Unraveled, p.7

Unraveled, page 7

 part  #2 of  Intertwined Series

 

Unraveled
 



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Page 7

 

  He cursed under his breath as he sprinted for the door, not allowing himself to wallow in disappointment or fear. Only, some kind of invisible wall blocked him. He slammed into it hard and fast, the shock of impact reverberating through him and tossing him backward. Thomas was in front of him a second later, pushing him the rest of the way down and stomping one of his boots on Aden’s neck.

  Instinctively, Aden wrapped his hands around the man’s ankle and shoved. The foot remained planted.

  Bright blue eyes peered down at him, and if they’d been guns, Aden would have been blown to bits. “Several weeks ago, an electric shock split through my world, creating a doorway into yours. A doorway we cannot close. The source of that shock has been traced to this ranch. And now to you. I feel the energy wafting from you even now, tugging at me, drawing me. Even increasing my power. ” The last was said in a drugged whisper. A needy whisper.

  Increasing his power? Then why would he want to kill Aden?

  Aden tried to form a reply, but the only sound that left him was a gasp for air. He continued to struggle, clawing at the man’s leg, shoving. Breathe, need to breathe…

  He couldn’t die here. In this…dimension? He just couldn’t. No one would know what had happened to him. Not really. They’d just assume Crazy Aden had relapsed and split.

  Suffocation doesn’t cause bloodshed, Elijah said. Stay calm. This isn’t the way you’re going to pass on. You know that.

  Kick his ass! Caleb shouted.

  Kick it good, Julian agreed.

  They needed Eve, their voice of reason. But some of what Elijah had said did penetrate his fog of panic. Suffocation wasn’t the predicted end for him. Thomas was simply trying to scare him.

  “We had hoped to keep you alive, to use you to finally close that doorway,” Thomas continued. “And yet, what do I find when I walk into your room to introduce myself? The stink of vampire. Our greatest enemy, the race that once tried to slaughter us. ”

  “I’m sure…they had…good reason. ”

  A muscle ticked in the fairy’s jaw. “Tell me, Haden Stone. Are you aiding them? Planning to lead them into this dimension to attack us?”

  And just how was Aden supposed to lead the vampires here when he had no idea how he’d gotten here in the first place? “Can’t…speak…anymore. ”

  The pressure eased on his neck. “There’s no reason for you to answer my questions. I know the truth. You are aiding them, and that is why you must die. ”

  Aden kept his hands on Thomas’s ankle, taking a moment to catch his breath and making a production out of gasping as he stealthily searched the room for some sort of weapon he could actually use.

  All he discovered was his own determination. Over the years, he’d fought too many corpses to count, their poison working through his body, weakening him, sickening him. Yet still he’d won. Every time. He would not let a fairy defeat him.

  Use your hands, Elijah prompted. Unbalance him.

  Aden curled his fingers under Thomas’s boot and jerked with every ounce of strength he possessed, upsetting the big guy’s center of gravity and finally sending him tumbling down. Aden was standing a moment later, assuming the same this-is-war pose the fairy had adopted earlier.

  “That was not wise, boy. ”

  Though he’d never seen Thomas move from the floor, the voice came from behind him. Directly behind him. Warm breath trekked over the back of his neck, making him cringe. Slowly Aden turned, knowing a sudden movement would cause the fairy to strike. They faced off. Aden was tall for his age, just over six feet, yet Thomas towered over him.

  “I do not like to see humans suffer, and would have ended you painlessly. But…” An eerie smile lifted the man’s lips. “I told you not to fight me. You disobeyed. Now I will show no mercy. ”

  Blood, Elijah gasped.

  This was it, then. The big one.

  “Bring it,” Aden said.

  Suddenly the room’s only window shattered and a giant black blur flew inside. That blur—Riley in wolf form, Aden realized—landed, green eyes glowing, lips pulled back and sharp white teeth bared. A furious growl echoed from the walls.

  Get back, Aden.

  A command from Riley, whispered straight into his mind, blending with the others, yet still Aden heard it. “You can see me?” he asked, even knowing the wolf was too distracted to reply. If so, could Riley see Thomas? Could Thomas see Riley?

  “Mistake, wolf,” Thomas said, turning to face Riley. There was enough menace in his expression to kill.

  Apparently the answer to both of Aden’s questions was the same. Hells yes.

  Without any more warning, the two leapt at each other, meeting in the middle of the room in a tangle of claws, biting teeth, odd bright lights and shimmering blades that appeared out of nowhere.

  No question about this. As Elijah had said, blood would flow.

  This match would be to the death.

  THREE

  YEP. TRUE TO ELIJAH’S prediction, true to Aden’s suspicions, blood ran.

