Savannah wanted nothing more then to crawl in to the bed and closes her eyes but she knew that the moment she did, the nightmares would come. It had taken till nearly four a.m. by the time ME had finished examining the body and she was allowed to leave. She barely had enough time to get home, changes clothes, drop off Charlie and head to work.
It had been a long coffee fueled day. She had forgotten how busy Courtlands was on Wednesdays. People need a lot of sugar and caffeine to make it through hump day and Courtlands was one the best place to find it.
The bakery had opened twenty years ago when Abby’s parents moved to Newport. As both the Witch and Mage society wanted nothing to do with either of them, they had needed to find a way outside of magic to make a living. Abby’s mother Rachel loved baking and was very good at it, so they decided to open a small bakery that catered to the supernatural kind, using ingredients that weren’t normally seen in your usual bakery. Most of the ingredients were herbs and spices that were often used in spells and incantations that weren’t often thought about adding to baked goods. But the unique treats that Courtlands created became not only popular among the supernatural crowd by the non-supe as well.
Wednesdays were especially popular because Wednesdays were the one day that Rachel made her special Heart Drop Cookies that were made with cinnamon, vanilla, and dried pink rose petals. The taste wasn’t the draw of the cookies, althought they were really good, it was the rumor that supposedly anyone that ate the cookies would find their true love. Of course it was just a rumor, but it was enough to draw in a crowd of available women to the shop, which in turn usually drew the men. There were many of couples who claimed to have find true love because of Rachel’s famous Heart Drop Cookies.
With a heavy yawn, Savannah shut the front door behind her with her sneakered foot, and tossed her house keys on to the kitchen counter. She pulled off her white bakers coat and tossed it on the bar stool beside her.
“Charlie? Are you ready for dinner?” She called out as she headed to the fridge. She had kept her promise and had run to the fish market during her lunch break. Since the market was just down the street, she had hurried home to drop the fish off in the fridge before heading back downstairs to work. It was good to live above the place you worked. You could leave a minute before work and still be on time.
She received no answer to her call, but she had expected as much. She pulled out the plastic container with the thick slices of premium grade tuna for Charlie and another container with a nice cut of salmon already marinated with a cajun rub. She placed both containers on the counter and went to her room to change.
Once she was in her comfy clothes she pulled out a baking pan and a roll of parchment paper. Preheating her oven, she covered the pan with parchment paper before playing the cajun seasoned salmon filet on it. She was just about the pop the fish in to the oven when there was a knock on her front door.
“Come in,” She called out as she opened the oven door and placed the fish on the top rack. She had bought a bigger piece than normal today because she expected Abby to be by after work. She had a head of romaine lettuce and some croutons which she had planned to turn in to a ceasar salad to each along with the fish.
“Dinner should be ready in half and hour, I hope you can wait that long,” Savannah called over her shoulder as she set the timer on the oven.
“I didn’t know this was going to be a date. If I hate I would have brought some wine.”
Savannah froze, her finger’s still on the timer as her brain slowly registered just who the voice belonged to and how it was most definitely not the voice she had been expecting. She cursed under her breath as she promised herself to get the wards around her apartment strengthened. She had gotten to lax and let them fade. If they had been a full strength she would have sensed him coming long before he made it to her door and he knew it.
“What do you want Ryker?” Savannah asked, no bothering to turn around, “Whatever you want, get it out because I’m expecting company.”
“So I assumed when you welcomed me in,” He drawled. Savannah ignored the sarcasm that laced his voice and walked back to the fridge to get out the head of romaine.
“Hurry it up Ryker, I don’t have time for this,” She ordered as she placed the salad on the counter and pulled out a wooden chopping board, a colander, and a chef’s knife. She made quick work of the head of lettuce and tossed it in to the colander.
He leaned on the kitchen counter, his tall frame folding as he rested his elbows on the tiled top, “So who are you expecting? Is it some one I should be worried about?”
“Seeing as how you are nothing more than an uninvited guest, who I am expecting is none of your business,” Savannah informed him as she picked up the chopping board and knife and placed them in the sink before grabbing the colander now filled with the chopped lettuce. Turning on the cold water, Savannah rinsed the cut lettuce and silently prayed that Abby would arrive soon.
Ryker Jackson was not a man she felt comfortable having in her home. He was a man with too much power and arrogance to match him. She had told him repeatedly that she wasn’t interested in him but he wouldn’t listen to her. He stopped by every time he was in town. Luckily most times, Abby or their friend Kira was with her, but today she was alone.
He had never been violent with him. He had never threatened her, but there was always an aura of violence around him that she could not ignore. She had gotten the wards placed around her apartment because of him. The wards hide her magical presence and kept him from entering without her permission. But he hadn’t stopped by in months and she had gotten lax about her security. Now she was paying for it.
She was just beginning to wonder if she should just call Abby and see where she was when she heard a loud purr. She tried to keep the relief off her face as Charlie strolled in to the kitchen, his tail swishing behind him as he walked over to curl around Savannah’s legs.
