Haunted Prey Ch. 07bypurefire©
Why was her skin tingling?
Alauria groaned as her body came awake and as a reflex, she winced. Her throat was sore and every muscle in her body ached. She felt as if she'd had about ten too many drinks last night. She was terrified of what would happen if she opened her eyes. Her head was already spinning and her stomach lurched. Alauria didn't think she'd ever been so hungover. What the hell happened last night? How much did she drink, and why didn't anyone stop her?
She was going to have a blinding headache, that was certain. Alauria winced again at the thought of having to open her eyes. She wished she could cancel her lesson for the day, but it was too late; she prided herself on giving a twenty-four-hour notice unless it was an extreme emergency. Though it might have felt like one, her current condition was nowhere near an emergency. It was a simple consequence of stupidity.
With a disgusted sigh, she forced herself to sit up and threw her legs over the side of the bed. Alauria kept her eyes closed as she wasn't ready to face the day. She simply sat, waiting for the will to do anything other than stay in bed to come to her. She had six lessons today. Or was it five? No, it was definitely six; Julie called to reschedule one of her lessons. "Damn," she muttered. Christ, her throat felt as if she'd swallowed sandpaper. Alauria brought her hand to her neck and winced at the tenderness.
What the hell happened last night?
She was going to have to open her eyes if she expected to get anything done before the day was out. It took more effort than she expected to simply crack open her eyelids. But once she did, Alauria had no problem keeping them apart and wide. The first thing she noticed was the far wall that was actually nothing but a large window. Drapes had been drawn, allowing her a view of the city. Bright, fluffy clouds floated in the bright blue sky. The glint of the sun illuminated the three white walls and the unique steepled ceiling that almost made her dizzy. But the wooden ceiling fan was quite beautiful; it contrasted the darker white walls and almost made her forget where she was. But she didn't forget, and the realization that she wasn't at home had her heart pounding.
Alauria bounded up and off the bed and looked around for something, anything familiar. Nothing. She ran a nervous hand through her hair, unsure of what to do. She looked down at herself and felt her anxiety worsen upon seeing the foreign t-shirt that covered her body. "What the..." A quick inspection told her that her panties were still on and she said a quick prayer of thanks for that. There were quiet, unfamiliar sounds coming from the outer room. Alauria tiptoed toward the door, but stopped when the sudden flash of light nearly blinded her. She stumbled backward as images of large scary looking... things rifling through her apartment came to her. Fear crept up her spine as they turned to look at her. Razor sharp, menacing-looking teeth were bared in cynical smiled as they advanced on her. There wasn't time to scream as they both moved quickly and had her restrained in seconds. They threatened to rip her throat out if she made any noise and the demon that didn't have its cold and hard hands on her continued to go through her things. Alauria never had the time to wonder what they were looking for; Lindsay appeared out of nowhere.
And that's when an already unbelievable situation became surreal.
Lightning shot out of his hands! Actual lightning! And he literally electrocuted one of those large... things until it turned into a pile of dust on her living room floor. Shock and new fear kept her frozen in place. That couldn't be real. Lindsay couldn't be... one of them. He was a man; a solid, warm-skinned, confusing mess of a man. Surely she had to be seeing things.
But the cold and calculated glitter in his eyes made her think twice. He wasn't the Lindsay she knew. The man standing before her literally pulsed with what she could only describe as the need for death. Small waves of what looked like electricity radiated off of his skin and his voice was rough and menacing when she spoke. The last thing she remembered was seeing another flash of lightning, this one headed in her direction.
And then she woke up here.
Panic made her hyperventilate and it wasn't long before she began seeing stars. It felt as if her lungs were seizing; they burned and Alauria was sure she would pass out. She crouched low on the floor as her condition worsened. The stars gradually became black spots. Her chest began to ache.
Good God, she was having a heart attack!
Alauria closed her eyes as she tried to move. She had to find a phone or someone to help her. She couldn't die like this; not alone in a strange bedroom while in the middle of a heart attack. "Please," she gasped, "Please."
