The Muse's Touch

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Of Hexes and Destruction

Little known fact: the effects of fae magic fade over running water, in particular with major negative workings like curses and hexes. In the past, that meant heading to the nearest river but running water in a bathtub would do in a pinch when combined with protective wards.

When Paige tried to rise, eyes widening with panic, Davin reached to push her shoulders until she sank back into the waters. Whatever had caused Paige such sudden terrifying pain, he didn’t trust to be over.

“She’s gone,” Paige whispered with a great shudder then turned towards him, fear dawning on every part of her face. “Davin, please, get me my cell. Please.”

What he wanted to know was how could Paige be sure the hex had faded but there was such desperation in her voice that he held his to give and nodded instead. When he returned, she snatched the phone out of his hand and with the pain already forgotten, hit the dial button.

He wished she would just stop and fill him in on what’s happening.

“Ains?”

He leaned closer, his preternatural hearing enabling him to pick up the words from the other end of the line.

“Paige?” A broken sob. “Oh god, Paige. She took her. She took Lillian.”

Still sitting in the bathtub, Paige began to shiver. If only he could take her out, wrap her in the fluffiest blanket and hold her until the panic in her eyes receded. Or at least put a warming spell on the cooling water. But he dared none of those things. Sometimes magic opened the way to more magic, rendering the water’s protection moot. So Davin did the only thing possible and kept his hand on her shoulder, this time hoping to provide some sense of comfort.

“Ains, Ains, deep breaths. Where are you? Are you hurt?” A look of anguish accompanied the last question as they both held their breaths.

“At Lillian’s. She came, out of nowhere, swept past every ward Lillian had as if they were nothing. She...she…” Again Ainsley’s voice broke, and she groped this time for courage to continue. “Paige. I can’t get up. She...I think she broke my ankles.”

His grip on Paige tightened even as he paled. The last thing they expected was for this witch to come after her friends. And from the shock they heard in Ainsley’s voice, the attack must have happened just now, perhaps just before the attack on Paige.

This was a game of cat and mouse. She had taken one as a hostage and left another behind to tell the tale. Damaged as an example, a show of power. Intimidate, bully and drive them into the corner where she wanted them to be. Paige drew in a sharp breath and he watched with pride as she fought against her rising horror to stay calm for her friend.

“I’m coming, Ains. I’m coming for you, you hear me? You hang on. I love you and I will be right there.”

Davin stopped listening to Paige’s call and turned to his own phone. This was spiralling out of control. He couldn’t protect two females at the same time,especially if one was already hurt.

He bought the phone to his ear and waited until his brother picked up. “Dante, I need back-up. They hurt Ainsley and hexed Paige. We’re heading over now.”

There was only a brief moment of pause. “Text me the address. I’m on my way. I’ll meet you there.”

When he hung up, his Sparrow had assumed full warrior mode, standing in the bath with legs apart, eyes blazing with fury. Only her trembling legs betrayed the pain and fatigue she must still be feeling.

“Stay here. The water’s what’s keeping the hex from working. I’ll grab your sword and see what else I can do.”

“Hurry.” Paige rocked from heel to toe and back to heel even as she gritted her teeth. “Your Oracle sucked and I’m going to strangle the little emo wimp’s neck after this is all over.”

Fair. Davin returned once more with the iron dagger which he placed on the vanity counter “Here, your clothes. But before that.” He held out a necklace for her. A small strip of leather with a deep black stone, obsidian, framed in silver. “I commissioned this protection charm from Marie Laveau after...” His voice cracked as he stared at the necklace in his hand.

Memories resurfaced, memories he had long suppressed, but he pushed himself to continue. “...after I found out someone had hexed a human friend of mine. It was slow and subtle and we thought at first that someone was poisoning his food. But by the time I realized what it was and got to him, it was already too late.”

He startled and met Paige’s eyes as he felt her hand on his. “I’m sorry about your friend.” And then she gave a determined nod of permission. “But I’m not going to die on you Davin. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not for a long time.”

That iron will in her voice soothed his anxiety. With a nod of acknowledgement, he stepped close to fasten the necklace on her. The nearness of her stirred his sated incubus even as every male instinct in him wanted desperately to ensure she was okay. Instead, he settled to press his lips against hers in a searing kiss as he lifted her out of the bath. “I’ll hold you to that.”

When Paige did not collapse in pain in again, the fear eased a little further such that he felt as though he could breathe again. Maybe the witch had withdrawn for now or maybe the necklace was doing its job. After all, one of the most powerful witches in history, the voodoo queen herself, had created this protection charm. Very few could rival her magics.

He studied Paige, inspecting her on where the hex may have already done physical damage. The skin on her hip remained red and angry. The hex had travelled upwards along her side in angry lines. But even as they both looked down, they watched in amazement as the blisters began to heal over. The speed in which she was recovering rivalled Davin’s own.

Was this the awakening Seth talk about?

“Davin?” For the first time, Paige sounded hesitant. Lost. And then she shook her head. “No, later. We need to go get Ainsley.”

