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Voodoo kiss, p.15
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       Voodoo Kiss, p.15

           Jayde Scott
 
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  "Thank you," he whispered, his stunning green eyes glinted. I didn't need to ask who he was. The resemblance to Cass was uncanny. I stared at him, mesmerized, until I remembered I had a job to do.

  I nodded and fell back into the beat of the drum, rising through the air to return to the huge Scottish mansion. The way back seemed longer, filled with quiet and yet also with a sadness I didn't understand. Tiredness washed over me. The whooshing sound in my head became painful, and the light hurt my eyes. I was tempted to descend and rest in the woods below, if only for a brief moment, but I kept going. I could feel my body pulling me back. Aidan's mansion appeared in the distance when I broke down and everything went black. In the cold enveloping me I could feel someone touch my shoulder with freezing fingers.

  "You must go back."

  I shook my head lightly, signaling I didn't want to. Not yet. The icy fingers clamped around my shoulders and shook hard, forcing me to sit up.

  "Go, now!"

  Groaning, I began to ascend again and headed for the mansion. I was so tired, it took me a while to reach it. Only when I opened my eyes did I realize I must have closed them at some point. My hands rested on the drum and my head had rolled back as though in sleep. I pulled myself up, and the dizziness faded a little. My heart was still pounding hard in my chest.

  I cleared my throat and straightened my back, then rang the bell to signal the end of the session.

  "You've done it. Thank you so much," Cass whispered, two tears rolling down her plump cheeks. I nodded and let her hug me because it was easier than to protest. The sudden weariness pressing down on my chest made me want to hide under my blanket and sleep off the fatigue that seemed to come from the core of my being. And yet I couldn't because my work wasn't done yet.

  "Thrain, can I have some water?" My throat felt hoarse as I spoke, my voice sounded alien in my ears. He hurried over with a glass of water and I drank it hastily as I signaled the others that they could leave the circle. For a few seconds, they just stared at me before the questioning began. I sank into Thrain's arms as I answered dutifully, my attention focused on Cass. The long nails were gone now; the menacing flair around her had vanished. Her skin seemed to glow, her whole being radiated light and—darkness, but not in a scary way. Just different.

  "Gotta go," she said.

  I nodded, understanding. She had to see Dallas. If I were her, I'd want to see my mate too instead of engaging in meaningless small talk. With a last smile, she took off.

  "That's enough," Thrain said and scooped me up on his arms, ignoring my protest that I wasn't finished. In few long strides, he carried me up the stairs to my room.

  "Cass isn't just any angel, is she?" I whispered as he sat me down. He nodded and sat down on the bed next to me. His big hands cupped my face; his green eyes met my gaze with an expression I couldn't interpret. "Thank you for helping her and for trusting us." And then he kissed me softly. I opened my mouth to say that I would do it again. Any time. I would do anything for him. But he pressed a finger against my lips, forcing me to listen. "Thank you for being here with me." I shrugged to show it wasn't a big deal. His lips grazed my earlobe, sending shivers down my spin. I let out a soft moan.

  "There's something I haven't told you," Thrain whispered. "I've been waiting to meet my mate for a long time. I thought it'd never happen and that maybe I might not have one. And then I met you." He moistened his lips and ran a finger down my cheek. "You're beautiful and more amazing than I ever hoped for."

  My heart skipped a beat as he whispered in my ear, "Promise you'll always stay with me. No matter what." He looked at me expectantly. A tear slipped down my cheek. In that instant, I knew I had fallen in love with him and that the bond we shared would make this love grow stronger.

  "I promise," I said softly.

  He smiled and leaned closer until our lips almost met. "Soph, I'll follow you everywhere. I'll do anything you want." His lips crushed mine. My mind began to spin and I let myself fall into his embrace, abandoning my own being to become a part of him, even if only for a few brief seconds. The room seemed forgotten. My fingers began to unbutton his shirt when a loud screech pierced my eardrums. I broke free and pressed my hands against my ears to stop the unnerving sound.

  Chapter 19

  The screech piercing my eardrums came out of nowhere. If it weren't for Thrain to jump up and run outside, I would've thought it was all happening in my head again, which wouldn't surprise me in the slightest. My palms pressed harder against my ears to drown out the noise as I followed a step behind Thrain. He turned and frowned at me.

