Detective Witch (Devil's Witch Book 2)

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Chapter 10-Communion

COLIN

I glance up at the large red stained-glass dome of the church, a god-like figure looks down at me with his arms extended towards the horizon. Thousands of small multiple colored textiles compose his bejeweled gown, making him look more like a king. In his lifetime, he was not from royalty and by no means was he godly.

His light-colored hair and stark blue eyes, match that of our savior. So did his charisma, but that’s where the similarities end. He stood for everything we stand against.

This was his orthodox church until Val’s boyfriend killed him. An act, our savior had planned to do himself. Noctus’s father hated his own flesh and blood, even tried burning him alive when he was a child. Noctus isn’t so weak though, our witch actually healed the burn wounds from his neck and the rest of his body.

Will should have come up with a better excuse for killing him, but Noctus promises us it was in our favor he did the deed instead of him. Will’s attempt to kill our exalted one is another matter, soon to be addressed.

For now, we must be satisfied enough by the supreme of Florida’s resignation. She never admitted to what she made Will McCaster do, but her sudden resignation and refusal to take part in a truth serum gave herself away. She was stupid to think she would get away with just that, silly witch.

Noctus stands in the center of the church altar, his gold hair is gelled back like his father’s shining above all of us. Dozens of wax candles are lit behind him on top of a large table, where a photo of his father remains from the church’s ongoing grievances. We would be in our normal meeting place, but there are more people here tonight than normal.

An elderly woman plays a dark tune three stories above us on a black organ. From down here, her bony fingers look like spiders crawling over the keyboard. The organ’s copper pipes reach the impossibly high domed ceiling. This church really is quite massive, there are numerous rooms and balconies inside here to prove it.

Somewhere above us, there’s even a choir of men and women singing in Latin in low tones to the song the old woman is playing. I’m sure they have no idea we are here, I don’t know how they would be able to from where they are standing and facing above us.

We all are waiting around and between the rows of wooden church pew benches. Tonight is our first communion so I’m not sure what to expect when the people above us quit singing though everyone around me quits talking.

“As many of you know, the coven has now chosen to directly threaten us. The time has come for atonement. The witches have stabbed us in the back, some like myself, quite literally. The one responsible for their behavior must suffer, in time they will. For now, I bring you here asking for your patience and celebration. We are closer than ever to completing our fate,” Noctus states sounding cold and detached from everyone else’s excitement. His stare is directed on nobody and instead sweeps the room. “The warlock did us a favor, killing my father for me. A coward, just like my father-promising eternal peace by forgetting past wrongs between us. Know this, they will never stop despising our existence, like my father did mine,” Noctus continues sternly and his gaze settles skyward, “...for countless years, I lived baring the scars of my father who tried to burn me to death as a child. Then, goddess’s touch cleansed me. Her heart is changing and will soon open to our cause. Then our trials will be over with her rebirth as one of us, the fall of the coven will be our ultimatum,” he finishes with a starry-eyed gaze towards the ceiling.

Wait, he wants to turn Val? Since when was this a necessary strategy towards our survival after the coven destroys itself?

I only joined this charade to secure my own future, not destroy my best friend’s life because they think her some ‘goddess’. I thought him conjoining their magic would be the end of things. I mean, she is the strongest witch in our state that they know of. So I thought that would be the end of it. I thought he only wanted her for her craft power and her family’s heritage with the portal.

He promised us the portal would be in our hands now. Why is it taking him so long to get Valerie to open it? He could have been done meddling with her life by now if he accomplished it by now. He’s dragging this whole process out longer than he really needs to. Going off of the impatient whispers around me, I know I’m not the only one who thinks this and I’m not even a vampire.

So I better keep quiet.

After Noctus finishes his speech, we all raise our right arms to show our allegiance tattooed onto our wrists. When he walks away from the altar, an older officer takes his place and begins rambling on with his witch hate speech and my mood turns sour remembering Stella’s position on things.

I’m going to have to break up with her as soon things start moving along here.

“Mr. Wallace, ’tis way. Some you need see, ya? Come, quickly,” Heinrich commands me.

I stand up, following him away from the ceremony and down a corridor to the outside parking lot where rows and rows of police vehicles are parked.

***

I tried calling Will, I didn’t know who else to contact when Stella woke up this morning with a bunch of disgusting dead snakes around her head. She was completely out of it and it's no wonder she didn't hear me screaming last night.

Judging by the smell, she had been passed out for some time. Still is, the house smelled something awful. I called Will, but he didn’t pick up. Her magic wasn’t healing her either, I tried using mine, but nothing helped.

