Authors: Shannon Dermott
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction
Tom, Doug, Maggie and I looked up from the patio furniture we were sitting on to see Luke and Brent step outside behind Flynn. Tom and I sat opposite each other in solitary white wicker chairs. Maggie and Doug sat next to each other on a wicker sofa. Flynn planted himself between them, falling back laughing as they scooted apart to make room for him. Some of the dark spots were gone from his eyes. Still, he wasn’t quite himself.
Luke came over, sat on the edge of my chair and placed an arm around my back. The saddest thing by far was Brent, who barely looked at us and walked over the first bridge and then the second. The sun set before him as he found the path and dipped out of sight. I looked up at Luke who watched Brent’s descent, too. In fact we all did. Everything had gotten quiet. All at once, Maggie, Luke and Tom got to their feet. Tom held up a hand. Maggie looked distressed. She walked back into the house.
Deflecting, Luke said, “There’s food.”
“Yeah,” I said, and headed into the house to make Luke a plate. Really I was hoping to catch up to Maggie but she was nowhere to be seen. So I made two plates, piling on the food. Balancing them both, I made my way out and handed Flynn one and Luke the other.
Then I went back inside, searching the house for Maggie. I ended up in the west wing where I thought Tom and Brent found rooms. Still nothing. Heading back to go outside, I ran into Flynn who stood like a pillar. His grin was nothing short of wicked. “Lost?”
Rolling my eyes, I tried to walk passed him but he got in my way. “What is your problem?” I asked. I was annoyed and didn’t feel like playing games with him.
“You,” he said. What was up with his one word answers?
Blue flame lit up his eyes in the dark that filled the hallway. The sun had set and evening was upon us. “Flynn, stop being an ass. You have a playground of playthings down the hill. Go bother them.”
His hand came up as if he planned to caress my cheek. Stopping himself short of touching me, I swallowed feeling like all the air had been sucked out of the room.
“Mercy,” Luke called out. I took a step around Flynn to see if Luke was coming. When I looked back, Flynn was gone. And that was more than weird. He’d been standing there. He would have had to meld into the darkness in order disappear like some magician.
I hightailed it out to find Luke. “Hey you,” I said to Luke’s back. He turned around.
His face didn’t appear too happy. “I’m going to take Brent and Flynn back down the mountain.” A frown formed on my mouth. “Brent’s not doing well being around Doug. It’s some sort of alpha male thing. In order for there not to be any fight, they need to be separated.”
“Why you?” I asked. Couldn’t Tom take his cousin away? We’d just gotten here and I’d barely spent anytime with him.
“Flynn,” Luke said with a pained expression. “He’s…”
So there was something wrong with him. He was taking him to feed some more. “Are you going to be gone all night?” I asked, sounding wimpy to my own ears.
“If there was anyway… Tom can handle Brent. I just don’t think he can handle Flynn. Hell, I’m not sure I can.” He looked off in the distance. “I’m sorry. I’ll be back soon.”
He leaned down to kiss me. Before he could a breeze lifted my hair. Surprised, I looked up to see Flynn and Brent by the door. There was deep root of sadness in Brent’s eyes. This was going to be a long trip if Luke had to babysit the whole time. Luke kissed my forehead and headed back out with the boys who had literally eaten and run.
A little lonely, but I felt oddly safe for once. My grandfather was a demon. His island was hidden, so maybe I could just enjoy a day without fear of death for once.
When I headed outside, Maggie was back laughing with Tom and Doug.
“We should go swimming,” said a female voice said from behind me. I nearly leaped out of my skin, Sara scared me so.
“Yeah,” Maggie agreed. Everyone got to their feet and scattered into the house to get ready. Sara stood in front of me. This girl had been sent to kill me. Luke and Flynn weren’t here to stop her. I didn’t want to rely on anyone. Yet, this demon girl freaked me out a bit. Her smile was a little too big and friendly, to be honest.
She turned first, that made me feel good. I didn’t been the one to back down first despite my own fear. I followed her upstairs. When I headed to my room, she headed for the opposite door. “That’s Luke’s room,” I said.
