Observations: I think finding the connection between Anton and Sophia may have been a key.
While I’m more than half-way to a win, your participation is still invited. I’m sorry that I have found the neat avenues where I could bring you in. I didn’t get those intriguing polls or anything else that I thought I might have. Ah, life, obligations, depression. (Semi kidding on that last one.)
Honestly, it’s OMG 3 am here. I’m about to sleep without knowing where I’m going next. Ya got an idea? Throw it at me.
Disclaimer: I’m brain dead. It’s 3:12 am. If this doesn’t resemble a draft and there’s not a typo, I think a hallelujah might be in order. 😉
Total word count: 34,097
If we consider that I think it’s it’s still 11/20 and I’m about to go to bed, I am 757 words ahead.
If you’re a pessimist, I’m starting the day behind. Blah.
You can read previous sections here.
Rose darts to the ladies’ room before we leave, and Anton takes that moment to come to my table. His self-assurance is slightly diminished. His smile is easy though, comforting in a way I didn’t expect.
He sits on the bench seat next to me and I immediately feel the pull to him but slide just a bit away. He grins, acknowledging my movement as well as my nervously clasped hands. Proximity is our Achilles heel.
“I’m not supposed to be attracted to darkness and yet you used darkness on your soups to transform,” he says.
“What? I didn’t…” as soon as the words are out of my mouth, I realize the truth. Isla is the darkness he believes that I am. I can’t tell him otherwise. All of this would be directed at Isla, my little sister.
“Your magical soups hurt people for two days. You are dark. You’re a dark witch.”
I look up into his eyes. We are close now and I want him. I feel that draw so strongly that I would do almost anything to be with him. He must feel the same. Yet my rational side instinctively knows enough not to say that my little sister is the one who cast a spell on the soups.
He lowers his mouth until our lips meet. It’s a soft, gentle kiss unlike the one we shared before and it makes me hungry for more. He sucks on my bottom lip. I feel my body beginning to unleash. I want him. My hand caresses his cheek, his ear before finding his neck, his jaw, the stubble of beard.
“You’re not dark,” he says. “They want me to kill you. But it’s not you. I could never have this with someone who was dark. Stay while I eat dinner and then come back with me to my hotel…or I could go to yours.”
Whoever they are, they want him to kill Isla. Isla! My little sister! I grip his hand, as much for me to gather strength as to compel him. “I have an errand I have to run with my sister, Rose…”
I want him to come back to my cottage, I realize, and am about to say so when Rose appears at the side of the table, her smile falsely bright, her eyes moving between him and me.
“Wow, this looks cozy.”
Anton jumps to his feet, his smile apologetic. “I didn’t realize…I thought you had left.”
Rose glares at me. “Nope. Just a detour before my sister and I have to go. You must be in the middle of dinner?”
He nods to her and then glances at me. “I’m sorry for intruding.”
“I just bet you are,” Rose murmurs under her breath.
Things are getting sticky. I squeeze his hand before releasing it, reluctantly.
He’s about to walk away, but I grab his hand again, drawing him close. “Come to mine,” I whisper.
The corner of his mouth quirks upward, but he nods, glances at Rose and then returns to his dinner.
“I hope you know what you’re doing,” Rose says as we enter the frosty night.
She pulls a scarf out of her pocket and wraps it around her neck several times, dons gloves, grabs a hat from her other pocket, plops it on her head, and then exhales.
I’m slightly jealous because I’m never prepared.
“Nope. I have no idea and yet I’m going there anyway.”
“I wish I could say good things, but, Soph, he kills witches for a living.”
“Do you know that for sure?”
She stops walking and looks at me. “Mom said he was a witch slayer.”
“Mom says a lot of things. That doesn’t mean they’re true.”
“But didn’t he say something? I thought I heard—”
“Look, let’s just check on Isla and make sure she’s just not having a really, really bad hair day.”
