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

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๐“’๐“ฑ๐“ช๐“น๐“ฝ๐“ฎ๐“ป 39

๐ผt was 1:25pm when I stretched out a cramp from sleeping in the same position too long. I glanced around watching as Zanz emerged from the bathroom after using the piddle pads and Abraxas resting on his perch I had made for him. It was a new day, new choices and decisions, a new look on things. I flipped the blanket back then stood, arching my back for once more stretch then remembered the events that had taken place the night before and things that were said. I sighed pushing the flashbacks aside as I reached for my phone checking for messages; there were some but nothing major that needed my immediate attention.

Laying it on the table and approaching my wardrobe picking out my outfit for the day, I laid it gently on the bed. Passing by the fireplace there it was, the single red rose sitting in its perfect place. I smiled, then entered the bathroom taking a hot shower. The hot temperatures felt so good that my skin began turning red and realizing how hot it became I winced loudly, then quickly turned it off. Sighing as I wiped steam off the glass door from inside I slid it open, grabbing a towel off its rack next to the shower. Wrapping it around my petite body, I approached the mirror that hung above the sink left of the bathroom door when you entered, also covered with steam. I stared at its cloudy appearance then wiped it clean; my reflection free of makeup and stress stared back at me.

โ€œItโ€™s a new day, Yza...you can do this.โ€ I instructed myself then tapping the sink I walked away but my reflection remained in place before her head followed after my form. She smiled then vanished.

Once dressed into my steampunk outfit (leather, buckles, studs and chains within reason and feminine taste) I strolled downstairs with Zanz and Abraxas, where my mom sat at the kitchen table yet again, drinking a cup of hot tea. Hiromi sat with her; bruises grazed his jaw and a few smaller scrapes were visible on his hands.

โ€œGood morning.โ€ I greeted them, โ€œOr good afternoon.โ€ I smiled.

โ€œGood...whatever.โ€ Hiromi returned the smile, โ€œAnd where are you off to looking so lovely?โ€

โ€œUm, nowhere. This is how I dress.โ€ I placed my hands against the front of my black bustier, โ€œBut I can say the same about the two of you?โ€ I gestured at my mom and Erikโ€™s father who both wore elegant attire.

My mom was dressed in the plum-purple flowing steampunk dress I had purchased for her and I knew it would become her tastes and style. Her hair was combed into a twisted French-style bun with little jeweled clips to accompany its flair. It hugged her fuller figure just enough along the waist and not too much where sheโ€™d feel subconscious of her appearance. Her favorite clip was clasped on the cinched tie that hung with its beads down the front. The faint swirled pattern throughout the deep purple fabric glistened with its silver threading here and there from the lights above. It really was a beautiful dress.

Hiromi too, was dressed to impress. His white crisp button-down shirt with an Asian-style collar was worn beneath a leather steampunk buckled vest. Black pants with faint pinstripes fitted his average-heighted frame and leather boots were tucked away along the hem. His black hair was combed back neatly. An Asian pin was visible along the lapel of his vest but I didnโ€™t pay much attention to its design.

โ€œWould you like a cup of tea?โ€ my mom offered.

โ€œNo, Iโ€™m fine thank you. I have to get to the study and make some calls, so Iโ€™ll grab something small in the kitchen up there.โ€ I revealed, โ€œThank you.โ€

โ€œYzavelaโ€ฆโ€ Hiromi stood slowly.

โ€œYes.โ€ I asked.

โ€œWhatโ€™s going on between you and my son?โ€

His words caught me off guard.

โ€œUmโ€ฆโ€ I searched for the words, โ€œnothing.โ€ I shrugged.

โ€œSo things are alright with you?โ€

โ€œNo, see...when I say thereโ€™s nothing going between him and I...Hiromi, I mean thereโ€™s literally nothing going on. I ended things last night because I was sick and tired of his drama.โ€ I slurred, โ€œNow, excuse me...I have to go. Mommy, see you later?โ€

She waved in farewell with a smile watching as her daughter excused herself from the conversation. Hiromi turned to her, unknowing of what to say for he was out of the loop of what really took place.

