Authors: Shannon Dermott
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction
Furious and ready to fire all my guns if I had any, I turned looking for Flynn. What I found was Ryck. “Grandfather.”
Walking in a white suit with mirrored glasses, he looked like the rock star he was. This time, his hair was dark like mine and fell around his shoulders. It blew back as his silent steps glided on air towards me. His hand cupped my cheek and I found myself leaning into his touch until his hand fell away. Thinking of Flynn’s compulsion in that second had me averting my gaze. Ryck could glamour me more easily than Flynn.
Chuckling, he said, “Learning are we?” It may have sounded like a question, but I treated it like a statement and didn’t answer.
“Why have you brought me here?” I asked instead.
The plain dark landscape changed and we stood under aqua skies and on white sandy beach. Palm trees dotted the landscape. We were back on his island. “I can give you all you want,” he stated.
“And what would that be,” I said and looked at my skin. I saw a faint sheen of sweat began to form. His dreamscape was so real.
“I know the secret to unmark your angel.”
I hadn’t been looking at him. My eyes had been taking in the landscape and wondering if he’d somehow transported me to his island for real to his home. But once the words were out of his mouth, my head snapped to attention.
“Yes, my dear. I can also sever the bond between you and the incubus boy.”
I tried to steady my breath. I could feel my heart race at the prospect of solving all my problems. “And Sebastian?” I asked.
“Yes, him too.”
Not dumb enough to think he would do this out of the kindness of his heart, I asked, “And for what price.”
“Ah, flesh of my flesh, it would be a bargain.”
“And what is your bargain.”
I met his eyes. Trying to turn away, I blinked unable to break his vice like grip. “I will let you decide what price is worth saving those you care so much about.”
His grin widened. “Well then.”
“But your price will be too much. I can do this on my own.”
I didn’t think he’d give up so easily. Yet, the dream evaporated and I was left panting on my back staring up at a dark ceiling in a place that no longer felt like home. The clock read three in the morning, when I called out, “Sebastian.”
Having told him to stay away, I didn’t expect for him to actually show up.
“Lass,” he said through the smoke. It took longer than usual for his body to coalesce into a shape then a form. Then he stood every gorgeous inches of him. I ignored his powerful physical presence and shirtless kilt ensemble.
“You know how to remove the mark from Luke don’t you.” I wasn’t asking and he knew it. “Why haven’t you told him?”
“If I told, my creator would unmake and remake me into someone you wouldn’t know though I’d appear the same.”
“Retrain you?” I asked, remembering the term he’d used before.
“Yes,” he breathed. “I can’t help him in anyway. He must figure it out for himself for it to work.”
“Can you tell me then?”
“No,” he said flatly. But I’d gotten used to my questions not been answered. Nodding, I moved onto my next question. “Flynn. Do you know of a way to stop the bonding between us?”
He sat on the bed next to me. His face was cloaked in darkness making him appear more sinister than he had before. “Yes, but you won’t like it.”
Figuring he was telling the truth let me ask the next question. “What?”
“Accept me. Be with me and my father will end the bond between you two.”
“There has to be another way,” I pleaded to no one.
“You two are far too connected. If you don’t give into him, he will surely die. And it will be on you.” His words were calloused. “I’ve warned you before to clean up your messes. Be with Flynn or be with me. Those are your only options to save Flynn’s life.”
“Neither is an option.” My words were final. I wouldn’t do either.
“Your time runs short. I will be forced soon not by my hands to take actions, Lass. I would prefer if you saw reason.”
He stood and I held my knees to my chest. “Where are you going?”
A cold smile formed on his lips. “I did have duties before meeting you and protecting you from our enemies is a daily task.”
“The dagger, I didn’t…,”
His eye darkened to black. Vanishing, I had no time to finish my statement.
The next days in schools were long. Flynn played the awesome boyfriend part while I played the girlfriend to the best of my abilities. He kissed me sparingly and kept his distance from me outside of school. His pallor grew pasty and his cheeks look more sunken in.
Luke no longer asked me about Flynn and I didn’t ask about Nina. She seemed more convinced and hadn’t made any comments to me at all.
Over a week later, Flynn was leaving me at class. The halls had basically cleared. For whatever reason, I hadn’t gone inside and he didn’t notice me. I saw him stumble and lean on the lockers nearby. Rushing over, I pulled him into a nook. “Flynn, what’s wrong?” I asked, even though with dread I knew.
He barely opened his eyes leaning heavily on the wall. “What do you think?” he said. Each word seemed like effort for him to form the words. He hadn’t seemed like that a minute ago.
Lifting on my toes, I moved to press my lips to his but with the strength he had left, he pushed me aside. Stumbling his way out of the tiny nook, I pulled him back as the bell rung. Falling to his knees, I lowered myself to face him.
“Isn’t this what you want,” he hissed. “Just let it be, and it will be done.”
