CHAPTER TWENTY THREE
“Well, that is definitely not a coincidence.” Nick says as he adds sugar to his tea. He leans over the stove to check on the stew he is cooking.
“Yeah, I agree.” Joshua sits next to me on a chair around the kitchen table.
“That is perfect.” Alec mumbles angrily as he rubs his face angrily with his hands. He stands by the stove next to Nick.
All four of us are in Joshua’s kitchen. Alec and I ended up walking to the witch’s house to share what we discussed while sitting by the waterfall.
“So what are we talking about here?” I ask with a huff.
“I mean, are we talking about a siren? Or a witch with the right spell? What exactly are we up against?”
“We will have to do some research to figure it out.” Joshua replies.
“Shadow, what are you thinking?” Nick acknowledges the disorientation on my face.
“If someone is somehow controlling our minds, how do we know they cannot just read our minds and know that we are aware that something is not right?”
“You have a point; they can easily compel us to forget all of this.” Joshua takes a sip from his tea his brother made for him before Alec and I arrived to the house.
“Well, in that case, you two cannot leave this house until I find a spell that can protect our minds from any kind of supernatural influence.” Joshua gets off the chair and walks out of the kitchen.
Nick and Alec exchange a look before my witch friend turns the stove off and both of them walk after him. I look around the empty kitchen before I do the same.
“Here is what I do not get, why would someone want to control or invade our minds? What do they gain from this?” Alec says as he sits beside me on the only couch in Joshua’s library. He huffs as he rests his head on my shoulder.
“You mean other than mess us up emotionally?” When Alec told them what we saw, I let Alec and Nick tell Joshua everything about Diamanda; I could not bear talking about her for a second time in the same day. I am not certain how I managed to tell Alec about her in the first place.
“Yeah, good point.” He mutters bitterly as he buries his face in my neck. He has become a little too comfortable to touch me ever since I woke up. Although, I do not feel like I need to push him away.
My eyes meet Nick who gives me a smirk as Alec places his right hand on my thigh. I roll my eyes and turn my attention to Joshua who also has a smirk on his face. I decide to just be myself and ignore both of them.
“You two said that you are going to look for a spell to protect our minds from whatever we are up against. I did not realize that includes standing there like complete idiots while smirking at my mate.” In an instant, their smirks drop. Nick clears his throat as he looks down at the floor while Joshua awkwardly starts to look through the books in his countless bookshelves.
“By the way, did you succeed in contacting Accalia?” Nick sits on the window’s edge to my right.
“I tried, but it is like she is not even there.” I give him a disappointed look as I pull away from Alec.
“I mean the bitch used to give me headaches with her scolding and yelling, and now I am stupid enough to miss her!” I throw my hands up in the air with exaggeration. Nick chuckles at my action.
“You did not tell me that you cannot reach your wolf.” Alec returns his hand to its previous place; on my thigh.
“Yeah, it is not that big of a deal. According to Nick, it will take some time before I can contact her.” I gesture at my witch friend.
“Yeah, your wolf’s injuries are more severe than yours since she is the one who is basically allergic to silver.” Nick confirms.
“Which reminds me.” Joshua turns away from his books to face me.
“You are supposed to be in bed, not in my house trying to save the world.” The witch gives me a pointed look.
“Oh please, I am not a china doll. I mean, yes, I am having a difficulty in breathing but I am fine.” I give him a dismissing wave with my hand.
“You cannot be reckless when it comes to your health Shadow.” Nick warns me.
“I know that, but after… after the vision I saw, I could not stay in that room. “ It takes everything in me to prevent my voice from breaking. Nick gives me an understanding nod, Joshua returns to looking through his books, and Alec gives my thigh a little squeeze.
“By the way, where is Clay?” I change the subject. I have been meaning to ask for him ever since I entered the house, but I did not want to consume all Clay’s time and attention more than I already did when I was unconscious.
