Keep in mind this is a work in progress… Here you’ll find our hero and heroine Bastien and Peada in Peru near the rainforest. Peada’s mother has decided a little break over the Christmas holiday is in order to remove them from the line of fire – what with that pesky warlock on the loose bent on killing Bastien for his power…In this scene they’ve discovered a cave with a mineral pool and are having a swim when something unexpected happens:
Their hands clasped naturally on the steps as they walked into the water and sat down together on the largest flat area. He wanted to protest when she broke away, but held his tongue and watched as she immersed herself, tilting her head back to wet her hair.
“Momma said this water is fabulous for your skin and hair. It feels buoyant doesn’t it?”
“It’s the minerals,” he said absently, watching as rivulets of water ran uninhibited down her creamy skin. The pool was quite warm. Hotter than the humid air that filled their cave, but Bastien could have sworn his blood heated another 10 degrees just sitting there watching her. For a moment he actually felt light headed, desire rerouting the blood from his head elsewhere. “Come here.”
Peada looked at him as she gently splashed her arms back and forth. It was obvious where his mind had gone. His eye lids were so heavy all she could see was a slit of piercing green, made even sharper by the reflection of light off the water in their star bottom pool.
She thought about resisting, just to be contrary and see what he would do, maybe make him come after her. But even as the idea occurred to her, she found herself moving closer, drawn by his flushed pink skin and the even deeper pink of his full, parted lips.
Those lips parted even more as she swam between his legs, not stopping until she was pressed full length against the front of his body. They were a hairs breadth from kissing when his head shot up, his hands tightening almost painfully on her upper arms as he surged up from the water and hustled her behind him.
“What’s wrong?” She whispered, looking all around.
“I don’t know,” he said quietly, sharp eyes now wide open as he scanned their surroundings.
And he didn’t. He just sensed something evil. Something was watching them, and there was only one person he could think of that would be watching him secretly. He could practically feel the warlock’s eyes crawling over his face and body, yet he saw nothing unusual.
Every sense he possessed, magical and otherwise was on high alert, he could sense the ocean shifting outside their cave, but inside there was nothing. Even the pool had ceased to emit smoke, but that was just another signal that something was wrong. Things were too quiet.
And he was alone, vulnerable with Peada beside him. Fear like nothing he’d ever felt before lanced through him like fire. Suddenly he shifted his head to the right, eyes narrowing as he scanned a far corner of their cave. “There.”
Nestled on top of a broken stalactite was a parrot. It sat quietly, ruffling its feathers as though preening now that it was being observed, and cawed a soft welcome.
“Oh, it’s just a parrot,” Peada laughed, relieved as her galloping heart slowed its pace. But her laughter was short lived.
“That’s not a parrot,” Bastien whispered.
He raised his hand fingers spread, there was a muted glow, then abruptly he closed his fist. The bird screeched, black eyes bulging, stretching its wings in pain before it dropped to the floor of the cave.
“Oh my God! Why did you do that?” Peada demanded, splashing out of the pool to examine the creature. “It’s dead, Bastien.”
“It’s not what you think,” he began, but there was no explanation needed.
As they watched the bird’s brilliantly colored feathers fade and darken to shiny black, the bill grew smaller and sharper, and the bird itself grew bigger.
“It’s a raven,” Bastien said stepping forward to look at the creature. Then he turned abruptly and strode to where their clothes lay in a heap. He scooped hers up and shoved them at her. “It’s bad news. Get dressed, hurry. I think he found us.”
Suddenly laughter whispered through their cave. “You are a clever boy,” said a new voice.
They spun to confront the intruder, Bastien’s hands aloft, ready to cast out fire if need be to give Peada a chance to run.
“Linard?” Peada asked. “What are you doing here?”
He nodded at Bastien. “I came for him. Someone wants him, and I promised he could have him. I underestimated him though. I thought I could just let Jon’s pet rat you out, but you discovered the raven before he could tattle. So I guess now it’s up to me.”
“I hate being right,” Bastien muttered. “Get out of our way, Linard. Let us leave, and I won’t hurt you.”
Linard grinned and offered a sharp salute. “Yes, sir!”
It was obvious to both of them that he was joking.
“You’re young, but you are a worthy adversary. Still, I’m old and mean, and sadly I’m afraid I have too many tricks up my sleeve to make this a fair fight. I never was one to play fair. It’s why your mother and I don’t get along,” he told Peada. “She’s too righteous. So good, she even believed I wanted to stop being the black sheep and come back to help her teach you now that you’ve entered your Claiming.”
