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Voodoo kiss, p.17
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       Voodoo Kiss, p.17

           Jayde Scott
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  Derrick had died of a heart attack at around the same time as Theo—or so Gael's family said. I had felt sorry for them, but I no longer did. Whatever fate befell him, he deserved it. I hoped he rotted in Hell this very instant.

  It took me a while to peel myself away from Theo and say goodbye to her and Cass's father, who hugged me before sending me back through the portal into the real world. My work was done, and yet Amber and Aidan insisted I spend some time with them in Scotland before returning to New York. Immediate solitude would've been my first choice but my Russian roots prohibited me from snubbing hospitality, particularly since these people were my friends now, and they meant well.

  When we arrived back at Aidan's mansion, night had already descended upon the Scottish Highlands. I wasn't hungry so I excused myself and went to bed early, eager to hide under the blanket and be alone with my thoughts and pain. I took a quick shower and slipped into a pair of Amber's flannel PJs, ready to switch off the lights, when a knock on the door jolted me out of my thoughts.

  "Are you decent?" Thrain's voice made my heart pick up in speed.

  "Yep. Come in." I smiled as he entered and wiggled a bottle of wine and two glasses in the air.

  "You don't need to talk if you don't want to. Just pay me company." His gorgeous smile revealed shiny, white teeth.

  "Can't be on your own, huh?" I asked, patting the bed beside me.

  "I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it, but darkness scares me." He poured us a glass of wine and handed me one. I took it from his outstretched hand but didn't drink. Surprisingly, he didn't insist. Not even when I placed the glass on the bedside table.

  "Or you're trying to get me drunk." My gaze wandered over the tight shirt that enveloped his sculpted chest. His rolled up sleeves revealed strong forearms with smooth, tan skin. My fingers brushed his hand and moved up his arm as I inched closer, stopping just as our lips were about to meet. I could see the hunger in his striking green gaze. In his mind, he was probably undressing me this instant. I had dated other guys but never felt such a strong need to get close to someone.

  "Kiss me." My voice was barely more than a whisper. His lips lowered onto mine, his hand moved to my back to press me against him. A soft moan escaped my throat as his scent invaded my nostrils. My hands moved up his chest to the back of his head to pull him closer into our kiss. I savored his taste, got lost in it, forgetting the pain inside me. It felt so good, and I knew he felt the same way. He understood me because we were the same, maybe not one and the same being but bonded through something beyond our understanding. This guy I would never let go.

  He pulled away, ending our kiss too soon. I moaned in protest. He lowered me on my back, regret visible in his heated gaze.

  "Don't stop," I whispered.

  "Another time." His finger pressed against my lips. "Please don't insist. I'm having a hard time keeping my hands off of you."

  That I wanted to see. I giggled and pinched his side, then wrapped my naked legs around his waist to draw him close.

  "You didn't just do that," he said, grinning. His eyes twinkled as he lowered himself on top of me for another kiss. This time it was slower, deeper, making me want to trail my hand down his naked chest to explore the tattoo he kept hidden. Kissing me deeply, his hands moved down my abdomen to my thighs, lingering there.

  "I don't think this is a good idea," Thrain said, pulling back a bit.

  "What?" I pulled him closer again, my mouth searching his. I could feel his hot breath grazing my skin. He nibbled on the spot right at the bottom of my neck that connected with my shoulder, making me shivered.

  "Actually, I came to talk," he said, hoarsely.

  "Figured that much." I smiled because, when a guy says he wants to talk, it usually means he either wants more but tries to control himself, or he's about to dump the girl. I was pretty sure it was option one and ran my fingers through his hair to draw him close. But he sat up and put a few more inches between us.

  "We really need to talk about this." His grave tone betrayed resolution. Now, that wasn't good news. I moistened my lips. Panic washed over me. I had been dumped before and had done my fair share of dumping, but somehow in this instance it mattered. Maybe I had too much emotional baggage and he couldn't handle it. I knew I shouldn't have cried in front of him. According to a magazine article I recently read, most men were put off by tears.

  I crossed my legs and pulled my shirt down to cover my naked skin. "Okay. Spill."

  He regarded me for a long time, his eyes darting about, never quite focusing on my gaze. "You said you wanted to return home." I nodded. My heart sank in my chest as I waited for him to continue. "I told you my job makes it almost impossible to be in one place for a long time. I don't know how this will work out."

