Daybreak Ch. 09bypurefire©
They spent an entire day strategizing and trying to figure out how to keep her out of harm's way. Every single plan they came up with put someone else in danger. Charisma spent hours cooking lunch and dinner for everyone while they grouped around the island in the kitchen coming up with ways to defeat Zaide. There was talk of finding a polymorph to pretend to be her but she protested on behalf of the person they put in danger. Draco suggested Euan following Forkai around to find their reporting location, but Alexis vehemently refused, stating that not only was Euan placed in danger, but if the corrupted Forkai were sent to capture someone else, then that person would be placed in danger as well. As a way to keep everyone safe, Charisma volunteered herself to be made bait, but that only caused an uproar between the brothers. Finally, she pulled herself out of the conversation and focused on the meals she prepared.
Liam didn't make matters any better. He continually picked fights with everyone in the room, convinced that they were screwed no matter what they did. Yes, he sure was the optimistic one of the bunch, especially when he placed the blame of their situation solely on Andrae for taking on the responsibility of murdering Nadia those many months ago. That accusation alone had the twins, Jameson and Slade holding the half demon back while Alexis forced the redhead out of the room.
"This is absolutely hopeless," Charisma mumbled.
"You have to have a little faith."
Charisma sighed in defeat as she looked at Nadia. "How am I supposed to have faith when all of this is happening because of me?"
"No, all of this is happening because of some sick bloodsucking demon out for power. You, just like all the rest of us, happen to be a pawn in his twisted game."
Charisma didn't exactly know how or, but hearing those words from the Daemis made her feel better. "What are we going to do?"
"We'll figure it out." Nadia looked over and noticed Euan standing toward the garage exit. He looked uncomfortable and eager to talk to her about something private. That could only mean that his animal senses were on full alert. "Why don't you go lie down for a while?"
"I can't, dinner-"
"I can tell that the only thing left to do is to let the soup you made for Euan simmer a while longer. I think I can handle that."
If it had been any other time, Charisma would have vehemently refused to leave her creation in the hands of anyone other than Maria. But the day had worn her out and she was desperate for some time to think on her own. Jameson was busy trying to calm his brother, which only meant that she would have more than enough time to sort her thoughts and see if she could come up with a plan of her own. "Just give it a stir every five minutes for the next twenty and then turn the stove off."
Nadia nodded in understanding and waited until she was sure Charisma was out of earshot before she turned to Euan. "You can feel it too, can't you?"
"How long have you known?"
"I only thought it was a possibility, but seeing the way you are acting confirmed my suspicions that it's a reality." She sighed dejectedly as she walked to the stove to mix the soup. "No matter what happens, I need you to-" Nadia stopped cold when she realized that she was the only one left in the kitchen. "That's just nice. Leave me here all by myself to-" The loud crash had her jumping back in surprise and fear. That wasn't Andrae or Liam; though both men were angry enough to tear down a house, they would never destroy the manor, especially not when they were being watched by their brothers. No, the noise she heard had nothing to with her loved ones.
Something was wrong.
Andrae always told her that if anything ever happened, she was to run. She wasn't to worry about any of them as they had the power to defend themselves, and she was to find the safest place she could think of to hide until he found her. While it was a smart idea to get into one of the many cars in the garage and high-tail it to one of the other safe-houses, Nadia couldn't leave Charisma behind to fend for herself. She was just as responsible for the new charge as the men were. Yes, she would get Charisma and together they would run and hide.
Nadia felt her stomach drop to the floor at the sight of the three Forkai sauntering into the room. They each stared at her with evil smiles on their faces and she knew that they had every intention of making her their next meal. Determination coursed though her veins; if they wanted her blood, they would have to give up some of their own first. She grabbed the nearby knife and held it in front of her, ready to do serious damage to the first one to attack her. They each took a step forward at the same time and in response, she took a step back. Her heart beat a thousand miles a minute, but adrenaline gave her the bravery she needed to continue on. With one glance at the stove, she shifted the knife to her left hand and waited.