Ryker didn’t bother to keep the sneer off his face as he glared down at Charlie, “I see you still have that monster.”
“Charlie isn’t a monster,” Savannah corrected, “And if all you came her for was to insult my pet, then I’m going to have to ask you to leave. I have dinner to prepare.”
The stupid man just chuckled as if what she said was funny when she had just politely asked him to leave. The last time he had overstayed his welcome, Charlie had swatted him with his claws out. Ryker had sworned and nearly kicked Charlie before he stopped himself because Savannah had been there. But she had seen the intention in his eyes and had Charlie. The man was a monster and she didn’t want him in her home.
There was one way she could get him out, but she really didn’t want to have to do it. It was expose a part of herself that she definitely didn’t want him to know about. He was already obssessed with the woman he thought she was as is. She didn’t want to make it any worse. But the stupid man just kept standing there staring at her.
Charlie let out another purr as he brushed against the back of her legs, reminding her he was still with her. She knew that he would attack Ryker again if she wanted, but they both knew Ryker would most likely retaliate. Savannah didn’t want Charlie to get hurt because of her. Not because of Ryker.
There were two reasons Savannah didn’t register with the Necromancer guild. One was because it was impratical. She couldn’t afford the fees nor did she have a chance of attaining a well-paying job. Even with a new name, there were still too many people that knew her that would be all too happy to make her life hell. That was the reason she gave to her friends for not registering, they one they had no problem believing.
The second reason only Charlie knew. The second reason she didn’t register with the necromancer guild was because her powers were just too different from your normal necromancer. Last night was a good example of that. Her magic was completely foreign to Lukas. He was a Level 1 Class A necromancer. He was as powerful as you could get. He had been studying necromancy for all of his life. His family had their own style of magic that was unique to them alone. But even then, their magic was still necromatic magic. Any other necromancer could recognize it for what it was. But Savannah’s magic was completely different. Even Charlie who had been with her for eight years still couldn’t make heads or tails of it.
The sigils she used were necromatic sigils, its just that she used them in a way that made no sense to him. That in reality should not even work together. But they did. How, neither of them knew. Savannah couldn’t even explain how she knew to put them together. It just came to her. She knew what she wanted to know and the chain of sigils came to mind.
Her magic wasn’t normal. But, it also let her do things she should not be capable of. Of course there were still limits on her magic. After all she was a necromancer, not a witch or a mage. She could only use necromatic magic. But the things she could do with that magic had never been done before. So that it why it was very important that she hide her magic as much as possible.
On her normal jobs for the police, she relied on the lessons she had learned in school. She used the protection circles she had been taught. She did everything by the book until last night. Last night, all the lessons she had learned in school would have been useless. Last night was a mistake. But it wasn’t one she could take back. The question now though, was she prepared to make another that she wouldn’t be able to take back, especially in front of this man.
She was seriously contemplating that when there was another knock on her door.
“Come in,” She called, thanking the gods that Abby had finally arrived. She turned to the door with the widest smile on her lips only to freeze when a Greek god entered rather than her best friend.
The curses didn’t even make it past her lips. She could only stare at Lukas Stavros in utter horror. There were just some days when you shouldn’t get out of bed, and today was definitely one of them.
* * * * *
“Jackson, what are you doing here?” The fury in Lukas’ voice was unmistakeable. He charged in to the room and straight at Ryker, not even sparing a glance at Savannah. Ryker was a large man, if Savannah had to guess his height, she would have put him at five or six inches over six feet. He was broad and built like a gladiator. He was definitely not a man you wanted to mess in.
But looking at Lukas, who was a couple of inches shorter than Ryker and leaner in frame, you had no doubt who would win. While Ryker looked like a gladiator, he moved like a giant. There was no grace, no subtlety to his movements. While Lukas moved like a big cat on the prowl. Every move was efficient and graceful. He radiated power in a way that Ryker didn’t. Even in his pressed charcoal suit and black tie, he looked less like a business man and more like a conqueror.
As much as she hated to admit it. She felt safer with Lukas here. She didn’t want him here, but a part of her was glad he was because she really didn’t want to be alone in the room with Ryker any longer.
“If it isn’t the Stavros golden boy?” Ryker snorted as he looked down at Lukas, the stupid sap didn’t even realize he should afraid.
“I will only ask you one more time, what are you doing here?” Lukas demanded to know as he looked Ryker in the eyes, his fists practically vibrated at his sides.
“Visiting my girl of course,” Ryker’s smile was smug as he nodded his head in Savannah’s direction. It was only then that Lukas glanced in Savannah’s direction. Taking her in for the first time since he entered. Something lit in his eyes the moment his eyes met her own and she knew immediately he knew, which wasn’t all together surprising since there really weren’t that many red headed necromancers with her level of power. Even her sister Elaine who shared the same shade of hair as her own was only a Class B Level 1 Necromancer, much to their grandfather’s dismay.
