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Taking back forever, p.13
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       Taking Back Forever, p.13

           Karen Amanda Hooper
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Carson grabbed Krista’s hips. “Not now, Krista.”

  “Not now?” Krista hissed, pushing his hands away but keeping her angry stare on me. “You put my sister’s soul in jeopardy and you expect me to sit here and not say anything?” Krista tried to lunge at me, but Carson held her back. “You don’t need the plane,” Krista shouted. “I’m gonna kick your ass from here to Calgary!”

  I braced my arms on the table and leaned toward her. “If it will get me there faster then I’m all for it.”

  “Girls,” Helen said. “Calm down.”

  “You went way beyond selfish!” Krista yelled at me.

  “I know that but I had no choice.”

  “Sheila didn’t need to be involved. Maryah would eventually—”

  “I might be waiting forever if I left it up to Maryah!” I kicked my chair to the floor behind me. “I said I didn’t want to hear a word of judgment until this rescue mission is over!”

  “I’m judging you six ways to Sunday!”

  “Shut your mouth, swallow your anger, and decide if you want to come with us and help, or stay here and seethe.”

  “Of course I’m coming!” Krista snapped.

  “Good! Thank you.”

  “I’m warning you. Wear your bulletproof vest because I make no promises that my gun won’t be aimed at you at some point.”

  “Krista!” Maryah gasped.

  “Oh,” Krista waved her hand like she was swatting a fly. “I’d heal her afterward.”

  I didn’t blame her. I’d want to hurt me too. “We’re wasting time. Everyone get ready.”

  Maryah stood up.

  “Except you,” I said.

  “What? Why can’t I go?”

  Nate pulled her back into her chair. “You need to stay here with Louise.”

  “That’s not fair,” Maryah huffed.

  She had no idea how unfair the situation truly was.



  Krista threatened to shoot Harmony. Never saw that one coming. Whether she really meant it didn't matter. I never thought I’d hear any kindrily members talk about shooting anyone. And bulletproof vests? The only protective gear that I was aware of this family owning was sunglasses.

  If authorities ever questioned me and demanded to know where our weapon room was, I would have sworn up and down that we didn’t have one, that my kindrily would never even think of owning weapons. And I would have believed I was telling the truth—until Edgar ordered everyone to the weapon room to “gear up.”

  Nathan squeezed my hand. “I’ll be back.”

  “Oh no you don’t. I’m coming with you. No one told me about any weapon room and I want to see it.”

  He grinned. “Which is amusing considering you designed it and insisted it be built.”

  I squared my shoulders. “Really?”

  He nodded.

  Astonished, I pulled up the rear as a line of us paraded down the hallway into my and Nathan’s room. Anthony, Dylan, and Carson lifted the bed and moved it to the side of the room. Helen grabbed the bowl of Himalayan salt rocks off my nightstand. Louise took the peacock mirror off the wall. Faith moved books and DVDs off my ladder bookshelf.

  “What’s going on?” I asked Nate.

  He pulled me close to his side. “Just watch.”

  Louise laid the mirror on the floor with the glass facing up.

  Helen placed a rock around the mirror every few inches forming a circle. She stood straight and held her hands open at her sides. “Earth.” “

  “Let Maryah help with this part.” Nathan nudged me forward. “She’ll represent water.”

  Helen waved her fingers at me, taking my hand in hers. “Nathaniel, you be air.”

  He stepped up beside me and squeezed my hand. “You will love this.”

  “Fire,” Louise said, holding onto Helen’s free hand.

  “I’ll be Aether,” Carson blurred to Louise’s side and linked hands with her and Nathan, closing off our circle of people around the mirror. The rest of the kindrily stood behind us creating a second circle.

  Helen lifted her chin. “Aether, Air, Earth, Fire, and Water, hallowed be this hollowed ground and sacred be our supernal souls. Let us inflict no harm and keep us protected from evil. Let every kindrily member return unharmed, let our weapons be returned unfired and free from blood, and let our souls be spared from regret or hatred.”

