Chapter 27-Whispers in the Dark
Rain downpours outside of the car and I open my eyes at the rumble of another wave of thunder. The engine of the car hums steadily and I look beside me to find Will already gone. We’re parked behind the building of the police department.
Nick shrugs off his jacket and steps out of the car with it. After I open my door, he holds his jacket over our heads to shield us from the rain until we walk in through the back door of the station.
There’s quite a few officers still in the workroom busy at their desks now that Darren pulled this stunt tonight with me. We walk by the three interrogation rooms lined up on the right side of the room. Inside the last one we pass, I see Darren sitting on a black plastic chair with his head lowered. Officer Heinrich sits in front of him across the metal table. A couple of armed officers watch from the wide window to observe his interrogation.
I had thought Nick would take me in one of the rooms too.
Instead, he walks in the direction of his office. When we get to his office, he unlocks the door and turns on the light. The news on the tv is playing and he turns it off with the remote. Then he walks around his desk and sits down on his chair pulling out a blank piece of lined paper. Already, he’s starting to write things down while I’m still stuck contemplating how I’m going to get through explaining it all to him.
Nick gestures for me to sit down and uneasily, I do. My stomach twists at the memory of Darren disguised as him and wringing my neck. I cross my legs feeling nervous and swallow bile at the memory of being bit by not just Darren, but knowing Nick had bitten me at one point too.
“As soon as we’re finished here you can go home. All you have to do is tell me what you remember.” My boss says, but no words come out of my mouth. The only thing I can manage to do is stare numbly at the piece of paper in front of him seeing it lift into the air by way of my magic.
He presses it back down on the table.
“Darren disguised himself as you. He came to my house and offered to drive me up the mountain to check the portal. I didn’t think to read his aura since I thought he was you. He had on an officer’s uniform, even managed to steal a police car. We parked down by Will’s parents’ home. Then we walked up together to the portal. I don’t think anyone else was with him, but I don’t believe he could have done this on his own.” I say while staring at my lap and thinking about Crystal possibly helping him.
I wanted so badly to believe the portal would lead me to Stella and Colin that I had become blind in my own determination. I guess I really am some demonic witch for wishing Darren would have gotten staked instead of taken into custody. I want him to pay for wasting my time and making me look like a useless idiot. I remember my magic tried to kill him automatically as if having a mind of its own. Maybe I should have let it.
The coven doesn’t care about the necromancer anymore. Maybe they never did if Patty truly did revive me. It could have all been a cover-up to hide her business schemes. I was just a way to draw attention away from her while she laundered money through her salon and hid her murder money in the cellar of the portal.
Oh, how I want them all to know what I went through!
I narrow my eyes with new anger when my phone buzzes.
Took Crystal to hospital. Left leg is broken and needed stitches. Will you be okay home alone tonight? I can have Beth stay the night with Crystal. I silently read Will’s text.
Yes, I’m fine. Stay with your sister. I reply quickly.
“Will took her to the hospital. They won’t be coming to the station tonight.” I tell Nick.
It’s not long before we drive home and I finally can get closer to calling this day to an end. I just want to go to sleep so badly, but I don’t know if sleep will ever come now.
I couldn’t help being a little jumpy back at the station after Darren biting me and all today. I had no idea Heinrich was standing just on the other side of Nick’s office door. So when I opened the door and saw him there, I couldn’t help that my magic react.
I accidentally ended up forcing Nick to shift as if to defend me like a watchdog or something. It was awful and I was so sure he would fire me then and there. Now he can’t even shift back yet.
I think it’s probably because he hasn’t had to in so long. It’s been weeks since we thought Will had cured him of it. So I had to drive his car back to my house.
Nick’s long black body slithers inside the house when I open the front door. I swear his snake body has gotten bigger since I last saw him shift. It’s a little unsettling seeing him as big, if not bigger, than a python. I shut the door behind me not sure of what he’s thinking. He didn’t talk the whole ride here. I can’t blame him for being upset with me about this.
“I’m so sorry.” I apologize watching him glide over the hardwood floor around the kitchen, but he remains quiet.
