Authors: Shannon Dermott
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction
Maggie told with me that she’d woken up and gone downstairs. She, Brent, Luke, Sara and Tom were all hanging outside. They’d started a fire in the pit and were drinking.
I on the other hand couldn’t explain to her why I’d been screaming without dumping on her. She was so happy. This was vacation. I did tell her a little bit about the misunderstanding I had with Luke.
“Don’t worry Eme,” she said. “There was absolutely nothing going on between them.” When I just gave her the yeah right look, she added, “She was flirting hard. But he didn’t respond to it. He looked more sad than anything. He tried to hide it, but I saw.”
“I just don’t know what to do,” I said.
Pursing her lips, she paused before she said, “Go apologize.”
It was so simple, I stood and headed for the door. Brent stood right outside of it waiting for Maggie. “Hey, you alright?” he asked.
I nodded and headed for the stairs. When I walked into the kitchen as far as the island, I stood stock still. There in the glass, illuminated by the firelight, I saw them. His back was to the glass sitting in the patio sofa that leaned up against it. Even in the dark it was clear by his signature blonde hair that it was Luke. On her hands and knees to the side of him, Sara’s mouth was pressed to his ear. No one else was around. Was she whispering to him? If so, why? No one was around to hear them. So what was she doing? And why hadn’t he stopped her?
She must have sensed my presence because she turned to look at me with a huge grin before combing her fingers through his hair. He turned and spotted me before I made my way for the stairs. The implication of they might be doing was enough for me to need space. Something I couldn’t seem to find where I stood. Somehow I thought I might be able to breathe upstairs in my room.
I didn’t make it far before he got to me. Sara brushed by giving me a smile again as she headed in the direction I’d been going. “I’ll leave you two love birds alone,” she said. I didn’t hear any sincerity in her words.
“It isn’t what you think,” were the first words out of his mouth.
“How do you know what I thought?” I said, buying for time. I trusted him. At least I thought I did.
“I see it in your eyes,” he said. And I saw the churning ocean in his. “Just like I saw it earlier. What is it Mercy? Do you want me or do you not want me to be with anyone else?”
“What?” I asked, finding I was angry under all the hurt feeling.
“You pushed me away tonight. And before that, you left looking like you hoped to find someone else.”
Closing my lips, what was I to say? Not speaking turned out to be the wrong answer. He stepped back again and I saw him detach away from me again. If I didn’t say anything, I knew it would be over. “I’m only looking for you,” I pleaded.
There was a long pause. His fist connected with the counter with a loud twack before he was kissing me. That hand that had most likely cracked granite from the sound it had just made. Hands tangled in my hair to draw me closer. His kiss was frantic and nothing like the gentleness I was used to. His free arm lifted me off my feet and we were on the move. My mind going a million different places found it hard to keep up with the pace of his kissing and trying to decide how to handle the new Luke. His dark side was in control.
The mild air was so different from the air conditioned air inside. I didn’t have time to process just where we were headed before my back was laid out on a cushion. When my legs stretched out to accommodate his weight, I knew we were on the sofa where he had just been with her. That snapped my senses into place.
When his mouth left mine, I took in a breath. “Luke wait,” I said.
In an instant, he was off me like a lightning streak and sat with his back against the sofa, scrubbing his face and pushing his curls from his forehead.
“Luke,” I pleaded.
“No, it’s okay,” he said. His voice however, betrayed him with its strain. “I shouldn’t be surprised,” he muttered.
“Surprised by what?” I asked. He didn’t answer. I moved to sit and I looked at his profile. “Surprised why?”
“That if I wanted to you’d say no.” His words were callous. I tried to remember that this wasn’t my Luke. He wouldn’t ever speak to me this way.
“I’m going to try and get some sleep. Are you coming with me?” I asked. It was the best I could do. I let him know that I wanted him there. I didn’t want to fight. He was partially right. But only because when he wanted it he was never himself.
“I think I’ll sit out here for a while,” he said.
There was no way I could leave him. I plopped down on the ground next to him and draped myself on his chest. He didn’t push me away. Instead he wrapped an arm around me. I closed my eyes and prayed that somehow we could figure this all out.
