Blinking to focus in the darkroom, he spotted the woman’s purse on the counter. Did she conceal the camera there? Lifting the bag answered his question― too light. No camera, but he decided to have a peek inside anyway. He found empty gum wrappers, glasses, a crumpled pack of cigarettes, and a wallet. Spying her passport in a side pocket, he took note of her full name, Miss Melissa Carrie Ambers. Studying the picture of her with short brown hair and brown eyes, he replaced the wallet and left the purse where he found it.
Summoning the power of the shashaiti, the necklace warmed instantly against his skin. Now he could see through barriers of concrete, steel, and plastic. The camera wasn’t in this room. It was in the man’s room. He saw him in bed, the covers moving.
Letting go of the shashaiti, he didn’t detect the woman behind him until a blinding pain spread across the back of his head.
“What the hell?” He stumbled forward. Touching the back of his skull, he saw blood on his fingertips.
Who had hit him?
Taking in the empty bed he growled with frustration. That’ll teach me to keep my eye on the suspect in the future.
Whirling around as the lights blinked on, he saw her holding a frying pan with a big dent in it. “You hit me with a cooking implement? Who does that these days?”
“Frightened women, now get out!” She held the frying pan like a baseball bat, the sales tag hanging from the hole in the handle. “I’ll hit you again!”
“Give me the weapon.” He demanded, knowing full well he intimidated her.
“What do you want?” She tightened her grip on the pan, her fingers flexing around the handle.
“I came for your camera.” He rubbed his head. Damn that hurt. Where did the frying pan come from?
“It’s in my purse, just take it! There’s money, you can have it too!” She inched her way to the counter and threw the purse at him.
“The camera is not in there, I checked.” Waving his hand, he snatched the pan from her using telekinesis. It landed on the floor with a dull thud.
“How did you do that?” Her face turned pale.
“Do what?” He stepped around the counter and took hold of her arm.
“You made me drop my pan. How did you do that?”
“Forget the damn pan! The camera is all I am after. If you get it for me, I will let you live.”
“Jonathon probably has it, if it’s not in my bags. Why do you want it so bad, and how did you get in my room?” Her eyes narrowed, “do you work here?”
“No, I do not work here, nor am I a burglar. The camera has the information I want.”
“Who are you?” She asked while shoving hair out of her eyes impatiently.
“No one of importance, if you give me what I want, I can be out of your hair in no time.” He could wipe her memory and be on his way.
“Fine, I’ll go get it for you.” She offered with a piercing look.
He let go of her arm.
Finally, he was getting somewhere.
She walked to the closet and darted to the front door.
He blinked out of view and reappear in front of her. She slammed into him. Flipping her, he pinned her against the door with her arms above her head, then realized she was naked― the towel forgotten by their feet.
“That was stupid.” He whispered.
“Please, don’t hurt me.” She pleaded, her body shaking.
“I warned you―” He looked deep into her eyes. “It did not have to be this way.”
“Don’t rape me…”
“You do smell good, so sweet and innocent.” Looking into her brown eyes, he knew this was wrong. Lowering his mouth to her ear, he spoke suggestively. “Believe me, or not, this was not my intentions tonight,” his lips parted and before he could stop, his tongue swept across the vein leading up along her neck. His feeding fangs extended.
Just one taste...
Sarah took the keys out of her bag and separated the house key from the rest of the bunch with a mad shake of her wrist.
“Don’t go in, Sarah.”
Dropping the keys, she held her chest out of fright. Eyelids drifting shut with a subtle smile when she noticed the friendly face. “How did you, I mean, where, what the hell is going on?”
“It’s a long story, but to make it short, your house nearly blew up two minutes ago, and you almost died. Luckily for you, I followed, and you drive like a maniac,” he nodded as he talked, “but that’s beside the point.”
Sarah knew she was staring at him with her mouth wide open and immediately became extremely irate. “So let me get this straight. My house blew to smithereens, and I’ve had a near-death experience. Who would blow my house up?” She asked in a confused voice, then paused and rubbed her forehead. “I died?”
“Stop worrying about your damn house! And yes, you could have died―”
Feeling faint, she saw his arms reach out to her. Batting his hands away with hers, she stumbled taking one step back while cupping her eyes to survey her home.
“My house looks the same as it did when I left this morning.” Her voice drifted off.
“Sarah, I see that I’m losing you on this, but you have to believe me…”
She barely noticed him scoop the keys off the garish orange doormat while pointing accusingly at her car, then the house.
