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Voodoo kiss, p.13
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       Voodoo Kiss, p.13

           Jayde Scott
 
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  "That I can't tell you because it is not I who sees but our Queen. Deidre is the Seer. Don't you remember, Esmeralda?"

  He was using my previous name deliberately, maybe to mock me, maybe to trigger the trust I had once felt toward me. I remembered him, but the trust I had once felt toward him was long gone now. "Queen Deidre."

  More memories flooded my mind. I saw she had been beautiful, the only Shadow with black eyes and snow-white hair, which defied the Shadows' nature of black hair and black eyes that shined like liquid oil. I only glimpsed her once in her true form, many years before my fate befell me, but not long before she was turned into something abhorrent—a soul transferred into the body of a dying girl, trapped forever between life and death as she fed on her own people's life force. Upon hearing of her fate, I had felt sorry for her. Until she betrayed me. Instead of granting me a few more years to live and the chance to be reborn in exchange for my powers, she left me dying at the hands of the reaper who had been watching me for weeks, maybe even longer. In my hour of suffering, I despised both her and myself for trusting her people.

  "You still haven't answered my question." I took a deep breath and pronounced every word slowly, as though speaking to a child. "What do you want from me?"

  My tone displeased him for his eyes narrowed. He was used to being shown more respect, which I wasn't willing to give him. He had pulled a stunt on me centuries ago; if he ever wanted my trust again he would have to earn it.

  "It's not a matter of what I want," he said softly. I groaned. The guy deserved a metal for his ability to talk in circles. "Come with me and we'll protect you from the evil that's after you." His gaze remained focused on me, intent to read my expression, as he reached out but didn't touch me. He was too composed, too forthcoming, as though he wanted me to believe he was giving me a choice. For a moment, I looked away to give him the impression I was actually considering his offer when all I could think of was ways to get the hell away from those eerie eyes.

  "Still, what's in it for you?"

  He sighed. "We see it as our duty to protect the weak and helpless."

  Despite being mortal, weak was not a word I'd ever use to describe myself. I was a fighter who didn't take life for granted. How could he see me as weak? Fury boiled inside me. I raised my chin a notch to meet the surprised glint in his gaze. "I'd rather die than come with you." As my pulse quickened, the confusion in my mind began to lift. Why didn't he inch closer when I was at his mercy? The answer dawned on me quickly. Magic. I knew nothing about the vampires that lived in this house, or their abilities. But maybe teleporting wasn't the only thing they were capable of. Both Aidan and Amber didn't seem to feed on blood, and they both didn't shun the sun. They must've placed an invisible shield to form a perimeter around the property so no uninvited guest would cross it.

  The knowledge gave me enough courage to take off through the trees toward the mansion rising against the morning sky. It wasn't so much 'taking off', more like limping at the pace of a snail. I dared a look back to see the Shadow staring after me. His face was a mask of surprise and anger. The air beneath him stirred and a girl appeared, her blonde hair swaying in the breeze giving the impression of a huge halo floating around her. She took a step forward and patted the air with pale hands as though to touch an invisible wall.

  A ghost had no body and would just walk through such a barrier, which meant the girl was a Shadow, just like Devon. They had tried to deceive me yet again, and I almost fell for it because the moonlight had made it easy to mistake her face for my sister's.

  My ankle throbbed but I only stopped when I reached the back door leading to the kitchen. Wincing, I leaned against the cold wall and pressed my palms against my knees as I watched the dark figure in the distance and the girl, barely more than a white blur, standing next to him.

  I knew better than to test my new theory, and yet the questions burning on my tongue needed immediate answers. The sun hadn't risen yet but I could already see the moon disappearing behind the hills in streaks of gold and orange and copper. In the moonset, droplets of morning dew covered the grass and leaves. I buried my fingers into a nearby bush and then touched my face. The moisture invigorated me and soothed my cracked lips as I headed back for Devon, eager to find out whether I was right.

  My legs moved swiftly, the pain in my ankle forgotten. As I approached, the girl moved away from me, a few steps at a time, as though she didn't want me to get too close to her. I stopped a few feet away from Devon, making sure I wasn't crossing the barrier that had protected me before.

