Read Twist Online

Authors: Dannika Dark

Tags: #paranormal fantasy

Twist (9 page)

BOOK: Twist
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Justus avoided personal intimacy—the touching kind. There were never any friendly hugs, pats, kisses, or even mussing up my hair. He just wasn’t a touchy-feely guy (unless you were a six-foot tall blonde in a pair of pumps). Justus never complained about their affections, but it was curious that he spent most of the time attempting conversations with women when all they heard was
blah, blah, blah
.

“Well come on, let the healing begin!” I exclaimed in my best televangelist voice. I loved needling him.

“Continue to mock me, Learner. Remember who buys your ice cream.”

He touched a small mark on my arm, stroking my skin with his rough hand. The light tingled as it stitched the wound, and his fingers lifted to my chin, grazing over the scuff. Finally, he brushed his hand across my swollen cheek, lifting the last of the visible marks. I would have normally healed up in a day or two, but I had enough drama for one night.

Sunny poked her head between the seats. “That’s
amazing!
I can’t believe you can heal.” Her fingers swept my hair back and I smiled. Sometimes I forgot just how amazing it really was. “You really do have magic in you, Silver. Can you do that on me?”

We simultaneously twisted around and Sunny scooted away from Justus. As she pulled her sleeve up, a set of dark prints marked her arm.

“It doesn’t work on humans,” Justus said. “My apologies.”

We arrived at the house nestled deep in the woods. Sunny was impressed when the car lowered into the garage through a mechanical hatch that Justus must have spent millions to install. Money could buy you anything; it’s just a shame the man couldn’t put a lamp in the living room.

Novis arrived and relaxed in a chair beside the fireplace. As an ancient Mage, he didn’t look a day over twenty-five. His features were marked with character and wisdom, but he loved the modern trends. He spiked his hair, and razor cut the sideburns so they were trendy. He dressed in casual clothes, which I liked because it put me at ease. White light sparkled in the depths of his clear blue eyes. Adam inherited the same qualities, but to a lesser degree. His eyes shined, but it was a brief reflection, like a mirror in the distance catching the sun.

“Charmed to see you again, Silver. Adam talks about you… endlessly.” He smiled broadly and I wondered if he sensed the tension between us.

Adam was avoiding eye contact, staring at the sleeves of my shirt. The shadows looked like stains, or water, but it was blood. I snatched Sunny by the wrist. “We’re going to go change before she catches a cold.”

Sunny didn’t budge. She was watching Knox who leaned against the far wall by the fireplace. His eyes were preoccupied with the crackling flames—snapping and popping from the fresh log. I pulled her hand and we left the room to dry off and change clothes.

When we emerged in our pajamas, I bumped my knee against a table and grimaced. No one was speaking; they were waiting for us. Candles from the hurricane lamps glowed against the far wall, and Novis twirled a shoelace between his fingers. He looked bored with a cheek resting against his fist.

“Novis, can I get you some wine?” I asked.

“How gracious of you. Yes, please.”

Whatever Novis said held weight with Justus. I decided my tactic would be to butter him up with niceties. I handed an empty glass to him and Sunny.

“Gentlemen, I won’t delay,” Justus began. “I called you here on short notice to clear some air. I do not tolerate deceit and lies in my house.” I cringed with the accusatory remark as I poured wine in Novis’s glass. “Silver has broken my trust and your progeny was involved.”

Novis accepted the statement with a nod of his head.

I took a seat beside Adam on the sofa, and Sunny distanced herself from Justus in a chair across the room. She was heeding the warning I gave her about his charming ability. The lovely pale blue nightgown she wore was stretchable cotton that pulled over her knees as she tucked in her feet. Tiny buttons decorated the front, and pale flowers adorned the bottom. My pajamas, on the other hand, were just a pair of sweats and a black shirt. I preferred boy shorts with a tank top for my sleepwear, but decided that might not go over well.

