Out of nowhere, I was hit with a bolt of lightning straight through my stomach. My eyes flew open in shock as I gasped for air. I felt like I was drowning in rough seas. My hand shot up for help and landed on Vance’s muscled chest. What was happening to me? I looked around, trying to make sense of everything. When I came back to his face which was streaked with tears, I remembered. I was dying, but now, I…wasn’t? I sat up in disbelief.
“Whoa, Karli, take it easy,” he said. “You’ve just been through a lot. You need to be careful.”
I blinked repeatedly. “What…” My head was still swimming. “What happened? W-what…did you do?”
“I healed you.” He began showering me with kisses. “For a second there, I thought I lost you. But you’re okay.” He sat back and smiled. “You’re going to be okay, Karli.”
I looked down at my blood-soaked shirt. I lifted the hem and found smooth skin underneath. There was only a tiny little scar remaining in the spot where I had been stabbed. My ribs felt fine. There was dried blood on my face, but nothing hurt anymore and my vision was clear. “Oh my God, how did you do that?”
“Good ol’ reliable fairy magic,” he smiled. “I never leave home without it.”
I continued inspecting my body for damage. I was sure I still looked like hell, but I felt great! “That’s amazing Vance! I feel---” I stopped short when I saw Roxy coming up from behind him. She was no longer unconscious and she looked royally pissed off. The planes of her face sharpened and she gave me an evil smile, revealing two rows of shark-like teeth.
Vance, look out behind you! I shouted in my head. He turned around, but not before she could sink her teeth into his neck, severing his main artery. He collapsed on the floor as a massive flow of blood poured out of him.
“You bitch!” she screamed. “Why do you always have men coming to your rescue? Now look at what you made me do!”
I crab-walked backwards, trying to get away from her. I looked at Vance who didn’t seem to be doing so well. He appeared to be the unconscious one now. Vance, can you hear me? Please tell me you can hear me! No response. I managed to stand, seconds before Roxy’s fist came flying towards my face again. “Ow, you bitch!” I screamed as I stumbled backwards. I managed to catch my balance and lunged for her, tackling her to the ground.
We rolled around a few times before she had me pinned beneath her again. “You want more, you little whore?” she shouted. “I’ll give you more!” She grabbed two fistfuls of my hair and slammed my head into the ground. Fuck, that hurt! While I was dazed, she slammed her head into my face, breaking my nose. I rolled over onto my knees and vomited up my breakfast. “Oh, look at you, you pathetic excuse for a woman,” she laughed. “I don’t know what Chad ever saw in you. If only he could see you now looking so weak, so useless.”
I glared up at her as I wiped the blood away from my face. I glanced over at Vance who looked much paler than he had a minute before. I swear I will make this right, I vowed to him. I stood up while I was conjuring some dust. I don’t know where it came from, but I felt incredible power in the palm of my hand. I was so enraged; all I could see was my anger and hatred for this woman in front of me. I looked down and saw a red glowing orb forming. I looked back at Roxy and saw her eyes widen in surprise.
“I’ll show you weak and useless, bitch!” I wound my arm like a major league pitcher and the ball of light flew out of my hand, directly into the center of Roxy’s chest. She flew backwards and had a circular, smoldering mark in her shirt from the impact.
“What did you do?” she shrieked. Her teeth were sharpening even more as she stood up again. “I’ll get you for that, you cunt!”
“I don’t think so,” I said coolly. I threw another sphere into her, causing her to fall on her ass. Her skin was red and blistered where the light had hit her. Her hands started turning into long black claws and her smooth skin was becoming red scales. I advanced on her again, throwing another one, and then a fourth and a fifth. Roxy cried out in pain as her hands reverted back to their human form. One of her hands and half of her torso were hideously burned.
“Stop it!” she cried. “Stop throwing that shit at me! You’re going to disfigure me! I have to be beautiful! He won’t want me unless I’m beautiful! ”
“Are you fucking kidding me, Roxy?” I screamed. “You don’t think that being a raging, psychopathic, murderer won’t turn him off?”
“Not when I explain to him how I did it for us,” she cried. “I did everything for us!”
