Authors: Shannon Dermott
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction
Chris was slow to kneel. But he did all the same. Luke, Flynn and I all exchanged glances. Then we looked over at Tom who didn’t seem at all surprised but not happy either. My thoughts shifted back to when we first met him at the hospital after Brent’s attack. Tom had looked then like he had the world on his shoulders. And along with constantly reminding me that he was so not interested in me, he always added that he had his own troubles. Could th
e way the shifters were reacting to him part of that reason.
“You can be seated,” Tom said with an authoritative tone. He was a natural when it came to keeping order and maintaining control over things, so this didn’t surprise me. “I know why you are here Chris, and I apologize for not letting you know I was handling things.”
Chris nodded but didn’t speak as if he wasn’t allowed to. “The two potential other recruits will be presented to you if and when it is determined if they are in fact one of the newly changed. Otherwise, they will remain under my protection.”
All of the shifters nodded then. “Chris, will you inform your father or should I have my mother get in touch with him?”
Chris stood and said, “Don’t trouble the princess. We are aware she is aiding her father in his final return to the other side. We certainly want to be there for her coronation when the time comes.”
My shock was mirrored Luke’s and Flynn’s. The shifters spoke formally as if they were a hundred years older. Tom looked over to me and tilted his head but quickly retuned his attention to Chris. “Are you aware that your eagle there,” Tom pointed to Mike, “came about a couple of weeks ago with a pack of wolves spoiling for a fight that we happily gave him?”
Chris shot Mike a glacial stare, the green of his eyes shifted toward brown and the colors of fall. Mike caved under the scrutiny and apologized profusely about not knowing Tom was there.
“I suggest you get you house in order before I arrive in over a week’s time.”
Past the full moon, I thought.
Chris bowed and with a snap of his fingers they filed out of the house using the back door Flynn held open. Once they were gone, we all looked at Tom.
“What the hell was that?” said Flynn. “Fuck, I forgot to add, Your Grace.” Flynn bowed before standing to his full height.
Tom gave him a scathing look. Luke smiled. “The future Lion King stands before us.”
I, on the other hand, stood mute. Tom started raking his fingers through his floppy hair. “Look, I didn’t mean for you guys to find out this way. So you can cut the grace and lion king shit.”
Finding my words, I muttered, “Does Maggie or Brent know about this?”
Tilting his head to over at me, he dropped his hands and said, “No.”
Luke frowned. “How can Brent not know?”
Tom sighed as if in that one exhale all the problems of the world escaped him. “All this shifter business is mostly on my mother’s side. She went against her parents and married my dad who’s not full blooded. Brent’s dad and my dad are brothers.”
Luke leaned his head back. “Well, that’s one less thing we have to worry about. You’ve got the shifter business all under control.”
Flynn nodded. “Fuck me two days to Sunday. We got the Lion King here.” He pointed at Tom. “The chosen one.” He pointed at Luke. “Anti Succubus.” He pointed at me. My scowl joined Luke’s and Tom’s. “Jay and Kathy, the missing elves. And Sebastian the demon eater. Did I miss anyone?”
Taking my turn, I said. “Yes, and you Flynn are the super slut Incubus.”
Even though I was frowning, everyone else laughed hysterically including Flynn who tried not to but failed. At first I didn’t join them but I cracked a smile at the ridiculousness of the situation.
We all shut up at a thunderous noise outside. Flynn marched over to the back door and opened it. I think he expected that the shifters had returned but his eyes widened and he was snatched out of the doorway. Tom and Luke jumped into action following behind him. Grabbing a pool cue, I ran out into the melee.
Darkness covered the sky with menacing clouds that spouted angry lightning and thunder. There were six combatants and four of us. Flynn was already heavy into battle wielding the dagger Luke had given him. Had he been carrying it on him? The rest of us were weaponless against what I thought might be demons. Luke and Tom had some sort of alpha male understanding and headed off to their targets. I stood for a moment not sure what to do when a girl who didn’t look much older than me came sauntering forward. I’d missed her. She looked like she was skilled at the art of combat.
Damn, I was about to get my ass handed to me. But I had the pool cue and charged forward trying to surprise her with my offensive move. When her hands glowed, I ducked and lunged for her knees. We went tumbling in a heap, but being close wasn’t an advantage when your opponent conducted flame. When her burning hands seared my back, I couldn’t help the scream that escaped my throat. I pulled my knees up, kicking her away from me and scrambled to my feet. But she was faster. There was nothing I could do to stop what was about to happen.
