By the time Delilah had arrived, Mia was freshly bathed and dressed in an pair of worn jeans and one of Nick’s old high school sweaters. No matter how much she had tried to wipe that jelly off her stomach, it had left her skin feeling sticky. The moment she was allowed to leave, she headed straight to the room she shared with Nick to wash off.
No one tried to stop her and no one bothered to follow her. She was thankful for that. Right now, more then ever, she just wanted to be left alone. She took a longer than normal shower, half of the time she just spend standing under the hot spray of water with her eyes closed.
Right now there was a part of her that wanted to walk out the front door and never look back. To disappear and leave all her problems behind. To leave Mia behind. No more complications, no more fears or worries, to just be free. The thought was just so tempting. To be free, to just let it all go. It would be so easy too. She could just walk out and no one would know. She was one of the most powerful blood magic users in the world. If anyone could disappear it was definitely her.
Freedom, a little voice in her head promised.
Although the water had been wonderfully hot, Mia’s blood had suddenly gone cold. She had quickly washed off and got out of the shower, no longer wanting to be left alone with her thoughts.
She had made quick work of drying off and pulling on dry clothes. She hadn’t enough bothered to dry her hair. She ran a brush through her wet curls and quickly fled the room.
She found Delilah sitting at the kitchen counter, a plate of hot food in front of her as she spoke to Alastair and Nathaniel. Their conversation stopped immediately as Mia stepped in to room and all eyes turned to her.
“I hear congratulations are in order,” Alistair said with a warm smile as he offered a seat to Mia.
Mia said nothing but took the seat Alistair offered as she looked at Delilah’s plate. Roast beef, mashed potatoes and broccoli spears. Mia knew she should be hungry. She hadn’t eaten much at all that day, but sight and smell of the food was just making her sick. She turned away from the food and back to the three sets of eyes that were still watching her.
“Not hungry?” Nathaniel asked with a frown.
“Not really,” Mia said, trying her best to offer him a smile but she could tell she had failed completely when his eyes narrowed and his frown deepened.
“You should eat something. You won’t do the baby any good by starving yourself,” Delilah remarked as she stabbed a piece of roast beef and lifted it to her lips. Mia quickly turned away as the sight alone made her queasy.
“Are you feeling well?” Nathaniel asked worriedly, “Is it morning sickness? Should I have Nikolas run out for something?”
Mia just shook her head no. How could she tell him that her sickness had nothing to do with her non-existent child and everything to do with the fact that she was scared to death that she was losing herself.
The voice she had heard in the shower, the thoughts that had consumed her mind, they weren’t hers. Yes, she needed to get away. Yes, she had needed just a moment of peace. But that was all she wanted. She didn’t want to leave this life. She didn’t want to leave the people she loved. Those hasn’t been her thoughts. At least, they hadn’t been Mia’s thoughts.
They had been the thoughts of the self she had met in the abyss of the darkness. They were the thoughts of the creature that would exist if her soul were to shattered and vanish. That was the monster she would become if they failed.
Whatever time William had bought her, she knew now that it wouldn’t be long, not long enough anyway. If that creature could slip in and take over her thoughts, how long would it be before it took over her body. She was running out of time.
They needed to find Thea and they needed to find her quick. Mia didn’t know how much time she had left, all she knew was that she needed to find Thea before it ran out. With Mia gone, they would need Thea. She had been the strongest of them all, they would need her on their side when Emily released their father. They would probably need a lot more than that, but Thea would at least give them a fighting chance. Something Mia could not offer them at this point. Thea was now their only hope.
The moment Delilah shoved the last bite of food in to her mouth, Mia stood up, surprising her three companions.
“Now that you’re done, its time to find me a necklace,” Mia announced. Delilah sighed, but pushed the empty plate of food away.
“I guess there is no rest for the weary,” Delilah said with a scowl.
