Home > Tegan's Return (The Ultimate Power #2)(4)

Tegan's Return (The Ultimate Power #2)(4)
Author: L.H. Cosway

I nod in a daze and dash out of the bathroom as quick as my legs will carry me. Shakily I go into the café and buy that coffee I was supposed to get earlier, requesting that the barista make it extra strong since I need something to calm my nerves. I don’t normally like strong coffee, but the occasion calls for it. Passing by the duty free, I spot a vodka display and decide to hell with the strong coffee. I buy a small bottle and pour some into the paper cup. I sit down at the gate just like Finn told me to and sip on my drink. Which is absolutely disgusting, but I crave the numbness of alcohol.

Sticking to his word, Finn comes along about a half an hour later and sits in beside me silently, our flight is just about to start boarding. Without saying a word, I pass him the bottle of vodka and he takes a long swig before handing it back to me.

A minute later he turns to me and says, “Let me see your arm, Travis grabbed you in there, I’m sorry about that, does it hurt?” He pulls up my sleeve and examines the bruise.

“Not at the moment, but then again, that’s probably just because I’m a little bit tipsy right now.”

A small smile passes over Finn’s lips. “Yeah well, I suppose we both deserve a drink after that. I can’t believe Travis had still been watching out for me after all these years.”

“Some people never let go of revenge,” I answer, and then they start calling our flight and we begin to board.

Finn lets me take the window seat, and I fall asleep before the flight has even taken off. I wake up halfway through, and find I’ve been cuddling into him, resting my head on his shoulder.

He grins at me and asks, “Did you have a nice nap?”

I straighten and sit up. “Um, yeah, sorry for, um, leaning into you.”

A smirk. “You mumble in your sleep.”

I shove him in embarrassment and tell him to shut up. He laughs quietly.

“So what’s the plan once we get to Tribane?” I ask a couple minutes later.

“We’ll drive out to see your dad, then we’ll come back to the city. You can stay at my place. Then I suppose we’ll report to Pamphrock and see what he has to say. You’ll have to find a way to get back in touch with Cristescu, maybe pretend you’re visiting and want to catch up. Go on a few dates and get him to invite you back to his house. All the while you’ll be trying to find information about where they’re keeping Rebecca so that we can plan a rescue mission.”

I scowl. “So you basically want me to prostitute myself to get information?”

I’m surprised when Finn actually appears shocked. “No, of course not Tegan, you just have to lead him on a little until you find the information we need.”

“It still sounds like prostitution to me.” I say miserably.

Finn just shakes his head, and then we don’t talk for the rest of the flight. Once we’re back in Tribane, Finn collects his car from the underground airport car park and we begin the long drive out to my dad’s house in Chesterport. We’ve already been travelling for over a day, since the flight was so long. It’s almost Christmas, and there are colourful bulbs lighting up the various towns that we pass through.

It’s nine o’clock at night by the time we get to my dad’s, and despite having slept through most of the drive, I’m still exhausted. Perhaps it’s more emotional than physical. Coming home has brought back a lot of old memories, and it hurts my heart to think of all the things I had to leave behind two years ago. I wish I could stay home, but I can’t. I will never be able to because of my blood.

Finn parks his car by the curb outside the house and we make our way to the front door. The golden light of a lamp shines through the curtains in the living room. So Dad is definitely home then. Anxiety seems to catch in my throat. I take the old brass knocker in my hand and bang it softly against the door three times.

Then I can hear someone shuffling down the hallway. I do my best to plaster a smile on my face for when my dad opens the door. But it’s not him who answers, it’s a middle aged woman I’ve never met before, she looks from me to Finn, probably wondering who we are. Where the hell is my dad?

Chapter Three

Dear Old House That I Grew Up In

“Hello, um, I’m looking for Martin Stolle. I’m his daughter,” I say nervously, wondering why there’s a strange woman answering the door to my dad’s house.