I had no other choice, but to ask Nick for help. I’m scared that this is because of me, it’s eerily similar to the curse I placed on Nick. I mean, why else would she have been throwing up snakes? Oh, it was terrible, at least she is sleeping now and not throwing up anymore. I can only imagine the horrors she went through last night. I hadn’t even heard her throwing up when I went to bed.

So I had to drive her car here, I guess the police are having their nightly ceremony at the town church instead of at the station. Nick said some out of state police were attending so they needed the extra space.

He helps me pull Stella out of the car and we carry her inside to a small infirmary room inside the large Catholic church. Colin is already here like Nick told me he’d be, they have some kind of specialist doctor here who handles this kind of thing with supernaturals. I don’t know what his price will be, but whatever it is I’ll do it.

Someone had to have done this to Stella, hopefully, we can find them.

We lay Stella down on a small white twin-sized bed in the tiny room, an old human sits on a stool and checks his watch. Several tattoos cover his body and he doesn’t exactly look like the church type. I sure hope he knows how to help Stella.

“I’ve seen this before, black magic no doubt. Pull her hair out of her face.” The doctor tells me and I swipe her hair back on the pillow.

“She’s been poisoned by another magic user. Her blood is tainted now. Time is of the essence, her face is already graying,” the human mumbles looking annoyed at all of us.

I clench my jaw, not liking his attitude. Colin looks like he’s going to be sick and he holds onto Stella’s arm looking pale. He shakes her slightly, but she remains asleep.

The doctor picks up a scalpel from the small table near Stella’s head and makes two cuts on each of her palm. Blood steadily oozes out and he captures the blood in viles.

“What are you doing?” I ask quickly, growing worried and not full onboard with his rather gruesome tactic.

Without me willing it to, my magic acts on its own and knocks the man off his seat and onto the ground. His face turns purple with rage and I gulp, apologizing quickly while stepping away from him.

“Only he can save her now,” Nick announces sounding unaffected by the doctor’s methods.

Colin and Heinrich walk out of the room.

“I’ll have you know I learned my studies from a warlock. Next time don’t use your sight to judge me, witch,” the man sneers at me and I gulp.

“Name your price,” Nick says from behind me.

I had forgotten he was still in the room. The doctor spins around on his stool to face us, waving a vile in one hand.

“Work is always free for the deity,” the man tells him.

So he really is working for the church. I’m glad I don’t have to pay, but I hope he still can do the job. Stella’s life depends on it. At least her face doesn’t look so sickly yellow now, whatever the man is doing must be working.

“Go now and leave me to my patient,” he tells us.

Nick and I hurry out of the room, not wanting to anger him anymore while he’s working on healing Stella.

Once we step out of the room, the door closes on its own. I’m not sure where Colin and Heinrich went, but Nick walks with me further down the hallway and up two flights of stairs. We are seated high up on a balcony looking down at the church altar below. On the balcony below ours, an elderly woman plays a rather gloomy tune on the organ. I shift on the worn out cushion of the bench, sifting through my thoughts and worries.

“She’ll be okay,” Nick tries to comfort me, but his tone lacks empathy and his face remains emotionless.

“Sometimes, I just think I want to be dead again. Wouldn’t it solve all my problems? I was already dead once, everything was fine then. No one got hurt then. Everyone around me is suffering, now Stella too.”

After wiping my face for what feels like the hundredth time today, I toss my soiled tissue into a small trash can by the glass railing.

“Ms. Parway?”

I don’t respond, whenever he addresses me like that I feel like he’s putting a wall between us. A wall to keep his feelings separate from mine. It makes me feel like we’re strangers. Maybe that’s what he wants, I can’t blame him. I screwed up his life too.

“We are doing our best to find-” Nick begins to say, but I cut him off.

“I know...” my voice breaks.

He leans back looking distant and distracted, far away in his own thoughts. I stare down at my folded hands resting on my black dress.

Oh no, not now. I am not in the mood to find a demon.

“What is it? Oh,” Nick says seeing my dress.

I stand up.

A small demonic mouse darts out from beneath the pew we sit on. Feeling like a zombie, I extend my hand in the direction of the demonic critter and mumble the devil’s spell.

It squeals awfully, but then a few seconds later it disappears. The only trace of its existence a six-pointed star etched in ash on the red carpet. Tired, I step towards the glass railing of the balcony, looking all the way down at the church pews on the ground level. Dark thoughts swirl around in my head and I close my eyes listening to the organ’s tune.

My body sways forward a little as I place my hand on my chest wondering what could happen if I used the spell on myself.

