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Siren

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Summary

Madison wanted to be a rock star. The universe had other plans. At 28 years old, Madison James thought she had long since become too old for anything truly exciting to happen to her. She was wrong. After a horrifying experience in a graveyard one night after a gig, Madison is taken and it's revealed to her that she is not who she thought she was. She has the blood of ancient magical beings flowing through her veins and the unnatural world isn't happy about it. Not knowing who in her life to trust, or where to turn, she must rely on her own new found abilities and strength to stay alive, to bring back a mystical race from the edge of annihilation.

Genre:
Fantasy / Other
Author:
Tamara Ward
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
20
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
16+

Chapter 1

Still get nervous every time, huh Mads?” Tick, my drummer, asked with a smile that softened the otherwise sharp angles and hollows of his craggy face.

Yep,” I replied shortly without a sigh or eye roll and for that, I was proud of myself. This dialogue seemed to be a pre-gig ritual between us so who was I to get all shirty with him.

How is the crowd looking?” I hated to be seen before we hit the stage, so I avoided it like the plague, but not all bars had a green room like this one.

Weird.”

Define weird.” Some days, extracting details from my drummer was like pulling teeth. I knew that part of it was a personality quirk but sometimes, I’m sure part of it was put on to see if he could get a rise out of me.

Dunno. Weird. Some suits. Some goths. Some cowboys. Just, weird.”

I shot him a worried look. Crap. It’s always so much harder to play to a mixed crowd, to make certain that you play stuff that appeals to as many different types of people as possible. We had thought we were playing to a young business crowd, so we had put together a torchy, punk pop-infused set and now this new information had me rethinking things.

Going to smoke. We have twenty minutes. Text me if you decide to make changes to the set list.”

OK,” I replied, feeling my brow knit in contemplative worry.

Madison?” Tick called softly from the door. “Trust your instincts. You are going to win them over, no matter what songs you sing, so let’s just do what feels right and not worry about pleasing everyone. In life, you can never do that so stop driving yourself crazy trying.”

He looked at me seriously, concern etched into his features, an emotion so out of place on his face it almost appeared mask-like.

Yes, Mom,” I replied flippantly, secretly flattered by his show of caring. While I did consider us friends, I never considered us close.

His face split into a huge grin, the second one in ten minutes, surely a record for him.

By the way, I’m glad you picked that shirt after all. It makes your tits look great.”

Hey now!” I admonished in mock offense and tossed my pen at him, which he plucked, still spinning out of the air with ease.

Joining the other guys, back in a bit.” He slipped out the door, silently closing it behind him.

I’d momentarily forgotten about the other guys who made up The Crossing.

I had posted an ad on Kijiji, not expecting to get much of a response and I hadn’t. I had received exactly three.

The first from Tick, all gangly arms and legs, who was, as far as I was concerned, a human metronome, able to keep rhythm on his drum kit so precise it could make a machine weep in envy. Sam, golden-haired and melancholic, played bass and cello, and hyperkinetic James, who shared guitar duties and joined me on vocals.

I was pretty damn lucky to have stumbled into the band that I had. I had never worked with a group of musicians in which the synergy happened as quickly or easily. We didn’t have to work at it much, our rehearsals consisting more of introducing new material rather than spending hours practising.

I tried not to dwell on the serendipity that appeared to be at play here and just be grateful.

I got up off of the couch I’d been sitting on and peeked sideways into the vanity mirror above the makeup table, being careful to only catch my face in the reflection, a trick I’d learned as an early teen. My brain didn’t need reminding about what the rest of me looked like.

On a good day, I would consider myself overtly curvaceous, on a day like today, simply overweight.

Being suddenly brave and allowing my gaze to travel further down to the black, plunging v-neck tank top, black jeans and heels that I was wearing. He was right, the black did work well, it truly showcased the cherry wood colour of my hair, and I had to admit, my tits did look pretty damn good.

He was also right about something else—our setlist; of this I was suddenly certain. I didn’t know how to describe it, it just felt right, and I’d learned long ago not to doubt those feelings.

After running a quick hand through my unruly red hair, hoping for sex kitten but feeling more like little Orphan Annie, I grabbed my water bottle and headed out of the door to join my guys for a quick base touch before heading on stage. For better or for worse, I was ready to sing.