Lindsay rushed into the room and felt his stomach lurch at the sight of Alauria writhing in pain on the floor. He scooped her up and quickly brought her to the bed. The furious beat of her heart was felt through her skin. "Alauria, look at me." He touched a hand to her face and felt a small pulse of relief when she tried to fight him off. If she fought him, she wasn't dying. "Alauria."
She didn't wasn't his help. She wanted normalcy. Alauria shook her head and tried to push him off her. "Get away!" she managed to yell.
Years of saving humans from demon attacks trained Lindsay in the differences between heart and anxiety attacks. Alauria luckily fell into the latter category, despite the severity of her condition. If he didn't calm her down, she'd pass out from a lack of oxygen. Though he hated to do it, Lindsay placed his hands on either side of her head and let a relatively low voltage of power pass from his hands to her body. The idea was to calm her down enough to get enough oxygen into her system before they discussed the trigger for her panic attack.
He never expected her to shove him off the bed before scrambling to stand on it. From his spot on the floor, Lindsay watched Alauria's eyes dart around the room before settling on him. They stared at each other for long moments, each silent. He was sure that she'd panic again if he spoke first. So he waited.
She stared down at the being sprawled on the floor warily. He couldn't be called a human; humans couldn't shoot bolts of lightning out of their hands. Not at will, anyway. "What are you?"
"The guy you just shoved off the bed you're standing on."
"Do you really think I'm in the mood for jokes?"
Lindsay sighed before sitting up. Alauria's eyes were wide with uneasiness and even from his spot on the floor, he saw the way she trembled. She was afraid of him and the realization tore through him like a hot knife. "I was trying to calm you down."
She suddenly found herself laughing. Alauria hugged her middle as she laughed harder. It was official; she'd lost her mind. "Trying... Trying to calm me down?" She continued to laugh, and gasped for breath when her stomach muscles were too contracted to allow a proper breath. "Trying to calm me down? How in the hell am I supposed to be calm after you tried to kill me?!?"
"I did not try to kill you."
"You threw one of those lightning bolt things at me!"
Lindsay shook his head as he said, "That was intended for the Prygorian."
"The things that were in your apartment last night." Lindsay stood and felt irritation well in his chest when she pressed herself against the wall. "They're called Prygorian demons."
"Demons? Like from the pits of hell, lemmings for the devil, demons?"
"Not quite, but just as annoying to keep in line." The blank expression on her face told Lindsay that they were going nowhere fast. "I guess I should start at the beginning."
"The beginning of what?"
"What I am. I'm a half-god demon hunter."
Alauria was sure she misheard him. "Excuse me?"
"My father was part of this group of powerful beings called the High Council. They're older than time itself. Anyway, Roycelyn, my father, came up with the brilliant idea of getting women pregnant so that he could have generals for his super army. The rest of the Council found out, banished him to another dimension, and forced my brothers and I to control the demon populations here." She didn't say anything to his explanation for a long time. He was sure she would begin to panic again, which put him in an awkward position; he didn't want to have to shock her again. "Alauria?"
"So you hunt demons for a living?"
"And those two things, the Pry... Pry..."
"Prygorians," he supplied.
She nodded as she continued, "Yes, those things. They are demons."
Alauria remained quiet, unsure of what to say. She stared at Lindsay, the demon hunter, and wondered what she did in a past life to end up where she was. She was a good daughter, didn't go out and party, was diligent in her studies. She made a good life for herself. And now she had to deal with demon attacks and demon hunters. This couldn't be real. "Show me."
"What, my powers?" At her nod, he shook his head slowly. "I don' think you're-"
The sharp tone of her voice made Lindsay stop for a moment. He stared at the serious expression on her face for only a moment before holding his hand up. A small bolt of lightning formed on his palm. He allowed it to grow and shrink in size. Alauria's eyes narrowed and the action unnerved him. Lindsay closed his fist to snuff out the small bolt and waited for what she had to say.
"All of your brothers can do this?"
"No, they each have their own unique ability."
"Why can't you all do the same things?"
"Royce had to make sure his generals couldn't overthrow him. Or each other."
