Tracked: A Valkyrie Saga Book 2

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Chapter 21 - Breaking Point

After that show of power, I was almost relieved when I saw that ball of Energy hurtling toward her back. How in the world we were supposed to regulate this kind of power? What if she turned against us?

Delia Ray Olsen would be unstoppable.

--Prince Hernan Collins

It was either because of Max’s shout, my instincts, or my overactive power level but a Shield snapped into place around me without me consciously calling one to form. A split second later, I felt a huge push from behind as something powerful made contact with my Shield and I stumbled a little. Understanding that this attack had come from the only other person in my larger Shield, I turned and glared at Alexei who was so angry that his face was going from red to an attractive shade of purple. Did he seriously just throw a ball of Energy at me when my back was turned to him?

I dropped my Shield and called my own long sword. It was significantly smaller and lighter than his, but it was the Weapon that came to me when I seriously wanted to hurt someone. However, Alexei had dematerialized his weapon, preferring to cock his arm back and throw a large ball of Energy directly at me. I stared into his angry insane eyes and refused to flinch or back down.

I didn’t raise a Shield and watched as his eyes grew wide the closer that his deadly ball came to me. At the very last moment, I pushed the ball into the void, leaving me completely unharmed. Alexei’s mouth dropped open in surprise for a beat before he started hurling energy balls at me one after the other. I started to slowly walk toward him as he continued to throw balls at me in a desperate frenzy. I allowed each ball to get within a foot of my body before shifting them into the void, never taking my furious glare off of Alexei’s face.

As I got within striking distance, he gave up on his Energy Gift and once again called the mammoth long sword and swung it directly at my neck. I created a partial Shield to deflect his hit, grasped the hilt of his sword just below his grip with my left hand, and came up and to the right with my own blade, cutting clean through his upper arm. He howled in pain as his arm was severed from his body and a pulse of warm blood sprayed from his open wound landing wetly across my face.

Alexei’s severed arm dropped from the sword, leaving the weapon in my hand as he fell to his knees before me, still howling uncontrollably. I looked down at him without any pity or mercy left in my heart. He had killed Tobias. He had threatened the guys. He had kidnapped me and attacked me after I had given him a clean-out. If I didn’t stop him now, he would never stop coming at me.

Alexei Vasiliev had to die.

I hefted Alexei’s sword within my left hand and crossed it with my own in my right, bringing the cross of blades to rest at the base of his neck. Alexei stilled as the metal touched his skin and he looked up at me with his insane eyes. He did not beg for his life. He didn’t even look regretful or scared. He looked just as crazy as he always had and refused to look away as I tugged my hands back, pulling the blades through the king’s thick neck. For a split second, nothing happened and it was eerily silent. Then Alexei Vasiliev’s head started to slide to the left and the rest of his body crumpled into a heap to the right.

Oh my God! What have I done? I just executed a man. Cut off his head as he knelt defeated at my feet.

I felt sick. If I would have had anything in my stomach, I am pretty sure it would have come back up as I looked at the headless body seeping blood onto the asphalt. However, I knew I couldn’t afford to lose my shit right now. I forced myself to keep it together until I could get somewhere where thirty people weren’t watching my every move. Plus, there were still five other people that needed to be dealt with.

I looked up and made eye contact with Prince Hernan Collins who was looking at me with shock written on his severe features. Then I brought the five remaining Russian men back into the physical plane of existence. It took me a moment to find them because they were clustered behind me, near to where the guys were still ensconced in my Shield. I was prepared for another attack but found that three of them were kneeling next to two that were lying on the ground. I slowly approached. The kneeling three bowed their heads to me, the other two were dead. Hit by energy balls that Alexei had thrown and I had pushed into the void, unknowingly killing them. Dimitri was one of the dead.

I had killed two Royals, Leonid, and a man whose name I didn’t even know.

I dropped the layers of Shields that were surrounding the guys and felt them surround me. I was holding on to my sanity by a thread and knew that if I touched or even looked at one of them right now, I was going to break. Instead, I trained my gaze back on Hernan Collins while dropping the final large Shield. I silently demanded that he take care of this mess and after a moment of tense silence he nodded his head.