"In infernis," I begin to say. However, I’m yanked backward before I can finish.

Nick steps out in front of me.

I’m kind of more scared of how he’ll react right now than what I just almost did. My heart starts beating faster, as I begin to process what I was about to do and the extent of it. My skin feels cold and foreign like I’m just living in a shell of someone I used to be. I avert my gaze to the floor, feeling ashamed and childish. What is happening to me?

“You’re not worthless,” Nick murmurs with a softened gaze bringing me out of my thoughts.

For the first time, his cool and collected exterior breaks down. I’m not staring at a policeman or even a vampire, but a person. Someone who knows pain, someone who understands me.

He watches his own hand as he carefully removes my hand from my chest and grabs my other hand too. The moment his hands touch mine, my heart settles down and warmth spreads across my face. His other hand settles over our clasped hands, cradling them to his chest.

How much pain has he endured in his life? Did he ever wish he could end it himself? Nick’s seen things I’ll never know and experienced so much more than I ever will.

Abruptly, he tugs me forward pulling me flush against him and I gasp feeling heat spread all over my body at his nearness. I’ve forgotten about the effect his touch has on me, it must be a side effect of him being my familiar.

Completely helpless in his embrace, all I can do is stare up at him in search of a guardian. Desperately trying to find some security, security I never really have had before. The way he holds me so delicately as if I might break if he held me any closer. There’s something paternal about his embrace. I’m not so sure if that’s exactly what it is, but I don’t know how else to describe the way he holds me.

To everyone else, he’s usually so callous. Being a vampire, he’s older than Will and physically looks a little older too. It just makes him seem even more paternal with the guidance he tries to give me and the protection he’s kept me in, sacrificing himself for me. It’s like he is always one step ahead and there waiting for me to catch up.

His hands are so warm, I couldn’t move away from him even if I wanted to. I think it’s because of the amount of hope I’ve placed in him and if he lets me go, I’ll fall away and never come back.

“No one will ever understand you the way I do,” he tells me looking grim.

His words aren’t enlightening but stated as a solemn fact. The pain we each hold, broken by those who resent us makes us both equal. I get lost in his stare, it’s always the same. Like he can feel my heart and it hurts him too.

I breathe in sharply seeing my magic go haywire when his hand lands on my shoulder as if an effort to distance himself from me. His head jerks to the side, just as my magic invades his personal space and drifts through the neatly combed hair on the sides of his head.

He felt it!

He doesn't sound happy, “You will never be anything more than a means to an end to William McCaster. You will sit with me tomorrow at his tribunal, I’m sure it will be over quickly."

I guess I should consider myself lucky he didn’t freak out, at least verbally.

“I can’t testify against Will...” I reply weakly.

“Even after he attempted to kill me, you love him.”

I cross my arms feeling nervous under his direct stare. “It’s not that simple, Nick. He is confused. The coven is all he knows. What he did was horrible, but-” I begin to say weakly, but I go mute.

He leans into me and all I can really see now is his perfectly chiseled chin as he places a firm kiss on my forehead. My heart lands in my throat, but the moment is fleeting because he pulls away immediately looking indifferent again. Making me feel less of an equal to him and more like a child in need of protection and direction.

“I understand, but you cannot ask me to forgive him. He will hurt you and suffer greatly for it. William owes me something and I will not let him use this trial as a way to weasel his way out of giving it to me," he tells me. His voice hardens, “Neither can I compromise my position as your boss. We must keep this between us. As for the trial, you will not be testifying against him. Instead, you will provide the jury information regarding your knowledge of William McCaster up until the days he tried to murder me,” he adds in a light voice, patting my shoulder and pulling out his police radio as if to end the conversation.

Keep what between us? The brief kiss or him basically admitting he won’t stop until he gets whatever it is Will owes him?

I suppose the best I can hope for is that things clear up at the trial tomorrow and that I end up not having to do any testifying. I didn’t want to take sides, I didn’t even want to be in the trial. I only wanted to attend it!

“I don’t know if I can do this,” I say with worry.

“Where is the truth, Valerie? Where’s the truth in anything he or the coven tells you? Tomorrow, we shall see for ourselves,” he replies carefully, looking unusually content.

I never really noticed before how much he likes to use the word ‘we’ like he’s already assuming I’m siding with him. Can’t he see my dilemma? I know what Will did to him was horrific, but Will told me he was under orders. Then there’s the whole issue with the coven. The moment they hear me say anything bad in Will’s name they’ll come for me.

Nick’s father was murdered by him and then to have his own life threatened, he deserves a trial as much as Will.

Tomorrow is going to be a long day.

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