“I sent after him the second you arrived, he should be here soon.” I smile at that, I miss his cuddles even though I spent last night in his arms.
“Good.” Is all I say.
“I think I found something.” Joshua pulls a book out of one of the bookshelves. He puts the book on the coffee table before us as he sits on the floor by the table, then he scans the old book’s pages.
“Which grimoire is that?” Nick asks as he sits on floor next to his brother.
“I honestly do not know, but I have a feeling it might have a spell that will help us.”
‘I have a feeling’ is something a witch would say when they are certain about something. I know because I heard Nick say it many times over the past few years.
Are you okay? Clay’s voice echoes in my mind, and I immediately catch his scent.
“I am fine.” I say out loud as I get up and meet my best friend halfway. We hug for a few seconds before he tries to pull away, but I refuse to let go.
I am sorry Clay, I told Alec about…
Yeah I know; Nick told me. Clay interrupts me.
Are you mad?
I would be if Xander was not your mate.
God, I really need to talk to you about that. I pull away from him and quickly scan his body to make sure he is alright.
I am okay; you do not need to worry. I would say that you need to be resting since you are the one who got injured, but I know you well enough to not waste my energy. He tries to give me a pointed look, but he fails as a smile appears on his face.
As for the Xander thing, Nick filled me in on everything but we will talk about it when we are alone, okay? I only nod, before I completely pull away and sit back on the couch.
“The problem is we do not know what we are up against. Therefore, I do not exactly know what kind of spell would work.” Joshua declares to no one in particular as he furiously reads the page.
“So what you are saying is that basically our minds are venerable to whatever aims to control us?” Alec throws his head back as he closes his eyes with a grunt of frustration.
“No, what I am saying is we have to be extra cautious.” Joshua corrects the alpha.
I am confused. Clay informs me.
Same brother. I reply.
Did you tell Xander about Stefan?
Yes I did. I do not know why I trust him, but I do.
He is your mate Shadow, so it is to be expected.
Did Nick not tell you that I cannot feel the mate bond?
He did, but I do not know; it is all so perplexing.
“I have always hated it when you two did that, I still do.” Nick’s voice causes me to cut my conversation with Clay short.
“When we do what?” I ask.
“When you mind-link each other and forget that other people are in the room.” Nick points at Clay and I and then at Alec, Joshua, and himself.
I only give him a smirk as I turn to his brother.
“So you think you can figure it out?”
“I honestly do not know. Xander what is wrong?” Joshua turns to the alpha.
“Owen just mind-linked me. The first warrior just woke up.”
“The warriors?” With everything that has happened, I forgot that they existed altogether.
“Yeah, we went through with your plan, and now all the warriors are detained in our pack’s dungeons. They have been unconscious ever since, and now one of them is awake, so what are we going to do?” Nick says as he folds his arms.
“Can I give that warrior a piece of my mind?” I ask hopefully; I really need to punch something.
“Not going to happen”
Do not even think about it! All four men scream at me.
“Oh come one! You people are no fun.” I pout and give them a childish glare.
“Shadow if we allowed you anywhere near him, he would be dead before we can get anything from him.” Nick gives me a knowing look. I only give him another glare.
“It is not my fault that I find sexist and sadistic men intolerable.” I mumble under my breath.
“Well, you cannot leave and interrogate him, not when your mind is not shielded from any type of influence.” Joshua looks at another page of the spell book with tension.
“I think I found something.” He declares.
“That could work, but it only lasts for six days. Therefore, we will have to renew it almost every week until we figure out exactly what is happening.” Nick examines the spell.
As the sun starts to set, all five of us drink a potion that the witch brothers spent four hours making. They claimed that the potion creates a barrier around our minds.
We sit silently in Joshua’s kitchen as I try to hold my tongue, but I cannot stop myself.
“Am I the only one who thinks that this is way too easy?” I blurt it out as I hit the table with my fist.