"Why were there demons in my apartment?" She didn't like his sudden silence at all. She repeated her question with more force and felt herself calm slightly when he actually twitched.
"I'm pretty sure their leader sent them to bring you back to their base of operation."
"To remind me of a promise I made a long time ago."
She'd heard enough. "So now I've got to probably move because you're not a man of your word?" This was ridiculous. "I didn't sign up for having my life turn upside down when I agreed to be your girlfriend."
"I'm going to take care of it, Alauria. I'll make it safe for you."
"When? After one of my students gets caught in the middle of another attack? After they manage to kidnap me?" She jumped off the bed and immediately regretted the decision when she wasn't given the pleasure of looking down at him. "If you knew there was a possibility of this happening, you should have stayed away from me until it was safe."
"Obviously not hard enough."
"I'm going to take care of it, Alauria."
"I'm going to take you somewhere safe until you aren't in danger anymore."
"You will do nothing of the sort." Alauria felt her face flush with rage but didn't care. "You are even more out of your mind than I thought if you seriously think that I'm going to put my life on hold and let you hide me somewhere because you don't understand the meaning of 'damage control.'"
"Don't Alauria me, Lindsay. You got me into this, and now you are going to fix it without disrupting my life. I have responsibilities."
"So do I." Lindsay let out a frustrated breath as he placed his hands on his head. He was beyond frustrated, mostly because of her stubborn and entirely too arousing nature. While he understood where she came from, things weren't as easy as she thought them to be. "I can't let you stay here in town. They'll just keep coming after you."
"Whose fault is that?"
"Alauria, I already know this is my fault. And I'm trying to make it right, but you have to work with me here."
While she felt sorry for giving him a hard time, she couldn't budge yet. "This coming from the man who asks me out and then stands me up." She stopped at the quick way he avoided eye contact. "They're the reason you stood me up."
"Raife, they're leader threatened to harm you if I kept seeing you. I only wanted to keep you safe."
"So why didn't you kill this Raife demon when you had a chance?"
"It isn't that simple."
"Why not?" Alauria crossed her arms over her chest as she said, "You had no problems frying the other two demons."
"Raife and I made a treaty."
"What kind of treaty?"
"It's complicated," he murmured on a sigh.
She stared at him for a minute before he said, "So let me get this straight: you're a demon hunter who refuses to kill a demon, even after said demon tried to have your girlfriend kidnapped?" When he didn't answer her, she shook her head in disgust. "It's a good thing I learned how important I am to you now before it was too late."
"What does that mean?"
"It means that you can tell your precious treaty-protected Raife that there is nothing to worry about because you and I are done."
The twist in his gut would have brought tears to his eyes if he didn't know how to control his emotions. "Alauria-"
"I'd like my clothes, please."
She stood rigid and it was obvious that he couldn't change her mind. "It's not that simple. Raife won't stop until you're dead."
"I need you somewhere no one can get to you until I take care of Raife." Her shocked silence gave him the opening he needed. "You may not want to go, but you have to. Be packed and ready to go by midnight, but it would be better if we left as soon as possible. That should be enough time for you to cancel your lessons for a couple of weeks and whatever else you need to do."
"If you really think-"
"If you don't go voluntarily, I'll just take you, Alauria. I'd rather have you alive and pissed than dead with some stupid sense of independence."
"I can't believe I ever saw anything in you."
The enormity of her words hit him like a ton of bricks. Showing her the pain she inflicted was out of the question. Lindsay turned on his heels and strode out of the room. As an after thought he said, "There are clothes for you on the counter in the bathroom. I drew you a bath too."
* * * * *
Alauria was still fuming when she walked through the hospital doors. The reason for her anger walked approximately three feet behind her. He hadn't left her side since their earlier argument, which left her no room to cool off and think. He didn't quite understand that coping with what he was and what he did for a living was more than enough to handle without the added stress of knowing that some demon was out to kill her for whatever reason. Then there was the fact that she broke up with him during their argument. Normal people needed time and space to themselves after such an event. But Lindsay wasn't normal; Alauria kept forgetting that. And she was simply supposed to take that with a grain of salt.
