I was tackled by two bodies before I could close the front door to my apartment. When I realized who they were my heart swelled. First was Robert, the eldest of the twins and standing probably an inch or two taller than me at fifteen. The boyish smile he gave me made me wrap an arm around his neck. Crystal, my youngest sister stood at 4′9 and almost looked like me. I squeezed both of them before looking at Stephanie who was seated at the kitchen island with the others. I looked at Thomas, ”Viol sio panaye? (where is he?)”
Thomas motioned towards the room I kept locked just for Andrew and I nodded walking towards them with the twins in tow. “So Steph says we are moving to London,” Robert smirked grabbing an apple out the fruit bowl. “What’s it like?”
“Will we get to meet the queen?” Crystal chimed in.
“What are crumpets?”
“Do we only have to drink tea?”
I raised an eyebrow at Stephanie who shrugged as if to say “Twins”.
“It is not nice to stereotype places and people. Go wash and take a nap. Our flight is early in the morning,” I announced. The questions from the twins stopped as they left the room but Mitchie gave me a pointed look. “In the morning?” She asked.
“How? Our 48 hours is almost up before Eric has every entrance and exit watched for our arrival,” Judith added.
I nodded again.
“Technically we still have two hours left,” Devlin rubbed his chin. “We aren’t getting to London in two hours.”
“No we aren’t,” I pulled out my phone and put it on speaker. “And if there’s one thing I know...it’s rude to not speak directly to someone who targets you.”
Thomas’s mouth fell open when he looked down at the name on the screen then back up at me. I smiled when I heard the voice on the other end.
“For someone who was so concerned about my disappearance my heart breaks that you feel we need to be hunted like animals,” I responded sarcastically.
“Justine,” was all he breathed.
I smiled, “It’s nice to hear from you too, dad.”
There was a silence and I knew he put me on speaker as well. For him to do that the Masons and other leading families had to have been gathered in one place. “Where are you, Justine?” He asked.
“I especially loved your speech for the press conference. Who wrote it?” I countered.
“You left me no choice-”
I scoffed, “You’re Eric Mason and from what I’ve been told people are pushing for you to be the sole head of the Underground. Even before that you always had a choice. See you aren’t the only one with connections.” Getting under Eric’s skin could have been very easy but I was pressed for time. “I called for a deal.”
He was quiet for a moment, weighing his options I presumed before answering. “What did you have in mind?”
“I called two hours before time was up and I want to cash that in,” I looked at Stephanie. “I’m coming home.”
“My flight is in the morning however I know you and I know my siblings. If I tell you the exact time I land you will have people waiting at the airport,” Which was a fact I thought about before calling him. If I gave him all the details it would ruin my chances of safely getting Stephanie and the twins into London. Especially with a not so true kill order about.
“I am asking for two hours after I land for myself and the others to turn ourselves in. There is some business I need to handle and after that I will personally surrender at the front doors of the Underground.”
I looked up to see Thomas and Devlin staring at me as if I had lost my mind. Maybe I did. Eric also got quiet but there was a lot of chatter in the background. Some of protests and others demanding that he comply to my request. Stephanie reached over and muted the phone looking at me. “What the fuck are you doing?!” She hissed. “You are an international fugitive! They will have you locked up if not kill you. What about me and the twins?!”
“She’s thinking like an assassin,” Mitchie said which surprised everyone else. “Right now, Justine is the most valuable asset to the Underground. I have no doubts Cherine and Staci told them what she’s capable of now if they hadn’t seen it already. They are going to try to clear her name more than kill her.”
“Then there’s Joel,” Judith added which caused me to flinch. Her eyes narrowed at me. “You realize that by doing this you will have to see him right?”
I glared at her. I didn’t want to hear his name. I erased his voice and face from my mind when I decided to leave. But not his touch...
Wrapping myself in my own arms I unmuted the phone, “Well? Do you accept my terms or do I keep running from you?”