  “Amen,” said everyone but me.

  “Amen,” I added.

  I could have asked what was going on, but it was all happening so fast and everyone else clearly knew what to do.

  Helen squeezed my hand tighter and closed her eyes. I glanced at Krista standing behind Carson. She pointed at the floor in the center of the circle and excitedly mouthed, watch.

  Helen began saying something in a different language. I stared at the mirror on the floor reflecting the dream catcher hanging from the ceiling above us. In the mirror’s reflection, the circle of string and feathers started swinging in slow circles, but when I looked up at the actual dream catcher it was hanging perfectly still.

  The rocks circling the mirror glowed pink. Helen kept chanting foreign words.

  The dream catcher in the mirror swung in circles so fast that the peacock feathers became a blur of blue and green. The rocks glowed so bright they turned white. Helen’s black hair blew back behind her but there was no wind blowing through the room.

  This is my family, I thought to myself, glancing around at everyone. They seemed content and fixated, but not shocked or even impressed. My supernatural family is conjuring up magic in my bedroom. Yup, this is really happening.

  The mirror and rocks glowed so brightly they blended into one circular pool of light.

  Helen let go of my hand. “Open the door.”

  “What door?” I asked.

  Nathan leaned in close to my ear. “Using your hand with your ring on it, reach inside the mirror, turn the handle clockwise, and pull up.”

  “You’re serious?”

  He smiled. “Serious as a pillory punishment.”

  I cautiously stepped forward. My kindrily members all watched me but none of them looked as scared or worried as I felt.

  “Will it hurt?” I wasn’t asking anyone in particular, but I happened to be looking at Carson when I said it. He shook his head no.

  I lowered to my knees and inched my hand toward the swirling light. It was warm but not hot, and it didn’t hurt at all. I took a deep breath and reached farther into the pool of colored light, wondering if I’d really feel a handle of some kind. This was my bedroom floor. I had been sleeping over this very spot every night for months. Yes, my kindred family had supernatural powers, but a magical door opened by a group ritual? Maybe they were messing with me, seeing how much I’d believe.

  My hand wrapped around an unseen handle that felt like it was made of cool steel. I turned clockwise and pulled up. A large circular hatch door hinged up and out of the light.

  “Holy...” I muttered. They were so not messing with me. I let go of the handle and scurried back on my hands and knees.

  Louise and Carson parted and Faith stepped into the circle carrying my ladder shelf.

  “Good job,” Faith assured me with her sparkly grin. “We’ll take it from here.”

  The light wasn’t as bright as it had been, but I still couldn’t see beyond it into what I assumed was a hole or tunnel. Faith lowered the ladder shelf, which at the moment was no longer a shelf but only a ladder, into the pool of light. The light kept dimming until I saw the opening in the floor. The frame was still there, but the glass was gone.

  Nathan hooked his hands under my arms and helped me stand up. “Brilliantly done.”

  Carson climbed down the ladder first, followed by Harmony. They disappeared into the hole. The secret hole. In the floor. In our bedroom.

  “Is this really happening?” I asked Nathan.

  “It is.”

  Dylan and Shiloh climbed down the ladder and I craned my nec
k to see where they went. A light flicked on, filling the opening with regular non-magical light. Shiloh looked up at me and held out his hand. “Come on, Maryah. This was your idea. You should at least come down and see it.”

  I stepped onto the top rung of the ladder and carefully descended into the hole, glancing up for one last visual sweep of my room.

  Nathan squatted above me. “I’ll be right behind you.”

  “This is crazy.”

  “This is the lifestyle of our kindrily.”

  I nodded and descended into the hole. I was imagining a whole lot of dirt—an underground bunker, claustrophobic type of place, but I was way off.

  The underground room was spacious and bright. Actually, it looked like a museum. The floors were shiny hardwood, and the cream-colored walls were twice as tall as me. Sleek track lighting lined the ceiling, illuminating the room, but giving off a natural light feel. Several paintings hung on the walls, classical and old looking—nothing like Louise’s abstract work. A long oval table sat in the middle of an area lined with floor-to-ceiling cabinets recessed into the walls with frosted glass doors.

