Tracked: A Valkyrie Saga Book 2

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Chapter 19 - Kidnapped

God. What have I done?

-Jack Huntsville

I sent the twins back to the waiting room while I Cloaked enough to be able to sneak into Amy’s hospital room. I knew that Jack would be there and I wanted to talk to him alone and check in with Amy once more before going home to change. When I finally found her room, I walked in to find that Jack was in the exact same pose that he had held in the ER. Sitting in a chair next to Amy’s bed with her hand lightly in his grasp. I uncloaked and asked, “How is she?”

Jack jumped a little and spun around to look at me. His eyes were puffy and bloodshot making me assume he had cried. I hated that he had cried, but I also hated that I felt such a deep pang of betrayal when I looked at him. I needed to get over myself. It wasn’t like I was in love with Jonas.

“She is going to be okay. She woke up for a little while, but only cried a little before she passed back out.”

“If you want, we can get someone for her to talk to,” I offered and Jack visibly clenched his jaw.

He stared at me and I felt the space between us stretch until he felt like he was miles away instead of standing within touching distance. He waited so long to answer that the air filled with a tension that I didn’t know how to break. Was he upset with me? Why was he looking at me like that? I was the one who had the beef with him right now. Shouldn’t I be the one that was upset?

“You look ridiculous in that get-up,” Jack finally said in a terse voice and I wondered if he was upset that I now had money. Just weeks ago we had to scrounge for enough spare change to make sure we could eat outside of the free meals at school. Now I was living in a house with so much food that it would spoil before we could eat it all, going to royal balls, and offering to pay for Amy to see a therapist.

But I had openly invited both of them into my home. My life was changing but I was doing my best to make sure Jack and Amy stayed a part of my life. Yes, I had been a little absent lately, but so many life-changing things kept happening to me. I felt like I was doing everything in my power just to keep my head above water.

“Are you seriously upset with me right now?” I asked because I was done playing games.

“Where the hell were you last night? Why the fuck are you dressed like a Disney princess?” Jack snapped at me and I was sure the only reason he wasn’t yelling was that he didn’t want to wake Amy.

I felt like he had just slapped me and I was done. I was done taking hits from people that were supposed to be on my side. “Me? Where the fuck were you when your sister was going to parties alone, clearly on some sort of self-destructive path? Oh, wait, I already know the answer to that. You were fucking my boyfriend,” I hissed back and his jaw visibly clenched again before he looked away from me to stare out the narrow window.

I didn’t understand this. I came in here thinking we would have an awkward conversation about what I had walked in on. Eventually, he would apologize and I would forgive him. Together we would talk about how Jonas wasn’t good enough for either of us and plan what we were going to do to make sure Amy never pulled this kind of stunt again. I wasn’t expecting him to act like I was the bad guy here, or for him to shut me out like this.

Two whole minutes passed and Jack didn’t utter a word or look at me. That breaking point I was flirting with earlier came rushing back and I felt like I was standing at an edge of a cliff. A strong wind would be enough to push me over and I would never be the same again.

I wanted to tell him that I had been hurt yesterday and those wounds still felt raw. I wanted to explain how terrified I was of this unknown future and how I hated being pushed into politics just to keep my new family safe. I wanted to share the panic that still lingered in my system from when I literally felt Amy slipping away from us. I wanted to tell him that I didn’t really feel that strongly about Jonas, and I cared more about our friendship. I wanted to forgive him.

If he would have just looked at me, I would have told him those things. But instead, he sat there and built a wall for the sole purpose of keeping me out. Maybe he felt he was justified because I was keeping things from him. Maybe he was angry that I had interrupted his interlude with Jonas. Maybe to him, Jonas was more important than our friendship.

Right now I didn’t have the strength to tear down his walls. I simply didn’t have it in me.

I turned and walked out of the room as tears spilled from my eyes.

I hadn’t bothered to Cloak and Elijah was the first one to see me as I walked on wooden legs into the waiting room. He stood and walked straight up to me, wrapping me up in his arms. I leaned into his embrace, closed my eyes, and breathed in his spicy scent. My breath was even, but I couldn’t seem to stop the flow of tears and I knew that I needed to get some sleep. The rest of the guys took one look at me and must have come to the same conclusion because they wordlessly started walking outside. I was bone tired and when Max came up beside me and wrapped his arm around my shoulder, I leaned into him and let him direct me in the right direction.

