Chapter Three

When Mia was calm enough, Sarah took the keys from her and let her in to the apartment. She pushed Mia in to the bathroom and told her to take a warm bath.  She would make her hot tea and then she would go to bed.

Mia hadn’t felt much like bathing, she was so weary but she could still smell the scent of blood on her. She knew Sarah was right so she plugged the tub and filled it with hot water. She used some of the scented salts Sarah had given her a couple of weeks ago.

When the water was high enough, Mia turned off the faucet. Stripping off her clothes she climbed in to the tub. Immediately the scent of lavender enveloped her. She took in a deep breath and rested her head against the edge of the tub and closed her eyes.

She stayed that way until the water began to cool off and her eyes lids grew heavy. Stepping out of the tub she pulled out the little rubber stopper. She grabbed a new towel and dried herself off while she watched the water circle down the drain. Sarah must have come in while Mia was soaking because there was now a clean pair of underwear and her long nightshirt waiting for her on the bathroom counter.

Pulling on her clothes, Mia hung the wet towel to dry with her other towel and stepped out of the bathroom. She found Sarah waiting for her in her bedroom, a steaming cup of tea in her hands.

“Here, drink this,” She said as she held the cup out in Mia’s direction. Mia took it, but didn’t immediately drink it. Instead she sniffed the liquid in the cup.

“It’s just chamomile to help you sleep,” Sarah said. Although she was blind, it didn’t mean she was deaf. If anything her hearing was more acute. She could not only hear a pin drop but you could tell exactly where in the room it had fallen. She was spooky good that way.

Mia wasn’t sure if she believed her or not but she took a sip anyway. Sarah was not only a Seer, but she was also an herb magic user which meant she could make just about any concoction you could think of out of herbs. Most of the time she made tisanes like this one to help promote healing and restore vitality. But in the same manner, she could also create poisons that could kill a person with a single drop. Not that Mia worried about her friend poisoning her like this. If Sarah was going to kill you, she would tell you outright. Not sneak it in to your tea. Besides, Sarah wasn’t like her, she wasn’t a killer.

They sat silently while Mia finished her tea. Once she finished the last drop Sarah held her hand out for the cup. Like Mia said, eerie how well she could hear things. Mia handed her the empty cup.

“Good, now get in to bed and go to sleep,” Sarah told her, “You don’t need to worry about nightmares, the tea will put you in to a dreamless sleep. And if that’s not enough, I’ll be in the living room sleeping on the couch.”

“You shouldn’t be sleeping on the couch. I’ll sleep on the couch and you can sleep in the bed,” Mia argued, but as she tried to stand up the world around her shifted. She had to put her hand on the mattress to keep her from falling flat on her face.

“Ain’t happening,” Sarah told her as she help her back in to the bed.

“Knew it was more than just chamomile,” Mia slurred as Sarah tucked her in, pulling the sheets up to wrap around her shoulders.

“Hush, this will help you sleep. Now close your eyes and relax.”

Mia felt a soft hand smooth away the damp hair from her face while a beautiful voice began to hum a familiar lullaby. There was so much she wanted to tell Sarah but her body no longer obeyed her commands. Her eye lids were so heavy and it was so hard to keep them open. She didn’t even know why she fought it. Closing her eyes, Mia left the soft sound of Sarah’s voice carry her off to sleep. When she woke up they would have time to talk, she told herself.

* * *

When Mia opened her eyes again, the sun was already high in the sky. Her head felt a little fuzzy, probably from what Sarah had put in her tea, but beyond that, every seemed to be in working order.

Mia rolled over to take a look at the alarm clock beside her bed and nearly fell off of it. Jumping to her feet she rushed in to her bathroom. It was already two-thirty. She had to be down stair and to work in thirty minutes.

She looked at herself in the mirror and tried not to groan. Her hair was a mess. It was standing up in at least five different directions. Her eyes were still puffy and red from crying so hard last night. That wasn’t the worst part though, the worst part were her eyes themselves. Her normal plain gray eyes were now bright silver. If it was a side effect of all the power use last night or some freaky side effect from Sarah’s tea, she didn’t know. All she knew is that her eyes would definitely be hard to miss.

With a sigh she got to work. There was nothing she could do about the eyes, but she could at least fix her hair. Grabbing her comb, she ran it through her hair over and over again until it was more or less in order. Then she pulled it up as tightly as she could into a pony tail. Stray bits of hair still stuck up around her hair, but she wet them down with water and placed bobby pins to hold them down.

