She followed closely behind Grady and Graten, along the bleak and colorless hall, looking for a clue to Wendy’s whereabouts. Saraid began to doubt that they would find her in this building and thought about looking outside. There has to be more than this in Purgatory. Afterall, the first time she saw Wendy after she moved to Ireland was in a room identical to her own.
“You ok back there?” Graten asked, sneaking a glance at her over his shoulder.
“I’m ok. I was just thinking that maybe we should look for her outside somewhere. She may have run out after James showed up.”
He shook his head gently and replied, “I don’t know that she has ever left this building since she arrived. There’s no one else in this plane, with the exception of James coming and going undetected. He always looks for her here.”
“If we don’t find her, I would like to check outside, please. With your assistance of course.”
“You have my word, if we can’t find her here, I will accompany you to look for her outside.”
The clanking and scratching of metal falling sounded from a room ahead to the right. The three inch their way to the room quietly, trying to not startle its occupant. This is stupid. Why am I going to sneak up on her and scare her even more?
“Wendy, it’s Saraid. I’ve come to get you out of here,” she cupped her hands around her mouth to amplify her voice.
There was no response. “Chase has made me promise to bring you back to him safely and I intend to keep that promise. If it’s you in there, please come out.”
If not for her vampire ears, Saraid wouldn’t have been able to hear the voice coming from behind the door at all.
“I couldn’t hear you. What did you say?”
“What color was the dress I wore the night you met Liam?”
Saraid knew the answer to that question because the dress in question was one that Saraid herself had designed special for Wendy.
“It was gold. I made it for you, and you looked like a goddess wearing it.”
The door creaked open ever so slowly, a pair of big, gorgeous, brown eyes peaked through the crack before slamming the door open. A very frightened Wendy clutched Saraid’s slender frame as if her very life depending on attaching herself to her.
“Shh. I’m here. Shh,” Saraid whispers in the ear of the sobbing Wendy.
Graten walked up to Saraid and the still frantic Wendy, placed one hand on Saraid’s shoulder to get her attention.
“I think we should get her back to my shelter incase you know who comes back.”
Grady stepped up next, “As much as I hate to admit it, I agree with Reaper. We do not know when James will plan his next attack and it’s best if we don’t stick around to find out.”
Graten’s face turned red and he swung his arm out, pinning Grady by the throat.
“My name is Graten, not Reaper!”
The bass in his voice sent another round of tremors through Wendy’s already fragile frame. She’s petrified and standing around in the wide open is doing nothing to make it better.
“That’s enough,” Saraid hollered to the two men, “Graten, he doesn’t know your history. He only knows what the legends have told. Grady, while we are in his world, we respect him and address him by his real name, Graten.”
Grady gave a feeble attempt to nod his head and Graten reluctantly released him. There was a tension in Grady that Saraid had not noticed before. She made a note of it and filed it in the to be discussed later file in the back of her brain.
“Alright, let’s get moving,” Saraid suggested as she began to walk Wendy into the direction in which they came, not waiting for the men to follow.
She wanted her out of there sooner rather than later, especially with the threat of James showing up at any time. She fought too hard to find Wendy and she would be damned if she was going to let James take Wendy from her.She lost her best friend once, she wouldn’t lose her again.
Graten caught up to them and stepped in front, a tactical move, should anyone be waiting ahead, while Grady brought up the rear to fend off any attacks from behind. Had Wendy not been clinging to Saraid, she would have had her daggers at the ready, but Wendy needed her to hold her and guide her along the corridor, until they finally reached the closet that was Graten’s shelter.
“I don’t get it. If no one can see your shelter, how can I?”
“Because I wanted you too,” Graten shrugged nonchalantly.
“Can anyone else see it, like these two,” Saraid asked pointing with her thumb between Wendy and Grady.
“No, and I prefer to keep it that way. When you head back, I will show it to Wendy so if she ever finds herself out of this room, she will be able to find her way back,” he replied as he held open the door to the room for them to pass.
“You’re leaving? Saraid please don’t leave me here! You can’t leave me here. He’s going to kill me!” Wendy began to panic.
Saraid hugged Wendy closer to her side, “If I can get you back home today I will. I’m afraid that I won’t be strong enough.”