***

He watched the way she moved, graceful on the spot, in perfect unison with the music spilling from her lips. Her waist-length hair flowed around her like waves of living fire.

He noted the way emotions played across her face, the very soul of the song she was singing on display.

He could feel more than see—save for the subtle, occasional shimmer or sparkle that was invisible to most—the power that had first sputtered from within her, now on the band’s last song of the night, was trickling forth in a steady stream. A fact that she had no idea about. That very fact possibly saving her life.

***

Holy fuckity fuck!” Tick exclaimed, wiping sweat from his brow. “That was tight!”

The others chimed in in agreement, my voice joining them.

It’s like we actually practice or something,” I commented drily.

Amazing job tonight Mads,” Sam said in his soft, forever sad baritone.

I was struck by the intense sincerity in his voice.

Thanks, Sam. You were no slouch either by the way. The cello on ‘No Longer Home’ was genius. I was almost unable to sing for the tears. The audience felt it.”

He rewarded me with an almost happy half-grin.

Yeah, the audience was weird right? What did I tell you? No one danced, they just watched. I didn’t know we were that good.” Tick punctuated his statement with a slap of his hand on the vanity, sending the brush sitting in the middle to dance precariously close to the edge.

Is this the part where we give each other congratulatory blow jobs? Fuck man.” James said colourfully but couldn’t hide his pleasure at how well things had gone.

Sorry J,” I started. “I don’t have a dick, so I’ll leave that to you guys.” When you spend the majority of your time solely in the company of certain men, you either adapt to their vulgar vernacular or you become a target, and to be honest, I have always loved the shocked look on his face when I one-upped him. Petty? Who, me?

They all burst out laughing, still energized and high on the night’s successes.

Their mirth was infectious and I couldn’t help but join in giggling and dancing around, giddy and elated, with that almost otherworldly feeling of delight that artists experience when something they have created is shared with a voracious and appreciative audience.

I felt freer than I had in months, all thoughts of my student debts, worrying about becoming a cat lady and dying alone, fears of food and never being pretty enough or thin enough dissipating from my overstressed brain like wind through the trees, and then I hit a brick wall, face first.

How rude.

I suddenly staggered and was saved from falling by Sam’s quick reflexes, the room spinning and my sense of the verticality abandoning me.

I clung to Sam’s arm. “Please don’t let me fall.” I whispered hoarsely as the room continued to spin.

My head felt like it was splitting open and if I looked in a mirror, I would be able to see stuff oozing out. I could hear roaring and my hand flew up to my ears in a frantic attempt to silence the noise.

Sam’s grasp on me tightened and over the jet plane screaming in my head, I could hear him.

I’ve got you, Maddie. I won’t let go.”

His fingertip methodically ran up and down my arm as I rode the waves of pain and noise. Through half-closed eyes I could see the others gathered around, fear knitting their brows and contorting their features.

I was able to process snippets of conversation.

What’s wrong with her?”

Mad, can you hear me?”

...911?”

She will be fine, just give her a moment.”

The last, Sam’s always oddly formal, soft, soothing lilt.

Sure enough, the pain began to recede like waves pulling back from the shore, and the noises drifted away.

I took a couple of deep steadying breaths, my body still tense, expecting the pain to return at any moment.

Sam rested his blessedly cool hand on my forehead.

Feeling better now?” he asked.

Yeah, I think so. I have no idea what that was, but boy did it suck.” I winced at it still, all too fresh a memory.

I think we should run you to the emerg to be safe.” Tick commented.

No, no. I’m alright” I assured with a dismissive wave of my hand.

If there was one thing guaranteed to make you feel worse than the illness itself, it was an eight-hour wait in the hospital emergency waiting room.

When was the last time you ate?” James inquired.

I dunno. Four o’clock? Five?” I replied, trying to remember.

Well, that could be the issue,” Sam concluded with a small smile.

While I was disinclined to agree with him, I didn’t want them worrying about the pain and auditory issues. All I wanted was a breath of cold October air on my short walk home and then my bed, followed by hours and hours of blessed slumber, curled up with my teddy bear, Winston. Hey, don’t judge.

I probably should have been more concerned about the episode than I was, but it had been a long, odd night, and I was exhausted so I was more than happy to chalk it up to a lack of food or fatigue or hell, the full moon if it meant that I could go home.

