I slept that night in my own bed, alone, for the first time in days. Andreas conceded to my complaints that he had been encroaching on my privacy and let me set him up in one of the spare bedrooms. I felt incredibly rested when I woke up.
I stumbled downstairs with a yawn, and found Andreas in the kitchen cooking breakfast, a fresh cup of coffee waiting just for me perched on the edge of the counter. I sat down on the nearest bar stool, and sipped it gratefully. I could get used to someone else preparing my coffee in the mornings, I thought bemusedly.
My kitchen herbs were starting to run wild. The dill was almost ready to go to seed, and the basil and cilantro were beginning to battle it out for the remaining counter space. My rosemary was so tall it was getting tangled in my hanging pot rack. I chuckled, looking at the jungle, and shook my head.
Andreas placed a plate of scrambled eggs and bacon in front of me. “Sorry about that,” he apologized, gesturing toward the overgrown greenery. “Plants tend to do that around me.”
I took a bite of my lightly seasoned eggs. For an angel, he was a pretty decent cook. “What else can you do?” I wondered in between bites. “What other magical cards do you have up your sleeve?”
He smiled. “Finish your breakfast, and I’ll show you a couple.”
I did exactly that, and showered, and dressed in a pair of jeans, and met him back downstairs. He’d availed himself of my guest bathroom and done the same, wearing the typical jeans and tee-shirt combo I’d gotten accustomed to.
“What now?” I asked excitedly.
He handed me my coat, and took my hand. “Now we’re going to take a little trip,” he said cryptically. I felt the pull of numen, and the world dissolved around me. We reappeared on a mountain top. There wasn’t a sign of civilization in sight. A fierce wind blew, tearing through my coat. I braced myself against the fierce gusts and wrapped my coat tightly around me, shivering. “Where are we?” I shouted as the wind scattered my words across the breeze.
“The Andes,” he replied. “Hold on!” He closed his eyes and clenched his jaw, and a second later the wind died.
I gasped, and focused my eyes on the numen. Energy crackled around Andreas, as he redirected the air into stillness. “Pretty cool,” I nodded. My angel could control weather.
He smiled. “Wild magic is the most basic form of magic there is,” he explained. “I use my own energy to affect change on things outside myself. It can be exhausting, as you’ve discovered, and hard to control. Not many people chose to do it, for those very reasons.”
I nodded my head. “What about other types of magic?” He had mentioned earth magic, for one. And then there was ritual magic, I had heard that term bandied about, as well.
He nodded. “Rather than using your own energy, you could do earth magic, for example, and tap into the earth’s energy. It’s slower, and takes longer, and requires more ritual. Spell casting, are you familiar with the term?” I nodded my head. “All other forms of magic require some type of spell casting, and usually require other implements and tools. It can be a lot more powerful, and a lot more specific, but it requires years of study to master. I’ve never bothered with it. All types of magic require some form of sacrifice. Matter is energy, and energy is matter. If you want to affect change, you have to have something to change it with, after all.”
I thought about it, recalling the blood Vejay had shed when summoning the demon in Ariel’s basement. Blood must have been the sacrifice for that particular spell. “You say that angels draw their strength from the sun,” I mused. “Like yesterday, when I bloomed the clover, I felt utterly exhausted afterwards, but I could feel the sun filling me back up, and I felt normal within minutes.” I was solar powered. That struck me as quite funny.
“Exactly,” he smiled. “This is why I avoid magic at night if I can. It’s too easy to become powerless. Keep that in mind,” he warned. “Now, watch.” He pointed toward the sky, where dark storm clouds were gathering. “If you don’t want to get wet, you might want to shield yourself,” he warned me.
I could shield myself? Now there was a thought. I pushed out with my mind and created a bubble of energy around me, willing it to be waterproof. It taxed me, but only slightly. Just in time, too, because big, fat raindrops began to fall. They fell on my bubble, like an invisible umbrella, and rolled down the side onto the rocky earth below me.
