New ProjectThe Nocturnals0% Completeof 60,000 wordsMy first full length book.
“Where am I? What happened?” Jackson asked. He wrenched his eyelids open trying to make sense of things. He looked around recognizing his office. Sitting across the desk from him was Val. “What did you do?” he demanded. He tried to stand. He fell back in his chair weak from the magic.
“How do you feel?” Val asked. She crossed her arms over her chest.
Jackson was shaking with fear and anger. He decided to embrace the anger to outplay the fear. “Peachy. Why are we here?”
“Look, you have three choices. One, you can drink this potion,” she said, sitting a bottle with green goo in front of him. “It will make you forget everything about magic, about me, other than my awesome bakery.”
“Why would I trust you? It’s probably poisoned or I’ll wake up with you creeping over me again!”
“Look if I was a murderer I wouldn’t need your help at all. That asshole would already be planted by Jimmy Hoffa.” Val leaned forward to reach the Newton’s cradle on his desk. She pulled back a silver ball, releasing it. She watched them clang back and forth.
He raised an eyebrow. “You know where Jimmy Hoffa is buried?”
“Jackson, I won’t hurt you.”
He stared her down. “You already did when you did your voodoo on Alice and me.”
“She was already sleeping with her boss. I had nothing to do with them eloping. That was all her. Isn’t it better you know she’s a cheater now, instead of marriage and two point five kids later?”
“What are my other two options?” he asked, glancing at the scotch on his desk.
“You can leave and report me to authorities. I did drug you and kidnap you, basically,” Val said, following his glance.
“Or?” he asked.
“Or, you can help me finish my plan,” Val said. She got up and poured two drinks.
“She was really cheating on me?” Jackson asked.
“Yep, for a few years.”
He paled. They’d only been together two years. “What’s your plan?” He grabbed one of the glasses she poured.
“Sofia May works for you?” Val asked, taking a sip.
“Why?” he asked.
“She’s engaged to my ex. I want to make him pay.”
“What did he do that was so bad that you’d go to this much trouble?”
Val downed her scotch. She stared into her empty glass. “He’s very powerful. He has one of the highest positions in the magical world, which is weird. There are only four Area Coven Leaders on this continent, and they’re all from prominent wealthy lines of magic. He has a strange proportion of power for his background. He had little money, but he’s quickly rising through the ranks. We met five years ago. He was so smug, I wanted to put him in his place and he wanted to put me on my back. Two years ago I finally gave in. We got engaged shortly after. I didn’t realize that he was using my family connections to further his career, until later. I was blinded by love.”
Jackson raised an eyebrow. “He used you, so what?”
“I found out about his affair with a woman from the High Council. I gave him an ultimatum. And he told me I’d deal with it or he’d destroy my reputation. I told him I didn’t have a reputation to get out. He- He assaulted me with his magic. He did things that are forbidden.”
Jackson reached toward her and thought better of it. He grabbed the bottle and poured another round. “I’m sorry Val. If you want to get back at him for that, why did you do the same to me?”
She froze. “I never, never did that to you. I needed you for something. You would have said no.”
“Well, we’re fake dating now. We went to a function together tonight.”
He stared at her, shocked. “The dinner?”
“Yeah. You’re in a political position and Max is making political allies. Will you help me?”
“Why not go to the police?” Jackson asked.
“We can’t go to the normal police, and he has our police in his pocket.”
“I’ll help you, if you promise to never use your magic on me again,” he said, extending his hand toward her to shake on it.
“That’s easy. I can’t use my magic,” Val said, swallowing the last of her drink.
He dropped his hand. “But, you broke us up and your magic bakery. You use magic all the time.”
She picked up the potion again waving it in front of him. “Potions aren’t considered magic, not really. Magic is way more powerful, but I promise only consensual potions and no magic.” She extended her hand to him and they shook.
At Val’s Sweets, she knows what you need before you walk through the door.
The bell jingled and Val grinned, “Hi Ed!”
“Okay, today’s the day I stump you,” Ed said, bouncing with excitement.
“Shoot,” she replied, untying the bag she’d prepared earlier on the counter.
He said, “One chocolate cupcake, two of each flavor cookie-”
“And two cups of coffee,” Val finished showing him everything he asked for was in the bag.