I decided to take that little movement of his head as permission to leave and started walking towards the mess of SUVs and I felt the guys follow. The crowd of Valkyries parted for me, giving us plenty of room to walk through them and not a single one of them would meet my eye. I had gone and taken the whole intimidating badass reputation to the next level and now they were all terrified of me.

I tasted bile at the back of my throat and I released my hold on my own long sword so that I could bring my hand to my mouth as I swallowed down the urge to throw up. I hurried almost blindly to the first SUV that was still standing upright and pulled myself into the back seat, laying Alexei’s bloody long sword across my lap. My fingertips traced the beautiful pattern of interconnected leaves that were engraved into the blade near the hilt and considered that I was starting to collect stolen weapons from the Valkyrie royal class.

I felt more than saw the guys get into the SUV with me, still refusing to meet their eyes. What if they were disgusted with me now that I had murdered someone brutally right in front of them. What if they were scared of me now? I don’t think I could take them looking at me like Hernan Collins had.

The large sword kept anyone from sitting in the same row of seats as me, and I was both heartbroken and relieved by this. Once the vehicle started moving I mumbled out through numb lips that I wanted to go to the rent house, not the clan house. There were secret Royal kidnappers with tranq guns hidden in the bushes at the clan house.

My eyes were drawn to the splatters of red on my hands and arms that were slowly turning a rusted red color as Alexei’s blood dried on my skin. What have I done? I am no better than my father. Worse than my father. A monster. A cancer. I will destroy all those around me.

Someone, I think it was Max or Blake, was trying to talk to me but there was a ringing in my ears so loud that I couldn’t hear anything. I could only feel the vibrations of the car and the feel of the cool hard metal of Alexei’s blade under my fingers. A small drop of liquid splattered onto the blade, causing some of the blood to smear and become lighter in color once more. I watched in fascination as my tears mixed with Alexei’s blood and fell deeper into my mind that was screaming that I was a murderer.

The second I felt the car stop, I scrambled ungracefully from the car and rushed towards my house. I was almost there. Just a few steps more and then I could let go and stop being strong. I could fold under the pressure and finally lay down. Maybe then I could get some rest.

Luckily the door was unlocked and I burst into the living room only to stop dead in my tracks. Jack was sitting in the rocking reclining chair with a paperback book held in front of his face. He didn’t look up at me when I came in, but the moment he spoke the ringing ceased to exist and I heard his words in full surround sound.

“Seriously? You are so un-fucking-believable, Ray. Amy spent the night in the hospital and you couldn’t be bothered to come to check on her. We had to take a fucking taxi home. I know that you and I aren’t in such a good place right now, but I thought we were family. What kind of person just abandons their family like that? A selfish bitch, that’s who,” Jack said while still refusing to look up at me.

Because I was that disgusting. Not even my best friend could stand to lay eyes on me.

A clang echoed through the room as my fingers grew numb and Alexei’s massive sword dropped from my grip and clattered to the floor. This startled Jack enough for him to finally look up at me. His face went from pissed off and closed to confused in a split second. He slowly lowered the book and started asking questions in a significantly warmer voice that sounded more like my Jack. “What in the world Ray? Why are you still wearing that dress? Is that a fucking medieval sword? Holy fuck, is that blood?”

“I wanted to be at the hospital for Amy. I swear I only left to take a shower, change, get a couple of hours of sleep, and then I was going to be right back at the hospital,” I told him with a sad plea in my voice. He had to understand. Please God, let him understand. I hadn’t meant to abandon him. I loved him and Amy. I wouldn’t just leave them like that.

“But they drugged us and by the time I woke up we were halfway across an ocean. I came back as soon as I could, but they just wouldn’t let bygones be bygones and drop it. They had to fight. And people died. Then he wouldn’t listen to me, I tried to get him to just leave, but he just kept coming at me. I- I- I- didn’t want to kill him.” A sob tore from my throat and I sank down onto my knees.

