Home > Tegan's Return (The Ultimate Power #2)(14)

Tegan's Return (The Ultimate Power #2)(14)
Author: L.H. Cosway

When we approach Rita’s road I almost pull a muscle in my neck as I stick my head out the window to get a better view. All kinds of swirly, hazy splashes of colour are twisting through the air, bashing against one another in a beautiful, spectacular struggle. The word “wow” escapes my lips, a near inaudible whisper.

“How come the people who live in these houses aren’t going wild and calling the police?” I ask.

“Glamour.” Finn replies. “You and I can see the magic because it’s what we expect. Humans who are unaware of the supernatural world don’t even consider it possible, and therefore with a little glamour the magic users can make them see only what they expect to see. Which for many people living in this city is absolutely nothing at all.”

“Amazing,” I breathe.

As we get closer to the awe-inspiring battle that is taking place before our eyes, I begin to make out the figures of Rita, Gabriel, Alvie and Rita’s mother Noreen, standing in a semi-circle formation in her front garden. Their mouths are moving in unison as they chant some kind of spell, and out of their bodies float these huge swirls of colour, red and purple and blue and yellow.

Just across the road are about nine other people, standing in a similar position to that of my friends. Crap, they probably have the upper hand too, because not only are there more of them, there are nine of them, and nine is a multiple of three. My friends only have four, which is not one of those magical numbers required to perform spells correctly.

These are members of the elusive magical families I have heard so much about. All of them are strikingly tall, like Marcel, but that’s just about the only feature that sets them apart from normal humans. They aren’t particularly beautiful like the vampires or the dhamphirs. Colours rise from them also, but there’s something different about the consistency, their magic is condensed and heavy, but less vibrant. The magic of my friends is like a splattering of luminous paint, while that of the magical family members is see-through and dark, like you could move your hand right through it.

Above all of this are massive clouds of smoke, rising from Rita’s poor destroyed house. Flames burst out of one of the upstairs windows. Finn parks the car a few houses down from Rita’s and we step outside, Wolf padding along beside us, his head slightly lowered as if he’s on guard.

“I thought the vampires were supposed to be the enemies,” I say to Finn as we approach Rita and the others.

“The magical families can be temperamental, most of the time they’re okay but every so often they lose the plot. If you ask me it’s all that inbreeding.”

I raise an eyebrow in surprise. I’d always thought Finn didn’t have a bad word to say about anyone who lived on the North side, apparently I’d been wrong.

“Hey, you lot wanna try fighting the old fashioned way?” Finn calls over to the collection of warlocks and witches on the opposite side of the road. In response, a tall, dark haired man steps out of the semi-circle formation to make some strange hand gestures at Finn. A second later a tidal wave of mist comes seeping toward us, knocking both of us off our feet. The magic clings to my skin like the humid air in a sauna, but it drifts away just as quickly as it came.

“Thought not,” Finn spits. “Taking the coward’s way out it is then.” We both get back to our feet, but then I see the warlock make another hand gesture and a second, more powerful mist heads our way. Wolf’s growl resonates through the street. Panic sets in, because some instinct deep inside of me tells me that this mist isn’t simply going to knock us off our feet like the last one. It feels as though someone else is taking over my body, like a long lost incarnation of myself, a self both familiar and completely strange, is rising to the surface.

With a steady arm I push Finn out of the way and sweep my hand across my body and to the left hand side, it reminds me of the gestures that the witches and warlocks make. But it can’t be the same, can it? I have no clue where the gesture came from, it’s a memory I never knew I possessed.

The warlock’s mist disintegrates with the sweep of my arm, and out of the palm of my hand fly hundreds of little silvery white electrical sparks, they flit like fairies, flying through the air at the warlock before me. His eyes widen in shock before the sparks make contact with his face and singe his skin. Oh God, that felt empowering and amazing. Suddenly I’m not so wary of this ball of magic Rita says I’ve got bubbling up in my belly.