I smile up at Sam from within the circle of protection that his arms had been providing and nodded.

You’re probably right. I’m just hungry, overtired and overworked. It’s been quite a night.”

The boys broke into huge grins and visibly relaxed, happy to change the subject. James and Tick began talking animatedly about the gig and I moved to step away from my bass player.

Are you sure you’re alright Madison?” Sam asked seriously, his concern evident in his use of my full name. “Has the pain stopped?” he continued. And then smiled wanly at the surprised expression on my face. “You aren’t very good at hiding things kiddo.”

I sighed inwardly at the kiddo comment. At twenty-three he was five full years younger than I am, and he knew it, and yet he always came across like an old man in the body of a collage kid.

Yeah. It’s good now.” I replied truthfully. “All I want to do is tear down the equipment and head home to bed.”

We can tear down Mads. Let Sam walk you home and we’ll finish up here.” James looked at the others and was met with agreement.

Wow. James being magnanimous? This was a weird day.

OK. Thanks, guys.”

James and Tick nodded to me as they walked out the door to begin the most glamorous part of the job—unhooking the equipment and schlepping it out to the van.

I grabbed my backpack, my brush, set lists and the high heels that I had already ditched in favour of a pair of old comfy trainers. After tossing them into the bag and flinging it over my shoulder, I turned to Sam.

Thanks for the offer of an escort but I think I’d rather walk alone. Home is only half a block.”

Do you think that’s a good idea?” he questioned.

I do,” I assured, perhaps a little too enthusiastically. “I think the air will do me a world of good.” I met his gaze steadily, being careful not to let any doubt cloud my eyes.

Sam stood, eyes locked with mine for a full minute, before he spoke.

Alright Mads, but walk quickly and text me when you are home OK?”

Deal,” I replied.

I really didn’t want to spend another moment being mother henned, and irrational or not, I just wanted out and away from people.

Sam caught my face in his hands and gently placed a kiss on my forehead.

Be careful OK?” He requested, his voice filled with a serious tone and unnecessary weight.

You know me, safety girl.” I lamely joked in hopes of breaking the sudden tension.

Sam rewarded me with a half-smile. “If only being safe in life was as easy as wearing a condom.”

He moved over to the door and stepped over the threshold before glancing back over his shoulder.

Don’t forget to text me when you are home safe and sound.”

Without another word, he departed, leaving me to grab my black hoodie and backpack before exiting out the side door into the chilly October night.

***

The cold breeze was bracing, and I pulled my hood over my head in self-defence. While the fresh air cleared away the rest of the fog from my brain, I could still feel the remnants of the vice-like pain lingering at the base of my skull. After checking for oncoming cars, I crossed the road and started down the street in the direction of home.

Two-thirty in the morning saw the street in both directions empty and void of people or vehicles. All of the houses that peppered the tree-lined street were dark and ominous. They stood like giant stone and wood Goliath’s looming over me. A flickering streetlight reflected off of the windows, reminding me of deep soulless eyes. Some homes had already started decorating for Halloween and the occasional pumpkin, skeleton and other seasonal fare loaned itself to further the otherworldly feel.

As I moved slowly down the pavement, my skin began to crawl. That feeling usually reserved for the moments right after a nightmare. I had a sinking feeling in the depths of my stomach, one of being watched and worse, a feeling of deep foreboding.

I forced myself to stop walking and be still for a moment. I took slow, deep breaths and refused to allow the fluttering feeling in my chest to take hold into a full-blown panic attack, a trick I’d learned long ago to help deal with performance anxiety.

Breathe Mad’s. Slow, even breaths. Count to ten. I silently told myself and waited for my racing heartbeat to slow.

***

He watched the young woman slow her pace and then stop altogether, fascinated by her self-control. He knew full well the heightened emotions that were currently flooding her system. That she had the internal fortitude to stand still and attempt to regain control of herself spoke volumes about her character. Not that it mattered much really. He knew what was coming and no amount of deep breathing or internal pep talks was going to help. He felt sympathy for her, knowing what was to come. He’d been watching her for such a long time, and he’d grown to feel a fondness for the child. He couldn’t pretend to understand her, or any of them really, but he could see in her a flicker of potential and that made this task necessary, if somewhat unpleasant.