Roxy continued to cry. I made the mistake of pausing, feeling sorry for her. I knew what it felt like to be on the receiving end of the pain and the self-doubt that Chad could cause. She took the opportunity to lunge at me and bit into the back of my calf as I was falling down to the ground.
“Ah, God!” I screamed. I crawled along the floor as she chewed on my flesh. She made it all the way down to the bone. I made it over to the broken glass and picked up a large piece. I flipped onto my back just as she was leaping over me, aiming for my neck with her snapping jaws. I reacted with a stealth that I would later be proud of. She never even saw it coming. I held the piece of glass upright in between our bodies as she landed on top of me. She spit up blood and looked down at her chest in horror. The glass was lodged directly into her heart. I pushed her off of me and she continued coughing up blood.
“What have you done?” She tried pulling the glass out. Her efforts were wasted; it just kept slicing up her hand as blood continued pouring out of her chest. “No!” she screamed. “This can’t be happening! He’s mine! You can’t have him! He’s---” She choked on her last words as she slumped down and took her final breath.
“I didn’t want him, Roxy, but you were too stupid to figure that out.” I carefully reached out to check her pulse. Nothing. I closed her lifeless eyes and then rushed over to Vance. Oh God, he’d lost so much blood! I checked his pulse. It was faint, but it was there. “Vance, can you hear me?” I shook him by the shoulders. “Please, wake up! You have to tell me how to fix you!” I felt the hysteria rising so I took a few deep breaths. I couldn’t afford to lose it. Okay, think Karli. How did he fix you? Christ, I can’t remember, I was unconscious! Shit! What did he say the other day? That’s right, focus on nothing but the task at hand. Okay, I can do this. Focus on healing him. Nothing but healing him.
I choked back my tears and conjured some dust. I took another deep breath and found my center. I sprinkled it over his shredded neck. A blue glow started forming over his wound, knitting the skin together before my eyes. I held my breath waiting for some sign that he would be okay. His body jerked as his eyes fluttered open. He looked over at Roxy and then back to me. “Is she---” he croaked.
The tears were falling freely now as I held his face, kissing him. “Yes, she’s dead. Oh God, Vance. You’re okay. Thank God, you’re okay.”
He smiled at me. “I knew you could do it.” He had so much pride in his voice that he made me smile as well. He sat up, and looked down at my leg. “Are you okay? Karli, you’re bleeding.” He inspected my nose. “And your nose is broken.”
I looked down at myself. “I’ll be fine.”
Vance conjured some dust and smoothed it over my injured leg, instantly repairing the damage. He then softly kissed my cheek before doing the same to my nose. Afterwards, he kissed the tip of my nose. “Look, beautiful as always.” He smiled before branding me with a kiss so hot that I lost all cognitive abilities for a while.
The next few hours flew by as a myriad of investigators combed through my apartment. I sat in my bedroom, processing the events in my head. I couldn’t believe the murderer was Roxy. She had been right under our noses the whole time! She was someone that I would have even considered a friend. How could I have been so blind?
Vance came into the bedroom, lightly knocking on my door. “Hey, how are you holding up?” he asked.
“I’m okay, I guess. I still can’t believe what happened.”
He walked over to the bed and sat down next to me. “I know. I feel like such a fool. I should have been able to see it before.”
I looked up at him. “No, Vance. Don’t do that. None of us knew. Not even Leo could sense her and she was around him almost every day. You saved my life today. If it weren’t for you, I’d be the person in the body bag right now.”
He winced. “God, Karli, don’t say that. I can’t imagine my world without you in it.” He pulled me into him and kissed the top of my head. “Speaking of Leo, I called him a little while ago to tell him what happened. He’ll be here right after sunset.”
I pulled back from him in surprise. “You did?”
He smirked. “Yeah, pretty grown up of me, don’t ya think?” He shrugged. “I figured I owed him. He was the one who alerted me to your danger, so in actuality, we both saved you. I told you I’d figure out a way to make this work with Leo in the picture. I’m not saying I like it, but I understand why you want him in your life. He obviously cares for you a great deal and he doesn’t appear to be a threat at this point.”
I put my arm around him and leaned into his chest. “Wow, that’s very mature of you. Thank you, Vance.”
