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Voodoo kiss, p.12
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       Voodoo Kiss, p.12

           Jayde Scott
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"No, Sofia. This is something the others need to know now." He grabbed the tray with one hand and squeezed the other under my elbow, forcing me up. I struggled in his grip but gave up as I realized if a guy could sprint through the woods carrying my weight, I was wasting my time and effort resisting his wishes.

  I sighed and let him lead me to the library. I wasn't even surprised to find everyone was still there, still sitting on the same spot as before, still staring at us when we dropped down on the couch and Thrain placed the tray in front of me, his gaze urging me to eat. I shrugged and started chewing on a sandwich. It was so silent, the sound of my cutlery and plate reverberated from the walls. My chewing reminded me of a siren they could probably hear in China. My stomach grumbled in agreement as I shoveled down the food, ignoring the unnerving calm. A few bites in, Cass broke the silence and the questioning began. What had I seen? What had I been doing before seeing it? What did I make of it? To that question I had no answer, but Thrain seemed to have made up his mind already.

  "A demon chasing her—" He ran his fingers through his hair, lingering at the back of his head as though to massage a tensed spot.

  "It is strange," Cass agreed. The soft skin around her eyes had visibly darkened, giving her a gaunt expression.

  I finished my meal and wiped my mouth with a napkin, then pushed the tray aside. Clare jumped up and mouthed something that sounded like she'd be right back. I watched her grab the tray, which made me feel instantly guilty. I barely knew her and yet I could already see the dynamics here. She did most of the work while the others sat around. Even though she was the most striking one out of the bunch, she was also the one that seemed to blend in with the furniture. There was something depressing about her, something that made me want to burst out in tears whenever I looked at her. It wasn't a nice way to feel about anyone and yet I couldn't help myself. By the time she returned a minute or two later, I had already forgotten about her, which strengthened my opinion that, as stunning as she was, something grave had happened to her that had robbed her of any passion.

  "Rebecca had help," Aidan said.

  Cass nodded. "From the Shadows. We know that already."

  "No." He shook his head. "They were only after the book, but Rebecca was after Theo."

  "But Theo and Rebecca were in Distros long before you and Amber showed up. Why didn't she just attack Theo at the first opportunity when you weren't there? It would've been a lot less complicated."

  "I think she didn't know who Theo was—until someone told her," Aidan said. "After our arrival, I guarded the perimeter, meaning she had no chance to get anywhere near Theo."

  I peered from one to the other, soaking up all the details. But my confusion persisted. "Who are the Shadows?" The moment I asked, I knew the answer already. Shaman warriors with eerie black eyes. Dark magic. Astral travel. And then a pact. I shook my head, begging my mind to glue the pieces of the puzzle together. But they remained seemingly unrelated flashes in my head.

  "A group of immortals we've been fighting for centuries," Aidan explained grimly.

  "They astral traveled to Hell and put a spell on the whole dimension so no one would hear my cries for help, or Dallas's for that matter," Cass said. From the frown on her face I could tell they weren't exactly her friends.

  "Are they involved?" Clare asked.

  I nodded. "They were involved a long time ago."

  Four pairs of eyes shifted toward me. "You know them?" Aidan asked.

  "I think I did once." I pressed my fingers to my temples to catch another glimpse of the pictures in my head, but the memories didn't return.

  "What are odds, huh?" Amber said, regarding me. For the first time, I noticed something in her eyes. Respect. Awe. Like she hadn't really taken me seriously until now. I found myself smiling confidently, even though confidence was the last thing I felt inside. Amber continued, "How did you meet them?"

  Void. I shook my head.

  "Do you just happen to know about their existence, or did you actually get to talk to them?" she persisted.

  I shook my head again. "Can't remember."

  Thrain wrapped his arm around me and pulled me closer. I leaned against him, thankful for his support. I dropped my gaze, then looked at the carpet awkwardly, noticing two tiny red stains. Spilled wine that could be weeks, months or even years old. The silence was an awkward one.

