Home > Tegan's Magic (The Ultimate Power #3)(17)

Tegan's Magic (The Ultimate Power #3)(17)
Author: L.H. Cosway

“No. She and Lucas got up early and went out to attend to some business.”

“Oh. What kind of business?”

“None of your business kind of business,” he replies, all snappy.

I stare at him suspiciously and cross my arms, which actually solicits an eye roll from him. Have I ever seen Ethan roll his eyes before? I don’t think so, that’s usually my territory. It makes him seem to young. What a joke.

“If you must know, they are seeing to a few tedious financial tasks I requested they take care of for me. When Whitfield exiled us we didn’t have very much time to arrange things. Since he seized my business and my home it’s been difficult for me to access my money, but we’re working it out.”

“That does sound tedious,” I say, not sure what to do now. If Delilah’s not here then my only option is to ask Ethan to come with me, and I’m not too keen on spending any time alone with him.

“What did you need Delilah for?” he asks, his voice sounding gentler now. He must sense the air of nervousness about me.

“Do you know what happened to my dad?” I ask, tucking my hands into my pockets because it’s cold.

“Yes, Delilah informed me.”

“Well, I’ve been searching for ways to bring him back and I found this guy who might know how to do it. He’s a physics professor from Oxford called E.J. Edwards who wrote a book about other dimensions. The thing is, he’s going to be arriving at the airport in an hour’s time and I don’t want to meet him alone in case he turns out to be a lunatic.”

“If he’s an Oxford professor I doubt he’ll be a lunatic, Tegan. They don’t just hand out those positions to anyone.”

“I don’t know about that, overly clever people are always a touch mad. Their minds know too much.”

If I’m not mistaken, Ethan smirks at that. “True. Aren’t any of your little friends around to accompany you?”

I shake my head.

“Fine. I will go with you then.”

“No that’s okay. I wouldn’t want to put you out.” I don’t mean for that last sentence to sound so touchy, but it does.

“You aren’t going alone. Give me a few minutes and I’ll take you,” he states with finality, not taking no for an answer.

I step inside the hallway, trying to look anywhere but at his bare torso. He silently closes the door and then goes upstairs to find some clothes. When he comes back down he’s wearing the same jeans as before, with the addition of a t-shirt, jacket and boots.

“What terminal does his flight arrive at?” he asks, pulling out his car keys and pressing the button to unlock the door. I notice he managed to get away with his Cadillac. Whitfield must not have gotten the chance to seize it.

“Um,” I say, biting my lip and rummaging in my pocket for the details I’d written down. “Terminal 3 at nine twenty-five.”

“We should just about make it then,” says Ethan, as we strap ourselves in and he pulls away from the drive. There isn’t a single word exchanged between us for a good fifteen minutes. Can you say awkward? I fidget with the piece of paper in my pocket.

Finally, Ethan breaks the silence when he begins, “You should tell me the story of how you found yourself back in Tribane and working for the DOH.” He shrugs casually. “You know, to pass the time.”

I cast him a sideways glance. “Are you serious?”

“I’d like to know what it was that spurred you to conspire against me.”

He says this like he’s asking me what the weather’s like today. No emotion, no anger – just bland nothing.

“It wasn’t like that. You weren’t the target in it. You were just, I don’t know…inevitably involved.”

“Inevitably involved,” he repeats my own words back at me. “That’s a nice way of putting it. So go ahead, tell me how I became involved so inevitably.”

I breathe out anxiously, wondering if he genuinely wants to know or if he’s using this as some kind of strange trap. Maybe he’s just bored with the driving. After a few moments of considering, I decide to tell him. It’ll drown out the unbearable silence, if nothing else.

“I’d been living in Manchester city for two years. Well, hiding would probably be a better way of describing it. I feared that because the secret of my blood had been revealed to Antonia and her followers that she’d be searching high and low for me. And if not her, then others who her followers might have told about me. I had no clue that they’d all be dead soon after I left because of the war. So I hid. I lived a miserable little life with no friends, spending all of my time either studying or working.