  "You came back." He smiled. It looked just as fake as before, plastered on his beautiful lips to lure me in and give me a false sense of trust and safety. I didn't fall for it.

  "How do I unleash my powers?"

  He cocked a brow. "You don't know?"

  "If I knew I wouldn't be asking."

  "You don't need to unleash them, Sofia. They're already there, waiting to be put to the test."

  His answer took me by surprise and for a moment I just stared at him, searching his features for a giveaway that he was lying. "How do I use them then?"

  "Come with me and we'll show you." He reached out again, his fingers pressed against the invisible shield.

  I shook my head. "First answer, then I'll consider your offer."

  "No. You need us more than we need you."

  "What makes you say that?"

  "Don't you want to be with your sister again?" He pointed behind him at the small figure peering at me from between the trees. Her hair swayed in a breeze I didn't feel, her white, baggy gown made her look frail and sick. I could make out the details on the hem and around her thin wrists, and yet I couldn't really see her face through the blur that seemed to envelop her.

  I swallowed down the lump in my throat. "My sister's dead. The only way I could ever be with her is if I joined her in the afterlife."

  "That's not true, and you know it," he said. "We could help you find a body and teach you to raise her."

  I considered his words. Ever since Theo died I had wanted to know what happened to her. For a long time, I would've given anything to turn back the time so my baby sister wouldn't go out that fateful night in search of me. If I hadn't insisted on playing the gig and took a taxi like every human being in New York, she wouldn't have needed to leave the house. If I didn't tell her how much that gig meant to me, Theo would still be alive. I desperately wanted her to live, but raising the dead? It seemed so…wrong. So scary. Would I be creating the same person as before, or a dead copy of her former self? A zombie. I needed to know how to use my powers and what those powers entailed before making a decision.

  "Just tell me how to use them," I said.

  "Your voice is your most powerful weapon, but be careful what you speak for it might just come true."

  I nodded, thankful for the advice. "What else?"

  "Blood is the carrier of your powers, but it can't be any blood. Use it to ground yourself and for everything else that you wish to achieve."

  My mind went wild. Pictures of an old woman dipping herbs into a puddle of blood and spreading it around her in a circle moved in front of my open eyes. I could see her shifting back and forth as though to soothe a crying child, but what she held in her arms wasn't a child. It was the lifeless carcass of an animal, something furry like a weasel, but I couldn't be sure because the head was cut off.

  Bile rose in my throat. I bent forward and retched. I threw up a few times, nothing but bile. When I rose to my feet again, the pictures in my head were still there, but I felt better.

  "You have strong memories," Devon said. I nodded and he continued, "Don't fight them because they're the key to your future." I cleared my throat to get rid of the scratchy sensation, ready to speak. He held up a hand to cut me off. "I'm a Shaman, not what you are, so that's about all I can teach you. However, we have others who know about your kind, and they will be happy to assist you. Come with me, Sofia."

  Many years ago I would've joined him g
ladly. I couldn't now. "I'm staying."

  "You need help if you want to gain control of your powers. The vampires in there can't help you. We can."

  I shook my head defiantly. Two tiny lines formed around his mouth, but if my answer didn't please him he didn't say so.

  "Don't you want to help your sister?" His tone became softer. Even though I could sense his bluff, my heart skipped a beat.

  "She needs my help?"

  He nodded. "She needs to leave that dreadful place. I see her in my dreams. She cries for you. She knows it's your fault, but she won't blame you if you help her return."

  My anger flared. Theo's death was my fault, but he had no right to say it. It was a trick. No matter what hardship Theo might endure, deep in my heart I knew my baby sister would never think badly of me. Without a word I turned on my heel and walked back to the house. His gaze followed me, I felt it burning on my back long after I entered the kitchen to prepare myself breakfast. I wasn't hungry, but I knew I would soon need my entire strength for what lay before me.