Slowly she looked up at me. “Oh, I didn’t know.” She smiled. “I’ll just get my things.”
I stood waiting while she went inside, picked up a bag and came back out. “Can you point me to Flynn’s room?”
Shrugging, I said, “I’m not sure.”
Smiling again, she turned and took the room next to Luke’s. I waited until she was inside before entering my own room. Maggie had already tossed several bathing suits on the bed to decide on the right one. Shaking my head, I asked, “How many did you bring?”
Looking up, she said, “What is there else to do? I brought two for each day and I’m not sure that’s enough.”
I couldn’t help but shake my head. I hadn’t brought but a few. But then again, I didn’t own that many. I didn’t make a habit of going swimming. I always felt self-conscious about the size of my chest. So I headed in the closet to look through my meager options. I picked the worst of them. Luke wasn’t going to be here. I didn’t want to wear one of my better ones if he wouldn’t be here to see me in it—a brown tankini. I put a shirt over it. I couldn’t see myself just wearing the suit until I was close to the pool.
“Are you coming Eme?” Maggie called out. Apparently her decision made, dressed and was ready to go before me.
“I’m coming,” I said.
We headed to the pool. The boys were already in the water with Sara displayed by the pool like some fashion model. The guys were trying to coax her in and she seemed to be enjoying all the attention.
Maggie dropped the towel she brought on one of the lounge chairs and did a running cannon ball in the pool. Although it was dark, the pool was lit up with faint, romantic lighting. The air was warm. I pulled the tee shirt over my head. When I dropped it on the chair next to my towel I noticed the silence. I looked over to see the boys gawking at me.
My arms instinctually folded across my chest. “Break it up,” Maggie said. “You act like you haven’t seen breasts before.”
They snapped out of their trance. Sara smirked and stood up. Her perfectly portioned body in a tiny red bikini drew the boys’ eyes to her. If she thought this was some sort of competition, she was wrong. I was happy not to be on display. I consider putting back on my tee shirt and swimming in it. Last minute, I slid in the pool while no eyes were on me.
We swam for a long time before heading inside. Maggie and I talked until she finally fell asleep. Time was only a concept with nothing to do but lounge around all day. I wasn’t sure if we changed time zones either. If we had been back home, it would have been past midnight. I found myself missing Luke. I went across the hall in my pink Juicy track pants and tank and curled on top his bed. He would have to come home at some point. Maggie was asleep, so I wasn’t betraying the girl bond. It was just I hadn’t seen my boyfriend in hours. I thought this would be time for us. He’d been gone so much on his quest to find a cure for the Mercy plague, I thought while here I’d have him to myself. In a few short months, he’d be leaving for college and I’d see him even less.
When arm curled around me, I struggled out of the haze of sleep to come face to face with my surfer boy. In his eyes I saw desire. Leaning in, his lips touched mine in an explosion of heat which felt like it had been a millennium in the making. I didn’t need the night sky to see the heavens; they exploded behind my eyelids with his touch. His fingers threaded through my hair and pulled me closer. Side by side our bodies pressed together. One of his hands untangled from my hair drifting down my back, slipping under the tank as easy as if his move was practiced. I didn’t care. I wanted this more than anything.
His fingers danced up my spine sending ripples of shivers across my body. In a bold move, I tangled my leg over his twining it to draw him closer. He groaned. I held on to his arm before sliding it around to his back gripping him close.
Our tongues did the mambo while his hand boldly went where it hadn’t before. Gripping my bottom, he groaned in my mouth. He pulled away and looked at me under heavy lidded eyes. He was asking without words if it was okay to proceed further. I nodded to his silent question. His fingers deftly move to the waist band of my pants to slide them down my hips and thighs until they pooled at my feet. His foot shifted to shed them from me.
His shirt came off and then mine. He kissed his way down my neck to my collar bone. Nothing felt more right in my life. The only surprise to me when my brain kicked in for a moment was that my demon was utterly quiet for once. Just when his head dipped slightly lower a bloodcurdling scream pierced the night and shattering the mood in a thousand pieces. Luke shot up and onto his feet. Muttering to me to stay where I was, he headed out in the hall.
