“Are you okay?” I asked when I finally caught up to Cain in the middle of the hallway.
He has much longer legs than me so I pretend that I don’t need to catch my breath from practically running after him.
Lilith. I just watched him talk to Lilith the queen of Hell. They talked as if they were both playing a game and neither of them wanted to make the first move. I saw how angry Cain was. I would be too if I just got out of the prison that I was forced into and the person who put me there wanted to have a friendly chat.
“No. I’m not okay. I need to find my Loyal and fast. She’ll move them. I know it.”
I shouldn’t feel bad for him. He kidnapped me and yet as I look at him I see how distraught he is. Like his whole world is falling apart. Sometimes I wish I could shut that morally right side of me down for a while.
“Is that why you got us plane tickets without asking me?”
“Yes. We need to leave as soon as possible.”
“I can’t just leave. I have to get permission from my High Priestess which won’t be easy.”
He stops walking and looks lost in thought.
“Okay, I understand. I’ll have someone take you home.”
And he walks away like that’s that. I begin to fully process what I just did. I’m going to help Cain go against Lilith, the queen of Hell to find his Loyal. Four people that I’ve never even met before and I have no idea where they are. I almost want to slap myself because sometimes I am an idiot by not getting more information before agreeing to something.
I grab my phone and see messages from practically everyone in the coven. I ignore them and dial Cynthia’s number.
“I’m going to kill you,” she said when she answered the phone.
“Aren’t you glad I’m not already dead?”
I could feel her glare through the phone.
“Do you have any idea the kind of trouble you’re in?”
“I can already imagine the punishment Aunt Michelle is going to inflict.”
“Punishment? Oh no, she’s way past that. She said something about burning a witch.”
I rolled my eyes. “What dark sense of humor she has.”
“Elsie, she’s seriously mad. Someone called the council of Elders.”
That had me in serious mode. “Who?”
“No idea. All I know is that she said they had someone inside the mansion watching us. With all the disappearing you’ve been doing lately, someone noticed.” she paused and lowered her voice. “They think you’re going to change the same way your mom did.”
“The council doesn’t know what they’re talking about. I didn’t purposely leave. I was freaking kidnapped.” I fumed.
I still haven’t told Cynthia and Patrick what’s been going on. I think part of me is afraid of how they’re going to react. The other part of me was scared to get them involved. But I have to, I need them more than ever.
“I’ll explain when I get home.”
“You better El,” she said and hung up.
It isn’t long until I hear a knock on my door and go to open it. A woman with light skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair in a tight bun looks down at me.
“Mr. Adams has asked me to take you home.”
“Right. Let me just get my stuff.”
I look around and don’t find my dress or anything I had on before I got here. The only thing I can find is a bag at the end of the bed and when I open it everything I had on last night looks clean and is neatly in the bag. I still haven’t asked Cain who dressed me last night. If I find out it was him I will castrate him. I grab the bag and follow the woman outside the house. I stop for a second not sure why but I’m hoping Cain will come out and at least say goodbye. The woman turns around when she notices I’m not following her anymore.
“Yeah. Yeah, everything is fine.”
I close the door behind myself and get into the car driving away from Cain. I wish I could say that I didn’t feel anything when we drove away but then I’d be lying to myself.
I walk into the coven mansion making sure that no one sees me and I walk up the stairs and knock on Patrick’s door. I decide to go to him first and then Cynthia. I hear the thumping sound of music. I want to tell them together so I use the code for his door he gave me for emergencies. When I open the door I want to wash my eyes out with bleach.
“Get out Elsie!” Patrick shouted as I stood shocked watching him naked getting pounded from behind.
I quickly close the door because it’s like watching your brother have sex. I want to throw up. I hear the music turn off before he opens the door, fully clothed. His light blue hair is a little wet and his brown skin is sweaty.
“I figured you as a top.” Is the first thing that came out of my mouth.
He gives me a look. “I am but I like to switch it up sometimes.”
The door opens and Jessie, a witch from the Crystal coven walks out looking the same as Patrick. He sees me, blushes, kisses Patrick on the cheek, and leaves.
“I’m scarred for life.”
