On the Evil Scale: Keeper of La Tecla (The Key) Book Two

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𝒞𝒽𝒶𝓅𝓉𝑒𝓇 𝟤𝟧

𝒯wo hours passed and it was now 2:15p.m of which during this time, everyone had gathered outside the manor, waiting for my appearance. In total 1,240-1,270 warriors arrived, each gathering in their groups. Caleb and Wyatt who stood outside the manor making headcount (all 500 Demons and 250 Wraiths were present, 320 humans, 140-150 Lycynians and about 40 half-breeds).

Caleb grew anxious as he tapped his hands on his holsters. Searching around hoping to spot the small half-breed’s presence he questioned,

“Where’s Yza? She should be here. Everyone’s here.”

“I’ll go see what’s taking her.” Erik replied then teleported outside the study, knocking quietly, “Keeps...can I come in?”

I sat behind the desk when I heard Erik’s voice.

“Yeah, come in!” I answered then watched as Erik’s head peeked in.

“Everyone’s waiting for you, love. You have a pretty good turn out.” Erik revealed as he walked over sitting on the ledge of the desk to my left, “You ready?”

“How is anyone ready to tell people we might be in danger. AGAIN. Or worse.” I replied as I stood walking around him, but Erik gently grabbed my right arm turning me to face him.

“Keeps...” Erik whispered, “despite what’s going on between us, I’m still here for you. I think you know that, right? I still care about you.”

“I do…and thank you.” I answered, “I need all the help and support I could get. I honestly have no idea how Marxus handled all of this without going…” I thought of the right word to use.

“Completely and totally bonkers?” Erik finished.

“Exactly.” I smiled, “Now…let’s get this done.” I sighed.

Erik and I walked out with Abraxas and Zanz.

“You ready?” Erik asked before he opened the front doors.

“Ready as ever.” I confirmed, then nodded.

“Oh, wait…there’s one thing you need to know about the crowd outside I forgot to mention.” Erik muttered as he turned to me.

“Oh, God…what is it!?” I worried.

“Everyone’s carrying a weapon”

“What?” I was surprised, “Wait, I’m sorry, let me rephrase that...I didn’t instruct anyone to bring weapons!”

“Yeah, well…according to this, people think you did.” he removed a folded paper from his pocket, handing it to me.

Unfolding it, I couldn’t believe the message sent out to everyone. The flyer read:

Lowering the flyer, I remained silent momentarily as I stared at my feet. Erik leaned against the wall; arms folded waiting for me to say something.

“Who made this!?” I questioned as I raised the flyer.

Erik lowered his arms revealing casually,

“Caleb. He thought making flyers about the meeting would be a faster way to spread the word. Other than the broadcast system, of course and since you were too busy to send word out that way, he…”

“Flyers I can agree with, but in no way did I hint for anyone to bring their weapons. Caleb…” I crumpled the paper, burning it in my hand with my demonic Aura; ashes falling to the ground.

“The wording was off the beaten path sure but everyone’s waiting outside, so focus on that then afterwards, take care of the cocky bloke.” he grinned then added quickly, not making the tense moment any easier for me, “One more thing…”

“Do I want to know!?” I snapped.

“The papers are in colors.” he teased then swung the doors open.

“Sure...why not!?” I shrugged, then stared out into the daylight that peeked through the opening doors. Everyone turned toward the sound of the opening doors then watched as I walked through the crowd; Abraxas on my shoulder and Zanz heeled. Once making it to the front, Erik helped me up onto the fountain’s ledge. Turning around glancing out into the sea of anxious and curious faces, I took in a deep breath listening to all the curious thoughts that began shouting at once but focusing toward the sky where Ravens soared, I shut out the voices. Lowering my gaze upon the crowd before me, I then spoke out loud enough for all to hear, “First off…I apologize if you thought bringing your weapons was necessary! Those weren’t my instructions despite what these flyers…” I leered toward Caleb, “made you believe and I’m sorry I gathered you in such a rush; taking you away from your lives. I would’ve used the broadcast but I felt this needed to be said and instructed in person. Especially to all the Isle’s warriors.”

“Why are we here!?” Derek questioned from the back, “What’s going on!?”

“I’ve received word from a friend in White-haven that things in the Great City are growing out of control. The ugliness and destruction is spreading out in all directions and there have been reports of strange flying ships, another swarm of Shadowed Ones and some sort of an invisible force that rains fire from above. Unfortunately, it seems that it’s all heading this way. Now according to the letter, two monasteries have been destroyed and how many survivors is yet unknown. I know some of you have family that remain on the mainland and you’re more than welcome to reach out to them, but be careful. IF ANY OF YOU…” I leered in Leonus’ direction, “would like to read the letter for yourselves, I have it here.” I removed the parchment from my pocket, ready to hand it to any curious reader but none stepped forward.

There were some voices that called out, revealing they’d heard from loved ones or friends from the mainland; ones of which were from the monasteries. They confirmed the reports in their own words so if anyone standing present wanted to argue against it, they’d have to call these residents liars.

