Haunted Prey Ch. 17bypurefire©
It felt awkward walking through the sliding glass doors that led into the hospital. Though it hadn't quite been a month since he'd last stepped foot into the building, it felt as if decades had passed. Time surely had a way of changing the way people saw things. Lindsay decided to take the stairs to the pediatric wing; he wasn't in the mood to be confined in a small space with strangers. He'd had enough strange in his life, and that meant a lot, considering his line of work. It was rare that he yearned for the monotony that came with human life, but he couldn't seem to want anything else. Which was probably why he'd decided to go to the hospital. He owed it to the woman he loved to protect her family - his family had everything gone as he'd planned.
Well, it was too late to think of that now.
The short walk down the hallway to the room he sought was a short one, and Lindsay had to stop to take a few calming breaths before he walked in. He knew what he would say when he checked on the young woman who'd been denied the comfort of her older sister, but he had no idea what to do in the event he was asked why Alauria hadn't joined him, of when she would return. How honest was he expected to be?
Lindsay stopped short the second his foot hit the threshold of the room. He blinked twice, unsure if what he saw was actually happening. "What the hell are you doing?"
"Shut the fuck up for a minute."
Lindsay watched silently as Liam continued his ministrations. Luckily, Raedyn slept through the ordeal, otherwise she would have had a close-up view of the glittering light coming out of his brother's eyes due to his ability. It took Liam a few minutes to heal the young woman, but the effects of his work were instantaneous; Raedyn's skin lost its chalky pallor, and she looked to be breathing easier. She smiled in her sleep, and for a moment, Lindsay wondered what she dreamt of. Life outside of the hospital, possibly.
Liam let out a tired breath when he finished his work. While he was used to the challenges he faced healing wounds, healing sickness was another issue. Other factors had to be considered, and it was a real possibility that he could have done more damage than good. Luck was on his side, thankfully, and he didn't have to worry about listening to his brothers as they gave him hell had things gone wrong. "Why are you here?"
"Why are you?" Lindsay took a step into the room and glanced at Raedyn. Yes, she was definitely better, as evidence of her rosy cheeks and glowing skin. She looked so much like her sister.
"Lex says she'll be very important to us in the future."
"What the hell does that mean?"
Liam shook his head as he pulled on a pair of gloves. "Look, I had to drive all this fucking way to do this, but I just did what the man asked me to do. You got questions, you take them to him."
Both men turned to look toward the bed. Raedyn stared at them with wide eyes as she pulled her blankets to her chin. "Yes. How are you feeling?" Lindsay asked.
She remembered the taller one with the dark red hair; he was her sister's male friend. Or was he really her boyfriend? "I'm, I'm all right." The other one... Though he showed no kind of emotion, he did quirk his eyebrow at her thoughtfully. He made her nervous; his blue eyes almost looked angry. "Better."
"I would hope so," Liam murmured. He narrowed his eyes at the elbow Lindsay jabbed into his side before speaking again. "So you're the sister."
"I, uh..." She looked to Lindsay and felt her brows raise at his nod of approval. "Sure. Who are you?"
"He's leaving," Lindsay answered as he stared at Liam. The last thing he needed was his hot-headed brother losing his temper with the teenager. "Thank you for..." He stopped, as he couldn't finish his comment in front of Raedyn.
"Why aren't you with," Liam stopped at the dangerous look his brother gave him before glancing at the very confused young woman in the hospital. "With her?"
"She's been tired the last couple days. I left her to sleep for a few hours."
"And now she's all better."
The focus was moved to the room's entrance as Alauria walked in. She walked to stand next to Lindsay and leaned into him when he placed an arm around her shoulders. A quick smile of greeting toward Raedyn completed her entrance.
"You sure you're all right?" Liam asked with narrowed eyes. He took a step left, purposely blocking her view of the teenager in the hospital bed. "You're not going to do anything... funny, are you?"
"I thought we were past that."
"Yes, you thought."
"Liam," Lindsay warned. This was neither the time nor place to get into what had happened and how things had changed because of it.
"He's right," Alauria agreed. She felt the sides of her mouth quirk up politely as she said, "I'm glad you were able to help her."
Liam only shrugged indifferently as he said. "I do what I have to do for my family."