Besides the telltale color of her hair, she had also been engaged to his younger brother Alexandros until that fateful night that had changed everything. So, there was pretty much no doubt in her mind that he recognized her.
“Is this true?” Lukas demanded.
“Of course,” Ryker answered at the same time Savannah gave a flat, “No.”
Lukas didn’t need to hear any more, he grabbed Ryker by the collar of his leather jacket and dragged him to the front door. Ryker in all his arrogance didn’t expect such a move from Lukas and was out the door before he had time to put up a fight. Lukas slammed the door behind him and locked both door and dead bolt.
He stood stair at the closed door for a long moment, his fists clenched at his sides, his shoulders shaking before he suddenly whirled around, his dark silver eyes boring in to her.
“Of all the stupid things to do, you let that crazed animal in to your own when you were all alone!” he roared.
“I’m not alone,” Savannah informed him matter-of-factly as she pointed down to Charlie who now sat at her side. Charlie ignored Lukas presence and instead began cleaning his paws.
“A cat doesn’t count. A cat couldn’t protect your from that madman no matter who it might be possessed by.”
Charlie hissed at that comment.
“Charlie is a fine protector,” Savannah protested, “He bit and clawed Ryker the last time he overstayed his welcome.”
“The last time? You mean he stops by often?”
“Look, it really isn’t a bad as you seem to think it is. Usually the apartment is ward so that he can’t enter. I let the wards slip because its been such a long time since he last stopped by that I had hoped he had given up. Usually there’s someone near enough that his presence is not an issue. I was expecting Abby to stop by for dinner so I made the mistake of letting him in the same way I let you in. Now if you would excuse me, I’m expecting my friend for dinner and I have to finish preparing the meal before she arrives.”
With that Savannah turned her back on Lukas and back to her salad. She refused to admit to herself that she had no fear of turning her back to Lukas as she would have never truly done so with Ryker. If her back was turned to that man, it was only for the briefest of moment and she was well aware of just where he was.
The room was quiet for so long that she was actually beginning to wonder if it had really worked and if he was going to leave. She grabbed the colander from the sink and shook the excess water from the bottom before placing the colander in the dish rack next to the sink. She was just opening one of the cabinets near her head when he finally spoke.
Her body froze at his words. Her hand still reaching up towards the cabinet as she slowly turned to look at him. He watched her, a deep frown on his lips as he repeated the words.
“I’m sorry. I’ve meant to say those words eight years ago. What my family did to you was wrong. I never agreed with it but back then I had no power. My words meant nothing. When I finally took over as CEO of Acheron I vowed that I would never make the same mistake my grandfather or father did.”
“I tried to find you after it first happened. To apologize to offer you any assistance I could. But you were gone. You just vanished. It was as if you had walked off the face of the earth. No one knew anything about where you might have gone or what you were doing. I tried to ask your sisters once, but they refused to acknowledge you existence.”
Savannah would have liked to say the words didn’t hurt, not after all this time. But they did. She had understood why her grandfather and parents might have done so, but not her sisters. They might not have been the best of friends, but who was when they were teenagers. They fought and they cried, but she had thought they had loved as well. Maybe she had been wrong. Her younger sister Annabeth had cried when she had been forced to leave. But maybe she had misunderstood that as well.
“I know what happened at Woodrose had nothing to do with you. I know my idiot brother was behind it all but you were forced to take the blame. I can’t possibly compensate you for all you have lost, your family, your home, your future. But I can assist you in anyway that I possibly can.”
Charlie snorted at his words, “You’re right, you can’t return us back to our lives. Nothing you can do can turn back the time to make up for all that was lost. Your pretty words meaning nothing rich boy. Now do as she asked and leave.”
Lukas looked down at Charlie in stunned surprise, his eyes wide and his mouth hanging open slightly. It would have been hilarious in any other situation, but in this one, it was just sad.
“I didn’t know,” Lukas stuttered on the words as he stared down at the black cat.
“You wouldn’t,” Savannah said softly as she looked down at Charlie as well, “After all, no one else did. This was the only way I could save his soul. I wasn’t able to do anything for the others. But I was at least able to save his soul before it was consumed by that creature that broke through the gate. Without a vessel, his soul would have faded away. It was only supposed to be a temporary fix until I could return his soul to his body. But whatever that creature was, it did something. I couldn’t put Charlie’s soul back in to his body. I tried after I first left. I snuck in to his hospital room and tried. But nothing happened. It failed. Whatever happened that night altered his body, and until I can figure out how, I can’t return his soul to his body.”
“I can have my people look in to it, Lukas stated as he turned to Charlie, “Your parents have never given up on you. They had your body moved to one of the top facilities in the country where you get round the clock care. You have the best doctors handling your care. I’ll make sure to have one of our doctors go over and examine you as well.”
Charlie was perfectly still at the words. Savannah knew just how much they meant to him. They had been searching for any news about what had happened to his body for the past five years. Until then, he had been in the care of the Woodrose facility, they had been able to keep track of him there as Savannah had sent arrangements to his room weekly anonymously. But a little over five years ago, the florist she had hired informed her that Charlie’s body was no longer there and the facility was no longer accepting the deliveries.
At that point, they had tried everything the could to find out where his body had been taken. They had even asked Abby to see if she could find anything. They had told her a partial truth, that he was a high school friend that they wanted to sent flowers to. Abby had known about the weekly flower deliveries so she understood the need for them to find him, just not the real reason why.
Abby had tried, contacting the facility who wouldn’t give her any more information then they had called Savannah when she had called from a payphone. Abby even tried asking a doctor that she used to date. But even he couldn’t get any information for them.
They had tried everything the could that wouldn’t draw too much attention to themselves. It wasn’t that they were in hiding, it was just that they were trying to keep Charlie a secret. What Savannah had done, in binding Charlie’s soul to another living being was taboo. She had no other choice at the time, but that didn’t make it right. Luckily, Abby didn’t know enough above Necromancy to realize just what Charlie was, but Lukas had.
Possession like this were so rare, that there were very few case studies. No one until Lukas, had realized just what had been done. There were so few who had the skill or power to bind the soul of one living being to another that no one really knew how it was done. Savannah still wasn’t sure how it was done. It was just one of those things that happened. The sigils popped in to her head and she didn’t think. She didn’t have time to think. She just acted. If she hadn’t, Charlie’s soul would have been eaten like their other two friends had been.
Savannah had just witness a shadow emerge from a doorway in space and yank the souls of her two friends from their body and quite literally shove them in to its mouth and consume them. When it made a grab for Charlie’s soul, Savannah had just acted. The creature had been able to rip Charlie’s soul from his body, but Savannah had been able to set up a barrier in time to keep it from eating Charlie’s soul.
The shadow had screamed and roared, banging against her barrier as she knelt there besides Charlie’s body praying to anyone and everyone that the barrier would hold. Charlie didn’t remember the shadow or the gate, but nor would he ever tell her what he did remember.
Savannah knew that most people would say that talking it out would help them get through what happened. But she always argued that none of them had gone through what they did. Talking about it didn’t help. Talking about it made it real. And what happened that night was too messed up to be real. People would never believe them if they tried to tell them about it. None of the faculty at Woodrose or the Guild Council believed a word she said. Even her family wouldn’t believe her. Talking about what happened that night wouldn’t help any of them.
The room had gotten to quiet. Charlie hadn’t moved since Lukas had given him the news. After everything that had happened to them in the last twenty-four hours, it might have just been too much.
“Lukas, I know you are trying to do what you think is best, but right now, what is best for us is to be left alone,” Savannah said, “Please don’t tell anyone that you found us or what you have learned tonight. For Charlie’s sake, it best that no one else but you learns the truth.”
Lukas said nothing, he just stared at the too still black cat for a long moment before turning to Savannah.
“I’ll leave for now, but I will be back. All of this is my family’s fault and I will fix it,” Lukas vowed, but he didn’t stay any longer. Savannah saw him out and locked up behind him. She pulled the Salmon from the oven and threw it on a plate for herself to eat. She grabbed Charlie’s tuna and placed in on a small plate and put in down in front of him.
He stared at the food blankly for a long moment, not making a move. But eventually, he leaned down and started eating. They had both learned that starving themselves did nothing. They needed to eat because they needed the fuel. No food and no sleep made them too vulnerable. So even if they wouldn’t taste a single bite, they would eat, because that it was their body needed.
Abby never did stop by that night. It wasn’t till the next morning at work that Rachel informed Savannah that Abby had been called out on another case almost as soon as she had gotten home. Normally they wouldn’t bother officers who had just ended their shifts. But something big had happened and they had needed every body they could get. Abby had only enough time to stop off, say hi to her parents and grab a coffee before headed back out the door.
Savannah hadn’t heard anything on the news nor had she received any calls from Abby or the police, she figured it must have been a non-supernatural type crime. But Savannah was so tired from another night without sleep, that she wasn’t even curious. She grabbed herself a cup of coffee and got started mixing.
Abby’s parents knew Savannah well and they knew she had sleep issues. So they made sure to keep the coffee brewing and only asked for her help us front when it got to be too much for them to handle. Savannah was grateful to them for never asking questions. But then she figured they must have understood a little bit of what she was going through, after all Rachel Courtland had been with the Witches’ Guild before this life. And Abby’s father Michael, was a mage from Great Britian. Abby never really said what her father had done before moving to the states after marrying her mom, but Savannah had seen some of the magic he could weild, and it was definitely not normal mage spells.
Like their daughter, Rachel and Michael respected Savannah’s privacy and never asked for more than she was willing to offer. When she had first moved to Newport she had been a mess. She had been looking for a place to stay and Abby had been looking for a roommate. Abby hadn’t minded the talking cat or the nightmares that woke both screaming sometimes in the middle of the night. She asked, but never pushed for information.
