Updated: Jul 13
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Chapter 24: With his back to the wall, Alex didn’t have much choice but to follow her lead, and so he did. With matching intensity. Pulling back to breathe as the touch of their lips became more heated, several thoughts crossed her mind, none of which involved ceasing and desisting.
For better or worse, that’s when a movement in the hallway caught her attention.
“What the hell!” She yelped, hastily removing herself from Alex’s lap.
“Don’t stop on my account,” Martin smirked. “Looked like you two were having a good go at it.”
He was wiry and not much taller than Alex, with the physique of a runner. She hadn’t expected him to have curly, copper hair or brown eyes, foolishly expecting him to look more like a younger, brawnier version of Dr. Stewart for some reason. But she recognized his voice and attitude right away.
The lean troll directed his attention to Alex. “Nice pull, mate. Mind if I have a try when you’re done?”
Horrified, Sabrina stood up to vent her full wrath on the very unwelcome newcomer. “What? You want a piece of me?”
She didn’t care how American gangster the question sounded, or how ridiculous it had to look for a short, blond-haired, pale-skinned girl to be mimicking the attitude and some of the gestures of a hardened rapper. She was angry enough to bask in the knowledge that she could kill him if she really wanted to. It was a heady rush, like someone was pumping her full of testosterone.
Sabrina walked right up to the glass plating and gave him her own onceover full of every ounce of loathing she felt. “It’s really cute how you think you have what it takes to get anywhere near me.”
His smile vanished. “Watch it,” he warned, adding a word she knew existed but had never actually heard spoken before.
She felt dirty being called that and the same for being caught making out in such a vile place. But those feelings were overshadowed by the cold, murderous rage coursing through every particle of her body, mind and soul. It was all-consuming, and she didn’t bother to fight it off.
“Want to prove that I am and you’re not?” She asked with raised eyebrows and a demeaning smirk. “Why don’t you come here then? Alex will stay out of it. It’ll be you against me.”
“Sabrina,” her ex cautioned nervously. “What are you doing?”
She ignored him, not turning her attention away from Martin, one hand folding into itself, beckoning him to test her out. “Come on. Show me what you got. Because right now, I’m just not impressed.”
She hadn’t thought he’d be stupid enough to give in to her taunts, but it seemed that she’d overestimated him. He was totally hotheaded, his fingers trembling with unsuppressed rage while they danced a short waltz over the keypad.
The door swished open.
She tsked at him as condescendingly as possible. “I don’t think you’re supposed to know that code.”
Alex had already stood up, but now he also stepped forward. “This is ridiculous. Stop it before someone gets hurt!”
It was way too late for reasoning though. Martin moved forward to take a swing at her, and Sabrina neatly sidestepped him. Grabbing his arm, she used his own momentum to snap the appendage in two. Jagged bone flecked with red protruded out of his skin, and more blood was oozing out around it.
For a split second of shocked silence, he stared at the damage.
So did she.
Then he started to scream.
The sound jolted Sabrina out of her violent high with the same intensity of someone dousing her with frigid water. One part of her wanted to beg for forgiveness. Another part wanted to run and get help. A third simply wanted him to stop screaming. Yet other than the shaking consuming her entire body, she couldn’t seem to make herself move at all.
All she could do was repeat over and over again: “Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God!”
Martin continued to shriek in agony.
Fortunately, Alex appeared to be in better control of himself. Which made sense, since he wasn’t the one who had just brutally broken someone’s arm.
He grabbed her hand. “We need to get out of here. Now.”
She nodded but didn’t move other than that until he tugged her hand hard. His fingers were locked around hers, and she automatically closed hers over his as well. If he knew where he was going, she wasn’t aware of it. Then again, she wasn’t aware of much. All she could think about was the sight and sounds of what she’d done.
Her feet followed Alex and her eyes were focused straight ahead, but her mind wouldn’t let the violent playback go. The look on Martin’s face, his screams: She couldn’t get it out of her head. Nor could she escape the very real knowledge that it could have been his neck she’d snapped. She’d grabbed his arm on purpose, but it had been with the distinct intent of making him suffer before she finished him off.
Sabrina was distracted and distraught enough that she couldn’t be sure how long they ran down the glaring white hallways. All she knew was that, at some point, they were outside in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere with enough daylight left to see the details of the tranquil countryside around them.
A bird chirped cheerfully from one of the nearby trees bordering the asphalt, and several rolling hills blocked her full view of the fading horizon. It didn’t seem right that something could look so pretty after she’d been so ugly.
Alex looked around wildly, his obvious panic forcing her out of her daze. She knew the consequences to her actions would be detrimental in the extreme if she lingered. Even if everyone else in the building had been out of hearing range, there had been security cameras everywhere. So they had to know by now what had happened and where she’d gone.
But she couldn’t focus on that right now. None of it. With extreme effort, Sabrina forced herself into survival mode. Already solidly there, Alex once again began dragging her, this time toward the rows of European cars lining the large parking lot. They darted forward, bypassing the first line altogether to crouch behind a shiny blue model further back.
“Please tell me you know how to drive over here,” Alex said.
She swallowed hard. “I’ll say I do if you tell me you can hotwire a car.”
He shook his head. “Sabrina, you can fly. You’ve got wings. Get out of here.”
It was her turn to disagree. “I’m not leaving you.” She didn’t even know if she could.
The doors they’d exited flung open.
“I think they found us,” Alex noted grimly.
“Let’s get out of here then,” Sabrina demanded. “We can’t just sit around.”
She started to stand, but Alex pulled her back down. “Za! They probably have guns. If you stand up, you’re going to make yourself an easy target.”
