Several seconds passed, flitting into the ether as we all stared at one another, shock written clear across our features only in different fonts. Any and all laughter vanished from the room, it’s absence letting silence leak in like a drug.
Asher and Deacon were the first to break free of it’s hypnotic gaze, barking out orders that were both awe-inspiring and terrifying.
“We must’ve been followed, but I’m betting it was Lola’s appearance that made them act so soon. It would’ve been smartest to attack during broad daylight. We’d be sitting ducks that way.” Deacon snarled.
Asher’s eyes momentarily glazed over, caught in a mind-link that left him biting back a growl.
“Witches are close to the border of town. They’re close to breaking through. I’ve got six wolves stationed here. Four are currently fighting, two are rounding up every child and elderly person in town.” His grimace deepened, and my blood ran cold from the sheer harshness of it. “There’s a witch setting things on fire. That wouldn’t happen to be the one you want dead, is it?”
Dina rubbed the palms of her hands together, her teeth gnashed into a line as she smiled savagely.” That bitch is mine. She’s going to be six feet under for what she did to Spence.”
“Gather as many as you can, anyone willing to fight. With luck, you’ll get your wish, and that witch will be dead before sunrise.” Deacon said to Dina, clasping her on the shoulder with a firm hand.
During that split second where they looked into each other’s eyes, I thought something might’ve passed between them, an unspoken vow of sorts. Before I could decipher what it might’ve been, Dina was out the front door.
“I’m going to help them. Those witches won’t know what hit them.” Breyona chimed in, a deadly glint to my best friends eyes.
She met Giovanni’s intense stare before searching my face. It took me a moment to realize she was asking for permission. I might’ve been her Luna, but it was likely that these were the witches that had helped murder her parents. Justice wasn’t something I’d keep from her, no matter how much I wanted her safe. Just like me, Breyona had been given the gift of power, and power demanded to be used.
“Go.” I told her. “Make sure they know exactly who they’ve fucked with.”
When she slipped out of the kitchen, I grabbed onto Giovanni’s arm before he could follow. He turned his impossibly dark eyes on me, and I felt them probing my face, peeling back the layers to every emotion I hid within.
“Keep her safe, Giovanni.” I all but begged him.
“I will.” He promised.
With that, he and Tristan left, followed by Sean and finally, Zeke. Mason seemed to have grown pale during that time. Worry burned in his eyes, fear written across his soft features that brought me back to that awful night, the night I helped kill his mate. He had the same look on his face as he stared at Clara.
“I’ll be safe here, Mason. I won’t leave this house. I promise.” She said soothingly, her plump lips softening into a reassuring smile that took away some of the agony on his face.
“You’ll be here when I get back?” He mumbled, seeing no one but the curvy witch that demanded his full attention.
She nodded, her curls bouncing around her shoulders. “I will. I’ll be right here.”
A look of utter surprise lifted my eyebrows and parted my lips when Mason pulled Clara into his arms and smashed his lips against hers, pouring every ounce of his worry and fear into her willing embrace. She accepted it all, tangling her fingers in his hair to draw him deeper, matching every stroke and sigh he let out with one of her own. When they pulled apart, both were breathless and red in the face.
“I want a kiss like that before we go out there.” Bridgette mumbled, her eyes darting up to skewer Deacon.
My heart just about stalled in my chest when Asher’s voice flooded my head.
‘Lola, can I talk to you in private?’
‘Now?’ I replied, glancing at the front door.
He nodded stiffly, tilting his head towards the living room. Neither Deacon nor Bridgette commented as we slipped out of sight. The front door slammed shortly after, letting me know Mason had officially left to join the fight.
The longer Asher stared at me, flecks of pure gold swirling in his irises like fireflies in the dead of night, the more I felt myself teeter towards the edge. Already adrenaline was coursing through my veins, growing stronger with each one of our friends that left to join the fight. If I didn’t act – didn’t do something, I swore I’d explode.
“Lola-“He began, and I felt my control slip ever so slightly.
I shook my head at him, perhaps a bit harder than necessary, but I needed to get my point across.
“Do not tell me I can’t go out there, Asher. I get it, you want to keep me safe, but you can’t. Maybe once you could’ve, but with magic and witches and evil spells meant to take away my free will, you just can’t anymore. We are not going to win this by locking me away in a tower like some Princess while our friends fight for their lives. I love you, Asher, but I am going out there to fight.” I exhaled, my heart pulsing against my ribcage as he stared and stared.
I hadn’t meant for it to come out like that, rushed and callous, but we had seconds-seconds to get this out in the open. We should’ve talked about it sooner, gotten it over with and communicated, but it became too easy to shove it all under the rug and enjoy the blissful moments we had together.
He swept me into his arms, his heat melting into my skin and his scent swirling around my head. I didn’t fight him but sank into the embrace and felt his heartbeat quickening to match my own.