He slid out from behind the shadow he’d been using as cover and moved silently and cautiously towards her in the manner one might approach a wild animal.

***

...Nine. Ten. My heart rate had slowed enough that I no longer felt like it might beat right out of my mouth and I’d managed to battle back the urge to flee.

I rolled my shoulders in their sockets and then shrugged them up to my ears and down again, trying to loosen up some of the tension that had settled there.

Once I was certain that I had myself back under something resembling control, I took a cautious step forward. And then another, until pretty soon I was again accomplishing something that I’d been doing for twenty-eight years or so.

I kept my gait slow and steady with my eyes focused on the ground in front of me. A few steps later my heart thudded in my chest as I heard a crackling sound behind me and to the left. I frantically spun around and felt the world swim as I went down hard on one knee, my eyes struggling to locate the source of the sound. Several leaves chose that moment to point out how ridiculous I was being by skittering past my feet, producing the very same crackling sound that I had heard.

I might have dissolved into a fit of nervous giggles if not for the sudden onslaught of pain radiating from somewhere back behind my eyes. I grabbed at my head, trying not to throw up as the world resumed it’s evil, spinning dance.

I tried to take slow, deep breaths and ride out the horrible pressured pain that seemed to be increasing by the moment.

An aneurysm. That must be what this is, I thought to myself, my brain

I focused on breathing. In slowly, out slowly, trying to push the pain away. I could hear a soft keening sound and it took me a moment to realize that it was coming out of me. My eyes closed in defence of the dizzies and I fell back hard on my ass. I vaguely noted that my tail bone would probably ache in the morning.

If I’m still alive in the morning, an unhelpful voice whispered.

I wrapped my arms around myself and rocked slowly, the pain and pressure building never waning until I heard a loud CRACK! The sound of a wrecking ball hitting the side of an old building.

My heart pounded and terror flooded my system with all sorts of awesome chemicals, washing away some of the pain. In a blind panic, my hands felt around my head, looking for a wound or something to account for the loud noise that I somehow just KNEW had come from within my own head.

I brought my trembling hands to my face but couldn’t see any great gobs of blood, just some scrapes on the palm of my hand. As I gazed down at them, I blinked my eyes—I swear that it wasn’t much longer than a blink—but when my eyes opened the scrapes were gone, only dirt remained.

I felt a surge of adrenaline which left me even more unsteady than I already was. Even in my addled state, my logical brain argued with what my eyes thought they had just seen. It must have been a trick of the light.

OK, Maddy, I began. There isn’t anything gushing out of your head. You need to get up, get home and then call Sam. See if he’ll run you to the emerg.

I paused my internal pep talk in sudden realization—cell phone, I had a fracking cell phone in my hoodie pocket.

I fumbled with unsteady hands to pull it out and then swiped the screen, hit the call button and punched in 911, my blurry vision forcing my fingers to try repeatedly to hit the correct number.

While I was not delighted with the thought of sitting in the middle of the sidewalk, waiting for an ambulance to come screaming down the twisted road, lights flashing and probably manned by hot EMTs, my fear of what was happening was even stronger.

As my trembling finger hit the final 1, the screen went black. I stared dumbly at the phone, unable to understand why it wasn’t working. I tried swiping the screen again and when that didn’t work, I tried turning it off and back on again. Nothing.

I felt a sob slip past my lips and I shoved the dead phone back into my pocket. I briefly entertained the thought of screaming for help but that would mean that things had gotten bad to a point that I wasn’t yet ready to admit.

Instead, I tucked a foot underneath me and pulled myself up on to my knees and then to my feet. I stood, wobbling for a moment, and did a self-assessment.

The pain in my head was still there but nowhere near as bad. Somewhat like the difference between a migraine and a run-of-the-mill headache. I was still dizzy but not so bad that I couldn’t stand. The rest of me ached but I could deal. I stood for a moment, focusing on breathing and staying upright, and contemplated what to do.

My home was only half a block away and if I went slow, I could probably make it.

With my course of action decided, I steadied myself and began to head home, shuffling my feet and moving with painful caution.

Keeping my eyes on the road ahead of me to alert me to rocks or trash that I may trip over, I could see a fair-sized lump at the side of the road a few feet ahead.

