Can't Go Home Again
One Week Later
The candle sat in front of me at the table, mocking me with my own failure. I focused, said the words, but my fingers did nothing.
Miriam had made it look so easy; she whispered the words and a flame came from her index finger, burning brightly before she extinguished it. “You’re thinking too much,” she said as she watched my face. “Relax and let your magic out.”
I huffed, then closed my eyes and focused on letting things flow. I felt something moving inside me, it shot down my arm to my fingertips. I opened my eyes to see flames shooting out two feet from my fingers on my right hand. Quickly, I toned down the flow until only one finger had flame, about two inches long. “I did it.”
“You did, and you controlled it quickly,” she said. “Now, imagine the flame is a ball. Form it with your hands, like you are making a snowball.” This took a little longer to master; the flame kept going out, and getting it into a sphere took some practice. An hour later, I had a flameball floating in the air over my outstretched hand, about a fist size as it rotated. “Good. Now, using your mind, push it towards me.”
The ball hovered and quivered before I was able to launch it at her. She reached up, stopping it with her right hand before she sent it back towards me. I reached out to catch it, letting it hover just over my hands. I moved my hands apart, making it grow to the size of a basketball before pushing in and shrinking it to the size of a marble. Finally, I let it die out. “That was amazing. It didn’t even burn me.”
“It’s your magic, it won’t hurt you,” she said. “Fireballs are very useful, but simple magic. With practice, you will be able to make them quickly and of any size. Combined with your telepathic skills, they make effective weapons.”
“I can see that.” I was exhausted, we had been training for several hours at a time, four times a day for the transit across the Atlantic. I looked out the porthole, we were transiting the St. Lawrence Seaway in between Canada and New York state. “Can we take a break?”
“Get your jacket, it’s cool out there.” The late fall weather could vary widely, and right now it was cool, in the fifties. She put some snacks and beers in a cooler and grabbed her jean jacket.
I pulled a windbreaker over the jeans, long sleeved T-shirt and sweater I was wearing, and we exited the stateroom to the hallway. I knocked on the door of the guy’s stateroom. There was no answer, so they were probably in the gym. They spent the week working out, watching movies and playing video games in between the meals. They had explained to me why they had chosen this form of transit to get me back home; Yuri was bound to check all normal transport, and they had bribed the Captain to keep our names off the manifest as they departed. We would still have to show our Passports when we docked in Duluth, but in the meantime, we would be hidden from the world for two weeks.
We opened the hatch and stepped onto the narrow deck at the port side of the aft superstructure where the cabins were. The bridge was two levels up; as we walked back aft, there were four deck chairs set up. She handed me a beer as I sat in the bright fall sun, watching the shoreline pass as we moved through the shipping channel. I could see houses and cities in the distance. I hollered up to the bridge crew, “Where are we?”
The Captain appeared a moment later, leaning over the bridge wing. “Coming up on Montreal in thirty nautical miles,” he said. “We’ll have to wait our turn at the St. Lambert Lock.”
We sat out there, drinking beer and watching the fall colors along the St. Lawrence River, waving to the boaters and sometimes people on the docks when we were close enough. Larry and Brian joined us, their hair still wet from their post-workout showers. “Did you drink all my beer?” Brian started looking through the cooler, all we had left him was a Coke.
“Snooze you lose,” I laughed.
He got pissed and stormed off, I heard him talking to the Captain a few minutes later. When he came back, he was a little happier. “Captain says he can get a couple cases delivered at the next lock and dam,” he said. “I’ll let you have some if you dress up in your Hooter’s Girl outfit and bring me drinks out here.”
I snorted. “I got fired from that job, thanks to that scary fucker you guys brought there,” I said. “I still see him beating that guy’s face in when I sleep.”
“He was just protecting you,” Larry said. “He’s not a bad guy, and he paid a steep price for losing control like that.”
“Well, I’m glad he’s in jail. I’ve seen too many guys like that. High strung, jealous, they beat up other guys and then get drunk and start beating up you. I’m not letting anyone like that near me again; I’ve been hurt enough.” I got up and walked away, going back to my room as they stared at me. I didn’t want to talk about it anymore, for some reason thinking about him brought feelings out I didn’t want to deal with. Why would a man I was afraid of cause my insides to tingle, and bring dirty thoughts into my head? I just needed to stay far away from him. My life was screwed up enough as it was.
Yuri had tried to kill me twice already, I was in hiding and learning how to use the witchcraft the Father had given me. I didn’t need a man in my life.
“That could have gone better,” I said.
