Frost Fire (Tortured Elements) (10 page)

BOOK: Frost Fire (Tortured Elements)
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Then Drake saw her. She was a girl, younger than him, but old enough to be a fun friend to have. Was that why Dad had let him in the Secret Person Room? Was he supposed to keep this girl company? Because it’d be fun to play with her, but he really wanted to see the Secret Person, too.

Drake looked around the room, searching for the Secret Person. But no one else was in the room. There was just a dresser and a nightstand, and in the corner of the room was the bed the girl sat on.

Could the girl be the Secret Person? He didn’t get how a girl could make Dad so angry. But he took a step toward her and examined her a little closer.

“Stay back, Drake,” Dad snapped. “And don’t talk to her.”

He listened, like he always did, and took one step backward. But he could still see her from the doorway. She sat on the bed, her legs tucked in front of her, and her arms wrapped around her knees. She was in the corner of the bed, where it pushed up against the wall. And she was shivering. Which didn’t make sense, because the room was hot and stuffy, not cold. But then Drake saw her eyes: They were wide and terrified and focused on Dad.

She was shaking with fear.

“Is she okay?” Drake asked.

The girl’s eyes flickered over to him suspiciously. But then they refocused on Dad, growing wider when he took a step toward her.

“She’s perfectly fine,” Dad said in an exasperated tone. “But, I swear, this girl may be the end of me. She refuses to perform magic.”

Drake shuffled his feet. “Then can’t you just… well, stop trying to make her?”

Dad growled, and Drake shut up. He should have known better than to suggest anything. Because Dad was smarter than him. Dad was smarter than
everyone
. He always knew better, and he didn’t need Drake’s advice.

But maybe the girl needed his advice. He wanted to tell her to start obeying Dad, because she’d get hurt if she didn’t. He bit at his lip to keep the words back, because Dad’s face was already darkening into a scowl.

Dad took a few steps toward her. As he approached, the girl pressed closer and closer into the wall, like she thought she could disappear into it. She couldn’t. Drake had tried before; it wasn’t possible.

Dad pointed to Drake. He startled and stood a little straighter. Pointing usually wasn’t good.

“This is Drake,” Dad told the girl.

Why didn’t Dad introduce him like he introduced Asa or Alexander? Whenever Dad introduced them to anyone, it was always, ‘Asa, my son.’ Or ‘Alexander, my eldest.’ And there was always a hint of pride in his voice.

But not when he introduced Drake.

The girl flicked her eyes back to him. Drake smiled at her. He was behind Dad’s back, so he could do that. But she didn’t smile back. Her eyes just burrowed into him suspiciously. She had odd eyes. They were silver, and the black rims around the colored part were a little thicker than usual. It made them look bigger than they actually were.

He liked her eyes. They were pretty.

“Drake can perform magic,” Dad said to the girl. “He has been able to since he turned five. Which, of course, was well behind his brothers’ development. Drake is weak, and you are not. You should already be able to perform magic at your age. So perform. Now.”

The girl’s eyes focused back on Dad. She hadn’t moved from her position huddled in the corner of the bed. And she didn’t look like she was going to anytime soon.

Drake waited for her to do something. When Dad asked for something, you did it. If he asked for you to get out of the way, you ran. If he asked for you to practice your fighting skills, you practiced until you bled or blacked out. And if he asked for magic, well, you found a way to do it.

But this girl didn’t seem to know that. She just sat there, still shaking.

“Why do you want her to do magic?” Drake asked. Then he hesitantly added, “I could do the magic for her.” It seemed like a good idea. That way the girl wouldn’t have to be scared anymore, and maybe he could impress Dad.

Dad scoffed. “You barely have any control over your magic, Drake. And I’ve told you before how useless your ability is. Transferring memories from one person to another? A person might as well just tell someone else what happened in the memory, and be done with it. No one needs your magic.”

Drake looked to the ground. “I’m sorry.”

“And how many times have I told you not to apologize?” Dad snarled. “It makes you weaker. I swear, Drake, every day you’re turning out more like your mother. It’s disgusting.”

He didn’t say anything in reply. Because the polite response would be to apologize, and Dad didn’t want him to do that. And the response Drake wanted to give was to defend Mom, and he knew better than to try that.