No you are not. Clay answers as Alec hums in agreement.
“How about we choose to be grateful that something is actually easy, because I have a feeling that this will not be the case in the future?” Joshua glares at us.
“Yeah, and you have to remember that if someone is somehow controlling your minds, and they try to do it from now on, they will know that we are aware of their scheme, or at least that they are planning one.” Nick reminds us.
“If that is your version of a pep talk, then it sucks.” I snap at him and start coughing violently.
“You should not push yourself too hard shadow.” Alec warns me with a concerned tone.
Are you okay?
I am fine Clay, do not worry.
“Okay, now that I know my mind is safe, I have to go and meet Owen in the dungeons.” Alec makes his way out of the kitchen, but Joshua’s voice stops him.
“The sun has already set brother, he probably has gone home.”
“Damn it, I forgot about that.”
“Well, since Owen will not be available until tomorrow morning, and both Chance and Nolan are busy, you are welcome to join us; we are having a spell hunting sleepover.” Nick smirks as he starts reheating his stew.
“Spell hunting sleepover?”
“Yeah. Josh, Clay, Shadow, and I are spending the night in Josh’ library to search for a spell that can possibly undo any influences that were done to your or perhaps our minds.” Nick justifies.
“When exactly did I agree to this?” I ask even though I am excited to spend the night with them, my mentality needs a little normal.
“Shut up.” Nick snaps at me before he turns his attention back at Alec.
“Besides, we will devour my delicious stew.”
“Okay, I am definitely joining you but only because you made food.” Nick may be a brilliant witch, but he is also an excellent cook. When I was in the Red Eclipse pack, he would always make me food and magically send it to me when my sadistic brother used to lock me in my room.
I try to run towards the office, but my lungs abject. Thus, I grab Joshua’s hand and we both walk to our destination leaving the other three men in the kitchen.
“How are you doing?” I ask the witch as we sit on the only couch in the room. We moved it around it so it can face the fireplace.
“How are you doing?” He repeats my question and directs it at me. He waves his hand in the air, and the flame inside the fireplace ignites.
“I asked first.” I place my hand on his shoulder.
“I am good, better than I expected I would be if I am honest.” He chuckles.
“That is good.” I offer a smile.
“For what?” I move my head to the side in confusion.
“For not giving me any sympathetic looks, for not walking on egg shells when you are around me. Everyone has been doing that, even Nick, and frankly it has been getting on my nerves.”
“Of course friend.”
“Can I ask you something?” A question appears in my head.
“What is it?”
“Why does Owen only work during the day even though he is the head of the warriors?”
“I honestly do not know. He has always been like that. I mean even before he became the head warrior four years ago, he would always refuse to leave his house at night. Although Xander once mentioned something about a phobia and childhood trauma, so I never questioned it.”
“It appears everyone has some kind of trauma these days.” I mutter.
“Indeed.” The witch huffs.
“So, what about you? How are you feeling?” Since he answered my question, it is only fair that I do the same.
“Well, aside from the physical limitation, I am really irritated that I cannot contact Accalia. I hate to admit it, but I really miss her.”
“Just give it time Shadow; you cannot rush her recovery, or yours.”
“I know, everyone thinks that I should be in bed resting, but I cannot do that… it reminds me…”
“Of your sister.” He finishes for me.
“I know how it feels like to lose family. What I can tell you from experience is that this kind of pain never fades. It stays with you no matter how hard you try to shake it off; it becomes part of who you are. Eventually, you adjust to the person their loss created, the person you became. And just like that the pain becomes bearable.”
“Thank you Joshua.”
“You never have to thank me Shadow; you are my sister now.” He messes my platinum hair with his hand as the others enter the room with countless of plates in their hands.
Once everything is set up, we start reading. The whole night, Clay and Nick basically hug the fireplace while I sit between Joshua and Alec. I cannot help but notice how Alec’s body warmth is starting to become almost a comfort.