When I woke again for what was the third time that night, I was in my bed alone. I remembered like a dream Luke carrying me upstairs and kissing my forehead. He’d said “I love you” and left. So sleepy, I hadn’t been able to protest his leaving. And now, I felt cold without him.
I went through the day like a zombie. It was our last full day on the island. I cooked and we all laughed and hung out but something was missing. Luke had barely said a few words to me. He was there but not. He and the guys went down to the town that evening. He explained that he was taking Flynn for
. What could I say? I woke alone again.
After breakfast I spent the morning packing. It wasn’t a traditional flight and I was sure we could delay it if we wanted to. Yet, it didn’t feel right to not be on time when this wasn’t something we’d paid for. Flynn’s dad was footing the bill. When I got downstairs, Tom took my bag. The boys were loading up the car. I went to the kitchen to fix lunch before we left.
Maggie was at the kitchen counter with Sara. They were laughing and looked up at my entrance. “Morning, Eme,” Maggie said.
Looking between them, I said, “Hey.” Then I got to work on making sandwiches. I didn’t feel like cleaning dishes. Sandwiches seemed like the easiest answer.
The kitchen filled with the boys once they were done. I had just finished pouring chips in a bowl. “Luke, you are only lucky son of a gun,” Doug said.
Everyone looked at him, but he stuffed some chips in his mouth. Then everyone looked back at me. I moved to put the chip bag in the trash. The silence was beyond awkward. “What’s lucky about being tied to one girl,” Flynn said. I wanted to kiss him for breaking the tension and slap him for his words all at the same.
“Speak for yourself,” Brent said wrapping an arm around Maggie.
I had a strong urge to leave the room. It took every ounce of my being not to.
Tom gave Flynn a high five. “I’m with you man. Girls are trouble.”
On their own accord, my eyes drifted to Luke’s. He was watching. I couldn’t tell what was on his mind.
“You two don’t know what you’re missing,” Maggie interjected.
Flynn ached a brow and quipped, “That’s what she said.” Shaking her head, everyone started laughing.
Doug said, “Hey man, I like your shirt.” When Flynn stood, I got a good view of it. It was black with the word
in bold white lettering. Underneath that word in a white box read
in bold black. And Underneath that was
in bold white letters.
My shook my head before my eyes fell back to my ultimate target. Luke looked at me. I felt the longing that shown in his eyes. How had this chasm formed between us?
The airplane ride from paradise was just as awkward as the kitchen scene. Luke and I didn’t sit together. I sat at the table with Maggie, Brent and Tom hoping Luke would sit next to me but he’d passed by me in favor of sitting somewhere behind me with Doug.
Sara conveniently hadn’t been there that morning and hadn’t ridden in the plane with us. I hadn’t expected her to since she hadn’t flown with us there.
Maggie gave me looks, but didn’t say anything after I gave her a tiny head shake not willing to talk about it in front of Brent and Tom. After landing, two cars with drivers picked us up. Maggie and I said our goodbyes there. I rode with Luke, Doug, and Flynn. We dropped off Doug first and headed to Flynn’s. Luke’s car was parked there.
The way things stood between us I assumed when we got there, Luke would get in his car and leave. He surprised both Flynn and I. Luke got my bag before I could reach it. We traded looks, but still didn’t speak. Flynn shook his head and walked to the door. I followed, unsure what to do. Maybe we would talk about everything. We were home. It was time to be honest.
The door opened to a firestorm none of us were expecting. Angry voices filled the normally noiseless house. Leaving our bags, we followed the harsh words to the kitchen were my mom and Flynn’s dad were at a standoff.
“We can talk about this later,” David said evenly.
Mom huffed. “No, I think we should talk about this now.”
“Julie,” David warned.
“She is my daughter. He is your son. You don’t see me telling you how I think you let him run wild and doing all the things he does,” she chided gesturing in Flynn’s direction.
Flynn froze. I opened my mouth to defend Flynn on instinct. But David whom I’d never seen angry had finally reached a melting point. Daddy bear came out to protect his cub. “At least I’m honest with my son. Maybe if you’d been more honest with Mercy we wouldn’t be in this mess.”
