Jay Venderson flinched when she heard her mother slam her bedroom door over the music in her earbuds. She looked away from her phone and over at her own bedroom door. She pulled her earbuds out of her ears quickly and held her breath as she listened for any other signs of anger. Her heart was starting to race as anxiety kicked in.
Not a minute later and she heard her mother scream. But this was no scream of fear or pain. Her mother began cussing up a storm as she cursed the life she had and cursed the existence of her children. Mostly Jay’s existence. There were quickly sounds of items being thrown around and broken.
Jay bit her lip, trying hard to fight against the fear rising up. A soft ding from her phone alerted her to a text. She dragged her gaze from the door to her phone, dreading reading the contents of the message. Was it her mother sending her another hateful message during her fit of rage?
She pulled the notifications down and was relieved to see it was her coworker. If he could be called that. He was simply a work partner at best.
I’m outside. Simple and more than enough to inform her that she had another job to do. She was more than grateful for his perfect timing. She quickly and quietly got ready before slipping out the window. It was far better than alerting her mother with the loud creaking of her bedroom door.
A glossy black vehicle waited on the wet driveway across from her room. The headlights were off and thankfully the motion spotlight facing the driveway had yet to kick on. She could just make out a figure leaning against the car. The broad shouldered figure pushed himself off the car and motioned for her to hurry up.
A rumble in the sky caught her attention as she darted across the small bit of yard to the car. It was about to storm. The man got in as she reached the passenger side. She threw her duffle bag in the backseat before getting in. Neither closed the doors all the way to prevent her mother from being alerted.
Though Jay doubted she would hear them through the fit of rage she was having. “Let’s get out of here,” she urged, her tone giving away the fear she felt. The driver looked over at her briefly before pulling forward into the wider part of the driveway. He turned the car around and headed down the long driveway, the car disappearing into the thick darkness created by the woods she lived in.
She sighed and leaned back once they were driving down the road, quickly putting more distance between her and her psychotic mother. She glanced at the man who had picked her up.
Andrew Skye. He was a few years younger than her. He was tall, undeniably handsome, and had a quiet personality. He was always watching, analyzing everything even when it seemed he wasn’t paying attention or didn’t care about what was going on.
He had short dark brown hair and deep blue eyes. A scar ran down his right cheek and down the side of his neck. Tonight, instead of his usual black tee and jeans, he wore a sort of black robed armor. She wore a matching outfit.
She was glad she had chosen to fully prepare this time. Seeing him in his uniform meant that the job was going to be a break-in. They would be using the severe storm tonight to their advantage.
She wanted to talk about what was going on at home but she doubted he wanted to hear anything about her messed up personal life. She barely knew anything about his life as well. She turned her gaze to the dark world outside.
She wasn’t certain how much time had passed before they entered the city she lived close to. The tinted windows dulled the bright lights. She felt a tap on her arm and she looked over at Andrew, curious on what he wanted.
She was surprised to see concern on his tan face.
“What happened?” he asked, his deep voice soft.
She hadn’t expected such a question from him. He had never shown any concern for her since becoming partners five years ago. She hesitated. Would it be okay for her to talk about it? Surely this wasn’t faked kindness?
“I...I was frightened by my mom,” she finally confessed after a moment of silence. “She’s in one of her fits. I am glad you showed up when you did. I don’t have to listen to her scream at me and scream how much she hates me.”
“I had no idea you were like me,” he replied. “How often does it happen?”
“It used to be every day but now it’s at least once a week. Ever since she divorced my stepfather, she has been drinking more and lashing out at everyone. I hate her,” Jay said with a glare out the window.
“Understandably,” he responded. Another moment of silence passed between them. “Would you like to come live with me instead?”
She looked at him with unconcealed shock. He stopped at a red traffic light and looked over at her, a slight smile on his face. “The best way to move forward is to get out of that environment. I know better than anyone how much it can help,” he said as he held out his gloved hand, palm up. “You have helped me a lot with my situations through the years that we’ve worked together. It’s only right that I help you with yours.”
She looked down at his hand. Was this truly happening? Was this stoic man opening up to her and offering her a way out of the living hell that had trapped her for so long? She was scared that it would be a lie. She had been tricked before.
No. He wouldn’t lie to her. She doubted he was the type. He was a righteous person. It showed through their work. She decided to take the leap of faith. She placed her hand on his. “I’ll take you up on your offer. Thank you.”
He gently squeezed her hand. “It’s no problem.”
