Gia screamed the word out, twisting wildly as her arms lashed out, trying to fend off the shadowy figures turning towards her. Terror invaded her soul, the sound of screaming and the stench of burning flesh overwhelming her. She was rooted to the spot, unable to move, while inside she screamed silent wails of abject fear, her skin beginning to blister from the raging inferno.
“NO!” she screamed again, sitting bolt upright in bed, her breaths coming out in harsh pants. Her surroundings began to register, pale blue eyes flickering wildly as she sought him out, the monster who was less of a shadow than the others, the one with the dark brown eyes that had glowed black among the flames.
She’d had the nightmare again only this time it had felt more real, as if she was really there in the jungle. This time she could almost taste the acrid smoke accompanying the flames, could almost feel the blisters on her skin.
As she became fully aware of her surroundings, Gia shivered, wrapping her arms around her sweat-drenched body. Her nightdress was soaked, her sheets a tangled mess around her legs as the first pale rays of sunlight crept through a crack in the curtains.
“Georgia, are you okay?”
The concerned note in Austin’s voice brought her to her senses and she rose from her bed, quickly pulling on a robe before he could let himself into her room. She wouldn’t have put it past him to decide she needed rescuing. Her roommate was a good friend but too nosey at the best of times.
Brushing back her damp hair, she hurried over to the door and cracked it open a half inch. “I’m fine. It was just had a nightmare. I’m okay now.”
Narrowed hazel eyes blazed with disbelief, the last of the sleep starting to dissolve from his handsome expression. Austin ran a hand through his already tousled blond hair before wagging a finger at her. “I don’t believe you.”
“Really, Austin, I’m fine.” Weary impatience laced her tone that she couldn’t quite mask. She knew he meant well but at the moment, all she wanted to do was get under the shower and wash the last of the dream from her skin. “If you’re up then put some coffee on. I’ll be out after I’ve had a shower.” Gia didn’t wait for his answer, she closed the door in his face.
He muttered something through the door but she was already heading over to the bed to pick up the discarded blanket from the floor and drop it onto the sheets. If she was lucky, he’d take the hint and not give her a hard time when she finally came out of her room. Usually they got on well but sometimes Austin’s well-meaning behaviour bordered on being intrusive. She knew it was just because he cared about her but that didn’t make it any easier to deal with at times.
Gia turned the shower on in her adjoining bathroom and stripped off her nightdress. Standing under the hot spray she tried not to flinch at the heat and the way it brought back images from her nightmare. She’d been having the same dream most of her life, sometimes being granted a reprieve for a while but it always returned, usually when she was feeling stressed about something. It had never been this real though and that was what made it more frightening. This time it had felt like she had been re-living a memory as opposed to having a dream but she had no recollection of ever having been out of the country, and most certainly never to Africa.
Washing quickly, she towelled herself dry, moving back into the bedroom to get some clothes out of the bureau. Her gaze strayed to the tangled mess that was her bed as she hopped into a pair of blue jeans and pulled on a dark blue tank top. As if she didn’t have enough to do without having another pile of laundry.
Sighing, Gia stripped the bed and liberated fresh sheets from the blanket box at the foot of her bed. She quickly made it up and gathered the soiled sheets to drop in the laundry basket in the bathroom. She would do it later when Austin was out. Perhaps that would allay some of his curiosity.
Surveying her room, she managed a half smile. Her eyes flickered over the freshly made bed, the blanket a deep aubergine that helped minimise the starkness of the pale cream walls and carpet. It was the only real splash of colour in the room; even her wardrobe and bureau were white washed wood with a slightly distressed look. She really did need to add some more colours. Her bedroom almost resembled a prison cell it was so stark.
There was no evidence remaining of the nightmare and that would have to do for now. Perhaps after her appointment this morning she would go down to the flea market and pick up some colourful cushions for her armchair and maybe get some cheap prints for the wall, make the place feel a bit more homely.
Her lack of material possessions harped back to her days in the orphanage. Kurt, her psychologist, had helped her come to realise that during one of their sessions. She had always thought it was because she was careful with her money but once he’d opened the door to it, she’d had to concede his point. She was used to owning nothing therefore being acquisitive just wasn’t in her nature.