โ€œSit. Iโ€™ll tell you.โ€ Lady D urged, tapping the table next to her to indicate his seat.

โ€œWhat have I missed?โ€ Hiromi questioned with a higher than expected tone to his voice.

โ€œWellโ€ฆโ€ my mom sighed, then went on explaining the issues between her daughter and his son, โ€œI respect her decision.โ€ she finished.

As I strolled across the grounds following the path to the manor, small remnants of debris laid among scorch marks in the grass but had managed to damage the iron gate surrounding the manor; bars were pushed and broken from their place. I worried the fountain was damaged and walking around its massive length, I found nothing out of place. Frogs grew frightened of my passing by and jumped into the water, creating small splashes along the pondsโ€™ surface. I sighed then entered through the manor doors that were left open for the fresh air to fill the downstairs interior. As the heels of my boots echoed along the floor, I heard faint voices creating a chorus from the dining hall and standing in the doorway, there were my friends and others who partook in last nightโ€™s events, dressed in their loungewear or p.jโ€™s as they clustered at the tables. Glancing down at myself, now I felt overdressed but I pushed the thought aside as I approached the nearest table. I was the Keeper, so I guess being dressed nicely came with the territory.

โ€œYou look how I feel.โ€ I joked, sitting next to Sarah and Jon whose hair was slightly messy.

โ€œWhy are you dressed soโ€ฆsoโ€ฆโ€ Sarah replied as she looked at me.

โ€œWhat?โ€ I asked as I looked at my mom who shrugged, โ€œSoโ€ฆwhat, Sarah?โ€

โ€œDressed so bloody fancy and look good without makeup?โ€

โ€œGenetics, I guess and I dress like this everyday. Itโ€™s expected, I guess. Didnโ€™t Marxus dress nicely? I added.โ€

โ€œYes, Yza looks nice as always but letโ€™s change the subject?โ€ Jon interrupted, โ€œHave a sleepless night?โ€ he continued, looking at me across the table.

โ€œI think I can speak for everyone and say yes.โ€ Calebโ€™s voice muttered as he, Nick and Wyatt entered the hall dressed in their loungewear as well, completely unlike the Wraiths and Demon that always dressed neat and Gothic, or in their guard uniforms. It seems everyone slept in a little late.

Nickโ€™s blonde hair wasnโ€™t spiked or dyed and I was glad because I got to see its natural color; a beautiful shade of platinum blonde looking like spun silky gold. I offered my compliments and once doing so, he shyly ran his fingers through it, stating he never allows anyone to see his natural color. With his blonde hair slightly messy, big brown eyes and darker blonde eyebrows, he was adorable.

โ€œHey, Caleb...Wyattโ€ฆno bunny slippers or onesies?โ€ I teased.

โ€œFunny, very funnyโ€ฆโ€Caleb smiled sarcastically, โ€œand I wish I could say the same about you love, but clearly youโ€™re not the onesie type.โ€ he winked. โ€œYou look nice!โ€

โ€œAnd my girlfriendโ€™s more of the onesie bunny slippers type.โ€ Wyatt added, โ€œSh*t, donโ€™t tell her I said that yeah or sheโ€™ll kill me!โ€ he joked.

โ€œSecret is safe with us.โ€ Jon chuckled.

Suddenly, the Giovanni brothers entered the hall.

Turning my head there they were laughing about something they found humorous and once greeting friends, they joined my friends and I at our section of the long table. I stood greeting Anthony with a friendly smile, pleased to see he had healed from his wounds.

โ€œAll healed?โ€ I asked.

โ€œSi...si...thank you.โ€ he nodded.

โ€œGood. Umโ€ฆโ€ I felt awkward and I didnโ€™t know why, as my heart began to beat faster than it should, โ€œI got your little late-night gift.โ€

โ€œWasnโ€™t sure you were awake to receive it.โ€

โ€œI was, I was. And I did. Itโ€™s beautiful. Thank you.โ€

โ€œWhy not appreciate the beauty of rarities in the world while we have them, no?โ€ he grinned.