“Silver was given orders to remain on the premises, and she has defied those orders. She wasn’t alone. Who wants to begin?”

“She respects you,” Adam spoke up. “You can’t divide a friendship. I can promise she didn’t do it without hesitation. I simply gave her a push.”

“A push to disrespecting her Ghuardian. You put a splinter in our trust. I will not forget this.”

“You treat her like a pet.”

“Adam, stop it,” I said. “Ghuardian, this was my idea. You can’t expect me to give up everything from my old life. I agreed to do what you asked of me, but I need my friend. Show me where it’s written that we have to cut our ties.”

I flicked my eyes to Knox to drive my point home.

“It is easier this way,” Novis intervened. “The human will die, and you will not. Leave this temporary world. You no longer have a place in it.”

“Nothing is forever,” I countered. “Those are your beliefs, but don’t impose them on me as if they are the
right
beliefs. Just because a flower will fade, does not mean we should neglect its beauty.”

“Poetic,” he smiled.

Sunny’s voice chimed in. “I didn’t mean to get anyone in trouble, but I had to know if my friend was dead, and I needed to apologize to her for what happened. I don’t want to drive a wedge in your relationships.” She ran her finger over the edge of the crystal glass and it made a bright sound.

Novis paid attention to details, and he caught on to what she was implying. “How was her making any of your doing?” He leaned forward on his elbows, interested in how she would answer.

Sunny bit her lip as everyone stared.

“I met a guy and thought we were moving in the right direction. He asked questions about my life, but mostly about Zoë. Everything he told me, everything I believed about us was a lie. I thought he cared about my life and my friends, so I told him everything I knew about her. I’m so sorry, Silver.”

Simon announced his presence with a knock on the door before shoving it open. He looked haggard and a little drunk as he shuffled in the room in his tattered jeans, flip-flops, and a snug red T-shirt.

“Bloody hell, Justus. This better be good.”

He slumped in the seat beside me, leaving me sandwiched between two men I went to second base with. Not awkward—not at all.

Simon lifted the wine from the table and wedged it between his legs. In a calculated move, he slid his hand down the neck of the bottle in a suggestive manner and waggled an eyebrow at me.

“Could he be the benefactor of Samil?” Novis wondered aloud.

I shook my head adamantly. “No, I met Marco and he’s not the guy in Samil’s basement.”

Novis set his glass on the table. “It appears there is a fox in the henhouse. The benefactor has informants beguiling humans in order to gain information. The question is—what is he scheming?”

Sunny’s voice trembled, “I thought Marco was a good guy. He was so charming and attentive.”

“Marco?” Simon murmured. “What was his last name?”

“Fearon,” she replied.

“Bloody hell, for a minute there...” He blew out a breath and slouched.

“That’s what he told me it was, although it didn’t match the name on his credit card.” Her fingernail tapped on the glass. “His friends used another name; they called him De Gradi.”

Crystal shattered and I flinched.

Shards of glass sprinkled over Justus’s shoes, along with drops of blood. His pale expression frightened me, and I sprang into the kitchen to grab a towel.

When I returned, the shift in the room was dramatic.

Simon knelt before Sunny, speaking in soft whispers. Novis stretched out in his chair, crossing his long legs at the ankle with his fingers locked behind his neck.

Wine spoiled the ends of Justus’s rug, and blood trickled at his fingertips. I lifted his large hand, wiping the blood away. I stroked a finger over his cut, lending him my light.

The moment he sensed the magic, he jerked his hand free and showed me his back.

“Anything else you remember?” Simon asked. “Anything strange he wanted to know about Silver?”

“He asked more than once about her father.”

“What? He wanted to know
what
?” I dropped the towel. I never met my father and knew nothing about him, so I carried resentment for a man who decided to use the “
get out of fatherhood free
” card.

She looked away and Simon consoled her with a gentle pat on the knee.

