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       Voodoo Kiss, p.6

           Jayde Scott
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  And then I remembered I had a job to take care of. I pulled my fingers back, wondering what was wrong with me. She was beautiful, all right, but I had seen my fair share of gorgeous girls. I shook my head at myself and leaned over her, covering my hand against her mouth as I switched on the night lamp.

  Light flooded the room. Sofia's eyes flew open. Her blue gaze settled on me and I almost choked on my breath. Her eyes were of a sparkling blue as shimmering as the ocean hit by the first rays of sun. I stared at her, unable to utter a word, various emotions washing over me. She stared back, confused. The moment realization kicked in, the struggle began. She kicked hard, her leg hitting me in the chest. My grip around her tightened, my hand stifled her scream.

  "Please listen. It's an emergency." My voice finally found its way out of my throat. I held her tight as I forced her to remain quiet. "I work at the reception downstairs. There's an important phone call for you. Do you remember me?" Her amazing eyes grew wide open as she nodded. I continued, "I knocked but you wouldn't answer. I'll remove my hand now and take a step back. Okay?"

  She nodded again, so I pulled my hands back and took a few steps back. She eyed me carefully but didn't scream, which surprised me. The least I expected was a yelp.

  "You said it's an emergency?" Sofia asked.

  At the sound of her voice, I froze to the spot. Something happened—I could feel the change running through my body, like a tiny flicker of energy running through me for a brief second. Sofia's eyes grew wider. I drew in a deep breath to steady myself and focus on the illusion.

  "Can you turn around or close your eyes so I can put something on then?"

  I followed Sofia's demand with trepidation. Not only did I not like the idea of turning my back on her, I also wasn't keen on leaving her gorgeous legs out of sight.

  "Is it Gael? Did something happen to him?" I heard her say as she slipped into her clothes. From the sound of it, it was a pair of jeans. Damn. Hopefully, they were tight ones.

  "Well?" She tapped me on the shoulder and I turned to face her. The full impact of her eyes hit me. My mouth went dry. She raised her brows impatiently. "Do you understand me?"

  I nodded. "The emergency is home."

  "You mean my mother? What happened?" Panic crossed her face. So her mother was her weak point. I put on my most apologetic expression.

  "I don't know any details."

  "Right. Of course no one would tell you since you're not family."

  She sure did all the work for me. "Please." I pointed at the door. She hesitated but followed me downstairs nonetheless. That was about as far as my plan went.

  The reception stood as empty as before. "Where's the phone?" Sofia asked, looking around. The air crackled behind her and Amber appeared. I frowned. Sofia turned and followed my line of vision, surprise written on her face. "Where did you—"

  "Just do me a favor and don't throw up all over me," Amber whispered as she wrapped her arm around Sofia's shoulder. An instant later, they were gone. My concentration broke and my body turned back into my normal self. I opened the entrance door and slammed into Aidan. Cass regarded me coolly but didn't get involved.

  "She teleported her out of here," I hissed.

  "So?" Aidan shrugged. "Your job's done. We're taking over from here. Go home."

  That was the deal, and yet the idea enraged me. "No." A growl gathered at the back of my throat.

  "Whatever, mate. Suit yourself." Aidan held out his hand. "Need a lift?"

  I grabbed it and regretted it almost instantly when a vacuum pulled me in. My stomach turned, my head began to spin. It was quickly over but the feeling of nausea remained. I bowled over, ready to empty the contents of my stomach, only then noticing a pretty brunette watching me from the corner of the room.

  Chapter 8

  The guy from the airport appeared right in front of me. My jaw dropped. I couldn't believe my eyes. Surely I must be dreaming. Given the events from the last few minutes, I was pretty sure my mind was playing a trick on me. I mean, one moment I had been standing in the hotel's reception area and the next I found myself in what seemed to be a hotel room or a living room designed by someone with exquisite taste. The hot guy bowling over in his quest to throw up all over the wooden floor completed the surreal feel of the situation. I was tempted to hurry over and wrap my arm around him, not to help but to just be near him, touch him, smell him. I rolled my eyes at myself. Desperate, all right. I averted my gaze for an instant only to turn back to him. From a few feet away, he was drop dead gorgeous with golden skin, smooth as marble, and that ripped look that no shirt could hide. His dark hair hung into his face, obscuring his eyes. But I could see his soft lips and for an instant I had the strong urge to just jump into his arms and crush my lips against his.