“Two hours from your landing, Justine and no more,” Eric agreed after a slight silence. The others let out the breaths they were holding at his answer. After giving him the details of the flight I quickly hung up and looked at Devlin. “Call Composi,” I ordered then looked at Stephanie. “Get the Twins.”
He frowned, “You’re taking the warlock?”
“No,” I smiled picking up my jacket. “He’s going to teleport us to our destination.”
“But you told Eric-”
“We,” Thomas chuckled. “Aren’t taking a plane into London, are we? You played him.”
Before I could confirm his theory Composi appeared through a portal in the living room, looking equally as confused as the others must have felt. I wasn’t a fool. Eric wouldn’t have us arrested at the airport but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have people watching us. We were landing in London but not at the airport. Dealing with a man like Eric Mason you had to think ten steps ahead with a backup plan. “You gave him a flight though,” Stephanie said ushering the twins out of the room. “Who’s flight-?”
“Bastien is flying to London this morning on the flight I gave Eric,” I said ignoring their shocked looks. I jerked my chin at the portal, “It will take us where we discussed?”
Composi nodded, “The woman on the other side seemed very skeptical about me. She didn’t believe you would be coming through.”
Of course not. I grabbed my bag off the sofa and looked at the faces of my family and friends before gesturing towards the portal. I watched as Devlin pulled a blindfolded and deafened Andrew out of the other room and was the first to walk through. It was necessary that they go through first for the magicks on the apartment to disappear. Mitchie and Judith went next with the twins which made me raise an eyebrow at Thomas and Stephanie. “I’m not letting you do anything alone again,” was all she said as she took my hand. I didn’t bother arguing. Thomas and Stephanie stepped in half way making sure I was the last person to step through. First thing I felt was cold drops. Wasn’t rain. I opened my eyes to see the giant courtyard covered in snow. The nostalgia of my coming here two years ago hit me in waves. Nothing hit harder than the stern feminine voice when the large doors behind us swung open. ”YOU!" She snarled. The familiar grey eyes filled with anger and worry made the homecoming much more comforting than if I was received off the plane. I smiled softly at her.
“I’m home, Katja.”
Her face softened but was quickly covered when she saw Andrew and the twins shivering. “Get that vermin to the cells and these children inside now!” She ordered then turned to me. “You and I need to speak now.”
“That’s your plan?” Katja asked in an uneasy tone.
We sat across from each other in her office. Raoul, her bodyguard stood behind her like a looming shadow while Thomas and the others stood behind me. After explaining to her what happened in the last year and what was about to happen now her face went from determined anger to worry. I was staring at my hands when she asked her question and nodded. She let out the breath she was holding running a hand down her face. Settling the twins and Stephanie in London was a job I knew only Katja could do. She took me from a waitress to who I was now and I trusted no one with my siblings safety.
“You know they are charging you with desertion and murder, right?” Raoul asked. Katja gave him a cross look but he remained unbothered as he held my gaze.
I nodded again.
“And you still are willing to walk in through the front door to risk your freedom. The punishment for desertion is a simple strip of rank and desk duty but for murder—,” he stated.
“They will push for my death,” I finished for him. “I know our laws, Raoul and if we all stick to the plan some, if not all five of us, will live.” Raoul bowed his head in respect.
“Eric won’t let them kill you,” Katja hissed.
Devlin scoffed, “As far as we know he tried to kill us the first time.”
Katja flinched. I looked at the time above the fireplace. It was time for us to go. I stood up and Katja followed my movements grabbing my arm, I flinched. ”I won’t let them kill you.”
I smiled softly at her, “Remember what you said to me the day we met? There is no knight in shining armor to save me. That applies now as it did a year ago.”
Katja moves to hug me but I backed up. This plan had to work. I needed it to. The five of us bowed to Katja. I was the first to move. Leaving the office and headed to the front door. Crystal stood next to it frowning at me. I have her a small smile and touched the side of her cheek. “I’ll be back,” I told her.
“All seven of them will be there,” she whispered to me and it made my blood run cold. He would be there. That man. My man. I nodded giving my acknowledgment to what she said.
“I’m hoping they are.”