Children of Poseidon: Rann (5 page)

BOOK: Children of Poseidon: Rann
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Jewel shuffled her feet in the sand and glanced up at him, an unfamiliar shyness in her face. She wore pink capris and a white t-shirt, with plastic flip-flops on her feet.

Sweet, but Jewel is always sweet.
He would miss her.

“Jewel, I hope to see you soon.” He thought about his new awareness of her and couldn’t resist touching his mouth to her soft pink lips. She blinked up at him in confusion, so he swept her into a passionate embrace, bending her over his arm and kissing her thoroughly.

Maya’s giggle brought him to his senses, and he reluctantly released a bemused Jewel.

“I mean it.”

She pulled away, her blue eyes bright with suspicion. She squinted at him, cute as a Siamese kitten, then pulled a pair of dark glasses from her pocket and rammed them on her nose.

“Come back when your business is finished. I don’t want to have to come and find you.”

Jewel peered over the top of her sunglasses then pushed them up to cover her eyes before following Lini to the boat. She paused, swung round, and her mouth widened in a smile.

Maya caught up to her and linked her arm with Jewel’s. “What was that all about?”

Jewel glanced back again, and he heard her mutter, “I’ll tell you later.”

Rann took the seawitch by the hand and led her to the water’s edge. He’d discovered that she would follow slowly if he led her. It was a source of great relief to him, as he’d been contemplating the logistics of wheelchairs. He was sure it was a relief to Maya and Jewel as well, as they were going to have to get her through the airports. Maya slipped her shoes off, and the two women waded after Lini through the shallow water to the boat. Once they’d boarded, Rann followed with the seawitch, hoisting her up and waiting while the others helped her in. She sank down onto a bench voluntarily. He hoped that meant she had some awareness buried somewhere.

Lini started the engine, and Rann shaded his eyes to watch as the boat headed towards the gap in the reef. Eventually he made his way back to the house, feeling a little deflated. At least he wasn’t going to have to kill the seawitch. Not yet, anyway.

Chapter 6

“Thank God.” Jewel sank onto one of the sofas with an exhausted sigh. Her body ached as though she’d been travelling for weeks rather than for a couple of days. Island life had spoiled her—the clean air, the peace, the relaxed pace of everything. The recycled air on the plane and in the airport hurt her eyes and gave her a headache. Then she had to endure the long wait for a transfer in Amsterdam and the irritating delays due, apparently, to bad weather in the Med. There was the constant worry of looking after the seawitch. She’d discovered something new about herself—she hated travelling.

Maya pushed the seawitch into the corner of the opposite sofa. She stayed there, arms limp at her sides, eyes staring blankly ahead. Maya made a small grunt of frustration, picked up her travel bag, and carried it into her bedroom.

Jewel leaned back and stretched her arms above her head. She thought about helping, but her body ached with exhaustion. She looked round the flat without moving; the last time she’d seen it was after she’d been banished from the coven. Maya shared it with her sister in those days, but now that Lila was married, Maya had it to herself. It wasn’t big; it had a long living room, a kitchen, a bathroom, and two bedrooms, but Maya had made it into a home. The walls of the sitting room were painted the sort of pink that clashed violently with Maya’s hair, and the sofas were turquoise velvet. The curtains and the rug on the wooden floor were dark blue, and the light fitting appeared to be constructed from cast iron and bicycle wheels. Jewel closed her eyes.

“Glass of wine?” Maya strode back into the sitting room. She’d kicked off her shoes and pulled her hair out of its ponytail. Still as vibrant and colourful as her home, she showed no sign that the journey had tired her at all.

Jewel forced herself to get to her feet and follow Maya into the kitchen, another room decorated in a splash of clashing colours. The walls were painted dark aubergine, and the floor and wall tiles were turquoise, probably to match the giant fridge. The room would have been dark if it hadn’t been for the streetlight shining through the huge bay window at one end and the subdued light cast by another chandelier. This one consisted of a mass of brightly coloured glass fruit. Maya pressed a button, and the whole thing sparkled with tiny lights.

Jewel stared up at it for a second. “Has Lila been here recently?”

“About a couple of months ago.” Maya rummaged in the fridge until she found what she wanted. She stood, brandishing a bottle of champagne with an air of triumph. “Why?”

“What does she think of the decor?” The last time Jewel had seen the flat, pale wood and neutral colours dominated.

Maya grinned. “She shuddered and said it wasn’t her flat any more, thank goodness.”


“Don’t you like it?”

“It’s very bright.” Jewel looked round again. “Very you.”

“I had to live with subtle for Lila.” Maya opened a cupboard and took two ornate champagne flutes out. She closed the door then opened it again and took another one. “Might as well see if champagne stirs any memories in her.” She poured sparkling liquid into the glasses and held out one to Jewel.

“Cheers.” Jewel lifted her glass.

“To a successful visit for you.” Maya raised hers and took a sip. “Nice.” She picked up the third glass and led the way back to the sitting room.