With the loss of him, I pulled my top and bottoms on to follow him to the disturbance. I shouldn’t have been surprised to find the door next to his open. Stepping into the opening. I saw Luke cradling a distressed Sara. My hands balled into fists. Despite the terror on her face, I just knew that this was a ruse to get Luke’s attention. But how would she have known what we were doing?
Crossing my arms across my chest, I turned and tunneled into Flynn. His arms came around me and moved me to the side. I found myself tucked in his embrace feeling worried. There was just something in the way Luke was with Sara that scared me. It felt like I could lose him to her. And Flynn must have known it too. I looked up into his sympathetic eyes.
Gone was the blue flame that threatened to strike. Gone were the gaunt features in his face. I buried my head in his chest accepting his comfort. Luke and I had been on the verge of taking the next step, yet he was still in there soothing that girl’s fears. And maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, that’s who Luke was. However, he’d left me half naked and hadn’t yet made a move to come find me.
Wiping my dry eyes, I pushed out of Flynn’s embrace because I could get lost there. It felt like home far too much for me to be comfortable. He didn’t follow as I went in my own room and tucked myself under the covers. Maybe I should have fought for my man. Nonetheless in the end, he would decide who he wanted. There would be nothing I could do to stop him. If my actions of wanting to give myself to him didn’t say how much I loved him I didn’t know what would.
I woke up alone in the bed hearing noise coming from downstairs. I had no idea if Luke had gone back to his own room or stayed the night with Sara. Not ready to face that music, I showered and tried to enjoy the peace. The unmistakable aroma of fresh brewed coffee permeated the halls when I stepped out of my room. Dressed for summer in shorts and a tee, I headed downstairs smelling breakfast food too.
What shocked me was that the boys were hard at work while Sara and Maggie sat at the dining room table talking. Heading in their direction, I passed by Tom as he pulled a muffin pan out of the oven. My eyes grew big at the sight. He’d made muffins?
After a surprisingly tasty meal, we girls offered to clean while the boys ended up in the pool horsing around. When Sara and Maggie left to change into bathing suits, I headed over the two bridges ready to explore what was on the other side of the mountain. I caught Luke’s gaze on me, but avoided falling into it. I wasn’t ready yet to talk to him. I found a sandy path that was steep in places and gentle in others as I made my way down to the sand and crystal blue waters that beckoned me like Luke’s eyes.
Letting the waves crest and recede over my bare feet, I wasn’t sure how far I walked before I heard a voice and spun.
The vision before me wasn’t one I expected. I stood shell shocked as Ryck Starr strode towards me. “You are a vision of loveliness just like your mother.”
“I thought—” I stuttered on the words.
“Yes, but how could I not pop in and see the object of many conversations in the underworld. You, my dear, are as much of a legend as I am.”
Suddenly, I felt very cold. I wrapped my arms around me. It was hard to reconcile the rock star who stood before me looking only a few years older than me, and even younger than my mom. He wasn’t as tall as Luke or Flynn but he was still taller than me by a few inches. His hair was ash blond like my mother’s. His features perfectly angled to make him one of the most desirable men on the planet.
His movement was fluid as he stepped towards me and took me in. I didn’t think I ever felt more on display than I did now. Did I meet up to his expectations of a granddaughter?
“You are an exquisite creature. It still boggles my mind that I bore such fruit. As you must know, an incubus will bear fruit in his likeness. To have a succubus daughter is unheard of by an incubi. Once she was born, I knew that the prophecy was coming to pass. And here you stand before me.”
My hands dropped to my sides. At last, the truth of my origins was finally coming out. Ryck looked far off as if he was listening to something. I hadn’t heard anything. Still his head cocked to the side. Straightening, he said, “Well I must go. Tour and all. But you enjoy the house. Let Helena know if there is anything you desire. We shall talk again.”