“Later,” he agreed. Satisfied that she was steady on her feet, Davin left her to get dressed. Paige had fed him well and power hummed through his body but still, he pocketed his own weapons just in case. When Paige emerged from the bathroom fully dressed, lips set in a tight line, he knew they were as ready as they could ever be.

They entered the car and Davin passed her several granola bars and a bottle of Gatorade he had grabbed on the way out. “You’re still weak.”

Paige opened her mouth to protest.

“Weak from me feeding on you. Eat. Please. For me.”

When she began to nibble, then take bigger and bigger bites of food, he exhaled. Paige needed more fuel. She needed rest. Some part of him screamed at the insanity of letting her even come along. Still, he reminded himself that while she would submit to him in bed, no amount of commanding would keep her away from this. One friend hurt, the other missing, even weakened as she was, Davin suspected even if he tied her down, she would find a way to escape to save her friends.

He got them there in record time just as Dante pulled up next to them. His brother nodded in greeting, stoic as ever as they made their way to the house.

The violence that occurred here was devastating. The front door hung on one remaining hinge as broken glass scattered across the floor, blown inwards by some inexplicable force. Davin’s gaze moved to Paige to check on her. She had drawn the long dagger from its sheath but her knuckles were white and she trembled with her grip. Her brows drew together, focused solely on putting one foot in front of the other. Davin sent a silent plea to any greater power that Paige wouldn’t collapse from exhaustion and a thread of guilt wound around his heart. He shouldn’t have fed on her. He shouldn’t have made her even more vulnerable.

The house was eerie in its silence. He had almost expected a trap but detected nothing. Whoever had sown this chaos and destruction was long gone.

A small whimper cut through the quiet. Dante broke away from their formation and surged forward. Paige followed close behind with him trailing after them.

There she was. Ainsley had managed to prop herself up against the side a China cabinet, its contents spilt around her. Blood was still trickling down from a cut on her forehead and her legs laid stretched out in front of her, bare feet twisted at odd angles. Definitely broken. Bruises had not quite started forming yet but even from a cursory look, Davin could tell she would have some wicked ones by tomorrow.

She whimpered again as they approached before recognition drew a sob of relief from her. Dante knelt down and with a gentle tenderness that Davin had never witnessed from his brother before, brushed back the mess of curls from Ainsley’s eyes. “You’re safe now. You’ll be okay. We’ll take care of you.”

If the situation wasn’t so dire, Davin’s jaws would have been dropping in amazement at this new side of his brother that he had never seen.

“Ains. Oh god, I’m so sorry.” Paige dropped to her knees beside them and set aside the iron dagger as Dante withdrew to set his pack down. His brother was laying out first aid items and Davin berated himself for not thinking of that.

Both girls broke into tears as Paige wrapped her arms around Ainsley, letting her friend’s head rest against her chest.

“I need you to keep her calm.”

Davin knew what was to come. He turned away from the low murmuring of reassuring words to scan the house instead, looking for clues. They knew she was a powerful witch but what was her motivation? Why Paige? What was it that he was missing?

A high-pitched scream followed by sobs interrupted his thoughts. Another one with less intensity made him cringe. Dante had just reset Ainsley’s bones. Poor woman.

And then he saw it, Amidst the chaotic destruction of the entire house, the dining table where they had tea and scones before remained bereft of debris. A single piece of paper laid on it, weighed down by a hairbrush on one side and Lillian’s athame, coated with blood, on the other. His blood ran cold as he approached until he was close enough to see the beautiful elegant cursive writing on it.

An address, a time set for this evening and nothing else. But he knew the handwriting. His hands clenched into fists as he stared with disbelieving eyes.

Anna.

He hadn’t realized he said the name out loud until the others joined him, Ainsley cocooned in a blanket in Dante’s arms.

“Who’s Anna?” Paige asked, her quiet voice echoing in the house.

Davin trembled as emotions swirled in him, choking the words in his throat. This was never about Paige. Anna was still alive. How?

“Davin!” This time it was Dante that barked at him.

He struggled to draw air into his lungs. When he spoke, visceral torment cracked his voice. “Anna is the monster I created. And why I try to never feed on another person again.”

Paige looked as though she wanted to push further but she followed his gaze instead to study the paper and the objects.

“So she came after me because of you.”

Davin flinched at the truth of the words and nodded, numbness fogging his mind.

She gathered the items. “She came here to get something that would be of me for the hex and she came to hurt my friends to get to me.”

Three people hurt because of him. He could wallow and self-flagellate all he wanted later but right now he needed to focus on fixing this mess.

“Dante, can we use your place? If it’s Anna, I don’t trust my own.” It hurt to admit that.

Dante nodded and Davin turned to Paige next. “I promise you a full explanation but right now we need to get Ainsley out of here and determine our next move, before the appointed meeting place and time.”

Paige opened her mouth then closed it again with a firm nod. Equal parts of gratitude and admiration welled up in him for her practical nature.

They left the house and Davin steeled himself for the confession of his long-lived life.

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