“I don’t know how you do it!” he said throwing his hands in the air.
Val smiled waving the goodies under his nose. He dropped a twenty on the counter and muttered, “Tomorrow,” under his breath.
Laughing, Val grabbed a box and filled it with cinnamon rolls. She sat two cookies on top of the box. They were very special cookies she’d made with a very specific, very angry person in mind.
The door was yanked open slamming the bells against the door.
Val said, “Welcome-”
“Screw you witch!” Jackson yelled.
She raised an eyebrow. “Sir?”
“You ruined my engagement!” he yelled l, shoving his finger in her face.
Val stepped back with raised arms. “I’m sorry. What do you mean?”
“We came to this “magical” bakery for a cake tasting for our wedding. The next day she’s eloping with her boss. You put stuff in the cake to make her hate me,” he said.
“Oh, my gosh! I’m so sorry she left you! Here sit,” she said ushering him to a table, the boxed treats under one arm. “Have some cookies and coffee. You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”
“What? I’m not eating anything that you’ve poisoned. I’m not the only one that thinks you add something extra to this stuff,” he said, gesturing to the case of cakes and cookies. “People are starting to notice.”
Val grabbed one of the cookies taking a bite. “I just want to make sure you’re okay. You sound like you’ve been through the ringer. My engagement recently fell through, so I understand.”
He sat down and took a bite of the cookie.
“We’ve all heard the rumors about this place. I just thought, if you didn’t do it with magic what happened?” he asked, sipping his coffee. “We were in love.”
“Technically, I never said I didn’t do it,” she said, smirking.
He blinked. “What? You actually used magic to separate us? Why?”
“Ahh, the cue to reveal my evil plan. I’m sorry no time. You’re going to feel a little lightheaded in…” She glanced at her watch. “Three, two, one.”
Jackson bolted to the door. The bells rang as his face slammed into the glass sliding to the floor. He laid there, unmoving with his face pressed up against the glass.
“The final piece is in place. Revenge on that lying cheating jerk will be the sweetest. Come Jackson. We have work to do,” Val said, shutting off the lights.
Jackson’s eyes shot open. He slowly stood. “Yes, my love.”
“He will know my wrath,” she said as tears streamed down her face. She calmly flipped through the grimoire next to a bottle of bourbon on her living-room floor. She began the rhythmic chant of a language long forgotten.
“Who has summoned me?” a voice boomed before he appeared in her circle.
“Great, another man will fix it,” Melissa muttered under her breath. “I have cousin. After a millennia of following the Elder’s Covenant, I want to switch sides.”
He laughed. “Did you really think it was that easy to go dark? A little chant from a dark grimoire and you’re granted all the power from the depths of hell. How naive, especially for one such as you succubus. Unlike your precious little light magic, we have to earn the darkness that consumes our souls. Once we’ve proven ourselves worthy it’s only the beginning. We throw ourselves into the deepest pits of Hell where our souls are forged into the darkest, most twisted shadows of our former selves. Then we have to climb back out wounded and alone. Most never make it, but those precious few that do, rise to greatness like the world’s never seen. Are you willing to murder who you are now for the transition?”
She stood up and looked him in the eyes. “Yes.”
“I wonder cousin, what has caused such a dramatic change? I’d wager it’s a man.”
“Shut up and tell me what I need to do.”
“If I am to ‘shut up’ how can I tell you what you need to do?” She glared until he continued. “Fine. You should just kill whatever man is causing you trouble. They’re easily replaceable, especially for you. Bat your eyelashes and have another fifty to replace him.”
“Ha, that’s rich. You summon me to set you on the dark path and you can’t even get rid of one human because you’re in love with the man that has wronged you? You’re a succubus, a freakin’ succubus. I’ve got to post this on the Hellion Facebook group. They’ll die, and come back, and die and come back. It’s that funny.”
“It’s. Not. Funny.”
“Tell that to the 66 likes and 23 comments.” He glanced up from his phone and smirked. “Is that your angry face or are you a little gassy?”
She took a deep breath and smiled. “You’re right.”
“I know, it’s hilarious, but a little bit less funny now that you’re on board with the funny thing.”