The statement had her blinking in surprise. The aggravated look he shot her only made her smile arrogantly. "I'm your family?"
Liam looked at his brother, who seemed very intrigued by the direction of the conversation. "Just keep her safe, for fuck's sake."
Lindsay frowned as he watched Liam stalk out of the room. It wasn't what Liam said, but how he said it that made Lindsay wonder if he meant Alauria or Raedyn. A tired sigh escaped his lips; he'd been through enough already and didn't quite have the energy to take on any more challenges.
"Who was that guy?" Raedyn whispered.
Lindsay smiled at the wonder in the teenager's voice before he said, "My brother." Her reaction to the news was almost comical; Raedyn's skin paled for a moment before flushing dangerously. Her mouth dropped into a perfect "o" as she continually glanced from him to the door.
"Oh." Raedyn shook herself out of her shock before glancing at her sister. "I met your mom."
"Did you?" Alauria asked. She tried to take a step closer to the hospital bed, but stopped when Lindsay tightened his hold on her. "How did it go?"
"She was very nice and gave me your messages."
"Yes." Raedyn yawned as fatigue suddenly began to weigh her body down. "I thought you would be gone a little longer."
"We did too, but we managed to shorten our little getaway." Alauria cleared her throat nervously as she glanced at the floor. "You look better."
"I feel better."
"That's good." Alauria quietly ran her fingers through her head as she tried to think of something to say. "So..."
Raedyn narrowed her eyes slightly as she watched her sister. Something was off; she couldn't quite put her finger on what, but something was very different. "Are you all right?"
"What do you mean?"
"I don't know." Raedyn watched as her sister shared a look with Lindsay before saying, "You seem kind different; awkward, kind of, like this is the first time we're meeting or something." She watched as Alauria's eyes went wide for a moment before she looked at the ground again. Raedyn shifted her attention to Lindsay, who wore a very blank expression, but had a tenseness about him she didn't like. "Is there, like, something I should know?"
"Just that I'm glad that you're doing well," Alauria said. She forced a smile for the teenager's benefit and pulled away from Lindsay. "The only thing you need to worry about is getting out of here before your hair turns grey."
"You look very tired," Lindsay cut in. He walked to Raedyn's bed and gently pushed her down so that he could adjust her blankets. "Why don't you get some sleep?"
As much as she would have loved to argue with him, Raedyn did indeed feel as if she would fall asleep at any given second. She smiled at the large man in gratitude before closing her eyes and succumbing to the darkness that pulled at her.
"She looks peaceful," Alauria remarked. She remained where she was, three feet away from the bed, as she knew that Lindsay would most likely push her back if she stepped any closer.
"Yes. Liam's ability usually puts those he heals to sleep so that the body can catch up to his work." Lindsay moved to stand in front of Alauria and smiled at the thoughtful look on her face. "I thought I asked you to rest for a while."
"I did. I saw your note when I woke up and decided to come and see her as well."
"Do you think that was a good idea?"
"Probably not, but you're the one who kept mentioning her once we got back to my apartment."
Lindsay didn't comment on the fact that she was right; he had mentioned Raedyn repeatedly, primarily to remind her that there was life outside of the supernatural. "You looked like you needed a little reminding."
She shook her head as a slow smile took over her face. "You, of all people, want to tell me about being reminded of things?" She felt him tense beside her and immediately became contrite. "Sorry, I shouldn't have said that."
"No, it's fine. You're right."
"You should remember to tell me this every time we argue. Scratch that; tell me every day."
Lindsay laughed softly to keep from waking Raedyn and looked down into happy brown eyes. "For how long?"
"The rest of my life seems long enough."
"I was hoping you would say something like that." He placed his hands in his pockets and looked around the small hospital room as he collected his thoughts. "The past several weeks have been..."
Lindsay nodded slowly in answer. "They've made me realize that the smallest of things can happen to you that will kill you, and I can't go through what happened again. I wouldn't survive it."
The visible pain in his eyes prompted her to take a step forward to place a hand on his cheek. "Lindsay, where is this coming from?"
"I want us to do a Chystla."
She frowned at the statement and the odd word. "A Chystla? What is that?"