She’s got short, light brown hair and hazel eyes, she hesitates a moment then says, “Oh yes, Martin Stolle, we bought the house from him. He moved out about a year and a half ago.”

I turn and look at Finn, who’s watching me carefully, then I turn back to the woman. “Do you know where he went?”

She seems to be thinking it over for a moment. “No, I don’t believe he said where he was going, but I do remember him being in quite a hurry to sell up. We’d just come to town to be closer to my mother and we were looking for a nice family home, couldn’t believe our luck when your dad offered to sell us this place, and for below the market value price and everything.”

Worry begins to build up inside of me. Why had my dad been in such a hurry to sell our house and move away?

“Are you absolutely certain you can’t remember if he said where he was going? I’ve been living abroad for a while you see, and we sort of lost touch. I don’t have any other way of finding him.”

The woman has a sympathetic look on her face now. “I’m sorry honey, I couldn’t tell you more than I already have. Perhaps your father had some friends still living in town who know where he went?” She suggests.

Dad had always been the solitary type, not much into socialising. I suppose I could always call the school where he worked and see if they know anything.

“Yeah, maybe,” I reply. “Sorry to have bothered you. Thanks for your time.”

“No problem at all. I do hope you have some luck finding your dad,” she says, and I thank her before she closes over the door.

Finn walks back to the car and I follow him. He sits in driver’s seat and I sit in beside him, a contemplative silence filling the space. One solitary tear begins to roll down my face. My dad had always been a solid and supportive presence in my life. He’s not the kind of person to just leave town at the spur of the moment, not unless something very bad was happening. This is the house I grew up in, he’s lived in it for more than twenty years. There’s not a chance he would ever want to leave, he’s very much a creature of habit. This is all my fault.

“It was the vampires, wasn’t it,” I whisper. Finn puts his arm around my shoulders and pulls me close.

“She said he sold the house and left town, perhaps he got away before they could catch up with him.” He tells me, and a sliver of hope runs through me. Please, please let Finn be right.

“How could I have left him here so vulnerable? I’m such a selfish bitch,” I say, as another tear falls down my face. Finn wipes it away with his thumb.

“Hey now, you can’t think that way, you’re one girl and you were scared. No one would blame you for running away.”

I try to pull myself together and shift away from Finn. I’m already getting far too close to him and it’s barely been two days. “I’ll call his work in the morning and see if they know anything, and my friend Nicky, maybe she knows where he went.”

Finn nods. “It might not even be anything bad Tegan. Maybe he just wanted to get away from it all, sell the house and use the money to retire somewhere hot and sunny.”

“Maybe,” I agree, but I scarcely believe it.

Finn starts up the engine and pulls away from the house. I glance up at the window of my old bedroom. I wish I could just go in and sit there for a while. Obviously the new owners might find that a little weird though.

“Do you want to go get something to eat? We’ve got a long drive ahead of us back to the city.” Finn asks, interrupting my thoughts.

I look to him. “There’s a fast food drive-through on the outskirts of town, we can go there, that way we’ll lose less time.”

“Good idea,” says Finn.

We get burgers and cokes and sit in the car to eat them. All the while I can barely even think of what the food tastes like, I just keep imagining all the horrific things that might have happened to my dad. All because of me.

“Are you sure you can handle the drive back to Tribane?” I ask Finn. “You’ve barely slept a wink since we left Manchester.”

“I’m used to it. Training to become a vampire slayer with the DOH taught me how to go without much sleep for long periods. A lot of night time stake outs are involved.” He smiles wryly.

“I can imagine.”

I sense Finn watching me out of the corner of his eye. I finish my food and take the rubbish outside, dumping it in the bin.

When I get back in the car he asks, “So, do you have any idea how you’re going to get back in touch with Cristescu?”

I yawn. “I’ll probably just go to Crimson to look for him, I’m sure he’ll be around somewhere.”

“Funny you should say that,” Finn replies after a moment of silence. “They’re throwing this big exclusive event for Christmas at the club tomorrow night. All the most powerful vamps in the city are going to be there, it would be the perfect time for you to gather information about Rebecca.”

