Chapter 20: Betrayal
Of all the people I grown to know – Ms. Hardwick was the last person I ever suspected to be the one trying to kill me. And yet, here she was, conversing with none other than Azazel Torchwood. Why would she do this? What made her go to such extremes to alley herself with Alex’s father? Did he have something on her, giving her no chose but to follow him? Or, was she by his side willingly? I’m hoping desperately that it’s the former.
“It’s a pity,” I heard Azazel say. “That you have not yet put an end to my suffering. How long will it take for you to act and kill the girl? The time for games must soon end.”
“I need more time,” she said earnestly. “You must understand. The Headmaster is always watching. I feel he suspects that I am the one behind everything that has taken place here at the academy.”
Which you are, I thought bitterly.
“I don’t care if he suspects you are not. Kill the girl and be done with it.”
“But master,” Ms. Hardwick said. “What is it about Spencer that troubles you? She is nothing but a nuisance. Someone raised in the Powerless world. Does this have something to do with Ashton?”
“It has nothing to do with him!” Azazel roared. Ms. Hardwick flinched, her eyes widening in fear. “The girl is more important than you think. And in a few years she will realize that. I shouldn’t have to explain this to you. I want the girl dead!” I shrank at his loud voice. I can understand why some people find him intimidating. “Do I make myself clear, Hardwick?”
“Yes master.” She said. “It shall be done.”
“Good,” he seethed. “Now get on with it.” I gasped as darkness wrapped around him, Azazel no longer visible, and watched, transfixed as the darkness flew out of the open window, leaving Ms. Hardwick alone in the Weapons room.
I have to get out of here. I need to tell the Headmaster what I’d just seen. I turned around, but found myself face-to-face with Ms. Hardwick.
She smiled wickedly. “Hello Ms. Mason.”
I gaped. “But you were—I saw you—” It was then that I realized something. Wasn’t her unique ability teleporting? “It really was you that entered my bathroom that one day, wasn’t it? I didn’t want to believe it, but it was you. It was always you.”
“That’s correct my darling. Of course, I have orders that I must fulfill.” My eyes widened as she pulled a long, gleaming dagger from its sheath, pointing it directly at my throat. It looked like the same dagger that Morgan had been lusting after that one day in Hallowville. Coincidence, or was it irony? “I’m afraid you have to die.”
“Sorry Ms. Hardwick,” I said, boldly. “Not today.” I summoned my power, and released it, setting Ms. Hardwick’s feet on fire. She yelped, and tried to keep the fire from spreading by stomping her feet. That gave me a little time, and as I rushed into the weapons room, I desperately started looking for an extra pair of Sais. Who would have thought that I would need them in this moment? It’s a weapons room. I suppose any weapon would do, but I was more experienced with the Sais. There has to be an extra pair around here somewhere. Running around, it kind reminded me of that day when Ms. Peril had given us an hour to find our chosen weapon. I wish that I could find my chosen weapon, the Sais, before Ms. Hardwick catches me. Why did I ever think that my weapon was lame? Suddenly it seemed consequential to me. When my eyes spotted a pair of Sais, I felt like crying as I picked them up. Testing them out, I flipped one up in the air, and caught it easily. Yep. This should do it.
Just then, Ms. Hardwick came barreling into the room, her eyes completely filled with blood lust as she eyed me from across the room. I noticed idly that her shoes looked blacken in places.
“You bitch,” Ms. Hardwick hissed. I couldn’t help but feel my heart sink at her harsh words. “You’re going to pay for what you did.”
“No, you’re going to pay for what you did! All this time you’ve been trying to kill me. And for what? Because Azazel told you too. Why are you even following him?” Best keep her busy by talking. Every book that I’ve read and every TV show or movie I’ve watched – the main character would always keep the bad guy talking – to stall them. And now it was my turn. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to hear her side of the story.
“I follow him because my master has given me so much. And all he asks in return is to see your dead body lying before him, with my hands dripping with your blood. Of course, I wouldn’t expect you to understand.”