“I didn’t want to abandon you,” I cried and Jack rushed towards me, wrapping his arms around my shaking shoulders. “Please don’t hate me,” I whispered into his shoulder and his grip tightened around me.

“Fuck Ray, of course, I don’t hate you. What the hell happened? I don’t understand,” Jack questioned but I couldn’t answer him because I had finally hit my breaking point and the pressure inside of my chest was slowly consuming me. I sobbed into Jack’s shirt and only vaguely heard the angry voices around me.

“Why the hell is she covered in blood,” Jack’s voice demanded again. “What the fuck is happening?”

“The only reason I haven’t thrown you across the room for the way you have treated Ray is that she won’t let any of us get close to her right now. So you need to stop asking questions that we aren’t going to answer and focus on taking care of Ray. She needs you right now. So get over whatever petty shit you are holding against her and step up,” Connor’s voice growled out but I didn’t understand.

What did he mean that I won’t let them get close to me? I slid my head sidewards and finally looked at the guys. They all looked wrecked, with differing expressions of worry, pain, sadness, and hopelessness on their beautiful faces. And each of them had a shimmering partial Shield blocking them from reaching out to me.

Seeing their faces broke my heart into pieces. They weren’t going to want me anymore. Now that they saw how dark my soul was, what I was capable of and willing to do. Now that they had seen the evil inside of me they would reject me. They would find me just as despicable and unworthy as everyone else in my life had and leave. I had put them all in danger. It was all my fault. I deserved to be left. I was unworthy. I was a cancer. I was a cold-blooded murderer.

By now I was sobbing so hard that my entire body was shaking and I couldn’t get enough air around the cries that were being ripped out of my soul. Once again I had the sense that people were trying to talk to me, but the ringing was fading back in and mixing with the heavy wheezing of my labored breaths. I was cracking, no longer strong enough to withstand the onslaught of things that had happened in the last three weeks.

How had I gone from the invisible girl with one friend to murdering the Valkyrie King of Russia in front of a small army of people? I felt like everyone was demanding a piece of me and now there was nothing left to give. I was too raw, still reeling from nearly watching Connor die and sacrificing my life source to save him. The shock of finding out I had a family that cared about me that my father had kept me from still hadn’t worn off. I was still bleeding from unseen wounds caused by Derik’s attack. I was emotionally reeling from what I saw in the small dirty room and what it meant that I so blindly believed in the false relationship. I was drowning in flashbacks and repressed guilt that I had unleashed when my sword cut through Alexei’s neck.

It was too much. I wasn’t strong enough for this.

I clung to Jack and fisted the material of his shirt into my hands and silently prayed that he would stay with me. He was right, we weren’t in a very good place right now, but I needed him. When the guys stopped pitying me for being the Valkyrie that was abandoned in the human foster care system they would leave me, and I needed Jack. Please God, let me still have Jack and Amy. We could go back to our simpler life. I would watch from the sidelines, rarely daring to step out of the void to ensure I didn’t hurt anyone else. Jack and Amy were my protected. I couldn’t lose them too.

I felt Jack tense under me and move until his arms were under my knees and wrapped around my shoulders. Then he lifted me in the air and was walking with me in his arms, bridal style. I turned my head into his chest and regripped his shirt.

Please don’t be kicking me out. Please just give me another chance. I will do better. I will be better.

But instead of taking me outside and discarding me on the porch like I thought he would do, Jack started walking up the stairwell. Another sob racked through my body and my vision started to pixelate to black around the edges. I needed air!

The next thing I noticed happening was Jack gently placing me on the toilet inside of the shared bathroom and cupping my cheeks in his hands. He gently used his thumbs to wipe under my eyes and dipped his head until he could look into my down-turned eyes. I saw that his lips were moving, but I still couldn’t hear him over the sound of my own ragged breathing and the ringing in my ears. I watched as he mouthed words to me that I didn’t understand and started to plead with him not to hate me. I told him that I would do better. That I didn’t care if he wanted to be with Jonas. That I would do anything if he would just let me stay. That I was sorry. I told him I was sorry at least a dozen times.