Once in the limo, I drifted back into that numb state where nothing permeated too deep and before I even realized we had started driving, Max was gently pulling me out of the car. I stumbled after him with bare feet and used one of my hands to bunch the skirt of the dress high enough so that I didn’t trip or ruin the fabric. I had no idea what had happened to my heels. I had been wearing them when I got into the limo. Something stung my neck and I dropped Max’s hand to press my palm to the sting. I felt something in my neck and pulled it out to see a small dart before everything went black.

I felt like my eyelids were glued together and my neck was flung back at a painful angle. I was pretty sure I was sitting up and wondered if I had fallen asleep in the car. I tried to raise my right hand to rub my eyes but my left rose with it and cold hard metal dug into my wrists.

Fear pooled in my gut at the feel of metal against my wrist and I snapped my head up worried that I was going to find that awful cuff on my arm again. Fortunately, the handcuffs circling my wrists were of the normal variety and I didn’t sense any magical hum dampening my Gifts. I called a small throwing knife just to be sure and breathed a sigh of relief when it materialized in my palm.

“I understand that you are confused, but there is no need for weapons. We are not going to hurt you,” a male voice with a thick Russian accent said and I looked away from my hands to take in my surroundings. I was sitting on a couch in a nicely furnished but narrow room that had curved walls and small, portal-like windows. I was about to dismiss the room to look at the unknown men that surrounded me when I saw a wing outlined by a background of clouds outside one of the windows. I did a double-take and then my eyes widened in surprise when I came to the only logical conclusion.

I was on an airplane!

“Are we on a plane?” I asked before I could stop myself because the idea was just too far out there. I had never even seen an airplane that wasn’t just a dot in the sky before. How in the world was I on one now. And where were the rows of seats that they always showed in the movies? I looked again at the room around me and saw several more couches and large reclining chairs all in creamy white leather. Directly across from me was a stocky middle-aged man, maybe in his late thirties or early forties, with a short neck and a larger than the normal nose. Four other men ranging from a little older than the guy who had talked down to a guy that looked to be around my age were also looking at me with interest from matching luxury seats. At the back of the plane, there were two rows of seats that looked similar to what I thought of when I thought about planes. Within those seats, Elijah and Max sat. They were gagged and looking at me with expressions of fear.

I tried to stand to go to them, but something around my middle was holding me down. I glanced down and saw a seat belt strapped across my lap. I was just reaching to unbuckle it when the accented voice answered my question.

“Of all of the things I thought might occur when you finally opened your beautiful eyes, you being entranced by my airplane hadn’t even crossed my mind. Personally, I thought you might be a little upset about the whole kidnapping thing, but I much prefer this response to a bout of hysteria.”

His words stilled my hands and took a moment to fully digest what he said. Kidnapped? The last thing I remember was getting into the Limo at the hospital. If these men had attacked us and kidnapped me, where were the rest of the guys? Why were only Max and Elijah on the plane with me? Where were the twins and Derik? Were they okay? That thought made my blood run cold and I started talking without fully thinking out all of the consequences. But I wasn’t just going to sit here and play nice with my self-proclaimed kidnappers.

“When I was little and my Cloaking Gift was starting to develop, I would sometimes accidentally push myself back into the void when something startled me,” I told the man that had done all of the talking and he leaned forward in his seat, clearly interested in my little story. “This one time I was in a car that was driving down the road when a nearby car honked its horn and I jumped right into the void. The problem with this was, once you are in the void, you can no longer interact with the things in the physical plane and the car drove away without me. I hit the ground hard and broke my arm.”

The man looked at me expectantly when I didn’t continue and asked, “While I love that you are openly talking about your unique Gift, do you want to explain what the point of that little story is?”

I smiled at him, making sure to show him my teeth, and said, “What do you think you will break when you fall out of this airplane?”

It took a moment, but I knew he understood that I was threatening to use the void to make him fall from the airplane when the blood drained from his face. I assumed that because he had been the one to do all of the talking that he was in charge and forced myself not to look away from him when the four other men sitting on the fancy chairs started murmuring to themselves in a language I didn’t understand.

To prove my point, I raised my cuffed wrists into the air to call attention to them before pushing both them and the seatbelt into the void. They disappeared and I stood to give myself the power position.

I stopped smiling and glared at the man before demanding, “Turn this plane around and return us or you are going to be doing a little impromptu skydiving without a parachute.”