  There it was—the dumping I hadn't seen coming. The guy was giving me the boot an hour after I had learned about my sister's mysterious death. Rage pulsed through me. I wished I didn't care, but I did. After all, he was the one who said we'd always together. Lies, my mind screamed. "No worries. I'll be busy with my music career anyway," I heard myself say. My voice was steady and nonchalant, betraying none of the turmoil I felt inside.

  Frowning, Thrain shook his head. "That's not what I meant, Sofia. I want this, but we'll need to figure something out. I don't want you to be all alone in New York with me popping in and out of your life every few days. That's not a relationship."

  I took a deep breath as relief washed over me. Funny how a few words from this guy could change my mood in an instant.

  "We'll figure something out," I said, wrapping my arms around him. "Let's not think about it now. We have plenty of time left."

  He hesitated, then gave into my embrace, lowering his lips onto mine. I lay back and pulled him on top of me as I let his mouth explore mine. My hands trailed down his stomach, sliding underneath his shirt to take it off. I touched the outline of his tattoo that covered most of his chest. His skin felt like silk under my exploring fingers. Half naked, he was more gorgeous than I ever imagined.

  "You're so beautiful," he whispered as his hands moved under my shirt. I closed my eyes to enjoy his expert touch. As much as my music career mattered to me, if being with him meant giving it up I'd let it go gladly. I had lost my sister over my career already; I wouldn't let it happen twice.

  Chapter 23

  Thrain didn't stay the night. At some point I woke up and patted the sheet to find he had left. Had it been a mistake to get closer to him? Did he now think I was easy to get? Too late for that, I figured, angry with myself for not even giving him a bit of a chase. Disappointed, I punched the pillow and stood up to pull the curtains, which I forgot to draw.

  The moon stood high on the horizon, bathing the woods stretching over the hills in a glowing hue. It was so pretty and quiet, so different to the usual New York view of illuminated skyscrapers and dark asphalt streets. I decided I might not get to see something this spectacular any time soon and left the curtains open after all. Even though Amber's flannel PJs were the warmest I had ever had, I grabbed my sweater from the back of the chair and put it on, then returned to my cozy bed, ready to catch some much needed snooze, with or without Thrain sleeping beside me.

  Pulling my cover up to my chin, I barely closed my eyes when the door opened and footsteps thudded across the carpet, stopping next to my side of the bed. I snuggled under the blanket and smiled because he hadn't left after all. Maybe he just needed to use the restroom, or woke him, forcing him to get a midnight snack. Even demons had to eat every now and then. When he continued to hover there, I groaned inwardly. Granted, love was a grand thing, making one all fluffy and warm, but his staring was slowly starting to make me feel uncomfortable. Besides, I needed someone to keep me warm and cozy. I pushed the covers aside whispering, "Come on already." He didn't budge.

  The strange feeling in the pit of my stomach intensified. Something wasn't right, so I opened my eyes. The moonlight falling in through the high bay window caught on something shiny. And then I
realized what it was: a knife. My eyes widened as I rolled to the other side of the bed a moment before the blade cut open my pillow. Jumping up from the bed, I dashed for the door when he gripped my hair and pulled me back. The pain rippling through my scalp was excruciating.

  "Thrain, you're hurting me," I screamed. I couldn't believe he had turned all psycho on me. Yelping, I kicked hard, hitting the guy right where it hurt the most, then stood and took off down the hall and stairs. A groan and thuds echoed not far behind me, but I didn't turn. My fear kept me running.

  The house was dark. No sound that would betray anyone's presence. I couldn't believe how naive I was for trusting a guy I met less than a week ago. Come to think of it, what did I actually know about him? He was a demon and they usually came with a bit of a tendency toward murder, or so legends said. My heart hammered hard in my chest as I headed for the kitchen. I couldn't remember whether the door could be locked from the inside, but I figured if there was no key, I stood a better chance hiding in the woods than inside the house with a killer searching for me. My hands patted the lock only to find there was no key. Damn it.

