Authors: Kaitlyn Hoyt
“It was just a warning to me. He wanted to prove that he’s stronger than me; that he still has ways to get to me. Granted, I didn’t use any magic against him, so I don’t know how he knows that he’s
much stronger than me,” Ryanne says, hand still on my arm. I’m trying not to look down at my arm, because I know she’ll remove her hand and step away if she sees my glance. However, she does the opposite of that. She takes a step closer, so she’s basically pressed up against me and whispers, “We need Larkin’s help, so stop glaring at him like he’s the bad guy.” I hadn’t realized that I was doing that. Sighing in frustration, I look away from him.
“Why didn’t you defend yourself with magic?” David asks her. Darn David. She takes a step back and turns toward him, removing her hand. It takes all my will power to suppress a sad groan.
“I don’t want Dravin to find out what I can do with my magic. In the vision of…in the vision I had, he said that once he found out the extent of my powers he could extract all of it. I didn’t want to give him any information about my magic.” I know that the vision she is referring to is the one where she saw Dravin kill me. Ryanne looks away from my brother and glances back up at me. “Do you think you and Liam can help train me again? Without magic?” She glances between the two of us. Without looking at Liam, I agree. I’d probably agree with anything she asked me to do…to an extent. Especially if it’s accompanied by that breathtaking smile she just gave me.
When I don’t infuse magic into my limbs, fighting is a lot harder. David and Colton had trained me previously, but apparently I’ve gotten lazy because of my magic. I’m not hitting as hard as I thought I was. It seems like while everyone gets stronger, I stay fixated at the same strength level. On top of that, since the guys know that I can do gymnastics stunts, it’s hard to surprise them. I have to work really hard to even get a staggering hit in. I’m knocked flat on my butt more times than I can count.
Two hours later, I am lying on my back with Liam and Colton sitting on either side of me, breathing heavily. “That was not fun.” Placing my arms over my eyes, I block out the sunlight. The sun is setting, disappearing behind the trees, casting small shadows across the yard. The warm and cool colors merge together as the darkness pushes forward. Colton and Liam both stand up. Colton puts a hand out to help me stand up. “No thanks. I’m good down here.” Laughing, he reaches down and grabs my arms. Without my help, he lifts me off the ground and sets me down. Playfully, he pushes me toward the back door of the house.
I smile over my shoulder at him. “Gosh, no need to be pushy.” I hear him laugh as I skip into the house. Shortly afterwards, everyone joins us in the kitchen. Larkin grabs a bottle of water and sits down at the kitchen table. He opens his mouth to speak but stops.
I jump up on the counter and take small sips of my water. Colton walks over and stands beside me. He’s still slightly taller than me. Not fair. “I think that we should find a way to bring Natasha here and question her. Find out why she joined Dravin’s side,” Larkin finally says.
I start choking on the water I was swallowing. Colton reaches behind me and starts hitting me on the back. “You want to bring her here?” I manage to get out after a few seconds.
“I have a friend that’s still in Dravin’s compound. He says that he can get her outside. I’ve already discussed a location to meet with him. I’ll sneak up on them and put a blindfold on her so she can’t see anything about the house. We don’t want to give her any clues to our location. I don’t think you, Ryanne, should be around when we question her though; just to be on the safe side.”
I don’t want to be around anyway. It makes me so mad that she would just blindly accept whatever Dravin told her. I told her everything that happened to me when I was captured by Dravin, and she still went over to his side. “When are you going to do this?” I jump down from the counter, waiting for his reply.
“I’m meeting with Kyril in five minutes.”
So soon? “I’ll be sure to make myself scarce at that time.” I lean against the counter and try to keep a placid expression. I know that Liam and Colton are watching me trying to determine how upset I am about this development. They don’t need to know how bothered I am by Natasha’s presence. I finish my bottle of water and put it in our recycling bin when Larkin’s watch beeps. He looks toward me, silently telling me that it is time.
“I’m going to go take a shower. I need one after that training exercise anyway.”
I’ll keep you company.
Olive tells me as she follows me upstairs.
