Chapter Twenty-Three: The chapter where Hero begins to understand just what she is capable of.
“How’d it go with Aidan?” Kyle asked before I’d even made it to the porch.
“Not bad,” I answered letting HP climb out of the car. I noticed that Kate was on her phone furiously texting someone. I wondered if she had lied about not being interested in Constantine. He was a good-looking guy and I could understand a hero-worship crush. Or maybe it was more like a teacher crush. Either way, she could have him. I was having enough trouble dealing with Kyle, so I didn’t need any added complications. “Hey has Jenny come back?” I asked stepping up to the porch.
Kyle gave a slow nod, but his eyes changed. I wasn’t sure what it was because it wasn’t like some Hollywood special effect. They didn’t change color or shape or anything, but there was something different.
He frowned and stepped closer to me, and took my hand.
I felt the coolness of skin, the weird gloved feeling. It was the same thing I’d felt when we first met. I tried to pull my hand away, but he tightened his grip. “Kyle, what are you doing?”
Beside me, HP growled and I knew without looking he wasn’t a puppy anymore.
I felt, ok, I’m not sure what I felt. One part of me was terrified. This wasn’t Kyle. Maybe someone, or something, had gotten to him. But the other part of me, well that part wanted to drag him inside the house and lock him in my bedroom.
Then I felt a searing pain. It was like the time as a kid, I’d accidentally shoved my finger in an empty light socket. It burned without heat and stung worse than a million bees.
I felt Kyle drop my hand and he dropped to one knee on the porch.
“Hero, get off the porch,” Kate said her voice confident from somewhere behind me.
Kyle looked up at me, and I figured out what I was seeing in his eyes. His pupils were dilated, but he was a predator. Once in college, I’d had a photography class assignment to take pictures of animals. I’d gone to a local zoo and spent a lot of time taking pictures of wolves. They were nothing great, except when one of them had looked at the camera. I hadn’t noticed it until I developed the photos. Its eyes had glowered, had radiated danger and anger. It was like that wolf was reminding me, if it wanted it could tear me to pieces and that act wouldn’t bother the wolf in the slightest.
Kyle had eyes like that now. I took a step back, grabbing HP’s collar.
“Hero, don’t go. You don’t want to go,” His voice was low and
I felt myself hesitate. He was right, I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to believe that he was a bad guy, that he was trying to hurt me. But HP growled again, and I continued to step away from the porch.
“Kyle, get it under control, or I’ll shock you again,” Kate said, as I finally got off of the porch.
He dragged his eyes over to Kate, “Oh Katie, you don’t wanna hurt me. You know I’d never hurt you. I’d never hurt Hero,” He crooned at her and turned his eyes back to me.
I shivered under his gaze, my mind still going back to the wolf at the zoo. At least at the zoo, there’d been bars between me and the wolf. I’d let this wolf into my house. I wrapped my arms around my chest and felt my heart pounding.
“Hero,” Kate hissed at me, “talk to him. Tell him to calm down. Tell him he doesn’t need to do this.”
“I don’t know what he’s doing,” I hissed back.
“Oh,” Kate paused, “He must think you’re leaving him. He’s trying to mark you.”
“Kyle, stop.” I managed to stutter. But Kate’s comment about marking and already having a wolf in my head, just made me think he was going to pee on me. “Kyle, it’s me, you don’t need to do this.” My mind was racing, trying to figure out what to say. I didn’t want Kate to have to shock him again. I didn’t want anyone to get hurt. “Kyle, you remember the night at my apartment? At the stairs?” His gaze locked on mine and I felt the heat of it. “I keep my promises, Kyle. I just need a little time.” I wondered if he remembered the kiss and if it was the right thing to bring up. Maybe making him think about sex was a bad idea, but I didn’t have any others.
His lips twisted into a slow smile. “I don’t think you want to wait Hero. You need me.” He slowly started to get back to his feet. “You need me now.”
I took a shuddering breath. He was right, or maybe it was just his crazy mojo, but I did want him. I didn’t care that I was standing in the front yard and that Kate was there or anything. I just wanted to throw myself at him. I wanted to feel his hands on me, his mouth on me. I pushed the thoughts aside, “Not now, Kyle.” I tried to sound confident, but all I managed was breathy and sexy, and I didn’t like it.