"It's a ritual that would tie our souls together for eternity. As long as I'm alive, you'll never get sick and you'll never die. And when I am reborn, your soul will join mine in the next life." He watched as her eyes widened in shock. The action forced him to rethink the proposition for a moment; he could have been completely wrong in the timing. They'd just been through a serious test of strength and loyalty, and things had barely settled since then. Hell, they'd been back in town for a week and not once had they discussed visiting her mother, her fear being that the over-observant matriarch would easily discern a difference in her daughter.
"Wouldn't tying our souls together mean that we couldn't be with anyone else? Ever?" While the prospect of the arrangement sounded extremely promising, it was probably best to wait until they'd figured out their next steps as a couple living human lives.
"Isn't that what you wanted?"
She glanced around the small hospital room, at the various vases of daisies balanced on the windowsills and the sleeping teenager who loved them, unsure of what to say. While she did want to spend eternity with Lindsay, she wasn't sure he would feel the same after a few years. "Maybe we should wait until-"
"Look at Raedyn." He focused his attention on the young woman as he continued, "One day she's perfectly fine, a young woman with a full life ahead of her. A day later, she is in the hospital, pretty much on death's door, to the point where it takes a supernatural healer to save her life. The blood in your body wasn't enough. Being human isn't enough. Out of everyone, you should know that."
"Lindsay, I do know that, but in her case, she wasn't strong enough. It doesn't matter if you're human or not if you're not strong enough."
He chose not to acknowledge the unique phrasing of her words. "Which is why we should do the Chystla. You won't die until I do." Which was exactly what he needed if he expected to never go through what they had again. The simple memory of the flush of her skin tightened his chest uncomfortably.
"But you're asking me to bind myself to you pretty much forever. Are you sure you can do it again?"
The quick and confident reply made her stop for a moment. He wanted to be with her forever, and it wasn't because of some sense of honor or duty. He actually wanted to be with her. "You're sure about this?"
To answer her question, he pulled a hand out of his pocket and presented her with the proof of his determination. "I don't want anyone else."
She looked down at his hand, at the glittering gem resting on his large palm and gasped in shock. "Lindsay..."
"A Chystla trumps any kind of religious ceremony, but I thought it would be nice to give Patricia the gift of seeing her only daughter married."
"Are you seriously asking...?" She looked up into his smiling eyes, and hers watered in response. Quick glances from his love-filled eyes to the intricate diamond ring resting on his hand made her heartbeat accelerate. He was asking her for marriage. He was asking her for forever.
"If I remember correctly, most human women like diamond rings for these sorts of occasions." Lindsay took his time slipping the two-carat emerald cut engagement ring on her finger. He enjoyed the way the ring's channel settings shone in the hospital light. "Say yes."
Overwhelming feelings of happiness and love washed over her, making her shake. Of all the places to have such a moment, he chose the hospital room of a sleeping teenager. It shouldn't have been romantic, but surprisingly, it was. The love of her life was asking her for forever. "Everyone is going to flip out when they hear the news."
* * * * *
The scent of orchids made her sigh contentedly as she made the short walk to the bow of the yacht. Beside her, Patricia walked proudly, a radiant smile on her face as they walked toward the small group of people waiting, They all smiled happily, but it was the love-filled gaze that Lindsay gave that captured her attention. She felt a smile take over her face at the simple white shirt and khaki slacks he wore. Patricia had taken control of coordinating the attire for the small affair. She'd been thrilled when she heard the news and took it upon herself to plan every detail of her daughter's wedding. Jameson helped her, as it turned out that outside of shopping, he also loved to plan events. It was he who decorated the yacht after Lindsay adamantly demanded it be the location of the ceremony. She hadn't complained; she only wanted to start her new life with the man she loved.
When her hand was placed into Lindsay's she smiled at the small rush of electricity that rushed through her. She'd barely noticed the kiss Patricia placed on her cheek before moving to stand next to a happily blushing Raedyn.
"You're beautiful," Lindsay whispered. Her skin glowed in the twinkling moonlight, emphasizing her beautifully curled hair. She wore a simple white dress that brushed her calves and simple jewelry accented her skin. She was going to be his forever; he grinned in anticipation.