Entering the bedroom, I smile down at her and place her onto my bed. “Stay here, I’ll be quick.” I jump into the shower and wash the sweat off my body and out of my hair. I lather the floral smelling shampoo through my hair and rinse it out. After shampooing and conditioning, I get out of the shower. I don’t want to leave Olive alone for too long. I get dressed in a large grey cut off sweatshirt and black yoga shorts. I push the sweatshirt to the side, revealing my left shoulder. Since I have time, I decide to blow dry my hair. When I blow dry my hair, it is straighter than when I let it air dry—still a wavy mess but less curly.
I set the blow dryer down and start to walk back into the bedroom when my chest tightens. I stop and lean against the door frame, trying to coax air into my lungs.
Ryanne, what’s wrong?
I open my mouth to respond, but I can’t get anything out. I gasp as the air is pushed further out of my lungs, and I stumble to the ground. If I can make it to the stairs…
I try to make it to the bedroom door but can only go halfway. Olive jumps off the bed and runs toward me. I lose sight of her as the room around me starts spinning. I’ve experienced this once before and already know who is responsible. I black out.
Larkin transports back into the room holding a very surprised but not scared Natasha. A large black blindfold is covering her eyes. “Ahh, now I see what’s going on. Well, not technically, but you know.” She waves him off and then straightens up. “Hello, Colty,” she coos at me.
I take a small step toward her. Liam places a hand on my shoulder and pulls me back. I’ve never wanted to hit a girl before, but she’s now the first one on my list. “Why Natasha?”
“Why?” She has the audacity to laugh. “Why? Because everyone that was at the battle talked about how great she was. The girl got herself stabbed! How is that great? I came over here that day to see if we had a chance of getting back together, and I see you with her. I saw the way you were looking at her. It was obvious that you had feelings for her. She’s nothing compared to me, Colton. She can’t give you what I can.”
“Jealousy? That’s why she did this?” Emma whispers to David.
“Don’t talk bad about her, Natasha. You have no idea what she’s going through,” David says, the anger obvious in his voice. He pulls Emma to his side—to protect her and to keep him calm.
“See, she’s got you all wrapped around her tiny little finger.” Natasha points, but since she can’t see us, she isn’t pointing at anything. “That girl is nothing special. She got lucky and has a lot of magic, but one girl can’t stop everything that’s going on. It’s better that you guys realize it now and join the winning side.”
“Ryanne told you everything that happened with Adam and Dravin, and you still went to their side. Why?” Liam asks.
“Dravin’s kind. He wouldn’t do something unless it was totally necessary. She has information; he needs it. Adam told me all about their little sexscapades.”
“Sexscapades!” I yell at her. Liam is fully holding me back at this point. Olive runs into the kitchen and prances around my feet. I ignore her and turn back to Natasha. “Adam lied to you.”
“Who cares? At least now I get a chance to get revenge for what she did to me! She took away any chance I had with you!”
“I took that away, Natasha, not Ryanne! I didn’t and still don’t ever want to get back together with you.” Liam gasps behind me and loosens his grip. He falls to his knees, grabbing his chest.
“I understand that now,” she says as her smile grows. “Oh, and there’s one thing about me you should know: my power’s evolved. I no longer need to be in the same room as someone to asphyxiate them. You might want to go check on your little girlfriend upstairs. She’s probably unconscious by now…if she’s not dead.”
Larkin transports Natasha out of the room. Logan and I run out of the kitchen and bound up the stairs, taking them two at a time. I slam the door open in Ryanne’s room and rush in. She is lying on the ground on her side with one arm is over her head, the other is across her stomach. I run over to her body and roll her onto her back. Placing an ear on her chest, I listen for a heartbeat.
It is faint but still beating. Logan falls to the ground beside me, hands outstretched and already trying to heal her.
Emma, David, and Bragden all run into the room. Liam stumbles in a couple seconds later, still having difficulty breathing. Larkin transports into the bedroom and looks at her. “Is she going to be ok?”
“I don’t know. She’s still alive but barely. Logan’s trying to heal her.” I glance down at Ryanne, willing her to respond to Logan. I need her here. She still hasn’t moved. I look at Logan, and he’s still concentrating. Something isn’t right.
I look over her body looking for anything obviously wrong.
