Week Five

Chapter Eight (Cont’d)

“I don’t want this,” Savannah cried as she looked around her. The room she had envied when she had first walked in now held a totally different meaning as she looked around the room that he had created for her. It was too much. It was just too much for her to take in. She had thought they were becoming friends. She didn’t realize she was his charity case. She had left her heart care, she had started to believe in him. But she had been wrong.

“I really can’t do this right now. I’m sorry, this is just too much. I need to get out of here. I did what I came for. There are the glyphs that were on Gerard’s body. Take a photo, show it to the police, I don’t care.”

“Savannah,” Lukas reached out towards her but she backed away.

Stalking to the desk, she grabbed her coat and clutched and reached down to grab Charlie’s carrier. She would deal with him when they got home, but right now she needed to get out of her.

“Savannah!” He called but she ignored him.

Sliding the carrier over her shoulder she dug her phone out of her clutch and scrolled through her contacts and she made her way out of the office and down the hall. She hit the call button and raised the phone to her ear.

The phone was answered on the second ring and before they had time to answer Savannah was speaking.

“I need a ride,” Savannah said as she reached the elevator and jabbed the call button.

“Savannah!” Lukas stood at in the office doorway.

“Let her go Lukas. She’s not worth losing everything over,” She could distantly hear Celine say. Lukas ignored her and strided toward her.

“What’s going on?” The voice on the other end asked.

“I need a ride, please,” Her voice wavered at the end.

“Where are you?” The voice in her ear demanded. The elevator behind her dinged and the doors opened. Savannah hurried through the doors before hiding the lobby button then the close door button. Lukas saw the doors closing and he picked up speed. Savannah kept jabbing the button until the doors shut a second before Lukas could reach her. Her hearted pounding as she leaned against the wooden paneling behind her.

“Savannah? Savannah?! Where are you?”

“I’m in town. I’m near the East Street Cafe. I’ll meet you there.”

“Be there in ten,” The voice said before the line disconnected.

Savannah let out a sigh just as the elevators doors opened again in to the Lobby. She didn’t even pause, once the doors were open she was out and heading to the front door. A security guard sitting at the front desk looked up as she walked past. She offered him a quick nod before heading right out the glass doors.

She was out on the street before she remembered that she wasn’t wearing her coat and an icy breeze hit her. She shivered but she didn’t stop until she stepped in a puddle and freezing cold water squished through her toes. She groaned as she looked down to see that she had forgotten her shoes as well.

East Street Cafe was two blocks away. Walking there barefoot would be near impossible but she didn’t want to go back inside for her shoes. She stood there for a long moment unsure of what to do. She just wanted to sit down and cry in frustration but she couldn’t.

“Don’t do anything stupid,” Charlie warned as he watched her warily from the shadows of his carrier.

“You be quiet. I’ll get to you when we get home,” She snapped as she started walking again, praying to all the gods that she wouldn’t step on anything that would cut her feet open. She hurried down the empty street into the dark night and away from this nightmare. She ignored the pang in her chest and the tears that began to mist in her eyes. Stupid, stupid, stupid. She had been so stupid. But not again. She wouldn’t make the same mistake again. Doubling her speed, she headed towards the Cafe. The faster she got there the faster this nightmare would end. Without looking back, she hurried in to the night.

Chapter Nine

Savannah huddle in the corner of the cafe next to the roaring fire. Her hands were wrapped around a steaming mug of coffee as she defrosted. Her coat hung on the back of the arm chair. She had gotten some speculative looks when she had walked in barefoot, but no one had said anything just turned back to their drinks or their companions. She had ordered a drink and sat to wait.  “Savannah!” Kira called as she ran through the door and into the cafe.

Savannah got to her feet as her friend ran to her and threw her arms around her, pulling her in to a tight hug, not caring what anyone else the cafe thought.

“Kira? What are you doing here?” Savannah asked when her friend finally pulled away enough so that she could breath.

“Connor was at the Cafe when you called,” She informed Savannah before pulling back enough to slap her friend on the shoulder, “And why the hell did you call my brother instead of me? You know I would put everything aside to come and get you.”

“And that’s why she called me,” Connor O’Brien informed his little sister as he joined them. Connor was like the male version of Kira. Both were strikingly attractive. Connor was built like the rest of the men in his family, tall, broad shouldered and muscled from years of hard word. Connor was the only one of the O’Brien children didn’t work at the pub. He was a fancy pants lawyer and lived in one of the large condos in the middle of town. That was why he had been her first choice. That and he was one of the view people she knew with a car who would be available.

It had nothing to do with the fact that they had briefly dated before they decided there were better friends than lovers. Connor had always been her knight in shining armor, always coming to her rescue. She hadn’t seen him too much lately as his firm had just taken on a really big case, but she knew that no matter what, he would come to her aid. He also wouldn’t ask too many questions which she knew Kira and Abby would which is why she hadn’t called them.

But Kira had probably questioned him on his way out and she was tenacious. He wouldn’t have stood a chance against her, sister or not. And she would never have let him leave without her.

“What happened?” Kira turned back to Savannah, “Did something happen with Lukas’ ex-wife? Did she do something to you, because if she’ll did I’ll go over there and set her straight.”

Savannah couldn’t help but laugh at that. Kira was like the exact opposite of Celine. The tall statuesque blond versus her spitfire friend. It would definitely be worth watching

“What’s so funny?” Kira demanded to know, placing her hands on her hips.

“Nothing, it’s nothing,” Savannah shook her head before she wrapped her arms around her friend and gave her squeeze, “I’m just so glad to see you.”

“Don’t think that this is going to make me forget that you called my brother to pick you up when I’m pretty sure you left with a drop dead gorgeous man who I’m pretty sure had plans to bring you back.”

“We’ll plans change,” was all Savannah said as she turned away from her friend.

“Sav?” Kira turned Savannah gently so that she was looking at her friend again, “What happened?”

“It’s nothing,” Savannah shook her head but Kira didn’t look convinced, “Honestly, it’s nothing. It’s my own stupid mistake. I thought we were becoming friends, turns out he just hanging around because he felt guilty about something that happened a long time ago and that had nothing to do with him.”

“Oh sweety,” Kira cooed as she gathered Savannah in her arms again, “Let’s get you in to the warm car and take you home. I made sure to grab an order of Chicken Poppers on my way out the door.”

Savannah couldn’t help but laugh at that. Only Kira would remember something so small during what she believed to be an emergency.

“By now the Connor’s whole car smells like chicken and grease,” Kira promised which only made her older brother groan. She released Savannah and grabbed her coffee cup before heading to the counter to drop it off leaving Savannah alone with Connor.