He rolls his eyes. “Don’t be dramatic.”
“It’s like walking in on your brother.”
“What did you want so badly that you interrupted us? You’re lucky I finished, otherwise I would be pissed at you.”
“First of all gross. Didn’t need to know that and secondly, I need to tell you and Cynthia something. It’s important.”
He narrowed his eyes at me. “What did you do this time?”
I smile at him. “Nothing too big.”
“You released who!?” Cynthia and Patrick said in unison.
They had me sit down on Cynthia’s bed while they stood over me. I think it was some kind of intimidation tactic. Well, Cynthia is looking up at me despite me sitting down. I look around her room that is just as colorful as her outfit. Pink and yellow walls, a white canopy bed, baby blue polka dot couches-yes actual polka dots- it’s like a unicorn threw up in here.
The same looks they’re giving me right now makes me think they practiced it. A twin thing that I’ll never understand.
“I said, I accidentally freed Cain from the Bible. You know the one who killed his brother Abel. Well, he claims he didn’t do it but how can we know.”
They look at me in disbelief.
“How do you accidentally free Cain?” Patrick asked.
“He forced me into it but he likes to call it ‘influencing’. I didn’t mean to free him, I just saw a book on the shelf, opened it and now here we are. I had to figure out some way to prove myself after I messed up the other day.”
“You could have just tried harder during class rather than going off and doing some ridiculous spell,” Cynthia said.
I threw my hands up. “Now, you tell me.” I teased to lighten the mood. She glares at me in response.
“Where is he now?” she said.
“He went to get everything ready to find his Loyal.”
“His Loyal?” Patrick asked.
“Yeah, they’re a bunch of people who helped him throughout the years.”
“Good. While he’s gone we can find a way to break that bond.” Cynthia said.
“I kinda can’t do that.”
Her eyes narrowed at me. “Why not?”
“I might have told him I’d help him find them.”
Cynthia glares at me. “You can’t help him. You need to tell him in a nice, calm manner that he needs to hit the road.”
“We can’t break the bond. If I break it, his monster will be let loose. I don’t exactly know what his monster can do but he calls it a monster so it can’t be good. ” I gesture to the tattooed key on my wrist. “And he told me there will be people after me since I let him out. I haven’t had anything happen right now but I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
“What if he’s playing you?”
“What would he get out of it? Hanging out with me and my amazing sense of humor?”
“No, what he would get is a free lock with no strings. Plus you’re the niece of one of the most respected High Priestesses. If he were ever to kidnap you he not only has control over the coven but our allies who would do anything to help us.”
“I haven’t told him Aunt Michelle is the High Priestess but I wouldn’t be surprised if he already knows. That guy seems to know everything.” I mumbled the last part to myself.
I never thought about that. See this is why I need them. They’re my voice of reason and can figure things out that I haven’t even thought of. We all stay quiet for a while until Patrick breaks the silence.
“What if we contact hell?” Patrick suggested.
“Can’t do that. He took me to his house and Lilith called and she was all too eager to find out who I am. It didn’t seem like she wanted to send me a fruit basket for letting him out.”
They look at each other a few times like they share some mind reading power I don’t know about. It’s Cynthia who talks first.
“We can help him find his Loyal if he unbinds the two of you. We can find him some other lock for his monster. ”
“We? There is no we. It’s just me and him.”
Cynthia rolls her eyes. “Like we’d ever let you face something like this alone.”
My heart swells that I have such amazing friends who would do anything for me. I’m lucky to have them by my side.
“Plus we don’t want to to get killed because Lady Clermont would kill us for letting you do something so stupid,” Patrick said.
And he ruined it.
“When are we leaving?” Cynthia asked as she walked to her closet trying to find outfits that would look good together.
“I asked him to give me time because I want it to let Aunt Michelle know. I don’t want her any more upset at me.
Cynthia nods. “Keep us updated.”
I leave the room. I go downstairs to get a snack and I’m halfway to the kitchen when my name is called. I turn around to face Aunt Michelle in all her glory. Oddly she looks older than the last time I saw her. She must be stressed about something.
