Home > Tegan's Return (The Ultimate Power #2)(16)

Tegan's Return (The Ultimate Power #2)(16)
Author: L.H. Cosway

“Well, that’s a turn up for the books,” says Alvie, in an excitable tone, relishing the salacious piece of gossip.

Gabriel leans back against the counter with his arms folded. “You and I both know what it’s like to have unpleasant fathers, Alvie,” he says in a low voice.

“Yeah,” Alvie sighs. I raise a questioning eyebrow at him, but he just shrugs and answers sadly, “I haven’t spoken to my dad since I was seventeen. He threw me out of the house because he couldn’t abide by my choice of lifestyle.”

I nod in understanding then. I already know about Gabriel’s father, Alin Cristescu, who rejected him because he was a dhamphir. I wonder how parental rejection affects a person’s psyche. My dad has always been supportive of me, and thinking this causes a stab of guilt to twist in my gut. I have no clue where he is, and he could be suffering right now, all because of the choice I made to run away.

I try to clear those thoughts from my head. “So, did Rita manage to save anything from the house?” I ask.

“She got a few pieces of furniture that we put out in Finn’s shed and some clothes for her and her mum. Everything else was too damaged. She says they had insurance though, so hopefully the money from that will help in rebuilding the place.”

“That’s good, I’m going to bed. I’ll see you both in the morning.”

Alvie and Gabriel say goodnight and I go up to my room to find Finn under the covers sleeping like the dead. He’s completely silent, not snoring or anything. I strip off and get into some shorts and a t-shirt before slipping under the blanket, doing my best not to wake him.

It doesn’t take long for me to drift off. I dream that I’m tied to a chair in the middle of the dance floor at Crimson. Around me are standing a circle of vampires, their eyes glowing red. I struggle against the rope that ties me down and the rough texture grates against my skin. All of the vampires I’ve ever met are here, even Antonia and Howard Herrington, despite the fact that they’re both dead.

At the head of the circle is Jeremy Whitfield, he steps forward and a slow, snakelike smile curls around his lips, almost to the point of a rictus grin. My eyes keep focusing on the edges of his lips as they curl and curl. Then he begins to laugh quietly, but increasingly it gets louder and the rest of the vampires join in. Suddenly he steps closer and glares down at me from his massive height.

Then he opens his mouth and says, “Did you think you could fool me?”

I gasp and open my eyes, the cold December sunlight is shining through the bedroom curtains. My entire face is pressed into Finn’s neck and his arms are snug around my waist. Okay, this sleeping in the same bed thing can’t go on for much longer, it’s only been one night and already the boundaries have started to blur. I’ll sleep downstairs on the couch if that’s what it takes. I try to slip away from him, but he feels me move and pulls me closer.

“Quit it, would you?” Finn groans, still half asleep.

“I will if you let go of me,” I hiss and this seems to wake him up. His eyes open blearily and he notices how close we are. Then he smiles knowingly and removes his arms from my waist. I scoot out of the bed and run into the bathroom.

I’m too embarrassed to go back into the room and face Finn, so I head downstairs in search of breakfast. Rita, Alvie and Gabriel are already up and have made a feast of toast, eggs and fried tomatoes.

“Where’s your mum?” I ask Rita, as I sit down at the table and butter myself some toast.

“She’s not feeling well, she’s going to stay in bed for the morning.” Rita answers with a solemn note to her voice.

A minute later Finn pops in the door in only his boxer shorts, the magical poultice has shed his wound and in its place is perfectly healed skin. He pats Rita on the head, scruffing her dark hair. “Look at me,” he exclaims, “good as new. I’ll have to get you to see to me the next time I’m injured.” He’s got a massive grin on his face.

This makes Rita scowl like nobody’s business. “Don’t ever do that to me again,” she threatens.

Finn laughs merrily and gives her a comical pat on the arse. Her expression sours even further and I have to hold back my laughter.

She lifts up her cup of coffee and walks over to the table. “You’re lucky I need you to let me stay in your house or you’d be growing a tail right now Finn,” she tells him darkly.