“Are you all right?” He asked, his face completely serious, the laughing smile gone now.

Savannah just nodded, “I’m sorry if I worried you. It really wasn’t that bad. I just needed to get out of there and you were the closest one with a car.”

“Geez, just hit a guy where it hurts most huh? Just the closest person with a car,” He grabbed his chest above his heart as if her words had actually hurt him.

“You were also the only one I could think of who wouldn’t be out on a hot date on a Friday night,” She teased this time.

“Wow Sav, don’t hold back or anything. Just tell me how you really feel,” He winced.

“I didn’t mean that you couldn’t get a hot date, just that you of all your siblings are known for putting their work first. I’m sure your sister has a hot date planned for after the pub closes.”

“You got that right,” Kira said as she rejoined them, “Marcus is meeting me at the pub and then we’re going out for a few drinks, then we’ll see where it goes from there.”

A shiver ran down Connor’s body and he groaned, shaking his head, “Please don’t even at those kind of things when I’m around. As far as I’m concerned, you’re still my sweet virginal baby sister.”

Kira just snorted at that but was kind enough to keep her comments to herself. She pushed her brother’s shoulders and directed him to the door, “Hurry chauffeur, we need get this princess home before she turns in to a pumpkin.”

“I don’t think that’s how the story goes,” Connor shook his head but led the way out. Kira wrapped an arm around Savannah’s shoulders and whispered conspiratorially, “I am so getting laid tonight.”

“Oh gods, I can hear still hear you,” Connor groaned as he sped up to get as far away from them as possible. The two woman just watched as they watched him go. Picking up her jacket and the cat carrier, Savannah followed the siblings out. Tonight might not have turned out the way she was hoping but at least she knew that no matter what happened with Lukas, she had true friends around her to help her pick up the pieces. With one last glance to make sure she hadn’t left anything behind, she left the cafe and headed to the white BMW parked out front were the two siblings were already bickering and who got to drive them home.

Lukas didn’t understand that she wouldn’t give up anything for this life. Even the tragic parts. It is what brought her here, what drew her to her new family. She may have lost her blood relatives, but that is all they were. Her real family was here in New Port.

They didn’t care about her family name or what school she went to. They didn’t even really care that she had a past she wouldn’t take about. They accepted her for who she was and that was the greatest gift of all. People who love you unconditionally no matter who you were.

She didn’t need Lukas’ money or the office building he had built for her. All she needed were her friends and the family and the life that she had created it. Nothing else mattered.

* * * * *

By the time Connor and Kira dropped them off at home, Savannah was too tired to deal with Charlie. She placed the cat carrier down in the kitchen and headed to her bedroom. She stripped off the fancy clothes and threw the coat on her dresser. She grabbed one of her night shirts and a pair of underwear before heading to the bathroom to wash off the painstakingly applied make up and jump in the shower. She washed up, then just stood under the hot spray, letting the water just wash away the events of the night. When the water finally began to cool she forced herself out and dried herself off. Slipping on her clothes, she gave her teeth a cursory brushing before heading to her bed.

She didn’t even both to dry her hair although she knew it was be one huge tangle the next morning. Saturdays were only half day at the bakery, they opened at eight and closed at twelve. She could probably get through the day with her hair as one big mess. Crawling in to bed, she pulled the covers over her and fell in to a restless sleep.

The dream started almost immediately. The day that changed her life had started out just like any other day at Woodrose. She sat in Advanced Spirit Raising. The students around her where all bowed over their text books as they followed the teacher’s lectures. Savannah sat by the window looking out at the beautiful day wondering why there would stuck in a stuffy classroom when they could be out there in the warmth of the sun.

Midterms were coming up in a week and the students around her were furiously scribbling down notes in their books as if somehow it would help them pass. Savannah wasn’t particularly worried. The teacher had explained last week that their midterm consist of all fo them visiting the oldest cemetery in town where they would each be assigned a grave. They would have one hour to raise the spirit.

Raising a newly dead spirit wasn’t hard. The spirits of the newly deceased were usually still nearby. But those that had been dead for a hundred years or longer required an extensive knowledge of glyphs and protective circles because you were no longer call a spirit nearby, you were calling a spirit back from the World of the Dead. There were so many things that could go wrong when you opened a doorway between the living world and the world of the dead. If you’re not careful and your glyphs are exact, you may end of summoning much darker than a spirit.

Savannah excelled at glyphs and circles and had no worry about passing. She also had no problem summoning a spirit, no matter how old they were without the glyphs and the circles. But that was something she couldn’t let anyone know. Her grandmother had specifically told her that she must never let anyone know about her powers. If anyone ever found out, they would come and take her away.

Savannah had only been five at the time. She had been spending the summer with her Nana, her mother’s mother, as she and her sisters tended to do. During the school year they all boarded at Woodrose in New York, but in the summers they travelled down the country to spend summers with their grandmother in Savannah.

They mother wasn’t very good at being a parent. She bore her husband the required heirs and then turned to her material pleasures and young men. Nana would just shake her head and say something was wrong with that girl.

Nana was a Fraser, although a powerful southern necromancer family, they were not among the Elite. But her eldest daughter Patricia had registered as Level 1 Class B necromancer to the surprise of her whole family. She was quickly picked up by Graystone family upon graduation to work at their corporate headquarters in New York. It wasn’t long before the head of the family, Victor Graystone proposed a marriage to the young Patricia with his eldest son Richard. Richard was handsome and powerful, he was a little cold and arrogant, but Patricia didn’t hesitate to accept.

The next thing Nana knew she was receiving a wedding invitation announcing the marriage of Richard Graystone and Patricia Fraser. She had warned her daughter against the marriage. She wasn’t born to an Elite family. She didn’t know what it was like to be one of them. Marriages among the Elite were not about love, they were about money. She begged her daughter to change her mind.

Patricia refused and married Richard Graystone eleven months later. Nana and Papa attended with their four other children, but none of them celebrated the marriage. Patricia had always been an ambitious child, always wanted to be the best. She was valedictorian of her academy graduating with full honors.

When she gave birth to her first daughter Elaine, Nana hoped it would change her. Help her to settle down. But Patricia handed the care of her first born to the Graystone servants and was back at work in a couple of weeks. Nana was furious and made the trip all the way to New York to care for her newborn granddaughter. She stayed for six months before she had to return. She had wanted to take Elaine with her but Victor refused to allow his grandchild to leave the family manor. Nana was incensed but knew she had no power against Victor and left.