Wendy fell the floor, hysterically crying and trembling with fear. Saraid felt a pain deep within her chest at the sight of her once cheerful, brave, and outspoken friend now reduced to a fear-stricken bag of tears. She knew that even if she rescued Wendy today, it would take years to heal the emotional scars this experience has left behind. If I get my hands on you, I will kill you James.
“I can’t stay here. I can’t Saraid. Please, if you love me, please take me with you.”
She despises making promises, especially if she is unsure of whether or not she can keep them, but in this case, she had to. She was going to have to find a way to get Wendy home with her tonight.
“Shh. I’m taking you with me. I promise. I will not leave here without you.”
Grady cleared his throat causing Saraid to shoot him a glare that made him immediately step back.
“My Queen, I mean no disrespect. Are you sure you are strong enough to perform such magic?”
She shared a look of understanding with the two men, “I won’t know until I try.”
Saraid got Wendy settled into a spot on Graten’s futon. She wrapped a blanket around her shoulders as Graten offered her a glass of water.
“Wendy, do you remember how you got here?”
Staring at a spot on the rug in front of her, Wendy nodded her head and began to speak as if she were in a daze.
“I used to stick around the castle, hoping to be seen. The day you called me out, he was waiting for my return. James has been hunting me every day since then. The only reason I am alive is because this man,” she points to Graten, “shows up at the right moment and distracts him long enough for me to get away.”
Graten sat on the coffee table in front of the woman and Grady sat sullenly in the chair across the room.
“My name is Graten, it’s nice to finally meet you Wendy,” he proffered his hand.
Wendy reached out and accepted his hand without a second thought. That alone spoke volumes to Saraid. If Wendy could trust him after everything that she had been through than so could she.
“Nice to meet you too and uh- thanks for saving my life every day for the past, however long it’s been.”
Saraid got up and let the two of them get better acquainted and decided that now would be a good time to speak with Grady about what had been bothering him.
“Can we talk?”
Grady nodded his head and stood to follow Saraid to a quiet corner, out of sight and hearing range.
“What is it, my Queen?”
“We aren’t in our Kingdom Grady, you can address me as the friend that you are,” Saraid offered a smile.
“If it makes no difference, I will stick to the formalities.”
“Ok, what is going on Grady? You have always been my friend. The one I can go to for honesty and loyalty. What gives?”
He made a move to walk away and Saraid stopped him with her hand on his chest, “Please don’t walk away from me.”
“I have to, My Queen. It’s torture to be around you.”
Her eyes grew wide at the harshness of his statement, but what caught her attention most was the hidden undertone of pain.
“What did I do to offend you? I would like to make things right.”
“You haven’t offended me and It’s nothing you have done. I have to take a few steps back because it kills me to be so close and unable to touch you.”
“I’m sorry, Grady. You have become a friend that I hold very dear to my heart. I’m surprised that fate hasn’t pinned you to me along with the others because the binding requires a deep connection on some level.I have no control over the people it sends to me.”
“I know. Couldn’t a part of you invite me in on your own?”
Saraid stood in stunned silence as she digested his words. She loved Grady sure, but she knew without a doubt that she was not in love with him. He deserved to be a free agent until the right woman came along.
“Grady, you deserve to be a woman that can devote her attention and her whole heart to you.I do love you, but I am not in love with you. Why would you want to settle for that when the right woman could come along, and you’d miss it? I want the best for you and that is why I cannot in good conscience, invite you into my bed.”
“How do you know you don’t love me as well? You didn’t know you loved Chase until you slept with him. Why not give me the same chance?”
“Actually, I knew from a kiss that he gave me when Liam went away to the states. I just couldn’t admit it to myself because of my feelings for Liam.”
Grady stood silently for a few moments, just staring longingly at Saraid’s mouth. Saraid took two steps closer to him, placed a hand on his cheek and whispered, “It was a kiss that began each relationship I am in. I will give you the same opportunity as the others. If magic does not see fit to bind us than we shall drop this subject and never bring it up again.”