  Edgar placed his hand on an electronic hand reader on the wall and after a melody of beeps the frost vanished from the glass. Inside the cabinets were weapons.

  Lots of weapons.

  I walked in front of a large cabinet, running my fingers over the clear glass. The cabinet housed a wall of assorted guns six rows tall and eight evenly spaced weapons wide. I turned and looked at the matching cabinet directly across from the one I stood in front of. That cabinet housed just as many knives, swords, nunchucks, and some other threatening contraptions I didn’t recognize.

  I was hyperaware of everyone staring at me watching my reaction. They were probably expecting me to be scared, or shocked, or concerned that we had our own personal arsenal hidden under my bedroom, but I wasn’t any of those things. I was having déjà vu. Something was tugging at my memory, and I wanted it to break through so badly. But the more I willed myself to remember, the quicker the familiar sensation slipped away.

  Nathan stood closest to me, silently observing me like the rest of our kindrily.

  “You said this was my idea?” I confirmed.

  Nathan nodded.

  I put my hands on my hips and spun around slowly, taking it all in one more time. “I was a true badass.”

  He smiled. “You were.”

  “But it doesn’t fit,” I said. “We’re such a peaceful group. Well,” I bobbed my head in Harmony’s direction. “Except for the black sheep. Why do we have so many weapons?”

  “We are peaceful.” Anthony pulled two more guns out of the cabinet. “Until we’re threatened.”

  “And then we become protective,” Faith said, cocking a gun like some kind of trained killer.

  Shiloh took down the nunchucks and some dangerous-looking star things from their pegs. “And part of being protective is being prepared.”

  “We’d never fire unless fired upon.” Carson handed Krista a bulletproof vest.

  “Speak for yourself,” Krista said, glaring at Harmony and handing the vest to her.

  Harmony smirked and took it from her.

  “I’m worried,” I admitted. “You look like you’re preparing to go to war.”

  I couldn’t handle losing anyone else. If one more person I loved died anytime soon I’d end up in a psych ward.

  “We’ll be fine,” Faith assured me. “We’re pretty impressive in action.”

  I hated to point out the obvious during their moment of proud flaunting of badass weaponry, but it needed to be said. “They slaughtered us. Last lifetime they wiped out nine of us and kidnapped another. Not very impressive on our part.”

  “Hey,” Harmony said defensively. “We had no idea they were planning an attack. And we were at a wedding.”

  “We learned from our mistake,” Dylan said, packing a duffel bag with another vest and binocular looking things. “For all future weddings the dress code includes vests and a gun.”

  “Lovely,” I scoffed.

  There were a few chuckles and then Nathan’s hand pressed against my waist guiding me past the table and cabinets.

  “The weapons are a necessary evil, but there’s more you to need to see.”


  Carson blurred past us to the far side of the room. “Even more than you originally designed. Correction,” he said. “Than what Mary originally designed.”

  “I’m still her,” I insisted.

  “You know what I mean.” He ran his finger along the frame of a painting then moved to a different painting and stood eye to eye with the portrait of a lavishly dressed woman. Two beams of blue light shot out of the painting and must have scanned Carson’s retinas or something impressively hi-tech because a hidden door between the two paintings slid open.

  I stepped back against Nathan. “Do I want to know what’s hidden in there?”

  “Yes, you do.” Krista grabbed my hand. “I’ve been dying to show you this stuff.”

  I glanced over my shoulder and Nathan and Harmony were grinning. Anthony strolled through the opening and Krista followed, dragging me along beside her.

  We paraded down a narrow curving hallway. Many pairs of footsteps echoed behind us, but I kept my focus ahead, anticipating what would be around the corner. I was not disappointed.

  “Holy bat cave,” I gasped as we stepped onto a railed balcony. A few steps below us sat a plane. The sleekest, most awesome, stealthiest private jet I’d ever seen. Hands down, it beat anything I’d seen in movies. “You said we had a family plane. You didn’t say it was kept in a secret underground lair beneath our house.”