Luke’s cry of
didn’t stop what happened either. I turned to give him a smile and my final goodbye. He started to glow but the light dimmed and failed. The horror on his face matched my own when I realized the extent of my darkness that now invaded his soul. I mouthed
I love you
—seconds stretching out to feel like hours— as I faced death again.
She smiled and her hands reached for me, glowing bright. I didn’t cry out. There would be enough cries in my eternity of damnation.
But the blast of fire never reached me. The demon’s head was separated from her body. I had a second to see Sebastian before he blinked out and made quick work of helping to dispatch the rest of demons, even the ones that were put down by the guys. Sebastian gave them a final death, as I thought of it. They stood no chance without forewarning of his presence. Soon we all stood for a second watching the demons’ spirit being sucked into Sebastian, leaving the shell of the bodies behind to turn to ash.
Luke caught me before my knees buckled. “Are you okay?” He didn’t say it, but it hung in the air:
don’t leave me
. I was getting good at nearly dying. And my little show of losing against the demon girl wouldn’t help my cause in the least to prove I didn’t need a babysitter.
“I’m fine,” I confessed, though I was shaken. I held on to him for all I was worth.
“I thought you had the demon problem under control,” Flynn barked holding the dagger in front of him. He didn’t look at all happy.
They all gathered around. Luke kept his hand around my waist. Sebastian looked at Flynn’s hand and back at me. His eyes narrowed and I opened my mouth to explain that Flynn had a different dagger not the one Sebastian had given me. Sebastian beat me to it. “It’s a bigger problem than I thought. You shouldn’t stay here for a while until I get it all taken care of.”
Not wanting to have an argument about a dagger I kept secret from Luke, I held my tongue. I needed to talk to Sebastian in private about that. So I responded to his statement instead. “We’re going on vacation,” I said, which sounded stupid even in my ears.
“Good,” Sebastian said. “I hope it’s far. It may buy us some more time.”
“We’re going—” I began.
Sebastian held a hand up. “Don’t tell me.”
Everyone stared at him. “Look, I have to go. I’ll see you soon.” His eyes were cold when he looked at me again. Then he vanished, leaving behind only a thin trail of mist. All the bodies were gone. Nothing was left, not even clothing. Clean up was a snap.
Tom looked at us each in turn. “Do you guys really trust him?”
Luke was the first to speak. “He showed up to help us.”
It was a simple statement. One that was hard to argue. Still in the back of my mind I had some doubts, little niggling feelings. Had he staged this to gain my trust? I remembered his look. Besides the betrayal I thought I caught there, he looked slightly nervous. Sebastian never had anything but cold detachment on his face before.
My white knuckle grip on the arm rest should have been word enough of my state of mind. But no one really paid attention to me. Who would think that a girl my age would have never flown before? Apparently no one. Everyone in the plane with me was rich except for Maggie and Doug. Still most marveled at the interior of the private plane we were on. Sure, some of them had flown first class, I gathered from snatches of conversation. But apparently they weren’t quite rich enough to have a private plane in their arsenal. Flynn’s dad was rolling in the dough more than I thought. He and Luke looked nonchalant about the extravagance.
I took a moment to try and calm my nerves. The ride over to the airport, I’d been fine. I hadn’t really given it much thought. Maybe that was because we’d spotted hunters parked down the street from our house, watching and waiting.
David had used that as another good excuse for our trip. “They won’t be able to follow them from the private air strip.” He told my mom. He’d meant that he was sure they didn’t have enough clout to arrange for their own private plane. And additionally, how could they know which airport we were leaving from. This area was a hub for airports, three main and several small private ones. Just because they saw us packing luggage in a car didn’t mean they could anticipate if it was a road trip or a plane journey we were headed on.
Mom looked grim and I suddenly didn’t want to leave her. Her expression was dark and I felt really bad where our relationship stood. I loved my mom. Yes, she’d kept things from me. Still, that wasn’t a reason not to love her and I certainly didn’t want her in danger.
With that the attack of the demons, she however was all but ready to send me somewhere else to live permanently.
“Mercy,” Luke said, bringing me back to the present. “Nervous?” He looked down at my grip on the arm rest.
It would be easy and less embarrassing to lie. “I’ve never flown before.”
His expression changed to shock which I was expecting. Then it morphed quickly into sympathy. He placed his hand atop mine. “Don’t worry. It will be fine,” he said.
And I wanted to believe him until the thick clouds that covered the sky seemed to darken. The gray day turned black as night and rain pebbled against the plane. I looked out the tiny window. Flashes of lighting marred the perfect darkness. I gripped the armrest so hard my hand throbbed.
