Unraveled, p.46

Unraveled, page 46

 part  #2 of  Intertwined Series

 

Unraveled
 



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Page 46

 

  He stood. “I’ll be fine. ” He walked over to Brendal, who held the front door open for him. Knowing she might attack him helped dull his unnatural fascination with her.

  Thomas followed him silently into the night, though the ghost disappeared from view the moment Aden stepped from the porch. For some reason, he was only visible—and aware—in the ranch and bunkhouse, not outside in the elements.

  Cold, damp air slithered around Aden, biting at his skin. Should have accepted that jacket. The moon was partially obscured by clouds, and there were no stars to be seen. The insects were eerily silent.

  “We’ll begin our tour in the far pasture,” she said.

  Ah, a tour. That he could do. “I’m not sure why you’d want to see a barn, horses and cows this late in the evening, but come on. ” Unless, of course, she’d simply wanted to get Aden alone. “I’ll show you the way. ” He uttered a quiet prayer that Victoria wouldn’t follow.

  Ten bucks says the woman is gonna try to nail us. And not the good way! Caleb said.

  You don’t have ten bucks, Julian reminded him.

  Aden will pay.

  “If seeing the ranch had been my goal,” Brendal said as they started forward, “I would have chosen one of the other boys. ”

  “I guessed as much. ” The Fae were power-hungry, Victoria had told him. They loved humans—until those humans exhibited signs of their own power. Aden exhibited signs of power. Had she sensed them, or had she figured out who he was and what he’d done?

  No. She probably felt the draw of him right now. Without Mary Ann nearby, they all did, all the creatures of this otherworld. Some had called him a beacon in the night, some a chain that tugged without regard. And because he’d possessed Thomas’s body, Aden now knew how cold fairies were inside. Deadly cold. Yet, when Thomas had fought Riley, he’d drawn warmth into him. Delicious warmth. Was that why they craved power? Did power equal warmth?

  “You guessed, and yet you came with me anyway. ”

  “I’m not a coward. ” He and Brendal reached the far edge of the pasture, where a wood and wire fence blocked the animals from the surrounding field. Aden had no trouble seeing, despite the darkness, because Brendal now glowed. What the hell? She must have swallowed the sun.

  “Do you know what I am, Aden?” she asked, her tone now lacking any hint of emotion. She rounded on him, her dress—flowing and white, something girls probably wore to the beach to cover their swimsuits—dancing around her ankles. “You haven’t remarked on my radiance. ”

  To lie or not? Why not tell the truth? he thought next. In this, at least. He knew better than most how hard it was to tell truth from lies when the two were intertwined. “I know,” he said, and settled atop the top post of the fence, as if he were relaxed, as if this conversation was no big deal. Casual disregard—rather than fear—would throw her off.

  Was Victoria nearby? He couldn’t see her.

  Brendal nodded with satisfaction. “Good. We can skip the formalities. My brother’s final report said that you were the reason we were here. That you were the one who summoned us. So here we are. Why? Why did you want us here?”

  Careful. A warning from all the souls.

  “I didn’t, I don’t,” he said. “It was an accident, summoning you. ”

  She arched the perfect line of a brow. “Yet that accident summoned many others, as well. Our enemies. Enemies to all humankind. ”

  “Yes. ” He’d argue that vampires weren’t an enemy to humankind, though. They fed off humans, yes, but humans fed off animals. What was the difference? And no, he wasn’t calling himself an animal. It was simply the circle of life.

  “Did you hope to start a war? We have not been together in centuries, and the last time we were, our numbers—all our numbers—dwindled significantly. ”

  “I swear to you, I don’t want a war to erupt. Especially here. But I can’t help what I am and what I can do any more than you can. ”

  Her head tilted to the side, and she peered at him intently. That unwavering stare—and her unemotional tone, he realized—was familiar. Reminiscent of…Dr. Hennessy. His eyes widened as a very repugnant idea sprang up. Was the doctor a fairy, too?

  “What exactly can you do?” Brendal asked.

  He gave a falsely negligent shrug. “I draw creatures, like you said. Just not with a pen and paper. ”

  “And that is all?”

  “Yes. ”

  “Then you must die,” she said simply. “Only when you’re dead will the pull to you cease. ”

  He didn’t hop off the fence, didn’t try to run away. One, he didn’t know what she could do, ability-wise. And two, he didn’t want her to know she’d spooked him, his mind replaying his death by stabbing over and over again.

  “You won’t kill me,” he said with more bravado than sense. Or certainty.