Lightning flashed above me, and I heard thunder off in the distance. “You might want to cover your ears,” Andreas cautioned. I eyed him dubiously, but dutifully covered my ears. His arms were in the air, as if he were conducting an invisible symphony. When he raised his arms, the lightning flashed; where he pointed, the thunder crashed. I dropped my jaw, watching him conduct his own private lightning storm in awe. Lightning struck peak after peak, working its way with military precision down the razor backed edges of the mountain ridges, until suddenly, it was right above us, and with a flick of his wrist, the lightning struck Andreas with blinding brilliance. I cried out in alarm, but he caught it deftly in his hand, as if it were nothing more than a tennis ball, and the brilliance faded.
I remember hearing once that the typical lightning bolt was about a million volts, and yet an angel stood not six feet from me catching it with apparent ease. He cocked his hand back as if he were throwing a baseball, and tossed the lightning. Electricity arced out of his hand, leaping across the landscape, to strike the granite rock a mile or so away.
I was dumbfounded, and impressed. I sunk to my knees, staring, open mouthed like an idiot. My angel could catch lightning. I was, quite simply, amazed. His hair floated around his head with the static electricity, and I could feel my hair rise as well. The air was charged with electricity, which amplified the numen, making Andreas and my bubble positively glow and shed sparks. He looked absolutely glorious and beautiful, standing there in the pouring rain, as lightning crashed around us with deafening booms with light so dazzling it was nearly blinding. He was in his element, and I was in awe. With a crook of his wrist, a bolt zapped straight towards him, and he soaked it up as if it were sunshine.
He caught three more bolts in succession, the last time catching one in each hand, before shoving his hands, palm outwards, and unleashing a furious blast of lightning off into the distance, releasing all the millions of volts he had stored within him with amazing ease and precision. He struck a granite peak across the range, and I swear, the rocky crest melted. Then, with a gesture of his hand, the storm abated, the rain stopped, and the clouds slowly drifted away. When it was finally dry I dropped my bubble.
“That,” I gasped in awe, “Was amazing.”
He smiled modestly. “The Greeks called my grandfather Zeus.”
I dropped my jaw. My jaw was going to get tired of the constant dropping. “You’re kidding me, Zeus was real? He was your grandfather?” I eyed him dubiously. “You’re just yanking my chain now, aren’t you?” I folded my arms across my chest in disbelief. “You’re not even Greek.” I shook my head in denial.
He laughed and shook his head. “With a name like Andreas Spyridon you have any doubts? My family lived on Olympus long before the Mycenaeans built their citadels, and long before Homer wrote the Illiad. There’s a little bit of truth in every myth.” With a flick of his wrist the wind picked back up again. “I’ve got one more thing to show you for now,” he shouted over the wind. He wrapped his arms around me fiercely. “Hold on tight,” he ordered.
I did, gripping my arms around his waist as if my life depended on it. The wind buffeted us, growing stronger in strength, threatening to steal the breath from my lungs. If it hadn’t been for Andreas, I was certain it would have blown me over, and down the mountain.
Rather than being blown over, it lifted us up, off the peak, and we were tossed up into the air as if we were as light as a feather. I shrieked in delight, and in fear. “You can fly!” I gasped, as we drifted with casual abandon slowly down the mountain side.
He laughed. “Not quite, but I can ride the wind, Rhiannon.” We glided on gusts, left, then right. He tossed us up high, and it took my breath away, worse than any rollercoaster. I held on tight and closed my eyes, not wanting to look down, as we were taken by the wind higher and higher. I finally opened my eyes as we ascended, and saw the world below me spinning, tiny and far away, and I shrieked. “Had enough?” He whispered in my ear.
“Yes, please!” I cried, burying my face in his shoulder.
He chuckled, I could feel it rumbling in his chest, and beamed us straight from lying sideways in mid-air to standing upright in my overgrown kitchen again. I was a little disoriented, but found my feet underneath me. I slowly sank to the ground. “Wow.” I whispered.
