Five months flew by for Sarah. Work on Mr. Takamori’s estate was going well, despite the few hiccups with the weather, and work crew not showing up. The house was taking shape perfectly, with the details exactly the way Sarah imagined them.
Mr. Takamori looked very pleased when he flew back from Japan to inspect phase one, and as she waited in her car, the rain battering her windshield, she wondered if meeting with him today was a good idea.
Her phone rang, the sound barely audible in the heavy rain. She grabbed it from her handbag seeing Lexi’s number on the screen.
“Hey, Lex!” She called over the pounding rain.
“Sarah! Where are you?”
“At the estate!” She shouted, barely able to hear Lexi.
“What? In this weather? Are you crazy?”
Sarah rolled her eyes. “Mr. Takamori is flying in today to see the house.”
“Listen, Jake called. He and Axin have to go do something at work, and they won’t be back for a few days. He wants to know if we want to stay here, or go to their place?”
She and Lexi found a way to talk about the men in their lives without raising suspicion. A language that only they knew what they were talking about.
“I don’t mind either. If we stay here, we can go see that rock band you like so much this weekend.”
Lexi’s smile was clear over the line. “Awesome! I was hoping you would say that. Get out of the rain, you idiot. Call Mr. Japan and tell him to reschedule for next week or something.”
Sarah sighed, admitting defeat. “I will. I just hope he isn’t on his way already.”
Sarah ended the call and dialed Mr. Takamori.
“Miss Weller. I was about to call you.”
“Hi, Mr. Takamori. I’m so sorry, but this rain isn’t easing up. How long are you in New York for?”
“For a few weeks. Let’s reschedule for next week when the city isn’t flooding.”
She chuckled, fearing the drive home for that very reason. “Sounds great. I will give you a call on Monday morning and we can arrange.”
“Very well. Say hi to Axin for me.”
“I will. Thank you.”
After hanging up the phone, she stared out the window at the rain, wondering if it ever rained in the Shadow world. She lived there for over five months now, and never once saw a day without clear blue skies. A bright bolt of lightning hit a distant target, and Sarah squinted her eyes, watching it roll over the darkened sky.
A large shape caught her eye and she frowned. She leaned closer to the windshield, peering out at the sky. The rain made it hard to see anything except distorted shapes, but she kept looking, wondering if she was imagining things.
Another bolt of lightning hit the ground in the distance, and this time Sarah’s eyes went wide at the huge wings extended at its side. It was only visible for a moment, but she was certain of what she saw.
She grabbed her phone and dialed Axin.
“Hey, beautiful. Did Lexi call you? I have some-”
“Shut up for a second! I saw something.”
A moment passed where he didn’t speak, then asked. “What?”
“Are you or Jake in New York? In your true form?”
“I’m on the phone to you, Sarah. Can’t be me. And Jake is standing right here, stuffing his face with pink cupcakes.”
“Shut up, asshole,” Jake mumbled with a full mouth and Axin laughed.
“Sorry, babe. He’s being a pig. He shoved three into his mouth at once.”
Oh for fuck sakes. Those two are like kids sometimes.
“Axin, I saw a… dragon in the skies over New York.”
Her words caused all humor to leave Axin’s voice.
“Are you sure?”
“Positive. I would know what one looks like, don’t you think?”
“Shit. Where are you?”
“At Mr. Takamori’s estate. It's pissing down with rain, but I saw it in the clouds when the lightning hit.”
“Fuck! Sarah, that’s not a dragon! Get the hell out of there! I’m coming for you!”
“What is it?”
“Just drive, Sarah! Now!”
The phone slipped out of her hand, falling to her lap as she reached for the keys still sitting in the ignition. Her Jeep roared to life, and she hit the gas, flooring it down the mud-filled driveway. She grabbed the phone and placed it to her ear. “What the hell is it, Axin?”
“Are you on the move?”
“Yeah. Leaving the estate now.”
“Do you see it anywhere?”
She looked up at the sky, not seeing anything but the beating rain hit the windshield.
“Keep driving. Get as far away from it as you can.”
“What is it?”
A short silence filled the line before Axin’s worried voice came through. “It’s a Bolarac. The winged serpent of death. Or as you kids call it these days… the Grim Reaper.”
Ice filled her veins as she tried to keep the car on the slippery road around a bend.
“Did you say grim reaper?”
“Yes. They should all be dead. Nilu destroyed them all a long time ago. In fact, the last time one lived, half of Europe died from the Spanish flu.”
“Shit! What the hell is one doing flying above New York?”
“I don’t know. None of us knew that another one had been born. They feed off the energy in thunderstorms. But if a Linked was born that way, then he or she shouldn’t be able to turn until after death. We need to find it and stop it.”
“Why? What does this thing do?”
“First it feeds on lightning. Then, it needs to find somewhere to sleep. If we don’t stop it before then, we will be dealing with the next Black Plague.”
“Oh fuck!” Sarah hit the gas, skidding around a bend and floored it towards the city.
In her rearview mirror, Sarah spotted a dark shadow moving in the clouds behind her. Panic rose as she tried to push the car faster. The shadow soared over the skies above her, flying low beneath the clouds and landed on the street half a mile in front of her. She hit the breaks, skidding to a stop.
The long, serpent type creature sat on the road, its long snake-like head turned to the sky and its eyes closed. Its tail curled into a circle beneath it, and its wings folded at its side.
