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Voodoo kiss, p.14
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       Voodoo Kiss, p.14

           Jayde Scott
 
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  "Can you really communicate with the dead?" I asked Amber.

  Her brows shot up. "How do you know?"

  "I remember you from the show. You were introduced as a necromancer."

  "Yeah, that's what I am. Sort of." She moistened her lips, hesitating. "Let's just say, I'm still learning. And it's a long learning process." Aidan threw her an amused look like they had some sort of private joke going on.

  "What is it like? I mean talking to the dead."

  "Ask her when she's actually given it a try," Aidan said, grabbing her in a hug. From the way she slapped his arm, then perched a kiss on his lips, I could tell they felt comfortable around one another, as though they had dated for ages. And yet Cass had told me they only met a few weeks ago. A pang of jealousy hit me at how loved up they seemed. I wished I'd experience that sort of intimacy one day, that feeling of love and total devotion to someone. Sighing, I turned away to give them a bit of privacy. A moment later, Aidan cleared his throat and resumed the conversation. "I always figured a mortal would have more questions. Amber certainly did when she was—"

  "When I wasn't a bloodsucker, albeit one that's on a diet thanks to a lovely spell," she finished for him, tapping a finger on her thigh. "I wonder what'd happen if the ritual were ever reversed."

  "You can't reverse a ritual," Aidan said. She narrowed her gaze, ready to argue with him again. I feared I might not get another chance so I decided to return the topic of conversation back to me.

  "Actually, I have tons of questions. I just didn't want to sound rude."

  "Spill," Amber said, turning away from Aidan and crossing her arms over her chest.

  "You said the vampires and Shadows have been enemies for centuries. I know how strong they are, but I haven't seen much from you yet. What can you do apart from teleporting to places?" I bit my lip, avoiding their gazes, unsure whether I had crossed the line. For someone, who tried to avoid sounding rude, the way I had just put my question sounded anything but respectful. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to sound like you don't have any other abilities," I heard myself say, making it worse.

  "It's okay." Aidan walked over and patted my arm lightly, his gaze searching Amber's as though to ensure she wasn't going to have a fit. "We have superhuman strength, speed and hearing. And when we feed on someone else's blood, we absorb a life's worth of memories. None of their secrets will remain hidden from us. Not even future ones. We're basically connected with them, meaning we can influence their thoughts."

  I nodded, impressed. Then a thought hit me. "So, if you were to drink my blood all my secrets would be revealed to you, and you could turn me into a brainless zombie who follows your every command?"

  "All your secrets, knowledge, memories. Everything. We couldn't turn you into a zombie, but you'd have a hard time defying our wishes." He didn't get my hint. Or maybe he did. If he tasted my blood, he could sort through my memories, which in turn meant he could look through my past life and tell me how to use my powers.

  "I no longer drink blood, Sofia," Aidan said, sensing my thoughts. "Please don't ask any of us because a tiny drop from the source could turn us into raging maniacs."

  I shook my head. "I wouldn't. But is that why the Shadows fear you so much?"

  Amber blinked. "It is, isn't it? I always wondered. You know what really sucks? Being a vampire and having to figure everything out as I go along."

  "Might be time to open up some sort of support club," Aidan said. His smile told me he was joking but his eyes remained dead serious. Come to think of it, that wasn't such a bad idea. Maybe they could do the same thing for voodoo priestesses.

  "I want to use my powers," I whispered the same moment the door burst open and Thrain walked in with Cass trailing behind. She raised her eyebrows at me so I repeated the statement, this time a little louder even though I had no doubt she could understand me just fine.

  "When?" Thrain asked.

  "Today. Now."

  He regarded me for a long second, his eyes staring me down, questioning the sanity of the idea. "You don't know how to use them."

  I nodded. "That's true, but I doubt anyone could ever teach me. Voodoo is an ability, a calling." Don't ask me where I knew that part from. Wisdom just seemed to pour out of me, as though something had happened that kept triggering my memories. I smiled, self-satisfied, for a moment feeling like the important one in this room, not the usual odd one out because I wasn't immortal or as special as the others. I had an ability they didn't possess.

