Authors: Shannon Dermott
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction
My grounding didn’t stop me. I told Maggie I’d see her in a bit. Flynn was still on lock down. Now we were both stuck in the house.
Looking out my window, I rationalized that I could jump. Hey I was a supernatural being. I should come out unscathed. But I wasn’t that stupid. With my driver’s license and my car keys in my hand, I opened my door.
I was greeted by raised voices coming from Mom and David’s room. I’d never heard them fight before, but it was clear they didn’t see eye to eye at the moment. Using the noise as cover, I headed down the stairs and out the door. Hopefully they wouldn’t hear the alarm chime over their fight.
And wouldn’t you know it, my car was boxed in. Unless I wanted to drive over David’s manicure lawn, I wouldn’t be able to get out without wasting precious time.
Then an idea struck. I still had a key to Flynn’s Hummer which was parked in front of mine. Although it was dented on the side, it was still drivable. If I moved it, then moved my car, I could leave. That however would take time and it raised my chances of getting caught. So I clicked the button on Flynn’s bad boy ride and hopped in. I was banking on him staying put like he’d done the last couple of weeks. Otherwise, if caught, I would have hell to pay to him to.
The world looked different up high in the Hummer. I hit the radio button and metal music immediately filled the speakers to dangerously loud levels. Turning it down, I changed the station. When my favorite band, Thirty Seconds to Mars, came on, I cranked up the tunes again and headed for Maggie’s.
Once there, I parked behind her tiny car, Flynn’s ride dwarfing it . I barely manage to hop out when Maggie came storming out. “What the hey?” she said. “I thought something bad happened and Flynn came to tell me.”
I had the niggling feeling that maybe she’d hoped Flynn had come when she first saw his car. Inwardly, I shook my head and dismissed it. Maggie had been so anti-Flynn, I had to be mistaken.
We headed straight to her room where I gave her a rundown of the events. I was stretched across her bed with one arm propping up my head. She laid opposite me on her back staring up at the ceiling.
“So you and Luke almost did the deed,” she teased.
I sighed. “You would focus on that part of the story.”
“What else should I focus on?” she asked with a smile.
“Um, maybe about this prophecy,” I suggested, not sure what I thought about it or why I hadn’t mentioned it to my mom. I had a strong suspicion that if it was true, she already knew about it and hadn’t told me.
Shrugging, she said, “There really isn’t much you can do about it, kind of like me. So why worry about something you can’t change?”
“Yeah, maybe.” I fell to my back and covered my eyes.
“Besides, you’re like grounded, really?”
I didn’t blame her for asking the question; I was never in trouble. “Yep.”
“Priceless,” she said. I kept my arm over my eyes. “And Flynn’s going to freak when he finds out you took his baby.”
I looked at her then. Something in the way she said those words struck me. I really looked at her. And the look I saw in her eyes is undeniable. “What’s going on Maggs? Do you have a thing for Flynn now?”
She sat up quickly, averting my gaze. “No, of course not.”
Still, she wasn’t looking at me. “Flynn isn’t the right guy for you Maggs,” I warned.
“Why?” she asked defensively. “Because you want him?”
I couldn’t answer. Did I? “Maggie,” I said. This caught her attention it wasn’t often I used her full name. “What about Doug and Brent?” I asked deflecting. “I think you’re just trying to avoid dealing with this situation. You and I both know Flynn isn’t likely to ever truly settle down with anyone. Is that what you want?”
She flopped back on the soft mattress. “I know. You’re right. He can be so sweet at times.”
Boy didn’t I know that. “Yes, but he’s an incubi with needs all the time. You’re hum-.”
“Maybe I’m not human,” she cut in.
“And if you’re not, that’s worse because then he can’t get what he needs from you.”
“Plus you want him,” she said. “It’s okay Eme. Everyone knows it.”
“What?” I asked incredulously. I sat up and tucked my feet underneath me. “I’m in love with Luke.”
