Ebony Fight (The Guard Duet Book 2) (11 page)

BOOK: Ebony Fight (The Guard Duet Book 2)
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SEVENTEEN

“With that,” Arthur said, pointing with his thumb over his shoulder at the sudden chaos outside. A smile twitched at his lips before he became serious. “The boy needs you. I thought you could use some help and I’d patch up the others in the meantime.”

Grateful, she nodded. “Well, then move your butt.”

“Glad someone still notices I have one.”

With Arthur and Stone in tow, Becca ran towards Abby as soon as she saw the Ivory climb out of the first car. “Hey, I’m with Sam’s Guard. Dave is…bad.” Abby motioned towards two guys hurrying to get an unconscious man out of the pick-up. Without a word, Arthur and Stone rushed over to help.

“What happened?”

“Megan’s Guard attacked us. Ed over there took a bad hit too, but we only realized it when we were in the car.” Abby shook her head, shock and worry filling her eyes. “We weren’t prepared.”

Becca touched Abby’s arm briefly. That was all the comfort she could give for now, and then she said, “Get him to the lounge.”

Running back inside, Becca grabbed the pillow and blankets off the couch and threw them onto the armchair in the corner.

Noticing Quinn who was standing in the doorway to the kitchen, she instructed, “Go and fetch my bag from my room and a first-aid kit from the bathroom, please.”

Realizing the gravity of the situation at once, he ran upstairs after a quick nod.

With swift movements, Becca pushed the sofa into the middle of the room, before turning to her unexpected guests.

“Dave gets the couch, the rest of you have to make do with the floor for now.”

The men complied and tried to lay him down as quickly and gently as possible.

Quinn came running back with her bag and a kit in hand. As she took them from him, worry shone in his eyes and she tried to reassure him with a quick smile.

“Okay, guys. Could you all please take a step back? I need a clear circle around Dave.”

Arthur came to her aid, “We need another first-aid kit so I can patch up the rest.” He pointedly looked at all of them, the smaller and bigger cuts blooming on each of the Ivorys. Still assessing the situation, he said, “Someone has to have a look at your back, Abby.”

“How do you know my name?”

Stone’s deep rumble explained with a hint of amusement, “He’s an oracle.”

One of the guys, which Becca guessed to be Sam, didn’t pay any heed to the conversation and grabbed Abby’s arms. He whirled her around and had a look at her injured back. “Damn it, Abby.”

Becca blocked them out, leaving it to Arthur to take care of the others. Catching Stone’s unrelenting gaze, she leaned towards him and whispered for his ears alone, “Could you make sure no one interrupts, no matter what I do.”

Dark storm clouds moved in his eyes, and yet he gave a sharp nod.

“I’ll be careful. I got my wake-up call,” she found herself adding in reassurance.

“Good.”

Becca turned her focus to Dave and knelt next to him. He didn’t look good. His skin was sweaty and gray as he played tug-of-war between worlds. Not alive, but not yet dead either. It was the last hope Becca clang to.

Knowing there was no time to waste, she drew a chalk circle around herself and Dave. She highlighted the four directions of the wind and placed thick candles at the points. Then she leaned over Dave, carefully undressing the pressure bandage someone had applied to his stomach on the way to her. They did a good job, but it wasn’t enough to stop the bleeding from the nasty gashes.

“They dipped their wings. Steel-tipped wings. Freaking cowards,” the older Ivory spat out as she paced the room. Abby hushed her.

Becca sighed inwardly. The desire to hurt was in everyone; in some more hidden than others. Anything could bring it out into the open - anger, greed or lust for power were just a few reasons. Whether to give in or fight was a choice, and some didn’t choose wisely.

Rummaging through her bag she took out several bundles of dried herbs tied together with thread. Calendula, thyme and rosemary. Their scents filled the room as she held the bundles to each candle’s flame. But that was not their primary use. Having been dried out, their power of death was what Becca needed. It was the first sacrifice.

