Authors: Susan Griscom
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Thrillers, #Suspense, #Romance, #Paranormal, #Psychics
They walked hand in hand to the same little café she went to earlier. Sitting outside at one of the metal tables blocked off from the sidewalk by an iron railing, they watched tourists pass by. As a small distraction, they played a game, guessing where different people lived based on their appearance, a game Addie played with Maia when they were kids. The memory gave Addie a warm feeling and the horrible fight with Cael no longer clouded her mind. They munched on burgers and laid out strategies for defense. Cael ordered a side of French fries and Addie reached over and stole a few.
“Give me your cell phone number. I don’t want to take any more chances of not being able to find you again,” he said.
She glanced away and he sensed a twinge of fear come over her.
“Are you okay? You seem anxious.”
“I’m okay. I did have a weird sensation earlier. I felt as though I was being followed.”
“But the feeling’s gone now?”
“Yeah, it was strange. Even when I was talking to the lieutenant, I felt uncomfortable, like something was wrong, dangerous, but now it’s gone. Maybe it was my imagination.”
“Hmmm. Maybe, but I wouldn’t discount your intuition too quickly. Your powers are getting stronger every day.”
Addie smiled at his reassuring words.
“I’m sorry you had to be on your own, but you do have abilities to take care of yourself. Mighty powerful abilities, I might add.” He rubbed his shoulder in remembrance.
“I know, but how am I supposed to use them if he grabs me from behind or something?”
“I don’t think he’d chance grabbing you around other people. You’ll be okay as long as we stay together. But I suppose it’s possible he might come at you unexpectedly sometime and you should be prepared.”
“So, just expect the unexpected, right?”
“Ah, there’s a comforting thought.” She stole another fry, smothering it in ketchup before popping it in her mouth.
“You know, you could’ve gotten your own fries.”
“I like yours better. They're not as fattening this way.”
He shook his head and shrugged, grabbing at the last fry, but she beat him to it.
She grinned, put the French fry between her teeth, and leaned toward him. He took his half in his mouth and they shared a kiss.
“Do you need to go back to work today?”
She ran her tongue over her lips. “No, I don’t. Gerry said he would get Maia or Nick to cover my shift.”
“Good, then we’re going on a trip.”
“I need to take you to the Sectory.”
Addie felt the color drain from her face.
“Don’t worry. It’s not a horrible place. You need to go there, learn about it and the others like us. You’ll be fine. Besides, my mother wants to meet you.”
“Your mother? Your mother is there?” Addie didn’t think she was up for meeting Cael’s mother.
“What if she doesn’t like me?”
“She’ll love you.”
“I don't think I feel very well. The burger doesn’t seem to be settling quite right. Maybe I should go home and lie down.”
“What are you frightened of? The idea of meeting other people with abilities or meeting my mother?”
“Both.” Meeting his mother and other people with powers. She really wanted to throw up.
“When are you going to realize how lovely you are? You, my sweet, are a member of the Sectorium and everyone will adore you—it’s in their blood.” He brought her hand to his lips, pressing little kisses on it before heading to her truck.”
“What do you mean, it’s in their blood?”
Cael realized he’d have to answer all Addison’s questions eventually—he just wasn’t sure he was the right one to answer them. He’d give it his best shot.
“Let’s see if I can explain this correctly. Your soul ... our souls possess a magnetic energy that stimulates others of us with a feeling of jubilation that races though our blood, exciting a pleasure gland we all have. We’re born with our own special energy, but it’s stronger for some than for others. It’s not something you would feel or recognize without a complete study of our genetic makeup.”
She stopped walking, jerking him to a stop, causing him to spin around toward her, almost bumping into a baby carriage being pushed by a very stern-looking elderly woman.
“Sorry, ma’am.” Cael stumbled to get out of her way and Addison cringed at the near collision. It was still the lunch hour and the sidewalk was crowded with tourists.
“Get out. Are you trying to tell me we can
people like us?”
