Daybreak Ch. 03bypurefire©
Charisma grunted in pain as she tripped over the broken branch that hadn’t been removed from the dark path. She’d been walking for at least an hour and in that time, the only thing she’d been able to think of was the fact that her life was unbelievably messed up. She’d only been trying to get to the twenty-four-hour mini-mart when she’d been attacked. While she did admit that going through the abandoned part of town had not been one of her smartest ideas, it did save her ten minutes of walking. A lot of good that did her.
She’d waited exactly five minutes after the men walked out of the solarium before she went to the window. She jumped for joy inside when she realized that she was on the ground level of the house. Charisma made quick work of opening the window and jumping out. Once she was out, she took off running. There was no way in hell she would allow herself to be an accomplice to her own kidnapping, even if the one called Jameson had the face of Adonis and made her feel things that honestly should have stayed in the minds of romance novelists. How she found her way off the large estate, she did not know. She cut through the woods that surrounded the only road that led to the house and found herself approaching the back of the city library. Perfect. She was only a mile away from her house.
Charisma walked briskly, paying very close attention to any and all noises she heard. Had she not been paranoid, she would have just called the noises she heard normal stirrings of the night. But she was paranoid, and scared half out of her mind; every noise made her walk faster. Had she the sense to own a cellular phone, she would have called her assistant, Marie. That was after she called the police, anyway. Charisma would need loads of alcohol and a sounding board for the asylum-worthy story she had to tell. But she didn’t own a phone and figured that it was probably for the best; who would believe such a story?
“Thank you, God,” she muttered when she spotted the oddly blue house she’d purchased only months ago. The house had attracted her not only because of its blue/purple appearance, but because it was partially separated from the other houses on the block. “It’s good to see you too, Blue.” Charisma felt relief wash over her as she approached the house, but stopped when she heard the deep, menacing growl behind her. She slowly turned and felt her skin go cold at the sight of the abnormally large dog watching her. It was partially crouched and the golden hairs on the back of its neck were pointed toward the dark sky.
Good Lord, she was going to get mauled to death.
Charisma did the only thing she knew to do; she hauled ass to her house. As she ran, she pulled her key out of her pocket. Luckily, she had to get through the screened porch doors to get to her front door. She ran up the stairs and cried out when she tripped over the last step. Charisma was smart enough to push the screen door open as she pitched forward. After she landed on the floor, she pulled her legs in and used her foot to shut the screen. Panting for breath, she lay for a moment, expecting to hear the wild beast trying to break through. There was nothing. She sat up and looked at the extremely quiet street. “Great, now I’m seeing things.” She shook her head as she moved to stand. Charisma quickly opened the door to her house and closed it firmly behind her. Thank God for automatic locks. One deep breath helped her calm down enough to turn on the lights.
The sight of the very large, very gorgeous man sitting on her couch had her jumping back against the door. There was something very dangerous about him, and that fact alone kept her from moving. His long white-blonde hair framed a flawless oval-shaped face. Thick, golden eyebrows hooded crystal blue eyes that accented a perfect patrician nose. Perfect, succulent lips led to a dimpled chin that made him look boyish.
“Do not make me chase you.” He stood and looked at the lithe human with interest. She had a pleasant face and her obvious fear of him stirred his loins. Had he not had to get her back to Zaide, he would have enjoyed taking pleasure from her.
The man was huge! He looked to be about the same height as the twins, but he had the physique of a body builder. She had no idea how to handle this; though the man was smoking hot, he terrified her. Calling Marie was definitely out of the question. “What?”
“Come with me and you will not be harmed.”
That was classic. Charisma’s fear dissipated enough for her anger to push through. She’d had about enough of these damned men telling her what to do. “Who the hell are you people?”
He smiled at her slowly, deliberately, to regain the fear she’d shown him before. “We are what you make us.”
What the hell was that supposed to mean? She crossed her arms over her chest as she asked, “Can I make you gone, then?”