He squeezed me a little tighter. “Now, I’m not saying I don’t reserve the right to change my mind. If he ever poses a danger to you---”
“Vance, he won’t. I’m positive about that.”
He pulled away from me to look me in the eyes. “Why do you say that?”
“Because he knows what I am. He’s known for a while.”
“What?” He shook his head in confusion. “How?”
“It doesn’t matter. The fact remains that he knows I am a fairy, and his intentions with me do not involve harming me in any way. I could read him very clearly.”
“You could read him, huh?” he asked. “What exactly are his intentions with you then?”
“Vance,” I scolded.
“All right, all right, I’ll back off.” He looked me up and down as if he were undressing me with his eyes. “Can you read what my intentions are with you right now?” He grinned.
“Omigod, do you ever not think about sex?” I lightly punched him in the arm.
“Not if you’re in the room,” he replied matter-of-factly.
“Oh Lord, what am I going to do with you?” I teased.
He wagged his eyebrows. “I don’t know, Karli. That seems to be the million dollar question. What are you going to do with me?”
Oh, if only I knew…
A tall, beautiful woman sat down in front of me. All of the men in the bar were definitely taking notice…and even some of the women. Her short, red dress hugged her tightly toned body. She had a light complexion, with flawless ivory skin and pale blonde hair down to her waist. She was striking…major supermodel material. Something was off about her though. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but she made me nervous.
“Hi,” I said. “What can I get for you?”
She smiled. “A Bloody Mary would be great. Extra spicy.”
She watched me carefully while I prepared her drink. I sent out my feelers, and found a lot of curiosity coming off of her, with maybe a hint of malice. Yeah, that didn’t help ease my anxiety at all. I decided I needed to figure out what her deal was. “Are you here on vacation?” I asked.
“You could say that,” she replied. She took a sip of her drink and pulled back with a smile. A fangy smile. She looked at my nametag. “Karli, you make one helluva drink. This is the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had.” She laughed. “It’s almost as good as the real thing.” I suddenly got a quick flash of her standing in a dark room with blood dripping from her mouth.
Damn, my imagination was going into overdrive. I shook it off. “Um, thanks.”
I tried walking away from her but she started talking again. “I can’t believe how much Vegas has changed!” she exclaimed. “I haven’t been here in almost thirty years.”
“What brings you back?” I asked.
“I’m here to see…an old friend. I heard he’s had quite a lot going for him lately and I wanted to see for myself.”
“An old boyfriend?”
She licked her fangs. “Oh, he was much more than that.”
Chad walked up to the bar before I could respond; he was clearly interested in the beautiful stranger.
“Hey, Kar, can I get a Corona?”
“Chad,” I said in acknowledgement as I grabbed a bottle from the fridge.
He gave the blonde an appreciative gaze. “Who’s your delicious friend?”
“Um, I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name,” I said to her.
She stood up, returning Chad’s appreciation, and offered her hand. “Chad, is it? It’s very nice to meet you. I’m Maria.” She turned her head towards me, giving me a terribly intense look. Her eyes sparkled with malevolence, as she added, “Maria…Alexander.”
I dropped Chad’s beer, spilling it all over the floor.
He leaned over the bar. “Oh shit, Kar! You okay?” he asked.
Embarrassed, I looked away, immediately directing all of my attention to cleaning up the mess. I risked a glance at Maria and saw her giving me a satisfied smirk, distinctly aware that I knew exactly who she was. What the fuck is going on?
“Chad,” she purred. “Why don’t we get out of here and go somewhere a little more private?” She pulled a crisp, one hundred dollar bill out of her purse and set it on the bar.
Chad’s expression told me that he suddenly had a single thought on his mind, forgetting all about his beer. “Ah, sure. My place is only about ten minutes away,” he offered.
All right, I knew Chad could handle himself, but I was worried about him anyway. “Chad, can I talk to you for a second?” I asked.
He gave me a dismissive look before backing away with Maria on his arm. “Later, Kar. Okay?”
She made eye contact with me right before walking away, giving me a look that chilled me to my bones. “Thanks for the drink, Karli. I’ll be back soon.”
Okay, that woman was scary. Very, very scary.