Haunted Prey Ch. 13

bypurefire©

* * * * *

It was nearly time for dinner when Alauria emerged from the warm cocoon of Lindsay's bed. After their romp on Alexis' car, she promptly fell asleep, only briefly waking when Lindsay changed her into one of his t-shirts. She vaguely remembered Liam muttering in the background before the sensation of the dull ache in her side made her grumble. Warm hands took hold of hers before a searing pain took over her side. She remembered thinking that the pain should have been enough to fully wake her, but she only succumbed to the dark haze of sleep that pulled at her.

As Alauria descended the steps, she frowned at the sudden memory of the dark dreams she had. They all took place in the forest, but they always varied; in one dream she swam in a very dark body of water that seemed to pull her deeper within its depths with every move. In another, she found herself bound by tree branches as heavy footsteps in the distance approached. There were also flashes of dark shadows looming over her, giving a feeling of intense anxiety as she tried to navigate through the dense foliage, and even the stark terror that came with the feeling of being chased through the dark night; they plagued her while she slept, forcing her to seek refuge in Lindsay's arms. The most disturbing of her dreams had her running through the thick brush of the woods, desperate to escape whatever it was that chased her. She hid behind a tree for a moment to catch her breath, but the gash in her side began to burn. As she looked down at the wound, Alauria realized that it oozed a thick black liquid that seemed to spread over the contours of her skin, and it carried a slightly cloying scent that nauseated her. The sight had her searching for a body of water, and she took off, hoping to find something quickly. The more she ran, the more her side burned; when she finally made it to a small creek, her chest felt as if it was gripped in a tight vice. Alauria washed herself, struggling to keep the burn from spreading any more, and just as the terrible burn began to fade, everything around her began to spin. Dizzying images made her stomach lurch and as she leaned forward to wet her hand in the cool creek's water, she was given a glimpse of her reflection. Shock made her rear back, for in the reflective surface of the water, Rachel stood behind her, a menacing knife raised high above her head.

Alauria shook off the fear that gripped her as she walked into the kitchen. Alexis sat at the center island, lazily consuming a chocolate peanut butter cup and watching the local news. He nodded a greeting to her as she entered, and she looked away nervously as she remembered her episode with Lindsay on his truck. Alauria silently walked to the fruit basket and picked up and apple to keep her hands busy. "Thank you for helping Lindsay and me." She felt her blush intensify when he only nodded again. He'd taken to staring at her intensely, and by the curious tilt of his head, it seemed that he'd discovered something odd.

Good Lord, he knew about the truck.

He continued to stare at her, obviously waiting for her to say something. How was it that she could easily tell what the man wanted, but had no way of providing it? With a weary sigh, Alauria moved to the seat next to him and made a place for herself next to the brooding man. He'd turned his attention to the television and for a few minutes, they watched a news report about a local woman who claimed that she could speak to the dead. "Do you think she's for real?" Alauria took a nervous bite out of her apple when he only shrugged. It seemed as if he didn't particularly care, but there was something in Alexis' eyes that belied his demeanor. His dark gaze was focused on the feisty redhead on the screen relaying a message to a grieving widow. Alauria was tempted to push more, but decided against it; Alexis made her feel like a child most of the time. The last thing she needed was to annoy him to the point of yelling at her as if she actually were a child. So she sat back and continued to eat her apple, hoping he would say something to spark a conversation that kept her from feeling awkward.

"Are you planning to go home any time soon?"

The question felt like a splash of ice water. Alexis had asked it causally, which made her think that he was merely curious and not trying to kick her out. Even still, the question made her uncomfortable, especially considering he didn't bother to glace in her direction when he asked. "Uh, Lindsay and I thought it would be better to take a few days to put everything behind us. And to know each other better." He didn't move, and for a moment Alauria thought that he hadn't heard a word she'd said. "I mean, if that's all right with you."

The nervous tone to her voice prompted Alexis to look at her. She stared at the television screen and he was tempted to smile at her obvious effort to seem as unaffected as he. "I don't have a problem with it. It's been a while since Lindsay's been here."

"How long has it been?"

Alexis wasn't sure she knew how old he and his brothers actually were. As it was, Charisma didn't know, and she'd been part of the family for months. But then again, Charisma rarely asked questions. She opted to learn as things went along. Alauria on the other hand... It was clear that she was a curious creature and would no doubt bombard someone with questions soon, if she hadn't already. "A while."

