Twisted Fate

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Chapter 49

Arlo

I quickly rub the blood off my face with the sleeve of my shirt, making myself look somewhat presentable. Fuck, who am I kidding? I look terrible with my clothes soaked in blood. And the background scenery isn’t any better, but I cannot avoid this call. She’ll murder me.

My cellphone speakers blare with the shriek of excitement. “Arlooo.” A smile crosses my lips. That innocent little voice gets me every time.

“Hello there, stranger,” I tilt my head to the side and narrow my eyes, “Did you finally let Miss Abby cut your hair?”

“Yes,” Rosie chirps. She does an adorable little pose with her hand under her chin and bats her eyelashes, showing off her now shoulder-length hair. “Do I look…”

“Amazingly beautiful,” I return before she can ask, “But of course you already knew that.” Rosie is a star, and no one can tell her differently. She could literally stand in the mirror admiring her appearance for hours. I’ve caught her doing it many times before.

I laugh, but the smile fades from her face. She sighs. “Arlo, when are you coming back to visit?” the frown on her face deepens with her next question. “Did you forget about me?” The guilt twists painfully in my chest.

“Never,” my response comes instantly. “I just got a lot going on right now, baby girl. But I promise once this is over, you and I are going to have the biggest sleepover, and eat lots of ice cream, and watch some scary movies.” Yeah… scary movies. This kid can watch a full horror marathon and go to sleep peacefully. No checking under the bed for monsters and no nightlight necessary. Her birth certificate has it all wrong. I’m convinced she’s a demon child.

Rosie grins, and then she gasps when a fantastic idea comes to mind. “Can Astrid come? I want her to wear matching pajamas with me.”

I gasp mockingly. “Wow. Trading me in already, I see.” Her response is a soft giggle, and the idea only makes me smile wider- my two favorite girls forming a close bond. Rosie needs this. “Of course, I’ll bring Astrid.”

“Good, because I miss her.”

“Yeah… you and me both, kiddo,” I mutter to myself. Rosie talks at lightning speed. She catches me up on her schoolwork and tells me she’s at the top of her class, which isn’t surprising at all. Rosie is a bright girl and I’m sure she’ll land a great college by the time she’s ten.

A painful screech sounds off in the distance and I step some feet away for the sake of Rosie’s innocent ears.

Louisa and my wolves kill off the last of the dark witches while Derek and Liam gather the pups and try their best to calm them down.

I watch as a female pup from River Ash looks down at her bandaged hand, disconcerted by the absence of something important. She doesn’t realize it yet, but she’s fortunate to have only lost three fingers. Others have lost so much more- an arm, a leg, one even an ear. That bitch has taken something from all of them, but most importantly, they are all alive and present.

Trembling and red-faced, the pups cry and cower in a protective circle as Derek talks to them soothingly. For a moment, I see so much of my old self in them. A scared little boy crying hysterically and cowering away from my father as he-

Nope. Not going there today.

Louisa finds me at the back of the coven house when she’s done. I look up and she shakes her head, disappointed, “She’s gone,” Louisa confirms my thought. Burning rage spreads through my body from head to toe. Cassandra managed to run away from us twice.

“I gotta go, Rosie. Be good for Abby and keep up with the good schoolwork. I love you.” I end the call and place the phone in my pocket before I can crush it into tiny pieces.

Brooding over our situation, my feet fall along in a slow cadence next to Louisa as we walk back to the coven house. “Any word from Blair?”

“She’s trying every technique known to witch, but so far, nothing is working. Whatever dark magic Cassandra possesses is very powerful. I’ve never had this much difficulty tracking someone,” Louisa exasperates.

Her response only feeds my frustration. “Blair has to keep trying. There must be something in the old books that will work. We need to find her,” I grumble.

She sighs and takes her phone out of her back pocket. “I’m going to make a few calls to some of our friends. They might know something and- “

The harsh grunting interrupts Louisa as I hold my left side. I’m strangely hit with a sharp, intense pain.

Her hand comes down on my shoulder. “What happened?”

“Burning,” is the only response I’m able to grit through clenched teeth. My skin feels as if someone is pressing a burning hot rod to my side, which isn’t exactly a normal feeling for a demon made of hellfire like me.

“I saw one of those witches trying to throw holy water on Kane,” Louisa says. “You might have gotten a small amount on your shirt. Can I look at it?” she asks, reaching for the hem of my shirt. It takes me a minute to straighten up and let her examine me. The burn eases as the cold air fans my skin, and Louisa’s eyes instantly darken.

She steps back, pointing to the sensitive spot. “How long has that been there?” Her reaction throws me, and I look down at the red area. My heart drops to the floor as I stare at the diabolic marking, a mark that I was born with- the unholy symbol of the ninth king. It disappeared from my body the day I destroyed Azazel.

What?” I mutter, tracing my fingers along the lines, the bumpy texture further proving its existence. “I… I don’t understand.”

The door swings open and Kane comes out looking for us. There is no confused or pained expression on his face. He seems just fine. What the fuck is really going on?

“I’m sure it’s nothing. Ms. Hattie can have a look at it,” Louisa waves it off but I don’t miss the apprehensive look in her eyes, “We should get going now. It’ll take us about two days to get back to Salem. There isn’t much for us to do with no leads. We’ll regroup and come searching for Cassandra when Blair finds something.”

I follow Louisa and Kane to the car, but I don’t hear them speak. For the rest of our travel, I don’t hear or see anything. That mark plagues my mind and soul. Everything around me becomes dark.

A friend of Blair allows us to stay at her home for the night. I try to sleep but every time I shut my eyes; I see Azazel. The next morning, I lift my shirt and see that the mark is still fresh and present. How is this possible?

As if the reappearance of the mark wasn’t odd enough, something strange happens the next night. I come out of the woods flushed and sweaty from a run when I hear a shuffle of footsteps behind me. I turn around and scan the edge of the trees, but I see nothing.

I keep walking, but the wind picks up and the hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention. Someone’s following me. I feel it deep in my gut. That’s when I hear it, a familiar and grating whistle. Its him!

I turn around again, fully prepared to see my father, but I am alone.

I’m losing my fucking mind.

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