“I never said he was human. If he was human why would I need you?”
“No, you can’t mean him? I thought that was just a rumor.” he said nervously rubbing the back of his neck.
She looked him square in the eyes. He flinched away.
“He’s the most powerful being alive. He’ll kill us all. Damnit, he’ll probably kill me for even talking to you. I can’t help you.”
“You know, you’re right about me. I’m a succubus and I should start acting like it.” She walked up to the circle he was trapped in and broke it with no hesitation.
“You’re dumber than you look. You should know better than to release a demon from a circle without some sort of binding.” He grinned raising his arms to cast a spell. “Too bad it’s only a mistake you get to make once. Your mangled body is going to win me his favor.”
“No, please don’t hurt me. If you’re going to kill me make it quick,” she said bringing her hands up shielding her throat.
“I’m going to choke the life from you,” he said reaching for her throat, taking her cue. As soon as their skin met he melted to her will.
“Who’s dumb now?” she asked. “You forget, I’m basically four of the seven deadly sins. I’m going to use you for your knowledge and your power. You will give me the life I want or you will die trying. Understand?”
“Yes, my love.”
“If only my magic worked so easily on him, but that would be cheating. And I love a challenge.”
“Love should be celebrated not punished,” Angie said shoving the tip of her wand to the high priestesses throat. “You will help me break this curse or you’ll die.”
“You’d really blacken your soul with murder to be with that creature?”
“Ethan isn’t a creature. We love each other more that you’ll ever know. You separated us, just because he’s not a witch too.”
“If he was human, there wouldn’t have been a serious problem, but he’s a vampire a creature of the night. We’re of the light and cannot consort with such beings. It’s against our laws. You were removed from the temptation before more severe measures would have to be taken.”
“Now, I can only be in the sunlight and he can only be in the moonlight. Never to see each other again, but you’re going to change that.”
She said nothing, but the defiance in her eyes was easy enough to read. I’d seen that look on my own face enough times to recognize it.
A few murmured words and she was unconscious. With her wand she drew a protective circle around the Priestesses unconscious body, that would not only keep anything from harming her, but keep her from leaving. She picked up the book and quickly gathered her ingredients. There was only a small window of opportunity to perform this type of spell in the daytime, when even the shadows hid from this realm.
She returned to a conscious Priestess. “What are you… no. You can’t be serious. You’re going to sacrifice me!”
Angie ignored her and started the prep work needed for the spell.
“Please listen to me. If he loved you he would care enough about your soul not to make you do this.”
“I haven’t talked to Ethan in a month. Do you know how hard it is to be able to FaceTime someone you love and know that you’ll never feel his touch ever again? Know that he can’t be there to hold you and tell you that it’s okay when you need it the most? It’s the worst punishment you ever could have given us. It’s easier not talking to him. So, don’t you dare say he doesn’t love me.”
“Vampire witch relationships are forbidden for a reason. They always end in bloodshed.”
“That’s bullshit. You’re just scared that we’ll blend our magic and be more powerful than you,” Angie said studying the Priestess. “See, that fear in your eyes tells it all. That’s why you ruthlessly separate any witch who loves a vampire. Fear, and you should be afraid. I’m going to strip you of your power and lift the curse myself. Then Ethan and I will disappear.”
“If you even want anything to do with him after you cast that spell. Black magic changes people. You won’t be the same person that he fell in love with.”
“You’ll both die for nothing. A blip in our history books as an example of why vampire and witch bonds are forbidden.”
“No, you’ll die to bring us together,” she said and picked up the spell book. She didn’t like touching it, it whispered to her. Made her think of things she’d never dreamed of, dark thinks. She started to say what she needed to for the spell, but she couldn’t get the words out. No matter what the book tried to coax her to do, it didn’t feel right. . She collapsed by the circle and threw the book across the room. She was blinded by her tears. Now she’d never be with Ethan ever again and the witches were probably going to kill her anyway.
“Angie, are you okay. I think you stopped it. Every thing’s fine,” the High Priestess said from her magical prison.
“It’s not okay,” Angie said dropping the barrier. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what happened. I would ask for mercy, but after what I’ve done I don’t deserve it. Just don’t punish Ethan. He didn’t know what I was doing. I swear, he had no idea. Please, please just don’t hurt him,” she said starting to sob again.