She had come to realise her need to move around a lot also stemmed from her past. How many foster families had she lived with over the years while waiting for that miracle day when a couple would look at her and choose her to be their daughter? To a young child it had felt as if she was shuffled from family to family every year though she knew she had stayed with the Marshalls for almost two.
That had given her hope that she would finally be adopted but that hope was cruelly crushed when their oldest son began paying too much attention to her. Before her teenage self had even begun to realise what was happening, she’d been shipped back once more to the orphanage, never to be fostered again. It had been her home until she’d reached eighteen and had been cast out into the world to fend for herself.
Kurt said that was why she constantly moved home too, sometimes moving twice in a single year. All Gia knew was that after an indistinguishable period of time, the need to move on became an almost tangible thing until she found herself scouring the roommate-wanted ads in the local paper. Conversely enough, she never travelled far from the orphanage, always managing to find an apartment within a four square mile radius of the building. It was the only real home that she could remember in any detail.
Gia gave herself a mental shake and turned to open her bedroom door. If she loitered any longer Austin would come back and try to invade her space and that was something she just couldn’t allow. It appeared her entire adult life would forever be dominated by her formative years and that was why her private space was so sacrosanct.
In the entire time she’d lived with Austin, he had never once been inside her bedroom. That was almost two years now and her steps faltered as the thought crossed her mind. Had it really been two years that she’d lived here? She couldn’t remember a time she’d stayed in one place for so long. She wasn’t even starting to feel the familiar itch to move on either.
That realisation was so staggering that the remains of the nightmare washed away to be replaced by a completely different concern. Had she finally found some place that felt more like home than anywhere else? And, if so, how long would this new found homey feeling last for? Her brow was still furrowed in deep thought as she walked down the cramped corridor and into the bijou kitchen-living room area of the apartment.
“Now that expression does not fill me with confidence in the least,” Austin said from his favourite spot at the window seat, his feet resting on the wide window ledge with his mug of coffee resting on him knees.
Gia curled up in the worn out upholstered chair angled to face the window, reaching for the coffee mug sitting on the ledge. It was their customary morning ritual, and she sipped at the scalding hot coffee that told her he’d waited until he’d heard the shower turn off before he’d brewed it.
“Austin, I told you I’m fine,” she sighed, more in pleasure as the strong flavour of coffee washed away any lingering aftertaste from her dream. “It was just a dream.”
Blond eyebrows rose dramatically. “Girlfriend, that was more than just a dream. You were screaming as if all the shades of hell were after you. I’m surprised old Mrs Johnston wasn’t pounding on the door to see if I was murdering you.”
His deliberately overly dramatic tone and mention of their nosey neighbour who was convinced his being gay meant he was some kind of weird axe murder had her smiling despite herself. This was only the second time she’d had the nightmare since she’d lived with him so she could imagine just how frightening he would have found her screaming. She’d been told she sounded like a tortured animal in the past. It was usually once her current roommate heard her nightmare that she invariably moved not long after that.
With Austin, something was different and she had stayed after the first time. She didn’t know why and didn’t really want to examine it. She felt comfortable here and didn’t want to do anything that may jeopardise that by analysing it too closely.
“It’s a particularly scary dream,” she finally answered, looking past him to the landscape outside, feeling oddly protected by the large, towering buildings all around her.
“And one you don’t want to talk about,” he finished for her when she left the rest unsaid.
She gave him a smile, admiring the handsome structure of his face. Austin was truly one of those beautiful men that woman looked at and sighed unhappily when they realised that he would forever be denied them. When she had first come to view the room, she’d initially been put off by the fact her roommate was male, but he’d quickly put her at ease, letting her know that he preferred same sex relationships as opposed to heterosexual ones. She had made up her mind that she would rent the room in less than five minutes after that. It had been a decision she hadn’t come to regret.
“It’s just a dream,” she repeated giving him another smile and watching resignation cross his face for an instant before his customary smile lit up.