A few steps closer and I could see that the lump was, in fact, the corpse of a raccoon, probably struck and left a few days prior, judging by the smell now reaching my nose.

I shook my head in a vain attempt to chase away the smell and when I was still, I could hear a strange discordant sound, almost like distant music in my ears.

I turned my head to the side slightly and strained to find the source. If it were from a car stereo, that could mean that I could flag down help. The more I strained to hear it though, the further away it drifted. With a resigned sigh, I refocused on the task at hand.

I took another step towards the raccoon and it twitched, causing me to stumble slightly backwards. Trying to beat back the fear now threatening to overwhelm me, I stared fixated on the corpse. Again, it twitched and then ever so slowly its coat seemed to ripple and it twitched some more. Frozen in horror, I stood and watched as it staggered to its feet and turn towards me.

I could see that its head had taken the brunt of the collision. The left side, from the tip of its ear to its nose was gone or squashed in. In the dim street I couldn’t tell which, and to be honest, I didn’t much care.

The same strange ripple moved from the right side of its head, and I was suddenly aware of its bright, beady eye staring at me.

Aware. Alive. While missing half of its head and smelling like it had been dead for days.

I’m embarrassed to say that I squeaked like a frightened mouse and tried to back away. As I continued to stare, unable to look away, the left side of the head began to grow back.

It flowed from the point near the nose upwards, like clay being applied by an artist’s spackle knife. It was smooth, seamless and rapid.

One moment the head was half gone and the next it was fully formed.

The raccoon shook itself as if to dislodge rainwater and then started towards me, its eyes fixed on mine with its adorable, fluffy waddling. Or it might have been adorable if the damn thing hadn’t been well and truly dead only moments before.

My brain and body took that moment to disconnect from my rational self and decide it had had just about enough of this night and I started to run; the flat-out panicked run of someone being pursued. I ran around the lumbering animal, giving it a wide berth and fled up the street at a dead sprint.

With my body in a strange sort of autopilot, my mind picked up on details as I moved. While the pain in my head wasn’t accompanied by the pressure it had been, it now had a brand new tingling feeling, neither pleasant nor unpleasant, just really strange.

It felt like something was flowing out of my head. It was a warm, tingling sensation and my hands flew up again to check for blood. Nothing.

As I passed by a giant maple tree in full autumn bloom, I heard a whisper of the same discordant music, with the leaves on the tree seeming to dance in time to the strange melody and then in unison, leap from its branches to drift lazily to the ground in a riot of reds and oranges. The music swelled and crescendoed into a sudden staccato stop, and then new, green foliage grew instantly from buds and burst forth into trembling leaves.

I stopped short, a few feet from the tree and stared up in terror and awe. An odd rippling of the ground at the foot of the tree drew my attention. As I watched, grass sprouted from the ground, green and lush, the air alive with the scent of new growth; that smell that one often associates with spring renewal. It was like watching a time-lapse video. Where once there were brown dried husks, now strong, new blades blew in the early twilight wind.

A sudden scuffling sound spun me around and threatened to send me sprawling again, but just in time I checked my hip and found the right counterbalance to stay upright. There, waddling towards me, was zombie raccoon, its eyes fixed on me, intent on...what? That was the real question. It was bad enough that it had risen from the dead but now it was after me and I knew how cranky those things could be under the best of circumstances, who knew what it’s mood would be like after being ripped from its eternal slumber.

I did a quick one-eighty and took off at a racers clip, wanting to get home, or somewhere that wasn’t here, I didn’t really care which. Past the large maple and down the block I sprinted, my head now pounding with pain, the annoying music still blaring in my ears.

I tried not to notice anything that was going on around me, but roses, shaded black in the darkness, exploding from withered stalks on an ornate white trellis’ was not the sort of thing that was easy to dismiss. I paused long enough to see them bud, bloom, wither and flutter to the ground, only to start the cycle all over again.

The world around me was in chaos, time itself seemed to be moving forward at a rapid pace except that the time of day itself wasn’t changing. I was cognizant enough to realize that.

My lungs burned and legs ached in time to my pounding head as I pushed myself harder and faster, desperate to escape the madness.

I could see the salvation of my walk up less than a block away. I just had to pass the local cemetery and go up to the front door of my walk-up. Easy peasy.

Yeah, right.