The High Priestess knelt beside Angie. “You were tested, both of you. You’ve proven your love for each other and your intentions. We’d like to make you an offer.”
“What are you talking about? Tested?”
“You were given a book of the darkest magic and you resisted it, even knowing that it could reunite you with Ethan again if you used it.”
“You tormented us all this time on purpose for a test?” Angie yelled.
“It was necessary. Do you want to hear our offer?”
Her face was slowly turning red. She let out a breath, crossed her arms over her chest, and nodded. Not trusting herself enough to speak.
“We’ll make you both human. Strip you of your magic and let you live a normal human life together.”
“What’s the catch?”
“No catch. You keep your memories. You keep your pasts to yourself. Have a normal human life together.”
Angie was surprised. She’d never heard of anything like that before and she’d researched reversing Ethan’s condition for months. They knew from their people’s history that if he tried to turn her she’d die. Now she wondered how much of that was true?
“It sounds good to me, but I’ll need to talk it over with Ethan first.” The High Priestess laughed.
“That’s exactly what Ethan said.”
I’d give up my magic for Ethan in a heartbeat, but could I ask him to give up his immortality?
Death came for me with both hands. This was something I’d been training for my entire life, but people telling you that you’ll face Death, with a capital D, and facing Death are two very different things.
They didn’t prepare me for the cold. Sharp, burning iciness radiated into me, leeching my warmth where his hands gripped my throat. “Your time is up Sonya. Your name’s on my list. You’ll be reaped, just like the others,” Death said. His voice was enticing, like a sweet ice tea on a scorching hot summer day, tempting you to embrace the coldness.
“Sorry, that doesn’t work for me,” I rasped. My fist caught his jaw, only succeeding in knocking down his hood and probably breaking a knuckle.
He laughed and I glared into his eyes. They were so light, almost white. You could see great sorrow there. It almost made me feel sorry for what I was about to do, almost.
I kicked him in the stones as hard as I could, while sweeping my arms across his to break the hold he still had on my throat.
His laughter shook my entire body. “Do you think Death feels pain? You can’t physically harm me. Just give into it and this will be much easier for both of us.”
“Fine, I’ll give into my baser instincts.” My head dropped back and my eyes glowed with the tell, tell signs of something otherworldly.
“A lycanthrope? They are getting desperate to catch me. It doesn’t matter, you’ll die just like the rest.”
I tried to finish the change, but my energy was depleted. If I didn’t transform soon I was going to die.
“Having trouble are we?”
“You could just help us you know?”
“I’m bound by the Laws of Nature.”
“I’m honor bound to change your mind one way or another.”
“You will die first.”
“You really don’t care that they’re slaughtering thousands for their own entertainment?” He said nothing, but his grip loosened a little. “You’re one of the most powerful beings still around. You’re too powerful for someone to control, even my people. Power corrupts. So, if you’d just help…”
“I can’t. I wish I could help you,” he said as his grip tightened and the cold intensified. “I’m sorry.”
You know that saying, if you back a dog into a corner it’s going to bite? I was weak from my partial change and on the brink of death. I needed an external power source to fuel my change. Normally, that would be from the pack or the moon. Death severed those links. My heart faltered and something snapped into place. The only available power source was Death, and somehow I used it. Focusing on the painless void until it was mine. The power seemed endless, healing me, and replenishing my lost life. I reveled in it. Then there was nothing, but the echoes of power lingering in me.
“What the hell did you do?”
“Look, I can’t hurt you. You can’t kill me. You can help me now or I can follow you around forever pissing you off at every opportunity until you help us. Either way you’re going to help me. One just has a substantially less body count.”
“Seriously, what the hell did you do?” he repeated.
She grinned at him.
“I could probably figure out how to kill you.”
“By that time you’d miss me. So, you couldn’t do it.”
“Doubtful,” he said dryly. “I have to warn you, when the Laws of Nature are broken the consequences are unpredictable.”
“Honey, I’m a walking example of what happens when the Laws of Nature are broken. We have a tyrant to overthrow.”