My eyes drifted shut when his lips found my forehead, sending wave after wave of sparks skittering along my skin. When he pulled away, his eyes slightly hooded, they were absent of anger.
“I know, Lola. I wasn’t going to keep you from the fight. I just…” He let out a sharp breath, his eyes falling shut. “I wanted to apologize for being so selfish with you. You’re a Luna, the best I could’ve ever asked for, but I’ve been keeping you from your full potential by smothering you. I haven’t been treating you as my equal, and that stops today.”
His thumb swiped at my cheek, making me realize a tear had escaped my eye. I blinked a few times, clearing my vision so I could stare up at him. How he could be so raw and understanding when it went against his very nature, I’d never know, but it would be a part of him I’d cherish forever.
“We need to go out there and help them.” He said, a wicked glint in his eyes, one promising death and destruction. “Are you in?”
I wanted to say yes more than anything, but there was something I needed to do-something I’d been wanting to do since we’d gotten here.
“I’m in, but I have to do something first…” I trailed off, debating on how much I should say. There was no telling it would work, so I wanted to keep the details to myself. “I’ll catch up with you, okay? Promise.”
He was reluctant, I could tell by the way his eyes darkened, turning that ferocious gold into a ruddy bronze.
“Go. I’ll watch over her.” Deacon barked. “Bridgette’s just gone out to help as well.”
A second time, I was swept into Asher’s arms, only this time around his lips closed over my own. Every sense I had working on overdrive shut down one by one, all going lax under Asher’s intoxicating taste. His scent flooded my nose, mixing with the adrenaline in my veins and filling my heart with enough love to make me feel as though I were floating.
When he pulled away, I realized how much I truly had to fight for, and finally understood that even with Conjuration, it was one of the biggest weapons I had against the blood-witch.
“What’s your plan, kid?” Deacon asked, tilting his head, and eyeing me with a look I couldn’t quite decipher.
I turned towards the stairs, listening to the uneven rasp that droned on and on.
“I need to talk to Spence.”
The sight was so much worse than I could’ve imagined, and the smell-it was near overwhelming. His eyes were stark white, so pale against mottled, charred flesh that it struck a chord of terror within me.
He laid flat on the bed, his chest barely moving as he breathed in and out, in and out. On every exhale, his lungs would rattle, and eyes would flare with remnants of pain.
There wasn’t much left of his face, only two gaping holes where his eyes sat and a bloody stump that served as his nose. Even his hair had been burned off, lingering in wispy tufts that looked far too fragile. Some part of me wondered if his clothing had been welded to his flesh, or if Deacon had managed to cut it off of him before it could glue itself to the wounds.
“Spence…” I whispered, kneeling beside the bed. “I need to talk to you if that’s alright. You don’t have to say anything. If you can, I’d like you to blink once for yes and twice for no.”
His eyes had followed me as I entered the room and sank to the floor. Slowly, they closed and opened. I felt Deacon watching at my back, silent but present.
“Alright.” I exhaled, clasping my trembling hands together. “I know you have your reasons for not liking magic, but if I told you I could use my magic to give you a second chance with Dina, would you take it?”
His eyes remained on my face for what felt like eons before fluttering shut and opening. I waited and waited for them to close a second time, but they never did. A kernel of relief filled my chest, turning to confidence I eagerly devoured.
“I can’t make any promises, Spencer, but I’m going to try and heal you now.”
I placed my hands on what was left of his chest, cringing and whispering an apology when an inhuman groan escaped what was left of his lips.
When my eyes closed, I pulled from that well of magic I’d felt a time or two, like a pool of pure electricity only I could tap into. It prickled my nerve endings, racing along my veins and curling around my bones, melding with my deepest thoughts and innermost desires.
There was nothing left for me to do but picture what I wanted: Spencer, happy and whole, his skin fresh and unblemished.
I didn’t listen to the sounds he made, the ones that stabbed at my heart, nor did I listen to the sound of feet padding down the stairs. On and on, I poured that energy into Spencer’s body, praying above all that it would work.
It could’ve been seconds or minutes that I sat there, I wasn’t sure. All I knew was that when I opened my eyes and found myself staring down at a smooth expanse of skin, I was positive I’d faint.
Spencer was fully healed, not a single burn left on his body. His skin was flushed an odd shade of red, like he’d just gotten over the worst part of a horrible sunburn, but he was no longer on the verge of death.
Without thinking, I pushed myself to my feet and instantly wobbled. I would’ve fallen backwards if it hadn’t been for Deacon holding me up, spinning me around to stare him in the face.
His eyebrows, which looked so much like my father’s I wanted to be sick, were gnashed together.
“You healed him, but you asked for permission first.” He grunted, speaking no more on the topic as he shoved a blood bag in my hands and said, “There’s no time to pass out and nap. They need us out there. There’s kids and families counting on their Queen. Time to show your estranged Uncle what you’re made of kid.”