone walkway around the side of the mansion and down the pathway past the large Olympic-size, outdoor pool, which was currently set up with a net in the middle of it, probably so Brody could practice water polo. Luckily, no one was swimming, which left one other place to look. Mina shuddered, the stables.

  Of course, he couldn’t be good at just one thing; he had to be great at everything. She could see him in the distance on a beautiful thoroughbred, taking her through the course. He was extremely soft-spoken when giving commands, and Mina could see that he had an easy way with the horse. When they were both ready, they lined up. One second they were still, the next they flew over, around, and back. He was handsome in black pants, riding boots, and helmet. He looked dashing and debonair. Mina looked down at her jeans, button down blue coat, and flats and felt out of place. She pulled on her messy braid and tried to straighten it without success.

  Every time the horse jumped, Mina held her breath in terror, scared that he would fall off and be trampled. The horse didn’t miss a jump or a stride; only on the second to last jump did she knock a pole down. Mina made it to the fence and waited to be noticed before speaking, unsure of what her reception would be since the last time they had spoken she had blamed him for Nan’s death.

  The horse noticed her first and turned to look at her. Brody looked up in surprise, and then he frowned. Yeah, Mina had known it was a bad idea to come. Before either one of them could say anything she turned and began to walk back up the hill toward the house.

  Seconds later, she could hear hoof beats close behind her. Mina looked up when Brody rode up next to her. She decided to speak first.

  “So it’s pretty obvious that you are not sick or injured,” Mina accused.

  “No, I’m fine,” he answered, slowing the horse and sliding off to walk next to Mina. His eyes were hollow and it looked like he hadn’t slept in days.

  “So, why didn’t you go to school?” she asked.

  “Because I couldn’t face you,” he said simply. He hung his head in shame, and Mina wanted to reach out and touch the soft blonde hair. She held herself in check. “You blame me for what happened. She’s your best friend, and I killed her.”

  Tears started to burn at the corner of Mina’s eyes, but her anger and jealousy of Brody and Nan in a car together held them back. “What were you two doing that night?” Mina accused angrily.

  Brody paused, caught off guard by her angry tone. He looked guilty, and he turned to look at his horse. “Peter’s band had to leave shortly after the rain started and everyone went inside. They had a gig in the next state, so they had to be at the airport in a few hours. There was some sort of tiff between them and he left without saying goodbye to her.”

  “That’s hard to believe? They looked pretty happy together most of the night; I can’t imagine what it could possibly have been about,” Mina grumbled, crossing her arms in a defensive stance.

  “It was over you.” Brody shrugged his shoulders.

  “What?” Mina felt a knot form in her stomach. A hard ball of jealousy that was quickly unraveling.

  “I don’t know all the details; something about wanting to find you but his needing to leave. So, anyway, they didn’t say goodbye, and he was going to be gone for a month. She begged me to drive her to the airport so she could say goodbye.” He looked at Mina and quickly looked away.

  “But why you? Why didn’t she drive herself or get someone else to take her?” Mina accused, her face betraying her jealousy.

  “Because I was one of the last cars in and the easiest to get out. She didn’t want her mom to know. She thought we could catch them in time and get back before anyone found out. It was stupid, I know. And now you must hate me for killing her.” He cleared his throat and refused to look at her. It was obvious he wasn’t handling this very well.

  “Um, earth to Brody. She’s in a coma, not dead.” Mina stopped and grabbed his arm and held on tightly.

  He tried to shake her off. “I can’t, Mina! You weren’t there; you weren’t in the car. You didn’t see her, I did! She was dead.” He was so angry his horse started to get finicky.

  She knew she needed to calm him down. She took a deep breath and spoke slowly, clearly, so he could hear her heartfelt plea. “I’m sorry for the way I spoke to you. I was angry. But you have got to believe me when I say you have got to get over it. Nan’s not dead; she’s alive! You can’t beat yourself up over the past.”

  He shrugged his shoulders angrily and looked off into the distance, purposefully avoiding answering Mina.

  Mina spoke with conviction, and the words almost caught in her throat, but she forced them out. “I don’t blame you Brody for anything. It’s not your fault, Brody. If anyone’s to blame, it is me.”

  Brody turned and looked at her sharply, surprise evident in his blue eyes, but behind that she saw the pain and the guilt. Mina felt herself go weak, and she reached out to touch his cheek. He leaned into her palm and breathed in the scent of her hand. Mina’s breath caught in her throat at the intimate feel of his skin and the way he pushed against her.

  Slowly, he dropped his horse’s reins and moved closer to her; Mina anticipated the hug and leaned up as he wrapped his arms around her. He buried his face in her neck and hugged her. She closed her eyes and let herself enjoy the comfort of his arms, until she felt him shaking softly. He was crying. Mina was saddened, but only slightly. What she wanted more than ever was his love; what he needed right now was comfort. She found herself rubbing his back and telling him that she was going to fix everything. She promised.