When Savannah was born a couple of years later, Nana was there for the birth. She was the first to hold the baby. It was Nana who saw what the others in the room did not. When the newborn baby opened her golden eyes and looked past her at the empty air behind her with a smile on her lips. Nana had a hard time believing what she saw. It was as if the newborn could see something she could not.

Drawing on her powers, she opened her Sight to see what the child was smiling at. She was surprised to find the spirit of a nurse in 1950s clothing standing behind her smiling down at the child. She looked at Nana then and gave her a kind smile, telling her that this child was special, that she would be different from all those before her.

Nana hadn’t understood then until Savannah had started developing her powers and began to pull spirits from the world of the dead in the living as an infant. After the spirits warning, Nana had told Papa she needed to stay with the baby. She refused to allow anyone to watch over Savannah but herself, which she was grateful for as her newborn granddaughter had the habit of summoning spirits when she got bored or lonely.

Nana knew immediately at the first summoning that Savannah was a reaper. She knew what happened to Reapers, what happened to her own brother. They had taken him away when he was only five and turned him in to an unthinking weapon. Nana refused to allow that to happen to Savannah. She worked hard to hide the child’s powers and when Savannah was old enough, she helped her to gain control of her powers.

When Savannah was finally old enough to understand the dangers, Nana told her what she was and what happened to people like her. She told her she needed to hide her powers, hide what she was. They would take her away if they realized what she was and Savannah was too powerful to have her become a weapon. So Nana taught her everything she could before her parents sent her away to join her sister at Woodrose.

Every summer, instead of being shipped off to Europe to spend time with their family servants while they parents galavanted around the countries, Nana requested the girls be sent to Savannah to spend time with her. Victor hadn’t liked the idea but Patricia could care less and gave her mother approval. At least that way she would need to make time for them.

Each summer Nana worked with Savannah, training he and teaching her everything she knew. They worked on glyphs, they worked on protective circles, they worked on everything she would need to know to fake it. Everything Savannah knew about necromancy she had learned from her grandmother.

Savannah was seventeen when her Nana died. She died in a car crash when she was out on a stormy night. The other driver was drunk and didn’t see Nana’s car. She was gone before the paramedics arrived.

Savannah had cried and cried, she summoned her Nana but Nana never came. Savannah was heartbroken. Her Nana was the only mother she had known and now she was gone. She didn’t even have the ability to summon her so that she could contact her. What made it even worse was that she wasn’t even allowed to attend her Nana’s funeral. Her father wouldn’t allow her to leave Woodrose to attend. It was that day that she had truly begun to hate her family.

This was her last year of school but she could have cared less. After the death of her Nana school meant nothing to her. It didn’t matter how well she did anyway. Her future was already set in stone. Upon graduation she would begin working for Acheron. Antonis had laid out what they had planned for her and what they expected for her. She would be a Stavros bride, she was expected to uphold the family name and he would accept no less then perfection.

Savannah could have cared less. Antonis was just like her father. He could care less about her, all he cared about what the family name and the prestige it brought. He had bought himself a broad mare and nothing more. Nothing was really expected of her except to bear powerful children.

Savannah was so lost in thought that she didn’t hear what the teacher was talking about. She was only draw back to the present when an elbow jabbed her side. She made sure to compose her face before turning to the boy sitting beside her. She made sure not to show the irritation she felt or the brief pain his elbow had caused. Alexandros fed off those emotions. The best thing to do with him was to show a calm facade, anything else and he would take advantage of it.

Alexandros was paying less attention to the teacher in front of them then she was. He had been sneaking in to the school’s library and night and visiting the prohibited section. Only teachers or graduate students were allowed in that section. But Alexandros had conned some young graduate in to turning over the key. Savannah didn’t doubt he had seduced the young woman with promises of a job at Acheron or even love, which Savannah knew was a completely lie. The only person Alexandros would ever love was himself.

Savannah kept her face perfectly blank as she looked down at the page Alexandros was pointing to. Only years of practice had kept her from showing any sign of emotion as she read the title at the top of the page. How to Summon a Death Angel.

Savannah clenched her teeth to keep the words down. Was Alexandros completely insane. They had learned about Death Angels in Necromancer History last year. They were taught that Death Angels were the beings that existed between the living world and the world of the dead. They were the guardians, the gate keepers. They were supposedly the beings that transported to the newly deceased to the afterlife. There were tales of such beings all over the world, the Norse had the Valkyries, the Japanese had the Shinigamis, the Greek had Hermes and Charon.

They had been taught that the Death Angels were nothing more than glorified doormen. But they had been taught wrong. Her grandmother had taught her that the Death Angels were the true Reapers. Yes, they did collect the souls of the dead, but they were more than that. They were beings completely of the underworld. They were creatures of vengeance. They could rip a soul from a body and devour it, destroying it completely.

Supposedly in the dark history of the necromancer families, people would summon Death Angels to rid themselves of rivals. They would summon and bind the Death Angels to do their binding. Only once the task was complete would they set them free.

Many souls were lost before the Necromancer Council, the predecessor to the Necromancer Guild, absolutely forbid the summoning of Death Angels. The punishment for a summoning was immediate death. If you were caught summoning a Death Angel, the council guard would execute you on side, sealing the gate by which the Death Angel had entered.

Death Angels were not to be messed with. Even though the last known summoning was over five hundred years ago, the punishment was still execution. If Alexandros was even contemplating such a thing, he was crazier then Savannah had already believed.

She knew from experience that she couldn’t give him an outright negative answer. She needed to work with him, to make him understand that this was dangerous. But as she looked up and saw that bright gleam in his dark gray eyes, she knew there would be no talking him out of it.

She would just have to find another way to stop him from doing the stupidest thing in his life.

“Gather the boys, we have plans to make,” Alexandros smiled at her. Savannah fought to hide the shiver that ran down her back. For the first time in the thirteen years that she had known Alexandros Stavros, she truly feared him. She had been able to dismiss his cruel treatment of her and his friends as simply arrogance. She had excused his use of the opposite sex and something he had learned from his father. After all, his father was a known womanizer. It was just something that Alexandros had picked up. But now as she looked deep in to his eyes, she saw true madness. There was no kindness or compassion to temper the madness and that is what scared Savannah the most. She was staring in to the eyes of a monster.

Chapter Ten

Savannah woke up with a pounding headache. She lifted her head to glance at the bedside clock to see it was still early, not even five yet. But she couldn’t possibly go back to sleep when her head felt like someone had taken a jack hammer to it.

Pulling herself free of her toasty warm sheets, she shuffled around the edge of the bed until she found her house slippers. Wooden floors during winter were ice cold. She really didn’t need that shock added on to the pounding going on at her temples.