“You can rest when we’re dead, right now we have no time. By now, word had probably reached my less than sane sister that I’m carrying the child of the man she is consumed with. The last time she heard I was pregnant, she sent an entire clan to kill me, said man, and our unborn child. I’m not looking forward to seeing what she will be sending this time.”
“You do have a point,” Delilah said with a yawn and she got to her feet. As if that was a signal to the entire house, people began to quickly fill the room. Mia had no idea where they came from. One minute, it was just the four of them, the next their large room was packed with family and friends.
Delilah looked just as stunned as Mia felt by their sudden appearance. She kept blinking and looking around the sea of faces that had not been there a moment ago.
“Okay,” She said with a shake of her head before she turned to Nathaniel. “I guess you should lead the way.”
“I guess so,” Nathaniel said with an amused smile.
“You know there isn’t enough space for everyone in the attic, right?” Mia said as she glanced around the room.
“Oh, there’s enough space now,” Ada assured her.
“You better not have messed up things up there,” Mia warned her cousin, “We’re trying to find the necklace, not lose it.”
“We didn’t touch any thing more than necessary, we just moved things around so that there would be space for all of us,” Adeline assured her.
“You too?” Mia said with a groan.
Adeline shrugged, “We figured if Delilah wasn’t able to trace the magic, we needed to make enough space so that we could all search for it by sight.”
“She does have a point,” Delilah agreed, “I haven’t the slightest idea what I’m supposed to look for and from what Nathaniel told me, it’s been sitting around in a jewelry box for twenty-six years. If there is any trace of magic left on it, it will be faint, so faint I may not sense it.”
Mia scowled, but acknowledge silently that they did have a point. If Delilah couldn’t get a sense of magic from the necklace, they were going to have to find it some way. They would not be leaving that attic without that bracelet.
Mia followed Nathaniel and Delilah out of the kitchen, the others falling into step behind them. Mia could only guess what they looked like, a little mini parade making its way through the large house.
They were passing through main entrance when she spotted Nick pacing in front of the front door. His phone to his ear as angry scowl on his lips.
“How many?” He growled, so intent on his conversation that he didn’t even notice their little parade.
She watched as he stopped and slammed his hand against the wall right beside the doorway. She paused to watch him, Sarah stopped besides her but the others continued upward.
“He’s been on the phone with Ronan since you went to clean up,” Sarah informed her softly.
“What’s going on?”
Sarah bit nervously down on her lip as her eyes darted around the room, Mia wasn’t sure what she saw, the others had already left. If she was looking to see if they were alone, they were for the moment. But it wouldn’t last long with a house full of people.
“Sarah, tell me whats going on,” Mia reached out to grab Sarah’s hands, pulling her all seeing eyes back to her. Sarah stared back at her, Mia didn’t know what she saw, but whatever it was, it seemed to make up her mind.
She leaned closer so that they would not be overheard. Mia figured she probably shouldn’t remind Sarah that she was in a house filled with blood magic users who could hear a pin drop from a hundred yards away. They probably already knew what was going on. She was sure William and all his little spies had known before the Guild had. She could always hunt William down and for him to tell him the truth, but it would be so much easier and faster to hear it from Sarah.
“Ronan and Marco found the bodies of the missing people. A tip was called in on where to find them. Ronan and Nick were supposed to go check it out, but Nick didn’t want to leave until they were able to check you out so Marco went in his place.”
“Idiot,” Mia growled as she shook her head. “He doesn’t need to watch over me every single moment of the day. I’m surrounded by William’s top guard and my family. No one would be getting in here easily.”
“Nick will never leave you when he thinks you are in danger.”
“I’m in no danger,” Mia argued.
“To him you are,” Sarah informed her. Mia said nothing to that. She didn’t have the time to get in to that argument.
“What else did they find?”
“What makes you think they found something else,” Sarah asked as she shifted her weight from foot to foot. Something she had been doing for the last couple of minutes but had not noticed.
