Authors: Olivia Rivers
Published by Red Sparrow Press
Copyright © 2012 Olivia Rivers. All Rights Reserved. No content may be reproduced without the express written permission of the author.
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Drake extended his claws and stepped toward the girl.
She lay there on the bed, silently staring up at him. Her eyes hadn’t changed in the nine years since he’d last seen her. They were still wide and perfectly round, making her look younger than she actually was. And her irises, they were… scarred. That was the word for them. They were a flawless silver color, but their lack of naivety left them scarred.
Drake glanced down at his claws. He couldn’t do this, not to the girl. What was it he’d always told her?
‘I’m not going to let anyone hurt you. Okay?’
He couldn’t break that promise. No, he just couldn’t do this.
He stood over her for a long moment, that simple word pounding through him with each breath and heartbeat.
No, no, no
The girl was dazed with sleep, but she managed to focus on the shattered glass scattered across the floor and the broken window he’d used as an entrance. Horror slowly drained the color from her cheeks. But then she turned back to him. She blinked a couple times, and recognition lit her face, making the horror vanish. The girl mouthed his name, a smile forming on her lips as she silently spoke.
He saw the trust in her smile, still there after nine years. And part of him died right then.
Then the girl’s gaze trailed down to his claws. She shook her head, like she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Her eyes widened and her lips trembled, ruining the smile. “No,” she murmured.
Drake took a step forward. His boot thumped in time with his stalling heart. He clenched his forearm, contracting his muscles and sliding forward his claws until they were completely extended. Then he whispered his response.
Allai bolted upright in bed and screamed. Her heart pounded, ticking out the moments as she searched her bedroom for danger.
But no one was there.
Allai gasped in a relieved breath, the cold air grating and scratching her throat. She swallowed hard and sat there for a long minute, just panting her fear in and out. In and out. She tried to breathe in a perfect rhythm, but it wasn’t enough of a distraction; her thoughts still fell back to what had happened before she’d been jolted awake.
The dream. She groaned and leaned her head back against her headboard. It’d been the damn dream again.
It was always short—just a glimpse of his claws rushing toward her neck. But somehow it always managed to panic her. Was this the third night in a row she’d had it? The fourth? She’d lost track. But it had been haunting her lately, turning more and more into a nightmare. Although, she’d always told herself it wasn’t a nightmare. She couldn’t call it that, because that’d be admitting that it scared her. No, it was just a memory and a dream.
Allai closed her eyes, ignoring her pounding heart and fast breaths. Or at least she tried to. Drake’s eyes stared back at her in the darkness, nothing but a faint memory, but so unforgettable. Golden, liquid, intense. She wasn’t sure how his eyes could be so intense when they’d been so young, but that was how she remembered them. They had held the determined intensity of her loyal protector.
And her assassin.
She opened her eyes and took a few moments to just stare at the ceiling. She remembered that after ‘the event’, as her father liked to call it, there’d been a tiny splotch of blood on her ceiling. It hadn’t been hers; it’d been dark and definitely belonged to a Demon. But it had still completely freaked her out. She’d made Luke wash over the spot about five times before she was satisfied it was gone, leaving her room to smell like lemon-scent cleaner for weeks. She swore she could still smell lemons sometimes.
A knock came at the door, and she froze. But what kind of assassin knocks on doors? Allai shook her head, clearing her thoughts. She hadn’t heard footsteps approaching, so it had to be a Demon at the door. And that left only one person who would come to check on her.
“Go away, Luke,” Allai muttered. She didn’t bother raising her voice, knowing he’d hear her just fine. Luke was a Persequor, the species of Demon with the most superior senses. They were also supposedly emotionless, but Luke was definitely moody enough to prove he was an exception.
The door opened. Luke stood there with no shirt, just a pair of jeans haphazardly pulled on. If any other guy had walked into her room dressed like that, her dad would have thrown a fit. And then promptly thrown the guy off the roof.
But her dad put up with Luke, for two simple reasons: Luke was gay, and her dad knew he wouldn’t cause ‘trouble’ with Allai. And Luke was an agent of the French government. He had control over her father, and he made it well known.
Luke walked into Allai’s bedroom, not bothering to respond to her. She knew he’d heard her; the guy could detect a pin dropping from across a football field, or the sound of her getting into trouble from miles away. But she also knew not to expect an immediate response. He wasn’t a morning person.
She glanced at the clock on her nightstand. The glowing blue numbers read 3:27 a.m. With or without his Demon senses, Luke would
be in his prime right now.
He collapsed on the edge of her bed. Luke was usually pretty good about judging where objects were, despite being blind. But he missed this time, only his torso and flailed arms making it onto the bed. “Good morning to you, too,” he mumbled.
Allai raised her eyebrows at him, not caring that he wasn’t looking her way. It didn’t matter, anyway. “I never said good morning.”
“I’m trying to be polite, Allai.” He rubbed his temples. "Just go with it, okay?”
A smirk pulled hesitantly at her lips. The word ‘polite’ didn’t fit Luke. He looked like a gentleman; tall frame, straight shoulders, charming smile. He appeared about twenty or so, although Allai knew he was probably more than a century older.
But when it came to acting gentlemanly, Luke just flat-out failed. He cursed more than all the Warriors in the Sentinel combined, and his temper was known to be dangerous. He tried to blame the temper on his red hair, but Allai didn’t let him get away with it.