The man looked like he was half-listening to the now frantic sounding men around him, but he didn’t take his eyes off of me. He snapped something in that foreign language and the men fell silent. “I do admire your fire, my dear. You will make a magnificent queen. But I am afraid I am going to have to call your bluff. A little girl like you doesn’t have it in you to murder us in cold blood.”

Bananas! He was right. I hadn’t been planning on really going through with my threat and I was hoping that my little magic trick would have been enough. But for all I knew this man had already killed three of the guys. If I backed down now, he would win and I would lose my ability to save the two people that I had left.

I didn’t falter. I couldn’t afford to. Elijah and Max were depending on me.

I picked the man to the leader’s left and pushed him back into the void only to bring him back a second later so that they would be able to see him fall. There was a single moment of shocked silence and then the remaining three men rushed to the window and the leader finally looked away from me.

There was a lot of yelling in their foreign language and the plane made a sudden tip as it started to make a sharp turn in the air. I stumbled backward and ended up being pressed into the couch. I materialized a large hunting knife and stabbed it into the couch below me so that I would have something to hold onto, now regretting getting rid of the seatbelt. The three men standing also stumbled but were quick to return to the window while pointing and yelling in what I think is Russian. I wanted to check on Elijah and Max but refused to take my eyes off of the men in case they decided to attack me before I could push them all into the void. It’s what I would have done.

The plane leveled out, but I kept my white-knuckled grip on the knife buried within the leather upholstery. The men stopped yelling and all turned to stare at me. The youngest one was the one to break the silent standoff and lunge toward me while calling a curved blade that I had never seen before. However, I was ready for his attack and quickly formed an individual Shield around each of my four remaining kidnappers. I used the Shields to push the three away from the fancy seats and threw them forcefully against the far end of the plane near where I assumed the pilots were. I felt the little zings of power that I was fed when my Shields touched their skin and knew that they would be in a huge amount of pain right now. I allowed the leader to stay in his throne-like chair, but I could tell that he was now ready to take me seriously.

“Turn this plane around and return us,” I repeated to the leader.

He was back to staring at me while rubbing a finger over his upper lip. “The man you just killed was named Leonid. He had been with me for over fifteen years and has two little boys that you just orphaned.”

I raised my chin and refused to play this game with him. He wanted to make me feel guilty, to ensure I felt so horrible about my actions that I would be unwilling to do it again. My father liked to do the same to the people that he played with. I would not fall into that trap. Leonid was dead because of his choices. I hadn’t forced these men to kidnap me and I had warned them. Plus, if I could pull this off, there would be plenty of time to feel guilty later.

“Would you prefer to choose who I kill next?” I asked in a cold voice that clearly communicated that I wasn’t bluffing. I turned to look over at the men that I had pinned and tilted my head as if I was considering which one I would enjoy killing the most. “My personal vote is for the young handsome one. I mean he did try to come after me with a knife. Not very nice of him.”

The leader paled again and I knew that I had hit on someone that he wanted to keep alive more than he wanted me as a prisoner. I returned my cold stare to the boy that could really only be a couple of years older than myself and allowed my eyes to run over his body. He was of an average height, maybe 5′9 or 5′10, and had a burly build, reminding me of a wrestler. His hair was dark brown and cut short so I could clearly see his strong jawline and a nose that had been broken at least once. He had a large tattoo visible on his neck of a symbol that I didn’t recognize. Now that I was looking closer, I was fairly sure that he and the leader were related. Brothers maybe.

The leader started speaking in Russian and I saw that he had a phone pressed to his ear. Shortly after he hung up the plane started to turn in a more graceful way and I assumed that we had turned around but it didn’t hurt to check. “We are returning to San Francisco?” I asked, trying not to sound too eager.

“Da,” the leader replied and he was telling the truth. I let out a deep breath and then asked the question that I couldn’t repress any longer.

“What did you do to my other clan members?”

The leader reached up and taped my Shield that was surrounding him and I felt the shot of power as he pulled back his hand and shook out his fingers. Most Valkyries couldn’t form Shields around anyone but themselves, so I understood his fascination. Plus I could control if the Shields would shock the Valkireis inside them or not. This guy was most defiantly not my friend and so he would get shocked every time he tried to touch my Shield. “We left them,” he finally replied, and once again he was telling the truth.

“Left them where?” I pushed, needing details.

