“Atticus! Hold up!” Briar’s voice chased after me, but I was in a hurry. I held the address of Emersyn’s whereabouts in my hands and I wasn’t stopping until I got to her. “Son, just wait!”
Spinning to face her, I gripped the handle of the driver’s door. “What, Briar? I have to go to her.”
She nodded, not arguing with me. “I’m coming with you.” She ran around to the passenger side and jumped in and I didn’t question her motives.
I tore away from the curb, heading towards the highway that would bring us to the other side of New Orleans. The address given to me by Nila was punched into the GPS, telling me our destination was twelve minutes away. Twelve minutes felt like a million and it felt like I couldn’t drive fast enough. Briar sat silently in the passenger’s seat as I drove just as silently. It was obvious that we both wanted to get there quickly.
When I pulled off the highway, I followed the GPS’s directions on where to turn next. Several turns later and I was driving through an old neighborhood on the north side of the city. Nothing looked out of the ordinary and now I wondered if Nila had actually given me the correct address.
But when the GPS told me my destination was on the right, I knew something was up. Either Nila did give me the wrong address, or this Sebastian guy didn’t want to be found.
“This isn’t right,” Briar noted, her gaze following mine towards the destination.
Instead of a house sitting where I thought I’d find one, I find an old cemetery in its place. There wasn’t a house located on this side of the street until the next block and one look in the opposite direction showed me the same thing.
“Obviously,” I replied to Briar before jumping out of the SUV. I needed to see if there was something worth looking at in the cemetery.
Briar had jumped out and was now standing next to me, looking out across the cemetery as well.
“He’s trying to trick us,” she stated, grabbing my hand as I looked down at her and watched her close her eyes.
“What are you doing, Mama B?”
“Shh,” she scolded me, “I’m trying to put my feelers out.”
I stood as still as I could, letting her do her thing. But as time ticked by, my anxiety got the best of me. We were wasting precious time and I needed to get to Emersyn as soon as I could. Standing on the sidewalk next to this abandoned cemetery was a huge waste of time.
“Briar, we’re losing precious time here,” I growled out, not caring that I just broke her connection.
“She’s back at her house. He must not be near her if I could find her but we need to move fast. We don’t know where this Sebastian is.” Briar stormed back towards the SUV and jumped in.
As I tore away from the cemetery, I realized that Tristan wasn’t with us. Yeah, I should have noticed that well before now, but what can I say? I had serious tunnel-vision going on.
“He’s back at the shop. I told him to prepare the back room for Emersyn’s regression. Now we just have to figure out how to get Emersyn’s trust to join us back at my shop.” I watched as she twisted her hands nervously in her lap. “The last time she was at my shop, strange things began to happen and she ran scared. That was the last time I saw her.”
“What strange things?”
Sighing, she replied, “We were in the middle of some psychometry work and all the candles went out in the basement. There was an entity there that I didn’t realize was Sebastian until now,” she paused, looking over at me as a light bulb went off in her head. “Oh my God, Atticus…”
I gripped the steering wheel, not liking how she just said that at all. “Tell me, Briar.”
“I know exactly who Sebastian is. Why the hell didn’t I think about that sooner? I mean, I knew it was him, but I didn’t know he was the one after Emersyn because of that damn Devil’s Breath!” When she paused, one hand flew to her mouth and her other gripped my forearm. “Atticus… he has her talisman.”
Every cell in my body froze when she said those words. Not only did fear grip my heart but now I was angry as hell.
“How did this happen?! How in the hell did that asshole get her talisman?” I knew my voice was alarmingly loud, but I didn’t care right now. I was so pissed off that I could kill someone. When she didn’t say anything, I spun my gaze towards her, noting how she looked a bit guilty. “What happened, Briar?”
“Well…” she paused, clearly battling what she wanted to say, “I may have suggested she use it for her personal object to be passed around the group.”
“Holy shit,” I snapped.
“Hey, I didn’t think she was in danger then.” A look of recognition swam through her eyes and she glared over at me. “He was in my shop the day before… He blew devil’s breath into my face.”
I cursed under my breath. “So, you weren’t thinking straight, were you? I thought you were stronger than that shit?”
“I am!” She thundered and I knew it wasn’t me she was angry at but at the situation itself. “I thought I was. His words had no hold over me, but the powder had done something to me.”
Hearing this only made the situation far more dire than it already was. I floored the SUV to get us to Emersyn’s whereabouts, even though I had no idea where she lived. Briar seemed to think she lived close to the French Quarter so that’s where I was headed. After we got there, I’d have Briar put out her feelers again to locate the exact location of my love.
Briar didn’t say another word, internally thinking of what this all meant, as I drove silently back towards the French Quarter.
“Tristan, what’s going on? Is everything set up at the shop?” I turned off on the familiar exit, heading into the heart of downtown when I had to break the connection from Tristan almost immediately. Him and Nila were catching up, if you know what I mean, and it wasn’t something I wanted to witness. Seriously, though? He couldn’t wait until this was all done with? Emersyn’s life was on the line here.
“We’re here,” I stated to Briar as I pulled over to the side of the curb, shutting the SUV off. “Where is she, Briar?”
She squeezed her eyes shut but her brows furrowed together in confusion as she cocked her head to the side.
“Please, don’t tell me you can’t connect to her again.” Because if she couldn’t, that only meant one thing: Sebastian was near her.
My attention was pulled from Briar when I felt a strange vibration beneath me. I looked this way and that, not finding the source of the strange energy change, but then I saw it. A few blocks away, in what looked like a neighborhood, the trees were shaking so violently that it looked like an earthquake was occurring. The strange thing? Earthquakes don’t happen in New Orleans.
“Briar!” I pulled her from her meditation and pointed towards the shaking trees. “I don’t know what the hell is going on, but there’s something happening down there.”
I jumped out of the truck so fast that I nearly face planted to the street below my feet, but when I didn’t actually fall, I took off running towards the strange events happening up ahead. Briar was behind me and I slowed just a bit, feeling my protectiveness come out for her. I didn’t know what was up there and had no idea what we were about to walk in on.
There wasn’t a soul outside and no known source of who was doing this, but what I could see was a particular house, tiny as a shack, was the focal point. The trees around the house were shaking and groaning, the earth beneath them crumbling. All the lights in the house were flickering on and off and a woman’s scream could be heard inside. I knew that scream. It was Emersyn.
“Briar!” I waited for her to catch up as we both took in the sight in front of us, not sure what to make of it. All I knew was that I needed to get inside that house and protect her. There wasn’t anything else that mattered right now.