Now, for the second one. She took out a knife she’d kept hidden in her bag. Determined, she pushed up the sleeves of her robe. With a swift and practiced move she cut her lower left arm, before switching the blade into her other hand to cut her right arm as well. Blood began to well. The power of the living.

Leaning over Dave’s stomach, she placed her hands gently over his wounds. The blood magic snapped the moment their bloody skins touched.

Dave moaned softly. Becca didn’t even have the time to pray that he wouldn’t wake before his lids flickered, and suddenly his eyes snapped open. Shocked and terrified, Dave tried to orientate himself. His eyes found her and then traveled down her arms.

“Wha…No!”

“Shh, Dave. I need you to stay calm. Please, don’t move, I’m busy stitching you back together.”

“No!”

Becca hoped he was still too weak to fight her off.

“You’re a
demon
.” He spat the last word out. “You don’t heal.”

She knew when harsh words were needed. “I do and I can. If you want your guts on the floor, be my guest. Otherwise shut up and let me do my job.” She ordered, “Look! Look at yourself!”

He did, and his struggle stopped. She glanced back at him and realized he must have fainted.

Her vision wavered. Alarm shot through her.

Her blood ran freely down her arms now, the magic surfing on its pulsing waves. It was a greedy thing, a tightrope so difficult to balance. Becca felt herself draining and exhaustion starting to clog her veins. Her eyes fell shut. The blood magic whispered in her, a seductive voice in the dark.

Oh so sweet.

Suddenly images of Quinn flashed in front of her inner eye. First his smile, and then the worry in his innocent eyes.

Then his disgust.

With a gasp Becca pushed herself away from the Ivory. It took all her might.

Stone was at her side the next instant, his arm supporting her back. Breathing heavily, she tried to assure him that she was alright. Yes, she was light-headed and felt a bit shaky, but she hadn’t crossed the limit. She had done what she could and it would have to be enough.

“That’s all I can do for now. He has to fight the rest of the way on his own.”

“You’ve done more than I could hope for.” The Ivory who hadn’t been too happy about Abby’s cut-up back stepped forward, with an exhausted but grateful smile on his face. “Thank you.”

The oldest of the Ivorys came closer, hands crossed in front of her chest and a frown marking her face. She looked competent and kick-ass. “I’d imagined blood magic to be messier.” She pointed at Becca’s arms, which were spotlessly clean. No hint of blood other than the few drops on the closing cuts remained.

Arthur handed her band aids right on cue, an impish smile on his face. “There you go.”

She thanked the oracle with a smile in return, before facing the Ivory again. “First time, I take it?”

The woman laughed, loud and booming. “Never thought I’d say that again at my age, but, yes, first time.”

Becca was glad that there was no bitterness or distrust coming from her. “Blood magic is greedy, it will take everything it can get and try for more. It won’t waste a drop.” She scrambled to pick herself up off the floor, and was flushed with warmth when Stone helped her.

Reaching out a hand, she said, “I’m Becca.

The Ivory shook it. “Linda.” Pointing at the older man, she added, “That’s my hubby, Ed.”

“Hubby?”

“You’re married?”

Shocked voices rang out before Becca had a chance to reply. A look around the room and seeing the astonished faces brought a smile to her own.

“Of course we are,” Linda scoffed, and grabbed a necklace out from under her top. A simple, golden band glinted in the light of the candles. “Nineteen years now.”

It effectively silenced the troop that had invaded her house, and Becca used the window in time to usher them all into the kitchen. “Dave needs to sleep. It’s the best medicine for him right now.”

In the kitchen, which was fortunately more spacious than the lounge, Becca looked around at each one of them. “Okay. There are some new faces here so I think it’s time for introductions. I’m Becca and this is my brother, Quinn.” He waved. “This attractive old man is Arthur. And this is…Stone.”

For a silly, girlish moment she wished she could call him more. Heat crept up her neck. Was she blushing? That was new. Horrified and yet delighted at the thought, Becca was grateful when Abby took the attention away from her.

“I feel like we’re in a self help group.”