  Riley chomped at Thomas’s neck, and his sharp claws swiped at the man’s chest. The scent of burning cotton and flesh filled the air, smoke rising from Thomas’s shirt. Screams followed as a shaking Thomas grabbed thick hunks of the wolf’s fur and tossed him hard and fast. The animal flew into Aden, who in turn flew into the wall.

  Plaster cracked and paint chips sprayed. Air was knocked from Aden’s suddenly deflated lungs.

  Riley was up an instant later, again leaping for the fairy; the two twisted together as they fell. When the wolf’s nails next slashed, the scent of burning flesh intensified and blood sprayed. A few drops hit Aden in the face, and they were oddly chilled, like ice shards. When the fairy’s blades moved at lightning speed, Riley’s blood sprayed. Hot, like prickles of flame.

  Help him, Julian cried.

  This is why I’m a lover, not a fighter, Caleb, whose bravery had returned now that a wolf was taking the beating for them, said.

  Breathing should have been impossible, but Aden managed to drag in a few mouthfuls of air as he lumbered to his feet. Dizziness hammered at him, and he swayed. “Elijah?”

  Of course, the psychic knew what he was silently asking. How could he help? He had no weapons, and couldn’t leave the room to get to any.

  I don’t know, Elijah said, agonized.

  “Will Riley win, then?” He spoke quietly, not wanting to distract the wolf and cause his defeat.

  I don’t know, the psychic repeated in that same agonized tone. I see the blood, washing through this home, bathing everything and everyone.

  So much? And from this fight? Or something worse?

  Over and over Thomas tossed Riley aside, and over and over Riley returned, a catapult of wrath and teeth. For some reason, he’d stopped using his claws. Furniture was smashed to pieces and more walls were ruined, including the invisible one, allowing the combatants out of the room and into the hallway. The fight then moved to another bedroom, the door smashed into puzzle pieces that would never fit back together. Aden followed. Somewhere along the way, Thomas lost his grip on his knives and dropped them. Aden tried to pick them up and insert himself into the action—multiple times—but the blades he couldn’t touch eventually vanished and the fairy and the wolf moved so quickly, they would appear in another location before he even realized he’d missed.

  And why were they able to destroy the walls, doors and furniture, but nothing else?

  The boys who lived at the D and M Ranch—Seth, Ryder, RJ, Terry and Brian—were in the entrance hall, each with a book in hand. Some were reading, some were pretending to read. None noticed the vicious fight unfolding around them.

  Not even when their chairs were seemingly overturned and shattered. They just sat there. On air. Riley and Thomas ghosted through them, imperceptible, unfelt, unheard. Blood splattered over the boys, too, but again, they didn’t notice. Perhaps co
uldn’t even see it.

  So freaking odd, all of it. Thomas had open wounds that were bleeding profusely, and yet he seemed stronger than ever. Riley, on the other hand, seemed weaker, his jumps slowing down, his snarls becoming slurred, and yet his wounds had already closed, healed.

  What was weakening him?

  Aden noticed that Thomas only punched to unhinge Riley’s jaw from whatever body part the wolf had decide to munch on. Then Thomas would tilt his head back and practically offer his neck to the wolf, rather than allow the animal to bite down on his hands. Why?

  And rather than immediately batting Riley away, Thomas would flatten his palms on the beast for several seconds, allowing the wolf to do whatever he wished. That was stupid. That was—necessary?

  Were Thomas’s hands somehow able to weaken Riley? That would explain Thomas’s determination to keep his hands free. That would also explain his lack of concern over his own injuries. What did a few cuts matter when your opponent would soon be too feeble to fight you off?

  “What can I…do?” This time Aden’s whispered question trailed off. He knew. The answer had already slapped him, cold, hard. Stinging.

  You know, Elijah said, and if he’d sounded agonized before, he sounded pulverized now. Clearly, he had realized the answer, too.

  What? Julian asked. What are we going to do?

  Aden gulped. “Caleb. You’re up. ”

  I’m u…p—oh, hell, no!

  He hadn’t needed to explain. By requesting Caleb’s aid, they all knew what he now planned. They were going to possess Thomas’s body.

  No. No, there has to be another way. If he’d had a body of his own, Julian would have been shaking his head and backing away.

  “Sorry, guys. ” This had to be done. For Riley. Hell, for himself.

  The pain, Julian moaned. We’ve endured enough. This will wipe us out.

  This is the only way, Elijah said. The fairy has to perish.

  “We’ve been through worse. ” Like burning alive. Nothing could be worse than that, he was sure. “And if I’m going to kiss Victoria again, I’ve got to save her bodyguard. ”

  Hate to be the harbinger of bad news, but Aden’s right, Caleb said, suddenly leaping on board the Plan Save The Day bandwagon. He’d do anything for another kiss. We’ll survive this. Even if Thomas doesn’t. That’s all that matters.

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