  I opened the backdoor and took off into the night like the wind, making sure I closed the door behind me in case the guy followed. My breathing made a whistling sound as I shimmied through the bushes and trees, not paying attention to the cold that crept up my legs and turned my skin into goose bumps. I ran for a few minutes before I dared to look over my shoulder. The trees looked like huge, ominous shapes in the darkness. Stopping, I pressed my back against a thick trunk and held my breath to listen. Nothing stirred. I got rid of him. Now what? I couldn't return back to the house, but just my flannel PJs and sweater wouldn't be able to keep me warm against the cold for long. Sooner or later, I would freeze to death.

  A twig snapped to my right. I turned my head sharply. Only too late did I see the dark shadow from the corner of my eye. Something hard hit my temple, sending me flying into a bush. I groaned and pushed up on my elbows, paralyzed with fear, the pain banging against my skull making me dizzy.

  "Hey, are you looking for me?"

  My head shot up at the familiar sound of my own voice. How did I speak when my mouth never opened? I hadn't even formed the words in my mind. And then I saw her standing near a tree. The moonlight caught in her dyed black hair and made her pale face look even paler. She wore a white flannel shirt that hung down to her knees, rolled up at the sleeves to reveal thin forearms. My breath caught in my throat. She was the spitting image of me. Even her nightwear looked like what I was wearing. But how could it be, unless I was dead and looking at my own body? But shouldn't my body be lying on the ground with me hovering over it instead of the other way round? My stomach turned. I felt so dizzy from all the pounding inside my head, I feared I'd be throwing up any minute.

  "Sofia? I've been looking for you," the figure standing a few feet away from me said. I turned my head, seeing Gael standing there. The tip of his knife was inches away from my throat. Scared, I peered from him to the girl, who looked like me, and then back to Gael.

  "What are you doing, Gael? Why did you hit her?" the girl asked in a thin voice that betrayed her fear. She inched closer and reached out to touch Gael's arm. The air crackled and a tiny spark flew from his skin. Frowning, she pulled her hand back.

  "I didn't hit your friend. She fell," Gael said. "It's freezing out here. Come on, let me take you home." Gael reached for me and yanked me up by my arm, sending a pang of pain through my already aching body. Dragging me behind him, he took a few slow steps toward her, his blade still lingering near my neck. Who was the girl? Where did she come from? And most importantly, why did she look like me? I couldn't make any sense of the whole situation, and yet I could tell something wasn't right. Gael wasn't here to help me—or her. Not when he wielded a knife. I opened my mouth to warn her when she turned her gaze toward me, and I saw something there. A flicker, like that of a television set with bad reception. For a fragment of a second, the girl's face seemed to shift, only to turn back into my spitting image. Lost for words, I closed my mouth again and remained silent.

  "You're cold," Gael said. "My car's nearby. I'll drive you back to the house."

  "Thank you," she whispered. "It's freezing out here." Her gaze moved from Gael to the knife in his hand, hesitating again.

  "You're coming with us," Gael whispered to me. "We wouldn't want you to freeze to death." The girl didn't comment. "You lead the way," Gael said to her. She nodded grimly and started walking.

  Gael's hand clasped around my elbow as he guided me forward. His other hand still held on to his knife, knuckles turned white. Walking back to the house would've been the better choice instead of trekking through the woods, and yet Gael seemed to move us away from it. The farther we trekked, the more I knew we were in danger, but could two women take out a guy with a knife? I had never been particularly strong and she didn't look like a bodybuilder either. I knew if I ran he'd catch me in a heartbeat, what with my spinning head and my frozen body that could barely move. Time to come up with a plan, and fast, before something bad happened. I peered around me for a weapon that I could use. Maybe a large stone or a thick branch to knock him over the head with. If I could swing a guitar, I sure could swing a branch to take down a guy.

  "Over here." Gael pointed to a large black vehicle that blended into the night. A gust of wind blew the scent of incense and lavender into my face. I followed Gael down the incline and stopped in my tracks. Behind the vehicle was a large circle with stones set up to mark the edges. In the middle, branches and dried herbs formed a large nest, like that of a bird.

  "What the—" My voice caught in my throat as the guy knocked me to the ground, then grabbed hold of my long hair and dragged me to the middle of the circle. I let out a shriek and tried to grab hold of his wrist to push him away.

  "Did you really think I'd fall for your cheap trick, witch? All those months playing your friend weren't for nothing," he hissed as he pushed me to the ground. Tiny gravel cut through my PJs and grazed my skin. I tried to crawl away but he grabbed hold of my leg and pulled me back in, twisting my ankle in the process. It was the same one I twisted while running away from Devon not long ago. I cried out in pain as tears filled my eyes.