  Chapter 17

  For a house full of immortals, it remained surprisingly quiet for another hour, which suited me just fine because I needed time to think. I regretted brushing Devon off, but only until I remembered he had betrayed me once. He would probably do it again if the opportunity presented itself. I didn't know what motivated me to trust the Shadows in the first place all those years ago, but I vowed to search my memories and find out. In the meantime, I would keep away from them.

  I stirred two teaspoons of sugar into my tea and took a sip, burning my tongue in the process. Assuming I could tap into my past life and make sense of all my memories, what then? Could I even stomach using blood in my rituals without fainting or throwing up every two minutes? Devon had said I should use my voice. Even if I figured out in what way, would I be able to find the right words?

  Sighing, I took another sip and turned to the window. The sun stood high on the horizon now; its light cast a glowing hue on the green grass and blooming flowers. Birds chirped in the distance, calling to their mates. My connection with Thrain should've kicked in this morning when I left the house to run after a faceless apparition. Either Thrain was a sound sleeper, or he hadn't spent the night here. For a moment, jealousy gripped my heart and darkened my already bad mood. I had enough on my mind already without the guy adding to it by making me all obsessive where he had been.

  I didn't hear him come in until he stood behind me and placed a kiss on the back of my head. "Good morning. Slept well?" His hand brushed my hair.

  I turned to face him. My heart skipped a beat as I peered into his spectacular eyes where the sun seemed to break into hundreds of different shades of green. My fingers moved of their own accord, tracing his jawline and running down his throat to the undone button of his shirt. I peered at the tan skin peeking from beneath and the black outline of his tattoo.

  "Do you want to see it?" Thrain asked, breathless. I nodded and he started unfastening one button at a time, his gaze still settled on me. Heat rushed to my cheeks, but I couldn't take my eyes off his sculpted chest. "What do you think?"

  About his muscles or the tattoo? I nodded appreciatively and let my finger trail down the contours of a green dragon wrapped around an eagle, it's beak open as though to bite off the dragon 's head. "It's a symbol of something, isn't it?"

  "It stands for the endless battle of two forces, none of which is entirely good or entirely bad."

  "Is that what you think of your origin?"

  "Not entirely. The battle's supposed to represent my own nature. Like Cass, I don't exist to serve one plane only." Taking a deep breath, he smiled. "If you really want to know what I think of my origin, I'll tell you. It's the most beautiful place in the entire world, above and beyond. But I also think it's cruel to have known it and then be cast out, even if only for a while. I have a purpose to fulfill on Earth and in Hell before I can return to my origin, but the knowledge doesn't make being cast out any easier to bear."

  "I thought your origin was Hell?" I asked, confused.

  Thrain laughed softly, his eyes burning with excitement. "No, you got that part wrong. I might be a demon, but that doesn't mean I was born in Hell. Angels and demons are created in the City of Tiebetran, which is a dimension far away from Hell. Maybe one day when I'm allowed to get back, I will show you where I'm really from."

  I swept my hands through his hair. It felt like spun silk between my fingers. I could sense sadness in him.

  "I'm sorry. I hope you'll be able to return soon." I realized my palm was pressed against the eagle's head now. With regret, I peeled off my fingers and placed a gentle kiss on his lips.

  "Don't be. Everything in life suits a purpose." He cleared his throat but didn't button up his shirt. I'd rather he did because his half naked body was triggering all sorts of naughty thoughts.

  "Where were you last night?" I blurted out before I could stop myself.

  "Work." His fingers moved beneath my chin, forcing me to face him. "There's no else, Sofia. I wouldn't leave you if I didn't have to." I nodded, relieved, so he continued. "I've found out a few things I'd like to talk to you about, but we need to wait for the others. If I'm right, you're in great danger."

  Didn't I hear that one before? I smirked and opened my mouth to tell him nothing scared me when the door burst open and Amber walked in. Her gaze moved from Thrain to me then back to Thrain, and she frowned. I thought Thrain would at least have the decency to cover up, but his nakedness didn't seem to bother him as he sat down on a chair and pulled me on his lap. His hands moved around my waist, lingering on my body as though they had always belonged there.