She was the one who had gotten Savannah the job at her parents’ bakery. She had given her this new life, this new family and a second chance at a life that had been taken from her. She didn’t want to keep things from her best friend. It’s just that she wasn’t ready to talk about, she may never be ready to talk about it, but Abby understood that. And that was why she was Savannah’s best friend, and why Savannah would drag herself out of bed in the wee hours of the morning to go look at a crime scene for her. That was just how they worked.
Savannah left herself in to her apartment. Charlie was still in some hidey-hole some place. He had escaped right after eating and disappeared. Savannah knew there was no point in bugging him so she had just left him alone. She had left him a place of tuna and fried eggs from breakfast, the plate and been licked clean but that was the only sign she saw of him.
Throwing her keys and bakers coat on the kitchen counter, she kicked off her sneakers and tossed them in the direction of the front door. She would deal with them tomorrow morning. She was too tired to cook right now. She figured she would lay down on the couch and watch a little tv. Once she felt a little more energetic, then she would start dinner.
She had only planned to close her eyes for a second. Her eyes lids were just too heavy to keep up any longer. She wasn’t going to fall asleep. She was just going to close them for just a second.
The dream started before she even realized she had fallen asleep. It held her in its grasp. Drawing her under. Dragging her through the memories she fought so hard to keep at bay during her waking hours. Now asleep she, was defenseless as the horrors of that night bombarded her, consumed her, destroyed her.
The true horrors of that night were locked away deep within her, and when they were released she could not fight them. They pulled her down, dragged her to the deepest level of unconsciousness, and there they held her until so that not even her own screams could wake her.
* * * * *
“Anaelise!” Arms shook her, pulling her from the darkness of her own making. Her eyes shot open and a familiar face slowly materialized before her own. She blinked slowly, forcing the face to focus and slowly feature by feature, it became clearing. Sharp dark gray eyes, aquiline nose, lips pressed in a tight frown, wavy ink black hair that fell around his face to brush against his shoulders.
That name, that awful name, the name she had wanted to forget for so long. Why was it here? Hadn’t she run far enough to leave that name behind her.
“Give her time,” a new voice warned as a black shadow jumped from the floor to landed on the couch beside her legs as the figure standing over her moved back, “It takes a while to come out of it.”
“Charlie?” Savannah mumbled. Her lips cracked on the word. Why did her throat hurt?
“Savannah,” Charlie’s voice was solemn and almost sympathetic. Charlie was never sympathetic. He was all acerbic wit and nasty insults, the only time he was nice to her was when-
She groaned as it came back to her. This disorientation only happened when it was bad, real bad. When the dream consumed her and tore her away from the real world. Her throat hurt because she had been screaming bloody murder.
“Anaelise?” The man said again, this time Savannah was able to recognize the voice. She turned her head to find Lukas towering over her, true concern on his face.
“I’m fine,” Savannah waved him off as she shifted her legs and placed her sock covered feet on the hard wood floor.
“How bad was it?” Savannah asked Charlie, who still sat on the other end of the couch watching her.
“Bad,” his voice was gruff, “This one was pounding on the door, nearly broke the thing down trying to get in here. One of the neighbors in the next building was ready to call the police. Luckily Abby showed up and took care of it before the cops were called.”
Savannah just groaned as she covered her face with her hands. Abby was the only besides Charlie who had ever seen her this bad. It only had when she was extremely tired and she no longer had the power to hold the memories at bay.
The first time it had happened, Abby thought she was being murdered. She had come rushing in to the room, gun at the ready only to find Savannah fighting her dreams and not a real assailant. Abby woke her up and called her mother when Savannah broke out in to uncontrolled tears that would not stop.
Rachel forced a cup of warm tea down her that put Savannah back to sleep, but this time it was a dreamless one. When she woke up the next morning Abby sat at the dinning room table waiting for her. By then they had been living together for a year so there wasn’t much that Abby didn’t know about her. She knew Savannah had a past that haunted her. One that she would never speak about. So it didn’t take much detective work to know what her dream had been about.
Abby had told her that she knew her dream wasn’t something that she could talk about, not yet anyway. But if she ever needed a shoulder to cry on, she would be there. Then she handed her a tin Rachel had left for her. It was a mixture of herbs that would help her sleep deeply and dreamlessly for those times that she would need it. The tea wouldn’t be able to stop the dreams, but they would at least push them off for a while.
A Savannah had gone through the tin in the first month. She had received another large tin under the tree for Christmas and every Christmas since. She should have made herself some tea the first night. But she had been too scared to sleep, not sure if even the tea could help. When it got this bad, nothing could stop it from happening, which the reason the wards around her apartment had also helped sound proof the place. She really needed to contact that witch to come back and strengthen them.
“What time is it?” Savannah finally asked as she pulled her hands away from her face.
