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Voodoo kiss, p.16
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       Voodoo Kiss, p.16

           Jayde Scott
 
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  The huge mahogany door opened before us, freaking me out a bit. Cass motioned us to follow her into the tiled hall with several vases with fresh tulips. The walls were kept in an understated white, the only picture on the wall showed a young girl with red, braided hair and an infectious smile leaning over a huge, dog-like creature with a head so large it could probably swallow the child in one whole piece.

  "That's her pet?" I whispered.

  Thrain nodded, amused. "Yep. Don't ask to cuddle it though 'cause it's known to bite off a limb or two."

  I puffed. Cuddling this beast was the last thing on my mind. In fact, the picture would probably haunt me in my dreams for the next few months. We followed Cass through a door to our left into a modern living room kept in yet more white with gray and red. In the middle of the room, leather couchs were set up around a glass table in front of a fireplace. Black and white paintings with silver frames built a strong contrast to the blood red carpet covering the marble floor. Polished silver candleholders sparkled in the soft glow falling in through the windows covering the entire wall. It looked understated and yet so chic, I could swear it had been copied out of a magazine.

  "Like it?" Cass smiled. I nodded enthusiastically, truly meaning it.

  "Whoever designed this has amazing taste," I said.

  She giggled and turned to the door a moment before it burst open and a huge guy hurried in, covering the entire length of the room in two long strides. Thrain bowed deeply.

  "Dad." Cass fell into his arms. He laughed and planted a kiss on her red hair. His twinkling green eyes fell on me, and for a moment I forgot to breathe. The guy was even more gorgeous than in my vision. His white shirt with just one fashionable button undone stretched over his bulging muscles. I stared at the way his black hair fell against his broad shoulders, wondering whether it was as soft and dense as it seemed.

  "You're kidding me. What's wrong with you, guys? First Amber couldn't stop gawking and now you," Cass said, peeling herself away from him. "Get a grip, mate. He's my dad. Do you have any idea how old he is? Like, ancient."

  "Sofia. I'm Lucifer. Thank you for saving my daughter. I'll be forever in your debt." He inched forward and reached out his hand. I grabbed it in a slack grip, lost for words because I had never imagined the devil to be so—

  "Gorgeous, handsome, fit?" Cass rolled her eyes, then turned to peer out the door. "Where's Dallas?"

  "You mean this young man?" Lucifer stepped aside to free the view onto the hall. In the doorway stood the blond guy from my vision, his hands were buried deep in his pockets. A hesitant smile played on his lips. His wounds were gone, leaving a red scar behind.

  The voodoo ritual had worked, which was proof I could tap into my powers and help a lost soul find his way back to his body. I looked at Cass expectantly, waiting for her to rush for him and give him the same enthusiastic greeting she had given her father, but she didn't. Instead, her lips began to quiver and tears streamed down her face. I could only hope it was the joy that froze her to the spot.

  "I'm sorry, Dallas," she finally said.

  He inched closer and wrapped his arms around her. A sob escaped her throat. The air was charged with tension. Who knew reunions could be as difficult as goodbyes?

  "I'm so sorry," she said for the umpteenth time. "For lying, for deceiving, for misleading you. I would never have done it were it not for this stupid curse."

  "That will bind you to Hell until you marry your soulmate," he finished the sentence, wiping her tears off her cheeks. "I knew you were lying, Cass. Your whole story didn't make much sense. I just thought you would start telling the truth at some point, you know, for the sake of our relationship. But you never did, until it was too late."

  Watching Cass crying, I realized how fragile she was when I thought she was the strongest of us. Dallas pulled her against his chest and whispered soothing words I couldn't discern. Eventually, Cass's crying subsided and she turned away from him, still holding his hand as though she feared she would lose him again.

  "Dallas," Amber called out.

  He noticed us then. The way his eyes sparkled, I could see his joy at reuniting with his sister. "Hey, sis. What's with the pale as a ghost look? I thought I was the goner." Grinning, he pointed at her pale face and grabbed her in a tight hug.

