Noises from outside woke me and I looked over to the clock. 2:30 am. Wolves howling in the night. Cliche much?
I blinked my eyes awake and looked over at Will sleeping next to me. Holy hell, I just had a mind blowing orgasm with this sex-god. Twice. This is my rebound sex. It was only going to go downhill from here as I thought about the crop of men from the city. I was probably at the pinnacle in this moment.
Now that he was asleep I studied him closely, and for a moment the idea of other men repulsed me. High cheekbones and the sharp angular jaw, he was wearing a few days worth of beard but it absolutely suited him. A strong angular nose like Jess’ dipped into his full lips. God, those lips. If the word ‘magic’ would ever be properly used, it was for those lips, and tongue. His darker skin hinted that he had more Native American heritage and more sun than anyone I had ever met, and his height made my five foot ten feel comfortable. This was definitely good rebound sex that single, blonde, sassy Kelly had scored. Chad-fucking-who?
I gave his body one last look before getting up out of bed. How tempting it would be to just stay here the whole two days and try to make something out of this. But no, I had never heard of a Were and a Witch before. Oh, I’m sure they had happened, probably as shushed up, illicit one night stand affairs, but certainly nothing as open as what we did last night. Walking hand in hand out of a party, Holy shit, I must have lost my mind.
I tiptoed to the end of the bed and started to dress. I wasn’t lying before, the gossip mill was definitely in motion. As we were leaving the bonfire, I signaled to Franny that I was going and she clapped her hands with glee and a knowing smile. She would definitely be happy about this, but if I wandered into the Wardwell main house in a disheveled state early in the morning and was caught by another family member, I shuddered at the repercussions of having a hook up on my first night home.
Pulling on my shirt, I looked back at him, still peacefully asleep and sighed. I had that. Nope, wait, Devon had that. I smiled at my sudden idea for an alter ego. One who said obscene things to men in public places and had unprotected sex within 30 minutes of meeting a man. What a pleasurable lapse in judgment. Maybe one day I would actually merge the two persons or find a good medium between.
Suddenly, a wolf’s howl sounded outside, closer, and more panicked. Will immediately sat up in bed and wiped sleep out of his eyes. He spied me in the doorway.
“Devon? What’s going on?”
“I don’t know,” I moved to the bedroom window, drawing aside the blinds. Outside in the Ring, a house was on fire near the center. Even from this distance, some quarter a mile, the flames were high and were illuminating a far distance around it.
“Shit! The Alden’s main home is on fire,” I told him, and then moved out of the bedroom and to the front door. I heard Will shout at me to wait, but I left quickly and away from the guest house. From my vantage point I could see people at the fire trying to extinguish it. It looked like chaos and confusion down there.
I started to run to join them, when something, illuminated by the full moon, grabbed my attention. On the front lawn of my own house, some 200 feet away on my left, something large and black was on the ground and moving slightly, the moon highlighting the shimmering movement. It was like someone had dropped a cloak over a writhing mass of puppies or kittens and they were trying to escape. I began to warily walk towards my house, ignoring the blaze happening to the poor Aldens.
As I moved closer to the open yard, the shape became clear and my chest began to constrict. That was a body. A body faced down in a long purple cloak. My breath left me as I closed the last amount of distance to my aunt. I crashed to the ground beside her, calling her name. Grasping her shoulders, I flipped her and was met with a forceful spurt of blood hitting my chest, like a water cannon hit me at close range.
Her head fell back to the ground as her neck now had been cut half way through, bone showing through from the now severed artery. Blood flowed like water from a drinking fountain and I looked down to see we were both in a puddle of it. My brain forgot the repercussions of cutting a neck through and I pressed my hand to Franny’s, trying uselessly to stem the flow of blood. But the cut was too wide for my hand and I found my whole palm deep into her throat, the wetness of it making me gag.
I gasped for air of my own and found nothing. I couldn’t breathe, my lungs weren’t working as I sucked through the horror spreading in my chest. I opened my mouth in anguish, but without air, it was a silent scream. After a moment of clawing her body in desperate silence, I finally found my voice enough to start trying to call to her.
“Franny, Franny, no, no, no, no, no.” Tears streamed down and I placed my head on her chest, trying to hear anything. God, was she still alive? Whatever movement I had seen from far away was now gone and I brought myself to her face and searched for any sign of life. There was nothing. It was like she was a wax museum figure. Eyes of glass, lips parted, face now ashen from blood loss. I couldn’t look at her. I put my head back on her chest and smelled fucking lavender cookies.