  When he pulled away, Mina wanted to pull him closer and kiss him. But she knew it wasn’t the time to confess her feelings.

  She sighed loudly and finally decided to tell him why she came. “I need your help. I know this sounds stupid, but I think I know a way to wake up Nan from the coma. But first I need a ride someplace. Then I will tell you my somewhat brilliant plan, but it involves calling your very famous cousin and convincing him to make an unplanned tour stop.”

  Chapter 23

  It was seven o’clock when they first pulled up to the hospital parking garage. They both signed in at the visitor center and got their red and white visitor tags. Mina stopped in the gift shop and bought the cheapest stuffed rabbit she could find and carried it up to Nan’s room.

  Visiting mostly consisted of sitting quietly next to Nan and staring at the door waiting for nurses and doctors to make their rounds. It was boring, but Brody didn’t mind at all. He was the one who kept speaking to Nan and acting all concerned when the first nurse came in to check her vitals.

  Mina never told Brody her full plan, she just told him enough to make it believable. She said she knew that Nan was going to wake up if Peter and Brody were both there to apologiz
e. She knew it wouldn’t work, but she wanted to be there when anybody walked into her best friend’s hospital room.

  When the first nurse came in, Brody stood up and let her approach Nan. Mina sat in a corner chair and pulled out her laser pointer keychain. When the nurse turned her back, Mina ran that laser pointer all over the nurse, head to toe, waiting for a waver or a change of any kind. Nothing. This nurse wasn’t Fae.

  After she left, Mina waited twenty minutes then asked Brody to push the call button. A different nurse came in and asked what the problem was. Brody lied beautifully and said he thought Nan was waking up.

  Mina scanned this nurse with the laser pointer as well and was actually caught by the nurse, who only gave her a disapproving stare. When she left, Mina felt helpless. “This is never going to work; I have to get more nurses and doctors in here at one time.”

  “Why?” Brody asked.

  “Because I think one of them is a fraud, and I don’t believe they are here to help Nan,” Mina said it without really believing Brody would understand.

  “You think it would really help Nan?” he asked.

  “I know it would if I could just see all of them that are assigned to Nan. I know I can find the fraud.” She slumped back in her chair.

  “And you can tell this just by looking at them?” he asked. She nodded. He took a moment and thought about it long and hard before standing up and walking over to Nan’s heart monitor. He looked at Mina and smiled. “Are you ready for Armageddon?” He reached for her chest.

  “Brody! What are you doing?” Mina gasped.

  “I saw this in a movie once. You may want to stand back. I’m about to get in serious trouble.” He winked at Mina and reached for the heart monitor wire that was stuck to Nan’s chest. With a quick tug, the adhesive released, and the beeping stopped. The monitor flat lined, and an alarm went off.

  Brody jumped away from Nan but wasn’t quick enough as nurses ran into the room, followed by Dr. Martin.

  “Now, look carefully,” Brody whispered loudly as he backed away from the bed.

  Mina used the distraction to wave the laser pointer over everyone that entered the room even Dr. Martin, who was on duty, when he rushed inside, but nothing. They were all human. When one of the nurses found the detached wire, she attached it and gave both of them a loud and angry warning.

  Dr. Martin turned to Mina and Brody and was surprised by their presence. “What are you two doing here?”

  “We are worried for Nan. I think someone is trying to hurt her,” Mina rushed out.

  Dr. Martin looked disgusted by Mina’s outburst. “I told you that if you did anything that would influence or harm my future daughter in law that there would be serious consequences.”

  “But, Dr. Martin,” Brody cut in. “We didn’t harm her.”

  Dr. Martin exploded. He took his clipboard and threw it on a chair. “How dare you stand here and tell me that you didn’t harm Nan?” He pointed his finger angrily at Brody. “You crashed a car with her in it. And you!” He turned to Mina. “I don’t care what anyone else says, you are no longer allowed to see, speak, or talk to Nan. Do you hear me?”

  Nurse Diedre walked in and looked at the commotion that her boss was causing. Dr. Martin motioned to the large nurse. “See that these two leave the building. They are never to enter this room.” He plopped himself down into a chair next to Nan’s bed and rested his face in his hands.

  Brody and Mina were forced out, and their guard, the surly Nurse Diedre, took absolute pleasure in walking them out down the hallways and out the front doors. She spoke very little, but when they both stepped onto the sidewalk she spoke one sentence. “Stupid Gimp, always causing trouble.” She turned with a victorious smile and walked back into the hospital.