I smiled turning away shyly then took my seat changing the subject,

โ€œHow did, uhโ€ฆโ€ I cleared my throat as Anthony sat across from me alongside Thomas, โ€œthe clean-up efforts go last night? I saw the grounds were cleaned when I came in.โ€

โ€œIt went alright, I guessโ€ฆโ€ Wyatt shrugged, โ€œdespite the minor outbursts from Lancaster, but what else is new when it comes to that man, hmm? But the debris was piled up outside per your instructions and as Iโ€™m sure you can see by the smoke outside the wall, itโ€™s slowly fading from memory.โ€

โ€œAs honest as that proclamation is, nothing can erase what happened last night from memory.โ€ Anthony added leaning forward, โ€œNot even I can believe this happened.โ€ he reached for his cup, taking a small sip.

โ€œNeither can I.โ€ Sarah worried.

โ€œWhoโ€™s to say whatโ€™s coming next?โ€ Thomas uttered.

Erik had appeared in the foyer; voices from the dining hall attracted his attention and approaching the doorway, he stood watching his friends and the young half-breed sitting at one of the tables engaging in a moment of sincere laughter. He frowned then grew startled from a sudden presence appearing behind him. Turning around in a jump, there stood Azir and Natash dressed in their finest.

โ€œErikโ€ฆโ€ Natash slurred.

โ€œGood morning. Or should I say afternoon.โ€ Azir groaned walking past the young Demon, entering the dining hall.

Natash followed after then humored as she approached the tables,

โ€œWhatโ€™s this? A pajama party and I wasnโ€™t invited?โ€

We all looked up, seeing them dressed in tribal knee length coats, making the others feel shabby and out of place.

โ€œSorry.โ€ Jon muttered.

โ€œDonโ€™t be.โ€ Azir replied, โ€œBut thatโ€™s not why Iโ€™m here, so letโ€™s change the subject yes?โ€

โ€œYes, please.โ€ Sarah complained, combing her blonde hair behind her ears, showing off her pink Pearl earrings.

Taking notice they wanted to sit across from me, Jonathan, Thomas, Anthony Caleb and Sarah moved aside, allowing space for them. Natash examined all the faces staring at them in admiration then glanced at Sarah, taking notice of her earrings.

โ€œDear girl, I love your Pearls. Theyโ€™re lovely. Given to you by someone special, yes?โ€

โ€œYes...yes, they were.โ€ she gushed as she and Jon exchanged flushed expressions.

Natash smiled then began placing fruit and buttered toast on her plate, giving her guards a break, as they too piled their places with breakfast treats and tea.

โ€œYzavela, after this meeting, Iโ€™d like to speak with you about when youโ€™d like to...deliver the package.โ€ Azirโ€™s golden eyes stared at me across the table after pouring himself a glass of orange juice.

Forgetting that was the code terms we set for HEADS, I almost spat my drink but contained it. I coughed while swallowing it down. Placing the glass alongside my plate, I gazed into his golden eyes, knowing what he meant. I nodded in reply while still catching my breath. The drink went down the wrong pipe.

โ€œWow, that went down the wrong way.โ€ I slapped my chest, โ€œSorry.โ€

โ€œAre you alright?โ€ Anthony leaned across the table.

โ€œYeah.โ€ I smiled through a cough, "Thank you.โ€

โ€œMorning.โ€ Erikโ€™s voice interrupted our groupsโ€™ idle chit-chat. He took a seat at the end of the table near Wyatt, Nick and Caleb who slid down a ways because they wanted to discuss other guy-related things. He kept glancing in my direction but he took notice I paid no attention to his presence. Not because the young woman was being rude, but she was engaged in a discussion with Azir and Natash.

โ€œAlright, well...we can have that talk now, if youโ€™d like?โ€ I instructed.

โ€œIf youโ€™re done here?โ€ Azir wondered.

โ€œFor now, yes.โ€ I stood, โ€œExcuse me, guysโ€ฆโ€

โ€œNo problem.โ€ friends muttered.