He'd taken her back to her apartment after their fight and stood watch as she begrudgingly packed her things. Her plan was to slip out the back and leave town on her own so that no one would find her, but Lindsay rarely left her line of vision. As the minutes ran by, her anger increased until she was red-faced from the strain of remaining calm. They never said a word to each other -- until she tried to take her car. All hell broke loose when Lindsay declared that they would take his deathtrap of a vehicle because it was faster. Alauria lashed out at him, declaring her independence and that she could take care of her herself. His only response was that she handled the two demons in her apartment quite nicely on her own. Then he used his strength to pull the hood up and pulled what she knew were important cords out of the engine. Rage made her hit him; she hadn't left a mark when she slapped him, and that enraged her even more. Alauria had to walk away; if she didn't, the already delicate situation would escalate dangerously. She simply announced that she wanted to stop by the hospital before they left.
Now, in the elevator, she crossed her arms over her chest. Looking angry wouldn't help anyone the second they stepped foot on Raedyn's floor. Alauria took calming breaths and focused on mellow things to take her mind of the man standing behind her.
Lindsay had to fight to keep from saying something to her. She had every right to be angry, but honestly, did she have to shut him out completely? He'd hoped that they would talk about what happened so that they could move on. Apparently not; when she spoke to him -- screamed at him rather -- nothing she said was particularly civilized. That, he actually saw coming. But the slap? Alauria was a multi-layered woman, yes, but that, he never saw coming. Nor did he expect her rash decision to call off their relationship. They hadn't been an item for twenty-four hours and already, she considered them done. In her defense, he didn't quiet explain his situation with Raife appropriately, which caused the confusion. So he chose to remain quiet until she was ready to speak to him. If she ever spoke to him again, anyway. It was a hard call to make at this point.
Lindsay sighed as he followed her off the elevator and down the hall. He knew that she planned to see her sister and because of that, he didn't argue. He remained quiet as they walked into the daisy-filled hospital room and felt his first smile of the day form at the way the teenager stared at him. It was obvious that Raedyn had never seen someone who looked like him. She immediately pulled a notebook off the side table and began to write. Her pen danced furiously as she wrote in the book and it wasn't until she began glancing at him that he realized that she was writing about him.
What an interesting first impression.
Alauria felt the side of her mouth quirk up in a rueful smile as she watched Raedyn. Her sister was fascinated by Lindsay and knew that if she had the energy, her sister would have gotten out of the bed to describe the back of his body. "How are you feeling?" Alauria ad her answer when her sister continued to write. "Ok, I'll wait then."
Raedyn had to be sure she got every single detail of her latest hallucination written down before she lost it. Had she the energy, she would have gotten out of bed to get a closer look at it. She thought about speaking to it, but as was the case with her other visions, it might have disappeared. "I didn't think you would come back so soon."
Alauria frowned when she noticed the overly flushed condition of her sister's skin. "Are you all right?"
"Slight fever." She looked from her vision to her paper and shook her head slowly in wonder. "I never thought my imagination was so great."
"I tend to hallucinate when feverish. Great writing material."
Alauria glanced at Lindsay and took note of his confused expression. The corner of his mouth quirked up for the briefest of moments, the only indication of his amusement. He continued to stare at the feverish teenager curiously as he remained silent. "Are you talking about Lindsay?"
Raedyn didn't look away from the large apparition as she asked, "None of my characters are named Lindsay."
Alauria felt herself smile as she glanced at her escort. He seemed genuinely enthralled by Raedyn. The amused look on his face made her release her anger at him. Lindsay looked at Raedyn like a big brother, like someone who would do anything to keep her safe. The air of protectiveness around him warmed her heart and for a minute, she cursed herself for being so forgiving. She was supposed to be enraged at him for turning her life upside down, for making her run. Her life was simple before she met him, and now she had to deal with demons and possibilities of murder. Yes, she should have hated him down to the smell of his breath.
But she couldn't find the heart to dislike a single thing about him as he moved forward to place a hand on Raedyn's shoulder. Alauria watched as he gently pulled the notebook from Raedyn's hands. "Lindsay is my friend. He wanted to meet you."