He shakes his head. “Lighten up misery guts,” he says, before pulling up a chair beside me and plopping food onto his plate.

Rita clears her throat. “By the way Finn, you wouldn’t mind if I had my clients come see me here today? They usually come by the house, but obviously that’s not going to work until it’s rebuilt.”

Finn chews on a piece of toast. “You should be nicer to the people you want to ask favours from,” he says, and I can tell he’s enjoying himself immensely.

Rita lets out a heavy sigh. “I healed your stupid leg didn’t I?”

“I suppose,” Finn accedes. “Go on then, you can bring them into the living room and do whatever it is you do in there. Just clean up the mess when you’re finished.”

“Fine,” says Rita sharply, spooning excessive amounts of sugar into her mug.

My curiosity piques. “What do you have clients for?” I ask.

“Rita and her mum do spells for people,” Alvie answers for her. “Small stuff like minor love potions, cures for acne, that kind of thing.”

My eyes widen with interest. “Don’t they wonder how you do it?”

“Lots of people believe in magic,” says Rita. “You’ll find that once you can achieve the results they want they don’t ask a lot of questions. Besides, how else are we going to pay the bills?”

“I guess it’s as good a job as any, I like that you’re using your magic to help people,” I admit, and Rita seems pleased.

Finn’s leg brushes against mine, I glance at him quickly and he winks with a mischievous expression on his face. So he hasn’t forgotten how we woke up this morning then.

I throw him a look of annoyance. “Can’t you put some clothes on?” I ask.

“My house, my rules,” he answers happily.

“I definitely don’t mind if you want to walk around topless,” Alvie puts in, wiggling his eyebrows.

That wipes the smile right off Finn’s face, and we all burst out laughing a second later.

After breakfast I join Finn and Gabriel on a trip to the nearest supermarket, we need to stock up on food since there’s so many of us in the house now. We end up spending a phenomenal amount, but Gabriel insists on paying for everything. I wonder where he gets his money from these days, since he doesn’t work at Indigo any more. Then again, he probably has a lot of savings if he’s as old as Finn told me he is.

I lounge around for a while when we get back, watching as various men and women come and go from the house. Rita shuts the living room door each time they come though, so I can’t eavesdrop at what’s going on. For some reason I’m fascinated by the fact that humans who live very normal, ordinary lives can accept magic as a feasible method by which to rid themselves of their ailments. It takes all sorts I suppose.

I’m munching on a bowl of tortilla chips when Finn gets back from some slayer business he had to attend to. Alvie and Gabriel are upstairs checking to see how Noreen is doing, since she still hasn’t emerged from the bedroom all day. I have a feeling her illness is emotional rather than physical. Rita discovering the true identity of her father must surely have taken a toll on the woman.

Every second chip I pick up goes on the floor for Wolf to eat, he seems to like them too.

“Having fun?” Finn asks, shrugging out of his leather jacket.

“Lots,” I reply, grinning down at Wolf, my new found canine companion.

“Good, because you’re not going to like what I have to say next.”

I put down the bowl and turn to face him. “What?”

“I spoke to Pamphrock today, he’s getting impatient. He says you have three more days to get to Rebecca before he gathers his men and breaks into Whitfield’s mansion himself.”

“Great,” I answer, deadpan. “Does he actually think brute force will work? I mean, he could always try attacking during the day while the vampires are at their most vulnerable, but I have a feeling Whitfield has lots of protection set up for the hours when he’s asleep. I can’t see a man like that leaving himself open to attack at any time of the day or night.”

“You’re right,” Finn agrees. “But give Pamphrock a break, he’s worried about his daughter. He’s not thinking straight.”

I dust the salt and crumbs from my hands and stand up. “So three days?” I say to Finn.

“Three days,” he tells me.

“It looks like I’ve got some vampire grovelling to do then, doesn’t it.”

Chapter Eleven

Girl With One Eye

I shower, put on some make-up and dress myself in a calf length black dress and boots before heading to Crimson. I despise lowering myself to this level, but I need to get back into Ethan’s good books if I want to gain access to Whitfield’s private home.

