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Voodoo kiss, p.18
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       Voodoo Kiss, p.18

           Jayde Scott
 
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  "Gael," a male voice called calmly. Gael turned his head at the resolute tone and I followed his line of vision to the Shadow, Devon, standing next to Thrain. The girl looking like me was gone. I had no idea where the two had come from and where the girl had disappeared. It was strange to see Thrain's beautiful face resemble an angry mask. As striking as Devon was, Thrain took my breath away even through the hazy curtain of pain surrounding me.

  "I'm almost done," Gael whispered. His voice came raw, intense. I could sense the darkness in him, hurrying him along, and yet I knew he waited for something, but I didn't know what that something was.

  "You'll always be a bastard, never one of us," Devon said, calmly.

  "No." Gael shook his head and peered up at the low moon disappearing behind the clouds. "Once I have her powers, I can transport the Queen's soul into another Shadow's body. Her pain and suffering will be gone forever. I'll do it, I'll help her and then she'll let me join."

  "She won't." Devon inched closer and pulled out a sword from under his cloak.

  "Please help her. I'll do whatever you want," Thrain pleaded.

  "Anything?" Devon asked.

  Thrain nodded. "You have my word."

  "A demon's word. I wonder what it's worth," Devon said, raising the sword over his head. I could see his lips moving, murmuring. The earth began to move under our feet.

  "No!" Gael shouted. "You don't need her. She'll never join you, but I will." In that instant, a soft ray of light caught in his blade. It was the first ray of the rising sun Gael had been waiting for. He raised his blade higher and I could see he was ready to strike. My scream found its way out of my throat a moment before he brought the blade crashing down. My vision blurred. I felt dizzy and nauseous again, but it was nothing compared to the pain spreading through my body. The jerk had stabbed me, that was my last thought before darkness gathered around me.

  Chapter 24

  Pain rippled through my body in long pangs that made breathing difficult. My muscles contracted, the effort drenching me in sweat. From the periphery of my mind, I knew someone was around me, holding my hand, whispering soothing words in my ears, begging me to come back. I smiled because I remembered Thrain. Our kiss, our night together. It had been so special, so beautiful. I wanted it again, that perfect moment of hope and happiness that seared my heart and soul every time our gazes connected. So I held on and fought when that darkness threatened to pull me in.

  When I finally opened my eyes, I squinted against the glaring brightness, wishing someone had thought of closing the curtains. And then I realized Thrain wasn't there. It was Devon standing next to my bed, dark and broody, dressed in his usual black attire. Behind him, Aidan leaned against the wall. And next to him was a familiar face I couldn't immediately place. Tall guy with dark bed hair and blue eyes, Aidan's spitting image but a bit bulkier, clad in blue jeans and a crumpled shirt.

  "She's awake," the guy whispered.

  "Last time I checked no one was blind," Cass muttered from my right.

  My head shot in her direction, surprised to find her here. And there he stood. Thrain. Right next to her. For a moment, I forgot to breathe as I lost myself in his impossibly green eyes. Smiling, I reached out for him. He grabbed my hand in a tight grip, placed a soft kiss on my palm, and leaned over me to whisper in my ear. "I was so scared I'd lose you."

  "Fat chance." My raspy voice was barely audible in my ears. "How long have I been gone?"

  "Too long. Now drink this." He held a glass of what looked like water to my lips. I took a few sips and grimaced at the bitter residue on my tongue.

  "I'm so sorry," the dark guy with blue eyes said, drawing my attention to him. It took me a split second to remember where we had met. The garden behind our hotel in Rio de Janeiro. He had been the one to warn me. Kieran. How strange I didn't see the resemblance between Aidan and him straight away. Must have been because it was dark.

  "You should be, moron. It's your fault she was almost killed," Cass hissed. "What's it with you and killing mortals? Must be a curse or something." She turned to face me. "Sofia, this is Aidan's brother, Kieran McAllister, who must've inherited the stupidity in their clan." I nodded because I appreciated the introduction even if I didn't need it.