I slowly paced as I remained silent, listening as there were conversations and voices whispering through the crowd. The meeting took a wrong turn before anyone could object as Leonus stepped forward, attempting to plant doubt into the vulnerable minds of the people. Residents (Leonus’ Lycynian a** kissers) spoke in disagreement and argument but nonetheless, I listened to their concerns and rants. The alpha didn’t back down, continuing to mock the young woman’s authority but Derek stepped forward, putting his support behind the Keeper. Their one of many face-offs resulted in the same outcome; Derek defying the alpha, showing NO respect for the man who had made him Lycynian, by turning his back on the man. One of many disrespectful customs among a pack. I grew tired of hearing their argument, offering my warnings as my voice shouted; echoing loud enough for the crowd to hear,

“That’s enough, or both of you are going to be locked away and I’ll have the pleasure of doing it myself! If you want to kill each other, do it outside the gates, because blood will not be spilled on these grounds!”

Derek nodding in respect, turned away from Leonus; fists clenched tightly. Leonus sneered as he stepped back with a sour expression, fuming with anger, trying to hide his bulk behind the crowd.

“Thank you, Derek.” I said, “Now, from what I’ve pieced together from the letter, WE have plenty of time to prepare for what’s coming. We’ll need to gather the blacksmiths, leather makers and any other equipment assembled, and if possible extra men or women who are trained in combat and weaponry skills.” I watched as the majority of the crowd nodded in agreement, “As far as other changes, beginning Monday, there will be food supply cut-backs. The dining hall and Inn will no longer be serving three meals a day. If you want a meal, that’s what your lounge kitchens are for, so get off your a**es and cook it yourselves! This cutback is due to meat shortages from companies the island is in production with. I received notice early this morning that even they themselves are reserving their inventory. And I know you…LYCYNIANS love your slabs of meat three times everyday, but you’re going to deal with the cutbacks like everyone else. A letter has been issued to the staff and they’ve agreed to the changes and if some of you, preferably Leonus-f*cking-Lancaster, don’t approve, too bad. It’s done. You’ll still find toast, bagels, fruit, oatmeal, tea and coffee but no large breakfasts, lunches or dinner. And NO meats!”

“But we need to eat!” Leonus’ voice boomed over everyone’s, “You can’t do this! We have certain dietary needs! Why don’t you cut back on the Bloodsuckers and whatever the hell Demons eat, eh!? Or better yet, that f*cking hound of yours, eh!? Does this cutback pertain to him too!? And your bloody dragon!?” he raised his fists in the air in protest, as did other Lycynians who hollered in favor, creating a ruckus.

The guards standing near the fountain placed their hands on their weapons of choice, sensing the crowd was beginning to erupt into chaos more so than anyone expected. Wyatt, Caleb and Erik stood in front of me and glanced over their shoulders up at the young woman behind them, waiting to see what actions she’d take. Zanz and Abraxas sitting next to me at my feet, awaited my orders and glancing down at them, I nodded. Abraxas released loud ear piercing roars while my hound stood on all fours hunching his back before throwing his head back, howling loudly in an eerie dull tone. I closed my eyes, attempting to hold back my rage and Aura but all the deep breathing and concentration went down the tubes hearing Leonus’ voice bark and bark in retaliation. I huffed, opening my eyes as the little flicker of flame danced fiercely. Stepping off the fountain’s ledge I approached Leonus; the crowd stepping back as my Aura gave off a warm breeze. Unfortunately, the water from the fountain behind me began steaming on the surface and any frogs that swam, jumped out quickly because the water grew too warm.

“Yza…” Wyatt advised, “you’re boiling the fountain. Calm down!”

I paused, turning to the Demon then past his height taking notice of the steam. I frowned then waved my hand outward; the steam evaporated quickly. Caleb and Erik rushed around the fountain, placing any or all frogs back in the water with blunt splashes. I continued to approach the alpha Lycynian and standing inches away from him I muttered,

“Wraiths only feed once a month and Demons have a much lighter appetite than humans, so what’s your excuse other than dietary needs, you bulk of a man!? If you want your precious meat, leave the island and go hunting for it! After all...you once told me you were an expert hunter that hunted with your family, right?” he remained silent, “Now, I’m going to give you three seconds to walk away with your life still intact because the only reason…” my voice raised, “you’re still alive, is for Heather’s sake but once things change in that department, you’re mine!”

“Meaning what!?” he questioned, watching as I turned walking away from him.

ONE…” I counted.

“Answer me!”


Leonus’ friends stepped forward, grabbing onto him as he rushed toward my turned back. They talked him down, boosting his ego stating there’d be another day to get his revenge. He growled as my words taunted his thoughts about his wife.

“Lancaster, come on…come on…worry about the b*tch later!” his friends urged, afraid they’d wind up alongside him wherever he was held, “COME ON, you mad bastard...you already know what she’ll do!”

Caleb and Derek stepped forward, blocking their path. Caleb gestured for them to move on with just a nudge of his head in their direction, as if to get going. His grip on the hilt of his guns grew tighter, watching the Lycynians’ hesitation.

“Mark my words…this isn’t over!” Leonus shouted.

