He lunged at me faster than I could blink, and sure enough, I was knocked to the floor as he smashed my face in. Yeah, that was going to hurt in the morning. Trying my best to regain my strength, I flipped my attacker over on his back and he smiled up at me.
“You’re getting better,” Philip replied.
I smiled back. “I told you not to go easy on me.”
And of course, he didn’t. Grabbing hold of my hair, he flipped me over him and managed to stand up. Now I was the one on my back—again—and I was really beginning to feel useless. Yes, he said I was getting better, but he could take me on and win every single time. Getting better and winning were two completely different things.
I stood up and sighed, trying to fix my hair so it didn’t look like the haystack it probably was. Philip stood there, somehow managing to look absolutely gorgeous with his short black hair and piercing green eyes. His smile widened when he saw me trying to compose myself. “I never said we were done,” he said.
“You don’t need to,” I shot back, feeling embarrassment sweep through me, but I kept the sarcastic smile on my face. “Because I’m saying we’re done for the day because clearly I still can’t take you on, so what’s the point in trying?”
His seductive smile fell flat as he spoke. “You won’t get better if you just give up.”
“I don’t get any better by trying,” I said, and then added, “but I will. Just give me a little more time.”
I left the training room of the Hideout, an underground hiding place for Kristen, who was my best friend, and her family and friends to train. Kristen, Philip and I were Monster Hunters, and we didn’t fight the type of Monsters you would expect. Actually, I didn’t fight any Monsters at all—yet--unless you counted Kadin. Speaking of him...
“Did you hear back from the Council yet?” I asked. I sat in a comfy chair in the room that sort of resembled a living room of an average house, with a couch, side table, two chairs, and a lamp. Oh, and a looming bookshelf.
Philip came and sat on the couch, sighing just enough to get me concerned. Oh no. When he didn’t respond I asked him again. Finally, he said, “Lena did hear back from the Council. They’re coming to the Hideout tomorrow.”
My jaw nearly hit the roof of hell and my heart stopped just a little. I knew this was going to happen. Damn it, why did I have to be so stupid and take on Kadin? “So, does this mean...I may go to...Monster Hunter jail?”
“To be honest,” Philip replied, “I haven’t got a clue. Anything is really possible at this point, but the one thing we don’t need to worry about not having a good case, which Lena will present to them. The fact of the matter is that Kadin is not a Monster, and unless the Council decides to be assholes and consider him one when his species hasn’t even identified, it’s entirely possible you could face imprisonment.”
This was even worse than I thought. The only good thing that could possibly come from this was that Kadin wasn’t a Monster. In fact, we had no freaking clue what he was and it was sort of bothering me. As if that wasn’t enough, Kadin hadn’t visited my dreams since the night I fought him on the tower. To be perfectly clear, he was trying to kill one of my friends and I had to do whatever I could to make sure he didn’t. I knew the Council was going to keep and eye out on him, and once I fought him and somehow shot electricity out of my hands, I knew that they were going to try to charge me with something. As a Monster Hunter, it’s illegal for me to fight Monsters when I’m a Level 0 and Level 1. I was finally a Level 1, but I wasn’t when I fought that bastard, and now I was about to pay the price for it.
The Levels are divided up into 4: Level 0 is when you first became a Monster Hunter. After the first week, you automatically advance to Level 1. Then at Level 2, you are allowed to hunt the Monsters as long as you’re with a Level 3, which is the most advanced Level. Don’t ask me why the Council wanted to make our lives more complicated than they already were.
“Have you heard from Kadin?” Philip asked, interrupting my thoughts as if he could read my mind. God, he was good.
“Um, not since that night,” I responded quietly. I don’t know why I sounded disappointed. Maybe it was because Kadin had a lot of answers, and with him gone, all the answers went with him. Kadin might have been a pain in the ass, but he offered a lot of pieces to the puzzle of what was now my life.
“Lena’s tried finding out what the Perfect World is, but whatever Kadin’s talking about, it’s not in any of the Monster Hunter books.” Philip pulled out his cell phone to check a text. “Kristen said she’ll be down in a few minutes, by the way.”
I only nodded. Kristen and I, while we were best friends, had been having our problems. The main problem revolved around Philip, whom she’d apparently dated in the past. He cheated on her, driving her to a suicide attempt, which led Kadin to her. Kadin controlled Darkness, a physical entity that apparently sucked negative energy out of people, and if strong enough, could physically harm people. If that wasn’t a problem enough, the problems from she and I stemmed from my growing feelings for Philip, even though I knew he was a cheater. I was truly a terrible person.
The weird thing was, Kristen had told me just about a week ago that I should do what made me happy—but what did? Would Philip really make me happy?
“Heather,” Philip interrupted again. “You’re thinking about something. What is it?”
No way in hell was I really going to have this conversation. Quickly making something up, I said, “I was just thinking about Kadin and where he might be. There’s no way I managed to scare him off permanently and it’s just odd that he hasn’t even made an attempt to come back.”
Philip chuckled. “You did kind of shoot lightning at him.”
Yeah, don’t remind me, I thought. “I couldn’t even do it again if I wanted to. It kind of just happened. Is that even normal for Monster Hunters?” He didn’t need to answer because I already knew what he was going to say.
“There’s also something I should mention,” Philip said. “You may not like it.”
My insides churned at the thought of whatever might come out of his mouth. “Oh Lord, should I be worried?”
He shrugged. “Um, most likely. You see...the Council is coming tomorrow because Hayden is leaving the hospital tonight.”
Uh oh. I really didn’t like where this was going. “What does Hayden have to do with any of this? I mean, obviously he saw some stuff but—”
“Yes, but you, Kristen, and I know otherwise. He was there but he also did something on the rooftop that make the Darkness disappear. When the Darkness went to go get him, you told Kristen and me that it disintegrated. The thing is, we haven’t told the Council, but the Council is checking in on him to make sure he doesn’t expose us. He hasn’t said anything at the hospital, but we don’t know what he’s feeling right now. We have no idea if he’s even really come to grips with what happened.”
Yes, of course the Council was going to want to talk to Hayden. I mean, why wouldn’t they? He was there that evening, but it didn’t make things any better. The Council, the ones who controlled everything in the Monster Hunter world, were coming to see Hayden. Hell, I hadn’t even met them, but from what I heard, I had a right to be afraid.
“What will happen?” I asked. “If they decide that Hayden is a threat or will tell someone or something?”
Philip said nothing.
“Philip,” I said in a stern voice. My heart was beating a thousand miles per minute and I couldn’t control my anxiety. “What are they going to do to him if he won’t keep quiet?”
Finally he said, “Well...let’s just say they can make deaths look like an accident.”