I find myself outside of Kyla’s closed bedroom door. The stickers of awkward music bands splatter on the front. Miley wants to turn her room into a tanning salon but I refuse to alter anything. When Kyla comes back, she’s going to have a piece of her old life here. It’s the least I can do for her since I can’t help stop the hoards of people from going after her.
I have a specialized team searching for her. Two members of Kio that I know personally are scouring the world, following the random Vetalas reports in hopes of coming upon her. But by the time they get there, Alexander is already gone. My team isn’t using harsh methods. I don’t want to scare Alexander any more than he already is. I just want him to know that I can help him.
What can I do really? I’m surrounded at all times. Every movement I make is watched by Elders. They search for ways to assassinate me. But I’d figure out a way to get to her, if she was in my reach.
“Third door.” Mumbles sound. “On the left.” A head pokes in and Tessa’s eyes widen at the sight of me. “Miley said I could find some clothes in here? The twins are really tall.” She shivers in the towel, her hair dripping wet.
“Umm.” I swallow, hardly hearing her words. I shove off my feet, “Maybe.” I cough, latching onto a box. Ripping the top open, I dig around only to feel Tessa come up beside me.
Her hands grip onto the edge, peeking inside. “Those are fine.” She takes out jeans, checking the seam. “These will fit perfectly. Any shirts?”
I dart my eyes back on the clothes. “Yeah.” I pull one out.
“What about bras?”
Tessa bursts into laughter, “Just kidding. You should see your face, though. I’ll be back.”
She darts out of the room and I stand flustered and speechless. The back of my legs hit the bed and fall on it, quite disturbed. Why is this petite little girl having such an effect on me? I’ve dated before. I’m not a virgin. Yet I feel like I’m eighteen again attempting to hand a girl one of my prized stallions.
Oh boy, it has been awhile.
Tessa is wringing out her hair as she comes back in, “What are you doing in here? Why didn’t you swim with us?” She drops on the bed.
“I have other things to do.”
“Oh right. Big kingly things. Like sit in an empty bedroom and stare at the walls. So much better than having fun.”
“This is Kyla’s room.”
So obviously her shoulders deflate, “Oh.” She looks down to her clothes, “I’m sorry. I didn’t even ask. Do you want me to change? If my family member went missing I wouldn’t want strangers going through her stuff. I should change.” She bolts for the door and it’s impulsive that I latch onto her hand.
“It’s fine.” She looks down at our fingers and I instantly let go.
She plops on the bed beside me, “In Korean culture, it is considered rude that I’ve come here without a gift of any kind. You’re letting me stay here and I’m imposing.” She takes a deep breath, “So I’d like to be given a job.”
“A job?” I laugh. “What kind of job?”
She shrugs, “I can cook! Though it’s mostly Korean foods. I’m great at house work. I used to be a florist, if that helps any. Let me cook dinner.”
Guilt doesn’t feel good, especially when she unwittingly smears it in my face. I plan on using her to assist in diplomatic relations with the New York Council and give her back to her clan and she believes she going to be here for dinner. If I tell her, she’ll react like a Newborn, dramatically and emotionally so that she won’t see reason. I have to keep it secret.
My navy eyes flicker over. The way the light lands on her, creating shadows in all the right places and highlighting others expresses the beautiful contours of her form. She runs her fingers through her short black hair, poking at the red highlights of her bangs, looking up at them with pursued lips.
“What’s a hybrid?”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“I can’t stop thinking about it. I keep seeing Isis. She isn’t like that, you know. When she’s with me, she’s an overbearing mother. Sometimes it gets annoying but it’s nice to have. She gets me everything I want. She’s so smart, too. I get her to help me with my homework, I go to college, and I don’t need help but I do it just to hear her because she’ll start talking about things and when I listen to her, it’s amazing. She’s not bad, Felix. She’s lonely. She’s sad. She didn’t know I was there. She wouldn’t hurt me.”
I don’t say anything. I’m sure Tessa really believes that and I’m not about to add my opinion. I feel bad for her.
“Do you think your clan mate can really save God?”
“Kyla was different.” I murmur, peering down at her bookbag she had forgotten the day she left. “Even if I don’t know what she was, it’s not too hard for me to believe anymore that she is capable of anything.”
“You’ll save her, won’t you? You’ll stop Isis?”
With a firm nod, Tessa grins, relieved. I don’t know how I’ll do it but I won’t let anyone hurt Kyla. I have to find her. Now more than anything.
“Felix!” Phil summons from the steps.
Tessa stays in the room, planning to nap. If I don’t get rid of her, I’ll find myself in big trouble. I hope she understands one day what I’m about to do and realize it’s nothing personal.
Blowing out air through my lips, I jog down the front steps. Standing in my living room, Hikmah Elder Matthias meets my gaze. With hands behind his back and straight shoulders, he wears the visage of a warrior vet that is intimidating and makes anyone beneath him seem inferior. I have to stop myself from shrinking.
“My lord. Welcome.” I gesture for him to sit and after he rests, I take a seat myself. I have to follow the rules of etiquette during his visit or I might insult him. If I had a heartbeat, it would pound against my chest plate at feriouscous speeds.
I’ve never met Matthias though I’ve seen him in pictures. Tymician had me memorize every Elder leader on the Earth just like every clan member. Education is the only way to keep from being taken off guard. I use simple ways to keep people in my memory. Matthias has holy tattoos drawn on his arms and though they are barely visible from the black of his skin, they are very vivid in their sexual implications.