She didn't have to wait very long. The largest of the Forkai, a beefy brunette who looked like he injected his weight in steroids, rushed toward her and she waited until the last possible moment before she reacted. Nadia grabbed the small pot of soup and hurled the contents at the demon. His agonized cry gave her a surge of power; she hurled the empty pot toward one of the other two demons a scant second before she plunged the knife into the neck of the soup-covered leader. As she tried to move back, Nadia found herself being thrown toward the other end of the kitchen after the third and smallest Forkai grabbed the knife. In the distance, she heard more of the demons entering the house and knew that until the brothers arrived to help, she was the only person to keep the blood-sucking monsters away from Charisma. She gained her feet and looked for both another weapon, and a way out of the kitchen.
The latter seemed to be easier to achieve; just as the men advanced to kill her, one crumpled to the ground. When the other turned to see Charisma standing with one of the small statuettes that adorned the upstairs hall, Nadia took advantage of the opportunity and tackled the demon to the ground. Both she and Charisma jumped on him and took turns beating him. Within seconds, they were both roughly pulled off the Forkai. Nadia fought like a wild cat, determined to keep from being killed.
"God damn it, Nadia stop fucking fighting me!"
Nadia immediately calmed at the sound of Liam's voice. In her relief, she launched herself into the hot head's arms. "Thank God you guys showed up." She wasn't given an opportunity to get yelled at for invading his personal space as she, as well as Charisma was shoved behind his and Alexis' backs. Neither one of them could see over the men's shoulders, but they knew the sounds of more intruders being fought off when they heard it. "Stay close to me."
Charisma only nodded as she tried desperately to peer over Alexis' shoulder to see if Jameson was all right. It was a near impossible task, especially considering she was continually shoved back whenever she had an opportunity to look at what was happening. The only fact she was able to understand was that there were way too many demons entering the house and not enough brothers around to fight them. How were they going to get to safety?
She became comforted when Nadia took hold of her hand. A second later, Andrae burst into the room with such a bloodthirsty look in his eyes that she gasped in terror. Where was Jameson? Charisma wasn't given a chance to ask; the half demon pushed his way through the throng of Forkai and promptly teleported the women to another location.
"What the hell were you two thinking?" Andraemalek focused his anger on Nadia who only seemed mildly irritated that he raised his voice to them. "I told you what to do if anything ever happened."
"I couldn't leave Charisma to fend for herself."
"I would have gotten her out of the house, Nadia."
"Yeah, worrying about where the hell I was the whole time. I saved you a lot of trouble so stop yelling at me."
Charisma watched with wide eyes as the couple stared each other down. It was obvious that Andraemalek tried to use his size to intimidate Nadia, but it was apparent that she had a few intimidation tactics of her own. Her eyes had darkened to a slate grey and her hands were fisted at her sides. Neither one of them was ready to back down. "Uh, guys, what the hell is going on?"
"The manor is under attack."
"So why are Nadia and I the only ones here?"
Andraemalek turned to the worried human and took a breath to calm himself. "Jameson asked me to get you to safety when the Forkai breached the cloak."
"Is he all right? I didn't-"
"I have to go back to get the others."
Charisma only watched with wide eyes as the half-demon shimmered out of the room. She couldn't believe this was happening. Just ten minutes before, she was in her room preparing to relax. Now she was in what looked to be some sort of panic room while she and Nadia waited for the men to return. "I don't understand what is happening."
"Somehow they got through the cloak that is on the manor." Nadia moved to sit on the small twin bed in the corner and sighed. "This wasn't supposed to happen this way."
"What do you mean by that?"
"It's just..." Nadia shook her head to clear her thoughts. "There is a cloak on the manor for a reason. How did they even get around it?"
"We'll worry about that later." Charisma took a seat next to her friend, but refrained from touching her. They were both running on fear and adrenaline, which meant that anything could have happened when it came to their powers. "Right now we have to figure out what comes next."
"I already know what comes next. We sit and wait for them to come back."