“Franny, Franny, please, please, please, no, no, no,” I had no idea what I was begging for, but I gave it every iota of air I had. My chest continued to seize and I was reduced to whimpers on the body of my aunt who had just had her head cut off.
Behind me, I felt a man’s heavy tread come to settle near my backside. A rough hand grabbed my neck and lifted me off of the corpse, making it impossible to move from the kneeling position. Blinking tears away, I looked up to see a figure in a complete white painters suit towering over me with authority. He had a simple breather mask covering his nose and mouth, and a blinking camera of some kind was strapped to his forehead. Through the anguish in my chest, I knew this was Franny’s murderer.
He came around to the front of me, still holding my neck at the scruff like I was a fucking kitten.
“Who are you? I don’t recognize you.” His eyes, the only visible part of him, examined my face and ended up on my hair. He met my eyes again.
“Your name!” he demanded. Between gasps I managed to answer.
Eyes roamed me again.
“The Wardwell niece? Non magic, lives in Seattle. You’re not supposed to be here,” he grumbled. He released me and stood up. It was then that I took in the rest of him, his stomach staring me in the face. He had a wide streak of blood across his chest and a machete hanging down at his side. I looked down at Franny and nearly vomited. A machete. A fucking machete was used to tear the life out of my Franny. My heart seized again and I pushed my hands to my chest in a familiar move to stop it escaping. This man took my Franny.
I looked up at him, tears coursing down my face, but no longer of this new heartache, these were of pure rage as I trembled with the indecency of it. I gripped Franny’s chest beneath me for support and for a second I thought she was still alive as her body briefly convulsed. But no, she was gone. Her life was now watering the grass.
“Why... this?” I howled at him. Still standing above me, he glanced down in pity.
“They aren’t natural, kid. And we are here to bring it back to order.” He took his machete out of its hook and let its weight point it to the dirt now sodden with blood.
“Now you, you’re natural, but just the wrong place, wrong time. I’m sorry. Truly.” He fingered the large blade’s handle, looking at my neck. Panic and fury welled in me. I was smoldering inside with an inferno. Franny wasn’t natural? FRANNY? He was fucking right, she wasn’t natural, she was the most god damn purest thing in this earth. She was so spectacularly unnatural in comparison to this mother fucker.
He raised his machete to touch my throat for better aim. As soon as he nudged me and made contact, he dropped the blade, as if it had stung him. I stood up to face him, seething with the idea that someone who grew peonies wasn’t ‘natural’.
“You chopped off the head of a hotline psychic because she wasn’t natural?” I gritted through my teeth. I began to walk towards him, and for some reason, he backed away. He raised his hands up in warning, but then pressed a finger to his ear and spoke.
“I need backup now at Wardwell main.”
I continued my advance on him, ignoring the heat underneath my feet and the hairs standing up at my neck.
“Newsflash, fucker, chopping off people’s heads isn’t natural!” Wrath surged again in my chest and I wanted to shriek this man into a dark void.
“...And you will FUCKING BURN FOR IT.” I bellowed at him and screamed a cry of pain to the now overcast sky.
A flash of lightning struck us both from above and the light and sound were deafening. I was burning inside and out, I seethed with pain that someone could just take yet another parent from me. I crouched to the ground, clutching my stomach and heaved up whatever I had in there.
Oh god, Franny was gone, some asshole stole her from me with something they use to cut jungle grass. I pressed my forehead to the Earth and wailed into her as if she was listening, ready to take up my sword and rage with me. I rocked back up onto my knees and looked down the hillock. There were now two houses on fire in the Ring but I couldn’t care. The man was on the ground a few feet in front of me, smoke rising from the orifices in his head.
New men in the same suits were running up the hillock towards us. They were each carrying that same goddamn machete and the sight of them burned me. I pressed my head down again and screamed into the smoking Earth, thinking about the blade hacking into Franny’s perfect soul. Around us all, I heard and felt more flashes of lightning hit the ground.
I felt them like I was at a concert and the bass reverberates through everything. I felt them through my feet, through my knees on the ground. I dug my hands into the ground for an anchor, and I felt them through my fingertips. More strikes hit the ground and it deafened and disoriented my senses until I wasn’t sure if I was bound in my body or infinite as air and sun. I finally gave up trying to fight gravity and laid on the ground crying and howling out my pain until I gratefully felt the burning soil beneath me swallow me into its own void.