The others are staring at me now, and Rita’s got a massive smile on her face. “Nice one, Tegan,” she calls, clapping her hands together.

Finn grabs my arm and drags me the rest of the way to Rita’s garden. “You’ll have to teach me that trick some time,” he says in a low voice, eyeing me with interest.

I’m still in absolute shock when I reply, “You’ll have to wait until I figure out where it came from first.”

When we join the others, an older warlock with short grey hair comes walking into the middle of the road where he stops and surveys our motley crew. His eyes land on me almost immediately and he asks, “Who are you, child?”

“Like she’s gonna answer to you,” says Rita in a pissed voice.

Simultaneously, Finn, Gabriel and Alvie stand in front of me, shielding me from the warlock’s gaze.

“You have lost your way, little one,” he says, still talking to me, his voice is almost hypnotising. “Come back to us,” then he opens his arms as if to welcome me home. There’s not a chance of me going anywhere near him. And what does he mean by ‘come back to us’? Does he think I’m some lost member of his family or something?

“She does not and never has belonged to you,” says Rita’s mother, speaking up. “You have destroyed my home Michael, is that not enough for you? Do you wish to see myself and my daughter dead too?”

There is a moment of silence, and all I can hear is the crash of wood as something breaks inside Rita’s house, it sounds like an entire floor has fallen through. The warlock named Michael’s gaze flits to the house, and a cruel smile covers his thin lips.

“Take this as a warning Noreen Doherty, if I ever find you trying to corrupt the children of my family again I will do a lot worse than burn your house down.” His eyes meet mine through a gap in the bodies that are currently shielding me. “We will meet again, little one,” he says with an intrigued expression.

At this he motions to those behind him, and it only takes a few moments for them to drift away and out of sight. Gone. Noreen slumps to the ground, her posture betrays her exhaustion. Rita hurries over to her mum and pulls her into a tight hug. Then a window from the top floor smashes outwards and we all just barely avoid being struck in the face by shards of glass.

“We have to leave now,” says Gabriel. “It’s not safe.” The sound of a fire engine wails in the distance, one of the neighbours must have called for it.

“Come on, I’ve got the van parked just down the road, we can go to my place. You lot can figure out what you’re going to do from there.” Finn offers.

We all huddle into the van. I sit across from Rita and her mother as they hold onto each other and cry silently. Seeing Rita display this kind of emotion startles me for a moment, since she’s always so confident and breezy about things. I suppose losing all of your worldly possessions as well as your home will do that to a person.

Gabriel is examining a small cut on Alvie’s face, perhaps not all of us avoided the shattered glass after all. Gabriel tries to dab away the blood with the sleeve of his shirt, it seems sort of intimate for some reason, but then he catches me watching and pulls away. Alvie’s expression is wounded. It makes me wonder if something is going on between the two of them.

When we get to Finn’s house everybody sits around the kitchen table, while Noreen goes about making a big pot of tea. A plan is going to be hatched. I leave to use the bathroom and end up staying in there for a good long while just staring into the mirror. The magic that I used tonight has me both fascinated and terrified. If I could summon up burning sparks like that without even consciously thinking about it, then what could I be capable of if I really put my mind to it?

Perhaps I’m a witch after all. Or perhaps my magic is an in built form of defence for women with my blood type. It makes sense that if we are going to be at the mercy of invincible vampires then we should at least have a fighting chance at defending ourselves. The magic I used tonight serves that purpose very well.

Finally, I splash some water over my face and leave the bathroom to find Finn coming up the stairs toward me.

“You were in there for a while,” he says, “I was just coming to check if you were all right.”

“I’m fine, I just needed a minute to process what happened tonight. What I did.”

“Yeah,” says Finn, rubbing his neck thoughtfully. “About that, is there something you’re not telling me?”

“What, that I’m a witch? Finn, I’m so f**king confused right now it’s not funny. Ever since I came back to Tribane I’ve been realising that my blood isn’t the only thing that’s different about me.”