She started to relax but soon her face was hot with a blush as they continued to hold hands for the rest of the drive. It felt nice.
The drive was filled with confessions of each other’s pasts and the more they talked, the more she felt like she had finally found someone who was fully on her side. They arrived at their destination all too quickly for her liking.
They were in the countryside on a road with a few large houses on either side. The one they had stopped at was surrounded by a tall intricately designed metal fence. The gate had a small screen that required them to punch in a code to open it.
Ugh. No doubt this place is full of cameras. She looked over at her partner and found Andrew was already at work on his laptop to hack the camera feed. To their luck, the power went out after a large bolt of lightning lit the sky.
“I love coincidences like this,” Jay said with a smirk. They quickly used the chance to grab their things, run the short distance to the gate and climb over. She dropped down on the other side first and sprinted towards the large bushes that lined the long driveway.
She pulled her mask up just before she stopped behind one. She soon felt Andrew’s presence behind her. It was comforting to know she could rely on him to get the job done right. The power had yet to come back on. They still had time to get in.
They reached the house with no problems and could see the beams of flashlights occasionally through the windows. Whoever held the flashlights were going around lighting candles. That would pose a problem if they weren’t careful.
She peeked through the windows till she found one with dimly lit candles. Perfect. She tried the window and it moved. She carefully and slowly slid it up before climbing in, grateful that there wasn’t a screen to make things difficult.
She blew out the candles while Andrew climbed in after her. She moved quietly over to the open door and leaned against the wall, listening to the voices. She already knew who her target was from yesterday’s meeting. The male voice that drifted to her was full of annoyance.
“This is the worst fucking timing! With those bastards after me, who knows if they’re here now, using the storm to get in?” the target snapped.
“Well, Dad, you shouldn’t have been so fucking stupid. You shouldn’t have messed with Claire. You knew what she was capable of with her connections. Did you really think that she wouldn’t send people to kill you?” It was a female voice.
Jay narrowed her eyes. How did they know that they had been dispatched to eliminate him? None of their targets ever knew they were being hunted. She felt two taps on her arm. A signal that meant they needed to eliminate everyone in the house.
“I thought that I had her in the palm of my hand since she kept calling me over to fuck her,” the target ranted.
Gross. I’ll never understand men like him. Women aren’t stupid. Jay rolled her eyes. She tensed when a door down the hall opened. A flashlight filled the hall with light and heavy footsteps sounded, coming towards the room she and Andrew were in.
The light of the flashlight flickered and went out. “Damn thing.” It was their target. She heard him smack it angrily for a few seconds before unscrewing a part of the flashlight. “Needs new batteries I bet.”
He entered the room, completely missing them, and felt his way through the dark to a bookshelf. She eased her way up to him as he muttered while searching for something on the bookshelf. She pulled her dagger out of her belt slowly before quickly slapping a gloved hand over his mouth and stabbing the jagged dagger into his neck.
She eased him down on to the floor while Andrew left the room to take care of the girl and any others. Soon the target’s choked breathing stopped. She lightly stepped out of the room. She heard a brief scream and she frowned. It sounded like the girl had caught Andrew before he could take care of her quickly.
She peeked into the many rooms as she searched for any others. She found two other girls that she and Andrew eliminated together. She slipped her dagger back into its sheath. She tapped Andrew’s arm three times after he stood up from setting the girl on the floor.
It was time to finish up. Andrew got to work on disposing the bodies while she explored more for any items that they might want.
She used a candle to find her way around the house. The first room she went to was a small library she had found. She held the candle up and scanned the titles as she walked along the wall of shelves. Out of the many books about cars, planes, and art, she found a flashy gold and blue binding.
She pulled it off the shelf, feeling like she had seen it somewhere before. The title was in another language. It looks similar to Korean but yet it’s not? She was well versed in many languages thanks to her job and her love for language but this was not in her knowledge.
She decided to take the book to study it. It was almost four in the morning when they finally left. She was tired and glad to leave. “Let’s go straight to your place. I have a change of clothes in my duffle bag. I’ll be fine till later.”
Andrew nodded with a small smile. As they drove, she looked at her phone. She sighed when she saw she had several missed calls and angry texts from her mom. Some of them had even gotten manipulative with threats of suicide.
Jay glared at the messages. She felt no sympathy any more. She had heard those words for so many years that she didn’t believe them anymore. Her mother had always been the one to use suicide to get what she wanted and Jay hated that part of her mom the most.
People who use suicide to get what they want are fucking pathetic. Suicide isn’t a joke. She shut her phone off and let out a frustrated sigh. Andrew reached over and took her hand. He squeezed it gently.