He smiled. “You liked that,” he said, pointing out the obvious.
I nodded my head. “Except for the end. Guess I’m a little scared of heights.”
“I noticed,” he nodded his head. “I wouldn’t have dropped you, you were perfectly safe. Besides, you could have teleported away at any time.”
“What’s that like?” I asked, “Noticing how I feel all the time?”
He shrugged. “I’m getting used to it. At first it drove me crazy, and I hated it. You have a million emotions. Is that a human thing or a woman thing?”
I shrugged back. “Definitely a woman thing. Maybe a human thing, I don’t know, I don’t know any different.”
He chuckled. “Well, while the cause was accidental, I realized I had no choice but to get used to it. I kind of like it now. You feel… nice. You have nice feelings.”
“Thanks,” I said, not knowing what else to say.
“It’s stronger when we’re together than when we’re apart,” he added.
“Is that how you knew how to find me? Kind of like how fairies sense things?” I definitely knew that feeling, at least.
“Probably something similar,” he agreed.
A thought occurred to me. “So, if I have any trouble tonight with the vamp, you’ll be the first to know, huh? That’s even better than speed dial,” I grinned.
We wandered down the street to the greenhouse to visit for a couple of hours, before I called a taxi and headed towards downtown Seattle to meet Kat for lunch. Andreas, as usual, tagged along. “I don’t like this,” he said tersely.
I rolled my eyes. “We’re going to a deli, a very public deli, what bad things can possibly happen at a deli? You can go wander down to the park and hug a tree or something, that’ll make you feel better,” I teased. “Besides, if anything bad happens, I’ve got you on magic speed dial, remember?”
I got the sense he wasn’t nearly as amused about that as I was.
Armandino’s Salumi was a quaint Italian deli on 3rd Avenue in downtown Seattle. I loved the place. They cured their own meats and made their own sausages. Sometimes I’d stop by just to buy some pastrami to take home with me, other times I’d visit for lunch. They made the most fantastic sandwiches, all with their own fresh meat and sausage. Their lamb prosciutto was my personal favorite, especially on fresh, crunchy Italian bread with provolone cheese, butter lettuce, and thick slices of tomatoes. Andreas and I parted ways half a block away where the taxi let us out. I wasn’t quite sure where he is, but I was certain he would keep me well within his eyesight.
The line at the restaurant was already out the door, but Kat was waiting there for me at one of their small tables, enjoying a bowl of what smelled like tortellini soup, while my usual prosciutto sandwich sat at the extra chair. I bent down and hugged her and then took a seat on the rustic wrought iron chair. “Bless you for your forethought!” I said.
“What’s happening?” Kat asked with a smile.
“Oh, I’m taking a few days off of work,” I said to her. Andreas had expressly forbidden me from going into any detail exactly what I had been up to the past few days. Kat was a human, and as such, she needed to stay in the dark. I hated lying to her, so I decided to just stick with the few truths I could share. “That accident rattled me more than I thought. Grant insisted I lay low and take it easy.” I smiled and shrugged. “Outside of my date to the opera Friday, I haven’t done much of anything.” What she didn’t know couldn’t hurt her, I reasoned to myself.
“Well, if I had known that, I would have come over and hung out. Rob was busy working most of the weekend, so I just crashed at home and watched movies.”
I shrugged. “A little down time was good.” Downtime, schmowntime. I was exceptionally glad she didn’t decide to pop over or anything. For one thing, I was in New York for half the weekend. For another thing, how would I explain Andreas? And the garlic patch my home had become?
“Feeling better?” she asked.
I took a big bite of my sandwich, and nodded my head yes. “Going out tonight with Lucas again,” I said between bites.
“I thought you said he was a dud,” she said, surprised.