“Well I’m sure Rita will help you figure it out,” he says, in an effort to comfort me.

“Yeah, I hope so.” We stand there on the landing for a minute in silence.

“So, um…” Finn begins. “We came to a conclusion downstairs while you were in the bathroom. That warlock from tonight, Michael Ridley, not only did he burn down Rita’s house, he also put spells on Gabriel and Alvie’s apartments. If anybody steps foot inside them their skin starts to melt.” I make a face of shock before Finn continues, “Disgusting I know, Gabriel found out the hard way. It’s a good thing dhamphirs heal quickly, or he’d be going around with a face like the elephant man for the rest of his days. Anyway, what this basically means is that our friends below don’t have any place to live at the moment, so I told them they could all stay here for a few nights. Is that okay with you?”

I nod. “Of course it is, it’s your house Finn. But where are they all going to sleep? There are only three bedrooms.”

Finn smiles and scratches his elbow, before saying, “Rita managed to haggle me into giving her and Noreen my room, the master bedroom. She’s going to perform a healing spell on my leg to help me walk normal again. If you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been limping like a motherfucker since I got shot.”

“That’s great. She can really heal it with magic?” I question.

“So she says,” Finn gives a shrug. “Alvie and Gabriel will be taking the empty room at the end of the hall, and that leaves me sleeping in with you for the time being.”

I give him a look. “Not happening Finn, Alvie can sleep in with me and you can bunk up with Gabriel.”

Finn looks uncomfortable for a minute, then says, “Um, the boys kind of requested a room together.”

I widen my eyes. I knew there was something going on with those two. I can’t help the smile that spreads across my lips. “That’s so cute, and surprising, I really thought Gabriel was straight when I first met him.”

Finn smirks. “Gabriel likes his bread buttered on both sides, if ya get me.”

“Oh.”

“Ah, give the guy a break. He’s pushing one-hundred and fifty, if I’d lived that long I’d probably be looking to shake things up in the bedroom department myself.”

I can’t stop the laugh that sputters from lips. “God, I never thought Gabriel was so old.”

“Dhamphirs can live for up to 500 years,” says Finn casually.

“I wonder how old Delilah is,” I mutter, half to myself.

Finn raises an eyebrow. “Cristescu’s sister? She’s younger than Gabe, probably only about eighty. Not bad looking for an old broad either.”

“Has Gabriel ever gotten in touch with Ethan or Delilah since I left?” I ask.

“I don’t think so, after the fight with Theodore on the island they all went back to ignoring the fact that they’re family, just like before.”

It makes me sort of sad, thinking about the rift between Gabriel and his half siblings. I look back at Finn then. “Fine, you can stay in with me, but keep your hands to yourself.”

“Are you forgetting whose house this is?” Finn asks, arms folded in amusement.

“Whatever.”

He smiles and pats me on the shoulder. “Come on, help me set up the rooms for our guests.” I sigh and follow him to the airing cupboard.

Chapter Ten

Remember the Daughter, and All That You Taught Her

Later that night, after everyone’s settled in their respective bedrooms, we all gather in the living room where Rita is preparing to cast a healing spell on Finn’s leg. Carefully, she unwraps the bandage to reveal a nasty looking wound, but at least it doesn’t appear to be infected. She gives it a prod with her finger and grins when Finn flinches in pain.

“Hey, what did you do that for?” Finn asks, clenching his jaw.

Rita shrugs. “Don’t know, I just felt like it.”

“You’d better hope this works, or else you can kiss goodbye to sleeping in the master bedroom.”

“Rita love, prepare the spell and quit messing around,” says Noreen. I look to the woman who is the spitting image of her daughter, except her features are slightly more aged and refined. I try to imagine her and Theodore together, but it just doesn’t seem to fit. Perhaps he’s not Rita’s dad after all.

Rita frowns at her. “Our house just burned to the ground Mum, let me get my happiness where I can.”

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