  It was a happy reunion that reminded me I still hadn't seen my sister, but I didn't want to spoil their special moment.

  "Great job, Sofia." Lucifer nodded and disappeared behind one of the big doors, only to reappear a few seconds later.

  "What's so funny?" Cass said. My attention snapped back to her.

  Dallas shook his head. "Nothing."

  "You don't believe this curse exists. You think I made it up." Her voice betrayed reproach and a very short temper.

  Dallas raised his hands in mock defense. " Of course I believe you. It's just that your birthday is in less than a week."

  "Thanks for pointing out that you're not ready to marry me," she scoffed. I peered from Amber to Cass and then back to Amber whose expression mirrored my thoughts.

  She whispered to me, "Trouble in paradise, and this after five minutes together. Isn't love grand?"

  I had no idea what that curse entailed, but I could tell whatever it was the guy had no intention to marry her. I felt sorry for Cass. Lying wasn't exactly a desirable trait, but whatever fibs she had told him couldn't be so bad when she had just saved his life.

  "Go out and enjoy your last days of freedom," Dallas said. "I'll be here, waiting for you."

  "You're such a moron." Amber marched over and punched his shoulder. "Why don't you just marry her? You share a bond, you idiot, and she just saved your life. The least you could do is get rid of that commitment phobia of yours and tie the knot."

  I nodded, even though I lacked the background knowledge and the whole situation wasn't even my business.

  "She's right, Dallas," Aidan said.

  "I never said I wouldn't marry her," Dallas said. "Just not now. I want us to get to know each other without all the lies and the deceit, which is why I'm staying here with you." His hand brushed Cass's hair out of her face. "Are you listening? I'm not going anywhere. Just no more lying, Cass."

  Her hand clenched and unclenched. As the Princess of Darkness Cass was probably used to getting her way, so someone defying her wishes wasn't helping her short temper.

  "Cass?" Lucifer said. The warning in his voice didn't go unnoticed. Her shoulders slumped slightly, but her fists remained clenched.

  "I need a timeline. How long am I supposed to stay here, locked up in this prison?" she asked.

  Dallas shook his head, grinning. "As long as it takes."

  "No."

  "I'm ready to negotiate…in private." He grabbed her arm and pulled her into the hall, disappearing with her down the hall.

  "Just don't try to do anything funny. I can still hear you," Lucifer yelled after them. I thought it was just a joke, until he turned and I noticed his dead serious expression. "I believe you came here for something in particular."

  My palms started to sweat. A shiver ran down my spine. Thrain wrapped his arm around my shoulder to steady me, misinterpreting my sudden shaking.

  "Theo! Care to join us?" Lucifer's voice sounded soft and tender, like a father speaking to a child.

  I craned my neck to get a better glimpse at the fourteen year old girl appearing in the hall. Her long, flowing, white dress gave her the appearance of an angel floating above the ground. Her blonde hair looked like a glowing curtain, reaching down to her waist.

  My breath caught in my throat as I reached out for her to close her in my arms. She felt so tiny and fragile, so lost. Huge sobs rippled the air. It took me a while to realize they were my own.

  "They said I could see you soon, but I never believed it," Theo whispered, wiping away the tears covering my cheeks.

  I laughed through my ebbing sobs. "For the last six months I've been wanting to tell you how sorry I am for what happened."

  "It was
n't your fault. I shouldn't have been so careless," Theo whispered. Yes, that was my sister, always blaming herself.

  From the corner of my eye, I watched the others pouring out of the room and the door closing behind them. I sat down on the couch with Theo in my arms, my hands brushing her soft, almost white hair as we lost ourselves in a long talk, recalling the past to fill in the blanks that had always made me doubt Theo's death had been an accident.

  Chapter 21

  Seven months earlier

  It was the beginning of January. Only a few days ago, we had celebrated Christmas together. Sitting on the plush couch between my father and his new wife, Marie had been an awkward affair, considering that the woman had split up my family when I was just a child, and taken my father away from my mother. I felt the usual guilt nagging at the back of mind, but more than ever I was determined to ignore it. As much as I blamed my father and his new wife for giving up the life he had shared with us, he was trying hard to make me forget his betrayal by helping me with my music career.