As Azir and I exited the hall I tuned, glancing back at the table observing Erik sharing laughter with his male friends then turned my gaze toward the Italian brother who sat quietly finishing up their bagels and coffee. I sighed hoping my heart wasnโ€™t putting itself on a love triangle between Erik and Anthony but shaking my head, I dismissed the idea knowing who or what I wanted.

โ€œEverything alright?โ€ Azir interrupted my thoughts.

โ€œHmm?โ€ I turned to him, โ€œYes. Letโ€™s go?โ€ I gestured toward the stairs.

Azir raised his left eyebrow then followed after the young woman when the front doors behind him swung open; a young man entered walking in slow shuffling steps but the Jinn didnโ€™t pay too much attention as he disappeared around the curvature of the staircase upwards.

Nathan ran the fingers of his right hands through his messy blonde hair, giving his scalp a rough scratch as he entered the dining hall. Shadows encircled his tired blue eyes and his clothes were wrinkled as if he slept in them. Leonus appeared behind him moments after, pushing past him as he grimaced at the sight of others in the hall. Taking his seat at another table where other Lycynians sat, he reached for a cup pouring himself a cup of coffee, drinking it black. Nathan walked over plopping on the bench across from Leonus.

โ€œWhatโ€™s with the scorch marks outside!? Have a wild party I wasnโ€™t invited to?โ€ Nathan rubbed his eyes then sniffled.

Leonus studied the young man before him, shaking his head for he wasnโ€™t a sight to behold. Chewing a stick of gum Leonus barked,

โ€œPassed out from a drunken stupor!? You reek of Whiskey and Cannabis.โ€ he sniffed the air.

โ€œTo each their own, Leonus and yes...I was.โ€ he grinned as if proud of his addictions, โ€œBut seriously...what the bloody hell happened!?โ€ and before Leonus could answer, the alpha straightened his posture as a figure approached behind Nathan.

Suddenly, a punch hit against his shoulder by a rough slap to the back of his head. Leaning forward growling aggressively Nathan turned; there stood Sarah with anger in her blue eyes as she folded her arms across her chest waiting for him to say something. Nathan groaned as he glanced at the other Lycynians sitting around him; they turned away with grins before they stood, marching out of the hall with Leonus leading their pack.

โ€œThanks for that, sis! You just made me look like aโ€ฆโ€ Nathan argued.

โ€œLike a what!?โ€ Sarah quickly sat straddling the seat next to him, โ€œMade you look like a total a** or a joke!? Oh, no brother of mine...youโ€™ve done that all by your bloody self. Where were you!?โ€

โ€œYouโ€™re not the first to ask.โ€ he barked, โ€œBut I, uh...had other matters to attend to.โ€ he eyed her position on the seat, โ€œIโ€™m sure you could have used me last night and in any which way you would have liked.โ€ he reached for her left hand, gently stroking her soft skin.

โ€œIf you mean by other matters, Iโ€™m guessing smoking, drinking and sex? Or jerking off to your nudies?โ€ Sarah protested pulling her hand away feeling nauseous for even though they were related, his actions disgusted her.

โ€œI see. So thatโ€™s how itโ€™s going to be?โ€ Nathan scolded and knowing the Wraiths and Demons sitting at the table behind them could listen to their conversation, he removed a pad and pen from his pocket writing his next words, โ€œYou want me when you want me, but when I want you...I revolt you. Which is it, Sarah? You canโ€™t have your cake and eat it too!โ€ and once writing the words he continued verbally as he stood leaning in to whisper in her ear, โ€œBut yes, dear sister of mine...thatโ€™s exactly what I was doing. I was smoking, I was drinking and mostly definitely I was having fun with myself! Tell me something though before I go. Are you really happy with that carrot-top Saxon? Is he a better lover than me? Does he satisfy you in ways that make you let out those little squeaks after youโ€ฆโ€ he flickered his eyebrows implying something of the sexual nature.

Sarah stood pushing him back, growing tired of his disrespect.