“Then one night Finn showed up at the small art gallery where I had a job. I nearly died of shock when I saw him, thinking he was there to kill me. Only he wasn’t. He wanted to make a deal with me. He said Pamphrock would pay me if I came home and assisted them in finding where Whitfield had been keeping his daughter. I was suspicious that it might be a trap, but Finn convinced me his intentions weren’t to harm me.

“In the end I agreed to go back, but it was more out of loneliness than wanting the money. I just wanted to see my dad and my friends again. I hadn’t seen you in two whole years and the time that I had spent with you was so short, barely a couple of weeks. In reality I didn’t know you at all, so I had no loyalty to you, not really. And I thought that if you were involved in Rebecca’s kidnapping then you deserved to be deceived.”

“Well, that’s truly heart-warming,” says Ethan with bite.

“God, can’t you ever see that you’re not the centre of everything? You were a f**king after-thought in the whole situation.” He was way more than an after-thought, but no way am I telling him how anxious and excited I had been to see him again. I need him to understand that I was focused on the saving Rebecca side of things, not on the betraying him side.

“Oh, even more heart-warming,” he snips. I take back what I said about vampires being oblivious to sarcasm, because Ethan’s giving me a good dose of it tonight.

“I never claimed to have a heart,” I say, trying to sound cold and aloof, but failing.

He glances at me sideways. “Oh, you have one. You’re just too young and foolish to know how to use it.”

“Look, can we change the subject please? I’m sick of going over this. And actually, I don’t get why you’re still holding a grudge against me when you’ve welcomed Delilah back into your confidence with open arms. She left you to come and join the slayers. I sat and watched as she pledged her allegiance to Pamphrock, in the back of a DOH van no less.”

“Delilah recognised that she was in danger with Whitfield rising to power, given his distaste for dhamphirs. I had been too preoccupied to notice her distress, so I can understand why she acted as she did. That is why I have forgiven her. You, on the other hand, were not in a life or death situation. You decided to betray me all of your own accord. Nobody was holding a gun to your head. You f**ked me in my bedroom, a place you knew I had never allowed another female to enter. All the while you were living under the roof of a slayer, plotting against me. Those are the actions of a whore only out for what she can gain.”

I flinch at the venom in his crude words, tears threatening to spill from my eyes. But I steel myself and suck them back. “I can see that you’re never going to understand my side. All I can say is that you’re wrong, Ethan. So very f**king wrong,” I whisper, my voice quivering with unshed tears.

He doesn’t say another word and I spend the remainder of the journey trying to compose my hurt feelings. We park the car when we reach the airport and get out, silently making our way to the arrivals gate. Oh God, how I hate him right now. How dare he call me a whore? Call what we did in his bed just f**king? Is that what it was? The memory of it feels like a dream now. It’s fading and fading, almost like it never happened. A night of bliss that might as well have been a dream, because it sure as hell won’t be happening again. In this moment I feel like I can never let him take back the words he just said to me.

The arrivals gate is bursting with people, all running around, busy as can be. There’s something about airports that I find soothing. I know that most people think they’re stressful, but I like their liminality. The sense of standing on a threshold that could lead anywhere in the world. It’s a pity I’m not going somewhere right now.

Ethan’s touch at the small of my back brings me out of my thoughts. I step away from his hand and glance up at him.

“What is it?” I ask coldly.

“I have spotted your professor, but do not approach him just yet. I sense something in him. He’s not entirely human.”

Ethan closes the distance between us again and leads me over to a quiet corner where we can observe Edwards. I scan the crowd until I finally spot him. I wonder how Ethan managed to recognise him. Perhaps it’s because he’s the only other non-human in the place.

He’s standing on the other side of the wide hall, looking around at the people who pass him by, a brown leather suitcase at his side. He looks exactly the same as he did in the picture I saw of him, but now I can see that he’s only about five feet tall, if not less. People tower over him.

“Get your hand off me,” I bite out when I notice how Ethan is holding onto my arm. He’s not touching me in an affectionate way or anything like that. He’s holding me in place like you would an animal to keep them from wandering off.