He laughed at her courage. The attempt was futile, but still commendable. “Make it easy, human. I was told to bring you back alive.” He took a threatening step forward and smiled at her sharp intake of breath. He could just hear the blood rushing through her veins. “Zaide said nothing about how alive you had to be.” He took another step forward but stopped at the loud crash. The sight of the large golden bear that charged him had him baring his razor sharp teeth as a signal for battle.
Charisma watched as man and beast went head to head. The two figures landed on her coffee table, splintering the chestnut piece and the man shouted in pain as the bear clawed at his chest. It was the sound of the man’s pain that pulled her out of her trance. Without a backward glance, she unlocked her door and ran out of the house. Two seconds later, she ran into what had to be a brick wall. New fear washed over her and she jumped back, ready to do what she had to do to defend herself.
“Calm down, calm down.”
She looked up and sighed in relief at the sight of Jameson’s face. She didn’t know how he’d found her, but she was grateful nonetheless. “Jameson, oh, my God.”
Jameson did his best to keep from shaking the woman for her foolish actions. When he’d walked back into the solarium to find her missing, he was calm, figuring that she was in another part of the house. He hadn’t even considered the open window - until Alexis informed him of the fact that the protective cloak that shielded the manor had been taken down due to the installation of the new security system. The cloak not only shielded the manor, but it put those who weren’t given unlimited access to sleep if they tried to enter or leave. Panic gripped Jameson then. How could she be so stupid as to leave?
Fortunately she was easy to track and he’d found her, just as she ran from her strange looking house like a bat out of hell. “What-” Jameson stopped speaking when he was roughly pushed aside by Liam. He watched as his brother placed his hand on Charisma’s before throwing a hand out. There was no fire.
“That’s better,” Liam said as he stepped back. He wanted to yell at Charisma for leaving before she could set things back but this was better. Based on the panicked look in her eyes, the fear of God himself had been put into her.
Charisma found herself shrieking in terror when she was launched forward into Jameson’s chest. They rolled a few feet and it was when she was covered by his body that she heard the loud crashes associated with fire and explosions. Her house was on fire! She pushed against Jameson’s heavy body, but it was useless; he wasn’t going anywhere. It wasn’t until everything stopped exploding that he rolled off her and pulled her to her feet. Charisma watched her house become consumed by flames. Anger rolled through her and she began to shout. At who, she didn’t know or care. All she knew was that her house was on fire and would be gone in seconds.
Jameson experimentally threw his hand out. After grunting in satisfaction at the ball of fire that shot out from his palm, he turned to Charisma’s red face. She was livid; good, now she knew how he felt. “What the hell were you thinking leaving like that?”
“My house is on fire!” she shouted at him. Rage at him and the out-of-this-world situation she found herself in had her yelling everything that came to mind.
“We can see that,” Liam replied.
“My house is on fire and there is a bear trapped inside!” Charisma gaped as both Liam and Jameson left her to run toward the burning structure. She was only able to watch as a large cougar sauntered out casually - as if nothing happened. Where the hell did the cougar come from?
Suddenly, it was all too much for her to take. Her legs gave out from underneath her and she found herself sitting on her legs as she stared at the two men and the wild animal. Flames licked their way over the roof of her home and in the distance, she heard sirens.
“Now you have no choice but to stay with us,” Liam said as he crouched in front of her. The dazed look in her eyes kept him from screaming. But he wanted to. Very badly.
“We’ve got to go.” Jameson pulled Charisma to her feet just as the large black BMW X5 xDrive35d screeched to a halt in front of them. Alexis sat in the driver’s seat and even Jameson felt the harsh glare he cast at her. He waited until Liam put the cougar in the back before he ushered Charisma inside.
Was he seriously putting her in a confined space with a wild animal? It wasn’t as if she had much of a choice in the matter; Jameson had her inside and the car down the street before she found the voice to protest. Charisma looked at the houses and buildings they drove passed, but she didn’t see them. Her mind remained focused on the events of the past few hours. She’d been attacked, somewhat abducted, learned that she had other worldly abilities, escaped her would be captors/protectors, was nearly abducted again, and lost her house. If she wasn’t amazed by the events, she probably would have started laughing. It was all too surreal.