Whoops, caught in my own web of lies. “I decided to give him another chance,” I said smoothly. “He’s too cute to just dismiss after one date.” I shrugged with a smile. Which was entirely true, god help me.
Kat laughed. “Oh my, isn’t he?” Her eyes twinkled mischievously. “What a body!” she sighed dramatically.
“Hey, watch it, or I’ll tell Rob,” I chided playfully. “Oh, get this – David’s been hanging around and calling me. It’s positively creepy.” I filled her in on the details of that little problem.
She was quite concerned. “You ought to report that to the cops, that’s scary behavior, Rhi. Do you own any pepper spray?”
Who needs pepper spray when I had an angel shadowing me everywhere, I thought? “No, I don’t,” I answered. I was certain that although David was a nuisance, if he became more than one I probably wouldn’t need police intervention, not with all the supernatural people I’d been hanging out with lately.
She reached into her purse, pulled out a small canister, and handed it to me. “Keep this on you, and keep your eyes open for that creep, and keep me informed, ok?” I pocketed it, grateful for her concern.
We ate our lunches, enjoying the companionship, and chatting lightly. The hour flew by quickly, and Kat had to be back at work. We parted ways at the door, she went left, I went right. I strolled down 3rd Avenue, enjoying the peaceful spring morning. Soon baskets of flowers would be adorning the shop fronts. I knew a few of the shops would be carrying baskets of mine, and that put a smile on my face.
“Don’t look now,” came Andreas’ voice from behind me, “But I think you’re being followed.”
“What?” I squeaked. He gripped my hand and we ran around the corner onto Main Street. I glanced behind us, and three figures dressed all in black turned right behind us. I cursed. Who would follow someone dressed all in black? They stood out like a sore thumb. Either they were stupid, or they didn’t think they’d be spotted, or they wanted to be spotted. We walked swiftly down the busy street, while I took stock of our options. It was early afternoon, in downtown Seattle, the streets were full of cars, and while the sidewalks weren’t full of pedestrians, there were enough bystanders around to draw too much attention, and not enough to lose ourselves in the crowd. I had no desire to confront the three and cause a scene, and I knew without asking that Andreas wasn’t about to use any of his powers in front of so many humans.
And then I saw it, just past the next building: the railroad tracks. Amtrack’s tracks ran right underneath us, bypassing traffic entirely. The southern entrance to the Great Northern Tunnel was just off to our right. I pointed to the tunnel. “Let’s go,” I shouted, and ran across the street, not bothering to look left or right for cars.
“Watch where you’re going!” Andreas shouted after me. I grabbed a hold of the railing, and vaulted over it, and down, off the main road and onto the tracks. Andreas was right behind me. I didn’t look, but I knew for a certainty that our followers pursued. The tunnel cut directly underneath South Washington Street, and the block behind it, before disappearing into a concrete maze that went god knew where before emerging north, away from downtown, heading upstate.
I ran into the rail tunnel, hoping and praying no trains were coming. The concrete ceiling vaulted high above me, and sounds echoed off the walls. We were just a couple of blocks away from the Amtrak station, but we were tracing the tracks in the opposite direction. The tunnel was dimly lit by overhead fluorescent bulbs. I concentrated to bring my altered vision into focus. The numen was dim down here, but its presence illuminated everything a great deal further. The tracks curved, taking a gentle turn. I heard footsteps behind us, getting closer, and I could hear the labored breathing of our pursuers. There were definitely three, but I sensed no other people down here, human or otherwise.
Andreas grabbed my hand, and we ducked behind a steel support girder. “Quiet,” he whispered. “Wait for them.”
A moment later, the three men rounded the bend. They felt and looked human to me. “Spread out,” the man in the center ordered. The other two flanked out, and they cautiously walked down the tunnel towards our poor hiding spot. I doubted they could see us, otherwise they would have reacted differently.
“Tasers,” Andreas whispered. Each man carried one in his hand. They wanted to incapacitate, not kill. That was oddly comforting, in a menacing sort of way. “This’ll be easy.”