  Thrain opened his mouth to speak when Cass nudged him in the ribs, her gaze throwing daggers. "She's the expert, mate. She knows what she's doing. What do you need, Sofia? We can get hold of anything you want."

  I swallowed the sudden lump in my throat and tried hard to avoid Thrain's disapproving look. He was worried and I couldn't blame him. My mind searched through my vague memories for indicators of what I might need for my ritual. "Herbs—dried lavender and myrrh to banish bad spirits."

  "Amber might be able to help out with that part, if she's not running away first," Aidan said.

  "Or worse—fainting." Amber snuggled into his arms. "Sorry, can't help you. The last ghost I raised tried to claw my eyes out."

  Cass rolled her eyes. "Don't flatter yourself. You didn't raise her. In fact, you didn't even realize she was a ghost until I told you."

  "Whatever," Amber mumbled.

  I shot Thrain an amused look. He didn't retaliate. Well, if he didn't want to play along, then he'd have to stay out of my affairs because there was no turning back now. "I'll need blood."

  "You mean a drop?" Cass asked.

  I hesitated. "More like a bucket."

  "Shouldn't be too hard to get in a house full of vampires," Thrain muttered. "Might as well hit the blood bank now before they close, huh, Aidan?"

  "I need fresh blood," I whispered. All eyes turned on me. "What?" I shrugged. "Never seen the real deal?"

  "We have, but have you?" Aidan asked.

  "Let me think what else I might need." I dropped down on the couch and turned away, ignoring his question. What could I say? That I had seen lots of blood in my visions and that even the memories of its smell made me sick to my stomach? If I told them, they wouldn't take me seriously. My confidence in my abilities was already non-existent. "Candles and white chalk, a drum and a bell. I think that's it. If I remember anything else, I'll let you know. Now, if you'll excuse me I'd like to retreat to my room while you get everything." I stood and walked to the door with the others staring at me. Reaching the doorway, I called over my shoulder, "Oh, and a blade. And something personal that belonged to Dallas, preferably something soaked in blood."

  I didn't wait for their answer, just ran upstairs and locked myself inside the room, my hands shaking as I pressed my back against the closed door, letting my emotions take hold of me. What was I doing? I wasn't this confident voodoo priestess that could hold a ritual to return the soul of the deceased into a body. I needed more time. My hands rummaged inside the drawers to find some cigarettes. When I didn't find one, I slammed the drawers shut and dropped to the floor, pressing my back against the wall. It took me several minutes to calm down and convince myself I didn't need cigarettes. I went to the bathroom and dived my hands into the cold jet of water to cool my skin. Looking in the mirror, I noticed the dark circles framing my eyes. I needed rest, but I couldn't have it yet because I had a purpose to fulfill.

  I wanted this. I might not be ready, but I had no time to waste. The excitement at the prospect of finding out what I really was grabbed hold of me, pushing my fears to the back of my mind, my fingers already itching to give it a try.

  Chapter 18

  I barely got an hour of sleep before a knock on the door jolted me out of the scary darkness that seemed to take over whenever I closed my eyes. Groggy and jetlagged from all the traveling around, I sat up and called for my visitor to come in, almost expecting Thrain to pop through the door. But it was Amber who brought me lunch, then plopped down on the bed to join me for
company. I ate my lasagna and listened to her small talk, my mind half-busy with my own stuff. I still had no idea what I was getting myself into but I figured time would tell. Besides, it wasn't like I had a choice. If I truly and honestly wanted to talk to my sister, I had to figure this voodoo business out sooner rather than later.

  "You still want to do this?" Amber asked as she accompanied me to the living room downstairs.

  I stopped in my tracks and regarded her intently. "Isn't that what you want? To save your brother from sure death?"

  "Of course." She hesitated, and in that instant I saw countless emotions on her face. Hesitation. Doubt. Hope. "I just—" she paused to take a deep breath "—please don't mess up. I don't want him turned into something he isn't, like a flesh eating, brain dead zombie." The last word barely made its way out of her mouth. I smiled at her overactive imagination.