  "What's wrong with people nowadays? First Amber couldn't keep her dirty thoughts to herself, and now this lot," a girl said, pointing at me. I turned to look at a pretty redhead with curls and ringlets bouncing around as she inched closer. "I'm Cass."

  "Sofia." I pushed out my hand, then withdrew it again when my slow brain put two and tow together. If this wasn't a dream, I had just been kidnapped. Kidnapped.

  "I never had dirty thoughts about Aidan," the girl next to me said, interrupting my trail of thought. She was the one who had appeared out of nowhere, wrapped her arm around me and then, a moment later when she dropped it again, I found myself in this room.

  "Of course you did, mate." The redhead—Cass—snorted. "Need I remind you of that one time when you thought I was dating your guy and your brain just couldn't shut up about that steamy kiss you shared? Boy, I thought I'd need therapy for the rest of my existence."

  "I've no idea what you're talking about," the brunette said. Annoyance crossed her delicate features that seemed quite familiar. I squinted and tilted my head to the side as I tried to remember where I had seen her before.

  The blue-eyed guy standing next to the hot one from the airport held out his hand and I realized I had barely noticed him before. "I'm Aidan. And this is my girlfriend, Amber." He pointed at the brunette who now turned to face me.

  "How did I get here?" I could slap myself for my stupidity. Any normal human with a working brain would've tried to run for the nearest exit. And yet here I was, talking to these people, wondering who they were and, most importantly, actually liking them. Talk about Stockholm syndrome big time.

  "Relax," Cass said. "No one's kidnapped you. Yet. The big guy over there just might." She giggled and pointed at the luscious god I had just eyed up.

  I raised my gaze to peer into the deep green eyes with hint of brown. His cheeks were slightly flushed, a hesitant smile played on his lush lips.

  "I'm Thrain." He grabbed my hand, making my knees weak. My mouth opened and closed again, my mind went blank. I knew I had to say something, but I couldn't bring out a single word.

  "Don't expect an answer any time soon," Cass said behind me.

  "That's okay. We have all the time in this world," Thrain whispered so low I could swear he had talked to me. His voice dripped with something. It took me a while to realize it was the slightest hint of a promise. Surely, I couldn't be this stupid. These people probably kidnapped me and now wanted a ransom or something, and yet here I was, staring at a hot guy and wondering what it'd feel like to have his strong arms around me.

  "Come on. We need to talk. And not about the hot guy." Cass pulled me down on the couch next to her and Aidan offered me a glass of water. I thanked him as I took it, but I was too clever to drink the liquid. No one would drug me. Cass continued, "Seriously, you're harder to find than truffles. You're probably wondering why you're here."

  I shook my head. "Mostly, I'm wondering how I got here."

  Cass took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Since you're one of us, sort of, I see no reason to keep it from you. We beamed you from one place to another. You know, like Spook on Star Trek."

  I raised my brows. "What?"

  "Star Trek?" Cass regarded me incredulo
usly. "You don't know Star Trek? You're kidding. Where have you been hiding? Under a stone? That series is so famous, we even have a fan club up in Heaven."

  "We knocked you out and dragged you down here through a tunnel," Amber said. "Need more details?"

  I shook my head. From up front, that girl was scary. And I'm not talking about the purple eyeshadow that emphasized the dark circles around her eyes—in fact, I was a huge fan of garish colors. She had that crazy, predatory look about her that would've made me cross the street to avoid her.

  Thrain sat down next to me, his face inches away from my face as he leaned in, forcing me to face him. "Sofia, you're very special."

  Cass's snort interrupted him. "With that crappy pickup line no wonder you're single."

  Thrain raised his hand to stop her. His smoldering gaze remained focused on me. "No, let me finish. You have something that might save the life of one of our own."