The men were dressed all in black, from head to toe, only their faces exposed, underneath black baseball caps. They appeared to be dressed ready for action, too, I got the distinct impression of paramilitary off of their cargo pants, and the nimbus of energy that tightly surrounded each of them was dark and menacing.
They swept their gazes left and right, combing the tunnel for any signs of us as they progressed. For all I knew Andreas was making us invisible, but I certainly didn’t feel invisible, and I could see him and myself as plain as day. It was disconcerting, to say the least, feeling so exposed.
Finally, when one of the guys was nearly close enough for me to reach out and touch, Andreas made his move. “Now!” he roared, and jumped on the nearest man, shoving me out of my hidey hole as he went. I stumbled, and nearly tripped on the tracks, and the second man closed in on me.
With a snarl, he pulled the trigger of his taser, and two small dart-like electrodes shot out, and tore into my flesh. For a second, a split second, a fraction of a second that seemed like an agonizing eternity, volts of electricity poured into my flesh. Every nerve screamed in pain, and I felt like I was on fire. I couldn’t move, and I knew I had lost. But the split second ended, and my nerves adapted, and I channeled the electricity from the electrodes, straight into my hands. I stood upright, astonished. I tore the little darts from my skin, ignoring the residual pain, knowing I would heal momentarily, grinned at the startled man, and jumped on him. He turned to run, but I was too fast. The instant I jumped on him, knocking him to the ground, I channeled all that electricity into him, instead. He convulsed underneath me, and lay still, just moaning in agony.
I jumped up and looked around. Andreas had already taken out one of our pursuers, and was struggling with the third. It wasn’t even a contest. Andreas touched his face, and I could see him suck the energy right out of the man in black like a vacuum cleaner, and he crumpled to the ground unconscious.
I walked back to the moaning man who had attacked me, and punched him into unconsciousness, feeling much better.
We dragged their bodies off of the tracks, and out of the way of any potential trains. “They were obviously poorly informed and didn’t know who they were dealing with,” I said, with a satisfied grin.
He looked at me, a gravely serious expression on his face, and shook his head. “Violence should always be the last resort.”
I shrugged. “Yeah, well, we didn’t really harm them, did we? That was cooler than the Vulcan nerve pinch.” I grinned excitedly at him. My adrenaline had kicked in full gear by this point, and I was ready to take on the world.
He shook his head. “They’ll be fine in a couple of hours, with a splitting headache, not knowing what hit them. Search that man’s pockets.” He pointed to the one closest to me, while he rifled through the other two.
I did, but turned up absolutely nothing of value, outside of extra cartridges for his taser. I grabbed them, and the taser, just in case. I figured I’d earned it, and it wouldn’t do him any good, anyway. I was taser proof, and that was pretty cool. I pulled off his baseball cap, and stared at his face. The crooked nose, the black eye… I recognized him. I sat down on the pavement, dumbfounded. “This is the same guy who jumped me Thursday,” I breathed.
Andreas came over. “What? Are you sure?”
I nodded my head. “You don’t forget something like that.” I climbed over to the other two and checked them out. I was absolutely positive they were the same guys, too. “Three out of four ain’t bad,” I muttered. “Goddammit, who are they, and what do they want with me? Twice in one week! Can’t a gal get a break?” I shouted. I picked up a rock and threw it at the wall. I didn’t feel any better. I kicked the guy in the ribs. I felt a little better.
Andreas grabbed me. “Stop it, Rhiannon, don’t sink to their level.” His voice sobered me, and I calmed down a little.
“What did you find?” I asked him once I was calm.
He handed me the other two tasers and spare cartridges. “Two addresses.” He pulled two post-its out of his back pocket, and handed them to me. One had my home address written on it, in a sloppy scrawl in black ink, and the other was an unfamiliar address in Chicago, Illinois.
I looked up at him in confusion. “What place is this? I’ve never been to Chicago. Why would anyone in Chicago even know who I am?” I demanded.