“At your house. We drugged all of you to eliminate the possibility of fighting. But we have no use for Valkyries with only useless Gifts. So we only took those of you that would strengthen our kingdom,” he stated in an almost bored voice. Like if it was normal for him to steal people that he thought were powerful and he wanted to play with.

There was one problem with his answer. Connor had three Gifts and he wasn’t here. “Where is Connor Berg?”

“The boy with the Strength?” he checked and I nodded my head to confirm. “Ah, Strength and airplanes do not mix. If he wanted, your friend could tear a hole in my beautiful plane. You have to be careful with people with Telekinesis too. They can cause trouble with the plane’s controls. I will have to add your Cloaking Gift as a no-go for planes in the future.”

He was telling the truth. The guys were all okay. They were probably damn near out of their minds with worry, but they were okay. “Why did you kidnap me? What do you want from me?” I asked because he seemed to be fine with answering my questions.

He started chuckling and the sound sent a shiver down my spine. “My dear, I want the same thing all of those clambering boys at the Matching want. I want to make you a queen.” When I just stared at him in response his smile only seemed to grow. “Do you know who I am?”

I chanced a look back at Max and Elijah and saw that they were also relieved to hear that the rest of the guys were okay. I concentrated and gently pushed just the zip ties holding their wrists to the chair arms into the void, releasing them from their bonds. I hadn’t done it earlier because I didn’t want to make them more of a target than they already were. But now all the bad guys were secured behind my Shields and I couldn’t stand them being tied up any longer. They both reached up and withdrew the gags within their mouth and rather calmly rose and moved to sit next to me.

Max sat next to the knife I still had a white-knuckle grip on and gently placed his hand over mine while Elijah sat at the very edge of the couch on my other side. “You are Alexei Vasiliev,” Elijah said in his professor’s voice. “The King of Russia.”

Now, that name rang a bell in my head and I remembered Mathis telling me how Alexei’s grandfather had abused his powerful wife after they were married. She had escaped and turned the rest of the Valkyrie royals against the Vasiliev Royal Line. Since then, every single royal family has refused to even entertain the idea of discussing allowing another of their princesses to join Vasiliev’s kingdom through marriage. Russia has been without a queen or any princesses for nearly fifty years.

Alexei must have read the recognition in my eyes because he started nodding his head. “See, now you understand why I had to stoop to such methods to gain an audience with you. You, my dear, would be happy in Russia. A woman as ruthless and powerful as yourself would marvel at everything we have to offer. Why don’t you let me tell the pilot to turn the plane back around, and we will show you our beautiful kingdom.”

“I am no one's prisoner,” I told him with heat in my voice.

“You have made that point abundantly clear. You are in control of this situation. If you choose to come to Mother Russia with me, then you would rule one of the largest kingdoms in the world by Dimitri’s side. You already said that you find him handsome, yes? No one would ever dare make you a prisoner again,” Alexei said and leaned forward in his seat trying to implore me with his eyes to accept his offer.

Jesus what was wrong with this guy. He had just kidnapped me and two of my closest friends and now he wanted me to just go along with his plan for me to marry his brother. Maybe insanity was more present in Valkyries than in humans because I still couldn’t wrap my head around the extent that which these royals were willing to act for a small advantage in power. Thankfully Elijah pulled the attention away from me and asked something useful.

“How far are we from landing in California?”

Alexei glanced down at his watch and tilted his head from side to side as if he was considering the answer. “Maybe three hours. She took longer than you to wake up. Probably because she is smaller and the drug took longer to wear off,” Alexei said and then returned his gaze to me.

Well, shoot. What were we supposed to do for the next three hours? Continue to have small talk with our kidnappers while the twins and Derik continued to not know where we were or that we were trying to come back to them. I checked my bra and felt that Connor’s phone was still inside but the battery had died and it wouldn’t turn on. Max must have seen what I was doing and he checked his own pockets but came back empty.

I turned my eyes back to Alexei remembering that he had been talking on a cell phone when he ordered the plane to be turned around. He also must have clearly deduced what I wanted because he said, “No cell phone service when flying, my dear. It only works as a way for us to communicate with the pilot this high up.”

“Do you have a way to call people on the ground?” I asked and his eyes sparkled.

“No, you are going to have to wait until we land to make a call. And we are currently over the ocean so we cannot land for hours yet,” Alexei said but he was lying. I narrowed my eyes at him and shrunk the Shield around him until the sides touched his skin causing him to shout in pain and his body to spasm. I only tapped him with the Shield, but my message was clear. I will not tolerate being lied to.