  "I don't understand." Which was the truth. Literally. I had trouble focusing on what he was saying already, what with those bulging arms and sensual lips, I didn't need him beating around the bush.

  "Do you remember the TV show you watched a few days ago?" Cass asked. How did she know I watched it? My mind began to race in search for possible answers, and I nodded slowly unable to see where this was going. My gaze wandered to Amber who stood near the wall, quiet as a tomb. Then it dawned on me. Her straight, light-brown hair seemed a bit shorter, maybe because it was tied up in a ponytail. But her face was the same, minus the frightened expression I saw on TV. Cass snapped her fingers in front of my face, bringing me back to reality "Hey, she's not the scary one. Trust me, I'm the big deal here. You should see me in an hour or two when I'm not such a pretty sight."

  "We need your help," Thrain said softly. I ran a hand through my hair as I tried to make sense of their words. They had told me their names, but they had yet to tell me who they really were because, right now, I was on the edge of believing everything in a situation that felt already surreal, like a dream from which I expected to wake up any minute.

  His eyes really drew me in. I could gaze into them forever, lose myself inside that labyrinth of sparkling green intermingled with brown. I had never been one to fall quickly for a guy. Just look at Gael; we had been dating for six months, and I still hadn't gone past second base. And here I was, knowing this guy for all of two minutes, and I was already mentally choosing my bridal gown. Crazy, I know, but I couldn't help myself. And so I found myself saying the most stupid thing I could have said: "Sure. What do you want me to do?"

  "Do you know who you are?" Thrain asked.

  From all the questions, I had to admit I didn't see that particular one coming. "What?" I frowned. "Of course I do. I've known my name ever since my birth. It's even on my birth certificate."

  "I'll show you something," Aidan said, motioning to Amber. She nodded and walked over to her bag to pull out a shirt, then tossed it my way.

  I caught it in midair and touched the brown stains on the white material. "What is it?"

  "Blood," Cass said. "To be more precise, my fiancé's blood."

  "I'm sorry," I said, meaning it. Tears gathered in my eyes because it reminded me of my own loss. I would have loved to say something that could express how sorry I really was for her and how much I wished it were different. But no words could ever feel the void left behind.

  Cass squeezed my hand. "Hey, I know how you feel. After losing your sister, I bet you wished you could bring her back."

  "How do you know about my sister? How do you know so much of me?" My heart started to beat faster. The entire situation didn't make any sense.

  She moistened her lips and for the first time I noticed the tiny freckles on her pale skin. "Let's just say I know where your sister is."

  "She's alive?" I couldn't help the sudden hope rising inside me, only to die down like a blown out candle when I saw the pained expression on Cass's face.

  "If you agree to save my brother, you can meet her, talk to her, say the goodbye you never got to say," Amber said.

  Surprisingly, I didn't doubt her words. All my life I had known someone would be coming for me one day. I had also known they would want something only I could give, but I could never figure out what that was. I had no idea how I could help Cass's fiancé.

  "The physical realm is not everything there is," Thrain said.

  The crow popped into my mind and the darkness that kept beckoning to me in my dreams. I had seen pictures of things I didn't understand, of a cabin in the woods and an old woman who lived there, surrounded by herbs and animals. People had knocked on her door, asking for favors in a language I didn't understand—and yet, even though I didn't grasp the meaning of their words, I could feel the urgency, the hope and the trust they bestowed upon her. She had never denied anyone, just as I couldn't deny the people in this room. In my culture we recognized destiny and didn't run from it.

  "Have you ever felt a strong urgency to pierce some needles into a doll?" Cass said. I shook my head. She cocked a brow. "Oh gosh, you're killing me. Not even once?" I shook my head more vigorously, wondering whether she actually meant it.

  "You're a reborn voodoo priestess," Amber called out.

  "Now that's preparing her for the big blow," Cass said. "Thanks for that, mate. Why didn't you just empty a bucket of ice-cold water over her head? I'm pretty sure that would've been less of a shock."