Dad’s cell phone went off. Drake jumped as it began ringing out an annoying little tune. He didn’t like that tune. It usually meant Flacks was calling, and Dad always got angry when he talked to Flacks.

Dad flipped open the cell phone and walked to the door. “What the hell do you want, Flacks?” he snapped into the receiver.

Dad really shouldn’t talk to Flacks like that. After all, he was Dad’s boss and a Caedes. And, besides, Drake had met Flacks before, and he’d been a nice guy. But Drake had heard rumors that he hadn’t been so nice lately—his kid had died, and he’d been upset about it. Everybody knew it was all the Sentinel’s fault, but no one could do anything about it. Dad said that was a good thing. He said Flacks was better off without his kid. Drake was pretty sure Dad was wrong.

But it wasn’t like Drake could just tell him that. And he also couldn’t tell Dad to talk nicer to Flacks, so he just let Dad storm out of the room and slam the door behind him. Drake turned in a circle, making sure there really was no other Secret Person hiding somewhere. There wasn’t. The girl had to be the Secret Person.

“Hey,” Drake said to the girl. “I’m Drake. What’s your name?”

She just stared at him, still shivering in the corner. Drake frowned. Dad had told him to stay away from her. But she looked so scared, and maybe he could help her. So he crept toward the bed, keeping his eye on the door in case Dad came back in.

“Well, do you have a name?” Drake pressed.

She still didn’t answer. Maybe she didn’t have a name. That’d be pretty sad.

“I have to call you
something
.” He crossed his arms over his chest as he reached the edge of the bed. “I could just give you a name. But I don’t think you’d like that. I’ll bet you have a name you want me to use, but you’re just not telling me.”

The girl nodded and pursed her lips a little, like she was trying to tell him that her lips were completely sealed. Drake smiled a little. At least she could understand him.

“Okay, then. I won’t give you a real name, since you don’t want that. But you’re a girl, so maybe I’ll call you that for now. ‘Girl’.” He frowned. It didn’t sound right. “No, you can be ‘
the
girl’. So it’s like a title. Everyone around here has titles, you know.”

The girl nodded, as if in agreement. Drake wasn’t sure if the nod meant she was agreeing that everyone had titles—that wasn’t really true, because
he
didn’t have one—or if she was accepting her new title. He hoped it meant she was being accepting, because he didn’t want to think of another name for her.

“Okay, it’s all settled, then.” He jumped up on the bed and scooted toward her. “You can be the girl, and I’ll still be Drake.” He crossed his legs, settling in a couple feet from her, and then gave the girl a frown. “You know, you’re awfully quiet. You’re making me do all the talking. I haven’t talked this much in… Oh, I don’t know. Dad
never
lets me talk.”

The girl nodded and sighed. Drake smiled. Maybe she understood even more than most people.

“I like you,” Drake decided. “You’re quiet, but I think you’re actually smart. And your eyes are cool. I’ve never seen silver eyes before. I really like them. They make you pretty.”

She smiled. It was a tiny smile, and he barely saw it before it disappeared. But it made him grin, because it had definitely been there, even if it was only for a second.

The girl had stopped shaking. He grinned even harder when he saw that. She wasn’t scared anymore. Well, maybe just a little, because she was still in the corner all tensed up. But at least he’d made her a little better.

Drake scooted even closer to her, and wrapped an arm around her thin shoulders. She flinched, but only for the tiniest moment. Then she leaned into him.

“That’s right,” he said. “You can trust me. I won’t hurt you.” Then he thought for a moment, and added, “I won’t let
anyone
hurt you. Okay? That’s a promise.”

She smiled a little more, and this time the expression stayed for a couple seconds. Drake wrapped his other arm around her. He liked this girl. He liked her a lot.

Chapter Eleven

Allai opened her eyes to find Drake smiling at her. Not frowning or smirking, but actually
smiling
. The expression was tiny and hardly noticeable; but it was definitely there.