  "How could I've known the weirdo intended to use the blade to murder someone?" Kieran said. "He claimed it was a collector's item."

  "Collector's item, my ass," Aidan muttered. "A bounty hunter's job is to find out what the object's used for before retrieving it."

  My head snapped from left to right as I tried to make sense of their words. Gael had employed Kieran to look for something. Could it be a blade?

  "The Blade of Sorrow," Cass said, reading my mind as she shot Kieran a venomous look. "Every idiot could look up on the internet what it's good for. Seriously, with all the weird writing on it, did it look like a collector's item to you? You wouldn't even see it if it had a sticky note with the words 'ritual killing' attached to it." She smirked.

  Her words triggered my memories. The stone circle and the rising sun, so beautiful and yet terrible. Gael wanting to spill my blood, claiming only the blade in his hands could kill me. Me knocking my head as I tried to escape that madman's blow.

  "It's okay. I'm sure you had a reason." I smiled at poor Kieran who had so clearly been played, just like me.

  "Sure, he does," Cass said. "Since big brother had to hide in Hell, money's been tight. Kieran had two options, either get a day job like everyone else, or turn part-time crook and steal stuff. Do I need to point out which option he chose?"

  "Bounty hunter," Kieran said through gritted teeth.

  "Is that what you call it?" Cass asked, grinning. "Don't flatter yourself, mate. I'm outta here. Call you later, Soph." She kissed my cheek, then breezed out the door, the bright rays of sun falling in through the window catching in her red mane. I wondered whether by calling she actually meant popping over any time she wanted. I hoped she would.

  "What happened to Gael?" I asked Devon. "Did you—"

  "Kill him?" He raised his brows. "We don't kill our own kind, Sofia."

  Nodding, I swallowed hard. They had no problem betraying others though. "So Gael's a Shadow?"

  "Half Shadow. His mother was one of us. His father's something entirely else." He hesitated, and I wondered whether there was more to the story. Devon continued, not giving me a chance to pursue the matter. "He's been trying to take his place among our kind for years. He thought by killing you and passing your powers into our possession to save our Queen, we'd finally grant him entrance to our world."

  Kieran snorted, interrupting him. "The guy's clearly messed up big time. Who in their right mind would want to join a legion of black eyed freaks with the personality of a freezer?" Aidan elbowed him in the ribs. Grinning, Kieran shrugged. "You're right. I'm so sorry, I'm offending one of the greatest inventions of our time. Humanity would be lost without a freezer."

  A dangerous glitter flickered in Devon's eyes, reminding me of the way Gael had looked at me many times during our relationship. "Let's get back to the topic before someone gets seriously hurt. There's no doubt he'll come back for you together with others, who'll want to use your powers for their own gain. I won't be there to protect you."

  My heart sank in my chest at the implication of yet more danger. As though sensing my emotions, Thrain squeezed my hand. As my bonded mate, he would face it with me, I knew it. He didn't even need to say it. I raised my chin defiantly. Whatever fate had mapped out for me, I wasn't scared.

  "Bring it on." My voice didn't sound quite as convincing as I intended to make it sound. "That reminds me, why are you even here? I thought you couldn't enter the property."

  Aidan smirked. "He doesn't. Amber invited him. For some inexplicable reason, she still thinks his kind and the vampires should be burying our ancient misunderstandings."

  "They weren't misunderstandings, only consequences," Devon said. "One of you killed half a dozen of us. I was there and remember the incident clear
ly."

  "Dude, how old are you?" Kieran said, grinning. "If you start crumbling into dust I swear I'm not going to clean up after you."

  Devon's jaw set. His serious expression betrayed the fight he was leading with himself. In the end, his shoulders tensed but he didn't take Kieran up on the offer of a brawl. "As he was saying," Devon continued, pointing at Aidan, "Amber invited me in to sit with you in case your wellbeing deteriorated. And I agreed wholeheartedly because your time hasn't come yet. Our rules state that no mortal soul shall come to harm at the hands of a Shadow." He leaned forward to look deep into my eyes. I flinched at the perfection of his features and the blackness of his gaze standing in contrast to the smooth, pale skin. "We want your soul, Sofia, make no mistake about that. And your soul will belong to the Cemetery of the Dead as arranged many centuries ago."