His eyes were heavy, then closed. I made my move, catching him off guard. I tried pushing my life at him and it worked. I felt the transference of not only life force but whatever energy I’d stored up. Upon our lips parting, I was the one unable to stand. Flynn lifted me obviously feeling better. And gravity pulled my eyes shut.
Moments later when I opened them, I found I was in my room at David’s house. Looking over, the clock showed that hours had passed not moments. Getting to my feet was more of an effort than I thought. The keys to my car were on my nightstand and Flynn wasn’t at home. I left heading back home.
I wondered just how Flynn and I would survive if we were fully bonded if it was a give and take. I’d give, he’d be fine but I wouldn’t be. Days later, I finally got the opportunity to ask him.
“If we were fully bonded, we wouldn’t be affected by the transference.” He’d strode away from me leaving me to ponder that this kissing thing wasn’t working either.
Guilt over everything, I kissed Flynn every chance I got. And he was looking slightly better. He continued with the hands off approach. He was around but not enough for me to do anything to really help him get better. He even ignored my calls.
One night during a video chat, Luke caught me off guard with his words. “My father isn’t a believer yet. He’s made it clear he expects me to go to prom with my girlfriend. I perked up for a second until I realized it wasn’t me. “I have to take Nina to the dance.”
This hadn’t been what I expected. The thing with Flynn hadn’t been the help we needed. Flynn wasn’t getting better and his father wasn’t a believer. “I had no choice Mercy. But I have a solution. Nina is going to buy tickets for herself and Flynn since he can’t buy them because he’s a junior. And I’m buying tickets for me and you. The only thing that will keep us apart will be in the beginning when I pick her up.”
“And how does that help anything?” I asked. “Isn’t she going to find it suspicious you getting tickets for Flynn and me to go together.”
Guilt was a look he didn’t wear well. “She thinks I’m not mad at him anymore. I’m just mad at you. He and I are like brothers after all.”
Wasn’t that just a guy thing? Not all guys seemed to hold a grudge like girls did. “And I’m supposed to watch you two together?” I berated.
“You think it will be any better for me to watch you together with Flynn?”
“No,” I guessed. “But what about later?’
“I’ll be done with school a week or so later because of finals. And Dad is leaving the country on a road tour. He won’t know.” He paused. “How about your mom?”
“I think she knows. David may have told her because she hasn’t talked about moving lately.”
“That’s a third of our problem. Nina seems to be buying it.”
“How do you know?”
He sighed. “I have to talk to her. But nothing’s going on. I’m all the way here.”
Nodding, somehow I didn’t think his plan was going to work. And there was no way I was letting Nina go with Luke to the prom without me.
Each day, I cornered Flynn and fed him my life. And it became almost too easy to kiss him day after day.
He even started letting me kiss him out of the public view. Not being fully bonded, I ended up having to do something I didn’t like. I began to compel guys to recharge my battery. I was careful to not to actually kiss them or too take much of their life force. Then I would compel them to forget about me and what happened so that I wouldn’t to fall into the same trap I did with Paul. The guys I chose had been the senior boys that had stuffed the freshman in the locker. I figured karma was good enough to ease a bit of my conscience.
Tonight was different. Maggie was over and fixing her makeup in the mirror. I had to admit I missed Amber’s presence. She had a way with the stuff and a way about her. Maggie had already done our hair and she applied the last of the makeup standing up in her shimmering silver gown.
“I really love that dress,” she said, putting her makeup away.
I looked at myself in the mirror. The pale yellow dress I picked out with Maggie several weeks ago had seemed perfect. Now I wasn’t so sure. Would Luke like it? I’d yet to see him but he texted me that he’d made it back. He would show up with Brent in the limo.
“Are you weirded out that Luke’s riding with us?” Her green eyes held everything that a bestie’s should. Love, caring and solidarity all wrapped up with her words, made me hug her. “Yes.”
“I told Brent we should just ride with you and Flynn.” She shook her head.
“It’s okay. I’ll get through it.”
Pulling back and holding my shoulders, she said, “You haven’t seen him in ages and now he’s going to be with her. It’s not going to be a picnic for him either. I mean you’ll be on Flynn’s arm. Well, technically, Flynn has to enter with Nina. Inside, all bets are off.”
What I couldn’t tell her was that was going to be the best part. Walking in with Luke and getting our picture taken.
“They’re here,” my mom called from downstairs. Because my house was much smaller than Flynn’s, it took no time to make it to the front door.
Flynn looked incredible. It would be hard not to notice. Brent was there too looking dapper. Flynn stared at me opened mouthed and I looked down to make sure my chest was covered. He looked as though I might have flashed him. His blue eyes were icy clear. When I made it to him, he said, “You look smoking hot.”
“Pictures,” my mom declared. She promised to take a ton for Maggie’s parents. They hadn’t been excited about not being able to witness Maggie all dressed up but conceded since this technically wasn’t her prom.