“So be it, sweet Georgia.” He sipped at his coffee and then swung his legs to the floor, rising with a grace that put most women to shame. “I will not pry however I will remind you of a famous quote from…oh hell I don’t know who said it but it is applicable. No man is an island.” He crossed the room to rinse out his cup and it was all Gia could do not to burst out laughing at the over-exaggerated sway of his hips.
“I’m a woman in case you haven’t noticed,” she called after him, humour dancing in her eyes at his snort of derision.
“Semantics, darling, and you know it!”
Some of the amusement faded from his eyes as he watched her for a long moment as if considering saying something else. Then he grabbed his jacket from the wall hook beside the front door and scooped up his keys. “I’m here when you decide you want to talk about it, Gia. All you have to do is let me know.” With that, he headed out and she was left alone in the apartment to start her day.
Gia killed an hour tidying up the communal area of the apartment and doing her laundry before it was time to head out for her appointments. She had two this morning, the first with Kurt, her psychologist, and the second with a new client who wanted to pitch her book idea.
Usually she did most of her freelance work online, however the author she was meeting had a range of books in progress so she’d opted to meet her face to face in the hopes of securing an exclusive deal with her. She was building up a large portfolio of repeat clients, and her income was pretty respectable, but if she could secure exclusivity with this author, her income could double.
Her work was already being noticed by a few of the online e-book publishing houses, so much so that two of them now contracted her on a semi-permanent basis as they built up their portfolio of authors. The way the market was thriving these days, in another few months her savings account would be in five figures and she would have room to breathe and even be able to take a vacation if she wanted to.
Everything felt like it was moving in the right direction for once. Or it would have, if she hadn’t had the nightmare again. That unsettled her immensely and she hoped it was just a one off. Shrugging into her jacket, Gia pulled the front door shut behind her and locked it.
Thankfully, Mrs Johnston wasn’t at her apartment door waiting to ambush her as she hurried down the hallway towards the elevator. It was one of the drawbacks of living in an apartment block, nosey neighbours. Not that she had ever lived in any other type of building but part of her soul still yearned for privacy, which was an odd wish when she’d never known it. Perhaps it was something she’d discuss with Kurt at their meeting.
Gertrude’s sunny greeting made Gia’s lips tilt in a smile as she pushed open the entrance door to the building and stepped out into the early morning sunshine. The fifty-something woman was behind her customary cart, finishing up with one of her customers. Just about every morning for the last two years, the other woman had greeted her with the same boisterous greeting. It was hard not to smile in the face of her cheerfulness.
“Morning, Gertie. How’s business today?” It was still early but it didn’t matter what time Gia left the apartment there always appeared to be a steady rush of customers at the cart for their morning coffee or tea and maybe even a bite to eat. No one had time for breakfast at home these days.
“Can’t complain,” the grey-haired woman answered with another smile, setting a cup of coffee on the narrow ledge she had for serving. “Latte just the way you like it and one toasted bagel…with no poppy seeds. Really, I have no idea why you have such an aversion to them, Gia. They’re healthy, you know.”
Gia handed over a ten-dollar bill and laughed. Gertie never changed, and there was something comforting about that, as if the woman parked her cart there just for the sole purpose of looking after her. She supposed that was why she did such good business, Gertie made each customer feel as if she was there just for him or her.
“They stick in your teeth,” she answered, humour still lacing her tone as she took her change and shoved it in her pocket, her stomach rumbling at the smell of the bagel. “I’m not going to be one of those people who walk around all day with black bits in their teeth that no one tells them about.”
“I’d tell you, Sunshine.”
“I don’t see you until the next morning, Gertie.” Gia waved her bagel as she hurried towards the subway, taking a moment to stop and sip at her latte and bite into her breakfast roll.
The city surrounding her was already thrumming with life, the sidewalk full of people hurrying about their way and the traffic already beginning to back up. Horns honked in frustration and, for a moment, claustrophobia washed over her and she found it hard to breathe.
New York never truly slept, it just calmed down a little in the small hours. It reminded her of watching an ant colony scurrying away in the heat of the baking sun, diving in and out of the little sand pyramid they’d made to their colony. For a moment, she could see the image as clearly as if she’d sat on the hard ground and witnessed their efforts for real, then it faded away and she was once more on the sidewalk, watching the world pass her by.