Charisma nodded somberly. There really was nothing else they could do. They were locked in a small room with very dim lighting and it was clear that only the barest of essentials were left; the only other piece of furniture in the room was a couch that lined the opposite side of the room. Between that and the bed, rested two refrigerators, no doubt filled with enough food to last several weeks. Shelves of canned food flanked the steel door that had no knob; there was only a keypad. Wonderful; the only people who knew how to get in or out of the room were currently fighting and risking death. "At least I'm not alone," she whispered.
"No, you aren't." Nadia placed a hand on Charisma's back in an effort to comfort her. "Everything will work out the way it's supposed to."
"I hope so."
Nothing more was said for what had to be an eternity. Neither one of the women carried watches, and there was no clock in the room. They weren't sure how long they were locked in the small room but they both were completely focused on their prayers' for the safety of the men who fought to protect them. Charisma fought hard to remain hopeful that everything would be fine. Any minute now, the door would open and the men would walk in to tell them that they'd killed every single one of those bastard demons. Jameson would present himself to her simply to lighten the mood about what happened and she'd sit back and sigh in relief at seeing that not one of them were harmed. Nadia would continue her fight with Andraemalek while Liam grumbled about the first thing he thought to complain about. Yes, this would all happen any minute.
Any minute now.
"Charisma, wake up."
Charisma was quick to sit up. She cursed herself for falling asleep and would have looked at the time if there was a clock available. "What, I-"
"I hear something."
Charisma remained quiet and listened. There was a soft shuffling sound coming from the other sound of the door. Had the men returned or had they been found once more? She had to force herself to remain calm and looked around for any possible weapons they could use. There were none, which meant that she and Nadia would have to think quickly to get out alive once those doors opened. "What are you doing?" she whispered when Nadia crept toward the door.
"Trying to see if I can figure out how many are out there?"
"How many what?"
Charisma nodded slowly and went to stand by Nadia's side. They would face whatever came through that door together. Her palms were sweating, she realized, and it was then that she came to the startling conclusion that she wasn't afraid.
She was mad as hell.
How dare those demons attack the manor? How dare they attack Nadia and the brothers? And most importantly, if there were demons outside the door, how dare they come after them again?
The rhythmic, semi-high-pitched tones of buttons being pushed made her think that the intruders realized that there were no door handles, which meant that they had to crack the code to get in. At first, Charisma believed that Jameson and his brothers returned, but at the third buzz signaling an invalid code, she knew better. "We need-"
"Something heavy?" Nadia finished as she placed an armful of canned foods on the ground in front of them. With such limited time, they had to use whatever they could as weapons. "Help me get the rest." Within seconds, the women had a small mountain of cans in front of them. "The second that door opens, start throwing."
They stood quietly, each with cans at the ready. They lost track of the number of buzzes they heard, so focused they were on the door opening. They were tired, they were worried about the brothers, and they were ready to do what was necessary to stay alive. Though only a few minutes had passed, it felt as if they waited an eternity for something to happen. And when it did, they stop thinking altogether.
The tell-tale extended beep of a correctly entered code pierced their ears a second before the door slid open. At once, Nadia and Charisma launched cans at the doorway, ignoring the angered sounds of the being on the delivering end of their arsenal. With every grunt and curse, they threw harder; adrenaline and the fierce will to live pushed them to keep going, to keep fighting. If they had to die, they would do it like warriors.
When their cans began to bounce off an invisible wall, they stopped throwing. A second later, both Nadia and Charisma took a surprised step back when Liam slowly walked into the room, the brothers trailing behind him. There were two large lumps on the redhead's forehead, and a serious bruise was forming near his left temple. His face was dangerously red and his hands were fisted at his sides. He stared them down predatorily, as if trying to decide which one to kill first. The longer he looked at them, the more his eyes narrowed and when he spied the cans in their hands, his breathing became hard and shallow; dangerous.
"Ooooo..." Draco said as he assessed the situation.
"Did he just say 'you' or 'oo?'" Charisma whispered to Nadia.
"I think it was the latter," the Daemis replied, "We are in pretty big trouble."