Out of the corner of my right eye, I detected movement; something large, black and smooth moving closer to me. I stole a quick look and I could see a vaguely human shape made of velvet and blackness, though I couldn’t make out actual features.

The music in my head continued to swell in time with my rising terror as I pushed on.

I veered to the right and slipped through the cemetery’s side gate, darting around headstones while looking for the paved path that I knew was there, twisting through the grounds and stopping right at the back fence of my yard.

As I moved over the dried crackly lawn, new grass exploded from the ground under my feet; dead or dying flowers lovingly left on graves bloomed again, colourful and fragrant. As I rounded a statue of a stone angel, which itself sent shivers down my spine, I heard a soft voice behind me say my name.

Three syllables. Mad-i-son. Instead of a feeling of relief at being found by someone that I knew, I could feel my bladder weaken and for once and for all, I knew the answer to the question I’d often pondered; does one actually wet one’s self when pushed to the limit of fear? The answer is yes, yes one does.

There was nothing in the tone to indicate malicious intent, but I couldn’t help but feel that the voice was after me, looking to harm me.

On I pushed, legs and arms pumping, oblivious to the pain in my abused limbs but strangely all too aware of the warmth being leached out of me from my now wet pants and the searing pain in my brain and lungs.

Running on adrenaline and fear, I flew over the ground, my mind on one thing—home. It was irrational to think that there I would be safe, but I was somehow certain that I would be.

My eyes finally could make out the dark shape of the mausoleum that rested at the last bend of the path that led to home and felt a renewed sense of relief.

As I reached the corner of the building, a stitch in my side halted my progress, doubling me over in pain.

Great, another flicker of fire to add to the inferno that is my body. My barely coherent mind complained. And for fuck’s sake, could someone please turn off the damn music.

Instead of stopping, the music swelled like a Disney ballad, causing a giggle to slip past my lips unbidden. Good job, let’s add hysteria to the mix Mad’s.

I stood bent over at the waist, my breath being pulled into my lungs in tight airy gasps, waiting for the pain to recede enough to allow me to stand up while my eyes frantically searched the path I had just run for signs of my pursuer.

Over the sound of my ragged breathing, I slowly became aware of another sound, soft at first, a scrabbling sound like that of beetles over a stone floor. After a moment, the scrabbling became a frantic, insistent scratching, and then came the sound of stone grating on stone, a heavy, horrifying sound. In one breath, the reality came crashing down on me, I knew what was making the noise. I’d already seen it happen to the raccoon and my sanity couldn’t stick around to see the human version.

I sprung up from my position against the wall and took off at a pace I knew I couldn’t maintain. Taking the shortcut across the grass instead of along the paved winding road, I bobbed and weaved around the gravestones and monuments, leaping, twisting and soaring like some sort of Olympic hurdling champion. Just ahead I could see where the path met up with my backyard and I pushed forward.

As I allowed myself to believe that I’d made it and that I was safe, I felt a gentle touch on my back. Even though I knew that it couldn’t be, not at the speed I was travelling, I knew that it was fingertips gently running down my spine. I screamed and plunged ahead, losing track of everything around me in my blind panic to get away.

I suddenly felt my feet leave the ground and my body surge forward, becoming momentarily airborne. As I thudded to the ground, I slid to a stop, my head impacting something hard. Strangely enough, it didn’t hurt.

I guess there is a limit to what pain your body can perceive, I thought vaguely.

My eyes still open, I could see something dark sliding towards me, I did the only thing my body would allow me to do, I tried to scramble backwards, to seek escape, but all I managed to do was scrunch myself up against the very tombstone I’d wacked my skull off of.

I could feel my breathing becoming irregular and short—well, even more irregular than it had already been. The still ever-present music inside of my head was now bombastic yet eerie, the perfect underscore to my fear. I curled up, pressed tightly against the cold stone, my eyes wide and staring. The pain swelled with the music until it suddenly stopped, and all became blessedly dark and quiet.

***

He stepped easily out of the shadow and gazed down at the pitiful creature at his feet. She stared up at him, her green eyes open but unseeing, only the tiny gasping noises she made as she attempted to pull oxygen into her lungs and the tears and snot streaming down her face gave any indication that she was still alive.

