“Lyra-Rose? What happened to you yesterday?” my editor demanded when I hobbled into work. After my brief meltdown during lunch I’d completely neglected work for the rest of the day, although that’s completely understandable from my point of view but I couldn’t exactly explain it to her.
“Sorry, Delia. I haven’t been doing too great after that damn accident and it all kinda came crashing down yesterday afternoon.”
Her eyes took on a sympathetic look, one that made my stomach curl from having someone look at me like I was helpless. “Oh, no worries, Lyra-Rose. I understand it if you need a little more time. Just get that article to me A-S-A-P.”
I bit my lower lip and groaned, dropping my head in my hands. I hated exploiting the accident as an excuse for missing work. I was really losing my touch, not to mention that my writing was seriously slacking and the perfectionist in me was getting annoyed. I growled under my breath and pulled my hair into a flaming pony-tail, not caring if it looked like crap. I was determined to make my next article one for the history books, even if it was just a filler story.
By 11:30 my story from the day before was done and I was moving onto my next easy topic. This one was about a fundraiser the local observatory was going to be hosting within the next few days and I thought it was the best time to brush up on my astronomy. I made some calls to the observatory to see what they would showcase at their event then researched a little bit about the night sky and added some of the more interesting aspects into the ad to draw in a crowd for the observatory. The sun was starting to go down by the time I was done and ready to go.
My Uggs smacked against the ground with each uneasy step I took though the darkening parking lot. I was busy searching through my purse for my keys and trying not to fall without my stupid crutches so I wasn’t really paying attention to where I was going. Only the sudden cawing sound that echoed through the air of the abandoned lot was enough to scare me back to responsiveness. My heart suddenly started to pound in my chest and I abandoned my search in favor of vigilantly looking for the source of the noise, my eyes darting around me quickly. The sky was black and only a few dim street lamps gave any light. I couldn’t see anything but that annoying feeling of being watched tingled along my spine and I knew that I was far from alone. My muscles tensed and my senses went into overdrive and I became more wary as I made my way to my car.
“Ouch!” I shouted when something sharp sliced against my shoulder. The force of it sent me to the ground and my hand flew up to stifle the heavy blood flow. I scrambled to find my footing but was instantly pushed back down when my back was assaulted by the same knife-sharp blow, making me cry out once again.
I crumpled into a ball, the sound of cawing piercing the air. I looked up and saw it. The crow was huge, easily as big as a vulture, with glistening black feathers and equally dark, beady eyes that shone with intelligence. It screamed and swooped down at me, razor sharp beak and claws scraping along my skin. I whimpered in pain and threw my hands over my head. The crow landed on my outstretched arm, digging deep into the forearm, and its glittering black eyes glared at me. Being so close to me, I saw for the first time that his shining black feathers sparkled like starlight was superimposed on each glossy surface.
“Corvus, come,” Vega demanded easily, seemingly appearing out of nowhere. The bird took off from its perch on my bleeding arm and lightly landed on her shoulder. She stroked its smooth head and smiled admiringly at the demonic bird. “That’s just a warning, Lyra-Rose. I promise you that unless you’re willing to give up your immortality completely, I will be back. It’s just going to get worse from this point on.”
I blinked and she was gone, leaving me a bloody wreck on the ground. I slowly crawled to my feet and somehow managed to stumble to my car. I sat there for a moment just shaking in fear as the adrenaline slowly faded away but my sore body told me that it needed help. And fast.
I drove home absently and went straight to the bathroom. I peeled off my clothes carefully but some pieces stuck to my skin from the dried blood, making me wince when bits of flesh got snagged on the fabric of my once cute blouse. I set a warm bath and slid in while ignoring the shouts of protest from my aching body. The cuts made from the stupid titan crow stung but I gritted my teeth and wiped away the dried blood and was glad that the wounds seemed to be done bleeding.
I got out of the tub and threw on an old T-shirt that was cut at the collar so that my clothes wouldn’t stick to the nasty welts. I examined my shoulder and back in the huge mirror over my sink and the gruesome sight that reflected back at me made me gasp. The cuts were huge and deep and I was amazed that I was even still alive. I gently traced over the long cut that extended from my collarbone, over my shoulder, and to the bottom of my shoulder blade. It seemed to glow bright crimson at my touch and I winced again.
“Hello? Lyra? Are you here?” I heard Cassiopeia’s voice call from downstairs.
“I-I’ll be right there,” I yelled back.
I slipped on some tie-die boxers under the large T-shirt and padded down the stairs. Randall sat comfortably on the couch while Cassi looked a little more hesitant. She glanced up when I walked in and smiled sheepishly. “I wanted to knock but he said to come right in-” She took in my muddled appearance and the welts poking up from my shirt and her eyes widened significantly. “Oh crap! Lyra, what happened to you?”
“Vega ran into me when I was getting off of work. I was just walking to my car and something attacked me.”
“Shit, Ly, are you okay?” Randall asked quickly. He jumped to his feet and quickly scanned me over.
I shrugged and collapsed into the armchair. “I’m a little scratched up but I think I’ll be fine. I want to know what the deal is with her crow. She called it Corvus, I think. Do you guys know anything?”
Randall settled next to me and gently tucked the loose strands of hair behind my ear. “Corvus is one of Vega’s titans. She mostly uses him to spy on people.”
I touched the glowing red marks on my shoulder. “He can do a lot more than just spy on people,” I muttered.