It was good things changed. No longer under the strife spell Sara had left at David’s house, Mom wasn’t angry anymore. I’d told her all about my latest dreamwalk with her father and my conversation with Sebastian after. It felt good to share things with her again, knowing she wasn’t against me so much as she was trying to protect me.
She’d warned again, “Mercy trust me when I say that no matter what he offers to you, it won’t be worth the price you’d pay.” I’d made the right choice. And he’d yet to slip into any more of my dreams.
Coming out of my thoughts, Flynn put his arm around me in a possessive way and gave his chagrin as the flash went off several more times.
We were all headed out the door when my mom stopped Flynn and me. “Wait,” she called out. Maggie and Brent were already outside when my mom said, “Just a minute Mercy.”
Flynn closed the door when Brent agreed to give us a minute while heading for the limo at the curb. When Mom went upstairs, he turned to me. “You look incredible Mercy. Luke is one lucky son of bitch.”
“Thanks,” I said. “You look great yourself. That tee shirt looks amazing with your suit.”
Grinning, he opened his suit jacket to reveal a black tee with an S and D in a cursive flourish, with a “my” in lowercase script letters in between. Before I could even ask what that meant, Flynn whispered, “Forgive me.” And he swept me in his arms before his mouth covered mine in a kiss that made me forget my question until my mom cleared her voice loudly behind us.
Flynn pulled away and I realized my hands were clenched. Releasing them, I felt the pressure points where my nails had dug in my palms.
Mom came back empty handed. Perplexed I watched as she clasped her hand together in front of her. “I wanted you guys alone because I need to say something to you, Flynn.”
He stiffened by my side, and I moved closer taking his hand in mine as a show of support. Mom hadn’t been very nice to him or anyone recently. Although she’d been good to me lately, I feared her words. “Flynn, I’ve said some things I regret. You are a fine young man. And any mother should be happy that you were with their daughter.”
Flynn’s face was shocked. “David did well with you and as he should, he is very proud of you. I want you to know that I’m so happy that Mercy has chosen you. I’ve told her all along you were the best choice.”
Then she walked over and took Flynn in a surprise hug. “Thanks Mrs. M,” he uttered, glancing over me like he was trying to figure me out. “We should go.”
“You two have fun. Don’t worry about curfew,” she said. I’d never had a curfew so that comment put a stutter in my step.
Mortified at my mother’s words, I didn’t look at Flynn as we left the house with my mom waving goodbye at us from behind.
“I’m mother approved,” Flynn chuckled. It was instinct to glance over at him when he spoke.
“She’s right. You are a good guy,” I said, because he didn’t think he was.
“You’re both wrong there,” he said, keeping his voice low.
It was a short walk from my house to the street. We were almost to the limo, when I stopped and asked, “Why would you say that?”
His answer was quick. “Because if I was, I wouldn’t be in love with my best friend’s girl,” he answered with his voice barely above a whisper.
On some level I knew this to be true. The bond was evidence enough. But it was still hard to swallow that Flynn was in love with me. Two steps later, he opened the limo door.
If I thought that my night would be easy to get through, when I got in the limo, I was reminded why it wouldn’t be. It was hard to see Luke in person for the first time in weeks and unable to touch him. Added to that was horrible times a thousand with him next to Nina who wore a black dress. Averting my eyes, with Flynn and I last to get in, I ended up in the hot seat that lined the back. Luke and Nina faced Brent and Maggie who sat across from them.
“What took the two of you so long?” Nina crooned. “Mercy, you should fix your lipstick.”
I automatically focused on Luke. When our eyes connected, his features were grim until Nina turned at looked at him. His frown turned right side up way too fast. She had to see that his smile wasn’t genuine.
“Awkward,” Maggie jested. Meeting her eye, she shrugged at me, letting me know there was nothing she could do about the obvious.
Brent said, “You girls all look good tonight.”
“Why thank you Babe,” Maggie said, and planted a kiss on him.
And when he spoke, he let me know he was indeed real. My heart released butterflies I didn’t know I had. “You girls all look beautiful.” Nina leaned her back into Luke’s chest. So it was easy for him to speak and look at me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Brent and Maggie looking between Luke and me.
“You know, I almost didn’t believe the two of you were really together. I just knew that you two were putting on a show. I mean really who would have thought Flynn would chase any girl. But I see it. I see the way you two look at each other.”
Flynn added to the show by lacing his fingers with mine. “Don’t get jealous Nina.”
“Jealous,” Nina proffered. “Why would I be? Besides, I’m just curious about the ring. I mean, it’s on the finger that would suggest you two are getting married or something.”
I sat to Flynn’s left since he let me get in the car first. With his right hand, he lifted my left and kissed my ring finger. Luke’s eyes burned into mine and I knew he was ready to pounce to get Flynn off of me. This was as hard for him to watch as it was for me.
Although Nina was pressed against him, Luke had barely touched her. I felt so wrong for putting all of this in Luke’s face.
“Besides Nina, I know you want me. I’ve seen it in your dreams.”