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       Voodoo Kiss, p.9

           Jayde Scott
 
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  "I know what marked me," I heard myself say softly. All eyes turned on me. For the first time, I saw surprise written on Cass's face. I moistened my lips, uncomfortable with all the attention.

  "You do?" Thrain prompted. His thigh brushed mine under the table, making any sort of concentration on the topic at hand impossible. Tiny jolts of electricity ran through me, wandering up and down my body. I had the strong need to touch him. Instead of giving in, I pulled away and crossed my legs, putting a few inches of distance between us. He frowned as though he knew I was uncomfortable with the proximity between us. Then again, I was probably reading too much into his expression.

  "My—" I hesitated, considering my words because the word 'boyfriend' didn't quite feel right "—Gael took me to see a fortuneteller. I think something happened, but I'm not sure."

  And then I went about recalling my experience with Madame Estevaz. When I finished, Cass asked me to start again without leaving out any details. The huge frown on her forehead told me she was just as confused.

  "So, when you woke up you couldn't remember a thing?" Thrain asked for the umpteenth time. I nodded. He smirked. "Why don't I like the sound of that?"

  "Did you notice anything out of the ordinary when you woke up? Anything you didn't understand, anything that had you confused?" Patricia asked.

  I bit my lip as I tried to remember, but my mind remained blank. "Don't think so."

  "Take your time," she said, walking around the table and sitting back in her chair. "Even if it might've seemed irrelevant at that time, it could mean something."

  I rubbed the sole of my left shoe over the stone tiles as I went through what happened after meeting Madame Estevaz. "Gael was there. I thought I saw something in his eyes, like a black shadow. A moment later, it was gone, but I think I saw it before." I moistened my lips and brushed my hand over my jeans, almost expecting the others to laugh and tell me I was being silly. Thrain wrapped his hand around mine and gave it a light squeeze as though to encourage me.

  "Did you say 'black shadow'?" Cass shot Thrain a quizzical look.

  I nodded. "Yes. Why?"

  "Does he have eerie black eyes and dark hair?" Thrain asked. I didn't think he was serious until he cocked a brow.

  "Oh, that was a real question." I shook my head. "No. Just brown eyes and light brown hair."

  Cass's face dropped. "There goes my lead."

  "We have another," Thrain said. "It's clear Madame Estevaz marked her. Let's see what she was really up to."

  Chapter 11

  I was slowly getting the hang out of this portal traveling. In fact, I felt like a natural, just walking through with not even a need to blink any more. After saying goodbye to Patricia and letting her hug me tight with what I swear were tears in her eyes, I returned to Rio de Janeiro. I wasn't sure where Madame Estevaz was, but apparently people knew her well. After half an hour waiting on a park bench, Thrain returned to let Cass and me know he had found her. So Cass opened yet another portal. An instant later, I found myself standing in front of the old house with the clean front yard and the peeling plaster. Thrain signaled us to stay behind him as he knocked. When no one answered, he shot us a glance over his shoulder and tried the door. It opened with a long creak.

  "Anyone home?" Cass called out. I held my breath to listen for any sounds, but nothing stirred. Not even the chicken and pigs, I heard the last time I visited, made any sound.

  "Something's wrong," Thrain whispered, pushing me behind him. I pressed my palm against the low of his back, feeling his muscles tensing beneath the thin material of his shirt.

  Cass scoffed. "How did you figure that one out, Sherlock Holmes?"

  As I followed them in, my gaze wandered to the mess that hadn't been here before. Dried herbs and broken ornament had been strewn all over the place. The papers, which had covered the wall above the heart to hide the chipped paint, had been torn to shreds. The mirror near the door had been smashed into hundreds of pieces. There was a plate with food on the table, as if someone got up quickly and didn't get the chance to finish a meal. The dismantled head of a ragdoll stared at me from the floor, its dark eyes were wide open, filled with accusation. That freaked me out because I knew it was just a doll.

  I frowned in horror as I tried to make sense of what could possibly have happened. And then I noticed there was something in the air. A dark presence. Waves of—

  "Chaos," Thrain said, taking a deep breath. His eyes glazed over, his mouth stood slightly open. I peered at Cass only to see her expression was similar.