Sarah sat still, not wanting to move at all for fear of attracting its attention and watched it open its mouth to the rain.
What the hell is it doing?
Another deafening crack of thunder brought with it a bolt of lightning that hit the snake monster in the face. Sarah threw her hands to her ears, the sound so loud it made her momentarily deaf.
The Bolarac shook its body, enjoying the massive amount of electricity that flowed from the sky. It shot its eyes open and whipped its head around to look directly at Sarah.
The snake slid along the road, moving fast towards her. The rain battering her windshield made the image of it swim, but she could see the shape of it growing bigger.
Sarah frantically searched for her phone, no longer on her lap. She tore her eyes off the Bolarac and checked the floor by her feet when a soft knock came on the window.
She screamed, throwing her body away from the glass.
A figure stood on the other side of the glass. The slim frame of a woman.
Sarah took a second to catch her breath, closing her eyes with her hand over her heart. She reached for the button to open the window and eased it down an inch.
“Hi!” The woman called; her dark hair stuck flat to her head in thick wet strands. She was no older than twenty, of Far Eastern descent, but her English sounded perfect, with a slight West Coast accent.
“Hi!” Sarah called back, not sure what else to say.
“Can I get a ride? And maybe some clothes? Or a jacket?”
That was when Sarah noticed this woman stood butt naked in the middle of the road. She eased the window down another inch. “What are you doing out here?”
The woman struggled to answer for a moment, then said, “I was looking for a friend. He said he lives out here. Do you know him? His name is Shiro Takamori!”
“Who are you?”
“A friend. Please, do you know him? It’s really urgent that I speak to him.”
The fear and worry in the woman’s eyes made something in Sarah soften. “Get in.”
A brief moment passed where the woman stared at Sarah, but when another car passed on the narrow road, she covered her body with her hands and ran for the passenger side door. Sarah used the few seconds to grab her raincoat from the back seat and waited for her to jump in.
When the door shut, she handed her the jacket and pulled the car off the road.
“What’s your name?”
“I’m Kim Natsuko. Do you know where Shiro is?”
“He’s not here. This is where he lives, on that estate down the road, but it’s under construction at the moment. He’s in the city right now. Is he your family?”
Kim shot her eyes at Sarah, raising her brow, “Why because we must all be related.”
Sarah narrowed her eyes at the woman, “No. Because you know his name, know where he lives, and for some reason, I think you know what he is.”
“What do you mean by that? He’s Japanese, it’s not like he’s a lepper.”
“You’re a Bolarac, Kim. A linked soul. So is he. So let's stop with the bullshit games, and tell me what you want from my friend, or you can get out and walk from here. New York City is that way, about forty miles.” Sarah pointed out the window and raised a brow at her.
Kim’s smug smile fell and she looked out at the rain. “Sorry. I was told to come to find him. That he would be able to tell me what the hell is going on with me.”
“Why don’t you tell me. Maybe I can help.”
“Are you linked as well.”
“In a way, you could say that.”
Kim let out a breath, wrapping the jacket around herself more. “I had a heart transplant a few days ago.”
Kim waited to see how Sarah would react, but she just nodded and motioned for her to continue. She already knew the end of this story.
“I woke up in the hospital, and I felt great. Better than I ever have in my life. I always had a weak heart. When I started to heal too fast for the doctors to make sense of, they wanted to send me to a lab in Austin to study me. I hate hospitals. I lived in them almost all my life. So I ran. When I got to an open stretch of land, I saw a thunderstorm rolling in the distance, and I felt it call to me. I know that sounds weird, but I needed to go to it. When I started to get close to it, I felt my body begin to change. It hurt so much the first time, but before I knew it, I was flying in the storm, getting struck by lightning over and over again. It felt… incredible. Like raw power and jet fuel. Some guy got my attention. He told me about Shiro and that he would be able to tell me what is happening to me. Now I’m here.”
“Oh God,” Sarah sighed, shaking her head, “You have no idea about any of this, do you? What you are? What you can do?”
Kim shook her head, “No. I got here about an hour ago, and when the storm hit, my body changed again. I landed to rest my wings and saw you.”
Sarah’s phone rang. She heard it coming from under her seat and dug it out.
She answered to hear a furious sounding Axin. “Where the hell are you?”
“I’m still in the Hamptons.”
“Fuck, Sarah, you need to get away from that thing.”
She sighed, “It’s not a thing, Axin. Her name is Kim, and she only turned a few days ago. She has no idea what she is.”
“Please tell me you didn’t stop to chat with her.”
“She’s sitting in my car with me. I’m heading to my apartment, we can talk about this later. Love you!” She called and promptly hung up the phone. Axin would be more than pissed, but she wasn’t about to leave a lost, clueless linked soul to roam around New York.
Kim placed a hand on Sarah’s arm, getting her attention. Sarah met her worried eyes, the panic clear. “Are you going to help me?”
She nodded. “Yes, I am. I’ll call Mr. Takamori, and have him meet us at my place. When we get there, you’ll meet my boyfriend. He’s not going to be happy about me picking you up but just ignore him. He has a tendency of being a little overprotective.”
“Perfect, thanks.” Kim sat back in the chair and tucked the jacket around her neck, her eyes filled with worry and fear.
Perfect my ass! I knew it!
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