“I know it’s not, Leonus…I know.” I answered then continued addressing the crowd as if he didn’t exist, “Return to your shops and homes and start getting to work, please.” I received no answers but nods, “If you have any questions, come to the study. This meeting is adjourned. Thank you all for your attention to this matter, and showing up.”

“If that’s all you called us for, why did we need weapons?” Nathan bellowed.

“I don’t know. You tell me. I asked for your presence only. You brought it upon yourselves to carry them unfortunately going by the flyers.” I snapped sarcastically as I once again, glanced in Caleb’s direction, who held his head low.

Nathan said nothing as he shrugged off the half-breed’s remark then turned, strolling through the crowd that dispersed, whispering among themselves yet again.

Before Caleb returned to his post, I called him aside; fiddling with one of the flyers in hand.

“Um, Caleb…what the hell did you think I meant by calling all warriors?” I inquired.

“Well…I figured that would get everyone’s attention instead of just going around saying THE KEEPER REQUIRES YOUR PRESENCE, don’t you think? I mean, it gathered everyone you needed, right?” he answered, flashing one of his charming and sexy CALEB smiles.

“Touche…” I chuckled because he was too adorable to get angry at in that moment, “touche. Get back to work, will ya?” I tapped his arm with the flyer, “But thank you.” I shook my head watching as he backed, before disappearing, “My guys...” I finished affectionately, releasing a faint sigh.

Standing in the courtyard, I glanced around taking in splashes of color given off from the flyers that had been scattered and left behind. Attempting to clean them up, Erik stepped in and told me not to worry about it, saying he would take it upon himself to make sure the area was cleaned up.

“You’re not a slave, Erik.” I sighed then glanced around, “It looks like a dragon upchucked everywhere.” I turned my head, hearing Abraxas release a roar in complaint of that comment, “Sorry.” I smiled.

Erik shook his head.

“Let’s get you back to the study before you set things aflame?” he added, walking me back to the study; Abraxas and Zanz trailing ahead.

“I resent that.” I glanced up at him, hoping he meant it jokingly but somehow, deep down, I know he wasn’t joking. Sighing heavily I turned concentrating on the flyers; they erupted in flames where they laid and before the groundskeepers could arrive, the embers had disintegrated, “Setting things aflame isn’t the problem.”

Erik remained silent as he gulped quietly, following the young woman that was growing into her powers each day. And she’s just a half-breed; more powerful than some on the Isle. Once returning to the study; the door closed for privacy, Erik and I once again attempted to talk things out. I was growing tired of constantly repeating myself but things needed to be said. Sitting next to each other on the couch, we began.

“I never said I didn’t want this, because I do…I care about you, but I also told you I needed time. I still do, Erik. Please…” I reached for his hands, “understand where I’m coming from.”

He nodded but I could see the disappointment in his eyes. He removed his hands from mine then stood, walking around the couch before muttering his words softly in a blunt complaint,

“I’m trying to understand, Keeps…I am, but you promised we’d see where this…” he gestured at the distance between himself and I, “would go after Lucy was rescued. Well, that bloody happened and look where we are...we’re nowhere!” he raised his arms.

I sighed.

“And that’s my fault!?” I stood in disagreement.

“Honestly!? Yes!” his words rushed from his lips.

“Honesty…that’s progress but I’m not the ONLY one tearing this relationship apart! Erik, for god sake, it takes two to make or break it and since you have all the damn answers here, please tell me how this is my fault! Enlighten me...pureblood!” I groaned, “Is it because I’m a half-breed?”

He shook his head, trying to sort out moments where I neglected my promises.

“You hold back from being with me, giving ridiculous excuses for starters and secondly, them…” he pointed toward Zanz and Abraxas who laid near the fireplace, “they’re always around! I never have time with you to myself! I could list others but honestly, I’ll keep those to myself. After all, I have to keep some secrets of my own, you know? And no, it has nothing to do with the fact that you’re a half-breed. There are...some here on the Isle that are in relationships with your kind and works or it doesn’t. No big deal.” he shrugged.

The tone in his voice; YOUR KIND, sounded so disgusted.

“Wow…” I stared at the ground, “just…wow!” I raised my gaze looking at him, “Maybe I have missed out on US moments, but let me tell you something with the utmost honesty! I didn’t break my promise because I’ve done NOTHING but try after Lucy’s rescue and yes, I do hold back being with you because you can’t handle my Aura which is something I CAN’T HELP! My god, I really want to!” my voice raised, attracting Zanz and Abraxas’ attention, “And as far as them!?” I pointed toward the hound and small dragon, “Yes, they’re always with me because they’re mine! Zanz has always been with me, everywhere I go and now that I have Abraxas…” I paused feeling my rage brew to the surface and I didn’t want to hurt anyone, much less Erik considering the circumstances. Breathing heavily controlling it I continued, “never mind. Changing the subject here please, I have never asked you to stop being a pureblood Demon, not once, and you know that!” I felt tears stinging in my eyes, “So, if I’m too much for you, goddamn it Erik, tell me now so we can part on somewhat peaceful terms. It’s obvious that I’m NOT the right woman for you. And neither was your ex, so I’ve heard.”