โ€œThatโ€™s none of your business, you sick bastard!โ€ she swore then reached for one of the cups on the table, splashing the contents into his face and onto his shirt. Dropping the cup that shattered on the ground, she stormed out of the hall with tears in her eyes.

Nathan stood, grabbing a handful of napkins, trying to dap the coffee from his clothing but it had stained the fabric too quickly. He had derogatory thoughts running through his mind of how complicated women can be under stressful circumstances. His feet slipped on the liquid that splashed to the floor with the shards of the clay mug.

Jon looked over at Nathan then chased after Sarah and entering the atrium, she sat crying.

โ€œIโ€™m guessing this is about delivering the heads back to Drakuul.โ€ I asked, as Azir and I entered the study of which he politely closed the door behind him, โ€œGod that sounded a lot better in my head than it did aloud, sorry.โ€ I smirked, taking a seat behind the desk.

โ€œIndeed that sentence was unsettling.โ€ Azir replied with a smile sitting across from the young woman, โ€œBut the meaning was there, of which is why Iโ€™d like to know when youโ€™d like to do this and how youโ€™ll go performing such a task.โ€

โ€œI was thinking about delivering it, or them, tonight. The guards on the wall donโ€™t like having the chest up there because so far, Iโ€™ve received countless messages from them that whatever Ravens survived the assault from the Shadowed Ones, are trying to peck away at it to get inside.โ€

Azir gulped; that image didnโ€™t present pleasantly in his mind. Adjusting his tunic while shifting in the seat he proposed,

โ€œI must admit, thatโ€ฆโ€ he cleared his throat, โ€œthat image is unsettling to imagine, but I can meet you in the center of the maze tonight at 1:00am once everyone has retired for the night.โ€

I tapped a pen against the deskโ€™s surface feeling nervous of the deed weโ€™d perform, knowing weโ€™d have to venture into the Great City; a place I swore Iโ€™d never return to.

โ€œAlright. 1:00am...center of the maze. Itโ€™s a deal, but Iโ€™ll be bringing someone extra.โ€ I revealed laying the pen alongside the calendar and folders that laid atop the desk, "And can we agree to stop calling it a PACKAGEโ€ฆโ€ I made air quotation marks, โ€œand call it what is it? A chest full of heads?โ€

โ€œPreferably.โ€ the Jinn grinned.

โ€œGood.โ€ I leaned back in the chair.

Later that day I visited my mom in her room, explaining the details of tonightโ€™s events. She worried, not wanting me to venture anywhere near the Great City but trusted Azir and definitely Abraxas and having them accompany her daughter put her mind at ease. She worried nonetheless and I didnโ€™t blame her for I was terrified myself.

โ€œIโ€™ll be fine.โ€ I reassured her, โ€œTrust me...Iโ€™ll be fine. And if worse-comes-to-worse, Abraxas has been told to return to the Isle if god for bid, something does happen but Azir and I arenโ€™t planning on anything happening.โ€

โ€œDonโ€™t say that, pleaseโ€ฆโ€ my mom reached for my hands, โ€œand be careful. I know itโ€™s something you need to do, even though itโ€™s something I never expected.โ€

โ€œI will.โ€ I leaned forward giving her a comforting hug.

โ€œItโ€™s been some time since weโ€™ve been back there, I wonder if our home still stands.โ€ she wondered as she softly pulled away.

โ€œI donโ€™t know.โ€ I wondered; my eyes staring at our feet.

โ€œWell....โ€ my mom sighed heavily, โ€œletโ€™s change the subject. Whatโ€™s going on with you and Anthony?โ€

โ€œMe and Anthony?โ€ her words caught me off guard, โ€œWhere did that come from?โ€

โ€œIโ€™m just asking.โ€ my mom shrugged, โ€œBecause from what Iโ€™ve heardโ€ฆโ€

โ€œAnd what have you heard?โ€ I grew annoyed by the islandโ€™s gossip mouths, โ€œWhatโ€™s going on between him and I that I donโ€™t know about that others around here seem to think is happening?โ€

My mom realized there was a riddle somewhere in my rant but continued,

โ€œWell, he was seen leaving our dwelling last night after visiting your room at late hours.โ€

โ€œWow!โ€ I stood in disbelief, โ€œFirst offโ€ฆโ€ I turned to her, โ€œnothing happened. He dropped off a gift and left. I didnโ€™t even know he was in the building until I read the note that came with the gift.โ€

โ€œAnd what was this gift?โ€ my mom grew curious, inching closer to the ledge of her chair.