“Why did you leave the manor?” Jameson asked. While her silence and temporary cooperation were golden, he still needed answers. Answers that would keep him from shaking some sense into her.
“I told you... I needed to go home.”
“The manor is your home now,” Liam grumbled. This woman was going to be trouble. He just knew it.
Charisma said nothing to the statement. She remained silent during the journey to the manor and said nothing until she found herself sitting in the room she’d escaped from. Now that she had a moment to look at her surroundings, she found herself frowning. She remembered the blonde, Caleb, speaking about the furniture conglomerate. Just how wealthy were these men? Based on the surroundings, they could probably buy an island or two - if they didn’t already own them. Rich mahogany accented the large windows that she noticed took up three fourths of the back wall. That certainly explained why it was so easy for her to climb out. The plush brown chaise was placed in the center of the room and scattered along the corners of the room were various chairs of all sizes. It was obvious that this room was meant as a relaxation space for more than one person. A pile of pillows rested next to a maroon chair near the window. The fireplace rested in front of her, and it still blazed, lighting the room warmly. There were no light fixtures in the room; the only source of light was the fireplace.
Everything screamed money, down to the blackened vase behind her. One hundred percent crystal, she knew. They wouldn’t settle for less.
“What happened when you went home?”
Charisma looked at Alexis’ stern face and found herself flushing. She felt like a child under his scrutinizing gaze. “I found my way home but then there was this huge dog. Where did it come from?”
Jameson looked at his brothers as he said, “And then what happened?”
“I ran inside the house and there was this really big guy waiting for me. He told me to go with him. He wouldn’t hurt me if I left with him.” She looked at Jameson’s black face as she continued, “And then a bear just showed up out of nowhere. How the hell did a bear get into my house?”
Jameson smiled at the confused look on her face. It was that very look that prompted him to let go of his anger. For the moment. “Euan?”
Charisma found herself pressing herself into the backrest of the chaise as the same dog that growled at her walked into the room. Its large amber eyes did nothing to calm her. “Jesus Christ it’s-” She stopped moving when the dog shifted into the form of a man. A very gorgeous, very naked man. His long blonde hair accented those piercing amber eyes of his. An oval shaped face framed a slightly crooked nose and a pearly-white toothed smile that made her jaw drop. This man was extremely pale, but that only seemed to add to his appeal. “I...”
Jameson frowned as he closed her wide open mouth. Did he have to look at his brother so... appreciatively? “Could you cover up a little?”
Euan raised a brow as he pulled a wayward cushion from the floor and placed it on his crotch. The shocked curiosity of the woman made him want to sniff her. One look at Jameson, however, told him that the urge was a very bad idea. “I saw her leave so I followed.”
Jameson nodded in thanks before he turned his attention to Charisma. He did not like that she continued to stare at his brother. “Listen, we’re here to protect you from whoever wants you.”
“They sent Sherlaine after her.”
“That’s just great,” Liam said to Euan’s announcement. Not quite a Mordecai and not quite a demon, Sherlaine was one of the more difficult adversaries to battle, primarily because no one really knew what the hell he was.
“Calm down, I got him.”
Liam scoffed at Euan’s statement. “And you know the bastard comes back.”
“She’s safe, isn’t she?”
Charisma cried out when Draco and Roman suddenly appeared in front of her. In loud booming voices, they shouted death threats a scant second before taking hold of her hands. As she panted to control the furious beat of her heart, she watched them take a step back before Roman vanished into thin air. “What-”
“Sorry to scare you like that,” Roman said as he reappeared, “But we really wanted our powers back.”
Alexis stepped forward to put an end to the rising chaos. “All right, that’s enough for tonight. This is too much for Charisma to take.” He looked at the now shaking woman and cast a warning look at Euan as he took a defensive stance. “There is a room waiting for you upstairs. Take the stairs up, veer left, and it’s the fifth door on the right. You got that?” When she only nodded, he mimicked the action. “Get some sleep.”
Even though she had to stay at the manor, she was glad for the time and space to herself. Charisma nodded once more before she walked out of the room.
“Zaide wants her.”
Jameson turned to Euan and asked, “How would you know that?”