“How dare you,” she said defensively. It was flimsy at best. Instead, she went for what she thought was a weaker target for her rage. “If you hadn’t come into my daughter’s life, none of this would have happened,” she yelled and pointed at Luke.
Now it was my turn to flip out. “This isn’t Luke’s fault,” I thundered.
Luke put a comforting hand on my shoulder and step up next to me. “Yeah?” she snorted. “If that’s so, why has Jonah threatened to take away his protection if you two continue to stay together?”
Silence descended like fog. It was so hard to see through. “My father wouldn’t,” Luke choked out.
“He would,” Mom roared. David looked away. Flynn looked dumbstruck. Whatever that meant, it wasn’t good.
“I’ll take care of it,” Luke said, letting his hand sweep down my back.
David spoke up. “Luke, it’s fine. We’ll figure this out.”
“Mercy,” Mom hissed. My head snapped in her direction. “Go get your things.”
My jaw dropped. David spoke up. “Julie, don’t do this.”
“Why?” she asked. “You don’t respect how I raise my daughter. Everything went to hell when we moved here.” David’s jaw tightened. I could tell he wanted to say more but didn’t want to in front of us. “Go,” she directed at me.
Feeling like I had no choice, I turned and headed for my room. How easily my world turned to shit. Alone in my room on the verge of losing it, I threw things in a bag, not really caring what I brought. This wouldn’t last forever, I told myself.
With my bag stuffed with the essentials, I headed back to the foyer where my mom stood near the door. The boys were near the hallway separated by the center table. It was like slow motion as I made my way down the stairs. Reaching the final stair, I stopped to look at the guys. Flynn was looking anywhere but at me and my mom. David looked devastated. And Luke—well, his look was full of longing and despair. I wanted nothing more than to wrap him up in my arms and make this nightmare go away. But when I made a move in his direction, my mother called out. “Mercy, let’s go.”
With lead feet, I followed her instructions wondering all the while if things were really over between her and David. Would this be the last time I came to this house as an occupant? Would future visits be only as a guest? I hadn’t brought all my things hoping that this was only temporary. The door closing behind me sounded too final.
Mom and I didn’t speak at all on the ride home. When she pulled up in a familiar drive, I made note that the
sign was gone from the lawn. Our house had been up on the market for months, but still, had Mom planned this? Our furniture remained because the realtor told Mom that it helped potential buyers see how their own furniture might fit in the space. That seemed odd to me, but it really wasn’t any of my concern.
The house opened and I went in and had my foot on the stair when I heard raking sobs from my mother. Leaving my bag at the foot of the stairs, I followed her cries into the living room.
I sat down next to her. Startled, she looked at me like I was a stranger. “Mercy,” she whispered.
“Mom, what’s going on?” I asked, with a sympathetic hand on her shoulder.
“David,” she sobbed.
Confused, I studied her for a second. “But you left him,” I replied.
“Don’t you see Mercy, I had to. We brought all of this on them.”
Sitting back, I knew she was right. But only partly so; I was the poison. I was like rust eroding everyone’s life. “I should leave and you should stay, Mom.”
“Oh Mercy, David is right. I’ve kept you in the dark far too long. I never wanted this life for you. For anyone really. I’d never change the past, because I love you. I just didn’t know you could exist. Then again, I shouldn’t either,” she confessed.
She swept my hair from my shoulders. “I guess I should explain.”
There was no way I was breaking this spell. I remained mute hoping that all the truths that were trying to break free from everyone around me would finally see the light.
“When I was young, my father promised me to Belial.” I gasped. I knew he had been creepy with my mother. “You see, incubi can only father other incubi. You can see why having a succubus caused quite the stir. And I knew that I was the start of a prophecy. So having a child was out of the question for me. Little did I know I’d be the exception to the rules, much like you.”
So many questions filled my mind I didn’t know where to begin. She continued. “I refused to fill my father’s bargain and left before he could force me in that role.”
“So what stopped him?” I found myself asking.
“Jonah,” she breathed. And I got it even before she said the words. “I met him and he pledged his protection. As long as Jonah protects me…us, Belial can’t take me or you.”
“Me?” I blurted.
“Not all human laws apply but in this case, you are underage, therefore under my protection. Thus if Jonah protects me, he protects you.”
