After training, I stay in the warehouse. Beau returns to the house to shower and change out of his hunting gear from last night. I don’t feel like going inside; after sleeping all day, I feel energised and excited, and if I don’t vent energy like that, it usually comes out through my aura in a bad way. So I face the sand-filled dummy, which has taken more than its fair share of violence already, and focus on my magickal energy.
My aether spikes cut straight through it. I try a few manoeuvres I have seen other Paranormals use, and although some combinations just don’t work for me, I do find a way of throwing the bolt that slices straight through the dummy’s neck first time, every time. After reattaching the head for the seventh time, I realise my energy has subsided and I feel exhausted.
It takes half an hour to walk back to Beau’s apartment, even though the drive seemed short. When I knock on the door, he answers with a plate of food in his hand and the television blaring behind him.
“Dinner’s on the stove,” he says. “Help yourself.” Then he goes back to the couch and continues his viewing of a martial arts tournament.
I glance at the clock, and I’m shocked at the time. It’s almost three in the morning; I’ve been training all night. No wonder I feel tired. I cross to the kitchen and look at the menu choices; roast chicken and potatoes, with a side of peas and corn. It’s bland, but welcome after a night of fighting and draining magick. I feel uncomfortable sitting next to Beau on the couch, so instead I perch on a high stool at the kitchen counter.
Beau looks around at me. “Where’s your friend?”
That’s when I realise Asher hasn’t turned up. I glance at the clock again. He’d never leave it so late. And he’s told me he’s going to be here, he should be here. I push my dinner aside and hurry to the spare room, where my bag still lies unpacked on the floor. I fumble for my mobile phone. Before now, I’ve hardly ever needed it; Asher is the only person I ever ring, and I usually see him every night anyway. I press the one button and the phone speed dials Asher’s.
It rings out.
Beau appears behind me as I call again. “Wait, you’re kidding. Asher has a phone? I didn’t know two-hundred-year-old vampires carried mobiles.”
I shoot him a black look and he shuts up. The last rings sounds at the other end of the line and the phone cuts off.
“He’s not answering,” I tell Beau. “This isn’t like him.”
“He’s probably just asleep or has his phone turned off. Vampires are busy creatures.” Beau’s voice is dripping with sarcasm, and I can tell he’s not used to panicked girls running around his apartment.
I ignore him. Being a hunter, he’s got to know that vampires don’t sleep. As a friend of Asher’s, he should also know more about what Asher is like. And being a Paranormal, he should definitely know that Asher is not considered popular among many vampire communities. Remembering this, I begin to worry. What if he’s in trouble?
Beau gives up his charade of nonchalance when he sees me swinging the bag over my shoulder. “What the hell are you doing?”
“I’m going to find him. Something’s wrong. Asher wouldn’t do this. Not to me.”
Beau steps forward, his body blocking the doorway. “You’re not leaving. You’re untrained, it’s the middle of the night, and I promised Asher I’d take care of you.”
“I don’t need taking care of! I need to find Asher!”
A long pause follows, while Beau regards me with a dark look in his soft green eyes. He reaches down to his waist, and for a minute I think he’s going to fight me. Then he holds up something; a silver chain with a small heart hanging from it. It’s the necklace Asher gave me three years ago, on the last birthday I bothered celebrating.
“Are you going because you really think he might be hurt, or because you’re in love with him?” Beau asks me.
I don’t answer, hoisting the bag over my other arm. I head towards the door, and Beau doesn’t move, staring me down as he waits for my answer. I don’t feel like talking about my feelings, especially not with this Fey hunter I’ve only just met.
“I’m going to his house,” I tell Beau. “If you don’t want to come, that’s fine. But I’m going, whether you like it or not.”
He hands me the necklace, and I link it back around my neck. If I bring it close, the heart pendant still has Asher’s lingering essence on it. It’s not a smell, but a feeling, and I can pick it up with all six of my heightened Fey senses. It calms me, and I breathe in deeply, attuning myself to the essence. If I encounter it, this will make it easier for me to follow Asher’s trail.
I try to tell myself that he’s okay, that I’m just overreacting. But in the eleven years I’ve known him, he’s never broken a promise, never failed to meet a deadline, never let me down. And if he hasn’t turned up tonight, then that means something’s wrong.
“Fine,” Beau says. “I’ll come. I’ll watch your back if you watch mine. Where does he live?”
I just walk, and Beau follows me. Asher’s magickal scent is fresh outside the apartment building; it was only twenty-four hours ago that he left me here.
Then I start off down the street, in the direction of the trail, knowing that Beau has unsheathed his knives behind me, and that no matter what I find when I get there, there’s no turning back.
Continues In Part Seven
Part six of my collab with Steve Strodder. This part is by me, next part will be by Steve. Enjoy!