“That’s not fair! You don’t know what happened!” Erik barked.

“From what she’s told me, I’ve heard enough.” I lashed out.

“And what have you heard?” Erik folded his arms.

“I’m not a gossip mouth, Erik...you know that, so I’ll keep what she and I talked about, to myself.” I squinted my eyes, making a point.

He stood there as my words hit him hard and before he could reply, a knock interrupted the heated conversation and I’m glad it did.

“And that’s another bloody thing…we never have any f*cking privacy!” Erik protested

“Comes with the title!” I snapped, “Good to know that’s too much for you too!” I approached the door, roughly opening it; Anthony standing in surprise at the speed of the doors opening, “Ah, hello Anthony…perfect timing.” I flashed a false smile, “Can I help you?”

“Um…” he glanced past my shoulder seeing Erik standing in the study near the desk, “I’d like to speak with you, if you have a moment.”

“She’s busy!” Erik strolled toward the door, “We’re having a private conversation.”

“I see.” Anthony nodded respectfully, “I’ll come back later…”

“No, please come in.” I stepped aside gesturing for him to enter, “I stated my door was open to anyone who needed to talk.”

“That’s what you call it!?” Erik muttered his words in a low whisper I could hear, but Anthony heard them clear as day as he pushed past his shoulder; releasing a low growl emanating deep in his throat, “Tell you what…” Erik continued as he returned the rough push against Anthony’s shoulder and into the hallway, “when you’re ready to REALLY talk, you know where to find me.” he frowned, leering at Anthony then disappeared in a swirling blue flame.

“Goddamn it!” I muttered slamming the door, “F*ck me!” I huffed then turned, hearing Anthony clearing his throat, “I’m so sorry that you, uh…had to witness that.”

“No need to apologize. I hope I didn’t interrupt?” he asked, holding his hat in hand against his chest.

“That conversation was over before it began, so you did me a favor.” I answered with a heavy sigh, “Now, how can I help you? I was looking for you at the gathering earlier but didn’t see you. Is everything alright? Thomas and Louisa are worried about you and from what Thomas has told me about your behavior lately, Anthony...it doesn’t sound like you.”

“Yes, I know I wasn’t there and I apologize for that. I wanted to be but I...I’ve been struggling a lot and I need someone other than Thomas to talk to. Don’t get me wrong, I love my brother and his family is like having one of my own but there are times when even he and Louisa judge me for what happened.” Anthony sat across from me at the desk placing his hat on the desk in front of him.

“Judge you for what?” I wondered.

“About what happened in the Boar-wolf tunnels.” Anthony finished.

“That was months ago, Anthony. Why now?” I remembered the horrific events of that day.

“Because I feel if I talk to someone else who holds no judgement, someone like you, perhaps maybe...I’ll be forgiven for what happened. Little Yza, please...I’ve tried drinking it away but I’m not an alcoholic and you know that’s not me! Please…” the Italian pleaded softly.

“Alright, alright...go ahead.” I urged, “But would you like some water before you begin?” I gestured to my left toward the beverage cabinet.

“Yes, please.” he nodded, accepting the offer. Watching as the young woman stood from her chair he continued, “May I ask...what you were told about what happened?”

Removing a glass from its place among several others and a cold bottle from the fridge under the cabinet, I answered glancing over my shoulder listening to the ice crack among the cool water,

“I never asked.” I turned, handing Anthony the glass that was cool to the touch.

“Well, it’s good you didn’t but now, over these past four months, I can’t carry the burden of guilt anymore.” he leaned forward laying the glass on the table atop the napkin, “I’ve had nothing but nightmares every night and each time…” he used his smooth hands expressively, “I see the images of what had happened and all of the faces of women and children, and I wish to God I died that day.”

“Anthony, don’t say that…” I argued.

“Please, let me finish.” he interrupted, “I came here because I thought if I told you, it’ll release the guilt and weight off my shoulders. Please, listen to me…” tears welled in his dark warm eyes; his hands shaking against his knees.

I stood, walking around the desk feeling empathy for the man. Laying my left hand on his right shoulder I proposed softly,

“Take your time.” I smiled then took the seat next to him, listening attentively watching his elegant mannerisms and handsome face show such expression in every moment from memory. The details were shocking and horrific as Antony’s voice quivered at times.

“And do you want to know the most vile part of it all?” Anthony muttered softly.

“Do I want to know?” I questioned, controlling my shaking hands that I clenched into tight fists.

“Leonus seemed to get a thrill of the slaying; never showing a sense of sadness for those poor souls. Women laid there dying, reaching for their children while others died holding them.”

“Stop…” I jumped from my seat as I reached into Anthony’s mind seeing the images for myself, “please…” I scampered toward the patio doors opening them quickly for fresh air as I felt nauseous. I held my left hand to my mouth, shaking my head slightly while tears streamed down my face.

Anthony felt guilty for he didn’t mean to upset the young woman. Standing to his feet, he slowly walked around the desk toward her petite form. Gently laying his hand on her right shoulder, he felt her trembling in place.

“Aye, little Yza…” he turned her around and into his arms, “I’m sorry...so sorry.” he leaned his head against hers in comfort, “I didn’t mean to upset you.”

