hade touched her head. Her insides relaxed. She didn’t feel hair. Her second day home and she wakes up again after some bastard beat her unconscious. Wraith ran in and jumped on her bed. The world hadn’t righted itself. She was still pleased he greeted her with such enthusiasm. Vayle followed. Panic weakened her fragile mind. Her hat and dark glasses were on her dresser, far from her reach. She tried to sit up. Her body wouldn’t budge.
“Don’t move, Shade.” Vayle placed his hand on her shoulder.
“I need my hat and dark glasses,” Shade said, struggling to push his hand off.
“You do not need them.” His soothing voice charged her panic.
“Please give them to me,” Shade begged.
“You don’t need them. It’s only us here.”
“Please give them to me.”
“Why, Shade?” His demanded.
His finger bit into her shoulder.
“Please give them to me.”
A stretch of strained silence passed between them, broken by Wraith’s panting. Then, Vayle walked to the dresser and grabbed her things.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, putting her protection on.
He said nothing. This wasn’t the time to push pointless issues. He needed to drop it.
“Your dog sceadued into my apartment.”
“You were with Prathia,” she said grasping the conversation as if it was the last words between her and death.
She leaned her head against her headboard. He shouldn’t have left his partner to take care of her. Shade turned to Wraith, who had settled beside her.
“Wraith, I’m grateful you helped but don’t ever get him again.”
Wraith gazed at her with sad brown eyes.
“Don’t look at me like that.”
“Shade, don’t take your annoyance out on that dog. What happened?”
She shook her head. Vayle raised his eyebrow. He wouldn’t let this one drop. She had scared him. Shade told him only about the creature who invaded her apartment. She wasn’t wearing a shirt, so he only had to pull down her blanket to examine her wounds.
Vayle made his face blank as he paced.
“Shade, I smell several Del’Praeli on you and human blood and, from the look of it, you had some flesh scooped out.” His voice was too steady.
He hadn’t asked a question. Shade knew what he wanted. Stalling would make the situation much worse.
Shade slowly told him what happened. Maybe he would calm down by the time she finished.
If she thought his face was blank before, it was nothing compared to the mask he put on as she reached the end of her tale.
She saw his hand coming. Better not dodge it. He slapped her hard enough to make her ears ring. He resumed pacing when she recovered.
“Maggot infested garbage must exist between those ears. I let it go once. You told me you would not walk around alone. I am really tired, Shade, of seeing you bleeding and beaten.” He rubbed the bridge of his nose. “And if you apologize, I’ll rip off your barren head. You’re apparently incapable of using whatever dim knowledge your moth-eaten brain possesses.”
His angered-fueled words had long since lost any ability to hurt her.
“On top of that, you took half of Wraith’s Lifeblood to launch a physical on a Del’Praeli in sceadu. Have I taught you nothing?”
She grinned. “Well, when you put it like that...”
He stopped pacing and faced her. Shade tried not to run screaming.
“This is not a joke, child.”
He raked his fingers through his hair, turning it as wild as his eyes. Nothing Shade said would calm him down. She had to try, though.
“Five years in the human city made me forget how bad it was here. I know Del’Praeli were awful to me. In my memories, they didn’t seem that bad.” Shade unclenched the fist she didn’t know she had balled. Vayle calmed down. “I guess I don’t have...”
His glare cut off her sentence. Once again, she said too much.
“You, baby sister, keep trying to fit your body in a box it was never meant to be in.”
Vayle’s famous saying. His expression eased. She smiled weakly.
“This dog and I have reached a truce.” Wraith thumped his tail on the bed. “He watches out for you and I don’t come here every hour.” He smiled and patted Wraith. “You should have seen it, Shade, Wraith frightened Prathia. She sceadued on the ceiling.”
“Why are you with her if you like to torture her?” she asked.
“You have no indication to who this thing was, what it was?” he asked.
This was the best time not to look him in the eye.
Vayle stabbed his finger through his hair and pulled. Shade lunged at him, afraid he’d rip it out. She recoiled at the vehemence in his eyes.
“How many times do I have to beat you before you stop hiding things from me?”
Shade laughed at herself. Ignoring common sense was becoming a habit.
“He called me niece. I’m sure you’ve heard the Darkness whisper names Sie and Phoenix.” Shade cleared emotions from her throat. “Apparently, I am related to them.”
Vayle lifted her hat and kissed the top of her head.
“What makes you think Sie and Phoenix are related?”
How could she forget how amazing Vayle was? She had expected denial. He always listened to her. Like Dad and Tkeea, he treated her concerns as though they were the most important issues in Raesul.
“He said he had a twin.”
For some reason, Vayle looked relieved. It eased her racing heart. Dad wasn’t her birth father. It no longer mattered. Warmth spread across her chest. Maybe, somehow, she and Vayle shared more than sibling emotions.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish