Trials (The Forever Series, Book 6) (22 page)

“You okay?” Cole asks me.

“Yes. Antsy. I need to be more proactive.”

“Well you have your plans in place. As soon as everyone
knows of your intentions they will help you.”

“Huh. Confident, aren’t you?”

He smiles. “As much as I hate it, they all love you. They
would all die for you, so yes, I am confident.”

Die for me. Christ, but I hope that doesn’t happen.

Right at 8 PM everyone arrives and I invite them all to make
themselves at home. Jess is beaming at Devon and he is trying not to beam back
at her.

“Thank you,” she says to me, hugging me fiercely. “I know I
did wrong and I accept that, but thank you.”

“No worries,” I say, patting her absently on the back.
Future me was right, I am so reserved with those I am not close to.

“Care to share?” Sebastian asks, his eyes firmly on Jess and
I frown, wondering if I made a mistake steering him in her direction.

“Devon went through the sire trials and Jess is now past her
limitation,” I state to the surprise of most of the group.

A few seconds pass and then everyone is congratulating her.
Her?

“Erm? Might I add it is Devon who did his duty by her. If
congratulations are in order it is to him, if you please.”

He throws me an “oh please” look and I blow him a kiss as
everyone directs their attention to him now.

“Right.” I clap my hands to get everyone’s attention. “The
Thirteen is the reason for this meeting and we have lots to share.”

I get everyone’s undivided attention and I start my tale of
the findings of Cade, Nico, and Serena.

I have them all riveted as I speak. I am quite clear on what
needs to be said after rereading the pages a couple of thousand times.

“So let me get this straight,” Devon says when I finish. “It
was a Demon and Tiamat went up against it when it became too powerful and
basically hacked it into thirteen pieces with the Hellfire sword. The real
Hellfire sword. Thus sending it to its fate in the Spirit Realm.”

“Yes,” I nod.

Lincoln picks up the story, “And the corporeal pieces were
scattered to the ends of the earth but yet it still managed to find a way to
gain power.”

“Yes,” I say again.

Xane pipes up now, “I bloody knew it! It sat there in the
Spirit Realm and fed off everything that made its way through, gaining more and
more power for itself.”

“Yes,” I say, even now sounding annoying to myself. “Three
thousand years worth of dead beings to feed from has made it a very powerful
creature. It has been waiting for a chance at retribution and as it can’t
defeat Tiamat, it is coming after me.”

“But what about the sword?” Devon asks.

“As far as we can tell, it managed to get a hold of it
somewhere around two thousand years ago. As Xane said, it separated the real
essence and left just a shell of the real thing, knowing it is the only thing
that can destroy it.”

“So go get it and kick its ass,” Devon says.

“It’s not as easy as that. I don’t know where it is and I
don’t know how to defeat it.”

“Oh I intend for it to stay that way,” says Lance’s voice,
making me spin to the corner where he is lurking.

He throws up a forcefield as we all step towards him and he
shakes his head, “You can’t best me. You aren’t strong enough.”

I step forward, trying to embrace the Powers I have been
told I have. “I will end you,” I snarl at it but he smiles at me.

“You can try. By the way, on your travels to the other
earth, did you happen to run into Fraser?” he asks innocently.

“What?” I ask, very taken aback, and he laughs.

“I’ll take that as a ‘no’ then. What a pity, I am sure he
would have loved to have seen you.”

“What are you taking about?” I ask, hating myself for
sounding so desperate.

“Oh you don’t know? He is still alive in the other
timeline,” Lance goads me but I don’t believe him. It’s not possible. Is it?

“What do you mean still alive?” I croak as everyone else
just stares at me silently.

“Oh the other you turned him. Against his wishes mind you,
but he is still alive,” he says offhandedly and I feel the bile start to rise.

“No,” I say. “No. No.”

“Oh yes,” Fake Lance says now. “Oh I do love unnerving you.
Such fun.”

I feel like I want to die, it’s not possible. It can’t be. I
step closer to the forcefield and glare at him, “Don’t bring him into this. You
want revenge for what my mother did to you, fine. But leave him out of this.”