“Nearly ten,” Charlie informed her.
“Sorry, I only meant to close my eyes for a moment and then I was going to start dinner. I didn’t mean to sleep the afternoon and half the night away. You must be starving,” Savannah apologized, “If you can hold out a little longer I’ll get dinner started.”
“Don’t worry about it. I wasn’t really hungry to begin with,” Charlie leaned forward and stretched out his slender frame, his long tail waving in the air behind him.
“Just give me a minute and I’ll at least open a can of salmon for you,” Savannah offered as she got to her feet. She turneds towards the kitchen only to find her way blocked by a large body.
“Is this what you have to live with because of that night?” Lukas demanded and he looked between the two of them, “Has it become so common that the both of you treated as if nothing happened?”
“It’s how we survive, not live,” Savannah corrected him, “You don’t live through what happened to us, you survive.”
“What happened that night? What happened that made you scream that way? Because whatever it was, it was nothing like what I was led to believe. Alex made it sound like a circle gone wrong that kill two of your classmates and nearly killed another. This isn’t that.”
“No, it isn’t.”
“Then tell me what happened? Tell me what you saw that puts that haunted look in your eyes,” Lukas reached out to her, but Savannah dodged his hand. Taking a step away from him, she shook her head.
“What you saw that night, was nothing. It wasn’t even close to the horrors we lived through. The only way we can survive it by burying the memories so deep within us that we can pretend they aren’t real. This is how we have to live so that we don’t go insane.”
“Everything we were taught at the Academy was wrong. There are things out there that can do far worse things then possess you. There are monster far scarier than any you can imagine. Living with this knowledge every minute of every day, would drive anyone insane. So if it means we have to suffer through the night terrors every once in a while, then it is a price that I will gladly pray so that I can make it through the day.”
“This isn’t right,” Lukas shook his head.
“No, it’s not. But it is all we have.”
“There has to be something that can be done,” He argued.
“You’re not listening,” Savannah shook her head, “We don’t want to make this better, we just want to survive and eventually find a way to put Charlie’s soul back in to his body. We don’t want to have to live through it again. It was enough the first time. I don’t want to do it again. Please Lukas, just let it go.”
Lukas just stared at her, fury barely contained in his large frame, his arms shook, his eyes flashing. The air around his sizzled with his power. Yet she wasn’t afraid of him. She knew he wasn’t made at her, but for her, for both of them. But he shouldn’t waste his fury on them. It wasn’t worth the energy.
“I don’t believe that there is no hope. I’ve seen what you can do. I’ve seen you use necromatic magic in a way that I have never seen before. You didn’t just survive. You won, otherwise you wouldn’t still be alive. You may have given up on a future, but I have not.”
Savannah just shook her head at his foolish words. They were the words of someone who had never experience true horror, they were the words of the blind. She would never wish on him what she had Charlie had survived. But she feared that he might soon find out. After what she had seen the other night and the dream tonight, she feared she hadn’t truly escaped that night. That the thing she feared the most was about the become a reality. And this was why even more so then normal, that she suppress the past. She needed to make it go away before she started screaming again, and this time it would be while she was fully awake.
She ignored his words, just as she did with everything else she could not bear. Pushing past him, she headed towards the kitchen to start their dinner. Right now, she didn’t need his words. Right now she needed normalcy. And if preparing dinner was that, then she would embrace it wholeheartedly.
* * * * *
Abby with Rachel in tow walked in just as she was flipping the last of her pancakes. It was her go to food when she was tired and needed something easy to make. In this case, it was because she didn’t trust herself to hold any sharp objects. Although she hid it well from the man who stood at her counter glowering at her, her hands still shook. Another side effect of the dream.
Adrenaline still coursed through the veins, making her hands shaky and her heart race. There would definitely not be any more sleeping tonight. But that wasn’t something she was about to share. They would probably try to force something down her throat to knock her out, which was nearly as bad as being lock in her nightmares.
“My dear, I heard you gave our neighbors quite a scare,” Rachel chided as she strolled in, a wicker basket filled to the brim with jars of herbs and spices, her magic basket as Abby had aptly named it.
“I’m so sorry about that,” Savannah apologized, her cheeks flaming red as she suddenly realized the trouble she must have caused for them, “I’m going to call someone first thing in the morning to get the wards around the apartment strengthened.”
“Pssh,” Rachel waved her hand off as she set her basket on the counter, “I will never understand why you pay for a spell when I have offered to do it for free.”
Savannah’s cheeks grew even warmer. Warding spells weren’t cheap. She didn’t know too much about witchcraft, but she knew that warding spells, especially on homes, could be complex and draining. Savannah knew that the spells she requested add to her wards were especially so. It usually took the witch she hired half the day and by the time she walked out, she was stumbling over her own feet. Savannah paid a lot for her wards. It felt like she was taking advantage of Rachel to ask her to strengthen them. She was already providing her with a place to live for half the price it would cost anywhere else. Not to mention she had given her a job when no one else would.