  Since the day I mentioned I wanted to be a musician, he paid for months of intensive voice training. Marie even organized a gig for me. It wasn't a big one, just some minor two-song performance in a well-known club in Manhattan. But apparently a scout would attend, which turned what should've been a nice experience into a huge opportunity that made my heart race.

  I wiped my damp hands on my short skirt as I slipped into my boots and leather jacket, then hugged my half-sister, Theo, tight. Even though we didn't grow up together, we had always been close. Surprisingly, I had never blamed her for my father's choice to leave my mother and me behind to start a new life with Marie and their daughter, Theo. Maybe because she had always looked up to me like a real sister.

  "Good luck, Soph. You know you won't need it 'cause you'll blow them away." Her thin voice betrayed her nervousness. She knew how much this meant to me and she tried her best to boost my confidence.

  "Thanks." I kissed her cheek and grabbed my guitar case. "Don't wait up."

  "Are you kidding me? I'll wait up and I'll want to know everything," Theo said. Smiling, I gave her a last squeeze, then hurried out the door.

  Darkness had descended half an hour ago. The winter wind whipped my hair into my face. I pulled my hood over my head and marched down the busy street in search of a taxi. I knew I should've called one to wait outside the building, but I figured it would take less than five minutes to find one. After all, this was New York with a taxi around every corner. Or so I thought.

  Ten minutes later, I was still squeezing my way through busy post-Christmas sale shoppers, who had gathered in front of the fashion outlets littering this part of the city. Several taxis had swooshed past, all occupied or unwilling to stop. My fingers were frozen in my mittens, the cold in my toes felt like icicles. I reached into my almost empty bag and realized I forgot my cell phone, meaning calling a taxi was out of the question.

  Having spent a few months in Manhattan I knew my way around, so I wrapped my jacket tighter around my shivering body to fight the cold and battled forward against the wind. In the darkness, all streets looked the same. It took me a while to realize I was lost.

  "Crap." I stomped my foot impatiently as I tried to read the street sign in the distance. I had left the house early because I wanted to avoid making a beginner mistake like arriving late and blowing my chance. But my watch told me time was running out. If I didn't hurry, I would indeed make the biggest mistake of my life. Just as I didn't expect it, a taxi drove around the corner. I waved and yelled, even though I doubted the driver could hear me. My heart started to beat like a drum in my ears as the vehicle drove past—and pulled over. I ran the short distance and jumped onto the backseat, telling the driver I was in a hurry. The driver sped off before I even closed the door.

  The streets were unusually busy. Leaning against the cold leather, I could already tell I wouldn't make it on time. My spirits dropped as my future rolled like a black and white movie before my eyes. Would I ever get such a chance again? I didn't think so.

  I arrived at the bar an hour late, paid the driver and got out. For a short moment, I still hoped I might get a chance to play after all—until I saw the blue lights flashing in the parking space and people gathered around an ambulance. Two police officers were trying to disperse the crowd.

  "What happened?" I asked a girl standing nearby.

  "Someone was killed right outside the club," she said.

  "That's horrible." A cold shiver ran down my spine and my hands turned clammy at the thought of a murderer running berserk. "I hope they got the killer." I craned my head to get a better view at the victim, catching a glimpse of her blonde hair. Before the doors of the ambulance car slammed shut, I recognized the familiar face. A chilling scream pierced my eardrums—a scream I realized was mine.

  "Theo!" I screamed, pushing through the crowd.

  A police officer pushed me back. "Please step back, Ma'am."

  "That's my sister," I screamed, my tears blurring my sight. He shook his head, signaling he wouldn't let me through, and the ambulance drove away. I broke down, crying. Someone helped me to my feet and said something. I pushed the person away from me, devastated. I would never mistake that white blonde curtain of hair, and yet denial kicked in. Maybe it wasn't Theo. It couldn't be.