I end the silence despite the knot I find in my throat, “I’m relieved to see you uninjured, my lord.”
“I was not lucky enough to leave unscathed but I do have the ability to heal twice as fast as Newborns.”
“Does your clan fair well?”
“Yes, I thank you for your concern.”
“I hope you will not find it arrogant of me, my lord to say that we are similar. We have great clans and we hold much influence on this Earth. In the coming days, I would like it much better if there was less animosity between our people.”
“I would as well. I speak for all of my Elders when I say this.”
Tristan and Eric race in, sopping wet and half-naked, “Felix, you should see what--”
I force a bland smile. “Excuse me.” I turn around and with a look of death in my eyes; the boys bow quickly and run out of the room. I return to Matthias relieved when I see humor in his eyes. “Children.” I make a joke of it.
“I hear you have a peculiar lot here. Tymician always sought out odd Souls.”
“You knew Tymician, my lord?”
“Well once. I was saddened by his sudden death. Though we grew distant, it is the only reason I feel I can trust you, sir.”
“Call me, Felix, please. I hope in time you will learn to trust me further. Perhaps then I can wean my way into Erelim Elder Isis’ heart.”
He cackles throatily. “That, I’m afraid is a lost hope, Felix. I come here unbeknownst to her. She’d have my manhood in her palm if she knew I visited you. Thankfully my pride isn’t as grand. Tessa means the world to the clan. She has a Soul that must be cherished.”
“I’ve noticed. My wards are stricken by her.”
“She makes any Fallen crave to renounce their vengeance and gain back their wings. But I’m sorry, Felix, you cannot keep her.”
Standing, we clasp hands and I’m near euphoric in how well our conversation went. “I’ll get Tessa. She’ll be glad to see you.”
Rounding the couch, my phone rings. At the same time, Matthias phone sounds. I excuse myself, answering as he does the same. The number confuses me. “Phil?”
“Get out of there.” He orders.
I look toward Tymician’s private study where he should be. “What are you talking about? Where are you?”
“Veronica attacked the Sofitel. Your life is in jeopardy.”
I turn my gaze toward Matthias just in time to witness his eyes widen. I can’t react fast enough. He connects to the Source, expanding his Light and shattering everything within a ten-foot radius. The bay windows burst out. The flat screen TV explodes and the coffee table fragments and bursts. A wave of energy hits me in the chest and I slam on top of the dining table, rolling over and crashing onto a chair, breaking it as I land.
I struggle to get to my knees. A piece of wood impales in my thigh. Turning over, I rest on my butt, wrapping my hand over the large splinter and yank it out. It’s only a momentarily pain and it flees faster than I can acknowledge it.
When I look up again, Matthias is motionless. Eight red dots draw squiggly lines over his form daring him to move. Soldiers have their ready rifles on him prepared to shoot. Phil stands in the foyer calm and collective.
“What is this?” Matthias bites. He pants in wild rage, holding out a hand, yearning to send a shockwave of Light through my house and demolish my home. “Tymician would have never--”
“Tymician’s reign is over. Felix is the new king and you will find things are a bit different.”
“No.” I stand, slipping on the broken fragments, “Put your guns down.” Phil makes no move to indicate he heard me. “I said drop them!”
A little hesitation to reveal his defiance, he slowly nods his head. The red dots disappear and Matthias visibly relaxes but his enraged expression only presses upon me.
“You dare attack my home.” His hand curls to point a quivering finger, “You will regret this, Felix.”
When the door slams shut, I have my hands clenched around Phil’s unwrinkled shirt, “I remember our little conversation, Phil. You asked if I wanted to attack Isis. I distinctly remember saying NO.”
He rests his hand upon mine, a subtle, quiet way of asking me to release him. I at first disregard it but his eyes only intensify with each second. I push him away, stalking along the destruction of my living room.
I notice my family huddled in the kitchen. They quietly observe, holding each other, forming a wet puddle on the tile. “Everything’s fine. Go get dressed.” They obey unwillingly.
Phil points to the stairway.
I go to the banister and find Tessa at the top of the stairs. Fear shines wide in her eyes. “Go on. We’ll talk in a minute.”
I scratch my scalp and follow Phil out of the house and to the front lawn, the only place we can talk in private. “What happened?”
“Elder Veronica took four of her members and snuck into Manhattan. They are currently proceeding to destroy it.”
“And there’s nothing I can do?”
“It matters little to your intention. If you are seen there, it will only bode badly for you. If you had control of your Elders, you could send someone to assist Matthias to subdue her. As it is, he must battle her alone.”
“I made it clear. I wanted no one to touch the Sofitel.”
“I past the word along to the others as ordered. But Felix, I’m going to speak honestly. The Elders do not see you as a leader. They see you as a coward. The fact that you will not face them only proves that you fear them. Hikmah Elder Veronica took it upon herself to attack a position that she saw was in her reach. Morgantown has ample amount of firepower.”
I grit, “What will happen now?”
He looks out toward the sky, “Matthias will win. She and the others will be taken captive.”
“I will let her rot then.”
“I implore you to go the opposite direction.”
“You want me to save her? After she went behind my back? Do you know what Isis is going to do to me? No, she got herself into this, she will get herself out of this. Let Abida save her, since she supports her so much.”
Phil bows his head, dissatisfied with my solution.
“If the Elders want to talk then let’s talk. I’m sick of hiding. I’m sick of fearing. I thought if I could prove to them that I’m a good man, they’ll back off but they don’t care, do they? Fine. I’ve had enough. Let’s meet.”