“But you didn’t,” Peada said flatly.
Bastien could feel the rage building inside him, magic streaking through his blood like the sparks from fireworks. He wanted to flay the vampire’s skin from his bones to pay for the hurt he heard in her voice.
Linard shrugged. “Actually, I did think about it, seriously. You won’t believe this, but when your mother found me, I’d grown tired of wandering, of being alone. I was questioning whether our parents, your grandparents, habit of roaming this earth was what I wanted or just what I was used to. I had every intention of cleaning up my act, at least for a while, so I could spend time with the family. But then the warlock came. He said if I didn’t help him, he’d kill you, my dear. We are not close siblings, but you are my sister’s only child. I can’t let that happen.”
Peada sagged, her relief was so great. It was infinitely better to have a boyfriend-betraying-protective uncle than one solely motivated by evil. “But why bargain with the warlock at all, uncle? You aren’t the type. Momma once told me you gave new meaning to the phrase, problem with authority. That you never took the easy road and were always prepared to fight for right, however righteous you claim she is.”
Linard shrugged. “I suppose that’s true,” he said, and Bastien ground his teeth at the boredom coloring that deep, seductive tone. “But I am also a man cursed with a large family, including two sisters, one of whom is currently an unwilling guest of a warlock who will think nothing of pulling her fangs from her mouth like cavity-ridden teeth, then burying her alive to starve, defenseless. And yes, that is a direct quote.”
“Shit,” Bastien whispered.
Linard laughed. “That about sums this situation up, yes.”
Bastien blushed, but now that he knew about Peada’s missing aunt, he knew there would be no reasoning with Linard. He was going to have to hurt him in order to get away. He just hoped Peada would forgive him.
Without warning he threw a burst of energy the vampire’s way, expecting it to lay him out flat. Other than a few sparks, a rush of heat and some wind, however, nothing happened.
“For God’s sake,” he groused. This was no time for his magic to gimp out on him.
“It’s not you, lad,” Linard soothed. “I’m afraid your magic just won’t work against me. Did you know there are spells that can protect someone against one mystical signature? It’s not as complicated as you might think to cast, says our funny friend Jon the warlock, but it is effective.”
No, he bloody well hadn’t known that. Great. Not only was he powerless against an enemy, the enemy was throwing his inexperience in his face!
“There’s no need to be patronizing, old man.”
“Apologies,” said Linard, with a credible attempt at sincerity.
While they’d been talking, the three of them had been doing a sort of dance, shifting and moving cautiously around each other. Linard moved toward Peada, no doubt intending a snatch and grab, and Peada and Bastien moved away from him, hoping for a chance to run like hell. Though honestly Bastien didn’t know how well that would go considering the vampire was likely twice as fast as any burst of speed they could conjure.
Think, think, think. What the hell should he do? It had been so long since he’d had to solve a problem without his magic he didn’t have a clue!
“When all else fails,” Peada muttered, drawing Bastien’s gaze. “Run!”
They took off, Peada pulling Bastien so hard and fast he barely felt his feet touch the ground. She was like a freight train, yanking him along, but Linard still beat them to the mouth of the cave. Behind him the sunlight was clear and bright off the water, which stretched nearly as far as the eye could see. It seemed the little bit of paradise where Peada’s parents were no doubt frolicking on the other end of the cave was only an inlet.
“Stop this, Peada! Turn him loose. You can find another boyfriend. You only have one life! I will not let you sacrifice yourself for him. Do the right thing.”
“It’s not a sacrifice,” she said, walking toward her uncle’s outstretched hand. “And I am doing the right thing.” She pushed him.
The look on his face would have been comical if the situation hadn’t been so shocking. There was a pause, Peada looked over the edge, and they heard a muted splash.
“Run!” she yelled, sprinting back the way they’d come. “It won’t take him any time to climb back up here.”
They stood at the cave entrance a moment later. Lucindae waved at them, unaware of her brother’s presence or purpose.
“Hold on to me,” Bastien said, and a moment later they were standing beside Oscar.
“How was the pool?” he asked.
“Terrible!” Peada yelled. “Jon sent Uncle Linard after Bastien. He has your sister, momma!”
Lucindae’s brow wrinkled. For a moment Bastien thought she would deny it, but then her face went a really mean blank.
“Bastard,” she whispered. “I should have known he was up to no good.” Bastien wondered if she was talking about Linard or the warlock. “But I have a warlock of my own. Nigel! Nigel! Nigel!”
Suddenly a tall, thin man with a shock of white blond hair appeared in front of them, and he was yawning.