I leaned against the Italian’s chest then raised my head looking up into his handsome face. His embrace was comforting and gentle and to be honest, it felt good being held in a mans’ arms that genuinely meant the affection. The scent of his cologne and fresh clothes was intoxicating. I gently pulled away realizing we stood in that moment longer than I expected. He however, kept his hands gently on my shoulders.

“That sounds like Leonus, and I’m pretty sure he imagined they were all me.” I groaned, clearing my throat before combing my hair behind my ears.

Anthony gazed in Zanz and Abraxas’ direction for their eyes were fixed on him like a hawk eyeing its prey. He gulped lightly knowing any sudden movement, would be the end of him. Glancing down at me he muttered softly,

“I’m sure he imagined most of us that were present that day.” he then broke his gaze that veered toward his feet.

I nodded then glanced at my shoulders taking notice he hadn’t removed his hands. Raising my eyes staring into his I advised softly,

“Um, Anthony...your hands?”

“Oh, I...apologies.” he stuttered quickly removing them out of respect, “I didn’t mean…”

“It’s okay.” I smiled, “Your support was given and well received, thank you.”

“My pleasure, I suppose.” he grinned, “After hearing all of that, I thought you needed someone to be here for you.”

“Meaning?” I raised my left eyebrow.

“Nothing.” he held out his hands in surrender, “I meant nothing by it, honestly.”

“Anthony...I’m not going to question why you came here because it’s obvious and your thoughts are pretty clear, but what’s the other reason?” I inquired.

“You know why.” Anthony stepped toward me, “But...there might be another reason.”

“And that is?” I backed away slightly.

He stepped toward me studying the young woman before him. He stared into her dark eyes then broke his gaze, glancing back at her hound and dragon.

“Anthony?” her voice broke his focus upon her familiars, “What else have you come here for?”

He turned his head then approached the young woman until he stood inches in front of her.

“It’s not something that can be put into words but should be shown by its actions.” he muttered then before I could react or protest, he leaned in laying a passionate kiss upon her lips; his hands gently cupping her face. It lasted a few minutes...kisses were electrifying, before he was pushed away.

I stood with my left hand outward pressed against his chest, creating a block between us. I shook my head wondering what the hell just happened and why I allowed it to occur. I looked deep into Anthony’s eyes once more then lowered my hand.

“What was that and why did you do it?” I wondered.

“Because it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for the longest time. Your focus has been on this place yes, and I respect that, but mainly you’ve been too preoccupied with the boy, Erik and honestly, dear little Yzavela…” he paused watching as the young woman sighed, “you need a man in your life that will cherish you for the woman that you are. Not as the Keeper. Not as a half-breed, but as a passionate young woman.”

“And that man is you?” I argued.

“It could be if you want, because you didn’t pull away from that kiss.” he grinned charmingly.

“I was caught in the moment, Anthony...I didn’t know what to expect.” I frowned.

“Keep telling yourself that.” he smiled.

“What did you expect!? You kiss me and then...what? I melt into your arms and give into your charms?” I paused realizing how that sounded, “That’s not what I meant.”

“I know.” he nodded taking a step toward me, “But can I say, would it be so bad if we took a little time getting to know each other better? I’m not asking for much, but I would like to spend more time with you.”

“Yeah? In what way? In the bed between the sheets then you run off after another!?”

“That’s not fair!” Anthony’s voice grew agitated, “I’m not Nathan! That’s something he would do...that’s something he does do and I think you know, I’m sure from ladies around the Isle, that I don’t just…” he paused trying to find the right words to form them respectfully but continued bluntly, “f*ck and move on! No…” he reached for my hands gently, “I make a woman feel special and loved. I cherish her and all that she is. And you need that. Not a boy that can’t sort out his emotions from one moment to the next and you know that.” he released my hands.

“I can’t believe this…” I shook my head in disbelief because I didn’t need this distraction; not now. Backing away, I studied the tall charming Italian and although he was correct on some points, I’m loyal despite circumstances and obstacles standing in the way. Sighing heavily and placing my hands on my hips I muttered softly, “Anthony...I’ll be honest. I find you so attractive and very sexy but if you know me well enough, then you know I’m looking for something special...someone special. Not just a good time and I’m not saying you’re anything like Nathan because I could never compare the two of you, but like I said, I’ll be honest. If Erik and I weren’t...whatever the hell we are right now and I didn’t have feelings for him, I would jump at the chance to be with you but let me ask you this...would I be enough for you? Or would I be the newest woman in your life, something different from all the others, until another comes along that catches your eye?”

Anthony remained silent, nodding in agreement to my last words.

“It’s true...I love women.” he shrugged, “But not so much that if I found the right one, she’d be all my eyes would see and heart desires. Don’t you think I crave what Thomas and Louisa have?” he gestured his right hand toward the patio metaphorically referring to his brother and sister-in-law, “Hmm? Sure, I hide it all behind my charm and smiles, but I am lonely for that woman and Yzavela…why can’t it be you? Why can’t I be it for you? Perhaps, not forever that’s true but long enough to know what love is like.” he approached her once more taking notice she wasn’t protesting against his declaration, “I can’t say right away, I’m in love with you, and I wouldn’t say those words to play games but I do have strong feelings for you. You’re fascinating, as well as beautiful.”

