Unraveled, p.13

Unraveled, page 13

 part  #2 of  Intertwined Series

 

Unraveled
 



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Page 13

 

  “The prince. ” He remained where he was, balled his fists and raised them, ready to strike. “The prince who had better be leaving. ”

  “He’s here?” Riley demanded.

  “Yes. ”

  “But that’s impossible. I mean really impossible. I just buried him. ”

  SIX

  BURIED HIM.

  The words penetrated the fog drifting through Aden’s head, and he rubbed his face with a shaky hand. Not happening. This was so not happening.

  Buried him.

  He once again maneuvered Victoria behind him, but Thomas continually reached through him, trying to touch her. No, not just touch her. Kill her. There was hate in the fairy’s eyes. Only good news was Thomas’s hand ghosted through Aden and Victoria, every try.

  Riley had already grabbed Mary Ann and pushed her against the wall, his body covering hers like a shield. His predator’s gaze circled the bedroom, searching, his body waiting to act.

  Buried him.

  Plausible, because Aden had taken a death-blow for him. He shuddered, remembering. The pain… He’d never experienced anything like it. In fact, there wasn’t a word to describe it. Excruciating was like a gentle massage in comparison.

  And that’s how Aden was going to die.

  Which meant he would have to experience that again. Chest ripping open, organ tearing, blood spilling. The cold consuming him, turning his bones to brittle ice. No. No, no, no. He refused. No one should have to endure that kind of death. And twice? Not just no, but hell, no. He’d think of something, do something, anything, to prevent it.

  Yeah, he’d tried to save people in the past, hoping to circumvent the deaths Elijah had shown him. And yeah, they’d then died in other, more painful ways. But to Aden, there was nothing more painful than a knife through the heart. He’d take anything else. In a heartbeat. Stupid pun intended.

  “Why can’t I touch her?” Thomas snarled.

  “Back off. Or—” What kind of threat would scare a fairy? “Or you’ll regret it. ” Not the best, but all his foggy brain could come up with.

  Finally, panting and skin glistening with sweat, the prince stilled. “What did you do to me?”

  Good question. “Just leave her alone. ” Slowly, Aden moved from the bed…his legs had better cooperate…yes! He remained standing, arms splayed to block any new attempt. “In fact, just leave. ”

  He stiffened as a thought occurred to him. Make you pay for this, even from the grave, Thomas had said before the knife plunged. Pay. Grave. Grave. Oh…crap. Had Aden earned himself a vengeful fairy-slash-ghost-slash-sidekick?

  “Aden. What’s going on?” Victoria demanded, as the prince shouted, “I can’t! I tried. ” She moved in front of Aden before he could stop her, ready to fight his demons for him. “Tell me what to do, and it’s done. ”

  “Victoria,” he said. He couldn’t stand the thought of her hurt. And despite everything, this could be a trick. What did Aden know about fairies and their afterlife? Thomas could be waiting for the right time to strike. For real.

  “There’s no one here, Aden. Just us. The prince is dead. Riley buried the body, like he told you. Yet you see him still?”

  “Yes. But you can’t see him? Can’t hear him?”

  A chorus of “No” rang out.

  So. No one but Aden could see or hear Thomas, and Thomas couldn’t touch anyone. Maybe this wasn’t a trick, then. Besides, Thomas wanted Victoria and all of her family dead—enough to die himself—and wouldn’t have waited for the right time to strike. He would have simply struck. Aden should have considered that before.

  The prince really was a ghost.

  At least you didn’t suck him into your head, Julian offered helpfully.

  Dude, Caleb said. Like that’s a silver lining.

  The souls had been quiet ever since he’d taken that knife to the chest. Hearing them now, as if nothing had happened, was both a relief and a curse. They were alive and well, but he didn’t need the distraction right now.

  Thomas was here to haunt him.

  Sickness churned in his stomach, threatening to revolt. He’d encountered ghosts before. Hell, the souls inside him were ghosts without bodies. And yeah, he now knew Thomas couldn’t hurt Victoria, but that didn’t lessen his concern. This ghost wasn’t simply a deceased human. No telling what Thomas would be able to do.

  “Leave,” he said to Victoria. He latched onto her arm and spun her around, then flattened his hand on her lower back and urged her forward, toward Riley.

  “Wh-what?” She was so shocked by his words and actions, he knew, she offered no resistance.

  “You have to leave. ” Not once did he remove his gaze from Thomas. Just in case.