  "What?" I mouthed.

  "Please, stay inside." His voice was low, barely more than a whisper. I was amazed to find I was able to hear him over the shrilling screech coming from outside.

  I shook my head. "There's no way I'm staying here and you get to have all the fun." For a moment, our gazes locked in a fierce battle for control. The corners of his lips twitched, and I found myself smiling with him. He seemed to find my defiance endearing just as much as I found his protective nature one of the most attractive features about him. I grabbed his hand and dragged him behind me out the door. "Come on. You're wasting time."

  He sighed but didn't argue, which suited me just fine. I had enough distractions already and didn't need another one. The noise came from the woods, near the gate. My shoe soles barely made any noise on the cobblestones as we took off down the declining path. For a moment I even felt a bit like the immortals, until my breathing started to sound like a whistle and I vowed to give up smoking. By the time Thrain and I reached the gate the noise had stopped. Aidan and Amber were already there, searching the thicket.

  "Did you hear that noise?" I asked. "What was it?"

  Aidan stopped in his tracks and turned to look at me. "What noise?"

  I groaned inwardly. It had all been a figment of my imagination. The fact that I couldn't distinguish between fact and fiction was slowly starting to piss me off. "You didn't hear it?"

  "Nope." He cocked a brow. That didn't make any sense. Why would they be running out like maniacs if they didn't hear anything? Aidan pointed behind him at the gate. "I felt their presence."

  "And I picked up his thoughts," Amber said, touching the wall. "Shadows."

  "I thought so too," Aidan said. "But it's different. Look—" He leaned forward to smell a stone in the wall. I inched closer and took a whiff. All I could smell was rain and dust.

  "I smell it too," Amber whispered. "It's strange. So similar to their scent and yet not quite. What bothers me though is the fact that it's on the inside of the wall."

  I followed her line of vision from the wall to Aidan whose face had just turned into a mask of fury. "They wouldn't dare enter my property."

  "Last time I checked they literally couldn't enter so maybe it's just a coincidence," Amber said.

  Coincidences were nothing but poor excuses to shrug off the unbelievable, my grandmother always said. My gaze scanned the trees and bushes around us as the others decided to get back to the house and start searching the area for any intruders. But they didn't need to.

  He was waiting for us in the living room, sitting on the couch like an invited guest. Lost for words, I blinked several times, unsure whether I was seeing a ghost. And yet I knew it was Gael because no ghost would ever regard me the way he did. Cold. Arrogant. Accusing. I cleared my throat, suddenly feeling guilty for dumping him via email. He didn't deserve it.

  "So you're Gael, and mortal. That certainly explains how you got in," Amber said, planting herself in front of me.

  I appreciated the concern but pushed her aside and took a step forward. "How did you find me?"

  "There's a lovely invention called IP address, which is quite easy to track. Obviously, I took the first flight because you just disappeared and we were worried sick about you." Gael inched closer and reached out for me. I hesitated for a moment, then decided that not grabbing his hand was just rude. So I touched his skin, marveling at how cold it seemed. As
though he had just stepped out of a freezer.

  "I thought you knew how to avoid tracking," Amber said to Thrain.

  "He does," Aidan said, his gaze still focused on Gael. "He just chose not to."

  I turned to Thrain, my gaze throwing daggers. "Why would you do that?" I wished he would've told me so I could prepare myself for my ex starting to stalk me.

  "You both need closure. I don't want to be the rebound." Thrain's hesitation told me he was lying. I felt there was something else he chose to keep from me. I liked him mysterious but not secretive.

  I narrowed my gaze at Gael. "I'm perfectly fine. I'm sorry I didn't tell you I was going to spend some time with a few friends."

  "Why did you disappear?" The accusatory tone in Gael's voice made sense, and yet there was something else I couldn't quite pinpoint, something dark and angry.

  "I needed a break."

  "Come on, let's give them some privacy," Amber said.

  Thrain shook his head. "No." His attitude surprised me. I had fulfilled my mission of returning Dallas's soul into his body so, according to our bargain, I was free now, even though not freed from danger. Whatever the Shadows wanted from me, they were probably still after me. Thrain's concern touched me deep within my heart. I shot him a reassuring smile, then turned back to Gael.