“Fuck, man, how do we convince her to give Beta John a chance now?” Brian was looking up at the sky. “She must not feel the pull at all.”
“They barely spent a few minutes around each other, and her wolf is buried,” I said. “What we need is a way to get them together, spending time, letting the mate bond work on her to break down her defenses.”
“Without Jessie tossing fireballs at him or throwing him off a building,” Miriam said. “She’s not the helpless Hooters girl anymore, armed only with pitchers of cheap beer.” She had a good laugh about the story of their meeting.
My burner phone buzzed, a text message came in. It was a link to a web page. I got up, the phone was only known to Charles and he was only going to use it if it was important. Along with the link was a message; “Not safe at home. Try something else.” I told them to come inside and we went to my room. Pulling out the iPad that the Highlands Pack had given me to replace my laptop, which they destroyed, I pulled up the site.
“Fuck me,” I said. It showed Jessie’s passport photo, the address of the cabin on our land, her full name, height and weight, her original Russian name and a few more photos from her Hooters days and college. ”Cover is blown, do not approach. Photos are being circulated along with promise of a big reward if they take her out.”
I closed up the computer and sat back down on the bed. Brian flopped into the chair. “Well, that escalated quickly.”
“How long until they figure out where we are,” Miriam said.
“As long as we don’t leave the ship, no one should be able to pick us up until we go through Customs in Duluth. Once our entry is put into the system, it’s on like Donkey Kong,” I said. “You can bet they have Mob guys at the docks, if they spot her it could get exciting quickly. I was planning to have the Alpha send a car for us, but Charles should have told them already that we’re too hot. They know her house, they know our Pack was watching her since it’s our territory. We can’t go anywhere near home, they’re going to be watching it closely.”
“How about other Packs?”
“Bringing a human in, especially one that smells like a witch now, is bound to be noticed. All it takes is one person telling the wrong person, and it’s over. They wouldn’t owe her anything, and that reward is pretty big.” I looked it up, it was over $600,000 American. “I don’t know who we trust that much, who owes us enough to give her sanctuary. Yuri has a lot of influence in both the werewolf and Mafia worlds. If they know he is after her, most Packs will decide to stay out of it.”
Miriam tapped my arm. “She still needs training, and most Packs won’t let a witch anywhere near their lands. I have an idea, though. The coven I am going to visit up in Grand Marais is isolated, their land magically protected. They would allow us to stay, for a price.”
“Can you trust them?”
“I can trust them to keep quiet as long as they are being paid. They don’t like werewolves, but I’ll vouch for you. My second cousin Gwenyth is the High Priestess there.”
I thought about it; if we headed to Grand Marais, it was the opposite direction they would expect since our Pack was three hours south. She could continue her training there, with more help and out of the view of humans and werewolves. “Call her and ask if we can.”
She opened her phone and dialed a number, then greeted the woman and asked to speak to Gwenyth. “Hi Gwen, it’s Miriam. Is it still all right if I come stay with you for a while?”
“Sure, cuz. Stay as long as you want, we’re looking forward to seeing you.”
“I have some traveling companions along with me. A new acolyte, she’s in some danger, but she has these two big DOGS with her. I know how you feel about their kind.”
“Are they necessary?”
“They protect her with their lives, and she needs them.”
There was a pause. “FINE, but they better be on their best behavior. There’s a big deposit required on the guest rooms if you bring pets.”
“I’ll let them know. Thanks, dear, I’ll call you when we’re closer so you can send a van to pick us up.” She hung up. “That went better than expected. They will expect to be compensated for having to bring werewolves onto their land. They will want a lot more when they figure out who it is they are hiding, and who she is hiding from.”
“We can pay them,” I said.
“Your Pack can, but not all payments are straight cash. I’m sure they will want, um, OTHER things as well.”
“I’ll let them tell you themselves. Meanwhile, figure out a solution to this Beta John thing. She needs her mate.” Miriam left the room, leaving us alone.
“How do we get Beta John around her now,” Brian asked. “No way we can send her back to Scotland, she’ll never go, and international travel is too dangerous.”
“We have to bring him to her, obviously. Without her screaming and running away.” I laid back on my bed, trying to come up with a solution. All of the sudden, it was like the skies parted, the moon shone down and blessed me with the perfect solution.
All I had to do was get him to agree with it. I got out my phone and sent a message back to Charles, he’d have to make the arrangements. He sent back they would take care of things and text me back when we could pick him up.
A sound solution, and comedy gold. I couldn’t wait.