He probably needs some time to himself to take in the fact that I’ve just ruined his life, again. I hurry upstairs into my room to get ready for bed feeling sick to my stomach with guilt. I grab my pajamas from my bedroom and walk back into the hallway. Then I go into the bathroom and change. When I’m done brushing my teeth, I check the area on my neck where Darren decided to bite me. At least the mark is gone, but it still throbs a little.
When I walk back into my bedroom I find Nick coiled up by the window.
“Are you mad at me?” I ask him hesitantly.
“No.” He replies sounding oddly content.
Feeling drained and still kind of traumatized from Darren biting me, I slide under the covers of my bed. Nick starts slithering over toward my bed and I gulp seeing his lithe body swirl around one of the bedposts at the foot of my bed. His movements are slow, but with careful purpose as he coils up below my feet.
His black diamond head rests on top of his coiled snake body facing away from me towards the door.
“Goodnight.” I hear his soothing voice murmur.
“Goodnight.” I whisper feeling dead tired and worried about him as well Stella and Colin. Numerous other things too.
The moment my eyes close I drift off.
I’m not sure what time it is, but judging by the darkness of my room it must still either be late night or early morning. Something silky and warm squeezes my calf. The sensation inches further up my leg and I squirm a little. When I feel myself being pulled downward and off my pillow, I wake up a little more. My heart races and I look down to see Nick fast asleep, still nestled at the foot of my bed in a somewhat unraveled coil now.
I’ve forgotten about this weird sleeping habit of his. Winding the end of his tail around my leg like I’m his safety blanket in his sleep. His tail squeezes tighter and looser around my leg to the slow rhythm of his heartbeat. Before, I hadn’t thought his snake body strong enough to drag my body weight. He’s not even using the entirety of his strength, just the end of his tail. I sort of got used to it before, but he never pulled me like this in his sleep that I can remember.
“Nick...” I mumble groggily while trying to wobble my leg free and wake him up.
His head still remains faced away from me toward the door.
“Hello? Valerie, Beth’s watching over Crystal at the hospital. Thought you’d probably not want to be home by yourself. I brought take-out!” Will hollers from downstairs.
At the sound of Will’s voice, Nick’s head darts up from his sleeping position. His mouth opens wide and his long razor-sharp fangs extend with threat toward the door as he lets out a menacing hiss. Before his long heavy body begins dropping to the ground in loops, he unravels his tail from my leg and I quickly sit up in bed.
“You have to hide!” I whisper in panic, still startled by seeing his waking reaction to hearing Will in the house.
His head is already under the space between the door and the floor with the rest of his body following in quick pursuit. In a rush, I follow after him and throw open my door. I look down over the railing as Nick slithers down the steps. His body is so long now that the top of his head reaches the bottom while his tail is still at the top of the staircase near me.
“I thought I fixed you?!” I hear Will yell and I head downstairs.
“Has it lost its mind?” Will asks me about Nick, seeing him circling him at his feet.
The bags of chinese food Will ordered smell heavenly on the kitchen table and I am really hungry, but also very tired.
“He’s not an ‘it’. I got scared earlier and my magic turned Nick back into my familiar without me meaning to. I guess you never fixed the curse.” I sigh while watching Nick lose interest in Will and slither his way back up the stairs.
“Where are you going?” Will calls after him.
“He’s still taking in his situation. I don’t think he’s forgiven me. He can’t shift back yet.” I say.
“I call bull on that. I’m a hundred percent sure he can shift on his own. He probably likes it when you baby him. Did you try making him shift yourself?” Will has the nerve to say.
“No, I don’t like using magic on people like that. Your sister did that to me once, remember? She threw me out of the house with it.” I remind him.
“My sister is in the hospital because of his brother!” He shoots back looking pissed off at the red set of eyes looking down at us from the top of the stairwell.
“Darren is of no relation to me. He was simply sired by my birth father.” Nick remarks while disappearing into the shadows of the hall upstairs.
“How can you talk to him like that after he endorsed you?” I say to Will in disbelief.
Will walks by me and over to the food he brought. He begins opening the bags and every few seconds, he glances at the upstairs railing as if expecting to see Nick there. He’s not there though and must have gone back into my room.
I take a bite of chicken and Will finishes off his second egg roll.