“No, I didn’t die, Myaten.” She squatted to the ground, hands slapping her thighs while laughing hysterically. “No—no—no, see, I’m here with you, and I know you weren’t here earlier—I’m having a nervous breakdown. Yes, that’s it.” Covering her eyes with shaky hands, she took a deep breath before standing. Her fingers crawled passed her temples until she gripped curly black bangs tight between stern fingers. Hazel eyes glared, daring him to admit or deny the truth as far as she saw it right now. “You want to explain how you followed me?” She looked down the driveway and threw her arms out to indicate the obvious. “See, one car, not two‒ one. Singular, Myaten!”
Hanging his head, he sighed. “Sarah, I didn’t drive my car.”
Hands-on hips, she shook her head. “I’m not stupid, there’s no way you walked here.”
“I never said I did. Listen for a second and let me tell you.”
When he didn’t speak straight away, she wondered if he was thinking up some farfetched excuse to cover his ass.
“I tagged along with you. I hypnotised you into believing you were alone.”
Farfetched didn’t cover that one.
“Why,” she demanded. Her voice frantic as her eyes roamed Myaten's face for the answer. “…why would you follow me, and then lie about it? Friends don’t do that to friends!” She was so annoyed her whole body shook. First, her family abandoned her. Every man in her life used her. Tom and now Myaten, how could he lie to her?
She loved him.
Looking around at her yard, the neighbors then back at him. Desperate to make sense of it all, but her mind refused to accept that he spoke the truth. It just wasn’t possible.
His form shifted.
Hugging her stomach, she felt sick as her boss’s body became translucent for a second or two. “H-h-how is this possible?” She poked him before jerking her hands behind her back. “What are you?”
He tried to grab hold of her, but she avoided him. “I think now isn’t the time to share my pedigree, Sarah. Just know that I’d never hurt you and no matter what happened here today, I am your friend.”
She gave him a look that said not to go that route. “And I thought I knew everything about you. Okay Merlin, give me the keys to my house.” Laying her hand flat out in front of him, fingers wiggling showed her impatience.
He stepped back and clamped his hand into a fist silencing the jangle of metal. “No, Sarah!”
His sharp tone added fuel to her fire. “Hand them over Myaten, now!”
“Come and get them.” He waved her on with his free hand, green eyes daring her.
She cocked an eyebrow in question of his sanity. He’d lost all sense of reason. “You want to fight me?”
“If you want them so damn bad, if you want to die, then yes, you have to fight me.” Leaning his head down to hers, her breath caught in her throat at the intense emotions running riot on his face. “Listen to me, Sarah. Make your hit count, because I’ll do whatever it takes to keep you from going back into that fucking death trap!”
Sarah took a step back to stare at her home and then at him. Of all our time together, he never swore directly at me. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he has feelings for me after all. Trying to keep her wits about her, Sarah folded. “You know I can’t do that. I couldn’t hit you.”
I love you.
He held her keys out, jingling them by the keyring, taunting her to come and get them. “Then I get to keep these, and you have to bunk at a place of my choosing.”
“So this means I can’t go inside to pack a bag? I only have what I’m wearing―” She turned to face the house while hugging her chest.
“What part of blow up and die do you not understand, Sarah?”
She let him swivel her body around by her shoulders to face the driveway where her mini waited until logic caught up with her irrational heart. Digging her heels in, she remained in place trying to ignore the flash fire of heat where his hands made contact at the small of her back.
“Go!” He pushed, hard.
“Well, I’m sorry if I don’t believe you, Merlin.” She marched down the gravelled drive kicking stones and dragging her feet like a child having a temper tantrum.
“What is it with you? I think you’re trying to get me out of the way to confront Tom.”
“I don’t need to care what you think. Do you want proof? Fine, I’ll give you proof!” He shoved the key in the lock and glanced in Sarah’s direction.
She turned to watch his theatrics with arms gripping her chest again. “You’ve lost your marbles. I think you need another hobby Myaten. Claiming some kind of god-like powers, you need to lay off the role-playing. It’s taking hold of your reality.”
“I haven’t lost my mind, Sarah.” Moving aside, he opened the front door to her abode as she tapped her foot with impatience.
Nothing happened. Waving her arms at the house, Sarah shouted at him. “See, I told you—”
A blinding flash coupled with a loud explosion as all the windows blew out, showering the lawn and drive with shards of glass and other debris made her rush backwards to safety.