“Must you call you my name with such fervor? I was sleeping.”
The warlock was pale, almost albino white, and he scowled up at the sun a second before a huge black umbrella materialized in his hand.
“Well?” he demanded.
Lucindae pointed behind him where a wet, angry Linard was whizzing toward them like a whirlwind.
The warlock raised one long, bony finger and the vampire froze in mid-air. Bastien was stunned at the casual show of power. Nigel had barely moved, and now the vampire was immobile. Not even Linard’s eyes moved. His feet were floating above the ground like he’d run into an invisible wall and gotten stuck mid stride.
“Is this your favor?”
The warlock had a thick Scottish brogue.
“No!” Lucindae yelled.
Nigel huffed irritably. “You don’t have to yell. You’re getting on my nerves, Daeya. Just when exactly do you plan to cash in? I’m not a bloody –” He turned to look at Linard twitched. “Hmmm. Strong bugger, isn’t he?” He walked toward the vampire.
“Don’t hurt him, Nigel,” Lucindae said quickly moving toward them. “It’s my brother.”
“Well, that’s inconvenient. Why has your brother been spelled by a witch? A very powerful one at that,” he whispered, walking in a circle around the captive Linard.
Bastien was shocked again when the warlock sniffed at Linard’s arm, and even more surprised when he got red in the face – somehow that show of emotion just looked wrong on this scarecrow-esque creature – his brown eyes leeching color until they were an angry swirl of storm tossed grey.
“You know him?” Bastien asked.
“Of course I do, the bloody bastard once imprisoned me in a bottle for 78 years! His idea of a feckin’ joke!” He turned to Lucindae in high dudgeon. “You didn’t tell me that bam was involved in this!”
He looked so evil and scary, Oscar stepped forward and put his wife behind him. He’d obviously forgotten that his wife was five times stronger than he was. Lucindae immediately stepped around him and drilled a finger into the warlock’s chest.
“When did I have time to tell you anything? You just got here! And you owe me! So don’t give me any shit! I want you to watch over my daughter and Bastien until we can figure out what to do.”
Nigel’s long thin nose – everything about him was long, thin and pale – went so far up in the air, Peada couldn’t help but laugh. He looked like a Victorian era butler who’d answered the door only to find an urchin on the steps.
She shut up when he glared at her.
Peada cleared her throat nervously. “Sorry. Bastien, shouldn’t we call your dad?”
“He knows,” Bastien said. “He’s busy right now with Jon. Trust me. We don’t want to bring him here unless we want to see Jon again. If he and his friends even bat an eye he’ll slip the noose they’ve got on him like water through a sieve.”
Nigel looked interested. “Who is your father, child?”
The warlock’s eyes widened and he began to laugh. “You!” He chuckled merrily, happiness transforming his narrow face into something approaching handsome. “How nice to meet you, son of Kennan. I’ve heard so much about you!”
Bastien looked at Peada, confused.
Nigel continued to laugh, the umbrella staying up to shade his face even as he rubbed both hands together in glee. “Oh, Lucindae. I would have paid you in favors for this opportunity!”
Ever cunning, Lucindae said, “Yeah?”
“Indeed! You’ve stumbled upon the end of a tale foretold hundreds of years ago. And I have a ringside seat!” He laughed in delight.
“Then, I’m going to need another favor.”
Nigel scowled at her, his mirth wiped away as though it had never been. “Don’t push your luck, vampire.”
“It’s not for me. Jon has my sister.”
He glared at her in disgust. “I told you that bloody family of yours would prove to be a liability.”
Lucindae shrugged. “What can I say? I didn’t ask for siblings.”
Nigel sighed. “No, I suppose not. Oh, alright! I’ll look for her, but I can tell you now, the fact that I can’t see her already does not bode well.”
He rolled his eyes and waved her off like an annoying fly as he strode off toward Axel’s house. “Bloody rainforest. You would come to the feckin’ tropics! You know I hate the sun, the heat, bugs, animals, bloody flowers, and I really hate –”
Lucindae sighed. “My brother.”
“Ah!” The warlock had forgotten all about him. “Shall I knock him out for a spell?”
“Please. Put him under arrest in Axel’s house if you don’t mind. Nothing permanent,” she clarified.
Good thing too. Nigel must have been planning something good if the disappointed look on his face was anything to go by.
“Are you sure you can trust him?” Oscar asked, when the warlock could no longer be seen around the bend.
“Yeah, momma. He doesn’t seem like a big fan of yours.”
Lucindae pulled Peada into her arms. “We don’t have a choice, my loves.”