“Alright, I understand I shouldn’t have gotten so upset. Him being here just isn’t right. Beneath those scales, he’s a grown man and a hybrid too. Don’t you think it’s a little strange him being here as your boss?” Will asks me and I push away my plate not hungry anymore.
“Of course I don’t want to be in this situation, neither of us does. I was the one who did this to him and I told you he’s still upset with me.” I tell Will tiredly.
He shrugs his shoulders, but still glares down at his plate. I’m trying really hard right now to not say anything else, but I get the feeling Will thinks there’s something else going on.
“Whatever you’re thinking, stop it. I know we’ve been both going through a lot. I asked for some space between us so we could figure our own issues out not so I could replace you.” I assure him.
“Right.” He says shortly.
His brown eyes aren’t full of warmth anymore, but impatience and doubt. It was only a couple days ago when he came into my room and looked ashamed of me for using magic when I didn’t mean to.
“You may have made some poor decisions on handling some situations, but you’re trying to make things right. I love you and I want to help the town too.” I tell him gently.
“Poor decisions? Are you seriously still mad at me for putting his father in the grave?! He was a convicted criminal just like Patty!” Will argues.
“You stabbed Nick! I know you still hate him. He’s just trying to do what’s best for the town, like you.” I defend.
“No! I told you to quit a long time ago and for good reason. He may seem to have some good points, but he’s manipulative and a practiced liar. His delayed response to the events of tonight will get him resigned.” Will tells me, but I remain quiet seeing his scowl turn into a frown when he looks over at me and sets down his fork.
“Maybe we do need a break.” Will says in a calmer voice, but my heart tremors.
“You know, in case you realize you don’t love me and just are using me for your own protection. Without me, you’d be dead! And I have a right to feel I’m being used. We hardly see each other anymore!” He yells and I scramble out of my chair feeling tears spill down my cheeks.
“I’m not using you.” I say in a hollow voice, wondering how long he’s been thinking this.
“Think about it! Just think about it. I didn’t mean to make you cry, but since you are crying...to some degree I must be right.” He says in a clipped voice.
For a long moment, we just stare at each other. His face softens a little and he steps forward toward me, but I back away.
“When you’re ready to talk, I’ll be waiting. I do love you and I do hope you’ll forgive me for asking for his resignation. I was thinking about him in the hospital. It’s not worth the risk having him around and you know it too.” Will tells me while walking outside and down onto the yard.
The engine of his truck roars as he pulls away from the sidewalk and I close the door not sure of where our relationship stands. I don’t think he officially broke up with me, but it’s probably safe to say our relationship is on the rocks. I should’ve just kept my mouth shut. Now, Nick is going to lose his job because Will is starting to side with the coven again and he’ll never be able to pay the supreme the money she asked.
I walk over to the kitchen and then to the living room. Just drifting around the house and not really feeling anything in particular. Eventually, I end up back upstairs and crawl back into my bed with dark thoughts swirling around in my head. I pull my covers up to my chin roughly.
Glancing down by my feet I find Nick wide awake, his red eyes watching me.
“Will wants you to resign.” I sniffle.
“Empty threats, Ms. Parway. I am not worried about William or his followers. I already know my situation and understand what I must do. Go to sleep now. You have enough to worry about as it is. So do not worry about me.” Nick says gently while resting his head back on top of his coiled body.
“Okay, but please don’t do that with your tail.” I tell him.
His tail inches up my leg and I’m starting to think his touch isn’t so innocent. His snake body is pure muscle and it travels above my knee constricting tighter as if to tease me. His head lifts from the top of his coil and he chuckles while lowering himself onto my covers and gliding up to me in an unhurried manner.
“What’s so funny?” I ask him, but his chuckling only continues as his body starts twisting around my arm and over my head to the other side of my bed to reform his sleeping position below my feet. When he doesn’t answer, I push my covers back and crawl over to him on my hands and knees wondering what he’s doing.
He slithers out of my reach when I go to pet his shiny soft skin on top of his head.
“S-stop it!” I giggle when he playfully licks my wrist. I crawl backward, scooting back against the headboard of my bed seeing him following me. I push his body away from me with my foot and he easily wins the wrestling match. He glides over my foot and I throw the sheet over him.