  "I'm really thankful for everything you've done for me, but you and I are over. Nothing you could possibly say will change my mind. I'll call you a taxi." I turned away when Gael's hand clasped around my wrist, hurting me. "I want you to come home with me."

  "It's over." I pulled away, but he didn't release his grip. His expression resembled an angry mask. He looked like he'd drag me behind him all the way to the airport.

  Thrain lunged at him and sent him flying against the couch. They both landed on the floor with a thud, Gael on his back and Thrain on top of him, his fists clenched around Gael's shirt. Given his short temper, I thought Gael would at least attempt to strike Thrain, but he just raised his hand, palms stretched out.

  "I'm sorry, man. I didn't know you two were—" Gael's eyes gleamed with something, and for a moment I thought I saw that black glint again that seemed to shine through every now and then. It was gone in the blink of an eye.

  Thrain got up and moved away from him, only to stop in front of me as though to protect me. I was slowly starting to get into this alpha thing. It sure was sexy as hell but so not appropriate right now.

  "Go away." I pushed him aside and reached out to help Gael up.

  "Thanks." He stood but didn't touch my hand. "A taxi would be great."

  I nodded and hurried out into the hall, eager to escape the pained expression on his face. To dump him was one thing, but to let him see me with my new conquest just a day after breaking up was another. I felt horrible for doing this to him when he had stood by me after my sister's death.

  "Let me help you," Amber whispered, taking the phone receiver out of my hand. I nodded thankfully and pressed my back against the wall. My feelings of guilt and shame threatened to choke me, and yet I knew there was nothing I could do to soften the blow. Gael was a catch. Every girl would be happy to date him. Just not me.

  Gael appeared in the doorway. Amber put down the receiver and said to no one in particular, "A taxi will be here in an hour."

  "So you're staying?" Gael asked. I didn't need to look up to know he was talking to me. I nodded. He took a deep breath. "Okay. Come to think of it, I won't need the ride. I forgot I told the taxi driver to wait down the street. Goodbye, Sofia." The melancholy in his voice cut a big hole in my heart.

  "Take care." My eyes searched his. I thought I would find something there, maybe love or sadness, but there was nothing like it. For a moment, his lips curled into a smile—and not a nice one. A glint appeared in his eyes again, giving him a menacing look that made me flinch. A shiver ran down my spine.

  And then he turned and disappeared with Aidan following behind probably to escort him out. For the first time, I breathed out, relieved and happy to see Gael go.

  "You okay?" Amber asked.

  I nodded and straightened my back. A feeling of urgency grabbed hold of me, as though I knew I didn't have much time left to finish what I had started. "Let's go back to the library, shall we?"

  Amber seemed taken aback but didn't comment as she accompanied me, then disappeared to get the others. I stared out the window at the woods stretching behind the house. The crow was there again, regarding me intently, its beak slightly open. And then the screeching in my head resumed.

  Chapter 20

  Gael still lingered at the back of my mind when I took my previous spot on the couch. Cass had returned and sat next to me, her hands clasped around mine, her green, cat-like eyes shining. "Thank you for everything," she said, grabbing me in a tight hug.

  I nodded, not used to gratefulness and open displays of affection coming from strangers, but I figured Cass and I weren't quite strangers, more like acquaintances and hopefully friends very soon. I barely knew her, but there was something about her that made me want to keep her around.

  "How's Dallas?" Amber asked.

  "He's sleeping. Now that his soul's returned to his body, Dad has arranged for our best healers to get him back in shape in no time."

  "That's awesome," I said. Amber nodded. I could see her relief.

  Cass blew her nose and wiped a hand over her cheeks. "You've no idea how much your help means to me." I didn't want to point out I never offered my help. They had actually kidnapped me in order to make a deal. And the deal had been a tempting one. She could read my mind anyway, so I'm pretty sure she got the message loud and clear. I smiled and let her continue, "I promised you would get to see Theo if you helped Dallas. You kept your part of the bargain, and now it's time for me to keep mine."