Shuffling to the bathroom in the dark. She threw open in the medicine cabinet in search of a bottle of aspirin. She was rewarded a few moment later when her fingers wound around the slim plastic bottle. Of course she had also knocked half the contents of the cabinet in to the bathroom sink, but at least she had found the aspirin.

She cursed stupid child locks as she made her way to the kitchen. She finally got it open only to send half of the contents spilling all over the kitchen floor. She cursed as shook out four pills and grabbed a cup from the dish rack. Filling the glass with water from the tap she shoved the pills in her mouth and took a large gulp of water. She nearly choked getting them down but at this point she didn’t care. Her brain honestly felt like it was going to explode.

Sliding down to the cold kitchen floor, she rested her cheek against the wooden cabinets and closed her eyes. She felt sick, but honestly there was no way she was going to make it back to the bathroom. If she was going to barf, it was going to be right here because there was no way she could move.

“Savannah?” Charlie softly padded in to the kitchen. He stopped in front of her, watching her.

She forced her eyes to open, but the best she could do were slits. It was so hard to keep her eyes open that she gave up and closed them again.

“What’s wrong?” She could hear the worry in his voice but she was so sick right now that even speaking was too much.

“I’m calling Rachel,” He informed her before he scampered off. Good, she thought. Rachel would fix things. With another lurch of her stomach, she slid to the ground and curled into a tight ball hoping to make the pain and nausea ease.

When Charlie reappeared, he was nudging a cellphone with his head. Savannah could hear a soft voice coming from the speaker but she couldn’t make out the words. It hurt.

“I don’t know what’s wrong. She won’t speak. She just lying on the kitchen floor curled in a ball,” He looked around at the spilled aspirin around him, “I think she’s in pain though. She took some aspirin but I don’t think its helping.”

There was a reply but she couldn’t make it out.

“Yes, please hurry,” was all Charlie said. Charlie placed a paw on the phone to end the call. He moved to Savannah’s side and rubbed his cheek against her shiver arms, “Rachel’s coming, hold on.”

Savannah wanted to say something. Wanted to reassured him, but she couldn’t. The pressure in her brain was too much. Even the sound of Charlie’s voice was sending waves of pain through entire her body.

Charlie pressed himself in to her side as he lay beside her while she shivered in pain. His small body offering her warmth.

“If I were human again…” His words trailed off but she knew what he meant. If she could return him to his body she would. But that power was beyond her. What had happened that night kept him from returning to his real body. She had tried everything she could, but the creature that pulled his soul from his body, had somehow done something to keep him from returning to it.

His pain, his loss was all her fault. She should have stopped Alexandros. She should have been braver. She should have never let it happen. But instead of standing up to him and told him no, that it was wrong, but she had taken the cowards way out. She had tried to stop things from happening in the background when she should have just stopped it from the beginning.

Tears began to roll down her cheeks. It was her fault they were dead. It was her fault Charlie was stuck in the body of a cat. It was all her fault.

An explosion of pain burst in her head and a hoarse scream escaped her lips.

“Ana!” Charlie cried as he jumped back away from, while she curled even tighter around herself, her hands clutching her head and the pain became unbearable. Tears streamed down her face now as she cried in pain.

“Ana!” Charlie tried to get closer but fear and worry made his keep his distance. He didn’t want to hurt her.

Pain, so much pain. There was blood everywhere. On her clothes, on her hands. They were dead. Alexandros had killed them, taken their lives and used them as sacrifices. Anaelise hadn’t been able to do anything but stand there in horror. She clutched tightly to Jackson’s arm as the boy she was to marry, painted the ground with sigils in the blood of their dead friends.

Why she and Jackson had been spared. She didn’t know. Maybe he had something bigger planned for them. Anaelise wanted to run. She want to leave this place but she knew she couldn’t. She couldn’t let Alexandros release one of those creatures on the world.

“Jack,” She squeezed his arm, drawing his horror filled eyes to her, “We can’t let him do this. We have to stop him.”

“He killed them,” Jackson’s voice was soft, his lower lip trembling as his gaze was draw back to the macabre scene in front of him, “This can’t be happening. This has to be a dream.”

“Jack, please,” she yanked on his arm, “I need you, please. We have to stop him. We can’t let him do this.”

Something wild burst to life in his eyes when he turned back to her, “He’s already done it. There is no stopping. We’re accomplices to murder now.”

“Jack, you need to listen to me,” Anaelise nearly cried as she watched her friend shattering, “What he has planned is so much worse than this.”

“How can it get worse. He killed Tiffany and Kurt. He murdered our friends,” Jackson growled as he turned on her, a snarl on his face.

“He’s raising a Death Angel,” Anaelise said, a shiver rolling down her back at the very thought of it. Jackson froze as he just stared at her. Confusion in his eyes as he began to shake his head.

Jackson’s family was from the south. His family knew the same stories as her Nana. Since it was the Southern Necromancers that were nearly destroyed by the Death Angels over five hundred years ago, they kept the stories alive, passing them down generation to generation so that they never forgot.

“They’re not real. They’re just a myth, a legend passed down to scare young necromancers.”

“They are very real and Alexandros is about to summon one. If he is able to bind that creature to him, who knows what he will be capable of. The destruction he can wield. You know him, you know what he is capable of, now imagine what damage he can do with a bound Death Angel.”

Jackson just kept shaking his head. “It’s not possible.”

“it is. He found a book in the restricted part fo the library. He was reading it in class this morning and he showed it to me. I didn’t know he was going to move this fast. I didn’t know that this is what he had planned,” Tears began to stream down her face as she wrapped both hands around Jackson’s upper arm.

“Why? Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

“Because I thought I could stop him before it got this far. I didn’t read at the spell. I didn’t know what it would require. He just said to gather everyone. I didn’t know he planned on killing them.”

Jackson turned back to Alexandros who strolled calmly across the academy’s concrete practice circle stopping every now and then to draw another glyph with his blood covered hands, before continuing around the circle. They were too far from campus to get help in time. The academy wanted to ensure that if any accidents happened it would not endanger the lives of all their students so they constructed the practice circle half a mile away from the campus. Normally this would be a good thing, but tonight, it was the worst thing in the world. They wouldn’t be able to get back to campus before he summoned the Death Angel.

“There is no way to stop him,” Jackson’s voice was hollow as he followed Alexandros’ progress. “We aren’t powerful enough to stop him. He’s the one with the gun. He’ll kill us before we even get close.”