Jonah was removing protection from her because of me. “And that’s not it. You have to know your father did the same to you. You’ve been pledged to Sebastian.” She studied my face. “You didn’t think we allowed him in our home because we had a choice. He has a claim to you I cannot undo.”
“Don’t I have a say in this?” I insisted.
“As much as we live in the human world, the human laws don’t apply to us. He’s put himself at risk.”
“How so?” I replied quickly.
She looked around as if someone could be listening. She shook her head. “Let’s just say that Sebastian would be better off allowing you to die and be claimed by hell. Then your choice would be made for you.” She shook her head again as if to tell me not to ask any more questions about the subject. My mom would put herself at risk if she revealed too much to me. That I’d witnessed when Belial showed up at our home not long ago.
“Mercy, if you were any other girl, I couldn’t have been happier with Luke for a boyfriend for you. And if we were different, it would be a coup that you’d claimed an angel and marked him no less. But we aren’t. Succubi were meant to drain the very soul from males. Their role on this earth was to tempt the good and break their spirits. Even as Cambions our draining life force has far reaching effects. You saw how you affected Paul.” Paul had become obsessed with me. Kissing him once when he already had feelings for me had made him want to be with me so much more, he was willing to find a way to become supernatural for a chance at a life with me. He’d ended up in a coma under the spell of a demon. I hadn’t really spoken to him since Sebastian had the demon free him.
I didn’t like the reminder. “And clearly you are the exception to all the rules. We shouldn’t be able to affect other supernaturals.”
“I can’t,” I spluttered.
A humorless laugh escaped her. “But you have. Think about what I’ve already said.” I did. Sebastian and Luke. I didn’t want to believe it. Sebastian should be happy if I were to die. He could claim me in hell. Luke possessed Angel blood and automatically shouldn’t be interested in me. “And then there is Flynn. I don’t want to sound creepy because I have no desires for the young man. But I have eyes. We are created to be very attractive to humans. I have to admit that Flynn is the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen.”
Groaning, I rolled my eyes. That brought a real laugh from my mom. “That bothers you.”
“It’s just he knows it and it’s so annoying.”
Her next words stopped me. “Yet he pines for you. And you two are bonding.”
“You knew,” I blustered.
“But I don’t—” Her brows lifted. “I love him like a brother,” I implored. “He’s doing this to me somehow.”
“Mercy, Flynn may possess strength beyond the normal range, maybe even extra powers. He is certainly special. But he doesn’t have the power to create emotions. No demon does. It’s something called free will. And by denying him you put him at risk. If you don’t complete the bonding he’s at risk of starving to death.”
A horrified expression filled my face.
“Not that I want you to have sex, Mercy. But it’s time I stop treating you like a child and a human. You are neither. Your love for Luke will destroy them both.”
“But I love Luke so much,” I pleaded.
Giving me a tight smile, she said, “I know you do honey. But you love Flynn too. ” I turned away not wanting to hear this. “You’ve managed to do the impossible. You’ve turned the hearts of three supernaturals. There is no telling what else you can do.”
Not able to contain it any longer, I begged for the truth. “What am I?”
Sucking in a deep breath, resolve came over her. “There are many things I’m not allowed to tell you. But some things I think you figured out. When I became pregnant I feared the prophecy.” She searched my face. It held no astonishment. When Luke read that passage to me, I’d known if it were true, she’d know about. “A child was to be born soulless.” Again she paused as if waiting to see if she’s said something that surprised me. “That child would have been the gateway to allow demons passage back into this world. I couldn’t be sure if that was you, but I’d seen into the heart of your father at your conception. It was too late. I found myself praying.”
She stopped. It was as if she sensed my eagerness for her next words. “I can’t be sure, so this isn’t breaking any of the rules. I think you possess the power of heaven and hell. And both seek to use you as a weapon against the other.”
“That’s why Luke is watching over me?” I offered.
“I suspect,” she sighed.
“Does he know?” I inquired.
She shook her head. I breathed a sigh of relief. “Why Sebastian hasn’t pushed the issue of you being with him, I don’t know,” she added.
Things he’d said to me over time clued me in. “I think he’s giving me the choice.” Mom said nothing. She only looked at me. “It’s my choice isn’t it?”