"Put. The cans... Down," Liam whispered. His voice was hoarse with the effort to keep from shouting. They seriously threw cans of food at him. They actually threw...
"Liam, why don't you go downstairs for a while," Alexis suggested. He knew that it was only a matter of minutes before his brother's temper exploded, and they had too much to deal with as it was. As soon as the redhead left the room, he turned to the women. "He'll be fine."
"We didn't know it was you guys," Charisma defended, "the wrong code kept getting punched in."
"None of us knew that Liam changed it a few months ago."
Which explained why there were so many errors and why the hot head was on the receiving end of their attack, Charisma mused. She jumped when Andrae shimmered into the room to stand next to Nadia. The half demon looked like he'd been through hell. "Where's Jameson?" With the exception of Euan, who probably went off on one of his solo missions, he was the only one unaccounted for. No one answered her question and she asked again, hoping someone would give her some kind of information.
"He let them take him," Roman answered.
"What do you mean he let them take him?" Charisma shook her head in disbelief. Surely, he was joking.
"They kept coming in faster than we could kill them. He told us to get out while he held them off."
Charisma shook her head again at Alexis' explanation. Jameson's actions made sense, yes, but she couldn't find the compassion to understand them. He was supposed to come back to her. "No."
"No!" She took a step away from Nadia. She didn't want to be comforted right now. She wanted Jameson. "How could you let him do that?"
"We're going to get him back," Andraemalek said. She did not know it yet, but they'd already devised a plan.
Terror and worry kept Charisma from listening to reason. "They're going to kill him!" She'd never be able to live with herself if anything happened to him. They'd only just found it within themselves to be together. He couldn't be gone.
"No they won't," Nadia said. She stepped forward and placed a hand on Charisma's shoulder as a sign of comfort. "Everything is as it should be."
Charisma should have been comforted by that, considering Nadia's eyes were glowing as she spoke. But she wasn't. "If everything was as it should be, then he would be here with us right now."
"Don't you get it?" Roman asked, "He sacrificed himself not only for us, but to make sure that there were enough of us around who were able to protect you, Charisma."
The validity of his statement did nothing to calm her. Instead, she sat down on the bed and said a small prayer for the man who'd come to mean everything to her. Charisma did not even look up when Euan walked into the room, but she did listen to what he had to say.
"I followed them to the old brick church on Page."
"That's only three blocks away," Slade said, "We would have known if-"
"They have some kind of cloak of their own. One that keeps others from sensing the power inside."
Alexis nodded in thought before he said, "Slade, D., go back to the manor and grab as much gear as you can. We're getting Jameson out tonight." After the two men shimmered out of the room, he turned to the twins and said, "You two make sure Liam's calm."
"He fights better the angrier he is," Draco argued.
"Then you can piss him off when we get to the church. Just go check on him."
"Do we have to stay in the panic room?" Nadia asked.
"No, that was just a precaution. You two are more than welcome to become familiar with this safe house. We'll be staying here until the manor is safe." He stopped when a look of terror came across Nadia's face. Her eyes weren't glowing, which meant that she wasn't seeing anything horrible. "What is it?"
"It was me. The night I asked you to..." Nadia placed a hand over her mouth in horror as realization sunk in. "I was the one who deactivated the cloak."
Alexis thought back to the shock that knocked everyone off their feet. What she said made sense; if she had the power to momentarily stun everyone in the manor, then it was possible that she was able to take down a simple cloak. "You didn't know. None of us did."
"But it's still my fault."
Charisma placed her arm around Nadia's shoulder when Alexis gave her a look asking for help. "You shouldn't blame yourself. It was an accident."
"That nearly got us all killed!"
Charisma understood her friend's anxiety; when she'd accidentally switched the brothers' powers, she risked putting them in massive amounts of danger. "But we're fine, right? Jameson is too."
"What did you do to her?"
"It's my fault," Nadia cried as she launched herself into Andraemalek's arms. She ignored the fact that he had to hurriedly drop the weapons in his hands to keep from killing her and held onto him for dear life as she explained the situation.