The seawitch ignored the proffered glass and stared blankly towards the window. She didn’t appear to have moved since she’d been placed on the sofa. Maya held the glass to her lips until she took a tiny sip then gave up and moved to join Jewel on the other sofa. “This is a complete pain. She’s hard work.”

“Where are we all going to sleep?” Jewel asked.

Maya jumped up again. “You can have the spare bedroom, and seawitch over there can sleep on the sofa. I don’t think she’ll notice where she is. Pity to waste a bed on her.” She crouched down in front of the seawitch.

The witch didn’t seem to be affected by her presence, so Jewel joined her. Dark green-blue eyes were flat and expressionless. Jewel squinted, trying to catch the spark of awareness that Rann claimed he’d seen. Nothing moved behind the eyes, so she straightened and smoothed the cotton fabric of seawitch’s jellaba down her arm.

Poor thing. The coven will have to help her.

She moved back to the sofa where Maya joined her, relaxing and stretching her long legs out to rest on the coffee table.

Jewel curled into the corner of the sofa and yawned. “I’m wasted.” She blocked a further yawn with the back of her hand. “I’m not going to do anything for at least two days. And by that I mean anything to do with my mother.”

“I’ll talk to some of the coven tomorrow.” Maya sipped her champagne thoughtfully. “We need to sort
out as soon as possible.” She inclined her head towards the seawitch. “I’m getting depressed from watching her.”

“I need to buy some clothes.” Jewel changed the subject. “Something suited to this awful climate. Rann was absolutely right. It’s cold, it’s raining, and I suppose it will still be raining tomorrow. And the day after that.”

Maya shrugged. “It rained on Rann’s island.”

“Warm rain. For a couple of hours. Then it stopped and the sun shone. It never stops here.”

Maya laughed. “You get used to it. And it’s spring. Summer will be along soon.”

Jewel snorted. “So the rain will be warm. I wonder where Tamsin decided to go in the end. Last I saw of her, she was staring at the departure boards in Dar es Salaam and talking to herself. I think I miss her already.”

“Don’t be maudlin. She said she thought New York might be a good idea.” Maya finished her champagne and picked up the seawitch’s full glass. “She said something about the gateway to the rest of the world.” Bouncing to her feet, she headed for the door. “I’ll get a duvet for the seawitch.”

“I wonder what her name is.” Jewel contemplated the silent figure on the other sofa. “It’s a bit awkward calling her the seawitch.”

“We can’t just give her any name,” Maya replied. “We could call her Seawitch. Like a title?”

Jewel uncurled from her corner of the sofa and stretched. “It’ll do for now. I’m going to go to bed. Remind me where I’m sleeping.”

She barely had time to undress before collapsing onto the bed and falling into unconsciousness.

Jewel put the stack of carrier bags down and fumbled in her new handbag for the keys to Maya’s flat.

The door opened, and Maya glanced down at the pile of shopping bags. “Here, let me take some of that. What on earth have you been buying?”

“Clothes for London. I’ve got nothing for this climate. I bought some jeans and things. And an umbrella.”

Maya looked down at the collection of bags she held and the ones still on the floor. “Things.” She focussed on Jewel. “What on earth have you done to your hair?”

Jewel touched her head defensively. She wasn’t entirely sure she hadn’t made a mistake, but a haircut was a small thing compared to the rest of the items on her to do list. “Don’t you like it?”

Maya narrowed her eyes and gave the question the consideration it deserved. “It suits you.” She reached a hand out and ruffled it. “But you look different. Sophisticated. You’ve always had long hair.”

Jewel ran her hand over her head again. She’d asked the stylist for something completely different, and that’s what she got. Short and feathery, her hair framed her face and tickled the back of her neck. She had a horrible feeling she’d done it to impress her mother with the fact that she was no longer the same person who’d been rejected nine years ago. “I went to some posh place in Knightsbridge. I think I like it. But it needs regular visits to a hairdresser. Not really suitable for the island.”

“Have you had it coloured as well?”

“No.” Jewel shook her head. “It’s just that most of the sun-bleached bits have been cut off so it looks darker.”

“Almost coppery.” Maya put the bags down next to Jewel’s bed and walked round her. “It makes you look like a sophisticated urchin. New clothes?”

Jewel took off her biker’s jacket and handed it to Maya, who stroked the distressed leather enviously.

“What a shame you’re so much smaller than me.” She looked Jewel over thoroughly. “I forgot how stylish you used to be.”

“Come on.” Jewel dropped her handbag on the bed. “I’ll unpack them later and show you. I need a cup of tea. And for you to tell me if you learned anything about Seawitch. Where is she?”

“Still on the sofa.” Maya led the way into the kitchen. “She can’t stay like that. I’m getting worried. She’s not eating by herself. I managed to feed her some soup, but it was an effort.” She busied herself making tea and opened a box from a well-known patisserie. Jewel peered over her shoulder.