  "A voodoo priestess." I rolled the words on my tongue tentatively, weighting them against my knowledge and beliefs. They sounded —right. In fact, so very right that it scared me. Something inside me clicked into place and I knew Cass was telling the truth.

  Cass narrowed her gaze. "You don't need much persuasion, do you? Why's that?"

  I shrugged. Maybe because she had a point. I didn't need other people to tell me what I was because my babushka had told me many times that my legacy was waiting for me. When my parents separated and my father moved to America, I stayed behind with my mother. My grandmother, who I called babushka, had taken care of me because my mother couldn't cope with the pain of losing her husband to another woman. For many years, she held on to the hope that he would return—until Theo was born and Mother finally accepted he'd never leave his new American family for what he left behind. It was during those years that Babushka told me stories about the Romanov family, and in particular a legend of how the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter would inherit the soul of a powerful witch. My mother married into the Romanov clan, but she was Babushka's sixth daughter. As far as I knew, I had only five elder siblings who died one after another in the harsh Siberian winter before I was born. I figured, maybe one of the miscarriages had been twins.

  "I'm sorry." Cass gave my hand a quick squeeze.

  "Before you ask, she can read your mind," Amber said, her eyes glinting with amusement. "So, if I were you, I'd be careful around her. So, no dirty thoughts, nothing about her dress style, and please don't encourage her to stay over because she does—a lot."

  I nodded, thankful for the advice. But my mind had yet to comprehend the meaning of Amber's words. Or maybe I was just unwilling to believe it because no one could read someone else's thoughts. It wasn't possible.

  "So you have absolutely no experience with voodoo?" Aidan asked. I shook my head because it was the truth. I had no first hand experience, which didn't mean my grandmother hadn't let me watch her fall into trance and perform the odd ritual. Of course I could've told them that I was eager to try—I had been all my life—but it didn't feel right. Yet. I wanted to find out who they were and what they could do first. Besides, something told me to wait before I revealed more about myself. Aidan tapped an impatient finger against his thigh. "Right. Cass, do you know anyone who can teach her?"

  All eyes shifted back to the redhead, all but one pair. Thrain continued to stare at me. I moved in my seat uncomfortably, avoiding his probing gaze even though I could barely peel my eyes off of him. The way he seemed to take up the entire room, he made it impossible to focus
on anything else. I moistened my lips only to regret it when his gaze followed the tip of my tongue. Cass tapped me on my shoulder, jerking me out of my thoughts. I turned to her, embarrassed that I had been so engrossed in my reflections I hadn't even heard her. "Sorry. What did you say?"

  Cass rolled her eyes. "I said, what do you say to an all-inclusive trip to the Swiss Alps? If you're into snow and freezing to death, you might even enjoy it."

  "We don't have time for skiing," Amber said.

  "I know that," Cass snapped. "Give me some credit, will you? My aunt, Patricia, lives there and she's a Seer. She knows a lot about magic and stirring into pots and all that. Might be a good start until we figure out what it takes to turn this lot into a proper priestess."

  "I'm ready to go whenever you are," I whispered.

  She shook her head and pointed behind her. The air around her seemed to move, carrying over a strange sound, like that of cracking wood. Staring was rude, and yet I couldn't look away as dark shadows erupted from her back, taking the shape of black wings. Cass threw her head back. Her eyes rolled in their sockets. When she peered at me, I could see they had changed color from green to pitch black, pain reflecting in them. Her skin turned darker until it resembled shiny coal. I flinched, not with disgust, but with fear. Whatever Cass was, I had seen it before, or so it seemed. The memory hovered at the back of my mind, begging me to remember, and yet I couldn't quite place the familiar sight. And then I remembered the pain searing through me. It was only a moment, but it left me perturbed, and more confused than before.

  Thrain stood up and placed a soft peck on her forehead whispering, "Don't worry. I'll take care of her until you're back." Cass nodded and her mouth parted, revealing razor sharp teeth. I couldn't help but flinch. And in that instant, she disappeared right before my eyes.

  "Are you okay?" Thrain asked me.

  "Yes." My voice sounded surprisingly strong and resolute.

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