Jackson was right, even in the dim light created by the fires set up around the circle, she could make out the hilt of the gun Alexandros had shoved in the back of his jeans. That was how he had killed Kurt and Tiffany. Jackson and Anaelise had been in charge of lighting the fires while Kurt and Tiffany would be helping Alexandros with the practice circles. She and Jackson had just finished light the last fire when they heard the gun go off. They hit the ground as the second shot rang out.

When they were finally able to pick themselves up, they found Alexandros calmly dipping his hands in to the blood of his dead friends. They hadn’t been able to believe it at first. That he had so easily shot their friends and then used their blood to create his summoning circle. It was so unreal.

They had time to runaway, they could have fled, but neither had been able to move, the horror of what just happened kept their feet planted.

Anaelise knew she had to stop him. She knew she had no choice. If he was allowed to summon the Death Angel, Tiffany and Kurt’s death would just be the beginning. But where Tiffany and Kurt had just lost their lives, other people would lose their souls. Anaelise could not live with herself if she allowed that to happen. If she just stood on the side and did nothing. She knew she no longer had any choice. There was only one thing to do.

Anaelise wiped the tears from her cheek as she gazed up at Jackson. She offered him a watery smile, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry I didn’t do this sooner. If I had been brave enough, I could have ended this before it began. I could have saved Tiffany and Kurt. I could have saved us all.”

“Ana, what are you talking about?” Jackson stared down at her. She just gave him her best smile and shook her head.

“Run. Run far away and forget this day every happened,” Anaelise begged him as she gave his arm one last squeeze before she released him, “I should have done this a long time ago.”

With that she turned away from him and headed towards the circle. Her Nana had always warned her to hide what she was. To never let anyone see her powers. She warned her of all the things that could happen. That if they ever found her they would take her away and force her to use her powers to take the lives of others. If only Nana knew that the life she had tried so hard to keep Anaelise out of, she was walking straight in to.

As she neared the circle, Alexandros stood up. He looked at his work around him and he smiled. Only he would find pride in the horror he had created. He looked up then, right at her and he held out his blood covered hand towards her.

“Anaelise, come. Stand by my side as we make history. No one will ever deny us now. No one will ever take what it rightfully mines. We will rule this world together.”

His words made her sick. Did he truly believe them? Had he been born this way or had he become this little by little and she had just not seen the signs. Had she been so blinded by her detest of him that she had missed all the signs of the true monster that lurked within the beautiful facade. Had she been that oblivious?

She wanted to say that she wasn’t, but that would have been a lie. She had let her distaste for the boy before her blind her to reality. She thought his bullying was nothing more than the insecurities he felt from growing up with the perfect brother. She excused his use of women as a trait he had picked up from his womanizing father. She had made so many excuses for him all because she never really wanted to see him, the real him.

There must have been a part of here that had always suspected what he was. A part of her that had known but shied away from. There was no one she had practically lived with this monster for the past thirteen years and not seen it.

She had been foolish to let it get this far. She was the reason her two friends were dead. Even if they hadn’t been the best friends, even if Tiffany was a bitch most of the time, it didn’t matter. She was the reason they were dead, and now she would have to pay for that.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, hoping the souls of her friends could hear her apology. “I’m sorry, but I’m going to make this right.”

Alexandros scowled at her, his impatience starting to fray his bliss, “Anaelise get over here.”

Closing her eyes, she prayed for forgiveness. She wasn’t sure who exactly she was praying to, Kurt and Tiffany, or whatever gods may be out there. She didn’t know. All she knew was that she begged for forgiveness for what had been done, and what she was about to do.

Taking a deep steadying breath, she opened her eyes again and stared straight at Alexandros and let her shields fall. Let him see her for what she really was. Let him look in to the eyes of his killer. Let him meet his Reaper.

* * * * *

“Savannah? Savannah sweetie?” A familiar voiced called to her. Savannah tried to open her eyes. Tried to break free from the nightmare. She struggled to find her way out of the darkness.

“Come on Sav, open your eyes.”

Abby, Abby and Rachel. They were here. Savannah wanted to call out there names but the dream kept pulling her back in. It kept pulling her back down. It wasn’t going to released her this time. This time it would keep her for good.

“Ana,” A different voice said. Not Charlie, but male. “Ana, open your eyes.”

Where’s Abby’ words had been a plea, this one was a command. Part of her just wanted to open her eyes to see who dared to order her around, but it wasn’t enough. The dream was too strong. It was pulling her under again.

No, she wanted to beg. No more. But her plea went unheard and the dream pulled her back in.

Blue sigils burst to life on every inch of her exposed skin as Anaelise shifted from world of the living to the one that existed between the living and the dead. While the two boys around her would be able to see her, neither would be able to touch her. Both knew enough about Reapers to know that.  Although their society didn’t officially recognize the existence of Reapers, every necromancer knew about them. They were the Guild’s assassins. They took care of the problems that the Guild could not publicly deal with. The Reapers were perfect for that. They could kill and leave no trace.

There were many rumors about Reapers, but most of them were false. Reapers was rare. Her Nana speculated that it was probably about fifteen Reapers born a generation. After the Guild had taken her brother way, she had learned everything she could about them. What she had learned she had gathered from other families who had lost a family member. They believed that the Reaper gene was genetic and was passed down in the family line. But there was no way to detect who would be a Reaper. Sometimes there was one born a generation, other times it would skip multiple generations before another one was born. Other times the gene would be dormant in a person only to be awaken by an event or situation, so sometime people lived their entire lives without realizing what they were. It was only determined they were a Reaper on their death when not only their soul travelled to the world of the dead but their body as well.

There wasn’t much information on Reapers available to the public. And what was available was just hearsay and speculation. But the one thing that all the different sources seemed to agree on was that Reapers were able to physically travel between the living world and the world of the dead. Another thing they were able to agree upon was that when the Reaper moved from plane to plane, their marking became visible to the beings in both worlds.

Alexandros jawed clenched as he stared at her, hatred burning his eyes. “You bitch.”

Anaelise let his hatred wash over her. His human emotions no longer mattered to her. She was in a place where they could not touch her. She was in a place where no one could touch her.

Anaelise stalked towards Alexandros. His eyes shot up as he finally realized just what she planned to do. A snarl twisted his lips as he pulled the gun from the back of his jeans. He raised it and fired. Anaelise didn’t even hesitate. She kept moving forward as the bullet travelled through the space she would have been if she was still in the living world.

His swore as he fired again and again. But the bullets just sailed through the space she should have been. He must have realized that his bullets couldn’t harm her but it didn’t stop him from firing the gun until finally there were no more bullet left.

With a furious shot he threw the gun on the concrete and snarled at her, “You think you can kill me bitch, you thought wrong.”