  "Hey, I'm Sofia. Let her go," the girl shouted.

  "If you're Sofia, why don't you enter the circle?" Gael's tone betrayed his arrogance. Anger rose inside me, making me want to slap that grin from his face. The girl lunged forward only to fall back as soon as she hit the invisible barrier around the circle. Gael laughed. "No? Didn't think so. Because only the real witch could enter. Whatever you are, you're no match for me."

  The girl growled, and for a moment her face began to flicker again as she lunged forward, throwing herself against the invisible shield around the circle, only to be thrown back. I could see the frustration on her face, the frown lines on her forehead, the rage in her eyes. She kept circling the invisible shield, throwing herself against it in the hope to find a weak spot, but she couldn't enter. My gaze moved back to Gael. Madness glittered in his eyes, and I knew I had to stall for time if I wanted to live.

  "Why did you take me to see Madame Estevaz?"

  My question took him by surprise. He smiled. "She was supposed to see your past to make sure you were Esmeralda's incarnation, but she failed me. Unfortunately for her, a betrayal doesn't go unpunished in my family."

  "Why did you kill her?" I remembered the dark entity around me, clutching my soul, marking me. Was it the same one that had taken my life all those years ago?

  "She had to die because she recognized you. Said she wouldn't help me kill a priestess, so she triggered your memories so you could use your powers." Gael grinned. "They aren't much use to you now, huh?" His raised his blade over his head.

  I struggled to get up as panic gripped hold of me. My gaze fell on the sharp metal engraved with silver symbols. Maybe he wasn't all bad and had an excuse like finding out about my abilities and thinking I might be able to resurrect h
is brother. I moistened my lips to gather my voice. "Please, if you want to talk to Derrick I have friends who can help."

  "Derrick was an idiot," Gael hissed. "He whacked the wrong Romanov witch. Luckily, little Theo did the job I should've done a long time ago."

  "You wanted to kill your brother?"

  "I should have," Gael said. "He almost messed up my big chance. You see, legend says only the Blade of Sorrow can kill you, but we hadn't found it yet. Not without a bounty hunter's help. He wouldn't wait so he tried any knife before I could stop him. He said it would work and I believed him. Theo and you looked so similar, the same height with your long, blonde hair. The moment Theo died, I knew he had the wrong sister."

  I hadn't dyed my hair black yet, and it had been dark that fateful January night. Mixing us up made sense. A pang of guilt surged through me. So my stepmother, Marie, was right. Theo's death was my fault. If I took a taxi and didn't arrive late, Theo would still be alive. The rage I had been nourishing for the last few months turned against him, against myself, against fate for being so cruel and letting me make such a stupid mistake.

  "You said he almost messed up your big chance," I said. "The chance for what?"

  "Your powers."

  I raised my chin, sensing my chance to escape the psycho. "You can have them. I'll give them to you willingly. Just let me go." Somewhere outside the circle I thought I could hear someone's voice—maybe the girl from before—but I couldn't let anything divert my attention, not with Gael being much stronger than me. Slacking in concentration wasn't an option if I wanted to make it out of this situation alive.

  He shook his head, still grinning. "And how do you propose to do that?"

  "I'll figure something out," I whispered.

  "I have a better idea." He took a step forward, the blade in his hand shinning menacingly with the promise of a long and painful death. "I'll cut it out of you, and then I'll get what I want. What I deserve." Without so much as a warning, he lunged for me. I kicked, aiming for his abdomen, but only hit the air as he ducked out of the way. The blade hit my left shoulder and I cried out in pain. My fingers moved instinctively to the gash. For a moment I just stared, horrified, at the red liquid that shimmered almost black in the darkness, trickling down my arm. And then the real pain began. Pulsating pain that came in hot waves and seared my flesh. I bit my lip to keep myself conscious, but my vision was already blurry and my brain numb, threatening to descend into that darkness I kept seeing in my dreams. Death. Maybe the darkness had been a warning or a prophecy telling me what lay before me. My lungs burned as I breathed in and out the cold Scottish air. I begged my brain to remain lucid, but I knew I didn't have much time. I had to find a way to get away from him.

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