Home > Tegan's Magic (The Ultimate Power #3)(10)

Tegan's Magic (The Ultimate Power #3)(10)
Author: L.H. Cosway

“So I can ask it any question and it’ll have the answer?” I probe, getting excited.

She shakes her head. “That’s not how it works. It’s like an emergency reserve. It only makes itself known when you’re in desperate need of an answer.”

“There always has to be a catch,” I sigh.

Rita’s about to open her mouth to say something else, but she’s interrupted by a frighteningly familiar voice that whimsically agrees, “Doesn’t there though.”

I startle like a baby deer and swing around to look up at the chancel where I’d thought I heard strange laughter earlier. Perched on the edge of the mezzanine is Theodore, one leg casually crossed over the other. He’s wearing an all black suit with white and black loafers and red socks. It must have been the paternal side of her genes that gave Rita her unusual fashion sense.

Finn makes a move to c*ck his gun, but Theodore tuts and waggles his finger at him. “Nuh uh slayer, you might as well be brandishing a feather for all the damage that thing will do to me.”

Finn’s eyes turn to slits and he grudgingly holsters the weapon.

“What do you want?” Rita asks, her voice harsh but a tiny bit shaky.

Theodore grins at her, his white face cracking into the chilling smile of a circus clown.

“Hello my child. I’m not here for you – yet. I have a bone to pick with your little friend.” He turns his head just a fraction so that he’s now staring at me, and the smile vanishes from his face completely. I thought he couldn’t look any creepier, but I was wrong.

“I thought we had an agreement, treasure,” he says, summoning a pout and folding his arms. “I let you live in exchange for you not telling your friends about my return. Yet you go and babble it all out the first chance you get. This makes me feel betrayed, and when I feel betrayed I get angry. And, when I get angry I want to dole out punishment. The question is, what will your punishment be?”

I swallow hard. If Marcel knew that we’d made an alliance with the vamps then I guess it doesn’t take too much of a stretch to figure out that Theodore would have discovered my little slip. It feels like aeons ago that I found the note he left for me on Sycamore Strand.

“No suggestions, huh?” Theodore chirps. “Well, I do like to be controversial, so what say I pit you against a friend?”

Rita and I glance at each other, simultaneously thinking the same thing. Is he going to get the two of us to fight?

“Wro-ong,” Theodore sings, making the one syllable word into two as he reads our thoughts. I shiver.

He makes the most subtle of hand gestures and then suddenly someone’s big, strong hand is wrapped around my throat, squeezing hard. I turn my head just enough to see that it’s Finn and that his face looks all messed up. He’s sweating heavily and his eyes are strained. They aren’t black, meaning the chaos hasn’t taken complete control of him yet, but I can see his internal struggle as though it were playing out right in front of me. I can’t believe I took my eyes off Finn long enough for the mist to get into him.

I feel dizzy with the lack of oxygen, my body squirming to get away from him. I’m absently aware of Rita shouting and fighting Finn to get him to release me, but Theodore must restrain her with magic in some way because she’s gone a moment later. I gather just enough strength to push my hands to Finn’s chest and the mist starts to leave him. Unfortunately, it only gets so far before gushing right back inside his body.

Theodore cackles. I try again, but it’s no use. Every time I try to push out the mist, Theodore just pushes it right back in. I kick my leg out, clocking Finn right in the proverbials. I’d feel bad if he weren’t trying to strangle me to death. I can just imagine the veins bulging out of my neck right now.

The shock of my kick causes him to momentarily let go and I drop to the floor, whimpering at the pain of my bruised throat. He shrugs off the kick to the balls quicker than I’d have liked and comes at me. I scramble backwards, but a second later his large, muscled body covers mine. He holds me down against the cold, tiled floor and slaps me hard across the face. His panicked eyes are the only indication that he’s in agony at not being able to control his own body.

I press my palms to his chest, pushing out the mist, but again Theodore infuriatingly pushes it back in. Finally I see that Rita is floating in mid-air, struggling against some kind of invisible barrier that Theodore has placed around her. She looks like an angry Goth doll in a bubble.