Before she had time to react, Alexandro slammed his blood covered palms down on the ground of the practice circle, igniting the glyphs he had drawn in the blood of their friends. Anaelise didn’t even have time to swear as she was thrown backwards by the way of power that shook through the living world and the world of the dead and everything in between.

She was thrown off her feet and tumbled backwards as the glyph in the practice circle burst to life. They sigil glowed an eerie red light, illuminating the entire clearing in blood red light.

Anaelise pulled herself up just as a large black shadow wove around the clearing letting out a blood curling screech. The sound was painful. Anaelise slammed her hands over her ears but it wasn’t enough to keep the sound out. It felt like her brain was boiling in her head. She screamed. But her scream wasn’t the only one. But while Anaelise was safe in the world in between, the other was not.

The screech cut off as the creature found its target.

Jack, Anaelise panted as she pushed herself to her feet. Her head screaming, her legs wobbling, she forced herself up. She turned just in time to see the shadowy figure descent on the prone body laying twenty feet away from her in the the grass.

“No!” Anaelise screamed as the creature landed, hovering over Jackson’s prone form. She had told him to run but he hadn’t gotten far enough away. “Jackson!”

The dark shadow leaned down, it’s two glowing red eyes started down at Jackson and he screamed. He lifted her arms to fight it off but they just went right through the creature. His screams turned hysterical as he kept striking out at the shadow above him, but like Anaelise, the creature was neither of this world or the next. He didn’t exist in either yet both at the same time. Only another like it could touch him. Only one that stood between the two stood a chance.

Anaelise shook with rage. She had just watched the boy she was supposed to marry kill two of their friends and then raise a devourer of souls. He had unleashed this monster on them with the intent for it to not just kill them both, but to destroy their very souls. She had seen enough death and horror tonight. She would let him take anymore from her.

With a furious cry, Anaelise ran towards the creature even one of it taloned claws drove in to Jackson’s chest. Her friend’s cries cut off as his arms limbs just drop. His empty eyes stared up at the sky, no longer seeing the creature hovering over him.

Anaelise cry turned in to a scream, “Jackson!”

The creature paid no attention to her as it extracted the bright glowing ball of light that was Jackson’s soul. It stood up to its full height, a good fifteen feet, Jackson’s soul clutched between its sharp talons. It stared at the bright ball of light, as if entranced by the fire glowing within.

It was all the time Anaelise needed as she slammed in to the Death Angel. It roared in surprise. The soul clutched between its claw fell from his hand and in to Anaelises awaiting arms. She wrapped her arms tightly around the glowing ball of light as the creature’s red eyes turned in her direction.

“What….you…” The words were deep and scratchy, coming from within the creature yet at the same time from area around her as well. She barely understood them at first. The words sounding unfamiliar on the creature’s tongue.  “Destroy her,” Alexandros ordered from behind her. Anaelise didn’t turn, instead she watched in wonder as chains of red glyphs encircled the creature, tightening around its middle, squeeze the creature tight.

It let out another ear piercing cry. Anaelise gritted her teeth as she fought the pain. She couldn’t let it weaken her. She couldn’t loose her hold on Jackson’s soul or she would lose him forever. The creature was devour him.

“Destroy her,” Alexander repeated as the chains tightened.

The creature swiped out its claws blindly. Anaelise threw herself to the ground as a large black claw swiped in the place she had just been standing. She clutched Jackson’s soul tightly to her chest with one arm as she crawled away from the blinded creature. She pulled herself to her feet once she was clear and turned back to see Alexandros glaring at her. His hand, now covered in matching red glyphs, was held out in front of him towards the creature. He was responsible for its pain.

He was the cause of this all. It was all his fault. If anyone deserved to die it was him. If she could kill him now, the summoning circle would shatter. She wasn’t entirely sure if that would send the Death Angel back to where it came from or if it would set it free in her whole. But either way, killing him would be one less person to fight against.

Holding Jackson’s soul protectively to her side, Anaelise darted back to Alexandros. The creature was still thrashing wildly behind her. Too lost in its pain to concentrate on her. She ran at Alexandros focusing on one thing and one thing alone, ending is miserable life.

She was nearly ten feet away when the creature suddenly appeared between the two of them. She didn’t have time to stop much less slow down. She ran right into the creature’s shadowy form and bounced off him, crashing to the ground at its feet. The creature leaned over her prone from, its beady red eyes staring down at her.

“You…die…now,” the words filled the air around her, shaking the very ground beneath her. Anaelise had no time to move, all she had time to do was wrap her entire body protectively around the soul clutched tightly in her arms.

The creatures talons shot downwards in a quick strike. They should have pierced through her chest like they had Jackson’s but the halted a foot above her face. The sigils on her skin ignited in bright white light.

The creature let out a pain-filled scream as it pulled its talons back to cover its face. He feet stumbled backwards, away from her. Anaelise didn’t spare a second as she climbed to her feet and thrust her glowing hand out towards the creature. Where Jackson’s hands had passed through the shadowy creature, Anaelise’s hand plunged into the shadowy mass of the creature.

It screamed, high pitched and blood curling. Anaelise couldn’t describe what it felt like, but if she were to try, it would be as if her hand were burning and freezing at the same time. It hurt, yet at the same time it was numb. It was neither one thing nor the other, yet both t the same time.

She didn’t stop to comtemplate the sensation but instead shoved her arm deeper in the creature. It screamed even louder, the soul in her arms began to shake and her warm liquid began to run down her nose and drip from her ears, but she didn’t stop.

She shoved her arm in as deep as she could until she felt something similar to soul clutched in her arms. Did Death Angel’s have souls? Had they been human at one time? She had no idea but she also had no time to think about it. Wrapping her hands around the sphere, she concentrated all her power on to that one point and she squeezed.

The skin on her palm burned as if on fire. She screamed but she didn’t let go. She squeezed tighter and tighter, even as her fingers shook and her arm began to go numb, she squeeze.

The world was starting to get dark around the edges. The pain was no longer in just her hand, it ran up her arm, in to her shoulder and down to her heart. If the creature didn’t die soon, she would. But at this point, the pain was so intense that she death would have been a release, but she swore if she died, she would taking the damn thing with her.

Gathering all of her power she had left in her, she squeeze with all her might. The creature let out one last ear-piercing scream before it shattered into a million tiny peices. Anaelise stood there panting, her legs shaking, Jackson’s soul clutched tightly in her arms.

She blinked, staring down at her right fist and forearm that glowed pure white. She watched as slowly the light faded until she could once again see her slightly tanned skin. She turned her hand over and opened her palm. Ashes was all that remained of that creatures soul. She could only watch as soft wind blew the ash from her hand, scattering it into the winds.