โ€œI know what youโ€™re thinking and no. Nothing like that.โ€ I ended her curiosity, โ€œIt was just a rose.โ€

โ€œJust a rose.โ€ my mom teased.

โ€œYes. And it was just a kind gesture ofโ€ฆโ€ I paused trying to think of words that could justify the meaning behind Anthonyโ€™s actions, โ€œI got nothing for that one.โ€ I sat there quietly.

โ€œMmm. Well, it was a gift nonetheless and sometimes they can be given without motive. Just out of friendship, but a rose? Thatโ€™s, uh...a little more meaningful but itโ€™s between the two of you.โ€

โ€œYes, yes it is.โ€ I grew agitated by her constant pursuit of answers that I had many questions to, โ€œNow, I have to make sure vendors in the village square arenโ€™t giving Thomas an aneurysm for any or all damage that might have been caused by the shipโ€™s debris. Do you want a ride, or are you staying in for the day?โ€ I stood, tugging gently on the hem of my bustier finding myself doing the one thing all people do when theyโ€™re nervous.

My mom remained sitting watching as her daughter grew nervous. She grew a smile then glanced at her feet, declining the offer for she was going to meet with Katrina and the other Wiccans for the rest of the day. She stood adjusting her skirt then escorted her daughter to the door and giving her another brief hug, she watched as the young woman strolled across the lounge, always with a motherโ€™s concern and worry, but also full of pride.

I walked to the garage retrieving the personal Jeep that was designated for the Keeperโ€™s use. I was greeted by Samuel Benard, Bethโ€™s brother and one of the Isleโ€™s top mechanics that Marxus entrusted all the islandโ€™s vehicles to. I had arrived at the village square where luckily, no damage had been caused by the debris. Only smoldered rooftops, chipped buildings and out of place cobblestones along the street were seen. No sooner did I step foot out of the Jeep, was I bombarded with questions, pleas and complaints; Thomas standing toward the rear of the crowd with Anthony and Louisa of whom attempted to settle the arguments.

After hours coming to agreements and settling refunds from vendors that wanted to leave the Isle before their contact ended, I needed a drink and Iโ€™m not one that uses alcohol to solve my problems. Sitting outside the pub at small tables, Thomas and Louisa invited me to their home for lunch. Knowing I had nothing else planned for the rest of the day, except for plans with my mom, I accepted.

โ€œAnd you must invite your Ma-ma.โ€ Louisa urged, โ€œSheโ€™s such a lovely woman.โ€

โ€œIโ€™m sure sheโ€™d love to, thank you.โ€ I accepted the offer, โ€œLet me see if sheโ€™s available?โ€ I removed my phone sending her a message of which she replied seconds after it was received, โ€œItโ€™s a yes.โ€

โ€œExcellent.โ€ Louisa smiled, โ€œAre you and your Ma-ma allergic to anything specific?โ€

โ€œMy mom? No, but Iโ€™m allergic to lemons.โ€ I revealed.

โ€œSo are the twins.โ€ Thomas added, referring to their children.

โ€œSo itโ€™s a date.โ€ Anthony, sitting next to me, leaned in with his Italian charm.

โ€œItโ€™s not a date. Itโ€™s lunch with friends...โ€ I attempted to justify his flirtation, โ€œat a specific time.โ€

โ€œSounds like a date to me, no? Friends or not.โ€ Thomas teased.

โ€œThomasโ€ฆโ€ Louisa nudged her husband and for Anthony and I sitting across from them, we smiled for their love shone between them, even in a glance.

Anthony and I exchanged a glance and I knew my face was blushed red.

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