Authors: Jaymin Eve
The next night I was snuggled into my cave bed, Lucy on one side and Talina on the other. Since the battle we hadn’t been far apart; the comfort I felt from my friends eased some of the ache. My girls understood, each nursing her own wounded heart. Lucy over Samuel, and Talina ...Well, she’d had a double blow. Her brother Raror had been killed by her mother, right in front of her, and Ladre, the Spurn of her dreams, had disappeared, and she had no idea if he was dead or alive. Yeah, we were an emotionally unstable group. I’d overheard the other Walkers calling us the bitch-squad, not surprising considering the way we growled at any man who crossed our paths. But honestly, men really sucked this week.
I startled as
Josian walked into the room. He didn’t seem surprised that I’d been lying there, staring aimlessly at the ceiling. With a waving gesture he gave me the old ‘get your butt out of bed’ sign, before leaving the room. My father was lucky I didn’t need much sleep anymore. The enlightenment of my Walker powers on my eighteenth birthday had increased my speed, strength and stamina. Not to mention my skin was always clear and my blood-red curls were never frizzy. All in all not a bad deal.
With an almost inaudible sigh
I gingerly removed myself from the covers, managing not to disturb the girls. I then padded silently across the cold rock floor toward the distant lights.
Josian was waiting for me in the
main dining area. Since I hadn’t expected anyone else to be there at this time of night, I hadn’t bothered to change from the skimpy tank top and shorts I slept in. Of course, when I stepped into the light the entire Walker community plus Lucas seemed to be hulking around the room.
I folded my arms across my breasts, just daring any of them to look for too long. A few throats were cleared but most of the Walkers managed to avert their eyes.
They weren’t keen to push me in my current angry-at-the-world mood.
, though. The perv took full advantage. His icy blue eyes started at my bare feet and made their way up the full length of my exposed legs. Slowly he traversed my five-feet-ten height, finishing on my face.
had still given a damn about things like the heat in his gaze or his blatant appreciation I’d probably have blushed. Instead I dismissed him with a flick of my long curls.
I faced Josian
, letting my arms fall free. Who cared what the males were thinking?
“Why is he here?”
“There was no way
you were going to Crais without me,” Lucas said, his voice low but filled with a suppressed humor.
e always seemed to be laughing at me. His blond hair was perfectly tousled, maybe a little longer than the last time I had seen him, with his bangs falling across his brow.
’t need you or your help. I don’t want you here. I don’t think I can make it any clearer than that.” My voice fell flat.
His jovial expression didn
’t falter for a moment. “I might surprise you with my usefulness. And your father has already agreed, since my energy can’t be traced the way another Walker’s could, that it’s safe enough for me to accompany you three.”
Would he ever get a clue
I faced Josian again. “No!” I shook my head hard. “I have the shielding almost
perfect for three people. I don’t need another person to look after.”
,” Josian interrupted me.
Aribella was my birth name, but I’d
only recently discovered that. My name on Earth was Abigail and most people called me Abby, only a few members of my family persisted with Aribella. But in reality I didn’t mind either name.
Josian spoke again
. “Aribella. I know you’re angry; you haven’t made it a secret. But I would expect at some point your maturity would kick in and you would see that this is no one’s fault. I promise you that we will get Brace back.”
t actually hurt, physically hurt to hear his name, deep down near my heart. And Josian’s words hit me hard. I knew I was being quite an ass right now, but my pain was just so all encompassing I couldn’t get around it. I shuddered in a deep breath; the air here was fresh, even more so than First World’s had been, and it cleared my head. I examined the serious-faced men around me, before finally throwing my hands up. It was clear I didn’t have much choice; although what Josian thought Lucas could contribute when he was just a First Worlder was beyond me.
! Lucas can come with us, but I’m leaving today when everyone wakes up.”
needed to get out of this place. There were way too many men and especially too many Walkers.
Then we better start working on your shield now,” Josian said. “Lucas informed me that not only is the temperature on the surface of Crais beyond your ability to survive, there is also supposed to be limited oxygen above ground.”
Lucas nodded. “Yes
, we believe it has developed into the most unforgiving of terrain. The inhabitants have somehow adapted, but we will only have the time limit of your strength and the oxygen in the shield to figure out how to get into their underground caves.”
I glared at him
, needing him to know that this in no way proved his usefulness. “Wow, thanks for the advice. And considering you’re adding another pair of lungs to the shield, you’re lowering our time by hours.”
. “I promise I’ll make it worth your while in oxygen loss.”
“If you mean
t that comment in an even slightly suggestive way I will castrate you where you stand.” I hadn’t realized I’d moved closer to him and was practically growling in his face.
He leaned down, until our faces were inches apart. “It’s not my fault your mind automatically jumps to sex whenever you
’re around me.” He tone was low, but everyone in the room had advanced hearing.
I sucked in a breath, afraid that there was some truth to his words. I could deny it all I wanted
, but I was half First Worlder, born under the moon of the Empress, and I did have a tie to Lucas. It was just nothing compared to my Walker side and my bond with Brace.
“I had to
have a daughter, of course I did. That way I could spend my entire life killing off horny males,” Josian muttered to himself.
Lucas laughed. “Don’t worry about Abby
. She can take care of herself. And I would never go where I wasn’t invited.”
