Hypnotic Ch. 04byCia81©
"Wake up Ellis."
A hand was shaking me roughly. I recoiled away from the painful grip and sat up with a gasp. I was still in the bed, and Dav's face slowly drifted into focus. I rubbed my face, shaking a little.
"Jesus Dav, you scared the shit out of me!" I complained. "It's not like I wasn't attacked last night or anything. How about you take it easy on the wake up calls for a little while?"
"Yeah, not the worst of your problems right now. You need to get dressed right now." Dav turned around and left the room without saying anything else.
I stared out the empty bedroom door. What the hell? Maybe he hurt Benny more than he thought? I scrubbed at eyes, trying to wake up. What if Dr. Pannar needed my help to treat him? That thought got me out of bed quickly. I dug around in my bag and pulled out some jeans and a polo shirt. I slung the shirt over my shoulder and shoved my legs into the jeans. Socks, I needed socks.
I grabbed a pair and put them on. Pulling a shirt over my head as I walked, I went out in the living room.
"What's going on?"
"How could you do it Ellis?"
Dav was standing on the other side of the dining room table, his hands clenched around the top rung of a chair. He was breathing funny and his face was paler than I'd ever seen it before. Worse, the love I'd come to expect when he looked at me was missing.
I blinked. "Do what?" I felt for the bond between us, but Dav was an emotional blank. It was like he had severed the bond between us, but that wasn't possible, was it?
Dav hissed and narrowed his eyes. "Don't play stupid with me."
My temper started to stir as well. "If I was going to play with you, I guarantee you it wouldn't be something like this," I snapped. "Now, it was a very long night, I haven't had any breakfast. Hell, I haven't even had any coffee yet and that doesn't help my mood. How about you cut the shit and just tell me what the hell you are talking about?"
"You're one of the humans working with the Carthera who are trying to take over Velaku's territory. A traitor," he spat, "and I was totally taken in by you. Well done. Did you somehow know we were mates or is this some sort of trickery you people came up with to plant a fake mate in Velaku's circle? I was so grateful that my mate accepted me and returned my feelings, but this was a sham all along wasn't it?"
Dav hung his head and then looked up at me, pure devastation in his eyes. "Why?" he asked in an agonized voice.
My stomach started to hurt. A traitor? "I have no idea what you are talking about, Dav. What do you mean, fake mate? I AM your mate. You said so."
"Are you? Really?"
I made a sound in my throat, part frustration and part pain. "Yes!" I took a step toward him.
"Don't come closer, I'm not sure I can control myself right now," Dav hissed. "Benny told me everything. He told me about the video surveillance of the warehouse where those scum were storing the contaminated artifacts. Did you know they kidnapped a Jaguar's family and held his mate and youngling as hostages there to get him to reveal his clan lands? That the whole Jaguar clan in this territory almost died? That the poor male they forced into the jungle died from a virulent plague that took his mate's life and left his baby daughter to be raised by the only family member she has left, a single Jaguar who escape the carnage the virus made of his clan years before? Did you have a hand in their deaths too?
"Did you?" Dav screamed.
I took two steps back, shaking. "I would never hurt another person, Dav. Never. I became a nurse to help people. Ask Dr. Pannar, ask my patients. I have never harmed a single Carthera. I even took care of Natham, Velaku's mate. He can vouch for me. How can you be my mate and think that I would hurt people, kill them?"
"You're on film, Ellis! Pictures and video. They have proof!"
"They're wrong! I didn't do this. I've never hurt anyone!" I felt hot tears coursing down my face. "That you would believe them over me. . . ." I wiped futilely at my wet cheeks but the pain was too much and I couldn't stop crying. "Do you have any idea of how much you're hurting me right now?"
Dav shook his head. "I can't believe you. I've only known you a few days; Benny has been by my side for years. You said it yourself; he is always trying to protect me. Turns out last night he was doing just that. I should have let him kill you before you could hurt anyone else."
A thousand daggers penetrating my heart would hurt less than this. I couldn't speak for the pain of Dav's betrayal. I couldn't believe that the man who said he was my mate actually wanted me dead. The faith I had given Dav was gone, destroyed in that moment. I stumbled backward, shaking my head.
"Get your shoes on," Dav snapped at me, "we're leaving."