‘What an odd thought to have,’ she mused, finishing her bagel and tossing the wrapping in a nearby trashcan. ‘Move it, girl, or you’re going to be late.’ Sipping her coffee, she headed down into the bowels of the earth, joining the morning commuters to work.
“Good morning, Georgia. You’re looking tired this morning.” Dr Kurt Goldstein was impeccable dressed as always in a dark grey suit, his white hair slightly long for someone in his fifth decade but immaculately groomed back from his forehead. His trimmed white beard and moustache gave him the appearance of a gentrified Santa Claus, his clipped English accent somehow adding to that impression.
Gia had been coming to see him for so long now that she couldn’t remember their first meeting. He was her one lifeline against the world, a safe place to come to when she needed to talk. She didn’t know what she’d do if he suddenly decided to return home to his own country. He’d assured her many times he had no intention of doing so when she’d had moments of weakness and asked the question.
Following him into his office, she waited until he closed the door before speaking. “I had the nightmare again last night.”
Her gaze took in the familiar surroundings, the large mezzanine area that housed the mahogany bookcases stuffed with books, the austere desk at the window with the leather chair almost pressed against the glass. She walked over to the blood red upholstered sofa, her favourite seat in the room. It had a view to the outside world through the floor to ceiling panes of glass. It made her feel less claustrophobic.
The doctor sat down in a large, black leather armchair, his customary leather-bound notebook and pen on his lap. “It’s been a while since you’ve had the dream,” he commented. “I note this is the second time you’ve had it at your current address. You appear to have broken your cyclical behaviour somewhat recently.”
“I noticed that too this morning,” Gia answered with a half-smile. “Austin feels…Austin is…it’s hard to describe what it is about him that doesn’t give me the urge to run away, Kurt. For the first time that I can remember, I don’t feel claustrophobic living with someone. I would even go as far to say that I am reasonably happy rooming with Austin, or as happy as I can ever be.”
“That’s a step in the right direction. You’re connecting on an emotional level with someone other than myself or Gertrude. You appear to be ready to finally settle somewhere, so much so, that you’ve experienced the nightmare twice and haven’t felt the urge to move. This is good progress, Gia.”
She could hear the slight inflection in his voice that told her he was pleased. It was something she had picked up over the years of coming to see him, occurring when she took a step forward as opposed to one back. It was hard not to smile but her expression became more sombre an instant later as her memory of the nightmare sparked.
“The dream felt different this time, Kurt.” There was tremor in her voice as she admitted it.
Gia tried to find the right words so he wouldn’t think her any crazier than she already was. Not that the doctor would ever be so indelicate as to say those words to her but she was sure he must think it sometimes. Swallowing hard, she forced the words out. “It didn’t feel like a dream this time, it felt more like a memory, but that couldn’t be right, could it? I mean, I’ve never been to Africa in my life.”
“You’re still certain the dream is situated on the African continent.”
It was more of a statement than a question as Kurt scribbled in his notebook, but Gia nodded anyway. “Yes,” she whispered, the view before her beginning to melt away to be replaced by the image of watching the ant colony.
“It’s definitely Africa, and it’s so hot the earth is literally baked into a hard covering. I see people, families moving around in a lazy, unhurried fashion, their skin so dark the sun can’t touch them. Then I hear screaming and there is fire everywhere. The shadowy figures appear from nowhere and I feel so terrified. I have to run away. I have to hide from them. If I don’t I know I will die.”
“Take a deep breath, Georgia. You’re in the heart of New York. You are safe here in my office.”
The doctor’s clipped accent broke through the dream, bringing her back to reality. She wasn’t surprised to feel her cheeks wet, they always were when she talked about the nightmare. Raising a shaky hand to wipe the tears away, her pale blue eyes connected with his, her fear evident. “What if it wasn’t a dream, Kurt? What if it was real? I could smell the people burning. I could feel the heat blistering my skin. Even today, I have to use a high factor sunblock against the sun my skin is so delicate. I can’t remember anything before the orphanage. What if I really was in Africa?”