The three men at the end of the plane started yelling in Russian and Alexei slumped in his chair for a moment as he recovered from the unexpected shock. He then started gradually laughing and my eyes grew wide in surprise. His soft chuckles turned into full-out belly laughter and I decided that he was most definitely insane.

“You are absolutely perfect, my dear! The rumors said that you had Truth but I was hesitant to believe it. Barely anyone has Truth these days. And to top things off you are brilliantly creative. Not even I had thought to turn a defensive Shield into a torture device,” Alexei said with a happy enthusiasm and a wild look in his eye. “I think maybe, Dimitri will just have to get his own queen and you should rule at my side instead.”

I sat there with my back straight and wide eyes, not knowing how to respond to this level of madness. I mean what in the actual world was going on right now? Elijah and Max must have been in the same shock that I was because it took a moment before Elijah recovered enough to ask, “Where is the phone that has service?”

Alexei pointed to the small console that was to his right and Max moved to kneel next to it and found a satellite phone inside. He passed it to Elijah and he didn’t hesitate to make a call. I held my breath as Elijah held the bulky phone to his ear, needing separate confirmation that the twins and Derik were really okay.

“Derik,” Elijah spoke into the phone and then paused, presumably allowing Derik to respond but I couldn’t hear the other side of the conversation. “Yes, Ray is with me and she is okay... Max too... Alexei Vasiliev... Private airplane. Ray got them to turn it around and is holding Vasiliev and crew within Shields. We should land in three hours... One down... I understand. It couldn’t be helped. We will deal with it when we land... Yeah okay.”

Elijah then held the phone out to me and I reached out with suddenly shaking fingers. For a moment there, I had thought I had lost them forever. Now, I felt suddenly shy to talk to them again. It was weird and I didn’t know why I was having this reaction. I clutched the phone to my ear and let out a shaky breath that I hoped Derik couldn’t hear from the other side.

“Hey, Wonder Girl,” Derik called from the other side of the line and I felt my breath hitch. “Heard you reached a new level of ass-kicking.”

A sort of combination laugh-cry burst from my lips before I could stop it. “You okay?” I questioned in a small voice and from the corner of my eye, I saw Alexei readjust in his chair and knew that he was analyzing everything about me right now.

“Yeah, me and the boys are just fine. Woke up on the lawn completely unharmed and started gathering an army to get you back. We will always come for you. Remember that Wonder Girl. No matter what happens or how much time passes. We will always come for you,” Derik told me in a strong stern voice and I knew in my bones that this was a promise he would never break.

“Same here,” I vowed.

I heard Derik cough to clear his throat before he told me to hand the phone back to Elijah in an emotion-filled voice. Elijah took the phone and then walked to the back of the plane and started murmuring on the phone at such a low decibel that we couldn’t hear him over the hum of the plane. I took a deep breath to try to calm the roiling emotions within me. Max scooted closer to my side, pressing his thigh against mine. Knowing that he was here was reassuring and I reached out to hold onto his hand.

“Why have you attached yourself to such a powerless and inconsequential clan?” Alexei asked, now sounding angry. “You are better than them, my dear.”

His words were just what I needed to push away the sea of emotions storming inside of me and I was able to focus solely on my anger. A thought occurred to me and I leveled a harsh glare in his direction as I considered how to question him without disclosing what had actually happened. “Were you responsible for the attack on my clan two days ago?” I asked in a commanding voice and his eyes lit up once more.

“What attack?” Alexei was quick to ask in return but I refused to give him any more information. After a full minute of simply staring at him, Alexei started talking again. “The only time I attacked your so-called clan was last night when we carefully took you into our care without hurting anyone.”

He was trying to be political, but he was telling the truth. He wasn’t the one that ordered Derik to be Compelled. “What are your Gifts?” I demanded.

Alexei seemed pleased that I was interested enough to ask and didn’t hesitate to tell me, “Weapons, Shield, and Energy.” He then tipped his palm up and formed a small ball of sparking electricity just to prove his point. I knew that Queen Florence had Energy, but the only person I had witnessed use it was Noland from the Blade Clan, and couldn’t help that my eyes were drawn to the pulsating ball of power.

“Energy is not so good on airplanes either. But once we are on the ground, I will demonstrate the vast power that I control,” Alexei promised darkly and my stomach sank. He was planning on attacking once the plane landed and my threat of pushing them from the plane was no longer a problem.

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