“No, not normal people—only other people like us, with abilities. We each exude a pleasurable fragrance that stimulates our senses.”
“Why? Why is that so hard to grasp after everything else I've told you?”
She looked around and stepped back. “Seriously?”
“Then why can’t I just
Eidolon like me?”
Cael sighed. “Eidolon has crossed over to an evil domain. His crimes against the society have condemned him to the dark depths of Hell. I’m sure his senses are no longer susceptible to your powerful magnetism. I doubt it would penetrate his vicious mind.”
He pulled her along until they reached the truck and he opened the door for her. The frown on her face had him worried his explanations were not getting through.
“Is this magnetism you speak of the reason you’re attracted to me, Cael?”
“No. Yes. Not completely ... it has nothing to do with physical attraction. I won’t lie to you, but I think this energy radiating from your soul keeps me—how should I say this—loyal?” Only with him, it went beyond his senses. It went deep down, exciting his soul, which was probably why he couldn’t get her out of his head.
“Loyal is good. You’re sure this energy has nothing to do with the reason you can’t seem to keep your hands off me?” She smirked and buckled her seat belt as Cael entered the driver’s side.
He glanced at her with one eyebrow raised. “I’m positive. I’m loyal to you as your teacher, as well as your warrior and guardian, and I will give my life to protect you.”
“So, now you’re my warrior and guardian?”
“Yes, always.” Yes, he most definitely was. He would die for her not only because he was her protector, but also because he knew he’d never be able to live without holding her in his arms every day for the rest of his life.
He flashed a grin her way. “But the rest is pure male attraction because you’re so damn sexy—especially in your tight short skirt. It’s almost a fraction above illegal—makes a man forget what he’s doing. In fact, I think I’ll just pull over here and show you what I mean.”
He turned the wheel and the truck rolled over the soft gravel shoulder. Addison placed her hand on his thigh.
“Down, fly-boy, just keep driving.”
“Kill-joy.” He slowly pulled back on the road.
“Maybe I should change back into my black pants before meeting your mother.”
“No, no, please don’t. I promise I’ll behave.”
He studied her, trying to sense her emotions, but her mind seemed confused again. “When I said I would lay my life down for you, I meant it. I would die for you, Addison. Do you believe me?”
She didn’t respond, but underneath all the fear in her mind, he knew she believed him, which scared her even more.
“Just be careful what you’re thinking when you’re around my mother. She has the same abilities I have. Growing up with her was rather ... interesting to say the least.”
“Did you always have your powers?”
“No, but I acquired them much earlier than you. I was about twelve years old when I first teleported and soon after, I started training with your father.”
“Why did my abilities come so late?”
“I don’t know. Exposure maybe—I’d been around them my whole life. I do know something has to trigger them.
“The very first time I teleported was a bit of a shock, actually. I mean, I knew it would happen eventually, I just didn’t know when or how. One night I was standing in my room brooding because my mother wouldn’t let me go to Kelly Freeman's thirteenth birthday party since I’d snuck out of the house the night before to meet Kelly down at the lake. She was my first girlfriend. Well, my mom put a new lock on my window so I couldn’t get out. I remember standing there looking out the window wishing I knew what was going on at the party without anyone seeing me. If they did, word would get back to my mom. All of a sudden, I was standing in Kelly’s backyard, dazed and confused. The unexpected transport made me sick to my stomach and I ended up puking in her mother’s geraniums.”
“That's a nice picture in my head. A smaller version of you, retching over a garden. How did you get back?”
“When I was finished throwing up, I went ahead and peeked in the window and saw all my friends just sitting there looking bored as hell and I thought, okay then, I’m not missing much. So I closed my eyes and pictured my room and I was back in a flash. No one even knew I’d left.”
“Did you throw up again?”
“No. I felt a little dizzy but I didn’t have anything left to vomit. After that, I learned to get used to the feeling. Closing your eyes helps.”