  “I don’t understand. ”

  “You, too, Riley. Take Victoria and go. ” He wanted to explain, but didn’t want Thomas to hear that Mary Ann blocked supernatural abilities, just in case other fairies were able to see and hear him. He didn’t want the fairies to know that she even blocked Aden’s. That, when she was around, he didn’t hear voices. That he didn’t see ghosts or wake the dead. Except when Riley was with her. Somehow, Riley muted her ability to, well, mute. One day he’d figure out how. Until then… “For God’s sake, go!”

  Riley frowned but nodded. “Yes, my king. I’ll keep both girls safe. ”

  “I thought I told you not to call me that. ” Aden was no one’s king. “And Mary Ann needs to stay. ”

  “No. ” Green eyes narrowed on him. “Mary Ann goes with me, and that’s final. ”

  An argument? Now? For once, he would have preferred the reverence. “Actually, Mary Ann stays. That’s an order. ”

  Her dark head peeked from behind Riley’s shoulder. She made a slashing motion over her throat, silently telling him not to go there. Thomas watched, gauging. Deciding what next to do?

  There was a pause, heavy and tension-filled. Finally, Riley growled, “Yes. My king. All shall be as you order. ”

  Aden pressed his lips together to stop his retort. He was getting what he wanted; he could let the sarcasm slide.

  “Aden?” Victoria said, and he could hear the question—why are you doing this?—in her musical voice. Worse, he could hear the hurt.

  He suddenly hated himself. She’d endured enough hurt lately, and he didn’t like adding to the mix.

  Don’t be so harsh with her, Aden, Caleb scolded him. You know I only want to show her a good time.

  A good time. Yeah. That’s all Aden wanted to show her, too. Always. She’d spent her life obeying one rule after another, sheltered, not really allowed to laugh, yet here he was, pushing her away without explanation.

  Moment they were safe, he’d tell her why. And then he’d tease her until she laughed. He’d only heard her laugh once, and still dreamed of hearing that tinkling sound again.

  Please don’t tell me you’re listening to Caleb now, Julian snapped. We’ve got work to do.

  Yeah. Sexy work.

  You are such a pervert.

  Boys. Elijah sighed. Is arguing necessary? Now?

  Looked like Elijah had taken over the role of mother hen now that Eve was gone.

  “Aden,” Victoria repeated, drawing him back to the present.

  He ground his teeth, irritated with himself. His concentration sucked, even in times of great danger. “Call me later,” was all he said, still unwilling to explain while Thomas could hear.

  “I’ll do more than that. I’ll return for you this evening. ” Victoria grabbed Riley’s hand before the wolf could protest. “My family wishes to meet you, and their wishes are not something you can ignore. ”

  With that, the two were gone.

  A second later, Thomas vanished, as well. A second after that, the souls inside of Aden gasped, as they always did when Mary Ann muted them, fading from his mind, falling into the black hole they’d once told him about.

  T
hey despised that black hole, but they didn’t complain. They loved Aden. They wanted him happy, and they knew these private moments were necessary.

  As necessary as letting them go, he thought, guilty again.

  Aden sank to the ground, his back sliding against the wall. Yeah, he was going to have to set them free, no matter how much he might want to keep them. First, though, he had to figure out exactly who they had been as humans. Then he had to help them finish whatever was keeping them bound to the earth. To him.

  That’s how he’d lost Eve. Once he’d given her what her human self had wanted most—a day with her daughter—she had disappeared in a snap.

  So much to do, he thought. Overwhelming. First up, it seemed, was meeting Victoria’s family. The sisters he’d already seen in that vision. Laurel and…no, that wasn’t right. He wracked his brain. Their names remained just out of reach.

  “Is the fairy…” Mary Ann began.

  “Yeah. He’s gone. ” But most likely, Thomas would return the moment Mary Ann left the ranch. What would Aden do then? He couldn’t keep her here all day and all night.

  “Good. Now don’t take this the wrong way, okay?” She walked to the bed and threw herself on the mattress, bouncing up and down. “But you really need a shower. ”

  He glanced down at himself, heat blooming in his cheeks. Streaks of blood decorated his chest, and sweat had dried his boxers to his skin. “The bathroom is down the hall. Will you stay here? I’ll hurry. ”

  “I’ll stay,” she said with an impish grin. “Now, less talking and more showering. ”

  As weak as he was, he had to use the wall to unfold from the floor and stand. And while digging through the closet for clothes, he fought wave after wave of dizziness. Finally, though, he was in the bathroom, having managed to stalk down the hall without running into any of the other boys, hot water streaming down his body, cleaning him inside and out.

  His first private shower, he mused. He wondered how far Mary Ann’s ability stretched—and he wished he could enjoy the solitude more. Yeah, really enjoy it. Instead, he had to hurry as promised.

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