“And Flynn,” she said. Raising a hand to stop my argument, she said, “And I get it. Getting to know him, I can understand why.”
“Maggs,” I protested, then I gave up. I couldn’t stop her from being with him. He wasn’t mine. “Look, if you want to pursue him, go for it because I’m not in love with him.” My mind, however, questioned my words.
“What for? He’s into you just as much. Sometimes, I wonder if Luke should be up for sainthood.” I opened then quickly shut my mouth. “Don’t worry. Your secret’s safe with me,” she added.
We sat quiet for a second. I didn’t know what to say. Finally, I said, “So why’d you call me over?”
Sitting up again and wrapping her arms around her knees, she said, “Paul’s mom is going to put him in long term care. We have to do something.”
That swinging pendulum sliced at my heart. My actions were totally catching up with me. “What do we do?” I asked. I’d tried everything including kissing him each time I went there. Yet his lips remained unresponsive. And yes, Luke was aware what I was doing. Sainthood indeed.
“It’s so bloody obvious, Eme,” Maggie cried with an exasperated breath. Holding my hands out palm up, I gestured that she should fill me in. “We should call forth the demon again and get her to break the spell.”
That should have been obvious. Well, not totally. That demon had been too cunning. It wouldn’t be as simple as ‘
Mother, may I
?’ to get her to do anything. But still, she was right. It might be the only answer left. And maybe the only one who could fix this would be the demon who had caused it.
It wasn’t as if the thought hadn’t crossed my mind. When I talked to Sebastian, he’d never brought it up. So I assumed it wasn’t a viable option. Today, however, I couldn’t let Paul’s mother move him. Sebastian warned me that I was the one that needed to fix my messes. “Let’s go,” I said. I had a feeling once my mother knew I’d defied her I would be put on a very short leash the moment I walked through the house door. So it might be now or never.
Climbing into Flynn’s Hummer, we barreled our way down the street towards Paul’s house. The tires skidded a bit on the snow but they were heavy duty and it managed. Getting out the car, I heard the distant sounds of a snow blower and kids playing. You wouldn’t be able to tell by the suburban guise of the neighborhood that supernatural forces like me were at work.
Mrs. B let us in. Her eyes were rimmed red. Guilt covered me again. I had to fix this somehow. “I don’t know what else to do?” Ms. B said. “The doctors can’t find a thing wrong with him.”
Unable to give her any reassurance without telling her the truth, which would convince her to have
committed, I hugged her. Maggie followed suit and hugged her while I headed upstairs.
His room was much the same. The books on his desk had been closed, which was unfortunate, but thankfully they remained. Mrs. B had no reason to assume that the dark magic or demon books were anything more than a research project for school. Paul lay in his bed. The only movement was his chest up and down in an even pattern that didn’t change. His eyes were closed and there was no movement underneath them. The whole scene made me sad. His life would be so different if he’d never met me.
Determined more than ever, I sat in his chair and picked up the first book I laid my hands on. The title it looked like it was written in a foreign language. And frankly it was. Groaning, I flipped through the first several pages to see if somehow it magically would turn to English. It didn’t. Maggie sauntered up after closing the door behind her. I handed her a book and she took a seat at my feet leaning against the desk with her legs straight in front of her. “What are we looking for?”
Shrugging, I said, “X marks the spot maybe.”
Shaking her head, she thumbed through the pages of the book she held. Since I couldn’t read it, I looked at the pictures, hoping to find a picture of a pentagram or something that resembled the chalk outline Paul had drawn on the floor. Many of the pages were brittle and crumbled at the edges I held. I put that one down in favor of the next one.
And so it went for the next two hours. I’d clued Maggie in on the circle thingy and told her to keep a look out for it. We were down to the last few books on the desk. “Anything?” I asked hopeful.
“Nope,” she said.
I closed the book in my hands with a thunderous clap. Maggie jumped at the noise.