All along the five block walk I think about Anton, the feel of his lips on mine, his hands. He felt so warm. And, yet, he wants to harm my sister. That’s kind of a game changer. And yet…
The walk to the Express-O Motel is cold, and Rose is angry. I can feel it vibrating off of her in waves, which is a new experience. Is that something witchy? I never used to feel vibes from anyone. And for once I am not trying to say things to make the situation better. I am not playing peace-maker. Yay, me?
There’s a fire, but no fire pit in front of the Express-O Motel, where Isla is warming her hands and frolicking. Yes, frolicking is the only word to describe her weird dance around the flames.
Without even acknowledging us with a look, she raises her palm. “Go away.”
I glance at Rose who glances at me. Yep, this is strange.
Isla’s usually silk hair is frazzled. I hate to even ask how she managed to get it so unmanageable and damaged within twenty-four hours. Not a neat trick.
Her eyes home in on me. “You’re a traitor. There will be consequences for your behavior.”
On cue, a streak of lightning jettisons across the sky followed by a roar of thunder that shakes the ground beneath our feet. Holy guacamole, batman. Can my sweet little sister now control the weather?
I move forward and am about to touch her arm when she gestures, much like I did last night, and I go flying across the grass, nearly hitting my head on a stone. Now I know how Anton may have felt last night. My breath seems distant and I’m gasping trying to find air. This must be what it literally is like to have the breath knocked out of you.
Rose kneels next to me. “Are you okay?”
I try to nod, but then shake my head violently, in between what feels like futile inhalations. I lower my head to my knees. What a wimp I am!
“Traitor!” Isla screams at me.
“She’s gone all freaky-deaky,” Rose says, clinging to my hand.
If the situation weren’t so dire, I probably would laugh at Rose’s description, but I’m finally getting my breath back and can only nod.
“Call Mom. Call Gran.”
Rose jabs at her cell, but Isla descends on us. “What do you think you’re doing? Are you a traitor as well, Rose?”
“Is calling Mom being a traitor?” Rose asks innocently.
Isla’s eyes grow distant. “Mom. No. She’s not a traitor. Not like Sophia. Sophia wants to merge with the witch slayer who wants me dead.”
“He doesn’t want you dead,” I say. He wants me dead because he thinks I did the things you did.
Crap. Is Isla a dark witch? Did her powers take her over and make her greedy? I look away from her so she can’t see what I’m thinking. What powers does she have as well as tossing me about the same way I did to Anton? Certainly spell casting if what she did to my soups was any indication.
“Rose, stand away from Sophia. She must be immobilized.”
Rose has texted Mom and now glares at Isla. “You’re not immobilizing our sister, Isla. Calm down and try to think rationally.”
Isla smiles. It’s a really scary smile where there’s no warmth whatsoever to her green eyes. “I am being rational. If she merges with the witch slayer it will be the Light Union and the end to someone like me. I’m only just beginning to find and accept my power.”
“For crap’s sake, Isla. What do you mean someone like you? How long have you really had your powers…a week? Two? Regroup and think,” I say angrily.
She pounds me. Hard. With her closed fist. I feel my teeth rattle inside my head and immediately raise my fingers to make sure they’re all still in place.
“You and your magical soups. Praise Sophie. She makes us feel so good. We eat her soups and we’re better people. We eat her soups and we make the best decisions. I was the one who grew most of the vegetables you used. Did anyone say how wonderful they were? Never!”
I shake my head, although slowly. “That’s not true. Albert is always mentioning how wonderful the fresh—”
“One person? Really, Sophia? You’re going to argue with me based on one miserable human?”
Anton appears in the darkness, his face flashing with the gleam of the fire. He stares at me as if to make certain that I’m okay, his eyes sweeping intimately over me. His concern warms me.
“Look who’s here to rescue poor Sophia. The impotent police.”
Just as she raises her hand to sweep him away just as she tossed me aside, he raises a palm that seems to block her movement. Her face twists, her lips draw back to show her teeth as she tries again, but this time it’s as if her energy is thrown back at her and she is deflected backward. When she rises, she runs, into the darkness, howling in her wake.