My arms were limp at my sides. I walked numbly over to the couch and sat down to put on my shoes. My arms and neck ached but those pains were far distant to the agony I felt inside. My tears were gone and I think I was in shock.
"Where are you taking me?" I asked faintly.
"Velaku's. He has the evidence and he will judge your fate." Dav pointed at the door. "Walk straight to my car and don't try to run away. There is nowhere you could go that I could not find you."
"I'm not running away," I said. "I've nothing to run for. You'll see. I can't wait to see your face when you find out how wrong you really are. Then you'll have some idea of the pain you have inflicted on the one person who you should have trusted."
"You think this doesn't hurt me?" Dav shouted. "I loved you! I did trust you! But they have proof, Ellis!"
"Proof you haven't even seen and yet still condemn me with! On the word of another, someone who is not your mate! I loved and trusted you until you showed me what that really meant to you. I thought mates were special, that you would know me in your soul, know who I am and what I am capable of. Then again I never would have imagined you would hurt me this much, so I guess mates really aren't all that special, are they?"
His face was a mask of rage. Dav hissed and glared at me.
I shook my head. This was getting us nowhere. I could say nothing he would believe and I really didn't care to try anyway. Dav's actions were unforgivable and I wanted nothing more than to prove him wrong and go home to my silent apartment.
I walked out the door, already feeling more alone than I ever had before.
It was a long, silent car ride before we got to the eyrie of the Falcon clan. Still hollow inside, I submitted to a search at the door by Mishtar, the captain of the Falcons. Even with his wings folded behind him he was an imposing figure, his expression solemn and forbidding. I bit back a moan when his talons pressed hard against my sore arms as he searched me. Afterward, I walked into Velaku's study, still without speaking. I didn't care that all eyes were on me, I just stood there motionless and waited for it to begin, eyeing my accusers. Natham and Velaku sat side by side in chairs behind the desk. Dr. Pannar was in the room, as were a few other Falcons I had met before who helped advise Velaku.
There were guards at the door. Their distrust of me filled the air.
Benny and Jerret were already there as well. Benny's arm was in a sling but he didn't seem to be in too much pain, a benefit of being a Carthera was rapid healing of most injuries. He'd probably be fully healed in a few days, rather than the weeks it would take a human. The puncture wounds he gave me on my arms would take at least that long to heal.
Mishtar closed the doors behind us and walked over to lean on one hip against the desk.
"Do you understand why you are here, Ellis?" Velaku asked. His white wings rustled behind him as he waited for my answer.
"Do you have anything to say for yourself?" Velaku asked.
I shook my head. Why? Why even speak and try to protest my innocence? Not even my mate believed me, so why would they?
Dr. Pannar spoke up, "I still say this is ridiculous. I've worked with Ellis for nearly a year now. He has never shown any sign of wanting to hurt any of the Carthera he's treated." He glared at Velaku. "You even let him treat your mate when the other humans didn't want to!"
Natham nodded but spoke up. "Things have changed." His eyes were sad as he looked at me. I looked away.
"And what if that was for an ulterior motive for him getting close to us? You may not like it, but Ellis must answer the charges against him. The images are damning," Velaku said.
I hugged my arms around my chest. Like there was any point to that.
Dr. Pannar shook his head stubbornly. "Prove it."
"Fine." Velaku gestured, and Mishtar hit a button the edge of the desk. The room darkened as a small projector screen came down over the windows. He took a small computer and plugged it into the desk outlet by the projector. The screen cut the light out of the room and dimmed it enough the photographs were easily visible.
In each, standing by different people, human and Carthera alike, was a man with the same face I saw in the mirror every day. Everyone looked back and forth between me and the video, especially when Mishtar paused it and the image was static.
"Is that the smuggler you killed while investigating who was bringing in the plague artifacts, Davis?" he asked.
Dav nodded but was likewise silent. I still couldn't feel any part of our bond. I had felt so much pain since I woke that I didn't think I would recognize anyone else's but I felt his pierce my soul from the look on his face. There was such hate.
The video, complete with sound as the image of me helped arrange the delivery of the artifacts to a gallery warehouse was the final shock. At least, so I thought when it played. I couldn't look away from the screen as he helped a human unload a truck full of statues. Once that was done, the look alike stood to one side and waited as the Carthera helping turned on the driver viciously. Some form of cat, he used his claws to puncture the human's chest and leave him to die, gasping for air.