He stood watching her for a moment and again felt a small stirring of something that he assumed was pity. He shifted his sight slightly, drawing on his magic abilities so he could truly see her, and he winced.

He noted that all of the physical injuries she had sustained had slowed in their healing, such as the torn ligament she had just suffered in the fall, but it was the sight of her head that most concerned him. He could see the way her skull had been blown open, metaphysically speaking.

Swirls of bright lights spilled from the hole, sliding across the lawn and over his feet. Lower down he could see her body’s warmth also spilling out of her and over the grass. As she lay there haemorrhaging, her life seeping out of her and sinking into the graveyard ground, he took a momentary pause.

All it would take was him standing there and doing nothing for her to slip away, and he wondered, not for the first time, if that wasn’t the more humane choice. That said, he wasn’t in a position to be humane.

He reached down, took a deep breath, and gently touched her forehead, whispering soft words in a strange language. He watched as the wall in her head rebuilt itself, slowly and methodically. With a flick of his fingers, he altered the progress, leaving a small aperture in the center of the structure before walling up the rest, unsure of how long it would last but knowing he had to do something.

With the mending of her mind, the blaring music receded to a scant whisper, and her breathing slowed and deepened.

As he pulled back his sight and looked at her through less mystical eyes, he sighed and wondered what the point of this entire thing was. She was a frail, human child. Mostly human. Though, he doubted that even the ‘mostly’ would save her. Thankfully that wasn’t his decision to make, so he gathered her up into his arms and stepped back into the shadow.

***

Two male figures stood beside the bed, gazing down at the still girl. It had been a full twenty-four hours, and she continued to drift in and out of consciousness, still unable to tether herself to the here and now.

Well the breach didn’t kill her. I suppose that is something.” one said to the other.

A very small something.” came the reply.

True, but better a small hope than no hope at all.”

I suppose.” the other conceded. “How long until you know if she is viable?” he continued.

I can’t say. I wish I could. I truly do. I know how important the speed of execution is in all of this.” His tone confirmed the weight that his words carried.

Well wake her up then. Get started. The more quickly it’s done, the better for all of us.”

Yes, sir. I understand that, but it’s a process that can’t be rushed if it is—” his sentence was cut off by his companion’s icy glare.

You DON’T understand. If you did, you would just do as you were ordered. Without comment.”

I understand far better than you.” The voice that replied hadn’t increased in volume, but it had deepened; not in anger so much as a tone, as thick and dangerous as boiling tar.

The other caught his gaze and seemed to reconsider him, a slight tip of his chin indicating that he not only heard what the other was saying, but that new respect had been reached.

Let me know when you know anything.” With that, he all but glided to the door and disappeared into the shadowy hallway beyond.

The remaining man took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. He leaned over and brushed a lock of red hair off of the girl’s forehead, a dark look flickering across his face for a moment before he softened his features into a warm smile and readied himself. After speaking a few words of awaking in her direction, he waited patiently as she began to stir.

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Further Recommendations

georgia: Ah! i read this in a couple of hours i couldn’t put it down!! i loved it as much as i loved the other stories. took me a second to remember all the names again and their back stories but when i did, the story became that much more whole. i would say there are a few sentences here and there that d...

Leyla-Claude: Really enjoying this. Read book 2 first but glad reading this one.

Jennie: Love the plot development and how the story turned out 🥰🥰🥰great read

Tiffany: Omg ...if you enjoy reading short hot stories that gets you really needing to bring your toys out and play then this is perfect for you it's amazing!!! I really LOVED reading this!! Ty for letting us read your marvelous amazing story!!!

nanacinda58: It was very well written. Story kept your interest up. Strong woman character.

Leanna: I like the 4 kinghts. I would recommend it to my friends.

Crazy_reader: It's a really nice read! !

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honeygirlphx: Loved it can’t stop reading these books! Great writing

honeygirlphx: I was hoping Tate would have a fated mate! Love this book

Bamalady78: I have absolutely nothing but praise for this story. Each book draws you in to the newest couple while still continuing the past couples storyline. Absolutely brilliant work of art.

Natalee Lindo: I love these books. Just going from one book to another.

Deleted User: The fact that the book ends before she even goes on the date/dinner is so frustrating. But Even though...I love your story and the rollercoasters it takes me on. 💚🖤🖤⚔☠😁☠⚔🖤🖤💚

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