“Elsie.” Her voice is eerily calm and I know that I’m in way more trouble than I thought. “Here is your list of chores that I expect to be done. Ms. Ruth will make sure you complete them all. When you’re done, you’ll meet me in the training room.”
I grab the paper I hadn’t noticed she was holding and without another word she walks off. I expected more yelling. I look down at the list and I would much rather prefer her yelling at me. I hated cleaning. I go to my room and change into clothes that I know I will never wear again after this. I go back downstairs where Ms. Ruth is waiting for me.
Ruth is a brownie. They are the ones who keep everything clean. They usually work in the night while everyone is sleeping but Aunt Michelle seems to be giving me special treatment. Ruth is barely half my height with gray colored skin and balding brown hair.
“Are you ready to get started, child,” she stated.
I nodded numbly and followed after her.
Two hours later I’m covered in what I hoped to be all dirt, my muscles are sore and I stink. I go to walk upstairs but a voice stops me.
“Lady Clermont requests your presence in the training room.”
I turn around to see Orion- Aunt Michelle’s annoying assistant. He is so far up her ass, it’s too late for me to even try to explain to him that it’s not a hat. He has fair skin, dark blue eyes, and wheat colored hair. He’s an only half witch. Half witches aren’t as powerful. He’s dressed in a suit that makes him look even more uptight. There is only one man I know who can pull off wearing a suit every day and that’s Cain. Dammit. I wasn’t going to think about him. His soft lips I almost tasted, those deep green eyes and that hair that I know would feel like running your hands through a cloud. If it wasn’t for me smelling like crap, I would probably grab Jaxon to help me relieve how worked up I feel.
“I’ll be there after I shower and change.”
“She said now. Don’t make me drag you,” he said in a completely serious tone.
I roll my eyes and follow him to the training room. It’s the size of a school gym. There are mats on the floor and benches off to the side. Orion pushes me in and closes the door. Aunt Michelle is stretching and she’s wearing a pair of shorts and a shirt.
“Can I go shower first? I stink.” I complained.
“Enough.” her powerful voice feels the room.
My back straightens and fear overcomes me. She’s never used her Pritness powers on me. This is much more serious than I thought. I walk over to her.
“You’re my sister’s daughter and my family.” she began. “I’ve spoiled you more than I should have. I’ve given you special treatment that I would never give anyone else in the coven. That was my mistake.”
She glares at me and I keep my mouth shut.
“You are no longer a child. You are a powerful witch from the most powerful coven ever to live and it’s time you start acting like it. Sneaking out? Leaving without permission? That was not how you were raised. I don’t know what you were doing and I don’t want to know. If you ever want to step a toe out of this place, I need to know you can protect yourself.”
I raise an eyebrow and before I even blink she knocks me on my ass. I groan and the wind knocks out of me. It takes a few moments to catch my breath and jump to my feet. I get into a fighting stance and throw a punch which she blocks.
“You’ve gotten soft.” she mocked. “Clermont’s aren’t soft.”
She lunges forward and uses her foot to kick me in the face. I fall back and hit the ground once again. I can feel my nose starting to bleed. I use my shirt to wipe it off. This time, it takes me longer to get to my feet and I’m starting to get pissed. When I don’t feel any more blood dripping I get back in position. I’m a little dizzy but I can’t let that stop me.
“You want to run in and out of the mansion when you can barely throw a punch?” she laughed and rage filled me.
I pretend to go for a kick and when she bends down to block it, I punch her in the nose and she’s thrown backward. I didn’t mean to punch her that hard. My surprise strength throws me off. The more days go by the more I feel myself losing control.
I put my hands over my mouth in shock. “Auntie, I’m so sorry.”
Surprisingly, she starts to laugh.
“That’s what I’m talking about. Let’s go again.”
We find a rhythm, we go for punch after punch, and kick after kick. She blocks some of mine and I block some of hers. This feels familiar. My mind takes me back to my time with mom. She and dad both helped me learn to fight but dad was always afraid to hit me. Mom on the other hand knew I could handle it and had no problem knocking me on my ass. She’s the reason why I’m strong not only mentally but physically. And I realize that’s what Aunt Michelle is trying to do to make me remember. And she probably enjoys kicking me around a little.