After washing her face with cold water the puffiness had gone down a little bit but it was still obvious she had been crying. She might have enough time to place a cold compress over her eyes, but would it be enough. Too bad she didn’t have any makeup. But she couldn’t even afford the cheap stuff. It was that or food. She didn’t make enough working at Beans and Books to buy anything more than the necessities.

She could have probably found another job that paid more but she really liked working at the bookstore and she liked Mr. Rosen. She may not have a lot of money, but she had enough to buy what she needed plus put a little on the side in her meager savings.

Quickly heading back in to her room, she pulled on her second pair of jeans and a long sleeve shirt. She really didn’t have much clothes. She had about four pairs of jeans, three long sleeve shirts, a couple of t-shirts and her hoodie. It had been all she had been able to afford.

She had been forced to leave the last place she had been living in a rush. She hadn’t had time to grab any clothes but what she had on her back. It had been more important to grab her money and go.

They had gotten too close to finding her then. She had been living in a little southern town near the ocean. She had liked it there. The days were hot but the nights were comfortable. She had waitressed at a seedy bar down on the beach. The pay had been okay but the tip had been good. Besides, no one had paid her much attention there. She had blended in with the crowd. Back then she had dyed her hair black and wore t-shirts that exposed the marks on her arms and back. Most people took one look at the marks and figured they were tattoos. At the bar she worked it, she had fit right in at the bar.

It had been a Norm bar, no magic-users allowed. So she hadn’t figured on anyone recognizing her marks. Unfortunately, she had been wrong. One night as she was heading home from work some men tried to pull her in to a dark alley and have a talk.

The place she had lived then wasn’t the safest. So she tended to carry two blades on her wherever she went. The men learned very quickly that she was an adept with her slim daggers. She had trained her whole life with a weapon in her hand. She knew what she was doing.

She hadn’t been sure if they men worked for her grandmother or some other group that had an interest in her skills. She didn’t bother taking the chance. She had gone to the apartment she had been renting only to grab her bag with all her money in it and she was on a bus the same night.

After that, Mia had taken to wearing long sleeve shirts that hide all the marks. Now that it was cooler, she wore her hoodie as well. No one here had seen the marks and no one would. This was a magic-user town. One glance at her marks and they would know instantly what she was. The black rune like marks that ran across her back and down her shoulders to her elbow would be all too recognizable to any magic-user. They were marks left by the use of a very powerful spell, and most powerful spells were blood magic spells. If the magic-user were trained well enough they would be able to read what kind of spell by reading the dark marks on her skin. That was something she could not allow.

If anyone were to ever see all of her marks at one time, if they were ever able to decipher them, she would have to kill them. She had vowed to herself that she would never take another life again after that night twenty-five years ago. But if anyone were to read her marks she would take their life without a second thought. There were some things that should never been known, the meaning of the marks on her back and arms were one of those things.

Grabbing her apartment keys from the dresser where Sarah must have set them, she pocketed them and headed out. She didn’t have time to eat but maybe she could grab something at the café during her ten minute break. She didn’t have much money but she could afford to spend a couple of dollars on a muffin.

Locking the apartment door behind her she headed down the hallway. She was just slipping out the side door of the building when a man stepped away from the side of the building at in to her path.

In that one instant, everything from last night flashed before her eyes in a myriad of images. Her blood ran cold as reality crashed back in to her. She had nearly killed those two men. She had nearly taken their lives. It didn’t matter that they were probably rapists and probably deserved punishment, but no one deserved what she had been about to do. No one.

“Mia?” A voice said, bringing her back to the real world. She looked up at the man who stood before her. He looked slightly familiar but she was unsure why. It took a moment to place him but she realized the man before he was the same man she had met last night. The green eyed man.

Last night he had been in an expensive black suit, today he was dressed casually, a pair of jeans and a tight white shirt. He was good looking if you were in to that golden boy good looks. His wavy gold hair fell loosely around his bright green eyes, giving him a slightly boyish look. Last night it had been slicked back and away from his face. He looked less intimidating like this. But still, she didn’t trust him.

“Yes?” she replied, only because she knew he wouldn’t let her leave until he said what he come to say.

“Hi, I’m Ronan,” The man said as he held out his hand to her. She took it, only because she didn’t know what else to do. His grip was firm and steady, just like he was, she was sure. “It’s nice to finally meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you from my cousin, Sarah.”

“You’re related to Sarah and Liz?” She asked in surprise. He didn’t look it. Sarah and Liz had darker coloring, chestnut colored hair and dark blue eyes. This man looked nothing like them. But then, maybe he was a cousin by marriage or something. She really didn’t care nor was she interested but it would have been rude to say so.