  Eventually, Cass resumed the conversation. "Gosh, this is sort of getting us nowhere. Our suspects so far are a crazy vampire—" she held up a finger "—a group of morons that wouldn't know friendship if it bit them in their ass—" she held up another finger, then a third "—and, last but not least, Thrain's suggestion of a demon, which about covers all of Hell. Throw in a few succubi and we're only looking for the entire paranormal world."

  "You've got a point," Thrain said. "As long as we don't have any other clues, everyone's a suspect. Let me show Sofia to bed and then we can talk some more."

  Cass winked. "Make sure it's to bed, not into bed."

  Heat scorched my cheeks, and not for the first time. I was slowly starting to look like a huge shrimp. "Are you sure I'm not missing anything? I'm not really that tired." Actually, I was because I hadn't slept in a long time, what with all the travelling and time differences.

  "We'll be all right. Get some sleep. You might not get it again any time soon," Cass said.

  I smiled and said goodnight even though I knew I was probably the only one who would go to bed. Thrain accompanied me up the stairs to the bedroom I had been assigned. In the hall, I found myself standing in front of the door with him holding my hand as he gazed down into my eyes. We stared at each other in silence, my face still flushed though I doubted he could see it in the soft glow of a night lamp. It seemed we had both lost the ability to talk; either that or the silence suited us more than the pressure of speaking meaningless words that wouldn't make a difference in who we were and what our purpose was on Earth. We belonged together. It wasn't so much a discovery as a fact. I didn't need to tell him. I knew and felt in my heart that he was thinking the same.

  "Sofia." His warm breath caressed my skin as he inched closer and wrapped his arms around me. I let him draw me to his chest and pressed my head against his shoulder, my fingers drawing slow circles on his arms. His mouth covered my neck in soft kisses that sent shivers down my spine.

  "We should make a deal." I smiled at his raised eyebrows. "I want you to tell me something about you every time we kiss. This way we can at least follow the usual protocol of getting to know each other before jumping in with both feet."

  "Sounds like a good deal, but only if you promise to do the same." His lips lowered onto mine. I parted my lips for him and melted into his arms. His intoxicating scent hit my nostrils, making me dizzy. A soft moan escaped my throat, but instead of making me feel silly for giving in so quickly, he broke off our embrace and took a step back. His heated gaze settled on me as he ran a hand through his hair.

  "What?" I asked, self-consciously.

  "You're hot."

  "Is that what you like about me?" I loved the compliment, but guys always wanted me because of my looks. Usually, it was either my blonde hair or my long legs. I wanted Thrain to be different. I wanted him to be attracted to my inner being, not to something that would fade over time.

  His big hands cupped my face, forcing me to look at him. I hoped my eyes didn't betray the hope inside me. "I don't like you because you're hot or because we share a bond. I like you because you're smart and tough. You have values that are rare in our times, like being responsible way beyond your years and wanting to achieve something in life."

  "Thank you," I whispered.

  "You said you wanted to know more about me." I nodded sensing a big revelation that wasn't easy for him. Thrain took a deep breath and continued, "I've been a nomad for centuries. I don't think I've ever settled down in one place for longer than a few months—until I met you. When this is over I want to be near you, wherever you are. And if you don't want me, then I'll wait
in the shadows until I've conquered your heart and you find me worthy of your love."

  He was already conquering it. I had never felt closer to anyone in my entire life, as though we were one and the same being. "I'd like that very much."

  I, too, would wait for him because I wanted to be with him. I wanted to fall asleep and wake up in his arms. He kissed my mouth softly. I parted my lips to grant him access. His soft lips sent shivers down my spine. He pulled away softly. "Now, it's your turn." His eyes met mine. His encouraging grin urged me to look inside myself and find something I wanted to share with him, something that would help him feel as close to me as I felt to him.

  I cleared my throat, considering my words. "As a child I used to daydream of getting lost in the woods and being found by a dark stranger. I remember the way I pictured his eyes: green with brown speckles, surrounded by black lashes that would give him a mysterious look."

  He laughed out loud. "I hope it's me. It would mean your first prediction came true. I want to know everything about you."