Taking her words at face value, he grabbed Saraid’s waist and pulled her to him. He brushed her hair away from her face, memorizing every line and dimple of her face. He came down slow, his lips softly pressing into hers. His kiss started off slow at first and increased in intensity as his want for her grew intolerable. His hands wandered aimlessly up and down her body, squeezing her bottom and occasionally palming her breasts. He was so in to this kiss and Saraid, she felt nothing. She wanted desperately to feel something, anything because she did not want to hurt the man who had become so important to her.
She put her hands up between their bodies, pushing him back gently. The look on his face and the tears threatening his eyes told her that he already knew what she was going to say, but she had to say it anyway.
“I’m so sorry. Grady, it’s just not there. I felt nothing. I wanted to feel something.”
He said nothing, just nodded. Saraid pulled him back into her for a hug and she whispered, “You have become one of my most trusted friends. We have a bond like no other and you are just as important a person in my life as anyone else.”
“I can’t be just your friend, Saraid! I am in love with you and every minute that I am without you or forced to watch you play house with everyone except me, well, it’s killing me. I can’t take it anymore. I can’t be a member of your guard anymore. Once we get Wendy home safely, I will report to Guin for my new post.”
He wouldn’t give her time to respond, stepping around her, he left her standing in the darkened corner fighting off her own tears, as he made his way back to Wendy and Graten. Pull yourself together, Saraid. There’s no time for feelings.
She blinked back the tears, straightened her back, and stalked her way back to the group.
“We need to get out of here, like yesterday. Let’s try this and see if we can get us all back to the mortal plane,” she grunted at the two men gathered around Wendy.
They each came to stand beside her, awaiting instruction. She withdrew a dagger from her right thigh and made a small incision in each of the palms.
“I need each of you to make a small cut in each of your palms and grasp hands with one another. We’re creating a blood circle,” she instructed.
When Wendy’s hand closed around Saraid’s, in turn closing the circle, the magic could be felt throughout the group. It stayed at a high flow, like electrical current when someone hits a light switch. It moved throughout the group, leaving one as it entered the other, weaving back and forth.
“Keep quiet and no matter what, don’t break the connection unless I tell you too. Understand?”
The group mumbled their agreement as Saraid closed her eyes and tried to focus on the four walls of her bedroom. The image began to grow larger, causing Saraid’s heart to race with anticipation.
She concentrated harder on the image of her room, fighting against whatever had been pulling it back from her. Oh no, I’m losing it! She pulled the magic into herself from the circle and pushed it toward the image, willing it to come to life around them. The magic went through the image, hit the wall behind it and sizzled out with a loud pop.
“No! No, no, no, no. Damn it. I’m not strong enough!”
She broke the circle, grabbed the small table nearest to her and threw it across the room. She was never one for tantrums, but she needed an outlet for her frustrations. Wendy stepped in front of her, blocking her reach for the next item to throw.
“Saraid, it’s ok. You tried your best.”
“No. No I haven’t yet,” she pointed at Graten, “you, come with me.”
Graten looked back at Wendy and Grady with an unsure shrug as he blindly followed Saraid into the next room. She waited just inside the door for him and closed it behind him, turning the lock.
“As an Incubi, you know what fuels our power and gives us strength. I need you to fuck me, but I need to make it clear to you that there will be no strings, no exchange of pleasantries, and most importantly, no relationship. This is a magical business transaction. Nothing more, nothing less. Do you understand?”
Graten looked at Saraid, shock and hurt in his eyes. That was the type of look that she was tired of receiving. Ugh, what happened to the days where men just stuck their dicks in whatever came along?
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m not going to have sex with you just because you demand me to. You can’t dictate what I feel or tell me what I’m allowed to feel.”
“Are you saying you don’t want to fuck me?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” Graten crossed his arms over his chest and eyed Saraid defiantly.
Saraid shrugged her shoulders and began to walk past him, “Ok, I’m sure Grady will be happy to take your place. I didn’t want to hurt him because he’s already in love with me and I don’t reciprocate, but desperate times call for desperate measures.”
His arm shot out, grasping hers gently, “You didn’t let me finish. I don’t want to just fuck you Saraid,” he pulled her tight against his hips, pushing his erection into her stomach, “I want to slam my cock inside of you and watch you as you come apart around me.”
She had to admit, the thought alone made her hot.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” she asked, lifting her shirt over her head and tossing it to the side.