Haunted Prey Ch. 09bypurefire©
"Unless they cut your head off," Alauria reasoned.
Charisma thought the words over for a moment before she smiled. "Brilliant!"
"You're actually considering offing yourself after he dies?"
"Yes. The guys will live a really long time; at least a couple more millennia. The world will be too different from what it is now when he goes. I don't want to experience that on my own."
At least one of them had the privilege of saying something like that. She was probably destined to spend the rest of her life pining over men she had no business being with. "When you put it like that, I guess it makes sense."
Charisma decided to wait until Alauria finished the song before she spoke again. It wasn't that she had nothing left to say; it was that she sensed the newcomer's need for a few moments of silence. She completely understood; being thrust into the fast paced life of The Brethren could be a lot to take in. As it was, she was still trying to adjust. Alauria had a long way to go. "You're very easy to talk to."
"I didn't say much."
"No, but that doesn't change my opinion." Charisma smiled at Alauria's confused look and decided that the library was a good place to be for the moment. "I'll let you get back to playing."
"You don't have to go."
"Actually, I need to; Jameson tends to freak out if he can't find me in ten seconds." With a small wave, Charisma made her exit and made sure to remember to talk to Jameson about the possible addition to the family. It was obvious that Alauria wanted more than Lindsay's affections; she needed acceptance from everyone else.
* * * * *
It was another hour before Alauria decided to try to find the kitchen. Being alone in the music room seemed to calm her nerves and give her new perspective; Lindsay was a complete ass when it came to expressing emotion, but the fact that he even tried in the first place should have been enough to get her to cut him some slack. That didn't mean that she wouldn't call him out when he upset her; no, he would know when she was ready to do battle. He'd left her with no other option; she had to fight for what she wanted, and a relationship with Lindsay was what she desired most.
Alauria figured that the smartest place to start was with his brothers; they would be able to tell her countless things about Lindsay, not only giving her an opportunity to get to know the man she wanted, but also a glimpse into the emotional man he was. She would also have an opportunity to learn about the brothers; she had to if she expected to work things out with Lindsay.
Backtracking was easy and as she found herself in the familiar hall that led to Lindsay's room and was quickly able to find the correct route to the kitchen. In just enough time too; her stomach had begun a slow and steady rumble, a clear sign that hunger would dominate her in a short period of time. Alauria walked down the arched staircase and mentally prepared herself for what was to come. She wasn't sure if Liam was there; while he didn't scare her, he made her nervous. Being on the receiving end of his attitude did not seem like an exciting way to pass the time. She hoped that either Alexis or Jameson was present if Liam was; they knew how to balance things out to make her less antsy. Jameson, especially; like Charisma, he was friendly and seemed eager to become friends.
A steadying breath and prayer for luck accompanied Alauria into the kitchen and she was pleasantly surprised to see all of them men in the room. Neither Lindsay or Liam acknowledged her entrance and while she didn't expect anything more from Liam, she was annoyed at Lindsay's behavior. The possibility of his still being upset about their earlier conversation didn't soothe her much; she would have at least glanced at him had the roles been reversed. Alexis nodded his greeting to her while Jameson offered a warm smile. She found it kind of weird that no one spoke, but she wasn't going to be the one to break the odd silence. Alauria walked over to the vacant chair at the island and quietly settled herself, making sure to avoid eye contact with Liam. She suddenly felt awkward; it wasn't everyday she was in the presence of half god demon hunters sexy enough to set her retinas on fire. There was also the fact that she had no idea what to say to keep Liam from snapping at her. Focusing her attention on the magnets on the refrigerator, she thought it best to wait until they left before getting herself something to eat.
She felt their eyes on her, willing her to do something. Her spine straightened in response; she was not a side show character to be laughed and pointed at. She was a woman with pride, and she would sit there, silent as she waited for them to leave.
Alauria only had a moment to lean back before the enormous muffin was thrust where her face once was. She stared at the blueberries threatening to burst out of the muffin before looking at the pale hand that held it. She followed the path from hand to arm, and found herself blushing at the expectant look Liam gave her. A quick glance to the left displayed an entire tray of muffins on the island counter. Alauria accepted the gruff offering with murmured thanks and held the muffin in her hands nervously.
"Aren't you going to eat it?"
She glanced around the room and felt her blush intensify when she noticed that every single one of the men stared at her expectantly. "I can't."
"Why the hell not?" Liam asked.
"Cut it out, Liam," Alexis admonished. It was obvious that she was nervous, and he was sure it was because she was seated next to the hot tempered troublemaker.
"Don't let Liam scare you," Jameson soothed. He would have placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, but stopped at the dangerous glare Lindsay gave him. "He's in a docile mood right now."
Alauria almost laughed out loud. If this was his docile mood, she'd hate to see him enraged. "It's not that."
Lindsay, who expected her to go on with her explanation, let out a frustrated sigh when she said nothing else. "What is it then?"
She took the time to fix him with a hard glare before she said, "It's very uncomfortable eating in front of four people who rarely eat." Not only did she feel on display, but knowing that sinfully gorgeous men watched her stuff her face with a fattening muffin lessened her self confidence. She couldn't afford that now.