She had killed a Death Angel. She. Killed. A. Death. Angel. A hysterical laugh bubbled from her lips as she slowly turned to find Alexandros staring at her, his mouth moving, open and close. Whatever he was trying to say was lost as he stared at her in disbelief.

Not having the power to deal with him at the moment, she turned back to Jackson’s body to find a shadowy figure hanging in the air above it. Anaelise’ heart skipped as beat as stared at the creature, fearing she would now have to deal with another one of those creatures after she had spend the last of her powers. But the creature didn’t move towards her, instead it just drifted there above Jackson’s prone figure.

The creature appeared to be more of wisp of smoke rather then the dense shadow the Death Angel had been. Instead it looked like shade in a cloak made of black smoke. The tale end of the cloak faded before it touched the ground.

Anaelise watched it for a moment, yet the creature made no move towards her, instead it just hovered over Jackson. Not threateningly, more protectively. As if it was guarding his body.

She took one small step towards the creature. It made no move to show it was aware of her presence. She took another, and slowly the shadowed hood turned in her direction. Yet again, she got no sense of danger from it. Cautiously, she made her way to Jackson’s body until she stood a foot away. The creature had no moved, it just floated there, tracking her movements but make no move itself.

“What are you?” She whispered, not really expecting and answer, but asked anyway. The only reply she got, was slight tilt to the hood, as if the creature with in was titling it’s head, as if in answer. She had no idea what it was trying to say, but neither did she feel a threat from it.

Kneeling down, Anaelise carefully held Jackson’s soul between her two hands. She leaned over his still body, holding the soul above it. She had no idea what she was supposed to do. They have never learned about things like this in class. How to summon a spirit, how to help a ghost cross, how to raise the dead. Never had they learned what you were supposed to do with a soul that had been separated from its body.

Not knowing what else to do, Anaelise leaned forward and tried to gently shove Jackson’s soul back in to his body. She placing the glowing white orb against his chest and pushed. Nothing happened so she tried to push again, harder this time. Still nothing. She looked up at the thing hovering above her, expecting what, she did not know. All she saw though was the hood was now tilted down, watching her.

“It’s not working. What do I need to do?” She asked.

The creature gave her no answer but to her surprise, she watched as the thing lifted its sleeve and pointed to a spot just past her. Anaelise frowned and turned to look in the direction. She didn’t understand. There was nothing there. Nothing.

She was about to tell the creature that when she noticed a movement in the grass. She froze, squinting to see what the creature saw that she couldn’t. She saw it again, a slight movement, almost like a shadow shifting.

Getting to her feet, she took a couple of unsteady steps in the direction the shadow pointed to. She walked about ten steps when she saw what the creature had seen. A kitten, a small black kitten. It was bleeding, it’s chest barely moving. The small creature slowly turned in her direction, a soft mewl on its lips.

Anaelise sank in to the grass beside it. Tears falling down her cheeks. Another innocent to lose its life tonight. She reached down, her fingers passing through the creature. She had forgotten she was in the place between. The cat was still alive, but just barely. She couldn’t touch it, couldn’t offer it was little comfort she could. Instead all she could do was cry for it.

A shadow passed in front of her eyes. She looked up in surprise to see the shadowy creature hovering above her. Its’ arm pointed at her and then at the cat. Anaelise frowned, not understanding what it was trying to tell her. It pointed again, at her and then at the kitten.

She looked down to see what the thing could be pointing at and realized it wasn’t her it was pointing at, it was Jackson’s soul that she clutched in her arms. The creature wanted her to put Jackson’s soul, in to the kitten.

Anaelise shook her head, “No. I can’t. It’s wrong. We are taught never to place the soul of another in to the body of an other. I can’t.”

The thing shook its head and pointed down at the kitten again, more insistently this time.

Anaelise shook her head. It was wrong. Pushing Jackson’s soul on to the kitten’s even if it was just an animal was still wrong. No one knew exactly what happened when two souls existed within one body, but everyone knew that it wouldn’t be a good thing.

The creature ignored her as it drifted lower and pointed at the kitten again. Anaelise looked down at the small animal. Its breathing had grown increasingly slower. It’s chest barely lifted at all anymore. It was so near death that she could see its soul slipping free of its body. A small white ball glowing deep within its chest.

Anaelise frowned as she suddenly realized what the creature was trying to tell her, “You want me to place Jackson’s soul in the kitten the moment it’s soul leaves its body?”

The creature nodded and pointed again at the kitten. Anaelise looked down the see the small orb floating up from within the small creature. It would be any moment now. Anaelise looked at the small dark body in the grass and then at the soul of her friend clutched in her arms. This was her only chance. For some reason, Jackson’s soul wasn’t returning to his body. Had he been dead too long? Had the creature done something when it had pulled his soul from his body? She didn’t know. All she knew was that she was running out of time. She either did this or she didn’t. This would be her only chance. If she was ever going to have a chance of returning Jackson’s soul to her body, she needed to kept it safe within a body. This was the only option.

She watched as the kitten’s tiny soul floated up in the air above its body. It was nor or never. Without a second thought, Anaelise shoved Jackson’s soul in to the kitten. There was no resistance like their had been with his own body. His soul slipped easily in to the tiny body. The air around the kitten glowed for a short moment before it went dark again. But the time the kitten’s chest rose steadily up and down. Its eyes were closed, but she could hear it breathing.

Gently, she picked up the small black kitten, clutching it to her chest. The shadowy figure nodded its head once before it disappeared. Anaelise held the warm body to her chest as she turned around to find Alexandros still standing there watching her. But he was no longer alone. The shadow creature not stood in front of him. He could not see it, but Anaelise could.

The creature lifted it arm, the sleeve sliding backwards to expose claws very similar to the Death Angels. It wracked it claws across Alexandros chest. He cried out, clutching his chest as he fell to his knees. The creature stared down at Alexandros for a long moment before it faded away once again.

Clutching the kitten to her chest, Anaelise slowly walked over to where Alexandros kneels, his eyes glassy, his mouth hanging open. When he looked up at her, his frowned, shaking his head as if trying to clear it.

If Anaelise had any power left, she would have killed him right there. But the glowing glyphs had already faded from her skin and she was once again back in the living world. The transition between planes took up all the energy she had left. Her legs wobbled before they completely gave out of her. She went crashing to her knees, the kitten held protectively in her arms. She slowly sagged to the ground until she lay in the cool grass. Her eyes lids grew heavy and struggled to keep them open, afraid of what would happen to her and Jackson if she were to close them. Alexandros could kill them if she lost consciousness. She might close her eyes and never have them open again.