“So.” Luke rolled over so he faced the ceiling. “What were you screaming about, darling? Did you have another nightmare?”
“It’s not a nightmare.”
“Nightmare, flashback, memory. They’re all the same. But did it happen again?”
“Yeah,” she admitted. “But I’m fine. It just kind of freaked me out for a second.”
He scoffed. “You were screaming for longer than a second, Allai-bird.”
Allai quickly changed the subject by kicking at him and saying, “Don’t call me that.”
“Why, darling? It’s an adorable nickname.”
She could hear the teasing in his voice. Where Luke came from in Ireland, ‘Allai-bird’ was slang for ‘Allai, my girlfriend’. Luke had given her the nickname when she was eleven. She’d followed him everywhere back then, fascinated by his course language and charming accent. It got to the point where Luke would joke that Allai must think they were in a relationship if she followed him that much.
“It’s not adorable,” Allai muttered. “I’m older now, Luke. People think we’re actually together when you say it.”
He made a sound that was something between a scoff and a laugh. “Darling, you’re barely seventeen. I really don’t think people will make that mistake too often.”
seventeen,” she corrected him. “I could be older. We don’t know my real birthday.”
“Which means you could also be younger. What if you’re only like fourteen?”
She kicked him again. “I’m not
He didn’t respond for a moment, and instead rolled on his side to face her. His blind eyes had taken on an eerie cast in the dark room. They were void of any sight, but filled with murky splashes covering his irises. She didn’t know what color Luke’s eyes actually were, but she’d always imagined them to be blue. Grayish-blue, like the tossing sea.
“I’ll make you a deal,” he said.
“You stop waking me up in the middle of the night with these nightmares. Just let it go. And then I’ll stop calling you Allai-bird.”
“I’m not going to just stop having these nightmares, Luke.”
He grinned at her. She’d always loved Luke for his grin. It was wild and ferocious and definitely not happy. But it had an energy that was contagious. “True. And I’m not going to just stop calling you Allai-bird. It’s much too adorable.”
Allai rolled her eyes at him. She felt comfortable doing that, just like she felt comfortable doing anything around him. Allai had run to Luke when she’d lost her first tooth, when she’d broken her first bone, and when she’d had her first period. She still remembered his reaction to that last one. He had just smirked and said,
‘You girls always remind me why I enjoy being gay. I get all the men, and none of this messy part.’
‘You still get the bitchy part,’ Allai had muttered back.
‘Darling, my job is to watch over your father. Migraines and bitchiness come with the occupation.’
Luke cleared his throat, bringing her thoughts back to the present. “So, about these nightmares.”
“I thought we changed the subject away from them.” Allai crossed her arms and fingered the sleeves of the old t-shirt she used as a pajama top. She always felt like her hands had to be doing something. The Demons she lived with were constantly alert and responsive, so the least she could do was look active.
changed the subject,” Luke said. “I never agreed to it. So how are you going to stop your nightmares?”
“You said it yourself. They’re not just going to stop.”
“Of course not. You have to
do you expect me to do that?” She took a deep breath, and then said in a calmer tone, “He tried to kill me, Luke. You were there, you know the details. How am I supposed to just push that memory away?”
“Don’t push at it,” Luke said. “Just accept it. Embrace it, and then move on.”
There was no way she could do that. Part of her wanted to; getting that memory out of her head would be beyond relieving. But the other part wanted to remember, because every memory she had of Drake Rhaize was a piece to a puzzle. And part of her hoped that once she put together the entire puzzle, it would tell a different story than her nightmare.
Luke growled. His growl was so soft it sounded more like a purr, but Allai could still hear the anger behind it. “You don’t want to let go of that memory, do you?”
An awkward silence passed, one that wasn’t
awkward. She was too close to Luke to ever feel that way around him. “I know it was Drake.” She didn’t directly answer his question. That would only fire off Luke’s temper.
“We all know it was Drake Rhaize,” Luke said. “His scent was everywhere afterwards… remember?” He said it hesitantly, like he didn’t
Allai leaned over and focused on fiddling with the alarmclock on her nightstand. She knew Luke was blind, but she always felt like she had to hide her expression from him when she got exasperated or angry. He seemed to always sense it somehow. “I’m not talking about the event, Luke. Of course I know Drake tried to kill me. I’m human, not stupid.”
“All humans are stupid. The Luxs and the Noxs.” He poked at her foot beneath the covers. “And that includes you, little Nox, even if you’re sharper than the average butter-knife.”
She kicked at him, but his steel-like grasp caught her foot and a fistful of sheets. She struggled against him, and he pretended not to notice. “What are you talking about, Allai? What else do you know about Drake?”
This was dangerous waters she was treading in. But Allai took a deep breath and said, “He’s the one I remember from when I was… I don’t know, just not
. You know, when I was younger. He protected me back then.”
Luke finally let go of her foot, but not before giving her an exasperated look. “This again? Allai, how many times do I have to tell you that theory is complete bullshit?”
It wasn’t just a theory. She’d tried to convince Luke of that multiple times, and each time she got the exact same response. He told her the last person who would save her life would be Drake Rhaize; Drake had tried to kill her, not save her. And he didn’t always stop there; Luke would say that she was too young to even remember that far back, and that Drake had slipped into her past memories just because she thought about him too much. The first time Luke had suggested that, she hadn’t spoken to him for a few days.
But she continued to try to convince Luke. Because if he believed that the memories were real, then she wouldn’t feel so insane.