  "So you'd rather see him dead?"

  Her eyes grew wide and she shook her head vehemently. "No! Never. But I'm pretty sure he would prefer that option."

  I nodded and touched her arm gently. "Don't worry. I know what I'm doing." No idea where that came from because obviously I had no clue since I had never practiced voodoo before—not in this lifetime anyway. However, I was ready to give it a try. It wasn't like I actually believed anything I might be doing would actually work.

  She nodded, and for the first time a real smile lit up her face. I marveled at how pretty she looked, and so very British with her chubby face and curves in all the right places. Striking in her own way.

  I knew I should be wearing a robe or flowing gown for the ritual, but since I never asked for one of those, I figured my jeans would suffice. Hopefully, the gods and goddesses wouldn't see it as a lack of respect and would still listen to my plight. I accompanied Amber to the library. Gathered around the fireplace, where a hungry fire lapped greedily at dry wood, were Aidan and Cass. Thrain sat near the window, the farthest place from me.

  The carpet had been removed, revealing a gleaming wooden floor. On the coffee table, pushed to the far left, were the things I had ordered together with a bottle with a red liquid. My stomach clenched instantly and I felt all color drain from my cheeks.

  "Is that—" I couldn't even get the word out.

  "Blood?" Cass raised her brows. "Nope. It's red wine. We thought you might need a bit of a pick me up. Guess we were right."

  I felt my pulse steady again, as though a huge weight had just been lifted off my chest. "Right." I nodded and peered down at the floor, wondering where to begin. The chalk. I grabbed it from the table and drew a large circle, about a hundred and fifty inches in diameter, in the middle of the room, then lit several candles inside.

  "Do they need to be of a specific color?" Amber asked. "Sorry, you didn't say, so I chose white."

  "White's great." I smiled and grabbed the drum, my hand wandering over the tight skin on top, so smooth to the touch. And then the first memory came back to me. A warm summer night. People gathered around a fire and me holding a drum in my hand. A strong sense of peace washing over me as my hand started to pound, slowly at first, then faster and harder. Sweat poured down my back, the sheen layer making my clothes stick to my skin. I closed my eyes to savor the feeling. When I opened them again, I realized the drumming noise didn't take place just in my head. My hand was moving, beating a rhythm I had never heard in this life. The others were staring at me.

  I smiled and put the drum aside. "Sorry. I got carried away."

  "So that's how it works," Cass muttered.

  "She tried her hand at magic," Aidan explained, pointing at Cass. "Didn't work out so well, huh?"

  Cass shot him a venomous look, and I turned away, eager to get acquainted with my new materials. I spread the dried branches and herbs around me, then grabbed the white material someone had folded next to a dagger and took my place in the middle of the circle.

  "I'll need the body," I whispered. "I can't do this if he doesn't have one."

  "Dallas's body is in a safe place. I've brought you something that belonged to him," Cass said.

  "Is this it?" I swallowed the sudden lump in my throat. My hand hovered over the shirt, but I didn't touch it.

  Cass nodded gravely. "It's what he wore when he died."

  The brownish stains on the front couldn't be mistaken for anything else. Judging from the amount of it and all the slashes and holes, it wasn't a nice death either. I peered at the dried blood for a few seconds, then peeled my gaze away because just thinking of gore and what else not wasn't doing my stomach any favors. And yet I knew I had no choice. "I need a sacrifice. More blood."

  "He's my brother. I'll do it," Amber whispered.

  "No. It has to come from me." Cass raised her chin defiantly, daring anyone to disagree, but Amber and Aidan remained quiet. I glanced at Thrain. He peered back at me, brows drawn, lips pressed into a grim line.

  "Everybody, step into the circle, please." I raised my hands over my head to signal we were about to begin. Amber, Cass and Aidan sat down in front of me, inches away from the white line around us.