“Fascinating?” I argued, “Yeah, right. So much so that Erik doesn’t want to be around me half the time.”

“Forget that boy!” Anthony affirmed, “You are fascinating with the heart of gold with your walls up to protect your emotions and trust, and that’s an attribute I admire. You’re not ruled by your feminine weaknesses but that doesn’t mean you’re not a woman with desires nonetheless. Yes, you’re the half-breed Keeper, but you’re also human. Now…” he gently placed his hands on her petite shoulders once more, “I’m not expecting anything out of this conversation for that’s up to you, but just know that if you decide to give your heart what it really wants, I’ll be there. No strings. No expectations. No pressure.”

No pressure? Yeah, right. I have one of the Isle’s most gorgeous and eligible bachelors declaring his feelings and intentions, so how does he expect me not to be under any pressure? I removed his hands then glanced up into his handsome face, studying his carved features and warm eyes. Although it was moments ago, I still felt his soft masculine lips pressed upon mine. Yes, I wanted to kiss him but I backed away, walking toward the desk.

“Thank you for coming by, Anthony.” I said over my shoulder as I stood with my back facing him, “I hope this talk helped ease the weight on your shoulders, but I think it’s time you go.”

“Yzavela…” his voice whispered my name and how nice it was hearing someone say it instead of always a pet name, “please, I’m sorry.”

“I know your intentions were innocent. And they are, but…” I turned to him, “please just go.” I reached for his hat handing it to him.

Taking the hat, he hoped he didn’t ruin the friendship between us. He nodded then elegantly bowed before turning away approaching the door.

“I would you know…” my voice called out.

“Hmm?” he turned; standing inches from the door.

“Nothing.” I dismissed the topic, “Good day, Anthony.” I smiled.

He returned the smile then opened the door, slipping out into the hall. Breathing heavily, he felt guilty. Removing his hat combing his hair back he cursed in his Italian tongue that he was an idiot. In a huff, he carried his hat as he descended the stairs in a swiftness as if he glided down. Once at the bottom, the young woman’s mother approached the staircase.With a red face he nodded and bowed then backed away, rushing through the manor’s front doors.

Seconds passed, turning into minutes as I paced. I thought things were about to get worse as another knock tapped on the door. I leered approaching the door; engulfed in my Aura as I complained while swinging the door open,

“Anthony…I thought we settled things!?” and instead of Anthony, my mom stood in his place; eyes wide with no words.

She glanced around behind her then toward the stairs, seeing no sign of the Italian Lycynian.

“Nice to see you too, sweetheart.” she mocked.

“Sorry.” I muttered, “You just came at a very bad time. Come in…” I stepped aside.

“If you thought I was Anthony, I’m guessing something happened between the two of you? What happened?” she grew concerned, “Did he do something!? If so, tell me now and I’ll have his treasured manhood served to him on a silver platter.” she and I sat; she listened as I relayed the conversation that occurred moments before she arrived. My mom grew shocked but wasn’t at all surprised, “Well, it’s obvious.”

“Obvious? How so?” I questioned.

“Well, I’ve heard from other women on the Isle that have had the pleasure of being with Anthony, that he treats them with such respect and makes them feel loved. But that’s not all.” my mom added.

“There’s more?” I argued.

“Since you and I became residents on the Isle, he hasn’t frequented with those women. Not once. They think it’s because he’s found another or perhaps, he’s even falling in love with someone. Women talk, you know.” my mom nudged me gently, “So, from what you’ve told me...why can’t it be possible that he just so happens to have these genuine feelings for you? And to be honest, sweetheart, I’d rather see you with Anthony than...” she stared into her daughter’s fierce dark eyes, “never mind. But how do you feel about it? That’s the most important thing.” she adjusted her dress in her lap just to fiddle with the fabric. Raising her gaze, she studied her daughter’s confused face. Gently placing her right hand on her left shoulder she continued, “Yza, my grown baby girl...I can’t tell you what to do or how to feel, but be honest with yourself and it’ll sort itself out, okay?” her daughter nodded, “Good. Now, changing the subject...tell me about reports you’ve received from the Great City? I’ve heard whispers from many of the warlocks that attended a meeting earlier.”

“Oh…that.” I stood, walking toward the desk retrieving Billy’s letter. I handed it to her then watched as her hands tightened on the parchment, before laying it on the table in front of her.

“Oh my god, I can’t believe this. It’s going to repeat all over again.” she worried, “Just when we thought we were safe here.”

“Mommy…this situation is entirely different.” I answered sitting next to her.

“How so?”

“Because this time we’re prepared for it, number one and secondly…we have warriors and dragons to protect us. Something the Great City doesn’t and didn’t have to fight back with. Besides, we’re not running from anything this time. This is our home now.”

“You’re older than your years, you know. How did you get so wise?”

“I get that from you.” I leaned in for a hug which she returned.