Striaght from Woodrose Academy she had no job experience outside of necromancy and no diploma since she didn’t complete her education. She had been living on the inheritance she had received from her maternal grandmother until that point. When she ahd come to Newport, she had nothing, yet Rachel had taken a chance on her. Asking for more than that just sounded so greedy, no matter how Rachel herself may see it.
“Strengthen her wards and I will pay however much it costs,” Lukas offered before Savannah had a chance to reply. Savannah glared at man, but he ignored her.
Rachel must have seen Lukas when she came in, but she hadn’t paid attention to him until that moment. When she finally looked at him and really saw him, her eyebrows raised and an amused smile lit on her lips.
“It seems you got yourself a very powerful knight in shining armor,” Rachel teased, her green eyes alit with mischief when they turned back to Savannah. Abby had a matching grin on her face.
Like mother, like daughter, Savannah snorted. You could hardly tell they were mother and child by appearance alone. Rachel barely looked five years older than her daughter, although she had Abby when she was thirty-five. Both women were tall and statuequse figures that Savannah had always been jealous of. Both women had smooth mocha skin and long straight black hair. Where Abby wore hers in thin braids, which she pulled back for work, Rachel kept hers loose. Both women were beautiful, strikingly so. On the rare occasions when they went out together, both women garnered all the attention. Savannah with her fire red hair and too pale skin, was nothing compared to the two of them. How Abby had no serious boyfriend was still a mystery to her.
“Please ignore him, he was just about to leave,” Savannah explained as she shut off the stove and placed the last pancake on her plate which was already ten high. Rachel’s brows raised when she saw that stack but said nothing.
That didn’t keep Abby from making a comment though, “You do realize if you eat that all this late at night, it will go straight to your hips.”
“Ha, ha. Just consider it a really early breakfast,” Savannah grabbed her plate and moved it to the bar that separated the kitchen from the living room. Her butter and syrup were already waiting.
“Don’t tell me you plan on staying up for the rest of the night? You do realize that tomorrow is the one day you get to sleep in and you’re going to ruin it by staying up the whole night,” Abby shook her head.
“Sleeping is overrated,” Savannah stated as she slathered butter over the top pancake before drowning it in syrup.
“You’re going to make yourself sick,” Charlie stated as he sauntered in to the kitchen. He had polished off his can of salmon before wandering off to one of his many hidey-holes. He must have decided to come out when he heard Rachel. He had Abby got along okay, but Charlie loved Rachel. It probably had something to do with the woman always bringing him treats and gourmet goodies.
“Ah, there you are Charles, I was wondering if you were going to show,” Rachel teased as she pulled a couple of biscuits out of her magic basket. Charlie purred as twined himself around Rachel’s legs like a good kitty. She leaned down at fed him first one, then the other treat.
Savannah struggled not to roll her eyes, but Abby didn’t bother. She had lived with Charlie for two years. She had seen the sourpuss roll over and offer his belly the moment her mother walked through the door. Savannah wouldn’t be surprised if Charlie was half in love with Abby’s mother. Husband or not, if Savannah were ever able to put Charlie’s soul back in to his body, she bet he would come back and propose. Rachel had real skill in the kitchen, and not just the baking sort. She was literally had a witch in the kitchen. With her extensive knowledge of the magical properties of herbs, she created masterpieces that tingled the taste buds and restored the soul.
Once the kitty was fed and scratched, Rachel turned her attention back to Savannah, “I examined your wards on the way in. The witch you hired is good, they have real talent, but their power is still raw and her spells lacking. She was well trained, but obviously still young.”
Savannah did admit that she was young. The witch she worked with about her age, maybe a year or two older, so twenty-seven or twenty-eight. She had finished her training a couple of years ago and started on her own. Savannah had met her when she had moved in to the apartment next door. She had been looking for work and Savannah had been looking for someone to create wards around her apartment, so it had worked out for both of them. But then earlier this year, the woman had moved across town and had steady jobs coming in so having her just pop by one afternoon to strengthen the wards wasn’t as easy as it used to be. With the fact that Ryker had been away for such long period of time, she had gotten lazy about have them routinely restored.
“Rachel, you really don’t have to do this. I can call Samantha tomorrow and have her came and strengthen them,” Savannah said, but Rachel had already begun to empty her basket out on Savannah’s counter top.
“Let her do this,” Lukas argued.
“You don’t get a say in the matter. I told you I’m fine and I don’t need you here to watch over me,” Savannah glared at the man who had repeatedly ignored her when she had kindly asked him to leave and then outright told him to get out.
Lukas turned to Abby, “You saw her. Would you leave her after what you saw?”
Abby looked between Savannah and Lukas, a slight frown on her lips, “He’s right Sav. This time it wasn’t like normal. I’ve never seen you like this before. I’m not agreeing with him that you need someone with you, I’m just saying that you should let Mom help you with your wards.”