Becca laughed. “Actually, it’s not that far from the truth.”

The introductions were made, their mood now relaxed as relief regarding Dave’s condition washed over them. Linda, Ed, Sam and Wes. Then Becca’s gaze landed on the little girl.

“And who are you?” she asked with a curious smile.

The girl had successfully stuck to the shadows so far. At the moment she was leaning against the wall, almost next to the sliding door. That said a lot about her. It gave her the opportunity to watch the entire room and the possibility to escape quickly if need be. Her talent to imitate furniture was all Becca needed to know she was facing a kid from Hell’s unforgiving streets. Her eyes were hard, and had seen too much for her young age.

“Sli.”

“An Ebony?”

The girl’s gaze darted around, aware and alert reminding Becca of Stone, before she finally nodded.

“You ran away?”

Another nod.

A smart street kid then, if she’d survived this long. Becca didn’t need to ask about her parents. Most Ebonys never remembered them since they were gladly handed over to the training academy at infant age.

Becca smiled softly. “Good. I’m glad to hear that. Quinn and me, Stone and Arthur…we all escaped Hell. So, you can just join the club. Stepping through that hellhole is the only right of passage we require.”

Sli’s mouth twitched. Becca knew all too well that smiles would probably feel foreign to her for a while yet. It would take time and care until those corners would lift beautifully.

Arthur stepped forward, looking around the room as if about to prepare the troops for war. “How about you ladies make us some nice coffee while the men could get a fire going outside? It’s still mild enough. Beautiful night.” An odd note entered his voice, “All cats are gray.”

A shiver ran down Becca’s spine, as always when the oracle surfaced. Sometimes his messages were hard to notice, other times they were heavy with apprehension. Tonight his words added a new element to the night. Heaven and Hell, Ivorys and Ebonys, were united under one roof, blurring the lines.

The taste of change in the air made her smile. “Good idea.”

“It would be nice to just sit and calm down,” Abby agreed. “I for one am still running on adrenaline. I don’t know about the rest, but I think we probably won’t be able to sleep for a while yet.”

While the men went out the sliding door and onto the back porch, Becca moved to the counter and got busy. Linda was right there next to her and offered to help. Soon the coffee was running through while tea soaked, and jugs of water and juice were placed on a tray to be carried outside. Becca rummaged in a cupboard and was glad when she came up with two bags of chips she’d hidden away for a TV night with Quinn. She poured them into two bowls and placed them on the tray.

Then she picked up where Abby had left off a moment ago, “By the way, once you guys do feel sleepy…I have to apologize, but we only have two beds available. Quinn and I will gladly borrow it to you guys. The rest, I fear, will have to make do with whatever surface they can find. We do have blankets to soften it a bit, though.”

Linda shook her head. Her hoarse voice dominated the kitchen and left no room for discussion, “No, listen here. You do
not
apologize for anything.
We
are the ones sorry for barging in on you like that.”

“Okay,” Becca smiled with gratitude. “But if you guys need anything,” she said, gesturing towards the fridge, “then please feel free to just help yourself. There’s not much in there, but take-out menus are on top and I’ll buy more food first thing in the morning.”

Abby, one tray in hand, faced her. “Thanks, Becca. You were the only person I could think of who could help us. A hospital was out of the question what with Dave losing consciousness before we could bring him to make his wings disappear.”

“I’m glad I could help.” Becca scooped some cookies in another dish and then looked around. “We ready? Okay, let’s take this all outside.”

The men, except for Ed who was resting in one of the chairs on the deck, were gathered around her little three-legged charcoal grill and had thrown some sticks and logs on it. Greedy flames were already growing and eating hungrily. Becca loved their play, the bright colors a beacon in the black night.

Contrary to popular belief, Hell was not dominated by fire. The only thing flickering in Hell were the countless neon signs. Yes, it was a bit hotter in there than here in the human realm, but that might have been due to the fact that Hell didn’t have any rain or surface water.

BOOK: Ebony Fight (The Guard Duet Book 2)
4.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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