You have to understand something. It’s always been my mom and I ever since my father died when I was five. The closeness we share isn’t just a parent-child bond, but we’re best friends and I don’t think a lot of people can say that about their relationships with their parents or children. If so, great but if not, it’s sad. My mom and I take a moment to hug each other, even if it’s a quick one because we value moments like them for you never know, they could be our last.

“Honestly...” she pulled away looking up at me, “I don’t know how you handle all of this!” she questioned curiously, “How do you stay sane!?”

“What the hell makes you think I’m sane!?” I teased with a laugh, “But it’s not easy, trust me. Especially when it comes to the Wraiths and Lycynians and now the threat from the Great City.”

“Well, you’re not alone so if you need anything, I’ll help in any way I can. The other wiccans will too. I’ve spoken to them and they’re all worried, upon hearing about those monasteries being destroyed.” my mom informed me, “There are only so many prayers we can put out there before the magical airwaves get crowded with too much intent. You know how that goes. Too much is too much, even for the universe to handle!” she waved her right hand around, then glanced at the clock’s time, “Geez…where did time go?” she shifted in her seat.

“That happens a lot around here.” I covered my mouth feeling a yawn coming on, “Let’s go home and get some sleep, because I’ll probably have to take you up on your offer to help and we’ll need all the rest we can get.”

My mom nodded as she stood and once gathering a stack of papers and Billy’s letter, tucking them inside a leather folder, we exited the study; Zanz and Abraxas following after. Once locking the door, Caleb appeared at the end of the hallway as he exited the library. Flashing a smile, he offered to take us back to our dwelling; Abraxas disappeared with Zanz moments before the Wraith appeared. He smiled then stood between my mom and I, respectfully wrapping his arms around our waists in a gentle embrace. We held our breaths before disappearing. Momentarily surprising residents who gathered in the lounge, they smiled seeing Caleb and his two transportees. Young women and teenage girls in the lounge, smiled and giggled, taking in Caleb’s presence.

“Thank you, Caleb.” I smiled.

“No worries, love.” he flashed his charming smile, “It was my pleasure. As always. Have a goodnight, ladies.” he nodded.

“You too, sweetie.” my mom appreciated.

Once he disappeared, my mom turned hinting that Caleb was single and absolutely adorable, and admired the smell of his cologne. I chuckled in agreement, remaining silent on the matter for I knew she was joking. Although she was right, she knew I wasn’t on the dating train at the moment. Much less being a woman that jumps from one man to the next just for fun. Besides, Caleb’s a sexy dreamboat yes, with his charming accent and smile, but he’s not looking for a serious and steady commitment.

“Goodnight.” I kissed my mom’s cheek dismissing the joke.

“Goodnight. See you tomorrow.” she replied, “There are still some new vendors that arrived and we’re going to check them out.” she hugged me.

“Yes, Ma’am.” I teased then watched as she closed her door and before sprinting up the stairs to my room, residents in the lounge inquired about the days’ events. I put their minds to ease the best way I could; giving them honest answers of uncertainty about the monasteries. I didn’t know what else I could tell them; not wanting to constantly repeat myself, “Look…I know you’re worried, I am too, but as soon as I hear anything…you’ll all be the first to know, I promise.” I comforted, “Alright? Now please, enjoy the rest of your night and if any of you hear anything from your friends or family that escaped from those monasteries, please come to me immediately. Their reports could help us prepare for whatever comes at us, yes?” I received eager nods, “Thank you. Goodnight. And that’s a great movie but the ending totally sucks.” I pointed at the TV then ascended the stairs, disappearing from view, listening to cries of disappointment. Oh well!

Arriving at my room, Zanz and Abraxas laid curled together on my bed, raising their heads when I opened the door. Their close bond was touching. I showered and changed into my pj’s, listening to music from my player, then layed on my bed alongside my familiars, shifting through the folder reading the papers; specifically Billy’s letter over and over. I removed my glasses blinking away the oncoming eye ache, pushing aside the parchment. I sighed then reached for the inventory and shipment manifest, making sure the changes I began to set in motion, were noted down properly. Tapping a pen on the corner of the folder, I studied what would be canceled, changed, downsized or kept. There were so many unnecessary things, I couldn’t believe Marxus allowed them onto the island, much less spend money on them. So wasteful.

Molock had a moment between his duties, taking the time to drop in, observing the half-breed that has grasped his attention and interest. And when he takes interest, nothing can break that focus. He stood outside on her patio staring at her balcony doors. Waving his hands outward, a small window-like bubble appeared, allowing him a clear view inside her room; the raven haired petite woman laying on her bed. The window faded as he walked through the doors, as if they had no solid substance. Appearing in the room standing near the chair by the door, he glanced around observing the woman’s loyal familiars laying with her. Approaching the bed, they raised their heads leering at him then began stirring in place.

Molock slowly raised his hands in a peaceful manner, then carefully reached out his hands toward the blanket at the woman’s feet. Continuing to make eye contact, he grabbed hold of the blanket with his left hand, pulling it gently over the woman’s legs and body. Snapping his fingers of his right hand, the scattered papers appeared tucked in the leather folder on the bedside table with her glasses laid atop.