“Sorry,” I said. “There has got to be something.” With all the books we’d gone through at my feet, I considered telling Maggie to go through my pile while I went through hers in case we missed something when I spotted the innocuous notebook. Picking it up, I turned a few pages and pointed. “Here it is.” My words dragged as I noticed Paul had done all the work. He’d basically written a how-to manual from all his research. Flipping more pages, I felt like such an idiot. Granted the notebook had been buried under all the books, but still... We were best friends, or rather had been. I should have known he would have it all spelled out. But I didn’t. What did that say about our friendship?
Maggie was on her knees studying the book. “Well, where’s the chalk?”
It took a little while to set up. We had to find the chalk and clear the room a bit. It was also very hard to draw a perfect circle. This according to Paul’s notes this step was very important. It was the circle that held the demon at bay. If we didn’t do it right, we could unleash it into our realm and who knew what could happen.
The sun was setting when we finally finished. I remembered Sebastian warning me the last time about nightfall. “What do we do now?” Maggie said.
“We wait,” I said. “It has to be dark for this to work.” In the meantime, I found a page that listed several names. I wasn’t sure on the pronunciation, but I hoped it would still work.
“You know I was just teasing you about Flynn,” Maggie said out of the blue.
Lifting my eyes from the notebook, she stared at her nails like the answers to the universe were in them. “Maggs,” I wanted to put a stop to this conversation.
“Flynn is super hot, but I have enough trouble with Brent and Doug,” she said before she bit her nails.
“You shouldn’t do that.” I said pointing at her nails. But that really wasn’t where I was headed. Like a scolded child she put her hands in her lap. “Have you decided yet what you are going to do?”
“It isn’t easy. On one hand, I still love Brent. I hate him for what he might have done to me, but I know he didn’t do it on purpose. Then again how can I ever trust him, you know.” Trailing off, she paused and I nodded. “Then there is Doug. He’s so sweet and everything I should want in a guy and I guess I really like him in a way.”
She didn’t finish, but she didn’t have to. Poor Doug, I thought. He was going to be heartbroken again. “I don’t know,” she said. “That’s why maybe if I was with someone else, I wouldn’t feel like I’d chosen either of them over the other.”
I said seriously, “Or maybe don’t date anyone.”
She frowned and began to pout. Ignoring my statement, she asked, “Tell me you’re still going to Liam’s party with me?”
She’d given me an out. “I don’t know.” I sighed. The last time she talked me into a party things almost got out of hand. And if I really thought about it, Luke, Paul and Flynn wouldn’t have had all this trouble if I’d just said no. Then I remembered, “I’m grounded.”
Laughing, she said, “Like you are right now.”
“Yes,” I sighed but couldn’t help a giggle at the irony.
“Your mom might be working overnight on Friday. And face it, Flynn’s dad is a push over,” she said.
Knowing she wouldn’t give up, I said the only thing I could. “If I can get out of the house, I’ll go.” There was a fifty/fifty shot I wouldn’t be going anywhere.
Our conversation did the job of passing the time. We had enough time before the sky darkened to the point of midnight blue to review Paul’s directions. We were ready even if we weren’t really prepared. If we hadn’t noticed the sky changing colors, the pop of power from the circle as it lit up clued us in.
Scrambling to our feet, we chanted the words as written out. It took a while and I would have felt a little foolish but the way the circle burned ominously without any impact to the floor, inspired fear. I may have been a succubus, but I was still half human. This supernatural stuff wasn’t second nature and this was beyond spooky. The second time around hadn’t changed that. After we read the words, we finished with the name of the demon Paul marked and one that sounded familiar. I hoped I was right.
There was no poof of smoke, no earth shaking movements or sounds of growling. The demon was simply there in all her inhuman gorgeousness. She stood with hair a midnight black free flowing to her waist. Her features sculpted to perfection. Face with ruby lips painted into a smirk. It said, “I was hoping it would be you.”
That should have freaked me out that she was still thinking of me in any way. But I was just grateful she hadn’t taken form to resemble me. Transfixed, I commanded, “Release him,” not terribly sure what power I held over her. I did remember when Paul had done it, he’d been granted a wish.