“Yeah, my mother is Uncle Alistair’s half-sister,” He explained. Mia just nodded. She really needed to get to work but she wasn’t sure how to get around this man. He was obviously here because he wanted to say something but she wasn’t sure what. Was he going to tell her to leave? Was he going to try and convince her she was a danger to the Rosens?

Because if he was, he didn’t need to say anything. She was already well aware of it. And truthfully, she was half tempted to turn back around, go upstairs and pack her bag and leave on the next bus out of town. But right now it was too dangerous. After what happened last night someone had to be looking for her. If not her grandmother’s people, then definitely the guild. If she were to just up and disappear, someone would come looking for her. And right now, she didn’t have the funds or the power to create a new persona. She could change her name easily, but she was thinking a new dye job and some color contacts were not going to be enough to hide this time.

“I grew up with Liz and Sarah. I’ve known Sarah her whole life. Sarah doesn’t trust a lot of people but she trusts you,” Ronan said, as he eyes looked her up and down, a frown on his lips, “I have never known Sarah to be wrong about anybody she trusts.”

“But you don’t trust me?” Mia said, starting to understand why he had been waiting for her.

“No, I don’t,” Ronan told her straight. Mia nodded, thankful for his honesty. She really hated people who played around with their words, “You’re a mystery. You appear out of nowhere six months ago and suddenly you are not only working for my uncle but living in the apartment above his store. All because Sarah took one look at you and liked you. I trust Sarah, but, no, I don’t trust you.”

“I’m not here to threaten you or tell you to leave town. That would hurt Sarah and I love my little cousin too much to hurt her. I’m here because my little cousin asked a favor of me. She very rarely asks for anything so when she called me up this morning to ask about an incident last night I couldn’t help but be curious,” Ronan said as he watched her closely.

“An incident?” Mia asked, her throat dry and her palms sweaty.

“Yes, she said she had a vision last night about two men attacking a young woman on Main Street, not too far from here,” Ronan said, pausing to see if she would add anything. She didn’t, she just stared at him, her heart beating so fast it felt like it was about to burst. Seeing she wasn’t going to contribute to the conversation he continued on.

“I’m actually off today so I called in to see if anything had been reported. I was expecting a rape, maybe a murder. Instead, I find two men burst in to a police station about two o’clock this morning to report an attack. They were spewing nonsense about a glowing woman with silver eyes trying to kill them.  The cops thought they were just some college kids who were high on LCDs or some other hallucinogen. They decided to run their prints since neither had any form of ID on them. They figured they book up, keep them locked up until the drugs wore off and return them to their parents after a good scare. What they found were two wanted criminals. The men were wanted in at least ten different states for sexual assault and murder. For the past two years the men had been leaving a trail of bodies across the country. The cops were always a step behind because the bodies were always burns to a crisp leaving no trace evidence. That was until the last  girl. They hadn’t been able to burn the body completely and they had found traces of their DNA.”

Mia could only listen to the story in a haze. Those men were rapists and murderers. They would have killed some innocent girl if they had wandered upon her first. Instead, they had found Mia.

Mia still couldn’t forget what she had done last night. She had nearly killed them. She was a monster. But, so were they. Ronan’s words didn’t erase what happened last night. But at least she felt a little better. She had prevented those men from attacking, raping and murdering an innocent girl. They were in police custody now. They had been caught thanks to her. It didn’t make what she did last night okay. But it did ease some of the guilt she was feeling.

“Sarah is a seer, but she doesn’t have visions of people she has never met,” Ronan told her straight forward. Mia knew this as well. So she also knew what he was saying, “I don’t know who are really are or what you are. But I’m glad those men ran in to you.”

Mia didn’t know what to say to that, so she just nodded.

“Good,” He said as held out a small paper package she had not realized he had been holding until now. “This is for you, from Sarah. She said you might need it.”

“Thanks,” Mia said as she took the bag from him. She peeked inside to see a warm bagel and a small container of nacho cheese. Just the way she liked it.

“I don’t know you and I don’t trust you, but I don’t think you’re a bad person,” Ronan said. Mia looked up at him in surprise. With that said, he offered her a simple nod of his head before he turned around and walked away. Mia could just look after him, too shocked to do anything else. Only after he had disappeared from sight did it occur to her to thank him.

“Well, maybe next time,” she said softly as she clutched her treats to her chest and headed off to work, her steps just a little bit lighter.

Next: Chapter Four

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