  "I'm a demon," Thrain said. "I doubt anything you raise could ever hurt me. Besides, I'd rather watch from here in case I need to step in." Reading his worried expression, I could see my safety mattered to him. The realization made me feel all warm and cozy inside. I wanted to run over and kiss him for good luck, but I feared if I left the circle I might not have the courage to start over.

  "Sure. Whatever you see, don't get involved," I said. Thrain nodded and with that I proceeded. Looking at the materials in front of me, I took the bell, which felt cold in my hands, and rang it twice as I began to chant, "The circle is closed." My voice started low but steady and rose in intensity as I gained confidence. "Raise this spirit and bring it home safely."

  The others remained quiet. I don't know how much time passed, only that a sense of peace washed over me, and I embraced it like I would a long lost friend. The room slowly dissipated into nothingness and the faces of the others became blurred until I was no longer aware of their presence. The only thing I could hear was the drum.

  For a long time, I just focused on the sound of my voice competing with the drum. And then my mind became clearer and sharper, my intentions more pronounced, and I saw the room through semi-darkness. Though I wasn't sure whether I even opened my mouth, I spoke in a language I didn't understand, begging the gods and goddesses to gather at my command and grant the gift of life for a recently deceased soul. I dropped the drum, grabbed the white shirt with one hand, wrapped it around Cass's wrist and retrieved the dagger, piercing it into her palm. She gasped as the sharp blade cut through skin and flesh, but I didn't let go. With one hand I held her wrist in place and with the other I carved a symbol I didn't recognize so deep her blood soaked the shirt and the virgin white became a tainted red. The sickening smell of iron filled the air. It didn't bother me as I put the dagger aside and resumed my drumming.

  I could feel the strange presence emerging from the left side. With soft, hesitant steps it came closer and stopped at the edge of the circle. Amber let out a shriek. Aidan grabbed her in his arms and started whispering soothing words in her ear. My gaze, however, fell on Cass who just sat there and stared ahead as though she could see the entity and, unlike Amber, wasn't afraid.

  "How do you—"

  "I'm a reaper, mate. Seeing the dead is my business now," Cass interrupted.

  I nodded and resumed my drumming, watching the young man from the corner of my mind. Confused, his eyes darted across the room, never falling on anything for longer than a second or two. His mouth hung slightly open, his neck was covered in blood, dark shadows framed his hazel eyes, but nothing could cloud his beauty that resembled Amber's so much. Not even the deathly pallor. I focused on him and imagined him in a different time, with full lips curled into a smile and the smooth skin on his neck untouched by the beast that had torn it to shreds. I imagined him full of life with his cheeks flushed and his eyes gleaming from the love he felt for his mate
, Cassandra.

  Something flickered in the ghost's gaze, and I knew he had just started to remember his life, his love, his dreams. "Dallas, follow my drum and it will take you to where you belong," I whispered in that strange language.

  And then the drumming began again: loud, firm, making my heart pump harder. Sweat started to pour out of me, soaking my clothes. My voice rose and fell as my hands moved even faster. My own spirit left my body and started to float, then took off through the woods, flying at an unspeakable speed with the ghost following behind. All I could see were the woods below, but I could feel the exhilarating power of the wind in my hair. The cold breeze made my damp skin shiver, and yet I didn't stop until I reached a huge mansion below me. The drumbeat slowed down to let us descent through the mansion's roof into a tiny room where the body of a young man lay on a bed, covered in white sheets that made his skin look even paler. The gash on his neck exposed tendons and bones where the flesh had been ripped out. I focused on his golden hair that seemed to catch the few rays of light falling in through the drawn curtains.

  "You're home, Dallas. But you need to return inside your body," I said, smiling.

  The ghost hesitated, then took another step forward and reached out for his once mortal body. Slowly, his hand began to sink inside the human flesh. He leaned forward until he disappeared half inside, then completely. Dallas's body began to shake uncontrollably. From the corner of my eye, I noticed a shadow behind me. Was it his guardian? I had no time to find out because the door burst open and a man hurried in, his powerful energy frightening me. My heart began to pound hard as he stopped next to Dallas's body, then turned to face me as though he could sense my astral body.

 
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