“She not breathing, Logan!” I say. My panic levels are starting to rise. What if Logan can’t heal her? Logan opens his eyes and shakes his head.
“Move out of the way.” I move backwards and let Logan move to where I was previously sitting. I don’t want to leave her side, but Logan knows what needs to be done; I don’t. My feet move me so that I’m standing near Liam and Emma. She already has silent tears streaming down her face and Liam looks…horrible.
Kneeling near Ryanne’s head, Logan places a hand on her forehead and two fingers under her chin and tilts her head back. Leaning down, he moves his ear over her mouth and confirms that she isn’t breathing. Taking a deep breath, Logan bends down, pinches her nose closed, and places his mouth on hers, expelling the breath into her. He continues to do this, only pausing to breathe himself. When nothing happens, I fall to my knees. I crawl over to her limp body and grab onto her hand.
“Ryanne, don’t you dare leave me! I need you here. Quit being stubborn, and come back to me!”
Logan continues to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. She’s unresponsive. I’ve watched her die once; I can’t watch it again. I realize now how much I hate the idea of her not being in my life. She is stubborn, sarcastic, impulsive, and infuriating at times, but I love all that about her. I love her…I love her. She makes things interesting, and I can’t imagine not seeing her smile again. Not watching as she yells at me or hearing her laugh at something I say. Not being able to make her blush so easily. Not seeing her…
Emma is sobbing now. David is trying to console her, but it isn’t working. I stare down at Ryanne waiting for any sign of life. Anything that will tell me that everything will be all right. After an agonizing amount of time, Logan exclaims, “She’s breathing!”
I tighten my grip on her hand. He stops mouth-to-mouth and goes back to healing her magically. After a couple of seconds, Ryanne gasps and opens her eyes. Rolling to the side closest to me, she begins coughing violently. I reach out and rub her back, trying to help calm her. She tries to push herself off the ground, but her arms are too shaky. Logan and I help her move into a seated position.
Blinking rapidly, she stares ahead, not looking at any of us. Her breathing is still abnormal. Taking a few deep breaths, she tries to steady her breathing rate. She coughs one last time before looking over at me. “Your ex-girlfriend’s not very nice.”
I choke on a laugh and pull her to me. That’s the first thing she says after she almost dies? Typical Ryanne. She hugs me back. Resting my chin on her head, I look over her to Logan. He looks exhausted but at least he’s smiling.
I can’t contain the single tear that escapes and starts to run down my cheek. Ryanne pulls back and looks up at me; her eyes zoning in on the tear. She slowly leans forward and kisses my cheek where the tear is. Pulling back, she looks me in the eyes. “Don’t shed a tear over me, Colton.” She pushes herself off the ground and smoothes her clothing.
“You almost died, Ryanne.”
“I’m too stubborn for death,” she says before walking out of the room, not saying anything to those standing against the wall.
I stand up and stare at the door Ryanne had just walked out of. “She’s going to be the death of me.”
As I walk downstairs, I try to steady my frantically beating heart. I am scared. Natasha almost killed me without even being near me. I needed to get out of the room before my emotions got the better half of me. I don’t want anyone to see how freaked out I am by this new development. Thunder rolls outside. My steps stumble on the stairs when the house shakes. That’s not what I was going for when I thought about hiding my feelings.
I walk over to the window and notice the storm clouds rolling in. I take a deep breath and try to calm myself. The storm clouds lighten and transform into rain clouds. At the moment, that’s the best that I can do. I know everyone is standing behind me. I turn around, arms crossed across my chest, and try to smile at them. I’m not fooling anyone.
Colton looks torn. Liam looks hurt. Emma’s face is tear-streaked. David keeps glancing between Emma and I. Bragden and Larkin look upset, and Logan looks exhausted. I walk toward Logan and grab his hands, linking ours together. Palms touching palms, I close my eyes and call my magic to me. When I feel it push to the surface, I move it to my hands. The magic feels like silk caressing my skin. It’s a pleasant feeling that I’m glad can benefit someone else as well. Logan sighs as my magic connects with his. I open my eyes and watch as the exhaustion leaves him. When he looks better, I stop the flow of magic and step away from him. In my own way, I am the healer of the healer. I smile at him as he gives me a one armed hug.