“Nick would not be this upset if it were just bodies,” Mia pointed out, as she turned back to find Nick pacing back and forth once more. His free hand was clenched in a fist at his side.
Sarah’s gaze darted between Nick and the empty stairwell behind him. She was practically gnawing on her bottom lip and she tried to decide what to do. Mia felt couldn’t help but feel guilty for making her friend fret like this, but something bad had happened, and she was going to find out what it was.
“The bodies were left as a gift,” a voice said from behind Mia. She turned to find William strolling out of the den where he had set up his temporary base. His phone was to his ear like Nick, as he listened to what his man was reporting to him.
“Get some pictures and then get out of there. I don’t want any of Emily’s men to catch you there. Once you have everything I’ve requested, bring it to me,” William said in to the phone. He seemed to wait for confirmation before ending the call and turning his full attention to Mia.
“What do you mean they were left as a gift? And a gift for who?”
“My people didn’t have a lot of time before the guild team arrived, but from what they told me, the bodies of the 57 missing people were found laid out on the floor of one of the unused warehouses near the bus depot. The bodies were cleaned and laid bare. The only markings on them was an unknown sigil scrawled across their chests in dried blood. From what my people have been able to gather from the Guild investigation, the bodies were all fresh. The missing people had only been deceased for a few hours.”
“So that’s what Nick’s so mad,” Mia said softly. The missing people had been alive until only a few hours ago. Why had they been killed? And where had these people been until now? They had been going missing for weeks. The police and the guild had been searching high and low for them and none of them had found a trace. For the bodies to be found so quickly, it most likely meant that the person who had left the tip was the one who had killed them. He obviously had wanted the bodies to be found. But why?
“How do you know the bodies were meant to be a gift?” Sarah asked, her face had lost all color and her hands were clasped tightly together. It seemed this was news to her as well.
“One of the bodies had been wrapped in a bright red bow with a tag left on it,” William informed them.
“And what did the tag say?” Mia asked, already having an idea of what Williams as going to say.
“A present for the Blood Queen Amelia Dragos, may this gift help you in your upcoming war,” William said, his voice cool and emotionless.
Mia was so stunned for a moment that she could do nothing but try to process the words she had just heard. Someone had killed 57 people and left their bodies for her as a gift. Not only that, but they had announced her presence to the Guild and had proclaimed that she was at war.
The Guild High Council must be going insane, which explained why Nick looked like he was ready to explode. This so-called gift has just placed a very big target on her back. Now, not only was her sister and horde after her, but now she had the Guild searching for her as well.
“Do you think Emily is behind this?” Sarah asked, as she glanced between William and Mia.
“No, Emily is rash, but not this stupid,” Mia stated as she looked to William for confirmation. He nodded in agreement.
“Those bodies were left there as a statement. Probably not just for Mia and the Guild, but for Emily as well. I’m sure she wasn’t all too happy about losing all those sacrifices. She had spent weeks gathering them and obviously kept them a live for a reason. She wouldn’t have foolishly thrown them away just to turn the Guild’s attention on Mia,” William stated.
“So what does it mean?” Sarah asked, a quiver in her voice.
“Nothing good,” Mia said with a frown, as Nick ended his call and noticed her presence. There was a scowl on his lips that only got darker when he saw her.
“I want to see those pictures as soon as your people bring them in,” Mia said softly, not even bothering to look at William. But he nodded his head that he understood and turned and headed back to his command center and Nick started towards them.
Mia felt Sarah shivering beside her. She turned to find her friend staring at Nick with wide eyes and her lower lip trembling. Part of Mia wondered what Sarah was seeing when she looked at Nick, but Mia knew no matter what, she had nothing to fear from him.
“Sarah, go and join the others. I have a couple things to say to Nick and then I’ll be up,” Mia said, as she gave her friend’s shoulder as squeeze and turned her towards the stairs.
“Are you sure?” Sarah asked as she looked between Mia and Nick before leaning in close and whispered, “He’s not stable right now. He’s barely has himself under control. If his control slips…”
“I’ll be fine,” Mia reassured her as she gently pushed her friend forward. Sarah hesitated for a moment but the turned towards the stairs and Nick drew closer. Mia watched Sarah easily make her way up the stairs. Each footstep was sure and there was no hesitation.
Mia didn’t need to see Nick join her, she could feel him. Sarah had been right, Nick was barely in control of himself. The air around him practically thrummed with energy. The hairs of the back of her neck was standing on end and a shiver ran down her back.
If he were just an electrical magic user, he would be dangerous to be around, But there were ways people would be able to protect themselves. But he wasn’t just an electrical magic user anymore. He was a blood magic user which meant that any outburst of lost of control could be deadly. You could be dead before you even realized you were in any danger.
“I have to go,” He words came out strained and Mia could hear the rage he was barely containing.
She turned to him, not in the least surprised to find his golden eyes glowing bright. If he were to leave in the state he was in now, there was a good chance he would kill someone. She knew she could let him leave as he was. But neither could she help him as she was. Forget the fact that she was supposed to be pregnant, she couldn’t handle the power he needed to burn off. She wasn’t supposed to use magic at all. Trying to take away some of the power he needed to burn off would probably kill her. After all, he was now an Omega. Fake or not, she couldn’t handle that level of power as she was.
She was just about to warn him against leaving when Aiden walked in to the room. The black guild uniform he had been warn had been exchanged for a pair of loose sweat pants and a too thin T-shirt. Runes she did not recognize had been inked on his arms in blood. She could scent it from where she stood. Nick scented it as well as he turned wild eyes on the other man.
“Aiden, now is not the time,” Mia tried to warn the other man. Aiden said nothing but flashed Nick his devil could care smile, which just raised the other man’s ire.
“Now is the perfect time. It’s time to see just what your man has learned in these past few weeks. I doubt he’ll even be much of a challenge,” Aiden taunted. Nick’s only reply was a feral growl as his golden eyes turned jet black and his hands clenched in to fists at his side.
“Shall we go and see if this will be the day you’re finally able to beat me?”
“Aiden,” Mia snapped, but the man ignored her completely.
“Shall we take this outside and see what you’ve learned?” Aiden’s smiled widen as Nick stalked towards him. Mia tried to reach out and grab a hold of Nick but he was too fast for her and the ends of his shirt slipped through her fingers.
Aiden was out the front door behind she could utter a word and Nick a second behind him. The door slammed shut behind the two men. She moved to go after them but a large hand gripped her shoulder before she could take a step.
“Leave them. Aiden knows what he’s doing,” William told her as she whirled on him.
“You didn’t see the violence in Nick’s eyes. He’ll kill Aiden in the state he’s in,” Mia argued.
“Aiden can handle him,” William reassured him, “If anyone can handle Nikolas, it would be Aiden. They are evenly matched.”
“I would agree if Nick were in a normal state of mind. But he is one second away from snapping,” Mia said shaking her head as she turned towards the front door once more.
“Aiden is in no danger. You saw the runes on his skin. They’re a very ancient and powerful protective spell. Something I stole from your sister. Not even Nick at his worst could break through that spell. Nothing I have seen so far has been able to break through that spell,” William said simply as he lightly wrapped a hand around Mia’s arm and directed her away from the front door.
“Just how powerful of a spell is it? And why is this the first time I’m hearing about it?” Mia asked, narrowing her eyes as William guided her towards the stairwell she had sent Sarah up a few minutes before.
“Because the spell requires a life to activate it,” William said simply. Mia’s mouth fell open, ready to scream at him for not mentioning that fact earlier. Who had lost their life to power that spell. Was there is now a body laying frozen in the snow out there somewhere or had his people already disposed of it.