Randall got up and went upstairs without saying anything. I watched him go confused but Randall had been at my house enough times to do whatever he wanted. I pulled my legs up under me and turned back to Cassi. “So why would she sic a titan on me? Didn’t you guys say something about her not using any of her immortal magic crap on me?”
She let out a little laugh. “It’s not exactly magic but you’re right. The thing is, her titans don’t have the, er, magic as you said. They’re not godly so they don’t have the same essence that you girls have that keeps you reincarnating. They can do pretty much whatever they want to you without giving you any more of that power for you to come back again.”
“Well that’s just freaking perfect,” I mumbled darkly.
“No need to be a potty-mouth, Lyra,” Randall said coming back into the room. He was carrying a small, pink Scooby-Doo purse that I kept all of my first aid stuff in. I groaned.
“That had better not be for me.” I’m not above admitting that I am a wimp when it comes to medical stuff, even something as insignificant as whatever could be found in my homemade first aid kit.
He grinned mischievously. “This is for your own good, Lyra.”
I don’t know where Randall found a turtleneck in my closet full of designer clothes but I was definitely grateful because then no one at work was able to see the white bandages along my shoulders and my arms and my chest. I forced myself to behave like everything was fine and I even managed to smile as I limped by people. Maxine was the only person that noticed how abnormal I was acting.
“What’s the matter with you?” she asked during our weekly lunch. I loved my sister and I loved spending quality time with her but sometimes she was just too perceptive.
“Well I did just crash into a ditch last weekend,” I tried to joke.
Her gold-flecked hazel eyes narrowed at me. “No, that’s not what I mean, smartass. You seem preoccupied. You’re even more in Lyra-land than usual.”
I couldn’t meet her worried gaze so I settled for looking down at my hands as I tore away at my napkin. “I’ve just been a little stressed lately. It’s no big deal.”
She frowned and I felt her eyes on me as she studied me for a moment. “Does this have anything to do with that guy you were seeing?”
“What guy?” I asked as innocently as I could manage even though I had a pretty good idea who she was talking about.
“I don’t know. The one that Randall was totally excited for you to go out with. Um, Michael, I think his name was.”
My face flamed scarlet. “It has a little bit to do with Michael,” I answered as truthfully as I could.
She smiled widely and her voice took on that squeaky tone ditzy high school girls tended to get. “You are totally in love with him.”
I nearly choked on my latté and sputtered out most of it out. “What? No, Max, that’s not true. I am not in love with Michael.”
She smirked at me. “Yes you are,” she protested. “I’ve never seen you so smitten.”
“Smitten? Who the hell even says that?” I knew that she was too interested in my developing relationship to be caught off guard but I had to at least try.
“Changing the subject won’t help. I totally want to meet this guy.”
I frowned. I did not want my sister dragged into the fantasy world that was becoming my life. “Maxine, I don’t know if that’s such a great idea. I mean, I barely even know him and we’re not even dating. Can we just not talk about this anymore?”
She pursed her red lips. “Ugh, fine. But just so you know, I’m not going to give up on this topic. The way that Randall talks about the two of you together, or how your eyes totally light up when you say his name, tells me that you are totally into him.”
I scooped some of the whipped cream from my latté and slowly sucked it from my fingertip while I thought about what she was saying. Max was like the queen of relationships; she had a sixth sense about who liked who and who was just hooking up. I didn’t want Max to start saying that I liked Michael because then it might be true. Sure, Randall, a cupid, had said that I liked him but I could ignore my best friend’s magic love radar easier than my big sister’s intuition.
“I’m right and you can’t fight it. You have to let me meet him to see if he is even worthy of you.”
I rolled my eyes and laughed. “Max, you’re so dumb sometimes.”
She grinned and we went to pay for the meal. “Yes, but you love me all the time.”
I laughed as I followed my big sister to the cash register. “I guess so,” I teased.
She punched my arm but Maxine is a total girlie-girl so I just laughed. For some reason hanging with Max seemed to lighten my spirits and take away all of the stress that had been burying me since Vega entered the picture. I was in a better mood when we got back to the Know Now building than I had been in weeks. I had a smile glued to my lips the entire way from the parking lot to my office.
“Well you’re looking very smiley today,” Randall said as he walked into my office.
“Dude, were you just spying on me? I barely got back from lunch with Max five seconds ago.”
He smiled and sat on my desk, swinging his legs right in my face. “Yeah, I was spying. Someone needs to keep an eye on you after all. Who knows how much trouble you can find between the café and here?”
I stuck my tongue out like a four-year-old. “I can handle it. Besides, we were just at lunch. No big deal. And get off of my desk!”
He shrugged and hopped off. “Okay, if that’s what you think.” He walked out with a smug look on his boyish face. I let out a sigh just as his head poked back in. “Oh, and BTW, Michael’s looking for you. Cassi and I kept the secret of Corvus attacking you so I’m sure that you two will have plenty to talk about when he goes over to your house tonight. Toodles.” He pulled off the gay act really well when he talked like that.
I groaned and smacked my head against the back of my chair. So much for my relaxing day. When the hell did my life become so stressful? Oh, yeah. When I met Michael.
I closed my eyes for a second before I returned back to my work. At least one thing could be normal before I had to face the bomb that was bound to go off when Michael found out about Vega’s latest visit- and the fact that I hadn’t told him.