  "Pain," she whispered.

  My hand still pressed against Thrain's back, I could feel his excitement washing over me, making me feel something I had never experienced before. An ecstasy that reminded me of a reunion with a long lost friend or lover, leaving behind a strong need for more. And yet I knew this woman hadn't experienced a happy reunion. She was dead. I could feel it in my bones, as if she had been a kindred spirit and magic connected us.

  I pulled my hand back quickly and bolted out the door and around the house, stopping only to throw up into a nearby bush. The nausea together with the relentless heat of the sun made me dizzy, but emptying my stomach felt surprisingly good, as though it would cleanse me from that sick sensation of enjoyment stemming from someone else's suffering.

  "Are you okay?" Thrain said, rubbing my back.

  I held up a hand as I leaned forward, my mind begging him to go away. I had no reason to be surprised. I mean, he had told me he was a demon and demons thrived on other people's pain. Even though I didn't like what I had just experienced, the initial shock was already starting to wear off. I wiped a hand over my mouth and turned to face him.

  "I'm sorry you had to see that," he said softly. His gaze searched mine, his eyes probing to find out what I was thinking of him. I let him squirm and wonder as I took a minute to think about it. The knowledge of what caused him pleasure didn't lessen my attraction to him. He was still someone I hoped to get to know to see where it might take us. Maybe he sensed my thoughts and emotional undercurrents because his lips stretched into a smile and he held out his hand. I grabbed it, albeit reluctantly, but didn't budge from the spot when he tried to pull me away.

  "No," I said. "I want to know what happened to her."

  He hesitated. "Trust me, you don't. It's not a pretty sight." I caught his glimpse behind me and followed his line of vision, past a fence leading into an overgrown garden. I started in that direction with him behind me, my breath coming in short, ragged heaps. If he tried to stop me, I didn't hear it. My heart began to hammer loud and hard a moment before I stepped through the gate into the garden with herbs and wild flowers and heavy branches hanging from a weeping willow. Right under them was a paved space, a perfect circle with stones building a border about ten inches in height. A ritual place—I knew it because I had seen something like this in my reoccurring dreams and visions ever since I was born.

  My hands shook as I kneeled down to touch the puddle of blood that had stained the stones a deep red, my gaze wandering past the pair of worn slippers to the old woman lying on her back in the middle of the circle. Her eyes were wide open, the expression on her aged face showed horror and fear. Her hands were tied and pressed against her chest as though she had tried to protect herself. Right under her chin was a thin cut crusted with dried blood. Bile rose in my throat. For once I was thankful I had skipped a lot of meals lately.

  "Shush, it's okay. She didn't suffer." Thrain's hands drew slow circles on my back. I knew he was lying. He small incisions all over her body indicated whoever had killed her had ensured a long and painful death.

  I got up and wiped my hands on the back of my jeans. "Get me out of here." My voice came low and hoarse, choked with emotion. I could feel something wet and cold on my face. Thrain leaned in to wipe a hand over my cheeks, then lifted me in his arms and carried me over to the front yard where Cass waited. From her expression I knew she could at least guess what we had just discovered.

  "S
eems like someone found her before us," she said.

  Thrain smirked. "Maybe he knew where to find her all along."

  "What are you saying?" Cass asked.

  He peered at me and raised his brows meaningfully. "Still think Aidan's mansion isn't the most secure place right now?"

  Cass hesitated. "What about Hell?"

  Hell? Did she really say that? I opened my mouth to protest but Thrain beat me to it. "Dallas's attack should've taught you that's one of the most obvious places our enemies would come looking."

  I pressed my cheek against his strong chest, inhaling his manly scent. "I'd love to spend some more time in Scotland, if you come too."

  Thrain's hot breath left a tingling sensation on my temple where his lips barely touched my skin. I thought he whispered something that sounded like, "I'd love to." But I wasn't sure because a moment later darkness enveloped me and I lost consciousness yet again.

  Chapter 12

  I woke up in a bed, feeling completely dehydrated. The dry sensation in my mouth made me cough once or twice before I pried my eyes open. A groan escaped my throat as I tried to push up on my elbows. My blurry gaze focused on the people around me. And lots of them. Where did they all come from?