The doctor set aside his notebook and pen on a nearby side table. He leaned forward and took her hands, giving them a comforting squeeze. He knew he should remain at a professional distance but this was Gia and she looked so frightened. She was one of his favourite patients and he had admitted to himself a long time ago that she reminded him too much of his long dead daughter. It felt right to try to comfort her, as he would have Megan.
“We’ve discussed this before, Georgia. The holes in your memory are feeding into the nightmare and that is why you question if it is indeed a real memory. We need to unlock those early memories before the orphanage so that you can lay this notion to rest. I believe the nightmares will stop once we have done so.”
He released her hands after giving them another gentle squeeze and sat back in his chair. “Have you discovered anything new from your past?”
She shook her head, swallowing hard again to get her equilibrium back. “The orphanage was a dead end. They had a fire just after I left and all the records that hadn’t been saved onto discs were lost. Coincidentally, those included mine.”
“Ah, we’re back to your conspiracy theory?” There was mild humour in his voice that made her blush.
Gia gave a self-conscious laugh, her expression turning rueful. “Yes, I’m sounding like a true nut job again.” She sighed and rubbed her face in her hands, before looking back at him. “It just seems so coincidental that not only can’t I remember my past but that all records of it are conveniently missing. Don’t you think so, Kurt?”
“What I think is you should refrain from calling yourself a nut job, Georgia. I have patients with much worse emotional issues than you do and I wouldn’t even term them as nut jobs. We all have times in our lives when we need to seek some professional help. Even I have someone I talk to.”
“You do?” Gia leaned forward, surprise in her voice. It was the first time she could remember the doctor ever mentioning anything personal about himself.
“Yes, I do, however I told you that to reassure you that you’re not crazy, you’re in exalted company. Now…back to the matter at hand. Do you have any other avenues you can search to try to unlock your memories?”
It was clear he wasn’t going to elaborate any further so she filed the information away to think about later and nodded her head. “I have a client after our appointment and then I’m setting aside some time to do some online research. I have my parents’ names even if I’m a little vague on dates and the rest. Maybe I’ll be able to find something online about them. Other people must have known them and by extension, me. Perhaps there’s some long lost family out there looking for me?” She couldn’t keep the wistfulness out of her voice.
“And perhaps there isn’t,” the doctor cautioned. “Try not to build your hopes up too highly, Gia. Be prepared to find nothing. That way, should you fail to turn up anything your hopes won’t be dashed.”
When she nodded her agreement at his sensible advice, he stood up and smiled. “We can discuss the fruits of your efforts at our meeting next week. As always, should you feel the need to talk sooner, call and make an appointment with Janice. She has a standing note to slot you into my calendar if needed.”
That was what Gia liked so much about Kurt. He always made her feel that he valued their time together, that he was always available to her. She never felt that she was a burden to him, but then, he was being paid for his time and he didn’t come cheap. She was fortunate the state still paid for her sessions with him. If she had to pay for them herself, she would never be able to afford it.
Something niggled at the back of her mind as she said her goodbyes and confirmed her next appointment with his secretary, Janice. She couldn’t quite place her finger on what it was and she knew not to force it. Whatever her mind was trying to tell her would surface eventually. With a final wave to Janice, she headed off to her next appointment.
Gabe blinked, coming instantly awake and sitting upright in one movement. He automatically sensed that he was alone in his rented room, his brow furrowing in surprise. Serenity had given no indication that she intended to leave his side the night before. Once her anger had waned following her trip through his memories, she had turned back into the charming woman she’d been, asking him many questions about the era they were in.
She had been like a sponge, soaking everything in, sometimes delving into his memories if she couldn’t quite grasp what he’d been explaining. It hadn’t been a wholly unpleasant experience and he’d actually found himself quite enjoying the sensation of having a female presence in his mind. He hadn’t had that since he’d been locked here in the human world. He’d forgotten just how enthralling it could be.
Serenity had also appeared to sense his reluctance to discuss his brethren. She had stopped asking questions about them when it became clear he wasn’t going to say anything. She had the power to make him tell her anything she wanted, but apart from forcing him to re-live what happened in Africa, she appeared content to interact with him on a more equal level.