  Mina gasped out loud, pulled the laser out of her pocket and flashed it across Nurse Diedre. At first nothing happened. Then her white uniform began to waver, and for a split second Mina could see something underneath the uniform-SCALES. Nurse Diedre was the Reaper.

  “It’s her,” Mina cried out grabbing onto Brody’s shirt. “She’s the one that’s going to hurt Nan!”

  Brody reached out and pulled Mina toward him in an embrace. “Not if we can help it.”


  Three hours later a very large and expensive tour bus pulled up to the hospital parking lot. Mina and Brody jumped up from the curb and ran to greet the Dead Prince Society tour bus. The doors opened, and music blasted from the speakers. Naga, wearing skinny jeans and a black vest, strode down the steps and opened his arms wide, addressing his sparse audience.

  “Did someone call for a tall glass of hotness?” Naga howled motioning to himself and jumped down to the sidewalk. He strutted around looking for fans, and his shoulders dropped when he didn’t see any. He reached up to tenderly touch his white striped mohawk.

  “Relax, you look beautiful darlin’,” Constantine teased Naga as he swung out of the bus. “I’m sure you will knock the nurses dead.” Naga turned to take a swing at the long haired band member who ducked at the last minute. Magnus stepped out and immediately asked if the cafeteria was open, followed by Peter who looked half dead.

  His hair looked as if it hadn’t been washed in days, and his clothes looked like he had slept in them. Brody walked over to him and asked if they could speak in private. Brody spoke quietly, and Peter nodded his head and ran his fingers through his hair.

  Brody’s shoulders slumped, and Mina could only guess that he was admitting to Peter that he was the one driving the car that led to the accident. Peter’s body stiffened in anger, and he turned and punched Brody in the face. Brody wasn’t expecting it and was knocked to the pavement.

  Peter stood above Brody, yelling down at him. “I blame you for this, and I will talk to you about this later. But right now I want to know how we can help Nan.” He turned to face a stunned Mina and his band mates.

  “Are you up for making a little bit of noise?” Mina asked hopefully.

  “At this time of night, we will probably draw in complaints and bring the cops.” Magnus had found a bag of chips and was crunching them loudly. A moment later a van pulled up behind the bus, and their stagehands got out to see what was going on.

  Naga shrugged his shoulders. “I ain’t afraid of no coppers. It will get us on TV, no doubt.”

  Constantine went to the storage compartments under the tour bus and unlocked the first unit, pulling out a large speaker and guitar. “Let’s do it,” he answered. Constantine handed one of the waiting stage crew a box of microphone cords. “I’m ready for an impromptu concert. What about you, Pete?”

  Peter ignored Constantine and walked over to Mina. “Are you sure that this is going to help?” he asked, his eyes filled with hope and pain.

  She shook her head. “Not really, but this is only the first part of my plan; the second will come later. Are you in? Right now, I need you to be as loud as you can. I need all of the attention on you guys, so I can sneak in. Will you do this for Nan?” Mina pleaded.

  Magnus began to set up his drums; Naga was pulling out extension cords, and Constantine walked over with a large black guitar case. Peter unzipped the case and pulled out the very large red guitar he had used at his last concert. Chills raced up Mina’s arms as Peter pulled the strap over his head. He took a cord from a stagehand and plugged it into his guitar.

  More stage crew appeared and began to set up the portable sound system and lights. Brody jumped right in and began to help organize the equipment.

  Quickly the band began to tune their instruments. Cords and wires run from the busses to various transformer boxes in the bushes of the hospital. A few hospital security guards came to see what was going on, but so far none of them approached the band. Mina looked up and saw the curtain in Nan’s room move slightly. Someone was in there already. She hoped it wasn’t the Reaper.

  “Please, hurry!” Mina pleaded; sweat broke out on her forehead as she checked her watch again. It was 11:45 p.m. Fifteen minutes to midnight.<
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  Brody ran a microphone and a stand out and placed it in front of Peter. They both glared at each other angrily.

  “We don’t have time,” Mina pointed out.

  Peter closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep shuddering breath. He opened them and pasted on a wide fake smile, transforming instantly into Valdemar, the lead singer. “One concert to wake the dead coming up.” He opened up his mouth and began to sing.


  It was working. People began to rush to the windows, hallways, and down to the first floor to see what all of the commotion was. Mina was surprised to see how many of the hospital staff were excited for the concert. To them it was an unexpected treat. And because the band was in the parking lot, they didn’t really try to stop it. But eventually someone would. Someone would call the cops, and then the hospital would be swarming with police. The more police there were, the more likely the Reaper would give up and run away. Who was going to try and kill a girl if the hospital was surrounded by police? No one. Or at least Mina hoped that no one would. But then if the Reaper was a nurse, she could slip Nan any kind of drugs and no one would be the wiser.

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