I wail a name and they die. I’m a banshee, that’s what I do. Chasing after a Death Train, in pumps, isn’t a typical job requirement. Here I was, praying not to trip, trying to catch up to my date. A low moan came from the train signaling it’s next pick up. Not that it would stop, death stopped for no one. I reached out for the back rail of the train. I could feel the coldness radiating from the train before I even touched it.
“Man this is going to suck,” Nora said and grabbed the rail. Searing coldness raced up her arm across her body, beyond pain. Beyond anything she could have prepared herself for. She was paralyzed from it. Her legs were being dragged behind the train. She could feel each cut as it happened, but it didn’t hurt. It was a pleasant numbness. Like nothing mattered, everything was fine.
Through the fog a thought was trying to form. No, that’s not right. Something’s wrong. I can’t think. She focused her power and was rewarded with thought and punished by feeling. She fought to pull herself up over the railing. She landed with a thud, out of breath, and shoe-less. “Damn, I loved those shoes.”
She got up and stalked through the cars looking for Daniel’s soul. She was the only corporeal being on the entire train, except for the conductor. That should have creeped her out, but being an assassin for the underworld made her all too comfortable with death.
This wasn’t my worst first date if you can believe that. Close, but you don’t know crazy until you date a Reaper. Lets just say running into an ex on a first date with a Reaper should be avoided. Seriously.
She found him in the last car, sitting straight ahead waiting for his final destination, just like all the rest.
It was hard for her not to help them all, but it was the natural cycle of things. Everyone dies, even banshees. She had to correct her mistake.
“Daniel, can you hear me?” He said nothing. She put her hand over where his heart would be and two fingers between his eyes. She drew her power to her again, but this time she filled him with them, more, and more until his soul began to scream. Then she gave it everything she had. A burst of energy exploded between them, throwing her into the seats across from him. When she looked over at him he had a body and he was terrified.
“What are you?”
I could lie or go with the truth and b.s. my way out of it later. Hmm…
“I’m a Banshee. You were dead. Something that I had nothing to do with,” Nora said. Okay, maybe a little b.s. now too. “I’m trying to bring you back to the land of the living. We have to go before we’re noticed.”
“Who dares enter my train!”
“Damn, it’s not my day. Be quiet and stay right there. Don’t move. We don’t need to draw any attention to you. I’m going to distract him and you’re going to get off the train. Don’t touch anything. Okay?”
His eyes were wide. I don’t know if he understood me or not. I didn’t have time for repeats. Odds were pretty slim of us surviving anyway.
“I’ve been looking everywhere for you My Lord. I’m Nora, Banshee of the First Order,” she said bowing.
“Yes, I know who you are. Why are you on my train?”
“I’ve heard so much about you, Son of Charon. I’ve admire your work and I was hoping you could show me the engine room?” I said batting my eyelashes.
He tilted his head and looked at me. It was intense. Daniel needed to wait a few more minutes before he makes his move. Or not, she thought. Daniel screamed running down the aisle. He didn’t make it far before he was frozen mid yell.
“How did a human get on my train? He wouldn’t have been able to survive it in tact. You tell me how he’s on the train and I won’t kill him.”
Her heart rate intensified. She was on the verge of a panic attack, but she couldn’t afford that right now she needed to play it cool. A believable lie that wouldn’t betray her secret.
“You see,” Nora started.
“Lie to me and you both die.”
If she told him the truth at least Daniel would live. She owed him that.
She took a deep breath and sat in a seat defeated, motioning for him to sit too. When he did she said, “I’m a banshee. I wail a name the Underworld gives me and they die. That’s how it’s supposed to work, right?” She looked up at him. “I can alter peoples destines by wailing a different name. I can choose who dies.”
“That’s not possible.”
“Explain my date then. I accidentally said his name when I was given another and here I am talking to you.”
“If you wailed his name, how is he alive?”
Double damn. “I may be able to revive a soul, under the right circumstances.” She ran her hands through her hair and sighed. “Someone’s probably getting ready to wail my name now. Please make sure he gets back safe?”
He studied her for what seemed like forever before he said, “You’re shielded from their magic here. No, one can hear us.”
I don’t like the sound of that. He’s looking at me with too much interest.
“Nothing nefarious, so stop looking at me like that. I have a job for you.”