  "You're seeing double, mate," Cass said from the window. Next to her, Amber was leaning against the wall. Aidan and Clare weren't around. I scanned the room with its flowery wallpaper and antique furniture. If it wasn't for a jacket draped over the back of a chair and lots of magazines and toiletry items cluttering the surface of the dresser, I could've sworn I was in a hotel room.

  "Stop reading my mind." My voice sounded raspy. I tried to clear my throat only to start coughing again. Thrain sat down next to me and raised a glass of water to my lips. I gulped it all down and leaned back against my satin pillow, only now realizing someone had covered me with a thin blanket. I looked down. Thankfully, I still wore my clothes.

  I felt so plain and weak compared to the others who seemed to take the whole situation so much better than I was. Hopefully, my powers would be making their grand entrance soon because inferior wasn't the kind of adjective I wanted to use to describe me. "What happened?"

  "You fainted," Thrain said, brushing a stray strand of hair out of my face. My breath caught in my throat as our eyes met. My attraction to him drew me in again, pulling me close and refusing to let me go. For a moment, we just stared at each other, lost for words. I felt so comfortable around him, and yet I wanted to run away. I had never been so drawn to someone. It was bizarre, as though we had met before and were connected or something. Like on cue, the air around us started to shimmer like tiny, faint stars on a clouded sky. I stared in awe, wondering whether the others could see it as well, or whether my imagination was playing a trick on me.

  "It's the bond you share with him," Cass said.

  "They share a—" Amber asked. Her voice betrayed surprise, as if it was a big deal.

  "Let her rest," Thrain interrupted her sharply. I glanced at their cryptic expressions. It was obvious they tried to keep something from me. Maybe they thought I knew nothing about their world. But I did. The strong attraction between Thrain and me wasn't natural, and certainly not something I had ever experienced before. A bond. It sounded strange, and yet it made sense. At Madame Estevaz's house, I had felt his emotions. Since I wasn't particularly perceptive and Thrain couldn't read my mind, it could only be the result of our connection—our bond.

  "You must be starved." Cass winked and pulled Amber behind her. "Thrain will bring you something to eat, and then you can get some rest. Or not." I watched them close the door behind them, aware that Thrain and I were alone. Suddenly, the large room seemed too small. He cleared his throat and turned to face me. I opened my mouth to speak but no sound came out.

  "When this is over I'd love to see you again," he said. I nodded stupidly. There were like a million things I could've said, clever things, something that could've made me seem more attractive in his eyes, and yet my mind remained blank.

  Thrain inched closer. I watched his fingers move across the sheet toward my hand, stopping an inch away. The poor guy was probably waiting for a sign from me. The knowledge was there, and still my mind couldn't come up with anything. I kept staring at him. A soft smile crossed his lips. "Okay. I'll bring you dinner."

  He stood and hesitated. I sensed he had something to say but couldn't bring himself to do it. My fingers touched his skin gently, and I marveled at how smooth his skin felt. "You know I said I had a boyfriend?" A frown crossed his dark brows. I smiled. "It was never anything serious."

  "Right." He nodded, grinning, then left. I buried myself into the soft bedding and pressed my hands against my burning cheeks. Gosh, the guy was gorgeous! Granted, demons had never really ranked high on my dating list but there was something about him that made me forget what he was. Besides, I didn't need to marry the guy. With my music career about to take off, commitment would only hinder me. I smiled at the air as my mind conjured up his image. White teeth gleaming as he shot me that easygoing grin of his. Strong arms scooping me up in his arms and pressing me against his strong chest. I remembered the unbuttoned shirt at the airport and the tattoo slithering down his entire chest and wondered whether it'd seem desperate if I asked to see it. Being shy wasn't usually my thing, but I didn't want to come across as cheap, so I decided it was for the best not to mention that I knew about it.

  A few minutes later, Thrain returned carrying a tray with a ham and cheese sandwich, and a cup of luke-warm tea. He placed it on the bedside table and pointed at the sandwich. "Sorry, there was nothing else in the fridge. I don't think anyone here's ever going shopping, what with them being vampires."