So many questions bubbled up in her mind. Why had Rhaize had her? What poor, helpless parents had he stolen her from? And why had Rhaize thought she could perform magic? Her silver eyes meant she had Demon blood in her ancestry, but surely Rhaize wasn’t stupid enough to mistake them for the bronze eyes of a Mage.

“Why…” She trailed off, unsure which of the questions to ask.

Drake’s smile faded a little, but it didn’t completely disappear. She liked the way he looked when he smiled; the expression was foreign, like it didn’t belong on him, and like he had to work for it. Like it was actually worth something.

She found the question she was looking for. “Why that memory?”

“I’m probably not going to make it out of here alive, little Nox,” he said softly. “I broke all kinds of treaties to save you. But I don’t want that memory to die when I do.”

She’d never been one for crying, but she could feel tears pressing against her eyes. Drake wasn’t going to survive. He wasn’t going to be around to explain everything, to answer all her questions, to whisper to her that he wouldn’t let anyone hurt her. And it was all her fault.

A teardrop streamed down her cheek, not stopping until it struck Drake’s hand. He was still cupping her chin and tilting her head up so that their eyes met.

“I don’t understand that memory,” Allai said, her guilt turning the words into a hoarse whisper. She didn’t understand
any
of this. So many secrets and lies…

Drake shook his head. “I don’t expect you to understand. Just keep it.”

“But why that memory?”

He leaned in a little closer, so that his lips almost brushed against hers when he spoke. “Because it’s the first time I met you. And because it’s my favorite.”

For a moment, she just met his gaze. It was intense, but she could see now that it was far from steady. His emotions rapidly flickered from contentment to regret to pain.

When she saw that pain in his eyes—pure and raw and agonizing—she threw her arms around his neck. He didn’t react and just sat there as she embraced him, pressing her face into his shoulder.

“I’m sorry,” she mumbled into his bloodied shirt. “I should have trusted you.”

The dungeon door burst open. Allai froze. Time was up; it was all over.

She didn’t want to look toward the door. That meant facing Luke and accepting that her time with Drake was done. But Drake was looking toward the door, his jaw gritted and his fist slowly clenching. So Allai pulled away from him and looked towards it, too, peering over her shoulder.

Luke stood in the doorway, flanked by a Trident Demon and a Charger. The Trident let out a low, continuous growl, his body shaking as he held back a form-shift. The Charger didn’t look any friendlier, with his wings flared and lip raised into a snarl. Luke was the only one who looked calm, but it was a deadly sort of calm.

“Your ten minutes is up, Drake,” Luke said, his voice low. “Hand Allai over.”

Drake grabbed her shoulder. “You never answered my question. Are you okay? Does Shieldak treat you alright? I need to know.”

“I said hand her over,” Luke growled.

Allai swallowed hard. Drake’s eyes bored into her, golden and intense. “My dad treats me fine,” she whispered. He still didn’t look satisfied, so she added, “I’m okay, Drake. I’m safe.”

He breathed out a sigh. Then he released her shoulder and gave her a little shove toward the door. “Then what are you waiting for? Get the hell out of here.”

She stood up and stumbled a few steps toward Luke. The Trident guard sprinted forward and roughly grabbed her wrist, yanking her toward the door. But before he reached the threshold, he looked over his shoulder and snarled at Drake, “We’ll be back for you.”

Drake just shrugged. “I’ll be waiting.”

Chapter Twelve

He was an asshole.

Drake slammed his wing into the corner of the cell. His wing blades imbedded deep in the cement, the feathers slicing through until he hit steel rebar. He hissed through his teeth, but the arid scent of dust and cobwebs still managed to crawl into his mouth.

He shook his head. No, he was
worse
than an asshole. A fool; that’s what he was. Because he wasn’t getting out of here, not unless he was dead. And had he taken that into consideration when he’d said goodbye to the girl? No. He’d just shoved at her and told her to get the hell out.

He snarled and ripped his wing out of the wall. A low growl rumbled from his chest, and he wished he could harness the anger behind it and use it to just get the hell
out
of here. Away from Sentinel property, away from Silas’s rotting corpse, away from the girl.

He winced. She had a name, damn it. And it wasn’t ‘the girl’. He had to stop thinking of her as that.

BOOK: Frost Fire (Tortured Elements)
10.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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