Not that he was in anyway equal with a Demi-God. He was aware he retained his autonomy merely because she willed it. Gabe had never encountered a power as strong as the Advocates before. It was intriguing and more than a little concerning. He had no idea what she would do from one moment to the next. The fact she hadn’t levelled the city so far appeared to be only because she was in a good mood.
The sound of the door opening distracted him, and his mouth dropped open as he walked into the room. A second later, his doppelganger pulsed with an ethereal light and Serenity closed the door behind her. She carried a bag that smelled heavenly, and Gabe’s stomach rumbled at the aroma.
“Your strange locking device is easily fooled,” the Advocate remarked as she walked over to the bed and placed the bag beside him. “Your possessions are at risk.”
Recovering from his shock, he grabbed the bag and pulled out a carton. “Actually, that’s the securest kind of lock there is,” he countered, his mouth starting to water as he unwrapped the spicy chilli burger. He bit in and chewed, closing his eyes while he wondered how she knew he liked such hot foot first thing in the morning. “Unless someone plucks out one of my eyes, no one else can enter this room if their biometric data hasn’t been entered into the reader.
His tone made it more than evident that that likelihood didn’t have a hope in hell of happening. When she quirked an eyebrow at the burger he was eating, he shrugged. “We don’t have very many Demi-Gods down here; in fact, you’re the first one I’ve ever seen.”
Serenity smiled and his burger halted halfway to his mouth. She literally glowed when she smiled and it was quite breath taking. Today her honey brown hair was plaited in a single side plait, and it looked as if she had woven in some white animal feathers when she secured it with a leather thong. She was dressed in brown leather pants with a low-cut, lace-up vest in the same colour and material. Around her shoulders, she wore a jacket that appeared to be fashioned from some kind of brown fur.
“You know that’s not politically correct these days?” He didn’t know why he said it, she looked amazing.
“It’s faux animal hide,” she answered, though her expression clearly stated that she didn’t particularly care one way or another. She sat on the edge of the bed and watched him eat. “Th’kana’s people are an intriguing species, the way they consume animals but protest wearing their hides.”
It was on the tip of his tongue to try educating her but he decided it was probably a waste of both their time so he polished off his burger instead. He sipped at the coffee she’d brought him and set it on the bedside table. “I need to get up.”
Her blank expression made his lips twitch in the first genuine smile he’d worn since he’d met her. “I’m naked.”
“And you point is…?”
“Serenity, you’re clearly trying your best to learn about humans and their etiquette, as well as us demons. It’s not deemed polite for people to show their naked bodies to others unless they’re in some kind of relationship.”
Her stare remained blank. “We are in a relationship, Gabe. Together we are going to find the human child and kill her before she can alert the world to the Others’ presence.”
The matter-of-fact way she announced that they were to kill the girl took him aback and for a moment he could only stare at her open-mouthed before he ran a hand through his tousled hair and swung his legs over the side of the bed. The movement tugged at the sheet surrounding him, baring his chest to the room, though his lower region remained covered. He could feel Serenity’s eyes travelling over his body.
“We’ll get to that in a moment,” he answered, choosing his words carefully. “When I say relationship, I mean a sexual relationship. We’re not in one of those so it is polite to give me some privacy.”
“Do you wish to have sex, Gabe? I would be willing to indulge in that carnal pastime with you if you feel it would improve our relationship.”
For a moment, he was sorely tempted. Did she have any idea what an incubus was and just how dangerous he was in particular when it came to sex? If he lay with her, would he kill her as he’d done so many times in the past? Oddly enough, despite her exquisite beauty, he didn’t feel the least attracted to her.
“No, I don’t want to have sex with you,” he finally answered. “And, if you refuse to grant me privacy, then I guess I’ll just have to get used to that.” He stood up, turning to face her as the sheet fell away, only to find himself alone.
“Call me when you deem it fit for me to return.” The words echoed inside his head and he didn’t know what startled him more, the fact she spoke to him on a psychic level or that she’d actually granted him the privacy he’d asked for. He decided not to question it and headed into the bathroom to take a shower and get dressed.