He turned the truck into the parking lot outside Addison's apartment and glanced at her. “Didn’t you say your powers started right after you almost hit me?”
“Yes, but all those years I was around my dad they never showed up.”
“Yes, but he never used them around you. Right before you almost ran me over, I materialized right in front of you, then immediately teleported away. Maybe my appearance was enough to energize your abilities.”
She rolled her eyes.
“Sorry if I sound a bit pretentious, but that’s the best explanation I can come up with.”
They ditched the truck in its usual spot at Addie’s apartment, still trying to throw Eidolon off their tracks. As they raced up the stairs to her apartment, Addie tripped and Cael barely stopped her from skinning her knee on the top step.
“These heels, I’m not used to wearing them.”
sexy, but very high. Would you like to change your shoes?”
“No way, I like being this tall around you. I might start wearing them all the time.”
Cael unlocked the door to her apartment, closed the door, and took her in his arms. He placed his hand at the nape of her neck and kissed her—long, passionate, possessive. Addie moaned, wrapped her arms around him, tugging his body against hers. She felt his erection press against her hip as desire flowed through her veins. The newly familiar flush of her body dematerializing and materializing startled her. She opened her eyes and blinked, finding it difficult to settle down from the erotic sensations stirring through her body. To her amazement, they were standing in front of a very large house constructed of river rock on the bottom half and wood panels interspersed with large windows on the second story. The third story had smaller windows—most of which were stained glass, providing an elegant array of color, like a band of jewels around a crown.
“Hey, I thought teleporting was impossible when you were aroused.”
“A very annoying little inadequacy I’m working on conquering.”
“It appears that you’re winning.”
“Yes, baby steps.” He cleared his throat and checked himself. His grin was mischievous as if he had some huge secret he was keeping.
“You recover quickly.” Addie looked around. The massive house sat nestled in a heavily forested wilderness of pine and spruce trees with no other properties in sight. “Where are we?”
“Upstate New York. Somewhere in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains to be exact. Come on,” he said with the excitement of a kid wanting to show off a shiny new bicycle. He grabbed her hand and tugged her up the stairs, making her giggle as she tried to keep up without tripping. The stairs led to a large deck with intricate mahogany diamond-shaped inlays arranged in a pattern at the middle. It must have taken months to complete, Addie thought, as they made their way around the curve of the deck, which wrapped all the way around the second story of the house. The massive building sat nestled in the middle of a large wooded area. There were no other residences in sight.
Once inside, she was astonished at the furnishings. Two elegant tan chairs graced each side of a green marble fireplace with an ornate mirror above a white mantle. Two dark brown leather ottomans—a decorative tray of glass ornaments in the middle of each—sat in front of a plush light-green sofa. She ran her hand over the back of it, being careful not to disturb the scatter of throw pillows that provided an eye-catching contrast. Very modern, very expensive, and very cozy. Nothing like what she thought the headquarters of a secret society should look like. It was as if they had just walked into someone’s home. “This is the Sectory? It looks like a normal house—well, a very nice, normal house. Does someone live here?”
“I wanted to bring you in the front door rather than directly down to the actual facilities of the organization. Right now—besides my mom—four or five other people actually live here. It changes depending on the circumstances. My mother lives in this part of the house; there are additional rooms on the lower levels for use by various people if they have the need. Most of us have our own places. We do try to live normal lives.”
They headed up more stairs and entered another large sitting area where a series of interesting portraits adorned the walls. She noticed her father in a few of them. One in particular caught her eye, and she stopped to look at the picture of dad as he stood proudly with his arm around a young boy.
“Is this you?”
“Yes, I was a cute little tyke, wasn’t I?”
All at once, she felt a pang of jealousy as she realized her father had experienced a whole other life he’d never shared with her. She felt Cael’s fingers brush her cheek and she remembered he could sense what she was thinking. She found herself embarrassed by the feeling.
“He would have shared this life with you if he hadn’t been so fearful for your safety. You’ve got to believe that, Addison.”