  I let my childhood memories flood my mind as I traveled back in time. "My father left my mother for a woman he met on a rare visit to the city to stock up on provisions. Her name was Marie and she was an actress filming a movie. When she returned home, he left with her and I didn't see him for years. I hated him for what he did to me and my mom for a long time."

  "Is that why you find it so hard to open your heart to anyone?"

  His question took me by surprise. I laughed uncomfortably. The need to negate his statement flared up. I decided against it because, thinking of it, he had a point. I didn't want to fall in love with a guy, settle down and start a family. The trip to Brazil with Gael was about the only plan I had made with a man, and that wasn't even a plan because he had surprised me with the flight tickets. Guilt grabbed hold of me. Gael. I had liked him but was never in love with him. He was already forgotten, as though he never existed. I hadn't even checked my emails to read his response.

  "It's okay," Thrain said, misinterpreting my silence. His fingers rested on my lips as though in order to keep me silent. "We'll take it slowly. We don't need to make any plans if you don't want to. Will you be okay alone in your room?" I nodded. He placed a soft kiss on the tip of my nose. "If you need me I'll be downstairs. Sleep well."

  "Thanks." I watched him stroll down the stairs carrying his head high. His pace was confident the way only a guy, who knew he was everything a girl could ever desire, would carry himself.

  Chapter 16

  Thrain's scent and taste lingered in my mind as I jumped under the shower to wash off the traces of a long day. My skin seemed to tingle where the hot water hit it. My whole being felt as though I was floating in the vast universe with nothing but him to anchor me. If it weren't for the cold air sending shivers up my spine to remind me of time and space as I stepped out of the shower, I would've continued to float in that dreamy state. I let out a delighted sigh and went about brushing my teeth with the visitor toothbrush, then put on a nightshirt and jumped under the covers. It wasn't like me to feel so at home in a strange place and yet, in this house among these people, I felt as though I had returned to a place where I belonged. That instant I knew I could never restore my old life. I could never go back to the old me. Sure, the music career would have to continue because it gave my life meaning and I had a mission to fulfill, but I knew the lost and scared Sofia from before was gone.

  With the soft covers wrapped around me, I fell into a deep yet uneasy sleep and while the darkness I had grown to fear didn't return, I knew something was watching me, waiting for me to make a mistake. I wondered what that mistake was.

  Morning had yet to break when I woke up with a jolt. The moon lay hidden behind a thick veil of dark clouds. The room had noticeable cooled down. I shivered and closed my eyes again, ready to get back to sleep. But there was a soft, indiscernible whisper, which must've been what woke me up in the first place. I slipped into my jeans and the sweater Clare had borrowed me, and pushed the curtains aside.

  Gloomy shadows still covered the woods. I opened the window to let in the freezing night air and strained to listen to determine where the whisper came from. My lungs burned from the cold as I inhaled deeply, held the breath, then exhaled. Only then did I notice the small writing on the glass, the same word I saw at the hotel in Rio: HELP. Someone needed me.

  Branches snapped below the window. Something caught my attention in the distance. I peered at what looked like a white curtain. It took me a while to realize it was the long hair of a girl, framing a pale face. My heart almost stopped beating and a whimper escaped my throat.

  "Theo." The word choked me, brought me on the verge of tears. Leaving the window open, I stormed out of the room and down the stairs, through the kitchen into the back garden. She wasn't there, but I recognized the spot where she had been standing. Near the gnarled tree with its low-hanging branches that almost brushed the lush grass beneath.

  "Theo," I whispered again, trying to be still so I wouldn't wake up the others. My naked feet sank into the damp grass as I picked up in speed, my eyes scanning the area frantically for a glimpse of that almost white hair that was so typical of my family. And then I saw her twenty feet away. She was staring at me, her eyes looking sad. She put a finger to her lips, as if hushing me to be quiet. In slow motion, she gestured a no, as though I shouldn't seek her, and then turned her back on me and took off again. Panic rose inside of me. I wanted to see her. She needed my help. I could feel it.