He was quick about. He wanted to get whatever needed doing out of the way as fast as possible so the Advocate would return to her own realm. The longer she was on the mortal plane, the more chance there was something could go wrong and his brothers would be at risk.
A brief flare of blinding light filled the room and he had to close his eyes to it. When he opened them again she was standing before him. “Showing off?”
Her head tilted to the side and she gave him a speculative look. “How do you know that isn’t always how I travel?”
Gabe quickly fixed the bed, smoothing out the sheets and pillows. “Because you didn’t do that when you left.”
“Ah, you are correct. I was showing off this time.”
She appeared pleased that he’d called her on her theatrics. From the little he had managed to glean about the Advocate so far, it seemed she valued intelligence and wouldn’t be adverse to setting up little tests for him. It made him feel as if he were a mouse in a cage, being put through his paces. He didn’t like the feeling.
“So, what plan do you have for finding the girl?”
He was still unsure what would happen once they did find her. Serenity wanted to kill her and while he didn’t have any qualms about taking a life, usually the ones he took deserved to die. He’d never been placed in the position of taking an innocent life before.
Gabe straightened up, turning around to stare pensively at the Advocate. Her expression was deadly serious, not that he had expected it to be anything else. They had to go talk to the Fae? Did she realise what she was asking of him? Demons and the Fae had a long history of bloodshed and wars. They were mortal enemies, both fighting to be the dominant species when it came to wielding the elements.
The Fae and demons fighting had caused some of the worst freak weather conditions on Earth. For a while, it had gotten so bad that they had finally agreed an uneasy truce and made an effort to keep out of each other’s way. “The Fae won’t talk to me,” he finally said, a frown marring his brow.
“I scented Fae in the region of the village. They will talk to you or I will make them.”
The ice in Serenity’s tone sent a shiver down Gabe’s spine. He had no doubt that any talking the Advocate did to the Fae would likely cause more harm than good. However, it was evident she did not intend to be dissuaded from her course of action so he was left with no choice. He took a risk and reached out psychically.
“Asher, the Advocate is insisting I meet with the Fae. I don’t have time to go into details right now, can you scan through the last twenty four hours of my memories to get an update? Can you also reach out and see if you can get me a meeting with someone as senior as possible in the Fae hierarchy?”
There was a brief pause but Gabe could sense his friend in his mind so he let himself relax to allow Asher to sift through his thoughts with no hindrance. It was quicker doing it this way.
“We were witnessed. How the fuck did we miss this?” Asher’s growl of annoyance sounded loud inside his head after the few moments of silence it took his leader to update himself on the situation. “I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve set something up.”
Asher vanished from his mind without any further words, leaving Gabe once more alone with the Advocate. “A meeting with the Fae has to be done delicately, Serenity. I have set it in motion. We may need to wait for a while.”
“Not in this room? We can go out and see the city?”
Keeping her as far away from the populace seemed like a more prudent idea but Gabe didn’t think her patience would hold if they remained cooped up in the room until he heard some news. He reluctantly nodded, striding towards the door. Hell, he needed to get out of the room himself. “You need to blend in if we go out. It’s summer here. You could be too hot in your current outfit.”
With a wave of her hand, the fur jacket vanished but her other clothes remained the same. He supposed that was a small mercy. She may still look like she was a pin-up girl for some survivalist group but at least they were less likely to be accosted by the Save the Animals brigade. New York was full of outlandish sights and individuality. With any luck, no one would pay them any attention.
As he held the door open for her, she breezed past him, her bearing regal as if she didn’t have a care in the world. Well, he supposed she didn’t. She was a Demi-God after all. Pulling the door closed behind them, Gabe almost stumbled at her next words.
“Who is Asher?”
It took every ounce of his inner strength to keep his composure as he met her curious grey eyes. “He’s the one who will get this meeting with the Fae set up and let me know when he has. We can hopefully find the girl then and decide what to do with her.”
Serenity marched ahead of him, her gaze firmly on the exit to the empty nightclub. “The decision has already been made. When we find the girl, she dies.”
To be continued…