“Sherlaine bragged about it while we fought.”
“What would he want with her ability?” Jameson ran his hand over his head as he took a deep breath. Everything just kept getting even more complicated.
Roman shook his head slowly, unsure of the next step to take. “Right now would be the perfect time for the Council to send D. and Nadia Back.”
Upstairs, Charisma tried to keep from laughing at the ridiculous wealth of the house. As she walked through the house, she glanced at the kitchen. The rich chestnut wood was accented by black marble countertops. Stainless steel appliances screamed sophistication. The floors were marble as well, and shone brightly underneath the fluorescent ceiling lights. The hallway that led to her bedroom was even more intricate. The long hall was lit to resemble candlelight and beautifully illuminated the rich crème walls that were adorned with tapestries and gorgeous oil paintings. On the marble floor - how much marble did these men need? - was a rich Asian rug that was quite obviously custom made to fit the parameters of the hall. Beautiful bronze chandeliers hung from the arched ceiling, both adding height and a sense of history to the walkway. There were no plants or suits of armor to add flair to the hallway, but there were many small tables covered with various pieces of art from all over the world.
Now in her room, she looked around in awe. Two of the walls were in actuality expansive windows that overlooked the woods the isolated the house and part of the city. Nestled against one of the windows was a large bed covered with black and grey satin sheets. Crème drapes were pulled to the side to allow moonlight to filter into the room. A dark grey carpet covered the entirety of the floor and accented a white couch that say in the corner. It wasn’t until she’d inspected closely that Charisma realized that the two walls were actually huge closets. There was an array of men’s clothing inside. She looked down at herself and pulled out an oversized black t-shirt to sleep in. She’d replace the clothing when she returned home.
Charisma hunched over at the ball of pain in her stomach at the thought of the home she no longer had. Just another loss to add to the mile long list she already had. She’d lost her parents to a car accident at the age of four. Neither her mother nor father had any surviving relatives, so Charisma had been placed in foster care. She was lucky and was placed with a wonderful family, but she was adopted by another after two years. Her new family treated her well enough, but they had the uncanny ability of blaming her for everything that went wrong - even the car accident her adopted brother caused while drunk. It didn’t matter that she was only twelve at the time.
At the first opportunity, Charisma left her home, not because of the treatment she’d received, but because of the burning desire to branch out and live life her way. The need brought her to her current career as a freelance chef. She’d sacrificed much to have the simple life she lived, and it was those sacrifices that allowed her her beautiful home.
The home that was now nothing but ashes.
Now Charisma had no choice but to live in a strange mansion with even stranger men. She had friends, but she wouldn’t be selfish enough to put this odd situation on them. There was enough danger as it was.
She forced herself to change into the t-shirt as she wondered about the powers she had. Had she inherited them from her parents or was it the result of some weird genetic mutation? Could she simply switch powers between two people who had abilities or could she do more? Was her ability one that would harm others? Could she be trusted?
Should she be trusted?
Just as she’d pulled the hem of the shirt down to rest at mid-thigh, there was a knock on the door. “Come in.”
Jameson walked into the bedroom and stopped at the sight of Charisma in nothing but the large t-shirt. Two emotions washed over him and both of them were foreign. The first was pure desire. He’d wanted and had had plenty of women in the past, but not one of them made his body shudder at just the simple sight of her. Charisma’s lithe, nubile body was made to make his mouth water. Her delicate hands looked soft and he just knew that they’d caress him in ways he could never imagine. Pert breasts were the perfect handful and they led to a waist that, while concealed by the loose fabric, was narrow and appetizing. Round hips and long, perfect legs completed her look.
Which triggered his second emotion; jealousy. Alexis had put her in their brother Slade’s room because it was the only vacant room near his. Seeing Charisma in his brother’s shirt and not his gnawed uncomfortably at his insides.
He looked at her curious face and realized that he was scowling. Forcing himself to smile, he sat down on the edge of the bed. “I’m sorry you have to deal with all of this.” She’d been blindsided by the turn of events and no doubt needed someone to talk to. Jameson was determined to be that person.