  A thick haze descended upon my mind as I wandered through the streets for hours. I don't know how I made it back home, only that my father and Marie were already there with a female police officer. Marie was crying against my father's chest as he tried to comfort her. I had never seen so much rage on his face, but the incident still didn't quite register with me. I felt as though I was watching a tragic show on television.

  "You must be Sofia," the officer said. I nodded and sat down on the couch. The police officer's face remained dead serious as she continued, "I'll need to ask you a few questions, please."

  "It's all your fault," Marie screamed, her face contorted in agony, palms pressed against her chest as she sobbed. "If it weren't for you, she'd still be alive."

  "Shush." My father drew Marie to his chest, but I could see the reproach in his eyes. They thought me responsible for Theo's death, and somehow I felt as though they were right. She must've followed me to that club and if it were not for my performance, she would still be here.

  ***

  Still sitting on Cass's couch cradling my baby sister Theo in my arms, I wiped the tears from my eyes as I listened to Theo's story.

  She said I had barely left her parents' house when the phone rang. The club manager called to inform me the scout would arrive half an hour early and I would have to hurry to make it. Theo immediately called my cell number only to hear it ring where I had left it on the breakfast table in the hall. Unsure how else to reach me, she called a taxi from my cell phone, told her parents she'd be going to bed early and sneaked out of the house.

  She arrived at the club before me and since she was underage and they wouldn't let her wait inside, she thought it best to wait near the car park until I arrived. She had been freezing in the cold for a few minutes when movement caught her attention. From the corner of her eye, she noticed Derrick, Gael's brother, behind her. She wasn't scared because we had spent many days in Central Park together, and she trusted him. Before she could turn around, his palm clamped around her mouth, muffling her startled yelp.

  Theo recounted how she kicked and tried to break free from his iron lock when he dragged her behind a car and thrust a knife into her chest several times. The excruciating pain cut off her air support. Blood poured out of her, gathering in a puddle on the ground and making her dizzy. She raised her gaze to meet his dark eyes.

  "Theo?" He kneeled beside her and gathered her in his arms. "I'm so sorry. I didn't know. I thought—"

  In the dim light of a streetlamp she could hear the gurgling sound in her throat. She opened her mouth to speak and spit out a warm, thick liquid. A dark figure grabbed Derrick's arm and tried to pull him away from her, muttering so
mething she didn't understand. Derrick dropped her limp body to the ground together with the knife. She knew she was dying, but it wasn't right. Her time shouldn't have come yet. Anger rose inside her. Pushing up on her elbows, Theo's gaze focused on Derrick. She picked up the knife and, with her last might, she plunged it into his neck before darkness descended upon her. Derrick's scream for help pierced her eardrum a moment before he was dragged away. The image before her eyes became blurry, then dissipated into nothing. As a sense of peace washed over her, Theo dropped back onto the asphalt. Pitch black gathered around her, enveloping her a spilt second later, and she let go of life willingly, happy to have avenged her death.

  Chapter 22

  The door opened and closed with a soft click. My arms were still wrapped around Theo's shivering body; a sob escaped my throat even though I had long depleted all tears.

  "I'm so sorry," Thrain's voice whispered in my ear. His hand wrapped around my shoulders to help me up. I didn't want to leave my sister, but I knew my time with her was probably up. As I peered up at Thrain, I could see the moisture glistening in his eyes, as if he had been crying with me. "Ready to go?" he asked.

  I shook my head. "I'll never be."

  He wrapped his arm around my waist and shot Theo a smile. "I know, but we'll take good care of her." The thought comforted me for all of three seconds.

  "Gael's brother, Derrick, killed her," I said.

  "I know." His voice was so gentle, it broke my heart. I felt tears pricking my eyes again. Thrain squeezed my hand. "I'm sorry, I've been instructed to take you home. Take your time saying goodbye. I'll wait outside."

  I nodded and grabbed Theo in a tight hug again, whispering words of comfort I needed just as much. Even though I had discovered how she had died and who the killer was, I wished I also knew his motive.

 
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