He shrugs, “Suit yourself, you can believe me or not. And
make no mistake that I am out for more than revenge. You will go through trials
the likes that you never seen before.” He steps closer to his side of the
forcefield. He laughs suddenly. “Oh, I can see your thoughts plain as day. You
want to go to him and bring him back here to be with you. I don’t blame you. He
is the love of your life, after all,” he says with an evil laugh. “But know
this. One goes, one comes back.”

I narrow my eyes at him as I don’t know what he means. He
sees my confusion and elaborates, “You can go, but you can’t bring him back
unless you take someone and leave them there in his place.” He casts his eyes
around the room. “Who will you discard?”

My mouth drops open at his audacity.

“Oh, don’t look so shocked,” he says. “I know you are
already thinking up a plan.” He brings his hand up to his side of the forcefield.
“Too bad I don’t intend for you to live long enough to execute it.” He drops
the barrier and grabs me by the throat, pulling me towards him as he throws the
field up again behind me. I can hear my boys shouting to get to me but I am
helpless, just like in my dream. He is squeezing tightly and though he can’t
choke me he can probably rip my head off. We haven’t tested that theory for
obvious reasons. But as his hand tightens, I can feel him start to suck the
energy out of me. I panic for a few seconds before I find my resolve. No way am
I dying here if Fraser is still alive in the alternate universe. He continues
to suck the life out of me as I gather my strength. I pull on the sword,
remembering what Xane said about banishing it. I feel it my hand and Lance's
eyes go colder as his grip tightens. I can feel the energy leaving me and entering
him, leaving me weak. I grip the sword and with great effort pull on everything
I have in me which, on a scale of one to ten, one being human and ten being
Dragon, I come in around about a six, he has drained that much out of me
already. I thrust the sword into his gut and twist it for good measure. His
mouth drops open in shock and his grip loosens on my neck. I step back, hand
still on the hilt of the sword and I feel the forcefield drop. I pull on the
energy of everyone in the room, knowing even as I do it, it is an intimate
violation that I should need permission for. But I don’t care right now. I want
rid of this thing by any means possible. I can feel their energy flow through
me but I can also feel that I am killing the weaker ones, namely Cole and Jess.
I quickly let go and focus solely on the most powerful being in the room apart
from myself. My hand goes up to hover between Xane, CK and Sebastian and is
inexplicably drawn towards Sebastian. I cover my surprise as I finish off my
banishment and the Lance creature vanishes in a flaming vortex snarling at me
like a rabid dog.

The sword drops as do I, the sweat pouring off me as I
breathe in deeply. I can sense everyone’s eyes on Sebastian and I quickly stand
up straight.

“I apologize, Sebastian,” I say, letting go of the sword. “I
needed the strongest being in the room and it was between Xane, being Demon
Overlord and you and CK, being the oldest two. I was loathe to hurt our sire so
I chose you. I’m sorry.”

He stares at me, his features going from anger to something
else entirely as he sees me protect him and his secret from the rest. CK
breathes out a sigh of relief, as he too knows I am protecting his charge. I cringe
as I see the look in Sebastian’s eyes. I have affirmed that I can be trusted
with his secret and now he knows without a doubt he can trust me.

“Yes, I understand that. It’s fine,” he says smoothly. “I am
just glad you managed to get rid of him.”

“For now,” I say with a sigh. “This leads me to the rest of
the discussion I wanted to have tonight.”

Cole stands then, a bit shaky after my power pull but he is
by my side knowing that what is to come isn’t going to be received lightly.

I will process what I have learned about Sebastian and his
power after I have broken this news. I see now why it is such a big secret. He
has some serious boot. It’s strange though how he kept a hold of it after being
turned.

“How many?” I ask Xane who is staring at me in wonder.

“Huh?”

“How many was that? You said four or five before. That was
definitely more.”

“About eight, I would say.”

I nod grimly. “That leaves another five to come at me again
until they heal or whatever it is they do.”

“Are we just going to ignore what he said?” Devon asks in
his usual blunt fashion.

“Liv needs to say something to all of you,” Cole says,
ignoring Devon’s question and gaining the attention of everyone in the room. He
shifts uncomfortably under the steely gaze of my sire and clears his throat.
“Liv?” he prompts me.