He sighed and rubbed his temples. “I have no idea, but whomever, or whatever, is after you, they want to capture you. These men came armed to subdue and capture, not to harm.” Blood dripped off his elbow. I rushed over, concerned. There was a large gash running down his forearm. “I’ll be fine,” he assured me, as I wrapped my hand around it, putting pressure on it. “The first guy had a knife.”
“I’ve got a first aid kit back at my house,” I said, and with that, I focused, and beamed us to my kitchen.
Arriving, my head felt like it was splitting in two. I didn’t retch for once, though, and that pleased me. I cringed at the instant migraine.
“I wish you wouldn’t do that,” Andreas grumbled. “It hurts my head.” He rubbed his temples again.
I grabbed the bottle of Excedrin that was becoming a mainstay of my kitchen counter and popped a couple of pills, rubbing my own temples as well. “Sorry,” I said. Ignoring the headache as best as I could, I pulled my first aid kit out of one of the cupboards and tended to his wound. The wound had already stopped bleeding, and was already scabbing over. I rubbed some ointment into it, and slapped a big bandage on it, calling it good.
“That isn’t necessary,” he repeated. “It will be gone in ten or twenty minutes.”
“Shut up. I don’t want you bleeding all over the place.” I paid him no attention, pleased with my nursing skills. “Where’s that sticky?” I said. “I want to look up that address.”
I stepped into my little-used living room and turned on my computer. My headache was already starting to subside. The teleporting thing was getting easier with every attempt.
Once my computer was warmed up, I directed my web browser to Google maps and typed in the address. Andreas was hovering over my shoulder as usual. 352 North Union Avenue turned out to be a run-down looking cream-colored brick warehouse surrounded by construction, located near the tracks.
“Wow, you can see the actual building,” Andreas said in surprise. I zoomed into street view and ran my cursor up and down the street, trying to get a better angle on the building. “Is that a sign on the door?” he asked, pointing. I zoomed in, but couldn’t make out what it said.
I shook my head in disgust. “This is an effort in futility.”
Muttering under his breath, he flipped out a cell phone I didn’t even know he had, and dialed a number. “Aislinn? Book us a flight to Chicago tomorrow, there’s an address we have to check out.”
I rolled my eyes. “Not again, no. I have a life, you know. I am fed up with traipsing about the country chasing wild hairs.” I looked at him furiously.
He stayed calm, despite picking up on my anger. “Think about it this way,” he reasoned. “Someone there wants to capture you. Don’t you want to find out who, and why?”
I let out a big sigh. “Must you be so… so right all the time?” I complained. “Ok, fine, have it your way, we’ll go to Chicago.” I folded my hands across my chest. “But why don’t we just beam there?”
“Because I don’t have a safe port site to teleport to, it’s not a place I frequent,” he said tersely. “I’m not big on the concrete jungles. Maybe we can find a good one tomorrow, and I wish you’d quit calling it ‘beam,’ I’m not Scotty,” he retorted.
I grinned broadly. “Nope, you’re much cuter than Scotty.” I gave him an exaggerated wink.
Andreas actually blushed. I was delighted! I laughed. “Who knew a three hundred year-old angel could blush?” I teased.
He shot me a dirty look. I stuck out my tongue. Yeah, we were being real mature.
A light dawned in his eyes. “I’ve got an idea.” He got back on his phone. “Hey Felix, you’re good with computers, aren’t you?” He gave Felix the Chicago address. “Someone who attacked us had that address in their pocket. We’re going there tomorrow to check it out, but some background information would be useful.” He paused, listening. “No, they were armed to capture, not to kill. Whoever they were, I think they were after Rhiannon.” He paused again while Felix spoke. “Ok, just call me when you have anything.” He hung up and looked at me long and hard. “Well, at least we know what we’re doing tomorrow. You be safe tonight, you hear?” he ordered.