Anton looks as if he’s about to give chase but stops and then hustles to me. He lifts me up, holding me even after I’m on my feet. His warmth feeds into me and I allow myself to lean into him.
“Why didn’t you deflect me last night?”
He grins a little. “I didn’t expect it. I thought you just whispered words over soup. If you were to do that right now, I’d probably react better.”
“You didn’t make your soups go dark?” he asks.
He now knows that it was Isla. Do I answer?
He shakes his head and gazes off into the direction where she ran. “I understand. She’s your sister. You will protect her. If I can be honest, her darkness needs to be curtailed or every slayer will be after her. We will be asked to terminate her before her greed and lust for power saturate her to such a degree that she is no longer able to be humane. At that point, she won’t be your sister any more.”
I vaguely remember something about how the four of us could become derailed by the power, our powers, if we didn’t know how to manage them. Isla had a head start on us because she stopped drinking her binding tea. Would the same thing happen to us? Or, because we now know what we are and what we could become, can we change the scenario? I’d like to think that’s true.
Anton grips my hand. “I know you love your sister, but tonight’s power won’t go unnoticed.”
Rose frowns. “What does that mean?”
“There are people who watch for arrays of supernatural powers. There are watchers everywhere who look for the slightest adjustments, accumulations, displays. That’s why I was here. Your soups. People became more after they ate them.”
“Fatter?” I ask, half kidding.
He grins. He likes me. Good, because I’m really beginning to like him.
“They set off a thing, like a little electrical discharge after their minds absorbed your soups and concentrated on their issues.”
I shake my head. It’s hard to believe. My soups. When I didn’t even know that I was doing anything other than cooking.
“My soups?” So crazy.
He nods. “Even when your powers were bound, you emitted enough magic, enough positive magic that your soups enhanced and helped the people who consumed them.”
“I thought I was just cooking.” Suddenly I wonder if my soups actually taste good or if it’s just magic. Wouldn’t it be horrible….if my soups were horrible?
As if he can read my mind, he pulls me close. “Your soups are lifeblood. They are delectable. Just like you.” He kisses me. I’m soaring. I can feel my body lift and fly above the clouds. I’m half-afraid to open my eyes because who knows what I might find these days. I’m not all that good with heights.
Presuming that Isla has vanished into the night, which she has, Rose hugs me and tells me that she’ll see me tomorrow or on Monday when we start the work week all over again.
I’m left standing awkwardly with Anton, leaning into him, wanting him, and yet thinking I should probably go back to Mom’s, pick up Moira who will no doubt be censuring me for leaving her, and just go to bed alone.
I glance up at him. “This Light Union.”
He raises an eyebrow, waiting for me to go on.
“Are we it?”
“I doubt it.”
I nod, realizing again how much I don’t know.
“I feel you want me to come home with you tonight, Sophia, but you don’t ask, why is that?”
“Because I don’t do things nonchalantly. I want to, but I don’t. If I ask you to come home with me, I might want more, and I don’t know you well enough to know if you can give it. I’d like to be forward thinking and say, come home with me, jump my bones and then go your own way, but I know who I am. I won’t want you to go your own way. I’d want you to go mine.”
He smiles. I like that smile. It makes his face softer, his eyes kinder. “I understand. Given time I might go your way.”
“Okay. Maybe time’s required.”
He nods again, lowers his head until our lips meet and meet and meet and I’m trying to crawl up his body again, and his hands are hoisting me up until my legs swing around his waist and I feel just how much he’d like to introduce me to his neighborhood.
“A witch,” he murmurs. “I was never supposed to feel like this about a witch.”
“I’m just a girl, looking at a witch slayer, asking him to….not slay her?”
“Your rhymes need work. Your kisses don’t though.”
Slowly I lower my feet to the ground, and my brain as well. We’re at an impasse between the wants and shouldn’ts. Soon, I think. We’ll indulge the wants if I can figure out who he is and if he’ll stay and if he won’t feel the need to slay me or my sisters.