It’s ten at night by the time I get there and the revellers are in full swing. I spot Dru and Lucas standing at the door, so I take a deep breath for courage and skip the queue, walking towards them. I’m not normally self-assured enough to do this kind of thing, but I don’t have the time to wait in line for an hour. I only have three days left to get to Rebecca. Lucas smiles when he spots me.

“Tegan, looking delectable as always,” he leers.

“I have to see Ethan,” I tell him, making my way to walk past him and into the club. He grabs onto my arm.

“What makes you think he wants to see you?” he breathes down my neck. “The last I heard you pissed him off pretty bad.”

I pull my arm out of his grip. “I can handle him,” I reply, but my words come out shaky.

Lucas is thoroughly amused. “If that’s what you think then you don’t know Ethan half as well as I thought you did.”

Dru watches our exchange with interest. “Quit messing with her Lucas,” she says.

Lucas shoots me a look as if to tell me it’s my own funeral, then he shakes his head. “Well, you were warned.”

I purse my lips and continue inside. So Ethan was angry with how I walked off on him last night. Shit. The club is packed and there’s barely enough room to breathe, let alone move. I struggle past the masses and manage to slip through to the bar where I promptly order a vodka and orange juice. I swallow the whole thing back in two very long gulps. I’m suddenly terribly thirsty, it must be my nerves.

I turn around and lean against the bar to scan the crowds, but I don’t see Ethan anywhere. Then my eyes focus in on a girl who’s headed in my direction, her gaze is fixed determinedly on mine. She’s got short brown hair and is wearing tight denim jeans and a black tank top. But the most noticeable thing about her is that she’s got an eye patch, like a pirate.

She seems out of breath and panicked. When she steps before me and puts her hands on each of my shoulders, I look down to find that they are visibly shaking. She pulls me into a hug, her mouth is right over my ear and she talks rapidly.

“Don’t move or pull away. I know you don’t know me, but I have information for you. I know where your father is.”

My jaw drops and my eyes gape at her in shock. She pulls me into her again. “Wait until I get to the door and then follow me outside.”

She lets go of me then and looks at me meaningfully, before heading toward a side exit. My body won’t move for a minute, and I don’t know if I should follow her or not. This could be a trap, and if I go outside I’ll be walking right into it. But there’s something about her panic, her shaking hands, that makes me believe her. This girl has the answers I’ve been looking for, and I’m not about to let her slip from my grasp.

I push past the crowds to the door she just slipped through, but before I step outside I stand cautiously behind the steel frame and peer out. The girl is rubbing her shaking hands over her bare arms just as a sleek black town car pulls up to the side of the club. She barely has time to react when several people emerge at once, Ethan, Eliza, Jeremy and his bodyguards. Her expression drops, and stark, undiluted fear covers her face.

For a second I feel like I might walk out to her, but I stop myself. This girl has information about my father, but the vampires seem to terrify her, and I can’t let them know that she’s already spoken to me. The girl turns and begins to run away, but a second later Jeremy has her within his grasp, he’d moved so quickly. His hand is holding tightly onto the back of her neck, and then he tosses her to the ground while his bodyguards surround her.

Ethan is standing off to the side, watching Jeremy intimidate the poor girl. He doesn’t move to help her and there is no expression on his face.

Jeremy peers down at her as though he has a million questions on the tip of his tongue. “Now, what is a witch doing on my territory?” he asks finally, after an agonising wait.

“I can help you,” she offers weakly, holding herself with shivering arms that betray her fear.

Whitfield laughs, and it brings back memories of the dream I had last night, where I’d been helpless and tied to a chair. The helplessness of the girl with the eye patch is so similar to what I had felt that it takes so much will power not to run to her aid. I’m too weak to do anything that will stop Whitfield from harming her. So she’s a witch who knows something about my dad, does that mean it’s the magical families who’ve got him? Or is she here to warn me that the vampires are not to be trusted?

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