  "Never," Thrain hissed, startling me. I patted his hand, my gaze begging him to keep his mouth shut and let Devon reveal his intentions. Knowing what to expect was the key to finding a way to get out of that binding contract I had signed centuries ago.

  "Our Queen has never been wrong," Devon continued unfazed. His gaze glimmered black, daring Thrain to disagree.

  I took a deep breath and squeezed Thrain's hand a bit harder to send out a warning. "My sister died at the hands of a Shadow, Gael's brother, Derrick. I bet you didn't know that, huh?" Anger rose inside me. Why hadn't they been there to help her? Why would I deserve to live and not Theo?"

  "Her time had come anyway. She'll be reincarnated," Devon said, coolly. It was a cheap excuse for not monitoring the lunatics among them, and I had no doubt many Shadows were marked by madness, what with their queen feeding from her own people, turning them into something unnatural, evil.

  I bit my lip hard to keep back a biting remark. Blaming others for my own failure wasn't me.

  "I shall leave now. Goodbye, Sofia, and if you ever change your mind about joining us, you know how to reach us." Devon's hand touched my shoulder lightly, then pulled back.

  "I'll accompany you out," Thrain said, standing. My gaze followed him as he walked out a step behind Devon.

  "You know you can't trust him," Aidan whispered as soon as the door closed. I nodded and shot him a smile. His expression remained serious, worried. "You can stay here for as long as you want."

  "Thank you for the offer, but it's time to go home."

  He hesitated. "As you wish. But if you ever need help, we'll be there for you. Amber and I will always be in your debt for saving Dallas."

  My smile widened. "I appreciate it."

  "I didn't take this job for the money," Kieran whispered. I opened my mouth to speak but he raised his hand, stopping me. " I don't know if you know about the Lore court." He trailed off, making it sound like a question. I shook my head so he continued, "Okay, I probably shouldn't tell you, but since only that blade can kill you I guess you're immortal too, sort of. Ever since Amber was turned into one of us, immortals from the Lore court have been after her, my brother and me. Gael was a member of the Lore court. He tried to get in touch with Aidan but couldn't get hold of him, so he made a deal with me. He said the Lore court would stop hunting us if I found the blade for him."

  I could see the shame in his blue eyes. "Don't worry about it. I understand." I squeezed his hand to signal that I meant it.

  "So we're good?" I nodded. A smile lit up Kieran's face. "You know, you're a gem. If Thrain and you didn't—" he clicked his tongue, making me blush, "—I would've taken you out to dinner, get a few drinks." His voice trailed off again.

  "Kieran." Aidan's tone was sharp. A warning. Grinning, Kieran winked at me, and then we said goodbye, and he left with Aidan.

  I stood up and walked to the window, minding my still aching ankle. The crow was there, peering at me from the sill. I opened the window and held out my hand gently to avoid startling the bird. But it wasn't shy. Cawing softly, it jumped on my arm, its claws pressing into my skin.

  "You're a girl, aren't you?" I don't know what made me draw that conclusion, but it felt right. The crow cawed, whether to agree or negate my statement I couldn't tell.

  "I'm sorry if you're not. And I'm really sorry for thinking you were the bad guy when all you wanted was to warn me," I whispered, smiling. "To my excuse I have to say my knowledge of human nature is crap."

  The crow let out another caw before taking off into the sky. Maybe she was pissed off at me for assuming she didn't mean well. Or maybe she wasn't a girl after all. It didn't matter. What mattered was that I had fallen for Gael's lies and I wasn't proud of it. I should've seen behind his calculated mask and his fake friendliness. The signs had been there: his controlling behavior, his cold gazes when he thought I wasn't looking. My need for comfort after my sister's death had made me too trusting. It wouldn't happen again.