  I took a deep breath and shot Thrain a hopeful look. He smiled at me encouragingly, then nodded. "I'm ready," I said, meaning every word. Hundreds of thoughts raced through my mind. How would I see my sister? Would Amber summon her from the otherworld? Would Cass be opening a portal so I could peer in? Or would someone play vessel? Wringing my hands in my lap, I smiled at myself, happy to finally get to see, hear or feel my sister again. It meant the world to me.

  Cass flicked her phone open and typed in some numbers. The air began to crackle as though charged with electricity. A moment later, I felt a pull on my left arm that hung over the couch.

  "Chop chop. We only have a minute before this thing closes, and I can't guarantee it will open again any time soon." Cass grabbed my arm to pull me up. Her grip was gentle, slightly impatient, but not forceful. I wondered whether the resurrection of her mate meant she had lost her reaper abilities.

  "Yep," Cass said, grinning. "Can't pretend I'm not happy. While it might be fun to fly to places, those wings on my back weighted a ton. Another week and I would've resembled a Pterosaurs." When she noticed my confused expression, she laughed. "Doesn't ring a bell? They're, like, big, winged dinosaurs. Fast and strong, and deadly." Thrain said she used to be bubbly prior to her transformation. I could certainly see that now as Cass kept chatting.

  Aidan pinched her biceps, winking at me. "Don't worry, Cass. You're nowhere near." She slapped his hand away, smiling, then motioned me to follow. I stood and stepped through the portal into…sizzling heat.

  A hot gust blew my hair into my face, reminding me of popping my hands into an oven to pull out a hot dish, except that the temperature here was so high I almost expected my skin to melt. Cass pointed at the cracking, black earth under our feet. The fissures were the size of my forearm with white steam rising out of them.

  "Aw, can't believe I've missed this place," Cass said.

  "Me too," Amber said. "I kinda liked our tiny house in Distros."

  Thrain leaned in to explain. "That's the second highest dimension of Hell." I felt my eyes widen. Then again, why was I even surprised? If the view didn't scream scorching heat, which doesn't quite fit the idea of Heaven, the smell certainly did.

  I didn'
t need another confirmation that Hell existed, and I hoped—prayed—Theo wouldn't be here forever. I covered my nose to escape the biting stench of sulfur and forced myself to breathe through my open mouth.

  "It's coming from the volcanoes over there." Cass pointed behind us to the hills in the distance. I gaped in awe at the huge mountains and the red sky. Foul-smelling gases seemed to shimmer in the setting sun. Bright orange magma erupted from the top, spreading in a wide circle like a huge halo, then flowed down at a leisurely speed, leaving a trail of liquid lava in its wake.

  "Let's go. Dad's waiting," Cass said, taking off down what seemed to be a path, but I couldn't be sure because it was covered in dust and dry twigs and branches. We passed a large formation of boulders. The farther we marched through this deserted place, the faster Cass seemed to move. By the time we reached a tall fence, almost a foot taller than me, rivulets of sweat trickled down my body.

  Cass opened the gate and let us into a large yard with yet more dying trees and a wilted lawn. My gaze wandered past the cobblestone path to the imposing building stretching against the sky. It was the biggest mansion I had ever seen, all red brick with huge bay windows and pretty turrets on the roof. Stretching up the walls were vines and rosebushes with thorns as large as my thumb. But what caught my attention were the stone gargoyles peering at us through eyes as black as coal. Feeling watched, I inched closer to Thrain, who wrapped his arm around me, and I swear for a moment I thought one of the gargoyles turned his head to follow me. Its lips pulled back to reveal fletched, razor sharp teeth. One of them shifted slowly and let out a piercing shriek.

  "Spooky, huh?" Thrain whispered. "You should see them at night when their eyes turn red and fluorescent. They look like the miniature of Cass's hellhound. That one's not a pretty sight either."

  "Are they alive?" My gaze settled on them. I almost expected them to jump down from their crouching position, spread their huge wings, and lunge at me to sink their teeth into my flesh.

  "Very much so," Thrain said. "They're demons of a lower order with the sole purpose to protect the Big Boss." Aka the green-eyed guy I had seen after reuniting Dallas's soul with his body.

 
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