“That’s my girl...you did well today. I’m most proud.” he whispered.

The familiars felt he stood at her bed too long and too close, as they slowly and threateningly approached the beds ledge. Molock nodded as he began backing away in slow, respectful steps toward the patio. The hellhound quickly jumped off the bed; his large paws thumping onto the hard floor, growling viciously. The small dragon flew landing on the back of the nearest chair; his wings stretched out and head raised high. Before the Demon-Jinn could speak, another figure appeared; a doppelganger to the familiars’ mother but this figure presented an entirely different scent. The hound and dragon grew confused, turning their heads toward the bed where their mother still slept, but stirred onto her side; her back facing them.

“Relax, it’s alright.” Molock whispered gently, “we mean her no harm.

“It’s alright, beasties…” the woman added sarcastically, “we won’t harm her.”

“Lilith!” Molock warned telepathically, slowly turning his head toward her.

“What!?” she argued once their telepathic connection linked, stomping her feet firmly, “You’re not the only one who visits her.”

Zanz growled hunching his back while Abraxas released puffs of smoke and embers. Lilith remained silent, knowing that if they attacked, they’d have NO control over the supernatural and powerful creatures. Suddenly, Lilith and Molock glanced toward the bed where the woman turned speaking softly,

“Zanz…Abraxas…what is it!?” and hearing her voice, the familiars ran toward her, alerting her of intruders.

Molock snarled as he turned, grabbing onto Lilith’s petite arm, disappearing in a burst of red flame; reappearing outside on the patio.

“What the hell is wrong with you!?” Molock scolded, releasing his grip.

“Me!?” Lilith mocked; hands raised to her chest indicating herself, “You’re the one lurking around her room when she sleeps! I’ve known you for what...6300 years but I’ve never thought you to be a pervert! I mean, really Molock…if you want a woman…that’s what the whores in Hell are for! And according to them, you haven’t visited them in quite a while nor have you called for any of them.”

Molock raged, pushing Lilith against the iron railing; metal alloy burning her hands. He wrapped his right hand around her small neck then leaned in close; red demonic eyes making eye-to-eye contact.

“What I do…where I go…and who I see…is NONE if your goddamn business, so if you don’t want OUR lord to know you’re showing interest in another man’s affairs, then I suggest you keep your busy nose out of things that don’t pertain to you! Understand!?”

“Perfectly…” she rasped grabbing onto his wrists, “but what...what will…our lord think…about your precious Keeper and your…feelings…for her!? You have no…soul remember, so…what makes you think…she could ever…” his grasp grew tighter, “love…you…” she finished.

Molock squeezed harder, listening to her gasp before roughly pushing her backwards, releasing his grip. Lilith fell to the patio’s ground, moaning in displeasure. He watched as she rubbed her throat before examining her blistered hands. Lilith was Lucifer’s and belonged to him alone so if he were to find out about her interest in Molock’s affairs, that would spell trouble with a capital T for her. She knew it, glancing up at Molock’s godly 6’4 frame; afraid of his power and demeanor. He might have been Lucifer’s right hand, second in command and being named one of the newest Princes of Hell, but he presented the persona of being the devil himself.

“Get out…of my sight!” he warned verbally without looking at her.

She smirked then disappeared, leaving Molock standing there breathing deeply, hating the circumstances of his life.

“What is it!?” I threw the blanket back in confusion, knowing I fell asleep uncovered, “What the…” but Zanz and Abraxas continued their pestering behavior.

Zanz barked; running to and from the patio doors. He jumped around in place, alerting me of something.

“There is a man outside, Mother…” Abraxas’ voice entered my mind, “a man we’ve never seen before. He and another were here…inside your room. The other was a woman…a woman with your face but yet, it wasn’t you for you slept.”

“A man you’ve never seen and woman with my face that wasn’t me!?” I frowned then worried, “Inside…the room!?”

“Yes, Mother!” Abraxas crawled on my bed toward me.

I jumped from the bed running toward Marxus’ sword. Quickly removing it from the sheath, I cautiously approached the patio doors; a tall godly figure standing outside. My visibility was limited due to my sheer curtains and not having my glasses but that didn’t stop me from firmly calling out,

“I know you’re out there…I can see you!” I watched as the male figure turned toward the door; his face unclear to see, “Who are you and what do you want!?” I continued.

“I mean you no harm, demoness…” the man answered in that familiar deep voice, “I’ve said that before and some part of you knows that to be true.”

“Who are you!?” I approached the doors, “Why won’t you reveal yourself to me!?”

“Be careful of what you ask, demoness.” the man laughed.

I realized how that sounded. I smiled momentarily then pushed the distraction aside.

“Please…tell me who you are!” I pleaded but the man turned away, quickly disappearing. I rushed the doors open; curtains blowing erratically in my face. I pushed them away but the man was gone and stepping out onto the patio; cool air tickling my arms, I caught a faint scent of sulfur mixed with an enticing herbal aroma of Sandalwood.. Sheathing the blade, I commented as I retreated back inside, “What the f*ck is going on in this place?” and locking the door, I made sure it was secure and curtains drawn closed.

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