“And what do I get?” She floated in the center of the circle.
“What is your price?” I asked.
“Eme, are you crazy?” Maggie exclaimed, drawing my attention to her. Exasperation was written on her face. “You don’t barter.”
Nodding, I turned back to the demon. “You owe me for the price of your freedom.”
“Hmm,” the succubus murmured, putting a hand to her chin as if in thought. “Let me see. No,” she said with surety. “You owe me for your freedom.”
“What?” I balked.
“Yes, I know who and how valuable you are,” she said looking pointedly at me. Her irises were pools of black holes. “I could give you the knowledge you seek and free your human.”
“And what do I have to do?” I asked.
Maggie cut in, moving in front of me. “Don’t do this. Don’t be foolish. She’s lying to you.”
“Maggs, I have to make this right.” I tried to push past Maggie but she held her arms out. I didn’t want to hurt her or push her into the circle and free the demon causing a lot more trouble than we were already in.
“That’s right, little one. Because if you don’t take the deal I’m offering, I’ll send for the demons that want your head.”
Getting in my face, Maggie pleaded, “I can’t let you do this.”
“And Paul should suffer or die for what I’ve done,” I hissed.
Looking at Paul comatose state, Maggie stepped to the side. She didn’t look at me, but we both knew we were out of options. If one of us should die, it should be me because this was my fault not his.
Taking slow steps forward, I asked, “What do I need to do?”
“Step into the circle,” the demon said with a gleam in her eye.
“How do I know you will release him?” I asked.
“A bargain is a bargain. I will hold up my end.”
My foot crossed the chalk line. The power of the circle hummed through my body giving me a jolt similar to a quick zap of electricity. As my body made contact with the force field, I was slammed back. My butt hit the floor. Looking up, I saw Sebastian there, halfway in the circle, a hand wrapped around the demon’s throat.
“Eisheth Nata Igrat Mahlat Zenunim,” Sebastian snarled in a cold voice. “Need I give more of your names?”
The demon squirmed. Her body shook and her head moved side to side as best she could given how he held her. He was totally within the circle. “I command you to free the human.”
“He is mine. Free and clear. I did nothing that broke the laws,” she said. It dawned on me that the demons must not need to breathe or else Sebastian’s hold would have cut off her oxygen to cause death. Yet, she spoke clearly. Thus, her pained expression was from him immobilize her.
“And yet, I commanded you to free him and you have not obeyed,” he demanded.
“Your father will not be pleased when he hears about this,” she protested.
He brought her face to his, showing her without words but with the fury in his eyes that he was not messing around.
“Fine,” she said in a panic and waved a hand in the general direction where Paul lay. “It’s done.”
And from my sideways view, I saw Sebastian smile and it scared the living daylights out of me because there wasn’t glee in his face. The smile looked as though he were excited to end her. He opened his mouth and breathed deep. She disintegrated into nothing. “So much show and no tell,” he spoke. I didn’t think he was talking to me.
He stepped through the circle again like it didn’t exist. My eyes widened. Picking up on my thoughts by from my expression, he said, “Nothing can hold me.”
I knew then Sebastian was playing us. I had no doubt that he could take us out at any time he wanted.
“Mercy,” a raspy voice said. I swung around to see Paul trying to move. Scrambling to my feet, I rushed over along with Maggie, Sebastian forgotten for the moment.
He looked at the IV line in his arm. “Is this a dream?” He gazed around like he was unsure where he was.
Maggie leaned in. “No, honey, you’re back in the land of the living.”
His eye darted about until they found mine again. “So you are real?” he asked.
My heart leapt. I patted his hand and moved down to give him a chaste kiss on the cheek. Before I stood up again, he whispered, “If you really are here, then get the hell out.”
My back straightened like someone pulled a string. His eyes were like poisoned darts and I inadvertently stepped back. Maggie looked between us. “Make her go,” he rasped, so coldly I felt the temperature in his room drop.