I fall on the mat in exhaustion.
“I love you Elsie but you’re reckless.”
I push up in a sitting position while she stands over me.
“I’ve been going through a lot.” I sighed. “Do you know what’s wrong with me.”
“What do you mean?”
She walks over to a table with water and grabs two. I drink mine down before explaining.
“I’ve just been feeling out of control lately. My emotions feel off, my powers have been feeling stronger and I don’t feel like myself anymore.”
She twirls one of her curls. She only does that when she’s nervous. She takes a sip of her water.
“Do you know something I don’t?” I asked.
She comes over and sits next to me. “Your powers are developing more and more. It’s normal to feel off. That’s why I’m constantly pushing you to do better. You need to get stronger. That means going to your classes and being here with your coven.”
She stands up and helps me to.
“I do have to leave again,” I tell her before she can walk away.
I can hear her sigh. “Just be careful. It’s a dangerous world out there for a young witch.”
“I know how to protect myself against the supernatural.”
“I’m not talking about the ones you already know. I mean the ones who hide in the dark and have yet to reveal themselves.”
Without another word, she leaves the training room with me gawking at her departing words. What is up with people leaving without giving an actual answer? Everyone seems to be hiding something from me.
I leave the training room and go straight to the shower. I turn the water on the hottest temperature I can handle and let the sweat and dirt wash off of me. I put my hair in a bun on the top of my hair and wash my body. When I’m clean, I grab a towel and step out of the shower. I turn off the water and stand in front of the mirror. I wipe the fog off and look to see if I look as different as I feel.
Everything seems fine. I take out the ponytail holder in my hair and my braids fall down my back. I get dressed and walk out of the bathroom. Tot and Tater are waiting for me out the door.
“Hi, boys. Miss me?”
I get whimpers and tail wags. I know they have been fed and taken care of while I’ve been gone. Tot comes up and rubs my leg. I know he can feel my confusion and anxiety for the unknown. I pick him and Tater up and carry them to my bed. We all get snuggled up. I close my eyes and hope that tomorrow brings more answers than today.
I’m running. My legs burn and my feet are bleeding. But I can’t stop. I can never stop. If I do, they’ll catch me. I can hear the growls and howls as I make my way to the cave. They can’t touch me if I’m in the cave. I pump my legs harder and make it without getting a bit. Last time one of those creatures bit me I couldn’t move for weeks. Or rather what felt like weeks. I could never tell if days had passed. The only way I could tell it was even kind of night is when the creatures would be out. I wouldn’t normally go out during this time but I was hungry and I couldn’t starve to death. Not that they would let me. Lilith had upped her game with these creatures. They were becoming smarter, faster, and stronger.
But no matter what she threw at me, I could beat it. I can beat her. I just needed to get out of here somehow. I lay down on the makeshift pillow I made. There is no light in here but my eyes have long adjusted to the dark. Fur from the creatures is the only way I’m a little comfortable. I look out the cave to make sure that the creatures have gone. Darkness and smoke fill the air. I hear the sounds of them roaming the night and circling my cave. They do it every night despite how many of them I kill.
Blood is all I see. Blood and dirt cover my body. I only have the fur pants I made to wear. It was a different store than I had worn years ago. I couldn’t think of my past life for too long. Otherwise, I’d go more insane. I drag my hand down the wall of the cave and grab the rock next to me to make another line. Hundreds of lines fill this wall and the other one. I have marked every day I’ve been here. It’s the only way I have kept sane. Or rather what I deem is sane. Every day I feel as if I’m losing more and more of me. I would just end it all but last time I tried the wounds on my wrists healed faster than ever before. I’ve tried countless tasks to end my life but one after the other have failed so eventually I felt too numb to even try.
I am grateful for one thing in this godforsaken place. My powers have grown ten times as much. I know for certain they never expected me to get stronger. The only thing that is pushing me every day is the thought that I will get out of here one day. When I do I will end everyone who helped put me here and no one will stop me.
I walk up sweat dripping down my face and rage filling me. It’s not my rage. It’s Cain’s. And if I’m right, I just saw his life in purgatory.