“You’re crazy.” I exclaimed. “But I have another question. Why blame it all on Alex? Didn’t Azazel care that his son got mixed up in all of this?” Sadly of course, I knew the answer.
Ms. Hardwick laughed. “Please. As if my master would care about that brat! He’s sees his son as nothing more than an annoying little pest. One that he hopes he can squash soon.”
“Does he really not care?” I asked. My heart went out to Alex. I can’t imagine what that must feel like; knowing that you’re father hates you. “Is there really no human part of him left?”
“Of course not,” she spat. “He’s not the same Azazel everyone once knew. That Azazel is gone forever. There is no humanity left in him. He could care less if his son lived or died.”
“Why did you kill the candy lady?” The question had popped out of my mouth before I could stop it. But it really was a good question. Why kill the candy lady?
“It was Azazel’s orders. She was the only one in town that kept her shop opened late at night. It was just easier. He wanted the people of Hallowville to know that he is still out there – to fear of his return. It was also a warning – mostly directed at you. You don’t seem very frightened of him, but you should be. Oh, you should be.”
Her words made me shiver. I didn’t want to come out and admit that I was afraid of him. If I did that, I was just giving Azazel more power. He would use my fear as a way to kill me and it would.
“And why did you save me from the fire serum? That stuff could have killed me and you would have fulfilled Azazel’s demands.”
“I didn’t want it to be that easy. Not to mention, Headmaster Death was already suspicious of me. I didn’t want to give him any more reasons to suspect me.”
“So why did you do it? I mean, that fire serum probably made him suspect you even more.”
“Ah,” she said. “You are a clever girl. I can understand why Azazel wants you dead. You’re awfully annoying. The reason I gave you that fire serum was because I wanted to give you the antidote. If Death thought Abigail did it, then maybe he wouldn’t assume it was me.”
What she didn’t realize was that Death never really fell for her lousy scheme. “It sounds kind of sloppy,” Ms. Hardwick frowned. “But how did you get the serum in my cup without giving it to the others? It couldn’t have been in the punch. Otherwise everyone would have had the serum in their body.”
“The serum was already in your cup before Abigail poured the juice.” I was taken aback by her answer. She chuckled at my reaction. “Last thing you ever expected, huh.”
“But when I looked in my cup there was nothing there.” I’m almost positive.
“Well, that’s the amazing thing about fire serum. There often hard to see. It’s a clear liquid. That’s why it’s so unnoticed by demons. It also has no smell, which makes it a very effective weapon. Don’t you think it would have the same effect on a Reaper?”
So her sniffing the cup had to have been act. Who am I kidding? She’s been acting from the moment I met her.
“I still don’t understand why you want to follow someone like Azazel. If he cares less about his son, how do you think he feels about you?”
My words must have hit home because her face darkened at my words.
“Enough talking,” Ms. Hardwick growled. “I want to see the life leave your eyes when I kill you.”
She charged at me then, her dagger aimed right at my heart. I blocked her with my Sais, and with all my energy, shoved her away from me. It sent her flying through the air, but she managed to do a back flip and landed lightly on her feet. The smile that appeared on her face was dark, and sinister. It made me shudder. She ran at me again. Our weapons seemed to clatter against each other as we fought. I didn’t have much experience in this field. I was wasn’t very at fighting, but I always managed to block her attacks. Especially those aimed at my heart.
“Not bad,” she breathed our faces only a few inches apart. “But you still need a little work.” She kicked me roughly in the stomach, causing me to stagger back, while also doing a round kick that caused me to lose my grip on my weapon. I gasped as my Sais skittered across the hardwood floor. I looked back and forth between Ms. Hardwick, and the small space that was between us. If I tried to retrieve my Sais, she will stab me in the back for sure. After all, that’s just the kind of person she is. Ms. Hardwick did a somersault, and then kicked me onto the nearest table. Ironically, this was the table I usually sat at in class. My eyes followed Ms. Hardwick as she walked around the table, looking like a predatory about to devour its prey. I felt my body stiffen. What is she going to do? I got my answer as soon as I thought of the question. Ms. Hardwick, her hands wrapped around the dagger’s hilt, hit home as she stabbed me in the shoulder, pinning me to the table. My screams seemed to resonate in the infinite space around us. Hopefully someone heard me. I felt tears running down my face, my breathing coming out in gasps as I tried to pull the dagger out. But it was no use – it was embedded in the table, along with my flesh.