Ethan releases his grip, his gaze on me hard.

“If he’s not completely human, then what is he? He just looks like a normal little old man,” I say.

“I can smell demon blood in him.”

“So there are demons as well now? Isn’t that fabulous.”

“There is everything,” says Ethan in a faraway voice, his eyes trained on Edwards in concentration. “One of his parents was of demonic origins, that would be my guess.”

“Well clearly he wasn’t going to be human. No human would know how to retrieve a person from another dimension. Come on, let’s go and introduce ourselves. You’re a vampire, surely you can handle a little old half demon.”

“Do not provoke me, Tegan,” he warns.

“Go f**k yourself, Ethan,” I answer back, mimicking his stern tone.

He deserves my anger after how he spoke to me in the car.

I make a move to walk away from him and over towards Edwards, but a firm hand grips my neck and pulls me back. He flips me around so that I’m looking up at him while he leans over me, his fangs out a little to give me a scare. It does the trick. I breathe quickly and swallow down a hard lump of saliva.

“I said, DO. NOT. PROVOKE. ME. Understood?”

I swallow again and nod. He squeezes my neck once hard, before releasing me and muttering a satisfied, “Very good.”

The devil inside my head has choked out the angel and is screaming at me, Call him a wanker! Call him a wanker now! You know you want to. I manage to summon up my small supply of self-preservation and ignore the urge to provoke him further, as he likes to put it.

Edwards notices us immediately when we approach him, a big smile lighting up his face. How on earth does he know we’re the ones he’s supposed to meet? He knows my name, but not what I look like.

“I take it you’re Tegan,” he greets enthusiastically. He sort of reminds me of Bilbo Baggins, off on an adventure. I shake his offered hand before he turns to Ethan. “And who is this fine strapping young fellow?” he says, now shaking hands with Ethan.

“Ethan Cristescu, it is a pleasure to meet you, Professor Edwards,” he replies, all charm and chivalry. Too bad he couldn’t use some of that with me.

“My word, of the Romanian Cristescus?” asks Edwards.

“The very same,” says Ethan, seeming pleased that this man knows of his family.

“Well, it truly is an honour. I confess, I did not expect to be meeting with vampire royalty tonight. Life is just full of wonderful surprises.”

I try not to snort at him describing Ethan as vampire royalty. Well, he certainly has the snobbery of royalty down pat.

“We better get going,” I say, gesturing towards the exit.

“Of course, lead the way,” Edwards answers, allowing Ethan to carry his suitcase.

When we make it back to the car, Edwards insists that we make a start on things right away. He doesn’t want to spare a single moment. He tells me that I need to find him a small animal, preferably a cat or a dog, and bring him to the location where the dimensional door was opened. The one that sucked in my dad and let Theodore back through.

Taking in Edwards’ instructions, I turn to address Ethan. “You need to drive us to Sycamore Strand.”

I’m trying to speak with him as little as possible after our argument earlier. Edwards begins rummaging in his bag, pulling out all sorts of random items. I catch sight of a magnifying glass and a high end digital alarm clock.

“What do you need a cat or a dog for?” I ask, eyeing him in my overhead mirror.

He waves me off, now flicking through a deck of cards and then securing the stack with a rubber band. “It’s just a necessary component for my journey. Nothing to concern yourself about.”

“We can stop by an animal shelter on the way to the beach,” says Ethan.

“You’re not planning on hurting it, are you?” I ask with suspicion.

Edwards, who has so far only been polite and jovial, now looks at me in annoyance. He lets out a frustrated sigh. “Why are people so touchy about what happens to animals these days? If I’d asked for a couple of rats I’m sure you wouldn’t bat an eyelid. But if you insist on knowing I shall tell you. I need the animal because what I fundamentally endeavour to do by retrieving your father is to fool the dimension into believing that he is still there. In order to do that, I will require a life force to take his place. Now, isn’t it easier that I use an animal for this, rather than stranding another human in hell?”

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