It the final nail in my coffin as far as my so called mate must have been concerned. Dav hissed as I signed some papers and gave them to the cat and then ordered the Carthera to clean up the mess right away. He turned and glared at me.
He reached for me, fingers curved and I stood froze. I had no desire to keep living if the man who professed to love me not twelve hours earlier was willing to kill me. I was shocked when Dr. Pannar shoved his way between us and knocked Dav away. I fell to my knees in the scuffle but that made me feel even more vulnerable among the dangerous Carthera that filled the room. I struggled to my feet, determined to die standing up like a man.
Dav hissed and twisted around, his fangs down and ready. The guards jumped forward and grabbed him, separating him from Dr. Pannar who was already right up at the screen, ignoring the lethal Snake who was glaring at him now instead of me.
"What?" Natham was up and standing beside Velaku with his ears flat against his skull. He stood ready to protect his mate, his claws shining deadly white in the dim light. He checked that the guards were able to hold Dav before he twisted his head around and watched the screen, trying to see what Dr. Pannar saw.
Dav was still struggling against the guards, but they held his arms pinned to his sides and against the wall where he couldn't twist around them.
"Everyone, freeze! Now!" Velaku's order shot through the Carthera in the room and the only sound was the gasp I couldn't hold back.
My mate was going to attack me. Because he saw... it was... Velaku looked at me and then back at the doctor.
"Dr. Pannar, what did you see?"
"Look at when he signed those papers and when he checked the pulse on the dead man."
Velaku nodded at Mishtar who took the film backwards about a minute. Everyone in the room watched again as the me on the film callously went about his business as a man died; even helping wrap up the body after he made sure the driver was dead.
"Did you see?" Dr. Pannar's hand was hovering an inch off the screen, having made Mishtar back up the video again. "There, see. He used his left hand."
Velaku sighed. "What does that have to do with anything?"
Dr. Pannar turned to him. "I have watched Ellis work since I hired him. He has assisted me on more cases than I can count and in all that time He. Has. Always. Been. Right. Handed."
"Maybe he faked it on the video? To throw us off?" Mishtar speculated.
"Why?" Natham asked slowly, "No one knew we had the warehouse under surveillance. Based on the evidence, they were building things in there. Bombs, electronics, weapons... We're not sure what the statues were for but it's clear they somehow hid what they were truly moving. I agree with Dr. Pannar, though. He's right; every time Ellis has been on screen he's been left-handed. When he took care of me, he always used his right hand."
Dav was swallowing convulsively as he stood rigid between the guards. "It's not there," he whispered.
He stared at the screen. The larger than life image of my face was hovering there, and Dav was staring at the eyes.
"What isn't there?" Velaku asked.
"Ellis has a small white scar that runs through his eyebrow and up about a quarter of an inch onto his forehead." Dav studied the face on the screen and then turned to look at me and then back at the screen.
"It's not him," he said breathily. "Oh gods, it's not Ellis."
I shook my head. "It's not me," I agreed.
"It's my twin brother, Isiah."
I was watching Dav as he turned toward Benny, his eyes narrowed.
"You said it was him. That you smelled him before and that's what made you uneasy. You saw the video yesterday?"
"When I pulled you aside at the bar, it was for this. Velaku wanted you to see these videos, but you were too busy with your human and he didn't tell me what was in them before I got here. It's a human traitor, he deserved to die!"
"So you accused my mate!" snapped Dav.
"So did you! You believed him capable of it as well! How was I supposed to know your mate had an identical twin brother? Did you?"
"No. It. . ." Dav's voice was quiet, "it didn't come up."
"Did anything beyond what's in your pants?" Benny asked nastily, practically spitting the words out. "What do you actually know about your mate? If he likes the top or bottom?" He sneered at Dav.
I could not believe he just said that. Apparently Dav couldn't either as he hissed violently, lunging toward Benny. The guards were forced to grab him again and Benny's brother Jerret darted in front of him. He looked several years younger but he was just as big as Benny, perhaps even an inch or so taller. Benny kept trying to shove him out of the way but Jerret wouldn't let him.