“You can’t escape.” He whispers in a playful tone while coming out from under the sheet. Skillfully, he manages to not fall off the bed when I tug at the blanket under him.
I toss a pillow at him, but he swipes it out of his path with his tail. He slithers around my legs again and his head darts back with a hiss. I laugh and pull the covers over me to hide. Confusion floods into me though when something heavy lands on my bed and the mattress squeaks, dipping at the foot of my bed.
The sound of a belt being picked up in the corner of my room follows and I become mute and still, listening to him change into his clothes. Like a child, I remain hidden under my covers as my face turns beat red. Will was right. I do sometimes forget when he’s in snake form who he really is, my boss.
What was I thinking?!
“I’m dressed.” Nick says in a husky voice and reluctantly I pull the covers away. He hovers over me standing by my bedside in his police uniform.
The way he moves is so hypnotic and I can’t look away from his captivating stare as he lowers himself onto the bed behind me to sit. His touch is heartbreakingly gentle as he pulls me back against the warmth of his chest. I turn to face him.
He looks like he’s high or something. When I use my sight, I see why. My magic is all over him and if he was in the right mind he probably would have me sent straight on my way to the coven.
This isn’t right and I crawl away from him feeling a new level of terror beyond the resurfacing of his familiarity bond.
Magic doesn’t just cover other magic users like this. Normally, a witch’s magic repels the magic of others especially the amount of magic around Nick. Being a hybrid, his magic would repel mine away easily without him even having to think about it. The thing that really scares me is that my magic isn’t just radiating around him. Its blue and black hues are embedded in his aura now. The rest glows a dark red with strange traces of black, his natural aura color.
If only I could see my own aura too, but I don’t need to because this works both ways and I have no idea how it happened.
“M-my magic is conjoined to you.” I stutter, thinking about how this happened without me knowing all this time.
Worse than a familiar curse, this type of magic was outlawed long ago. Only to be used between married couples as it let both users control each other’s magic or take the spouse’s when needed. It blends magic together and has been known to make the strongest of wards, invisible to even the strongest witches. That’s why they outlawed it after all. Conjoined magic is only visible to the conjoined.
“Don’t be embarrassed.” He soothes seeing me cower away from him.
I’m not really sure what he’s talking about, it’s not like we did anything to cause this! Yet for some reason, I feel ashamed and guilty like it’s my fault.
It must have been the devil.
I sob into my hands feeling hopeless for the two of us. Nick has no idea what this will mean for him and I know Will is going to immediately look to blame him. I won’t be able to ask him for help. We’ll have to find another strong witch to undo the curse, but I doubt anyone will know how.
“Don’t cry anymore, it’ll be okay. Conjoined magic doesn’t sound too bad. I’m sure Will will understand. We’ll figure it out together, but sleep now. You’ve been through enough today.” Nick coos into the crook of my neck while tucking me back against his chest.
He leans backward and lays me down with him letting me cry like a baby into my pillow. If he knew any better, he’d be crying too. He rests behind me and rubs my arm not in a loving way exactly, but a comforting way. My mother used to hold like this when I was a child and refused to go to sleep. I cling to the memory tightly to keep from indulging in the bliss his touch always spreads over my entire body. Now I think I’m understanding why. It’s the conjoinment curse. His magic is part of me now too.
Naturally, I’ll crave his touch because my magic wants to feed off of his. Which it has already gotten into the habit of doing to my horror. His magic pulsates dimmer and weaker around his hand as I watch my own eat away at it in small amounts. The act of my magic consuming his is enough to get me publically executed. I can’t control it, but the coven won’t care.
I’m forced to bite my lip hard to keep from making an embarrassing sound when his hand pats my lower waist before he finally turns over onto his own side. I expected my magic to follow him and continue eating his magic after he turned away from me. However, when he pulled his arm away, my magic returned to me and quit feeding off of his. Almost as if it was trained to do so, which I definitely never taught it to do.
My body still trembles with renewed power laced with ecstasy. I now understand why he looked so elated earlier, his magic was feeding off my own too and it never even registered to me which is just a little terrifying. I deserve to be six feet under again. Tomorrow morning, he’ll wake up and think so too.