“Chocolate mousse cake. I love you, Maya.”

“I got one for Seawitch as well. You can try to feed it to her. With a cup of tea.” She smirked and carried the plate and a cup through to the sitting room.

Jewel followed her with the other cups. Seawitch sat upright, staring into space. She didn’t move when the two women came in. Jewel took her tea and sipped it tentatively. She didn’t want to burn the creature’s mouth. Adding cold milk, she held the cup up to Seawitch’s lips. They stayed closed, so she pressed the edge of the cup to her lower lip. Seawitch opened her mouth obediently, and Jewel tilted the cup. She swallowed, and Jewel let her drink half the cup before offering her a spoonful of the mousse cake. She managed to persuade her to eat the portion, but Seawitch gave no indication that she’d tasted it or enjoyed it.

Sitting down next to Maya, Jewel picked up her own tea. “What did you learn?” She glanced sideways at Maya. “Seawitch needs to be at the top of our to-do list. She’ll die if we don’t do something fast.”

Maya licked chocolate from her finger.

“Could we take the nullsilver bracelets off?” Jewel thought about it. “Rann said she was dangerous.” She wished Maya would put the cake down and concentrate.

“She is,” Maya said. “The nullsilver stays on.” She swallowed the last of her cake and took a gulp of tea. “I talked to two of the senior coven members. Charlie Tollworth and Maria Thorn. You must remember them.”

Jewel screwed up her face in thought. She never concerned herself with her mother’s coven when she was a teenager. They were all miles above her, and she hadn’t been encouraged to hang round during their visits.

“Charlie Tollworth? Tall, dark man, going a bit gray?”

“Almost white now.”

“And Maria Thorn is that tall, big woman. Looks arrogant.”

“Yes.” Maya rolled her eyes, looking like the stroppy teenager she’d once been. “She is arrogant. But they’re the most knowledgeable of the lot. The oldest.”


“They didn’t know anything.” Maya’s lip curled in an expression of contempt. “Maria said she thought seawitches died out at least a thousand years ago, but they agreed to ask the coven at their next meeting. That’s not for a week, though. And it’ll be without a leader, so they’ll be more indecisive than usual.”

The two women stared gloomily at the seawitch.

“If we have to hand feed her everything, she’ll probably starve to death.” Jewel finished her tea and put the cup down on the coffee table. “I’ll ring my mother tonight.” She squashed the instinctive reluctance. She would have liked to have a few days to get to grips with the idea, but she supposed she should get it over with. And Seawitch needed help as soon as possible. “Maybe she’ll see me tomorrow.”

Maya put her own cup down. “I’ll come with you if you like. Kara really has gone a bit strange recently. She used to be pretty cold, but now she’s rude as well.”

“It’s okay.” Jewel forced her face into a smile. “I know what she’s like. She might have been cold to most people, but she was pretty unpleasant to me even then. You must remember.” She glanced at Maya.

Kara treated Maya with respect and admiration. She never unleashed the nastier side of her personality on her. She’d mentored Maya during her magical transition years, something she never did for her own daughter. Maya let it be known that she didn’t like Kara much but she had been willing to put up with her, to learn as much as possible. Maya was ambitious, and Jewel had never told her friend exactly how bad her home life had been. Though Maya’s parents were dead, she had a close relationship with her sister, who had brought her up, and anyone could see that Lila would have done anything for her. So Jewel had always felt as though she had something wrong with her, something that made her less than loveable. Maya still didn’t know about the times Kara hit her or the times she’d been locked in her room without food. She wasn’t going to either, Jewel had moved past that, and she had her pride. She was strong enough to face her mother without help or support.

Maya ordered takeaway pizzas for supper, and Jewel drank Italian beer with hers. She hoped it would give her some courage.

As soon as she finished, she rose to her feet.
No point in putting it off.

“Can I borrow your phone?” She hadn’t needed one on Rann’s island, and she’d forgotten to buy one on her marathon shopping trip.

Maya handed the phone over without saying anything, and Jewel took it into the kitchen. She needed to concentrate. Maya stuck her head round the door. “Kara’s on speed dial. Under ‘coven leader.’” She closed the door again.

Jewel frowned at the phone. Pulling herself together and telling herself not to be a pussy, she forced herself to make the call. A stranger answered immediately. A woman’s voice, probably a maid. Kara had never been able to keep staff, even though she paid well.

“Vargas residence. How may I help you?”

“I’d like to speak to Kara Vargas, please.”

“Who’s calling?”

“It’s her daughter. Jewel.” Someone on the other end of the phone took an audible breath. Jewel waited.

“Hold on.”

She tapped her foot on the tiles, counted the different types of fruit on the chandelier, and eventually wandered to the window and looked out over the roofs of Hampstead. The stars were drowned out by the city lights; far too much brightness saturated the night skies over the city.


BOOK: Children of Poseidon: Rann
7.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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