“Sounds like a plan,” I smile reluctantly, my stomach has a hundred butterflies flitting around inside of it. Tomorrow night. That’s so close. I’m going to see Ethan tomorrow night. The prospect has me both excited and apprehensive.

We drive back to Tribane, listening to the radio and chatting at intervals. Then I fall asleep and I try not to feel guilty that Finn has to stay awake to drive the car. It’s about one o’clock in the morning when we get to Finn’s house. I remember the last time I was here and he’d told me about the other slayer who owned the house, Noel. I ask Finn about him as we go inside, but he just shakes his head tells me that Noel died in one of the battles with the vampires. I tell him I’m sorry.

Finn’s dog, Wolf, is barking out in the back garden. Finn lets him in and he comes prowling into the kitchen. I still haven’t lost my fear of big dogs, so I stand as far away from Wolf as I can. He eyes me suspiciously, and I think I see him sniff the air ever so slightly before he does the doggy version of a shrug and sits down on the floor. Finn’s outside getting our luggage from the boot of the car. He laughs when he comes back into the kitchen to find me staring at Wolf nervously.

“He’s a teddy bear Tegan, honestly, you’ve nothing to be worried about.”

“Who took care of him while you were away?” I ask.

“The next door neighbour,” Finn replies. He takes a bottle of water out of the fridge for himself and offers one to me, I take it and swallow a long gulp. The drive has me dehydrated.

“So, where’s my room?” I ask tiredly.

Finn’s blue eyes watch me for a moment. “You can stay in my bed, if you like.”

“What were those conditions I set down before coming here again?” I say, reprimanding him for what was very obviously a come on.

“But I’ve got you here now so…” Finn drifts off, a mischievous gleam in his eyes.

“I’ll walk straight out that door Finn, just because I’m here it doesn’t mean I have to stay.”

He sighs. “God, you’re no fun. Come on then, I’ll show you to the guest room.”

The room Finn brings me to is clean and sparse, with only a bed and a wardrobe for furniture. He puts my suitcase at the end of the bed and tells me he’ll see me in the morning. I strip off and get under the covers. But it takes me hours to fall asleep. I can’t stop worrying about my dad. I may have come back to help rescue Rebecca, but things have just gotten about a hundred times more complicated.

I’m not just going to the vampires to try and find information about the little girl any more, now I’ve got to find out what happened to my father as well. And so help me, if they’ve done anything to hurt him I will find some way to make each and every one of them pay.

In the morning I wake up at about nine o’clock. I go downstairs in search of breakfast and find that Finn’s already up and dressed. He tells me I’ve got an hour to get ready and then we’ve to go to meet up with Governor Pamphrock. Apparently he wants to see me before he entrusts me with the task of saving his daughter.

Before having breakfast, I take my phone and shut myself in the living room. I dial the number of the school where my dad used to work. A friendly secretary answers and when I ask her about my dad she puts me on hold while she goes to ask the principal if he knows anything about where he went. She returns about five minutes later, tells me she’s sorry but Martin Stolle never left any forwarding information. I hang up and try to call Nicky, her phone rings several times but nobody answers. I try again but still there’s no answer. I throw my phone hard onto the couch in frustration.

I eat some toast, put on a pair of black jeans and a dark blue blouse, run a brush through my hair, and then go to join Finn out in the back garden where he’s putting some food out for Wolf and chatting with the woman who lives next door. She’s telling Finn how much she enjoyed taking care of Wolf while he was away, that it was an absolute pleasure to mind such a well-mannered dog. Despite this, I’m still wary of the animal. He’s almost the same height as me.

As I’m shrugging into my coat, Finn says, “Tegan, come and meet Maria, she lives next door with her two sons.”

Maria has long dark hair and kind eyes, she looks to be in her late thirties. I say hello and shake her hand, and she eyes me for a minute, probably wondering if I’m Finn’s girlfriend or something.

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