  "It's fine, don't worry. I'm not usually spoiled for choice." I eyed the white bread hungrily, waiting for him to leave again, but he didn't seem to harbor that thought.

  "Mind if I stay?"

  I peered at him surprised, not sure that I really wanted him to watch me eat. "Sure."

  "Great." He slumped down on the other side of the bed, leaving a bit of distance between us, for which I was grateful. As much as I fancied him, pushy guys always put me off. I grabbed my sandwich and started chewing, paying attention to doing it slow and graceful. The cheese tasted old but it was still edible. In fact, hungry as I was, I thought it was the most amazing meal I had lately.

  "You know what really bugs me?" Thrain continued without waiting for my answer. "I think you know way more than you let on."

  "What makes you say that?" I asked.

  He crossed his arms over his chest and turned his gaze to the ceiling as though the answer might just magically appear. "I've spent my whole life among humans and know they're usually more careful and distrusting than you. You strike me as—" He waved his hand about, searching for the right word.

  "Accepting?" Smiling, I took another bite of my sandwich.

  "I was thinking more in the line of reckless."

  "That's my middle name. How did you guess?"

  Propping up on his elbow, he rolled on his side, grinning. A glint appeared in his green gaze. His long lashes threw moving shadows across his cheeks. I bit my lip as I took in the soft contour of his mouth, wishing he would kiss me. Then I realized, kissing wasn't an option when I knew nothing about him. "Do you have a surname?" I asked.

  "We don't have one. But when I mingle with humans I tend to call myself Thrain Harnett."

  I stared at him, mesmerized. "My name's Sofia Romanov."

  He nodded, amused. "I know that, Sofia. I also know that you were born in Moscow on the first of May and that you turned nineteen last spring. You have the most amazing voice I have ever heard, but you want to go to drama school before making it big."

  Gee, the guy knew a lot about me. I wondered how he had found out. "Stalking much?" The thought should've scared me, but it didn't. Coming from him, I found it flattering. It meant he was interested.

  He laughed. "Just once or twice."

  "You were at my last gig." I sat up, the s
andwich forgotten. I remembered the guy with the hood covering most of his face. He had been there for an instant, and then disappeared right before my eyes. I had no idea how he had done it, but he was good, I had to give him that.

  "I loved Harried. Maybe you'll sing it for me one day."

  "Maybe." I looked away shyly. I was glad I didn't see him in the crowd because I might have ended up forgetting my lyrics. "Why didn't you talk to me?"

  "I—" His hand inched closer until our fingers touched. A tiny spark flew between us. He laughed but didn't pull back. "Did you see that?" I nodded, ready to insist he give me an answer. "Okay, why didn't I? I don't know."

  My brows shot up. "You don't know?"

  "I didn't think this would ever go beyond being just a job. And then I heard you sing and I forgot everything else." His fingers closed around mine. The warm fuzzy feeling in my stomach grew stronger. I felt strangely lightheaded but tried to maintain my cool. He continued, "Your voice impeded all sense of reasoning. Cass was—busy, and I figured I'd find you later. But you left for Brazil. Once there, I couldn't pick up your trail."

  "I wonder why."

  "I'm thinking magic. Something concealed your presence, until it broke."

  My thoughts wandered back to the hotel room. "Maybe something inside the room."

  He shook his head. "No. It was on you, otherwise I could've tracked you once you left the room."

  "Like something to carry around?"

  "Maybe jewelry?" Thrain asked.

  My mind started to put two and two together. Realization dawned on me. He gave me a silver pendant recently, but I didn't bring it with me. And the clothes I wore were my own. Except for the scarf. Gael specifically asked—no, demanded—that I keep it on at all times. I had found it strange, but it was a gift. I had trusted him.

  "You know what I'm talking about," Thrain whispered, inching closer.

  I shook my head. Gael? Of all the people in the world, it couldn't be Gael. Was it really the scarf? Something broke inside of me, and a cold sensation crept up my chest. "Just a coincidence," I muttered. "It has to be a coincidence." I knew I was fooling myself because my mind was telling me one thing, and my heart another. It was clear my heart wasn't willing to believe it when Gael had been the one to take care of me all those months.

 
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