  "Theo, wait!" My voice was raspy, already hoarse from the cold. I sprinted through the trees, determined to catch her, and only stopped when a crow flew over my head and perched down on a branch a few feet away from me. I leaned against a tree to catch my breath.

  The clouds broke and the moon come through, casting an eerie light over the place and the big crow—the same one that turned into a dark entity and chased me. I felt my heart racing, my palms sweating as the bird cawed.

  Think, my mind screamed. Think. I remembered the word HELP appearing out of nowhere. At that time, when I opened the window in Rio, I also spied the crow instead of my sister. My stomach protested. My ears began to ring at the mere thought, but what other explanation was there? The crow was warning me before something happened.

  It was a trap.

  I could see the mansion in the distance, its contours stretching menacingly into the night. The people in there were my friends, the crow wasn't. Or was it the other way round? So far I didn't have any proof that they were really on my side. Cass had yet to keep her word and grant me access to my sister. What if Gael indeed was trying to protect me from something? Maybe he was trying to protect me from the immortals in there.

  The craw cawed. I took in the beautiful, black feathers and dark eyes. Something—like black fog—lifted off my mind, clearing my thoughts. What was wrong with me? That mansion was my safe fortress. I had to run back, but would I make it?

  My muscles started to work hard as I traced the way I had come through the trees, heading for the safety of the mansion's wall in the distance. For a moment, I thought I picked up the sound of a child's voice calling my name. Was I abandoning my sister who needed me in her hour of need? I clenched my teeth and ran faster when something hit my back and I stumbled forward, twisting my ankle in the process. I scrambled a few feet away, then turned slowly and noticed he was still standing in the same spot.

  With dread filling my heart, I looked into the one face I had been dreaming of my whole life, always forgetting upon waking up, only to remember later. It was one and the same reoccurring dream of an old woman and the pact she had signed. His face was more beautiful than I remembered it, his voice sounded as smooth as dripping honey, dark and melodious, and so very deadly. His dark eyes stared me down. They remind me of the dark puddles I avoided at night as a child in the fear I would fall into them and never get out.

  "Shadow," I whispered to myself.

  "I'm impressed that after so many centuries you still rememb
er me." He inched closer and reached out. I stared at his outstretched hand but didn't take it, noticing the sheath bound around his hip, hiding a sword. I almost expected him to lunge at me and pull me up, maybe even drag me away kicking and screaming. But he didn't. His hand hovered a few inches away from me, brushing through the air as though to touch an invisible wall. A frown crossed his beautiful features, all pale skin smooth as marble and shiny, black eyes. His hair had changed from shoulder-length to a more contemporary cut, still black but with blonde spikes. It suited him, made him more ordinary looking, which was a dangerous combination because it made me feel as though I could outsmart him. But no one outsmarted a Shadow—and surely not Devon.

  "What do you want from me?" My attempt at infusing confidence into my voice failed.

  Devon smiled but it didn't quite reach his eyes.

  "Do you want to kill me? Is that what you came for?" I continued.

  "No blade of mine could kill you, Sofia," he said. "Or should I call you Esmeralda?"

  The name rang true. That's how I had been called and yet I felt it didn't suit me anymore. I was the same soul, but my life had shaped me into a different person. Or maybe it was my mate's existence that made me strive to be someone else. I scrambled to my feet when a sharp pain pierced my swollen ankle. I winced inwardly and hoped the emotion wouldn't show on my face. "What are you here for?"

  He kept staring, his black eyes irritating the hell out of me. Eventually, he reached beneath his cape and pulled out a shiny object dangling from a long chain, then tossed it toward me. I caught it in mid-air and twirled it around my fingers as I peered at the tiny moonstone carved in the form of a butterfly.

  "Wear it," he said.

  I cocked a brow. "Why?"

  "Because it'll protect you."

  "Who said I need protection?"

  "Trust me, you'll do soon." His face remained unreadable, as though he wasn't even capable of feeling emotion.

  My insides turned hot and cold. "What do you see?"

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