  Thanks to a couple of painkillers, the pain in my chest had receded to a bearable throb. Engrossed in my thoughts, I took a shower and changed into my clothes, ready to go home. As much as I adored my new friends, all I wanted was a bit of solitude to plan my next step regarding my career because, yes, I wanted to be a star, but safety came first. And that needed lots of planning, which involved a home movement, a change in name and appearance so that Gael wouldn't find me straight away.

  Dressed in my jeans and top, I sat down on the bed and took a deep breath to steady my sudden nervousness. What would be in store for me now? How would my relationship with Thrain turn out away from all the turmoil and excitement?

  A knock on the door and Thrain peered in. "Ready?"

  I nodded and interlocked my fingers with his. We joined the others downstairs to say goodbye.

  "You sure you don't want to stay a bit longer?" Amber whispered.

  "I can't. College's starting soon and I have a million things to sort out first." I smiled and gave her a last squeeze. "See you again?"

  "You bet." Her eyes sparkled with interest. "Do you think you'll enjoy college?"

  Her strange question took me by surprise. I moistened my lips as I tried to make sense of it. "I hope so."

  Aidan wrapped his arm around Amber's shoulders and pulled her close. "Want us to teleport you home?"

  "Nah, we got that part covered," Thrain said.

  "We'll miss you," Amber whispered, pushing a bundle into my hands. I peered at my passport and a few other things I thought I had left back in Rio.

  "Thanks." I could feel moisture gathering in my eyes. Wiping my tears away, I let everyone give me one last hug and then accompanied Thrain to the car parked in the driveway. Thrain held the door open and I hopped in. As the vehicle pulled away, my resolve crumbled and the first two tears spilled down my cheeks. We drove through the open gates and down the winding country lane, past impenetrable scrubland and thick trees with dark green leaves that filtered the sunlight. I leaned my head back, prepared for a long drive.

  "I forgot to give you this," Thrain said, breaking the silence as he pulled out a red envelope from under his jacket.

  "What is it?"

  "Why don't you just open it?"

  With shaking fingers I tore through the thick paper, cutting my finger in the process. Inside was a white card with gold cursive and lots of glitter. I began to read. "It's an invitation to Cass's birthday party," I said eventually.

  Thrain's eyes twinkled as he winked at me. "You're officially one of us now, which means don't even think about coming up with an excuse for not attending because she won't have it. Knowing Cass, she'll bite your head off if you even try."

  "I wouldn't even dream of it." Laughing, I pushed the envelope inside my handbag for safekeeping. "Are we going to the airport?"

  "Nope."

  "No?" I peered at his amused expression.

  "Did you really think this is my usual means of transportation?" He pointed at the interior of the car. I didn't want to acknowledge that he was right in that I did assume that, so I shook my head.

  "Obviously not. I knew you had a trick up your sleeve."

  "It's not exactl
y a trick," Thrain said, slowing down until we moved at the speed of a snail. "More like an ability. Look ahead."

  I peered at the empty air, wondering what I was supposed to see. And then I noticed the tiny particles sparkling a few feet away from us. They looked like sunlight catching in tiny dewdrops, and yet I knew dewdrops didn't hover in mid air.

  "It's a portal," Thrain explained, stopping the car just a few inches away. "I have the ability to find and open them." The air around us started to crackle just a tiny bit, barely noticeable but enough to make the hair on my arms stand.

  "So they're not everywhere?"

  "There's plenty of exists, but only a few that can be entered. We usually drive around to find an entrance."

  "And it can spit us out anywhere?"

  "Only through an exit near a place of your choice." He shot me a grin. "Ready?"

  "Wait!" I gripped the armrest tight and took a deep breath. "I'm ready."

  Thrain hit the accelerator. A moment later, the car hit something hard, like the surface of water, catapulting us forward, then backward against our seats. Thrain laughed. I gasped, my heart skipping a beat. Dizziness washed over me and I closed my eyes. When I opened them a second later, our surrounding had changed from trees and lots of greenery to a dirty road near a bridge. My gaze wandered from the passing vehicles whirling up dust to the skyscrapers in the distance. Manhattan lay on the other side of the river.

 
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