Eventually, he turned his head from mine and yelled for something so loud that I heard it but it didn’t make any sense to me. Scissors. I dropped my eyes to the clean white tile of the bathroom floor that was now smudged with red. Red because I was covered in blood. Blood of the man that I killed as he knelt defeated at my feet. Blood of the man that I had murdered. But there should have been so much more blood. Four men today. Seven in total. My own personal set of the seven deadly sins. Seven marks against my soul, making me irredeemable.

The cool feel of metal against my back spooked me and I jolted forward. I whipped my head around to look and was beyond confused to see Jack was cutting away the ball gown with a pair of orange gripped scissors. The sight was so far from anything I considered normal, it jarred me out of my inner torment and I stared in shock, trying to comprehend what was going on right now. My eyes drifted to the bathroom door and I saw Elijah and Connor wedged into the small frame looking in at us with deep frowns on their beautiful faces, a partial Shield forming a barrier at the door that they could not cross. I didn’t dare look at their faces, but I saw that Connor’s mouth was moving.

What was he saying? Was he trying to talk to me or to Jack?

The dress loosened around me, and I unconsciously gripped the green fabric to my chest not wanting to expose myself in this way. Why was Jack undressing me while the guys watched? What kind of punishment was this? Whatever it was, I’m sure I deserve it so I did nothing to stop it.

I just stared at the blood smears on the white tiles and my mind started going oddly blank. Blank was good. Blank was better than blood, and I didn’t want to think about Alexei’s head sliding off of his shoulders anymore. Vaguely I noticed when Jack pulled off his own shirt and placed it over my head, causing the baggy shirt to fall over my arms and chest. He then cupped my face and said something that I still couldn’t hear. I did look into his eyes and was caught by the worry and pain that I saw within their depths.

Did I cause that pain? That was all I did, cause pain. I was a cancer.

Jack clenched his jaw and then pulled my shoulders until I was standing. I felt the dress start to fall off my body and at first, tried to clench the fabric tighter to my chest, but then Jack pulled at the bottom of the dress. He wanted me to let go. So I let go and the dress was pulled off my body leaving me in my strapless bra, underwear, and Jack’s baggy shirt that had fallen to just below my butt.

I still didn’t understand what was happening, but really it didn’t matter.

I found the blood smear and drifted back towards oblivion. Then I was back in Jack’s arms and I weakly wrapped my arms around his neck and rested my head on his shoulder. What if this was one of the last times I was held by him. Some part of me wanted to take better advantage of this opportunity and hug him to me, but my limbs didn’t respond to that part of me.

Then jets of cold water were blasting at my back and I jerked in Jack’s arms and let out a shriek. The ringing stopped and I could hear myself gasping for air and Jack telling me to come back to him. I spluttered and struggled to get out of his arms and away from the cold spray of water. Jack released his hold under my knees and my feet dropped to the shower floor, but he held only to my shoulders making sure that I was stable. I shivered and tried to push out of the spray of water and Jack brought one palm to cup under my chin and forced my eyes to meet his.

“Ray?” he asked in a voice that cracked with emotion and I blinked up at him. “Oh thank God, Ray! Stay with me okay. We will figure this shit out. Just don’t disappear on me like that again. Stay with me,” he murmured again and wrapped his arms around me in an all-consuming hug while we were still pelted with ice-cold water. I didn’t know what this was or what to do. After a moment I brought my arms up and returned the hug. I felt Jack’s body shuttering and thought that he was crying. Why was Jack crying?

A full-body shiver ran through my body and Jack reached out and added hot water to the shower mix. He then ducked his head down and cupped my cheek again, quietly demanding that I look into his eyes. “Ah Fuck, Ray. You scared the shit out of me. Are you okay? Are you hurt? Is any of this blood yours? Should I take you to the hospital?”

I blinked at him for a moment and then looked down at my body. Jack’s dark blue shirt was plastered to my body, clearly showing the outline of my curves, and my arms were still covered in blood only now the water was causing it to start to wash away. I looked like an extra in a horror movie and I hated it. An outward representation of my bloodied and dark soul.