  “No, I won’t,” she replied, surprising him. “Yet. Where is my brother, Aden? And do not lie to me. I have lived for more centuries than you could comprehend. I know when my humans lie. ”

  Her humans?

  Uh-oh, Caleb said. This is dangerous territory.

  Tread carefully, Elijah suggested. Your next words are highly important.

  Because they might be his last? Yeah, he’d surmised that. For all he knew, Brendal could teleport him into town and stab him, bringing Elijah’s vision of Aden’s final minutes to life. Or death.

  She sure is pretty, though, isn’t she? Caleb continued.

  I prefer girls with dark hair, Julian said.

  Not now, guys, he wanted to shout. He needed to concentrate, to keep his emotions at bay.

  “Aden?” Brendal prompted. “My brother would not have left without first contacting his people, without first contacting me. Yet he did. Which means something happened to him. So I ask again. Where is he?”

  He wanted to tell her. The truth was there, welling up in his throat, threatening to spill over. All he had to do was open his mouth. She would know, and he would feel better. The guilt would leave him.

  His brow scrunched in confusion. Were those his thoughts? On some level, they seemed to be. That guilt…But on another level, they seemed foreign. They were softer, almost like the music of the fairy’s voice, like a song in his head.

  “Tell me,” she said softly. Her eyes, so deep a brown, were hypnotic, swirling, and then, oddly, different colors began flickering. You could get lost in those eyes.

  They were very much like Victoria’s, only darker.

  Victoria.

  Aden snapped back from whatever spell the fairy had cast, only to realize he’d hopped off the fence, closed the distance between them and now had his arms resting on Brendal’s shoulders, his hands fisted in her hair.

  Oh, hell, no. Had he been about to kiss her?

  Scowling, he dropped his arms to his sides and stepped back. Brendal frowned. “Listen, I don’t know where your brother is. He was here, and then he was gone. ”

  “You lie,” she replied, and yet again, there was no emotion in her tone.

  Somehow, that made her all the more dangerous.

  “Aden,” a male voice suddenly called. Dan. “It’s time to hit the books. Ms. Brendal, I know you understand how important his studies are. Thank you for coming to speak with us, and we’ll see you in the morning. ”

  Obviously, Victoria had voiced him into sending the fairy away.

  Brendal stared at Aden for several moments, her expression as blank as her tone, before nodding. “We shall speak again, Aden. That, I promise you. ”

  ADEN PACKED A BAG while Victoria and Stephanie—the vampire who’d been beside her at the window—convinced the boys, as well as Dan and Meg, that he was here, he was sleeping and they’d see him in the morning to wave him off to school.

  Actually, he was spending the rest of the night at the vampire mansion.

  When the sisters returned to him, he was ready, s
tanding outside the bunkhouse, bag in hand, the souls chattering happily about this latest turn of events.

  “Never thought I’d see the day Victoria broke the rules,” Stephanie said with a laugh. “A reason to celebrate. For real. ”

  “What rule?” Aden asked, holding out his free hand.

  Victoria twined their fingers. As always, her skin was hot, a brand, and the warmth shot straight through him.

  “I’m not supposed to be around you while you date the others, so you’ll have to remain inside my bedroom, quiet. ”

  Stephanie laughed again. “Which was why I was so surprised when she brought me here as backup in case the fairy flipped her lid. But better me than Lauren, huh? She would have attacked first and asked questions later. ” A pause. “I’m not needed anymore, right, so I’ll just mosey away. Cool? I’m hungry, and I hear there’s a party in town. ”

  “Cool,” Victoria replied, the human word sounding weird when spoken in her solemn, formal voice.

  “See ya!” Stephanie vanished.

  Aden peered down at Victoria. “Won’t the vampires living in the mansion smell my blood and feel my pull?” No way did he want to get her into trouble.

  “There are other humans there, so your scent will blend with theirs. As for the pull, I don’t know. Riley and Mary Ann are there, so perhaps she’ll mute it. ”

  Even though Riley negated Mary Ann’s muting effect? “Worth a shot,” he said. He’d been to the mansion twice, but he’d never been inside Victoria’s room. He wanted to see it. Desperately. And if she got into trouble, well, he was the king and he’d just—

  Wait. He was the king. That’s what he’d just thought. Without reservation or doubt.

  But he was still determined to set things right, to pick another ruler. Right?

  “Ready?” Victoria asked, releasing his hand to wrap her arms around his waist.

  He lost his train of thought. God, she felt good. “Ready. ”

  She licked her lips, gaze falling to the pulse hammering in his neck. “First…a kiss? That’s what I came here for. Earlier, I mean. To kiss you. ”

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