“Don’t worry,” William said with a smirk, reading her thoughts before she could voice them, “Nick isn’t powerful enough to need a human life for this spell. It was enough for Aiden to use one fo the many deers that inhabit these woods. He made sure to leave the body far away from the house so you don’t have to worry about any hungry predators getting to close to the house.”
“Exactly how often has you and your people used that spell?” Mia demanded to know as he walked her up the first few steps.
“Not often,” William told her, “Its a very complicated and time consuming spell. It takes days of preparation. We had actually been planning to use that one for when Ophelia finally arrived. But I figured this situation was urgent enough to warrant using the spell. Aiden will just have to start again when he has worn Nikolas down.”
“How hard is it to learn that spell?” Mia asked as she allowed William to lead her up the stairs.
“It took me decades to perfect but Aiden was able to complete it perfect in a month,” William said with a shrug, “It really depends on the person.”
“Would you be able to teach Nick that spell?”
William paused halfway up the staircase as he turned to look at Mia.
“He is not one of us, Mia” William told her, “He has the power over the blood, but he is not one of us. He was not raised in our world. He doesn’t have our flexible morality. He won’t take a life even, if it means he be able to protect the people he loves. He will not sacrifice another. Teaching him would be a waste of both of our time.”
“Could the spell be cast on him by another?” She asked, not ready to give on the idea yet.
“No,” William said simply, “Its the only reason the spell isn’t used more often. Its too complicated for most blood magic users to perfect, and the level of power you need to work the spell in extremely high. Marco and your sisters may be capable of it, but Delilah and Ada don’t have the level of power required to work the spell.”
“There must be someway, some work around,” Mia offered.
William just shook his head, “Mia, he has the power and the potential to be something great, but he doesn’t have the ruthlessness necessary to live in our world. We can’t make him into something he’s not. Even if there was a work around, even if we were able to cast the spell on him. He would despise us for doing so. In his mind, there is no situation necessary to take another life to protect his own. Even if it would guarantee your safety and the life of your unborn child. He would not be able to do it. He would rather die trying to protect you than to take another life to save you. It is just who he is and you know this.”
Mia scowled but didn’t argue further with William. He was right. Nick would rather die protecting her, than sacrifice another to save her and those they loved. Mia would love to say she was the same. But she wasn’t. She knew what Ophelia and Emily were capable. She had seen their depravity first hand. She had been just like them. She understood them. In the end, they were all the same. They would do anything to have what they desired most.
“Don’t worry about Nick. Aiden will take care of him. For now, go up stairs and be with the others. Find that necklace you think we’ll be our cure all and leave your worries for tomorrow. After all, we have had enough for today,” William offered as he gave her a gentle push towards the stairs.
Mia just nodded. William was right. There was nothing she could do here. She was basically useless. She would have to trust that Aiden knew what he was doing and he would help Nick burn off the anger so that he would be safe to be around again. And she had to trust that Nick could keep himself safe, since she no longer could. At this moment, there really was nothing she could do.
“You really don’t need to worry about a thing right now. Ophelia is still a couple states away, and even if she were on your door step, we have five of the most powerful blood magic users in the world gathered in one place. Even she would have to think twice before attacking. She is not that stupid. She would know the odds are against her. For now we are safe so relax.”
“You’re probably right,” Mia said with a sigh as she turned to look in to William’s nearly fluorescent blue eyes, “But just because your being nice right now, it won’t make me forget what you’ve done to us in the past.”
“I would hardly expect anything less,” He said, his smile widening in to his usual sardonic grin. Mia gave him one last dark look before she turned towards the stairs and began to trek up. She no longer felt the urgent need to find the necklace like she had just a few minutes ago. Not with what she had just learned. As much as she wanted to find that necklace and hopefully her sister, she now had bigger things on her mind. It would seem that Emily and the Rosengards were no longer her only adversaries. It seems another had come to play. And unlike Emily or Ophelia, she had no idea what the new enemy wanted from her. Things had just gotten so much worse.
Next: Chapter Sixteen