Ms. Hardwick circled around me, a terrible smile forming on her lips. Her eyes seemed to gaze across the room, where my Sais lay. “You know what I just realized. What better way to kill a Reaper—” She crossed the room in a rapid pace, and picked up my Sais, a look of pleasure on her face. “Then to kill one with their own weapon.”
I was in complete panic mode as I tried to desperately pull out Ms. Hardwick’s weapon that was still buried in my shoulder. I would look back at her occasionally, just to see how close she was getting. I suddenly felt like a victim from a horror movie. To my humiliation, I started screaming and crying, trying to free myself so I could escape, but it was no use. I was done for.
Ms. Hardwick gazed down at me, her face bereft of any emotion. This was the face of a true psycho. She lifted one of my Sais in the air, aiming it directly at my heart.
“Goodbye,” she said. I closed my eyes, getting ready for my ultimate death, when I heard the door crash open. Ms. Hardwick and I both looked in the direction of the door and saw Jordan and Alex, side-by-side, both of them wielding their weapons. I couldn’t help but smile. If I do die in this moment, at least I get to see my two favorite boys, one last time.
“Drop the weapon.” Alex demanded. He had his pistols aimed directly at Ms. Hardwick.
“You’re too late,” Ms. Hardwick said. “Spencer’s going to die, and there is nothing either of you can do about it.” With that said, she turned her attention back to me, one of the Sais still in her hand, as she drove it down, about to pierce my heart, when I heard a loud pow pow pow fill the room with it’s harsh, loud noise. I blanched at the sight before me. There were three bullet wounds in Ms. Hardwick’s chest, blood seeping through her blouse as she looked down at me. She opened her mouth as if trying to say something, before collapsing to the ground with a loud thump. I sighed in relieve, for once ignoring the pain in my lungs.The nightmare was over. Ms. Hardwick was dead. I felt someone by my side, a familiar presence I would have known anywhere. I rolled my head to the side to see Jordan leaning over me. He had tears in his eyes as he gazed down at me with love – a love that only two people with a bond can share. I lifted my hand weakly to wipe the tears from his face before my vision blackened, dragging me into the darkness.
When I awoke I was in the infirmary again, with its white walls, and sheets wrapped around me. I felt someone touch my forehead, a familiar touch that made me smile. I turned my head to see Jordan sitting on my right, a look of relieve on his face as he gazed down at me.
“I’m so glad you’re awake. I thought you were a goner. Everyone’s been worried about you.”
“I’m fine,” I said. I felt groggy, and a bit disoriented, but that’s how I usually felt when I woke up. “How long have I been asleep anyway? And what happened after I blacked out?”
“You’ve been out for two days.” He answered grimly. “After you blacked out, the Headmaster and a couple other teachers showed up along with him, including the mayor.”
“The mayor?” What was the mayor doing there? Then I wondered if the reason was because he found out that one of the students (that student being Alex) set his own daughter on fire. That would certainly cause me to come to the school. “Never mind. I think I have an idea. But give me some details. I need to know what happened. Was Alex expelled? What did they do with Ms. Hardwick’s body? Has there been any sightings of Aza—him.”
“Well, to answer your first question: no. They just let him off with a warning, and the next time he sets someone on fire he’s out of here. Of course, like Morgan, I thought she deserved it.”
“So you were watching.” I don’t know why that made me smile. Like him, I hate it when he gets in my head. “If it weren’t for you and Alex I would be dead.”