I try again, pushing at Finn’s chest and in the split second where the mist is out of him, just before Theodore has the chance to put it back in, he coughs out a strangled plea, “Stab me, use the razor.”

Then the chaos is back inside him and his hands return to my throat. Stab him? What the f**k? I can’t stab him. I just can’t. But as his death grip tightens on me and my body starts to go limp with lack of oxygen, I don’t think I have any other choice.

In the distance I hear Theodore laugh. “Are you feeling sufficiently punished yet, treasure? No? I think we’ll let this play out for a little while longer then. I always enjoy a good death match.”

Using my left hand I shakily pull out the blade, unable to see any other option but my own imminent demise. Tears streak down my face and I start to choke. I don’t want to do this, I really, really don’t want to do this. Time is running out. I need to get Finn off me so that I have a chance of running. Stabbing him in the arm or leg won’t be enough of a blow. The chaos has taken over too much of him now. I try to figure out the best place to stab him in the stomach that won’t be life threatening.

Oh God, what if I get it wrong and he bleeds out? Finn’s eyes sear into mine. I can almost hear him urging me, do it, do it! With no more thinking time left, I choose a spot and thrust the blade into his flesh. His hands fall lose. I pull the blade out quickly. Finn’s heavy body goes limp, crushing me. I’m hardly able to push his bulk off me but I just about manage it. His mouth opens and dark tendrils of mist slither out.

My heart leaps into overdrive when I see more and more of his blood seeping onto the floor.

“Ah,” says Theodore from up high, “I think the treasure has learned her lesson.”

He swipes his hand in a downward motion and Rita falls to the ground. Once free of her bubble she unleashes an angry tirade, pulling a glass bottle containing some kind of pink liquid out of her satchel and flinging it at Theodore. It smashes into his chest and bursts into pink and orange flames. Theodore grins and with another hand motion the flames disappear.

“Bravo, my child. Very good!” He gives her a round of applause, like a proud father.

“You bastard!” Rita screeches at him. “I hate you. If I could somehow purge you out of me I’d do it in a heartbeat.”

Theodore gazes upon her, his expression not angry at her harsh words, but instead amused.

“You say that now, daughter, but one day you will join me of your own accord. One day soon.”

And with that he vanishes in a cloud of purple smoke.

Chapter Five

Crimson and Clover

Rita and I stare at the smoke for a moment before reality hits us and we rush to help Finn.

“Shit, shit, shit! This isn’t good,” says Rita in panic as I pull Finn’s coat from his body and tear away his t-shirt to reveal a rapidly bleeding gash.

The blood pumps out, gushing over his already scarred skin. There are little healed silver scars here and there, injuries that he’s accumulated over the years. It’s always hard to look at them, but now it’s even worse because I’ve added to them. Only this time it might be fatal. So much for cutting him in a non-life-threatening spot.

“It’s okay, it’s okay. I have something I can use,” Rita rambles as she rummages through her bag, pulling out all sorts of potions and lotions. Some of them move and pulsate inside their containers, as though alive.

Unlike Rita, who just doesn’t stop talking in a crisis, I can’t seem to get my mouth to work. I did this to him. I can’t believe I did this to Finn. Strong, reliable Finn who’s always on hand in a spot of trouble is now lying on the floor of a church unconscious, possibly dying.

Under Rita’s instructions, I bunch up Finn’s torn shirt and hold it gently to his wound to slow the bleeding. Rita unscrews the cap on a bottle of slimy, slithery green liquid. She then opens another that contains glittery looking sand and pours it into the slimy one. Instantly they mix and fuse, creating a bright silver concoction.

Rita shoves my hand with the bunched up shirt out of the way and gives me the bottle. She scrunches up her nose in distaste as she pulls apart each side of the wound to create as much of an opening as she can.

“Now, I need you to pour that in slowly. Try not to spill any on the floor.”

I nod, my heart hammering in my chest, and slowly pour the silver liquid. It really does have a life all of its own, because it doesn’t spill over the edges. Instead it slithers into the opening as though being sucked into a vacuum, until there isn’t a drop of it left.