The sounds the various Carthera were making along with Jerret and Benny's shouting hurt my ears.
"That's enough. I thought this was a meeting with the capable people I employed to investigate these Carthera and their human collaborators. I didn't realize that you were a pair of hormonal, uncontrolled younglings. Do I need to put you two in the corner to make you behave?" Velaku was standing, and even though he was the shortest man in the room, his presence was enough to quell the angry Carthera and silence everyone. He planted both hands on his desk and glared at Dav.
"You will control yourself, or I will have you tied to a chair. Do you understand me?"
Dav stopped trying to pull away from the guards and nodded once, his lips clamped shut. Benny stopped shoving at his brother. The angry males avoided looking at each other, but the guards didn't relax much.
I didn't know how much more of this I could take. The loss of the bond with Dav was hurting me. I don't know how he shut it down, but it felt like a huge hole in my chest. Add in the pain from Benny's attack the night before, a sex marathon, and the shock of seeing Isiah doing nothing as a man was murdered in front of him had pushed me to my limit.
Natham was watching me, but I avoided meeting his eyes. Cold sweat was trickling down my back as I began to tremble. Natham leaned down to whisper in Velaku's ear.
"Mishtar," Velaku gestured at me with one hand. The Falcon captain got a chair under me just before my knees collapsed.
Dr. Pannar rushed over to me and began running his hands over me, checking my eyes and pulse.
"Your skin is hot; I think you are running a fever. I wanted to check your wounds last night but you were... ah..." I winced and he coughed."Well, it doesn't matter. Let's take a look now."
The other Carthera in the room gathered around the desk when Velaku gestured them over, leaving the doctor and me alone. I was still avoiding really looking at anyone, but I couldn't miss the looks Dav was shooting at me. The pain on his face was different. I knew that he realized that I was innocent but what we had was over anyway. The fact that he killed our bond was a reality he had to face on his own. Whatever he did to it, I was glad I could no longer feel him. I didn't want to be that close to a man who actually wanted me dead so bad that he tried to kill me himself.
Muttering to himself, Dr. Pannar ran his hands over the bump on my head and I winced. "Well, that's sore but you seem to be fine for the most part. Pupils equal. Any other dizziness since you got up?"
I shook my head. Not from the head wound at least.
He began picking at the tape holding the bandages on my arm. "Let's take a look at these."
"I was going to check them this morning but..." I trailed off.
"Davis is quite adept at bandaging wounds but you're still a human. Mating a Carthera can cause interesting changes to your body, but you still don't have our healing. Brace yourself; I'm going to rip this last piece off."
I grunted at the painful tugging.
"Mmmm, well that doesn't look good."
I turned my head, peering at my bicep. "What?" I grimaced, "Oh god."
The puncture wounds were swollen, the skin red and raw around the cuts. Worse was the slightly yellow pus I could see come out when the doctor pressed around the wounds.
"I would guess this is the cause of the fever. You're going to need antibiotics, and these need to be disinfected."
"There are still supplies in our bathroom from before," Natham said, his nose twitching, I assumed from the smell of the wounds. His nose was very sensitive; I'd seen him track down Velaku just by smelling the air. I couldn't imagine having senses like that or like Dav's ability to taste.
I cut off that thought. I didn't need to think about him; I didn't want to anymore. He was nothing to me. Maybe if I kept telling myself that, I would actually begin to believe it.
"Can you spare Ellis from the meeting for a little while?" Dr. Pannar asked. "Seeing as we have established that he isn't the one doing those things he was accused of?"
Velaku nodded. "You can take a few minutes but I have questions for Ellis. Get him cleaned up as best you can and then I need him back here."
Velaku looked at me with pity in his eyes.
"I know this must be hard for you but we need to know more about your twin. Somehow he has become involved with my enemies."
I didn't understand it, but I knew Isiah was innocent too.
"Isiah is in the military, but I don't see how he could possibly do the things on that video. He's my twin, the one person in this life I can able to count on to always be there for me." Dav winced but I ignored him. "I don't know what is going on but he's not a bad guy, he couldn't be."
"I'm sure you know him very well but sometimes people can surprise you." Velaku was looking at me, but I could sense that his comment was not just for my benefit. I ignored his other meaning.