“When I saw you spying on Ms. Hardwick talking to him, I knew you were going to get into some trouble. It also made me realize that I had been blaming the wrong person this whole time. After I helped Alex escape from the Headmaster’s office, I told him that you needed our help. The guy didn’t hesitate. Once I said Spencer and the word trouble in the same sentence, he was ready to go. Of course, when he shot Ms. Hardwick, he felt really guilty about it. It’s been eating him up for the past two days.”
“I would be worried if it didn’t,” I said. Jordan looked startled by my words. “He took a life. That’s not something a person can just get over. That’s probably going to haunt him for the rest of his life.”
“But you’re grateful that he saved you.”
“Yes. I always will be. I’ll also be grateful that you had been in my head at that time. I promise I won’t ever complain if you weasel your way into my head again.”
“Yeah, right,” he scoffed.
“So what happened to Ms. Hardwick’s body?” I asked. “Did they bury her?”
“That’s the thing,” Jordan said. “Nobody was really that concerned about her. After all, she tried to kill you. Everyone was more worried about you. After they had you settled in the infirmary they went back to get her body, but when they arrived it was gone.”
“It just disappeared?”
“Like she just got up and left, which isn’t possible. Alex and I checked her pulse. She was dead. Though Alex thinks it had something to do with his father.”
“He could have retrieved the body.” This seemed unlikely to me. “But I don’t know why he would. Azazel didn’t care about her.”
“Maybe he had a bigger plan for her – one that involved her dead. I’ve heard stories about how he will use his servant’s dead bodies for certain purposes. But I’m not really sure what they are.”
“And there have been no sightings of him.” It wasn’t a question.
“Nope. The last people that saw him were you and Ms. Hardwick. Nobody from around town has seen him either.”
I wonder what that meant. Was he gone for good? Was he never coming back? Could we all go back to living in a peaceful, loving town? As much as I wanted to believe that was possible, I didn’t think that was going to happen any time soon.
The girl is more important than you think. And in a few years she will realize that. I shouldn’t have to explain this to you.
He wants me dead, for some unfathomable reason, but I wonder if it’s because he truly believes I might be the chosen one. I shuddered at the thought. If that’s the case then we probably haven’t seen the last of him.
“You know,” Jordan said, interrupting my reverie. “I found out something pretty interesting when you were out. Something my uncle told me.”
Oh, crap. “Oh.”
“Yep. Something you already knew but didn’t tell me.”
“And what is that?”
“You’re my cousin,” Jordan said, his face incandescent as he gave me the most happiest smile I’d ever seen cross his beautiful features. “My long, lost cousin that I didn’t even know I had. Hell, I didn’t even know I had another uncle. This is so bizarre.”
“I know,” I said, in astonishment. “Who would have thought that the people that I first met from this world would be my cousins?” Could it have been a coincidence?
“And my uncle was best friends with him! Of all the people in the world your dad had to befriend the manic.”
“I guess that means our family is cursed.”
“I guess so,” Jordan laughed. “It makes sense since my family is full of cranky people. My grandpa, my dad, and now my twin brother. Maybe I shouldn’t have kids.”
I laughed too. “Maybe.” God, this felt wonderful. Just me and Jordan, being silly as usual.
That’s until Jordan ruined it.
He bit his lip nervously. “There’s something I need to tell you, and you’re probably not going to like it.”
I didn’t like the guilty edge to his voice. “What?” I asked, suspiciously.
He took a deep unsteadying breath before answering, “I’m the reason Alex stopped talking to you after you got out of the infirmary.” I gasped at his words. Jordan looked away then, shame written all over his face. “You see, I thought he was bad for you and I didn’t want to see you get hurt by him. So I threatened him, saying that if he didn’t leave you alone then I would find some way where he couldn’t even see you anymore. And I would have. To be honest, it didn’t take a lot of convincing. I think he had already decided to leave you alone anyways, even after I came to talk to him. He looked upset, and didn’t even fight back when I yelled at him.
“But when I looked through your eyes that night at the Valentine Ball, and saw how he looked at you, well, I realized I made a mistake. And I promise, from today on, I will never get between you and Alex again. I’m sorry.”