It would be the last thing that you ever did.” This comment came from Grantham, who was slouched against the wall.
I wasn’t surprised that he was
still here. He and the rest of his clan had been staying close until the Brace issue was resolved.
Lallielle walked into the room then, interrupting the sure
-to-be testosterone-fuelled argument. After giving me a brief hug, she stepped into her husband’s arms. They were never apart for long.
she said, pulling back from his gentle ‘hello’ kiss.
His expression sobered. “I’
m sorry, Lalli, I searched as far as I could, but she’s not anywhere in Angelisian and her soothsayer protections are keeping her location shielded, although she’s definitely alive.”
Angelisian is the beachside town on First World where
our stunning architectural home is located.
In my opinion
Francesca was crazy, although a truly gifted soothsayer. She’d started this entire world-jumping mission with her insane visions, and then had decided to just up and disappear. And although Josian could sense she was alive, her actual location was murky. This was some type of inbuilt protection for those gifted in the art of foretelling the future.
Lallielle nodded once, dropping her head to rest on Josian’s broad chest. I knew she was worried, but this wasn’t the first time Francesca had decided to abscond for her own reasons. Whatever she ‘saw’ would dictate her actions, and since ‘no
one should know their own future’ she didn’t always tell us what this was.
, Dad, enough with the chat. Let’s get this shield sorted.”
We only had a few more hours until dawn and I needed to be solid on my shielding, otherwise I
’d put everyone’s lives in jeopardy. I was late to the world of Walkers and mostly had no idea of my powers, so I needed Josian’s expertise.
A few hours later I stared along the Walker doorway I’d just opened. At the other end all I could see was red.
It looked the way I’d always imagined the burning gates of hell
would look. You know, if I believed in that sort of thing.
“Why are we using a doorway, Abbs? I thought you’d just trace us
.” Lucy stood next to me, gazing into the vortex.
traced with three people. I figured it was better to be safe.”
’d have preferred to trace. It worked in a similar way to a doorway but was much quicker and didn’t leave an open rift behind. But I’d never risk my friends.
stood on the other side of Lucy. We were all dressed in the same clothing, the most heat resistant material Josian could find on First World. White and reflective, the jumpsuit-style outfits covered us entirely except for our faces, although a hood curved over the back of our heads. And we even had thick white boots.
I started to bounce a little, tapping my right foot in time.
“I’m kind of freaking out. What if I use all my energy shielding us and we don’t find the underground and then I have no energy left to open a doorway or trace us back here?” I said to Lucy, finally noticing how stunning she looked, all in white, with her blond curls and big blue eyes.
Lucy shrugged. “I guess
we’re going to be a big old bonfire, minus the marshmallows.”
I rolled my eyes at her
lack of concern. “Your comic timing sucks, as usual. And your faith in me is to the point of ridiculous.”
was the most vulnerable person on this adventure and yet she never let worry cloud her mind. Despite the fact she still suffered from Samuel’s betrayal, and often woke crying from dreams that she wouldn’t talk about, she remained in good humor. I envied her that.
, ladies, now don’t all crowd me at once. I know that you’ve probably never seen so much covered sexiness.” Lucas walked into the main room dressed in his white outfit.
You’d have to be blind not to
notice how dramatically it set off his icy blue eyes and the golden brown of his skin. His white-blond hair was as reflective as the suit. The girls acknowledged him warmly; they seemed to like his clumsy flirting. I was the only one on which it eternally grated.
“You certainly look very handsome, Lucas
,” Talina said, her lips tipping in one of her rare smiles.
She had a reserved and introverted personality, but don’t get her riled up
: her water powers were immensely powerful.
“I don’t know, all that shiny whiteness, including your hair and teeth
, is kind of giving me a headache.” Lucy pretended to shield her eyes.
Lucas winked at her before turning to me.
“Doesn’t look very inviting down there, does it?” He gestured along the tunnel.
“Why don’t you head down first and let us know what it’s like.”
I smiled sweetly.
As usual he didn’t react to my bitchy comment.
We all spun around when Josian and Lallielle stepped into the room.
“All ready to leave
, I see?” Josian’s bronze eyes twinkled. “Don’t drop you guard at any point, trust no one but each other and get back here as soon as possible.”
My parents engulfed me in their usual bear hugs. And for a
brief instant I could just close my eyes and drift in the love surrounding me, a momentary relief from the ache.
“I love you, daughter, please be careful.” Lallielle’s voice was low
as she whispered soothingly into my ear, the lilting First-World accent still beyond lovely.
I nodded my compliance.
“You know I can’t contact you easily, baby girl. Your protections are just too strong now, but try and open your mind to me as often as you can.”
I pulled back from Josian as he spoke. “But won’t that leave me vulnerable?”
I was particularly protective of my mind.
He nodded. “Yes, so just keep it as brief as possible. I’ll stay as attuned to you as I can, so when I sense the
breach we can quickly confer and then back to your shield.”
I stood on my toes and
, at almost seven feet tall, Josian still had to lower his head so I could plant a kiss on his smooth glowing cheeks. For a brief moment our dark blood-red hair mingled.
“Okay, I love you both and I’ll see you soon.”
They let me go. And even though they hid it well I could feel their concern and reluctance. Lallielle quickly hugged the girls before stepping back to Josian’s side.