A long arm snaked out and drew down the shade. “Focus on me,” he said.
Breathing, I did just that. I took in Luke’s caring eyes. His tenderness towards me was calming. His expression hadn’t held any of the darkness I’d seen every now and then. I loosened my grip and flipped my hand. He took it in his. As his mouth turned up into a smile, he leaned over and grazed his lips over mine. Just like every time, his kiss was magic.
We held like that long enough for me to only catch the end of the safety messages from the stewardess. I’d ignored the comments from our friends. Most of all, we made out long enough to distract me from my takeoff jitters.
Of course we breathed, a lot, but it wasn’t until later when the stewardess offered us a drink that we pulled apart for any significant length of time. My nerves calmed when the plane leveled off. Everyone else was talking and laughing, so I excused myself to the bathroom. When I looked back it was the first time I really took in the interior of the plane. Everything was in tan leather and gleaming wood grains. It looked very luxurious.
Behind Luke and me, Maggie, Tom, Doug and Flynn sat restaurant style, with two seats facing two other seats with a table in the middle. I passed them and saw they were playing cards. Brent sat isolated from the group in a solitary seat towards a door in the back with an L shaped sofa. In that moment I felt really bad for him.
“Hey,” I said, stopping in front of him. When he looked up at me with misery spelled on his forehead for all to see, I sat on at the end of the sofa to face him across the aisle. “Why are you sitting here all by yourself?” I asked, because there was a row of three single seats opposite Luke and the group.
“I can’t,” he said tightly, not really answering my question.
“Brent,” I said. I may have been overstepping my bounds but I had to say this. “I don’t think you did it on purpose.”
He head whipped around to face me. “You don’t?”
“No,” I sympathized.
I wanted to give him absolution there, but I couldn’t. “I can’t speak for her, but I think you two need to talk.”
“I’ve tried. She won’t talk to me.” He wiped a hand down his face. “And she’s with him now.”
My face squished up before I realized he was talking about Doug. “I’m not so sure that’s true.” But then I thought I’d spoken too freely. “Look, I think you should ask her about it.”
“You don’t understand, Mercy. It’s taking all my strength not to kill the guy for sitting next to my girl. Tom gave me some medication that is for ADHD people. It’s to help mellow me out. Without it I couldn’t sit here on this plane without claiming her.”
Okay, that was freaky. I wasn’t sure what to say after that, so I stood and patted him on the shoulder before opening the door. What lurked behind door number one was so unexpected, I froze in the doorway. There was a bed in the center of the room. Another door was off on the right, and I figured it led to the bathroom. So I let the door fall shut and tried door number two. And there it was—a bathroom as big as any inside a house. No shower, but it was opulent with granite counter top and shining faucets. Getting down to business, I hurried to finish when the plane rocked a bit, freaking me out. Drying my hands on a clean towel, I headed out to find Flynn sprawled across the bed. His arm was folded across his head covering his eyes.
“Flynn,” I said, feeling a bit weird that he might have heard me in the bathroom. When he didn’t say anything, I reached out to touch his arm to give him a little shake. As I was pulling back, he caught my arm but didn’t speak. “Are you okay?”
I couldn’t help myself. I propped one knee on the bed and leaned over to touch his forehead. Of course, if I was thinking, I’d know we didn’t get sick very often. But he was so unlike me. His head didn’t feel warm, I moved back to standing and he let go of my arm.
Just as I was about to speak again, Luke opened the door. He looked between the two of us and I was grateful for the thirty seconds before he hadn’t seen. “Are you okay?” he asked me, repeating my question to Flynn.
“Yeah,” I replied. “I talked to Brent for a bit and just made it to the bathroom. I came out and saw Flynn lying down.” I turned my head towards Flynn. “Are you sure you’re doing alright?” I asked even though he’d yet to answer me.
He shook his head but never revealed his eyes. Not knowing what else to do or say because he didn’t seem to want my help, I left, passing by Luke. I thought he would follow behind me, but he stayed. I hoped Flynn would tell him what was wrong because there was most definitely something wrong.
Maggie pulled me into the card game with Doug and Tom. I wasn’t very good at cards but played anyway. Flynn’s seat was back to back with Luke’s, so I had a clear view of the bedroom door. Luke still hadn’t come out. Brent was leaned back with his eyes closed. And soon I was lost in the spirit of the game.
It wasn’t until we were about to land that I noticed Luke talking to Brent. When had he come out? Was Flynn alright?