She smiled a bit at him, feeling grateful for his support. She looked back at her phone but didn’t turn the screen on. Mom, if you do end up taking your own life, I’m sorry but I refuse to feel guilt for something you chose to do to try and hurt me. I wish though that you wouldn’t be so stupid. I hope you one day let go of your hate.
A few days passed before she was able to study the book she had taken. The deep blue cover was lined by intricately designed gold. When she brushed her fingers against it, it was strangely warm and soft.
Andrew sat beside her on the couch in the living room of his house. His arm was draped across the back behind her. She was acutely aware of how close they were sitting and it was making her heart race.
“Hey, feel this. It’s warm and soft like it’s covered in fur and weirdly alive.” She held out the book to him and he took it from her.
“How bizarre,” he commented as he examined it. He handed it back to her. “What was he doing with such a weird book?”
She shrugged and opened the book. “I don’t recognize the language either.” She flipped through and stopped at an image of a dragon. Weird. I feel like I’ve seen this dragon somewhere before. Probably when I was a huge dragon lover in my middle school days.
She looked down at the passage beneath it. “I can’t read any of this,” she said with a frown. “Would be nice if I could read any language in existence.” She stared in disbelief as the symbols began to make sense to her.
“Whoa,” she breathed.
“What is it?” Andrew inquired as he looked closer.
“It says: ‘This dragon is the great Erelith, guardian of the Starling Empire. Erelith is one of the legendary dragons of ancient history. He has been asleep for centuries though it is said that when the prophesized saintess appears, he shall awake. Legend has it that he will be her friend till the end of time.’”
“How are you able to read that? It just looks like weird symbols to me,” Andrew mused as he gazed down at the pages.
“I don’t know. It just suddenly made sense to me.” She couldn’t explain how it had happened. It just...happened. A friend till the end of time? I hope that I one day have such a friend. She glanced at Andrew and felt her cheeks heat up. My feelings for you though are far from friendship.
He met her gaze, feeling her stare. She blushed more from having been caught. Wow...his eyes are such a pretty blue. She felt him put his arm around her, his own face turning red. She couldn’t help but smile shyly.
He rested his forehead against hers. At the same time, she felt a vibration from the book but paid no attention to it. She could only focus on the pools of blue drawing her in. She felt a tingle when his soft lips pressed against hers.
A bright light flashed and they broke apart quickly. They freaked out as they immediately realized they were now falling from the sky. She clutched the book in one hand as they fell. “What the hell is this?” she screamed.
Andrew pulled her close and held her tight. “If only we could fly!”
Their bodies became lighter and they slowed to a gentle stop. They were both trembling as they opened their eyes and slowly turned their heads to look around. They were still high in the night sky but they were floating now.
They clung onto each other as they tried to process what was happening to them. “Can we please be on the ground?” she asked shakily.
They began to drop slowly towards the ground. They fell to their knees once safely on the soft grass below. She felt like she was going to faint from how scared she was. What the hell just happened?
Once they had calmed down, they stood up. Andrew kept his arms around her. “Did the book do this?”
“I think so,” she replied with a shaky voice. She gripped the book tightly. “I don’t see how though. It’s like a video game or a movie. This doesn’t just happen in real life!”
He kissed her forehead. “Calm down. We have each other so things are bound to be okay.”
“Right,” she agreed quietly as she looked into his eyes. She flinched when they heard voices.
“Over here! Intruders!”
“Stay right where you are!”
Soon they were surrounded by people wearing metal armor and capes. They had swords out and pointed at them. Jay gazed at them in fear and dismay. She could barely stand. How would she be able to fight these guys off if they attacked?
A man wearing a helmet with a long blue feather at the top stepped forward. “You are under arrest for trespassing,” he said, his voice deep and full of authority.
Before she knew it, the two of them were locked in a dungeon cell across from each other. She hated being apart from him. They gazed helplessly at each other for a moment, neither unable to really make sense of what was happening.
After some time passed of the two of them trying to come up with a plan, she laughed a bit. “You know, I always imagined one day we would end up in jail but it was never like this.”
He cracked a smile and nodded. “I always imagined a small prison cell with strict security. They haven’t once come to check on us since dumping us in here.”
“They probably don’t think very much of us right now. That will be our advantage in being able to escape,” she said with a grin as she started to finally come up with a plan. “We’re assassins. Let’s put those skills to use to break out.”
But what the morning brought, neither of them could prepare for.