"We are gathered here tonight to join this man, my brother, and this woman in the highest of matrimonies."
Lindsay glanced at Raedyn and Patricia, unsure of their reactions to Alexis' wording. They'd been quite accepting of his role in the ceremony after learning that he was ordained in several religions, both archaic and modern. In truth, he'd become ordained in order to mask Chystla ceremonies from humans and demons that knew nothing of them. Alexis had warned Patricia that he preferred to use specialized wording, but Lindsay still felt a level of nervousness once his brother spoke the words that commenced the ceremony. There was no reaction, thankfully, and Lindsay was able to refocus his attention on the words his brother spoke.
"I will now speak the words of my ancestors, the words that will seal the bonds that this man and this woman have created on this night."
She listened carefully to the musical lilt of the foreign language Alexis spoke. From within, a feeling of warmth began to spread, filling and wrapping her in its comfort. Lindsay tightened his hold on her hands, and as he did, the warmth intensified; she closed her eyes in sweet surrender. Visions of his life came to her; the beautiful child he was, and of the mother who meant so much to him. She saw his first encounter with his brothers, and felt the slow progression of love he'd developed for each of them.
She saw his first glimpse of her, and felt the startling reaction he had that fateful afternoon. The warmth within her became a pleasant burning that made her skin tingle. And it was then that she was given a hint of his thoughts as he looked at her.
Their souls were tied, she learned from his thoughts, and would soon the bonds would become unbreakable. The warmth was his soul merging with hers and the memories that she was afforded only completed the process. Soon, the warmth began to fade, and her thoughts became her own. Faintly, she felt the cool band slide onto her finger and she smiled. Her thoughts were still focused on the warmth within her, but she was able to repeat Lindsay's actions and repeat the foreign words Alexis dictated. The second the ring had found its place on his finger, she'd been pulled out of her trance. As she blinked, she looked into Lindsay's smiling eyes. He was hers forever.
"You may now kiss your wife."
Lindsay paused for only a moment before he leaned down to place a chaste but passionate kiss on her lips. He ignored the applause from his family, as the second his lips touched her's, a small shock of electricity shot between them. He managed to control his reaction to keep everyone calm because he hadn't shocked her. Based on the wide-eyed expression she gave him, she'd realized that the shock came from her.
"Congratulations!" Patricia exclaimed. She was quick to rush forward and embrace her daughter and new son. Her family had grown exponentially, allowing her the opportunity to mother the new members.
"Thank you." As she was held in Patricia's embrace, she glanced at Lindsay's brothers. Her brothers. Her family.
There wasn't much time to take in the newness of her life because everyone present wanted to offer their well wishes. Charisma gave her a warm hug before excusing herself to check on the reception dinner she'd catered. Raedyn went to help; she was still uncomfortable being around Lindsay and his brothers, even after weeks of knowing them. Alexis and Jameson pulled Patricia aside, as it had been centuries since they'd been around a human mother and loved her pleasantly outspoken nature. Liam chose to remain with the newly married couple. "So it's done," he murmured.
"Only you could make a joyous occasion sound like getting a tooth pulled," Lindsay remarked. He grabbed hold of his wife's hand and kissed the palm. Though she blushed delightedly, she remained silent.
"Whatever," Liam grumbled. "How is the building going?"
Lindsay smiled excitedly as he said, "The top two floors are done. All that is left is renovating the bottom level." As a wedding gift to, he'd purchased a three level apartment complex, his plan being to renovate it to accommodate their merging lives. "Only a few more weeks before we can move in."
Liam nodded slowly as he took a moment to look at his sister. Her attention was focused on the distance and he turned to look at what caught her eye. Euan, in avian form flew overhead, a silent declaration of his congratulations. He had not yet been able to discuss what happened that afternoon in the kitchen, and because of that, it was uncomfortable for him to be in a confined space with her. "He'll be fine. He's happy for you."
Was Liam actually offering a word of encouragement? She tried to mask her surprise, but knew that she'd failed based on the short-tempered redhead's narrowed gaze of warning. To calm him, she took a step forward and placed a small kiss on his cheek. "Thank-"
"Son of a bitch," Liam grumbled. He pulled back quickly and rubbed the sting from his cheek. "Get that under control, will you?"