I should have been mad at him for what he did. After all, I went to bed crying over that boy every night after that horrible day in the infirmary, when Alex told me he couldn’t see me anymore. I should be furious with Jordan, but for some reason, as I looked into Jordan’s eyes, I could see that he was already beating himself up about it. So there was no need.
“I forgive you,” I said. “I mean, I understand why you did it.” My mind instantly thought of Alicia, and how she had treated Jordan so horribly. “Have you…have you heard anything from Alicia?” I didn’t know if this was a safe topic or not, but I was curious.
“I don’t know. She wrote me a note, saying that she regretted what she did, but that was it.” Hm. I guess Alicia felt so guilty for what she’d done that she couldn’t even bring herself to ask Jordan for a second chance. For some reason I felt relieved.
“Well, like mom always says, ‘you gotta kiss a lot of frogs before you find you’re prince charming.’”
“And how does that apply to me,” I giggled at Jordan and his confounded expression. It was funny. “Last time I checked I liked girls not boys. I want my princess damn it!”
“And you’ll find her. It’s just going to take some time.”
“I really don’t want to go around kissing a lot of female frogs just to find her. That would make me a mouth man-whore.”
“You know that’s just a saying, right? It doesn’t always apply to everyone.”
“Yes, I know. It’s just so exhausting thinking that I may have to go through a bunch of girls just to find the one!”
“Are you sure you’re a guy?” I teased. “Because you sure do sound awfully like a girl.”
“My dad was always under the impression that I had a famine side. Then again, I do have a lot of mom’s qualities that scares him.”
“Don’t we all?”
Jordan was about to reply, probably about to say something sarcastic when someone pulled the white curtain aside, revealing the most handsome boy I had ever seen.
“Well, look who it is Spencer. It’s your boyfriend.” I smacked his arm, which he didn’t seem to notice. He was laughing at my face, which had turned a bright a red. He got to his feet. “I’ll talk to you later, okay. I’m going to let you spend some time with your boyfriend.”
“Will you stop saying it like that?”
“Yeah, yeah.” He said, before closing the curtains roughly, leaving me alone with Alex. He had a playful smile on his face.
“So I’m your boyfriend, huh.”
“I guess you are,” I said timidly. To be honest, I don’t know where our relationship lies. It’s kind confusing at this point. I scooted over in my bed to make some room for him. This was a good start. “Why don’t you lie with me? I’m cold anyways.” Which was true. The blankets they had given me were too thin to keep away the cold.
Alex didn’t hesitate. He stepped out of his shoes and laid next to me, his arm wrapped gently around my waist. I winced as I tried to turn on my side to face him. My shoulder still ached whenever I moved it the wrong way, but I knew that I had no right to complain. At least I was alive. And it was because of this boy next to me. I snuggled into his chest, breathing in his delicious scent. Is this what it felt like to be in love? This warm, happy feeling coursing through my body as he held me?
“So you doing okay?” he finally asked, after several minutes of comfortable silence.
“Yeah,” I answered. “I mean, I hurt when I move a little, but it could be worse. I could be dead right now.”
“I’m just so glad we got to you before it was too late. I’ll admit I found it odd when Grey helped me break out of the Headmasters office. I thought I was losing my mind, or something.”
“They didn’t give you too much trouble when you killed Ms. Hardwick, did they?”
“No. Although I can’t help but feel guilty. It makes me feel like my father – a cold blooded killer.” And this is what made him different from his father. He didn’t want to kill Ms. Hardwick. I could see the regret in his blue eyes. “But I would have done it again if it meant keeping you alive.”
His words me made my heart quicken. I caressed his cheek with tenderness before he leaned towards me, brushing his lips gently against mine.
“You want to hear a secret?” he murmured against my lips.
“What?” I asked. I was trying to fight a smile as his lips moved against mine.
“Promise you’ll keep it?”
I felt his lips move to my check before they were at my ear, his breath warm against my skin as he whispered three small words – words that I’ve been dying to hear from him for a while. “I love you.”