Savannah scowled at her friend before shoving a huge piece of pancake in her mouth. Making sure to chew slowly so she didn’t say something she would probably regret later. Abby was probably right and she had never seen her like she was tonight, but she hadn’t been there after that night. Things had been much worse then. Sleeping hadn’t even been an option and she had been living off caffeine, whether in a cup or pill form. She had been scared to death of sleeping. Charlie had been just as bad. They must have been a pair back then. Too scared to leave the house at night and afraid of their own shadows.
After that horrible first year, Savannah had vowed never to become that person again. She hated the person she had become. She had hated the fact that she was scared of everything. That even breathing back then had seemed impossible.
She hit rock bottom. She had been so stick thin that even a strong gush could have knocked her over. She wasn’t sleeping, barely eating, and every spare moment of the day she was trying to find anything that would explain what happened that night. It was too much for her body and she collapsed. When she woke up she was in a hospital bed with a very worried doctor standing at her bedside.
He was young, he had been the one to clean her up and bandage her that Night. He had recognized her immediately when she had been brought in. He had seen her that night. He knew what had happened to her and the nightmare she had survived. He told her she needed help or she was going to die just like her friends. He told her flat out that without help, the next time she rolled through those doors, it would be in a body bag.
Savannah had just broken down and cried. It was then that he brought in a doctor he worked with who helped people like her learn to live again. She had survived, her other friends hadn’t been that lucky. But was it fair of her to waste the life she had been gifted? Was it fair to squander such a precious gift?
At that point Savannah was just so tried of being scared. She couldn’t and wouldn’t talk about what happened? Dr. Marshall understood that. She didn’t push. Instead she offered ways to help Savannah deals with her emotions. Yes, there were some pills involved, but she had needed them at that point. But she didn’t allow them to be her crutch. She wanted to get better. She wanted to stop being scared. She wanted to be able to leave her house without looking over her shoulder and checking every shadow.
It had taken a lot of hard work and hundreds of written pages in journals she had buried in a box at the back of her closet. But she had fought and she had prospered. Charlie joined her for the counseling sessions. He pretended to be a normal cat that Savannah brought along for comfort, but the sessions helped him as they helped her. She couldn’t give him the medications the doctor had prescribed for her, but just sitting there listening to the doctor’s words seemed to be enough for him.
When Savannah moved, she had promised to find a new doctor in Newport that would help her when things got bad. Dr. Marshall had sent her with a couple of referrals. Savannah had been planning to find a new doctor. But then she had moved in with Abby and met Rachel and eventually Kira. Things had gotten better. She felt so much better that she was able to pretend that she was normal again. The nightmares came, but they weren’t like they were before and Rachel had her special tea to help her. She may never return to being the girl she was before, but at least she was able to find a happy life here. She let that make her complacent. And now this happened.
Abby and Lukas were right. She really had no real reason to not let Rachel help her with her wards. She could force Rachel to take money for her work. Restoring the wards were not for her peace of mind, but their own.
They all knew something bad had happened to her. Lukas more so then the other two women. They also knew that they couldn’t truly help her with her real problem, that was up to Savannah alone. But they could be there for her when she needed it, and if ensuring she was safe while she slept, even if it was during these nightmares, made them feel better, then Savannah really couldn’t argue against it.
Which turned out to be a good thing because in the time it took Savannah to get her first bite of pancake, Rachel had already grabbed her smudge stick and headed towards the door.
“You know you can’t stop her,” Abby reminded her, “Once she gets her mind to something, nothing can stop her.”
“Thank you,” Savannah said simply. She knew when she was beat. Cutting another huge piece of pancake she shoved it in to her mouth and let Rachel work.
The morning had turned decidedly chilly as Savannah hurried up the concrete steps leading up the the entrance of the local police department. The reason Abby had stopped by the night before was to ask her to come in and view another body. She had assured her that this had nothing to do with the body from the other night , but something had been suspicious about the cause of death and they just wanted her confirmation that it had nothing to do with magic. If she couldn’t find any obvious sign of magical influence, Abby had warned her that the detective assigned to the case might ask her to rise the spirit.
Raising spirits were easy and took very little energy, it was the pretending that was a pain in the butt. She didn’t need a protection circle, not for a simple raising. But because all other necromancers used a protection circle, Savannah needed to as well. So instead of just grabbing her purse and heading out, she had to bring her work pack, which was currently a simple black backpack packed with chalk, candles, a container of salt, baby wipes, a small bottle of bleach, a box of latex gloves, and a ceremonial dagger. It was way more then she needed and she hated carrying the heavy bag around when it wasn’t needed.
She pushed open the heavy glass doors and strolled in to the amazingly empty lobby. Although it was a Sunday, Savannah had expected to see someone. Even the desk sergeant was away from his desk, which definitely unusual. But, that was okay, since Savannah knew her way to the morgue. She was supposed to met Detective Moreno there in five minutes.