Knox edged away from the wall, his chest expanding like a silverback gorilla.

Sunny couldn’t look me in the eye, and I stepped forward to calm her down. I wasn’t mad at her, and she needed to know that.

Suddenly, the breath knocked out of my lungs when Adam lifted me off the ground. He flashed towards me so fast that I couldn’t formulate words. “Glass,” he muttered, staring at my bare feet as he set me down. One split second was all it took to right what was wrong between us.

“That’s what I saw Marco do!” Sunny gasped. “That’s how I knew that he wasn’t human, he moved just like that.”

I lifted my eyes to Justus, but his back was still turned. “Who is he, Ghuardian?”

The room quieted.

“He is my Creator.”

Chapter 8

 

Coincidence parked its ass in my driveway every chance it got.
It was a fluke that I met Justus in a bar; it could have been anyone, or any Breed. He took me under his wing and in the short span of time we spent together, he became one of the most important mentors in my life. Suddenly, the rug ripped out from beneath us. His Creator was directly involved in the attack that led to my becoming a Mage. The betrayal he felt was palpable.

Justus couldn’t look me in the eye. “I cannot
believe
this is true.”

“We will summon him,” Novis decided. “Tread carefully, Justus. We assigned this case to you, but don’t let it become personal. Until we have facts, we have nothing.”

I collapsed in my seat. “What case?” Sunny strolled across the room and sat on the arm of my chair.

Novis lingered by the bookshelf, feeling the weathered spines of our collection. “The benefactor is more than just a high paying juicer; we suspect that he’s conspiring against the Mageri. We requested HALO take over the investigation.”

Without warning, Knox stormed across the room, drawing everyone’s attention to his sudden movement. He stopped in front of Sunny and lifted a heavy arm, pointing at her. Every man in that room, including Adam, inched forward.


Who
did that?” His lip curled, and something dark flashed in his eyes.

I turned to see what he was looking at. Sunny had lifted her arms to stretch, and the short sleeve fell back, revealing the marks on her arm.

Adam rose from his chair. “That was blood on your sleeve, wasn’t it?”

“So what if it was?” I argued.

“Did you fight someone?”

“With my Ghuardian, yes.”

Justus faced him directly, lifting his chin. “She bested them.” He said it with pride on his tongue and my heart warmed.

“Atta girl,” Simon cheered.

“Trouble just seems to follow you, doesn’t it?” Adam’s lip twitched. “One of these days, no one is going to be there to save you.”

“Hey, leave my girl alone,” Sunny chimed in. “She doesn’t need saving. I always knew she had fight in her, but that was spectacular. Justus had to peel her off that idiot,” she said, flipping up my hair in the back. “What were the odds of running into them?”

“I guess they’re locals and live in the neighborhood.”

“Hold the fuck up. The guys at the bar—
those
are the guys you’re talking about?”

If there were such a thing as a testosterone meter, it would have spiked.

Knox lifted her sleeve to get a better look. It was an ugly mark and his jaw tightened like a steel trap.

“I still can’t get over how you can heal. That’s so amazing.” She poked my knee and smiled.

“But
you
can’t,” Knox said. He turned around and walked across the room, releasing a long sigh as he stared at the fire.

“Take the chair,” I said to Sunny. I went to my favorite spot on the sofa.

“Bloody hell,” Simon muttered. “You haven’t seen Marco in years, Justus. We don’t know what he’s been up to, but he hasn’t kept in touch with you, has he?”

The fire crackled and hissed, sending sparks up the chimney in a twist of light.

Simon’s fingers were between the cushions when he pulled out a peanut, studied it, and smiled at me through hooded eyes. He tossed it on the table and sighed. “Marco will never come willingly if the Council calls on him. You can bet he’ll go underground.”

Novis stretched, and tucked his fingers in his rear pockets. “Simon, remember that debt you owe to the Council? I think it’s time we collect.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

BOOK: Twist
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