Well, here goes.

“We are off to Miami in a few days. Miami means vacation and
that is what I intend to have. A vacation. From all of you,” I say wearily and
I sound like a complete bitch. “Sorry,” I mumble as I hear the gasps of surprise.
“That sounds worse than it is. I didn’t mean it in a horrible way. Let me start
again. I need to focus and I can’t do that when I am turning from person to
person giving you each my undivided attention. I told you back in L.A. that
this is my show and I will run it my way. Cade and I have spoken about me
training and Xane, you need to help me learn more about the Grimoire and how to
use it,” I tell him and he nods quickly. “The rest of you, I will catch up with
at dinner times or whatever, but I need a break to focus on myself.” I stop
speaking as I sense the tension going up a few notches. Mainly from CK who is
staring at like he is going to blow every gasket he has.

“Aefre,” he says quietly. “We have a deal.”

“I know, my love. I do. But you have to understand that I am
not ready to face this thing in my current state. Ahmed says I should be able
to defeat it but I don’t think that I can.”

“Ahmed?” Lincoln asks. “When did you speak to him?”

“When Devon was undergoing his trials. We spoke briefly. I
am going back on Sunday to see him and Corinne. He said they would try to
help.”

“On Sunday? I will come with you,” CK says quickly before
anyone else can call shotgun.

“No, I am going alone. The moral of this story is focus. I
can’t focus when I am around you. All of you. You pull my attention away and I
can’t afford to let that happen. Not until I am ready.”

My words go some way to placating my boys but I can see that
they are not happy. With the exception of Cole, of course, who just looks smug.

I sigh. “Please say you understand,” I ask them, needing to
know that there isn’t going to be any drama.

“Of course, V.A.,” Lincoln says straight away and I love him
for it. He is always the one I can count on to have my back without having a
big argument about it first.

“Sure,” Devon says, not about to let Lincoln get all the
credit for moral support. “Although this is twice now you have blown me off.
You will have some serious making up to do.”

“What, today wasn’t good enough for you?” I snap at him and
he shrugs.

“It was for making up for blowing me off last week,” he says
and everyone just looks uncomfortable that we are discussing this, especially
Jess who, well, actually looks more furious than uncomfortable.

“I will make it up to you, I promise. All of you.”

“Well, I shall be sure to keep those handcuffs nearby for
when you are ready,” he says with a wicked chuckle.

“Handcuffs?” CK croaks at him. He regains his composure and
roars at him, “You handcuffed her?”

Devon just looks back at him mildly, “She could have gotten
out of them anytime she wanted to. She didn’t, however.”

“Enough!” I snap at them and they both smile weakly at me. I
turn to CK who is still staring at me like I took away his favorite toy. Which
I suppose I did, really.

“I will come with you on Sunday,” he says again. As I start
to shake my head he adds, “I would like to see my old friend again. You and
Corinne can speak while Ahmed and I catch up.”

Old friend? Catch up? Words so strange coming from my sire.
I peer at him suspiciously but he has his perfectly innocent face in place.

“Fine,” I say in a huff. ”You can catch up with your old
friend. Which, by the way, is just strange coming from you.”

“Why?” he asks. “I do have friends, you know.”

“Do you?” I ask, now most curious, as I have never seen him
with any.

“Of course I do,” he says, now haughtily. “And for your
information, Ahmed and I were quite close before he disappeared. It makes the
sting of his betrayal that much worse. He has some serious explaining to do.”

“Fine, whatever,” I mumble, not really all that interested
in his relationship with Ahmed. “Just stay out of my way and don’t interfere.”

“Done,” he says, now smug that he has gotten his own way –
again. When will I learn? I frown and rub my finger between my eyes. “It isn’t
fair how you do that.”

“Do what?” he asks, still all innocent, but I know better.

“Wheedle your way into my business. I ask you to stay away
and you make a valid reason to come anyway.”

“Your business? You think that this is just your business?
We are all in this together, my sweet. And need I remind you that your
well-being is
my
business.”

I blink at him and then take in the nodding heads of the
rest of the group. “Together,” Devon says.

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