Immediately I reached out for the bar of soap and started rubbing it at my arms in an almost frantic way, hating the way the white bar was now also smeared with red. Everything I touched was infected with it.

A moment later I felt another set of hands on my shoulders and looked up to see that Jack was helping me, using a washcloth to wipe away the blood dried onto the skin of my shoulders and neck. “Talk to me Ray,” Jack pleaded in a hoarse whisper. “Were you kidnapped?”

I knew I shouldn’t. The rational part of my brain was slowly waking up and I knew that I couldn’t tell Jack about what Alexei did because then he would want to call the human police. I couldn’t explain because I couldn’t tell him about the supernatural world. But I found myself nodding anyway. I would do anything to keep Jack from being disappointed and hurt by me right now.

“Jesus Fuck Ray!” Jack angrily whispered and I would have flinched away from him, but his arms were once again around me, pulling me to him. “Are they still coming for you? Are you still in danger?”

This response surprised me enough that I pulled away from him a little so I could look into his eyes for answers this time. Was he really not going to ask who kidnapped me or why? I saw it then, in his clear blue eyes. Jack wasn’t going to push. He had accepted that there were things that I couldn’t tell him, but he needed to know if I was still in danger. I thought about what I had done and my eyes lowered in shame. Alexei wasn’t going to come after me again personally, but I had no idea if I was now going to have droves of angry Russian Valkyries after me because I killed their King and Prince. Not to mention I had a suspicion that the Blade Clan and Collins Royal Line weren’t going to let this incident go.

“I don’t know,” I told Jack and my voice was hoarse and weak from all of the sobbing I had done.

“Fuck,” Jack said again and I knew this was his way of trying to process. He pulled me into his arms again and tucked my head under his chin. “We will figure it out, Ray. I am so fucking sorry that I was such an ass. I was so ashamed of what I did to you and guilty for not noticing that Amy was in trouble and I took it out on you. I’m sorry Ray. I could never hate you and you are the furthest thing from a cancer in this world. I’m not going anywhere. You’re not going anywhere. You, me, and Amy are a family and no matter what happens we will be here for you and do everything in our power to keep you safe. I love you, Ray. Please don’t ever scare me like that again. Stay with me. God please just stay with me.”

I stayed with my ear pressed up against Jack’s chest listening to his words as he repeated them over and over again. I wanted to believe them, but I wasn’t sure that he really understood what I had done today. I had rationalized to myself that the three people I had killed under my father’s compulsion didn’t really count because it wasn’t my choice and I was just a little kid, but this was different. I couldn’t stay with Jack if he didn’t know the truth. He deserved to know who he was choosing to be a family with.

“I killed people today,” I whispered into his chest and didn’t know if he could hear me over his own words and the sounds of the shower. “I am a murderer,” I admitted and my voice broke.

“Jesus Ray, I don’t give a fuck. I don’t give one single fuck about what you had to do to get back to us safely. I am just thanking my lucky stars that you are here. Jesus, you were kidnapped. I could have lost you forever. I could have lost you and I was such a fucking asshole. Ray, you do whatever you need to always come back to us, okay? You are a fierce kickass secret ninja and I love that about you. You protect everyone around you and I need you to always protect yourself too. You do what you need to and I will always be here for you. No matter what,” Jack promised and I tightened my grip around his waist.

Could he really mean it? Would he always be here for me? Even if he knew the truth about what I was? That I wasn’t even human like him. I pulled back and forced myself to look up into his eyes before saying, “I’m not normal Jack. I’m different in a way that I don’t think you can fully understand. I can’t change that about myself. I am never going to be normal.”

“Fuck normal. I love you. Amy loves you. We are a family. I don’t care about anything else as long as you don’t ever leave us,” Jack said with steel in his voice and I searched his face. My Gift told me he was telling me the truth, but I could also see it shining through his eyes. He didn’t care. He would accept me, monster or not.

Well, at least I wouldn’t be completely alone. I could live with that.

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