Why she'd convinced herself that a conversation with the man was possible, she had no idea. She'd walked into the kitchen feeling like a twelve-year-old. She now felt as if she was five and on the way to the principal's office.

"Give your mother a call."

Alauria blinked in surprise when he slid the cellular phone he'd pulled out of his pocket toward her. "Excuse me?"

"Check on your sister while you're at it."

"How did you..." Unless Lindsay told him about Raedyn, there was no way Alexis should know about her.

"Just do it."

Screw a five-year-old; she now felt like a whiny toddler. Alauria huffed out a frustrated breath, for Alexis had turned his attention back to the television. She was smart enough to know when she'd lost and silently put the apple down before she picked up the phone to dial her mother's number. Her answering machine picked up, so Alauria hung up and dialed again, thinking that her mother hadn't made it to the phone in time. The answering machine picked up again and Alauria was quick to accept defeat. At the beep, she left a message. "Mom, it's me. Lindsay and I are still away but we should back in a couple of days. I was hoping you had a chance to check on Raedyn. I guess I'll just call the hospital. I'll call you back soon. Love you." She sighed as she ended the call, then dialed the number to the hospital. After five minutes of department transfers, she was finally directed to her sister's room. The phone range three times, and with each ring, a more intense feeling of dread washed over her. Something was wrong.

"Hello?"

"Daniel?" She'd recognize that voice anywhere. A part of her was surprised that he was actually there, while a second, more foreign part of her was envious that he was there to support her sister. "Where is Raedyn?"

"The doctors took her for testing."

"Is she getting worse?"

"No, but she isn't getting any better either. I heard you came to see her."

"Yes, after I donated the marrow."

"Thank you, Alauria, for helping her."

"It's not as if I had much of a choice. I don't turn my back on the people who need me." She felt her cheeks heat when she remembered that Alexis sat beside her. A long, deep breath calmed her down enough to put the conversation on track. "Will you tell her that I'll call and that I'll be there to check on her soon?"

"Yes." There was a brief pause before he said, "Listen, Alauria, I'd like to set some time aside for us-"

"I have to go. Tell her I hope she gets better soon" Alauria quickly ended the call and closed her eyes at the sudden and intense throbbing at her temples. The last thing she wanted to think about was forming some kind of relationship with her father. Her mother may have been a kind-hearted and forgiving woman, but she was not. This was not something he could fix with a couple of conversations.

She felt her eyes open when Alexis placed his hand on hers. She knew that she'd absently taken to moving her fingers as if she were playing the piano. The trait drove everyone around her insane; with his personality, it was no wonder Alexis felt the same. "Sorry about that." She used her free hand to return his phone and found herself frowning when she felt completely calm. Surely, his hand on top of hers wasn't the cause, was it?

"You're very worried about her."

She was sure he meant Raedyn. "She's only sixteen and still mourning her younger brother."

"Your younger brother."

Alauria said nothing to that. She was still trying to get used to the fact that she had a living sibling. She didn't want to explore her feelings about having a deceased one. "She's too young to be going through all of this." Alexis said nothing to her comment. She didn't expect him to. It almost felt as if he steered her thoughts in a specific direction, but she wasn't sure. "She deserved better than this."

Alexis nodded slowly as he placed his phone in his pocket. "I'm glad you'll be here a few more days." The shocked look she gave him forced him to fight off a smile as he stood. "You need your rest."

"Thank you." She watched as he nodded for the millionth time and followed the abrupt path he made toward the exit with her eyes. When he suddenly stopped and turned to face her, she felt her eyes go wide at the dull glow in his eyes. "Alexis?"

"It's better if you're here when it happens."

"When what happens?" Panic slowly consumed Alauria as she watched the light in his eyes intensify. She had no idea what Alexis spoke of, but something told her to be very afraid. "What are you talking about?" His only answer was to turn around a head for the exit once more. Alauria was having none of that. She jumped up from her seat and ran to him, placing her hand on his shoulder to stop him from leaving. Then she took an abrupt step back when he whirled around. His eyes were as bright as the halogen lights above; it almost hurt to look at him. But she couldn't look away when he stared at her so intensely. "Alexis, what-"

"Death is the only thing that will save you."

________________

Happy New Year!

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