Covering her mouth with trembling hands, the smell of gas and the sight of flames and smoke told the horrible truth. The explosion accompanied by the sound of car alarms beeping and honking made her cover her ears.
“He’s such a show-off.”
“What the―” Sarah whipped around to find Kiros standing next to her holding a white box with green dots eating glazed doughnuts of all things. “―hell are you doing here?” Her temples were beginning to throb. Was she dreaming? Deciding she must have hit her head on the sink this morning, she glanced over one shoulder to witness her two-story house rebuilding itself in the background.
Okay, who slipped LSD in my coffee this morning?
“You keep eating those things, and you’ll get fat, Kiros.” Myaten walked with a slow gait while spinning her keys around his index finger. “Now, do you believe me, Sarah? I think so.”
The tension in his face easing away into a deliberate grin, which made her want to slap the shit out of him. So yeah, she could hit him after all.
One, cause he was right and two, she loved him more now than ever. God help me, he really is Merlin. A million questions roamed inside her head, but a grunt was all she managed before fainting at the new-found knowledge.
Myaten turned an icy stare on the man stood within arm’s reach of her. “Kiros, why didn’t you catch her?”
“Nothing comes before my doughnuts. I emphasise. It’s your friend. You pick her off the ground if it bothers you that much.” Kiros shoved a powdered doughnut into his mouth and chewed ferociously.
Instead of going toe to toe, Myaten watched Kiros taking a bite out of another sugar treat as if nothing out of the normal had happened. Understanding made him sigh the minute Kiros jumped back preventing Sarah’s soft hand anywhere near his foot.
“If I didn’t know about your past, I’d swear you’re into men.” Myaten barked while reaching down to gather Sarah in his arms. God Damn it, Sarah, you’re bony. The next time she said diet, he’d make her eat a truckload of cheeseburgers and watch. Feeling guilty about everything, the first plan of action was her safety. The guilt trip would settle in soon enough to make Myaten rethink the lack of wisdom in blowing Sarah’s house up to prove a point.
“I called you here for a reason. Sarah has the mark of our People.” Myaten tilted Sarah’s body to show the inflamed area on her wrist as Kiros doubled over coughing, obviously choking on his doughnut.
“You’re supposed to chew, not swallow the damn things.” Myaten teased and shifted Sarah in his arms to keep from straining her neck.
“Please tell me it’s not mine.” Kiros wiped his sticky hands on his jeans and tried to inspect her wrist from a distance.
“You’re safe, this time. Now do me a favor and bring my car here. I’m not driving her death trap on wheels.” Before Myaten finished his request, a jaguar appeared next to the fading mini. Walking to the car, Myaten looked over his shoulder. “I can’t wait to see the woman that tames your hairy ass.” He didn’t bother holding back his amusement at the horror in his brother’s neon blue eyes.
“Can you give fair warning so I can leave the country?” Kiros asked in earnest and growled deep and low in his throat. “I’m not kidding. Do I look like I’m joking?” Kiros drew a line across the centre of his face with his middle finger for emphasis.
Myaten stepped aside as the car door opened with magic from his old friend. “Gee, thanks Kiros for giving me a hand.” How could a man of his abilities be afraid of bonding to a female? One would ask themselves that question with an expression of exaggerated fear on their face. Especially when that person is Kiros, a sorcerer with unique powers standing there baulking at the slim woman now slumped over in the passenger seat.
“I heard each insulting word you thought, Myaten. I’m not afraid of Sarah. She annoys the shit out of me like most women, and I hate bubbly people. Always wanting to care for others and that crap has worn off on you. This is real life. Wake the fuck up! Fairy tales don’t exist for me and just because I like watching Disney doesn’t mean I believe in that bullshit! I’ll never allow another woman near me again as long as I live!”
“Even if she brings you boxes of KK in bed with coffee?”
“Is there a point to your babbling that should interest me?” He flicked his eyes over at Sarah.
“You got to let it go, Kiros. And Sarah is special, she’d never harm anybody.” Myaten declared and shut the car door.
“Whatever, and don’t get any ideas of using my ranch as a nursery. I don’t babysit humans, especially half-breeds going through the change. Take her to Siaak. He knows how to deal with them seeing as he has his own.” He opened his mouth to defend Sarah, but he was too late. Kiros popped out of view. An empty Styrofoam cup tumbled across the driveway where he stood seconds ago.
Perhaps Kiros was right. Melissa would keep watch over Sarah while he found out who wanted her dead.