Everyone's attention turned when a large dog walked into the room. Alauria was amazed by the size of it; though the canine looked like a Golden Retriever/Alaskan Wolf mix, it looked larger than a Great Dane and had the build of a St. Bernard. Its fur was a beautiful golden color that was not a characteristic of any dog she'd ever heard of. Large, beautiful amber eyes stared at her curiously. She couldn't look away and while part of her should have run to hide behind one of the men because the animal looked terrifying, Alauria could only seem to stare at the animal. She wasn't afraid when it approached and carefully sniffed her, but she did become confused when it looked over at Lindsay for a moment. Instinct made her reach out to pet the animal, and she smiled when the large dog leaned into her side.
"That's enough, Euan," Lindsay grumbled.
"I've never heard of anyone giving a dog that name."
"You don't like it?" Jameson asked.
"Eaun's a beautiful name," she said as she watched the dog head-butt Lindsay's thigh, "Just never heard of a dog having that name before."
"What makes you think he's just a dog?" Alexis asked.
She looked at everyone in the room before glancing at the dog again. It looked at her curiously, and she could have sworn that it gave her a look daring her to disagree, almost as if it wanted to prove her wrong. "At this point, I'd be shocked if that was all he was."
"I need you to find Maels for me," Lindsay said to the dog, "Tell him I need him to protect precious cargo for me."
"We should start getting our supplies ready," Alexis said. He turned to walk out of the room and only fixed Lindsay with a deep stare as he passed him.
Alauria took a grateful bite out of her muffin the second Alexis, Jameson, Liam and the dog left the kitchen. She was aware that Lindsay remained rooted where he was. Waiting for him to speak first seemed like a better idea than saying something that might spark another argument.
"We're leaving tonight to take care of Raife," Lindsay said as he walked around the island to face her. The look of shock on her face pained him; she actually thought that he'd back out on his word.
"You're taking me with you?"
"So why did you say we?"
"Is that why you look so shocked?" Her nod made him groan inwardly. He'd never be able to read the woman accurately. "I meant we as in my brothers and myself. I'm taking you as far from the fight as possible."
That, she could get on board with. "So I'm not staying here?" When he shook his head, she asked, "Where are you taking me then?"
"I'm not taking you anywhere."
"That doesn't make any sense, Lindsay."
"Yes, it does, Alauria. You just don't want to think about the alternative."
She took a moment to think about what he said. As she calmly put her muffin down, she took a breath. "You're sending me away."
"I need to make sure you're somewhere safe."
"I understand that. But you can't find the common decency to take me there yourself?"
"I mean, you're the one who forced me to leave my life behind in the first place. The least you could do is take me to some strange place yourself."
"There are demons posted along the grounds. My brothers and I will get rid of them while you leave."
Logic told her that the plan made sense. But the part of her that was terrified and needed him to hold her hand refused to listen to logic. "Why can't your brothers get rid of them while you take me?"
"As long as the Prygorians see me, they won't concern themselves with following you. They think that I'll keep you close."
"Bull." Panic steadily rose within her, and she hadn't the faintest idea why. The panic triggered her anger, and soon, the two emotions fed off each other until she was shaking with rage. "Just admit it, Lindsay; you're doing the guy thing."
"What guy thing?"
"Being an asshole and pushing me away until I break up with you."
What the hell was going on? Everything was fine a moment ago. "You broke up with me two days ago."
Again, logic was not the winning factor in her emotional war. "You know what, Lindsay, do whatever the hell you want. It's not like I can stop you anyway."
What the hell was wrong with her all of a sudden? "Why are you acting like this?"
"Because I'm sick of you and your shit." Alauria launched herself off the chair and began to pace the length of the kitchen in annoyance. "One minute you want me, the next, you ignore me. Then you choose some stupid demon over me."
"I did not." His patience was running thin; there was only so much of her erratic temper he could take before he started shouting back.
"Liar!" She walked to stand directly in front of him and gave him one the meanest looks she could come up with. His wince told her that she'd succeeded. "Every day you chose to keep that thing alive you chose it over me. We wouldn't be here if that wasn't true."
So they were back to this again. "How many times do I have to tell you that you mean everything to me, Alauria? In how many different ways? How can I get you to understand that I am doing everything in my power to make you happy? That I would lay down my life right now if it meant you never had to go through this?"
And just like that, she was terrified. The desperation behind his words, the sincerity of his feelings... it was all like a hot knife slicing through her heart. She wanted to believe him, wanted to let the fight end with those words, but something told her that his words were only words, that one day, he would tire of her and he would leave, juts like her father did. She wouldn't be able to survive if he left her and started a family with someone else.
Suddenly, the air was too stifling in the room. Alauria needed to breathe, to get away from him before she made an even bigger fool out of herself. She wordlessly walked away, intent on packing her minimal belongings before she was carted off like unwanted furniture.
Lindsay stared at her back in complete shock. She was actually walking away from him. "Wait a minute." She kept walking. "Wait." The fact that she refused to listen to him sent Lindsay into such a rage, he slammed his hand down on the counter, cracking the marble. "God damn it, Rachel, don't walk away from me!"