Her heart was racing like she was running a marathon. There were shouts and orders and people yelling, and her head pounded with all the possibilities and probabilities around her.
And then, inexplicably, there were shouts from the other direction as well. Wild-eyed, she swiveled to look behind her, but she had to look up to see that the cavalry had arrived. There were dozens of faeries up there, their wings a deliriously relieving sight.
With new hope, Sabrina glanced over at Alex. Also tilting toward the descending horde, his face was white with something akin to terror.
Giddy with the possibility of rescue, she grabbed him by the shoulders. “Alex! It’s okay. They’re the good guys!”
He nodded, but appeared overall unconvinced.
A burly faerie swooped down to grab Sabrina up in his arms and leap right back into the air. Another one snatched Alex a fraction of a second later, forcing a yelp of terror out of him.
The sensation of flying by faerie wasn’t like being in an airplane. There was no thunderous rumbling when they lifted off, and the ground didn’t disappear nearly as fast as it would have had she been seated and buckled. Instead, she felt the full force of the wind against her body while they pushed through the air.
Letting out a delayed squeal, Sabrina clutched the man carrying her and dared to really look down. An airplane might have been able to take them higher faster, but they were still already far, far off the ground. It was like looking out of a twentieth story window without having a pane of glass in front of her or solid steel beneath her.
“How are you doing, Princess?” Her personal pilot asked, sounding just a little strained.
“I’m. Fine. Thanks,” she managed, still staring below at the mad scientists running around in overall useless fashion.
It seemed like all the other faeries had taken back to the skies as well, indicating that she was the sole purpose of their appearance.
“How about him?” He asked, nodding at Alex, who looked sufficiently miserable. “Should we drop him?”
“No!” Sabrina gasped. “He helped me escape.”
He nodded again, taking her word as law.
That left her with little to do but hold on tight and watch while they flew over increasingly wooded areas, the trees below looking like something out of a toy train display. It was maybe a five-minute trip before they began their descent, which was a surprisingly smooth ride. The troupe just angled their wings to glide down to the deserted woodland below.
For the life of her, Sabrina couldn’t figure out how they navigated between the branches so well. She was still pondering that when the rescue team members who had already landed below began throwing back expertly camouflaged sheets from what she’d at first assumed to be bushes. Instead, they revealed a number of four-wheelers hidden between a loose semi-circle of tightly gathered greenery.
Touching blessed earth once again, Sabrina fought the urge to drop to her knees and thank God that she wasn’t dead. With every ounce of dignity she could muster, she let go of her faerie escort and took a deep, calming breath.
Alex’s ride lighted a few seconds later.
“Are you okay?” She asked tentatively.
He looked so wild-eyed that she wasn’t sure he’d answer ever again. At least, at the sound of her voice, he stopped looking around like there was sudden death everywhere.
Not that he was given much of a chance to speak, as one member of the rescue party ushered both of them over to two separate four-wheelers. Sabrina clung to the back of hers, her wings unfurling nervously and then clamping together behind her. Her driver wrapped his own forward, then gunned the engine to send them rumbling ahead, fourth in line out of seven vehicles.
How the other faeries were going to get back wasn’t clear. She supposed they’d just wing it.
Sabrina watched the trees zip by, the drivers weaving around them like they owned the forest. She wanted to close her eyes, but fear of hitting something or seeing anything unwelcome kept her eyeing the shadows all around her.
Problem was, no matter what horrid thing might jump out at her, she wasn’t sure it could be as hideous as the creature she’d become. The elation of being rescued had worn off enough that she could once again see Martin’s arm in her mind. It had looked like something out of a war film, thanks to her; hardly a picture that good people created.
It wasn’t a short ride, but she thought about what she’d done almost the whole way there. With her driver silent, her trauma made for a particularly miserable companion. Maybe she could have done something to shake it off, but she didn’t even try, too emotionally exhausted to put up the necessary fight.
That might have been why it took her by surprise when they came to a stop. It seemed that one minute, they were simply slowing down from their unnerving speeds. Then the next, they were idling in front of an enormous stone house she knew hadn’t been there a second ago.
Though a single story high as far as she could tell, it stretched out in front of her with thirty windows, most of them darkened. A slate-paved pathway led up to the front entrance, lined with lit, old-fashioned lampposts. They gave the place a distinct Dickensian feel despite the country charm the place exuded in the dusk.
Though there were maybe a mere ten yards between where the forest stopped and the short front yard began, that space was well kept. Trim green grass ended by well-mulched lines of pink, orange and white lilies, which in turn stood up against the stony blues and grays of the house itself.
The solid front door swung inward and her brother emerged, striding forward with six guards and one other suited individual directly behind him. It was her cousin, Aileen, though she didn’t steal the show that time. Her captivating looks meant little when Kenneth’s wings were billowing out behind him in his haste to get to his sister. While he didn’t quite run, his long strides ate up the pathway between them quickly enough.
“Sabrina, you’re safe!”
She could hear the relief in his voice and see it in his green eyes as he reached for her, dragging her into his arms. Her own went around him too, though not tightly enough that he had any difficulty holding her out away from him a moment later.
He searched her face.
She sniffled and looked away.
That’s when Aileen took charge. “Kenneth, she needs to sleep. You can talk to her in the morning.”
He didn’t react for several seconds, his hands still firmly but gently around Sabrina’s shoulders, his eyes still trying to read the exact translation of misery she knew her face reflected.
“Kenneth,” Aileen repeated.
With a harsh breath, the faerie king nodded and let her go, but not before giving her a fierce kiss on the top of her head. “You’re safe now, Sabrina. You’re safe.”
Sabrina tried to focus on that and not the high-pitched sounds Martin had been making when she left him in her prison cell.
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