  “You didn’t ask where it was hangared,” Nathan said innocently.

  Anthony was already opening one of the plane doors. Dylan, Shiloh, Faith, and Harmony filed past us down the steps.

  “Neat, huh?” Krista gazed admiringly at the plane too. “I love riding in that thing.”

  I had almost forgotten Krista’s emergency trip to be with me on my birthday. I was envious that she’d been in it and not me. At least not that I could remember.

  I turned around and said to Nathan, “I want to go with you.”

  “It’s too dangerous. Dedrick tried to make River kill you. The Nefariouns know what you look like.”

  “They know what you look like too.”

  “I can traverse out of there. You can’t.”

  “He’s right,” Krista said. “You’re much safer here. We’ll be back before you know it.” She hugged me as if she were running to the mall and she’d be back in a few hours then rushed off down the steps.

  “Don’t worry.” Carson nudged my shoulder. “I’ll take care of her.” He blurred down the steps after her.

  “This sucks,” I told Nathan. “I want to ride in the plane.”

  “You can go for a ride when we return.”

  “This is so unfair. I don’t have to go after the Nefariouns with you. Once we get to Calgary, I could wait in the plane.”

  “No,” he said firmly. “But how about I show you the inside while Anthony preps it for flight?”

  He didn’t need to ask twice. I rushed down the steps to explore the inside.

  Shiny wood trim accented the walls of the cabin. It smelled like the inside of a new car, but better. Fourteen seats were covered in soft tan leather. Some sat facing each other but with plenty of legroom between them. Others pivoted and shifted so they could line up together and make a long sofa. Tables and televisions rose from the floor or appeared from behind sliding panels. In the rear of the plane was a luxurious bed and small bathroom.

  “I could live in here,” I told Nathan, running my hand along the perfectly designed interior.

  He grinned and guided me back to the front. The cockpit had so many lighted buttons and switches it lit up like a city skyline at night. Screen after screen showed images that were foreign to me.

  Eventually, Anthony told Nathan and me that it was time for them to ta
ke off. We climbed down the steps and Dylan raised the door. Krista waved goodbye from one of the many round windows.

  Several feet from the nose of the plane, a massive system of sliding doors slid open revealing a wide open stretch of dark flat land outside. We were below the deck on the back of the house. Our house did sit high on a cliff, but it never occurred to me that something might be under it and inside the cliff.

  Nathan and I returned to the lookout balcony and watched as the plane fired up its engines. It rolled forward and several seconds later it took off and shot through the night sky like a bullet. I’d never seen an aircraft move so fast. But then again, with Anthony and Carson’s design and engineering skills, I should have expected it.

  “You could have gone with them,” I told Nathan, watching the lights of the plane become tiny dots in the black sky as it flew farther away alarmingly fast. “I feel bad you’re missing a flight like that.”

  He pressed some buttons on a keypad on the wall and the doors slid shut. “I’ll meet them there later.” He glided over to me and turned me around so I was facing him. His hands rose on either side of me and braced the railing behind me as he leaned closer. The metal handrail of the balcony pressed into my back while the heat from Nathan’s body warmed my chest. His flexed forearms made me jealous that his hands were gripping the railing instead of my body. The tip of his nose barely brushed against my cheek. “I don’t enjoy traveling that slow.”

  “No?” I breathed, lifting my chin and closing my eyes because the closeness of him felt so good, but it also made me ache for so much more.

  “No,” he repeated skimming his lips against mine. “But I do enjoy moving slow with you.”

  I grunted, frustrated by more talk of our relationship moving slow, but also tingling all over.

  He momentarily pushed himself away then dipped close again, like he was doing a standing push-up against the railing. I opened my eyes and admired his taut neck muscles as he tilted his head and inched closer to my ear. His voice was nearly a whisper. “I love that you’re down here and have seen the plane and our weapon room.” His lips trailed across my jaw. “Now, you’re in on our secret and you participated in some of our magic.”

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