  "Aidan says they were here. He can smell them. Did you allow her to meet with our enemies?" She opened the backdoor and left it open, sniffing the air. A breeze carrying the scent of flowers and damp earth carried over.

  "Meet who?" Thrain asked, brows furrowed. I could see his confusion on his face and felt bad for not telling him straight away what happened at night. I didn't want him to think I kept secrets from him.

  Truth was, I had been so preoccupied with my own abilities that I hadn't even bothered to find out what the others could do. Of course, if a safe perimeter had been cast around the house, chances were high the owner might have a way or two to find out.

  "Shadows," Amber said. Any hope of her not busting me pulverized into dust. I took a deep breath, ready to explain, but she beat me to it. "I think they lured her out, and trust me, they're kinda good at it. She saw them and ran away, which is the only reason why she's sitting here with us this instant, rather than locked up in a labyrinth mountain. The breathtaking view wasn't so bad, but I wasn't so keen on a life-long sentence in a freezing room and lots of weird talk from some freaky kid that wouldn't look out of place in The Exorcist."

  "You know Deidre?" I bit my lip, realizing I had just spilled out the one secret I wanted to keep to myself—at least for the time being.

  She nodded, her gaze staring at me so intently I feared she might just be able to peer into my soul. "I do. In fact, I owe her the pleasure of near death, almost being lost in the otherworld forever and, of course, raising Rebecca who, if you don't remember, is the one who killed my brother. Now, what did Deidre want? Another mortal pet with a paranormal ability to add to her trophy wall?"

  She wasn't particularly keen on the Shadows, was she? Why wasn't I surprised? "I only saw Devon. He offered to protect me and teach me how to use my powers."

  I felt Thrain stiffen. Amber snorted. "Heard that one before. Whatever they offer, reading the fine print is always worth it 'cause their deals usually suck. Look who's decided to join us." She turned her head to the door a moment before it opened again and in walked Cass followed by Aidan.

  "You know that Devon guy's slowly starting to piss me off," Cass said to Thrain. "I should've got rid of him a long time ago." He nodded and I wondered whether she meant it literally as in kill him or something. My eyes widened. She just shrugged and slumped into
a chair opposite from me. I thought she'd care to elaborate but she just kept staring at Thrain who stared back at her. Apart from a frown or two, their faces remained expressionless, but that was enough to tell me they had some mind thing going on. Maybe coming from the same place, Heaven and Hell, made them able to communicate with each other.

  "How did you know they were here?" I asked Aidan.

  "They can't touch gold. I have infused it with magic and set up a safe perimeter around the house and the property."

  I nodded because the latter part I had figured out myself. Nothing new there. He still had to answer my question. "Yes, but how did you know they were here?"

  "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. The vampires and Shadows have been entangled in a war for such a long time, he can smell them. Literally," Amber explained.

  Aidan shook his head. "It's not just that. The shield works like an energy field. They know about the shield but decided to touch it anyway. I think Devon wanted us to know he was here. Maybe they're after her—" he pointed at me "—but they might not be the bad guys in this particular instance."

  "Would you team up with them?" I asked.

  "When Hell freezes over." Cass jumped up, knocking the chair over in the process, and took off through the backdoor.

  "Cass, wait!" I watched Thrain go after her, probably to calm her.

  "She was friends with them once," Aidan whispered.

  Amber nodded. "Needless to say, being friends with them is like letting the wolf in sheep's clothing near the flock."

  "So sorry about Cass's temper. She can be a bit intense," Aidan said.

  I nodded. "Figured that much. If I were to turn into a reaper every few hours, I'd probably take it much worse than she does."

  "It's not just the reaper thing," Amber said softly. "She can't live without her mate. Literally. If he dies, bad things will happen to her."

  I felt compelled to ask what those things were, but social etiquette told me to shut up and let it be. It wasn't my business. If Cass wanted to tell me, she would've done so already. "The more reason to get this over and done with." I was eager to reveal my big secret, ready to give my powers a try, but not because I wanted to. The air was thickening and too many people were already on my tail. Time to keep my word and then think of a way to get out of this forever, preferably with Thrain by my side.

 
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