I place the empty bottle on the floor beside me. The clink of the glass against the tiles echoes through the quiet church.

“Now what?” I ask Rita.

“Now we wait,” she answers, grabbing a hold of my hand for support. I reach out and take a hold of Finn’s too, placing it in my lap and rubbing my thumb over his palm.

At first he feels overly warm and then a minute later his hand goes icy cold. Not deathly cold, but a preternatural sort of cold, a purifying one. My eyes are drawn to the wound; the blood has all dried up and the skin is knitting itself back together. My heart slows in relief. I let go of Rita’s hand so that I can pull her to me in a one armed hug. I’m too afraid to let go of Finn’s hand for fear it’ll disturb whatever it is that’s healing him.

“Thank you,” I whisper to her. “I seriously owe you for saving him. He would have died if you weren’t here.”

She gets all awkward, pulling away and patting me on the shoulder. “It’s okay. Just doing my job as part time emergency saviour, as usual,” she quips.

I jump in fright when Finn lets out an abrupt groan. He blearily opens his eyes and looks around in confusion. When he sees his blood soaked clothing he croaks out a simple, “Jesus Christ.”

“Hey,” Rita pats him softly on the leg. “No saying the lord’s name in vain in here.”

“I think I’m allowed a pass given the circumstances,” he replies wearily. It makes my heart lift with joy that he’s talking, that his wound is healed.

“What was in that mixture?” I ask Rita in amazement, looking from Finn’s face to his closed wound and then back again.

She gives me a teacherly head tilt. “It’s a powerful form of healing salve, similar to the poultice I used before for Finn’s leg after he’d been shot. That’s a little above your learning grade right now though. Just keep practising at night like I showed you and soon I’ll be able to teach you all my tricks.”

This learning business is such a slow process. I’ve been practising almost every night before I go to bed, but Rita only seems willing to feed me tiny bits of information at a time.

Finn squeezes my hand and I realise that I’m still holding his in a vice grip. I look at him. “Do you remember what just happened?”

“Every detail, unfortunately,” he answers quietly, closing his eyes as though in pain.

“Are you still hurt?” Rita questions, perhaps worried that her spell might not have worked fully.

“Not presently, but the memory is there. I’ve been stabbed enough times to know that the pain isn’t something you quickly forget.” He regards Rita warmly. “I suppose it was you who saved the day again.”

She nods and dusts off a shoulder. “No biggie. Though you might want to start a tab. That’s twice I’ve healed you now.”

Finn smiles. It feels so good to see him do that, to see the life in his face. “We’ll see,” he answers her teasingly.

My heart squeezes. Almost losing Finn has made me aware of certain feelings I have for him that I’ve been trying to ignore. I’m not exactly sure what they mean yet.

“You going to let go of my hand, Petal? You’re cutting the blood off and I’ve lost enough today as it is,” he says to me gently.

I quickly release my hold. “I’m sorry. I’m just still a little in shock.”

“That’s you and me both.”

“I can’t believe I stabbed you,” I breathe, peering down at the scar on his abdomen that’s now silver like all the others.

“I can’t believe I almost choked you to death,” he counters, sounding guilty, which is silly. He’d basically been possessed, it’s not like he could have helped it.

“It wasn’t your fault.”

“I know that, but look at the bruises on your neck.” He reaches out and runs his hand along my skin. I close my eyes for a second and suppress a shudder. “I hate knowing that those mists can get into me at any time and make me do things like that. Especially to you.”

There’s meaning in his words that I don’t want to think about.

“That’s why we need to keep hunting them every night until we’ve killed them all,” Rita puts in, breaking the intense moment between me and Finn. I pull away from him, embarrassed.

We sit there for another few minutes, gathering our strength after the ordeal. Then we make sure that Father McGuire and the other people in the church have recovered. Finn and the priest seem to know each other well. Finn explains to him what happened with Theodore and tells him about the chaos that’s currently infesting the city. Surprisingly, he doesn’t show any signs of shock. Finn tells him that he’ll organise for the DOH to come and remove the dead body of the man who died today.

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