The name had them both freezing in place. Alauria slowly turned and looked at his shamed face curiously. "Who is Rachel, Lindsay?" He said nothing, which she expected. She walked to stand in front of him once more, determined to get an answer. "This is the second time you've called me that name. Who is she?"
He took a deep breath. She didn't want to know about Rachel, wasn't ready for the weight of what he knew, what he'd lived. "Alauria, not today."
"Tell me who she is, Lindsay."
There was anger in her eyes, yes, but there was also confusion and pain. He might have been looking too much into it, because he could have sworn that he also saw compassion. "Alauria-"
The look of pleading in her eyes did him in. Another sigh had him leaning against the island for support. "Rachel was the woman I loved."
That didn't surprise her. Only someone who had a strong emotional hold on him would have him calling her by another name. "Go on."
He couldn't make eye contact as he retold the story. "I met her when I was twenty-five and I thought that she was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen." Which was true at the time. But after Alauria, Lindsay was able to understand what true beauty meant. "We were together the better part of a century."
Which meant that she was 'special' too. Wonderful; not only was Alauria competing with a memory and a demon, but she was competing with a supernatural memory and a demon. She crossed her arms over her chest and let out a slow breath for patience. "So she had powers."
"Yes, she had the ability to mimic powers used around her." There was a small pause in the conversation as he tried to pick how to give her the information she asked for. "With the exception of you, I'd always been attracted to dangerous women. Rough, crass, not afraid to start and finish a fight... She hated the fact that my brothers and I lived by specific rules, and that those rules kept me from acting on my dangerous impulses. She wanted me to be as carefree as she was. I think she was the woman people had in mind when they coined the term 'bad girl.'"
"But you loved her."
"Desperately." Another pause in the conversation had him shuffling his feet nervously. Hearing the story had to hurt; he knew for a fact that he'd be incensed with jealousy had the roles been reversed. "Around her two-hundredth birthday, she started acting strange; saying and doing things completely out of character and she'd developed a habit of disappearing for days. At first I thought nothing of it because lets face it; she was the type of woman who did what she wanted and to hell with what you thought.
"But I couldn't deal with the jealousy that came with her new antics and we fought all the time, to the point where we used our abilities on each other. I knew something was very wrong the night she tried to kill me while I slept."
"I knocked the knife out of her hand in time and she dematerialized in front of me." Lindsay glanced at Alauria; there was confusion in her eyes, but there was something else there as well, something that urged him to keep going. "Dematerializing - shimmering is the human term for it - is something only demons do." Her wide-eyed look made him nod slowly. "Yeah... That's when it suddenly made sense to me; the erratic behavior, disappearing... She was coming into her demonic power."
"Demons aren't born with their powers?"
"Not half-breeds. Rachel was half human."
"I'm sure you can guess what my brothers suggested."
"They wanted you to kill her."
On a nod, Lindsay said, "Alexis was adamant about getting rid of her because she knew too much about The Brethren; our weaknesses and how we worked. It was too dangerous to keep her alive."
"You killed her?" Alauria knew that blood was thicker than water, but she found it hard to believe that he would kill someone he'd loved for one hundred years so easily.
"I let her go. Told her to hide until it was safe for me to find her." He stopped yet again and took a breath to calm himself. "A few days later, my mother went missing."
She was quick to make a connection. "No."
He nodded as he said, "There is a specific ceremony to initiate a half-breed. The presentation of the ceremony changes depending on the demon, but with Rachel's demonic half, it's always the same."
"She had to kill someone."
"Not just someone. The human they're closest to. Rachel's mother died during birth and my mother, who'd managed to live a very long life for a human thanks to Liam, was quick to take on the task of being a mother to her. Needless to say they became very close after a hundred years."
"I don't get it; how could your mother live so long if she was just a human?"
"There is something about Liam's healing abilities that tends to add years to a human's life. He'd healed her a few times in the years she lived."
There was something in the way he said those words that had her putting the pieces together. "She killed your mother, didn't she?" Lindsay only nodded again and she felt her heart break for him. No wonder he was such an emotional wreck. "She killed your mother to join the clan?"
"No. As a half-breed, it was her genetic right to join the clan. Human blood is needed to become a Prygorian."
The statement had Alauria taking two surprised steps back. "Pry... A Pry... She's a Prygorian?"
"It was too late for me to save my mother; I didn't make it there in time. By the time the shock of her death wore off, it was too late to save Rachel too."
"Rachel is a Prygorian?"
"I don't call her Rachel anymore. Rachel died the night my mother did." Lindsay focused his attention on her flushed face. Alauria was beyond surprised by the news, and he knew that she was fighting to deny what he did not outright tell her.
"No," she said with a shake of her head. She couldn't believe it. She wouldn't believe it. "No."
"Yes, Alauria. Now you know why I made the treaty." The tears that streamed down her defiant face tore through him. He didn't know how to fix it. "Now you know why I couldn't kill Raife when I had the chance." Her face flushed to a dangerous shade of red as she tried to come to terms with what he'd told her. "Rachel is Raife."
I hope you guys had a wonderful holiday. As always, please comment!