And he was gone. Weak kneed, I dropped to the sand tired of the close calls. I just wanted to know the truth. Gripping sand between my fingers, I let it ooze between. I attempted to crush it out of frustration as if it were possible. Water rose and covered me, getting my clothes wet. I didn’t care. I felt like diving in the deep blue sea and swimming until I couldn’t swim anymore. Would Sebastian come and save me? Where was he anyway?
I lay back in the sand awaiting the water to crash over me and pull back like a wet blanket. It was cold and clammy, yet refreshing to my senses. My eyes were closed playing back my quick visit with my grandfather, when weight covered me. Lips crushed to mine and I pushed with all my might. Removing whoever it was from my person was my first priority.
“Why did you do that?”
Still incensed, I said, “I think I hear a scream with your name on it. Why don’t you go investigate.” It was childish and prideful on my part, but I was hurt from what happened last night.
Opening my eyes, I saw Luke on his back, wet sand on his palms which lay up while the back of his hands covered his eyes. “I,” he started.
“Don’t bother,” I said. Pushing to my feet, I strode away knowing I should forgive him, but unable to. He hadn’t come to get me last night.
He snatched my arm, yanking my march to a stop. I turned, venomous gaze narrowed on his. I didn’t think I’d ever been this mad at him before. “How long did you stay with her?”
“Mercy,” he pleaded.
A weary laugh escaped me. I freed my hand with a viscous pull and took off in a run to get away. He hadn’t responded, that could only mean he knew I wouldn’t like the answer.
“Mercy,” he called out sounding farther away. He wasn’t pursuing me. And I wasn’t sure I could handle much more before I cried. Angling my run, I ran right into the water until I could run no more. I let my limbs become fluid extensions of my body. I allowed myself to fall into the swimmers dance and the call of the deep. I only surfaced when my lungs burned with the need of oxygen. Surfacing, I didn’t see land. Rotating, I found I’d swum out further than I thought. And even with an unobstructed view of the beach, Luke was nowhere to be seen. I closed my eyes. Had he so easily given up on me?
Dog paddling, I kept myself afloat until I gave into my tired body. Running and swimming out so far, I’d exhausted myself. I wasn’t giving up, I was giving in. Just for a moment. So I sank beneath the water, eyes wide open. I wondered if Sebastian would materialize in the middle of the ocean. I didn’t call to him. I just needed to give my tired muscles a break. I promised myself when the burn lit my chest, I would push my muscles to the brink to surface and swim back to shore.
The ocean depths called to me like a lover. When the need to breath clawed at me almost forcing my mouth open trying to draw in a breath I was still so far from the lit surface of the water I feared it was too late. I closed my eyes wondering if this would be how I would die. It was stupid on my part and stupid over a boy. Yes, I loved him. I loved him enough to give my life for his. But I shouldn’t have been irresponsible enough to risk my life over a boy just because he didn’t want me. He wasn’t the last boy on earth.
Too bad it didn’t look like I’d be able to impart that tidbit of wisdom to anyone. Still fighting to get to the surface, I felt myself being lifted just as my vision began to dim, my mouth opened. I couldn’t stop it.
Air filled my lungs like a gift from above. Blessed air, I wouldn’t ever take it for granted. I was too tired to move my legs to keep myself afloat, yet I didn’t sink. My guardian angel held me. “I won’t let you go,” he said.
Falling against his chest, we didn’t swim back to shore, we floated. All the while, he spoke to me. “You are my angel, Mercy. There is no one but you. She can never mean to me what you do.”
Saying nothing, I let him lay me gently on the sand where I let out a relieved sigh. I hadn’t meant to put my own life in danger. Pushing wet tendrils of my hair from my face, his touch was feather light. “I love you Mercy. You have to believe that.”
I did believe him; I just didn’t know where his heart stood with her. He seemed undeniably drawn to her like a moth to a flame. “You left and didn’t come back,” I whispered.
“I’m sorry,” he said looking genuinely wrong for his actions. “It’s was probably for the best. I’m not sure what got into me. You deserve better. I don’t want to take your virginity like any other common girl. It should be special.”
“It was special to me,” I said.
He kissed me and I felt the beast within me unfurl.