She frowned as she noticed something glowing in the middle of Alexandros’ chest right where the creature had clawed him. She squinted her eyes until she could make out a binding glyph. One she have never seen before but immediately recognized the meaning.

The creature had placed on binding glyph on Alexandros. But what exactly was it binding? She didn’t know and she no longer had the power to keep her eyes open. Her last thought as she gave in to the darkness was that she prayed the creature was on their side. Otherwise, there was a good chance she would not be waking up again. As her eyes lids were slowly closing for the last time, she thought she saw a figure standing above her. Someone so familiar but she didn’t have the mental capacity to recognize them. Whoever they were, they smiled down at her, a smile filled with pride and love.

She tried to lift her hand, tried to reach out, but everything was just so heavy. She thought she heard them whisper once world before her world went dark.


Chapter Eleven

The snow came early this year. Usually they didn’t see the first flakes until around Christmas time. But this year the snow had started the week before Thanksgiving and it hadn’t stopped. New Port now resembled one of those picturesque towns on those post cards, everything covered in a blanket of white, hiding all the trash until next spring.

Pulling her scarf tighter around her neck, Savannah juggled the cat carrier on one shoulder with the insulated bag she had packed with piping hot butter rolls. She just hoped they would still be hot by the time she arrived at O’Briens for the Thanksgiving potlock. It was a tradition Kira had started when her parents started traveling south for the winter. Instead of flying all the way to Florida to spend the holiday with her parents as her brothers, she stayed in New Port to keep the business open. She had decided that she didn’t like being alone on Thanksgiving so she opened the bar to all and any who wanted to come. They had no cook staff available because she gave them the day off, but all contributions were welcome.

The first year had been a very small event since it was something she had thrown together last minute not wanting to spend the day alone. Savannah came of course since she had no family to celebrate with and Abby and her parents decided to come as well since it was only the three of them usually. There were a few other usual customers who had nothing to do or no family either so they all brought a little something to share with each other.

It had been a blast. People had come in seeing the lights on and looking for a place to get a bite to eat. They had been unaware of the potluck so they didn’t bring anything with them, but Kira had planned ahead and prepared three turkeys, two hams and an assortment of sides so there was a lot to go around.

The first Thanksgiving potluck was such a successes that Kira threw it again the next year and the year after that. It was the fourth year she was holding the Thanksgiving potluck and this year was supposed to be the biggest year of them all. She had ordered ten turkey, five hams, six ducks, and ten chickens. Courtlands had offered to provide the pies, cookies and rolls this year. She and Abby had taken the delivery over this morning after their morning rush. They had filled an entire table full of sweets and breads. Truthfully they didn’t any more breads, but Savannah loved her butter rolls filled with mash potatoes turkey and gravy. It was a holiday tradition so she was going to bring them no matter what. If they didn’t get eaten, that was okay but she had no problem taking them all back home.

Another thing the Thanksgiving pot lock provided were meals to the local shelters. Kira had started asking for donations of canned goods at the last potluck. She had three whole boxes full. She had taken it over the to local shelter along with any leftovers that no one had wanted. This year they were expecting twice and many donations. She had even made arrangements with the local food bank to stop by around ten to pick everything up.

Thanksgiving at O’Briens was slowly becoming a tradition with the usual clientele. Wives loved being able to bring their families and not having to worry about clean-up. The games were on the large screen televisions for the men and beer was on tap. Kira had even arranged to have a designed spot for taxi drop off and pick ups so there would be no one driving home drunk.

Savannah wasn’t a big party person. She mainly attended to help her friend out. She make sure the food table was always filled and helped with the clean up when it slowed down. Abby was about as social as Savannah, so they usually hid out in the kitchen snacking on the left overs which was perfectly fine with both of them. Kira was the people person. She loved talking to people. You could be a perfect stranger and she could literally talk to for an hour straight and you would be the best of friends by the time that hour was done.

Savannah envied her friend that ability. It had been different growing up as one of the necromancer Elite. You didn’t have friends, you had rivals. Nana was the only reason she had avoided the arrogance that had been so common among her peers. At Nana’s house there were no servants to wait on you hand and foot. All cooking and cleaning was done in rotation. Everyone had a daily chore they were responsible for. For those short two months they spend with Nana every summer, they could be just normal children.  She had cousins from her mother’s siblings that they used to play with when they were younger. But they had stopped hanging around when they turned fifteen or so, when they were more focused on their future. They weren’t high society enough to have a future planned out for them like Savannah and her sisters. They had to plan ahead. Decide where their career paths lay and start studying if they wanted to get in to those big firms.

That’s pretty much when their paths separated. Savannah hadn’t missed the envy in their eyes when they talked about their futures. The girls didn’t have to worry about applying for jobs with the big firms, they didn’t even have to work hard to get them. They had already been promised them the moment those marriage contracts had been signed. They were marrying the future CEOs of the top necromancer firms in the country.

Savannah had wanted to explain that their futures weren’t these rosy dreams her cousins seemed to think they were. They were marrying men who would most likely never love them and their only real job was to produce children of equal caliber to their parents. These jobs with the big firms they thought they were getting were more as figureheads then real employees. They weren’t expected to do anything more then show up every now and then and maybe do a couple of jobs a year just to keep their registration current. That was it.

There were exceptions to the rules. There were women who thrived on the business end and ran the family empires, but usually they were born in to the family, not those who married in. No one wanted to hand of their reigns of their family business to an outsider no matter how good she might be at her job.

Savannah had been told from the beginning that Antonis didn’t expect much from her. She would have an office next to Alexandros but she wasn’t expected to do anything. Lukas would be the one in charge of Acheron, Alexandros was there to assist. If anything, Celine was the one expected to actually put some work in. She was Lukas’ wife. Savannah was just the spare just in case something happened to Lukas and Celine.

Antonis didn’t much care what she did as long as she didn’t bring censure down on the family. She even remembered when she was sixteen how he told her she was expected to have affair. All married women did. She just had to make sure the man was never as accomplished as Alexandros and not from one of the Elite families. Savannah honestly had no idea how to react to that. So she had just nodded and left the room at the first available moment.

That is what family life would have been like for her. There were these festive parties that Kira loved to throw. Or the smell of freshly baked gingerbread straight out of the oven. This is what the holidays were to her now days. All the things she had missed as a child. So if being stuck in a room with over a hundred people she didn’t know made her best friend happy, she would do it. After all, she and Abby could always hide out in some secluded corner somewhere snacking on leftovers and drinking cider.

When she finally rounded the corner on the last …

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