Then I felt something else, tension in the air around me. And it was like someone threw a bucket of cold water on me. I suddenly understood what he’d been doing to – what he was trying to make me do with him. And I felt my anger burning through me, and then I felt the air split.
HP stepped between me and whatever was happening to the sky – I could see a slash of darkness and something coming out of the sky.
It didn’t take me long to recognize the same glowing orbs that had appeared in the wedding pictures on the night Dee had been murdered. I couldn’t feel Kyle’s pull on me at all anymore, but that crack in the sky was tugging on me differently. I wanted to reach out and touch it – no, I wanted to tear it open and see what was inside.
And then HP was on top of me and I stumble to the ground. And the hole in the sky closed and Kyle crumbled to the ground.
Kate nodded at HP, “Thanks, boy” she said.
“Kate, what did I do?” I stared at her.
She gave me a sad smile, “He’ll be fine.” She shrugged, “Ok, so he’ll have a headache when he wakes up, but it’s better than the alternative.”
Before I could ask about the alternative, Jenny came flying out the front door. She stopped herself from tripping over the unconscious Kyle. She glanced at Kyle and looked at me still on the ground with HP on top of me, “You ok?”
I swallowed and nodded, “Yeah, but confused.”
“I’ll explain it inside,” She called back into the house, “Vic, I need some help.”
The bounty hunter still looking came up behind Jenny, “Anything you say, princess.” The sarcasm didn’t improve the situation.
Jenny ignored the sarcasm, “Just bring him inside, please.”
He picked up Kyle as if he weighed nothing and carried him
inside the house.
I followed, “Jen, what happened to him? Did someone get to him, like with Officer Garcia? Did they make him do that to me?”
Jenny looked sad, “No, Hero. That’s what he is.” She bent her head toward me and sniffed.
I stepped back, “Creepy much?”
She gave me a dark look, “You spent time with a man, and you liked him.” She laughed.
Kate closed the door behind her, “I knew it.” She chirped, “I knew you were into him.” She looked pleased. I guess I was wrong about her harboring secret feelings for Constantine.
I rolled my eyes, “What is this junior high? Seriously, we ran into Constantine Bayless,” at Jenny’s blank look I added, “From Dee’s publisher. He’s here for the funeral, and he offered to help.” I watched Vic lay Kyle on the couch.
“Hey Princess, you want me to tie him up, or lock him in the basement or something?”
I thought I heard less sarcasm this time.
Vic continued, “He’s still in heat.”
I blinked, Vic said it so matter of fact that I was shocked. “He’s what?”
Vic gave me a sly grin, “In heat, or whatever they call it,” He said his head jerking toward Kyle. “He’s fixated on you, in a big way.” He continued to smirk at me, “You shoulda fucked him by now. It would’a cooled him off, well that is if he didn’t eat you.”
I gaped at him, unable to find any retort.
Jenny rolled her eyes, “Yeah, well she didn’t and now it’s way too late for that.” She looked at Kate, “You can bind him, right?”
Kate nodded and wiggled her fingers at Kyle. “He’s not going anywhere when he wakes up.”
The three of them acted like this whole thing was no big deal, but I felt sick. The breakfast I shared with Aidan was churning in my stomach. I liked Kyle, but not like this. “Ok, can someone please explain this to me?” My voice was weak and I laid my hand on HP’s head.
Vic sat down in one of the chairs, “Well, sweetheart, it’s like this. Your lilu boyfriend used his lilu mojo and knew that you’d gotten all hot and bothered over some other guy. He was gonna…” Vic paused and smirked again, “well I think you know what he wanted, but he was gonna do it regardless of what you wanted. And probably steal your soul in the process.” He smirked at me, “but you tore open reality and sent a shade after him.”
I felt myself go pale and sat heavily in the chair across from the couch, my eyes fixed on Kyle.
“Hero, he didn’t mean to hurt you, it’s just his nature,” Vic mumbled from across the room.
I was surprised enough to hear something other than angry sarcasm in his voice, that I looked over at him, “He was going to hurt me.”
Vic looked abashed, “He woulda, but he woulda felt bad about it.” He shrugged and looked away from me. “Princess, why didn’t you warn her about his kind?”
Jenny shook her head and came and sat on the arm of my chair. “Hero, I know that doesn’t make it better or excuse it, but it was all instinct for him,” she sighed. “But you pulled some serious backup.”
“What did I do? Was that hole in the sky me?”
Jenny nodded, “That hole in the sky was you tearing a hole into the underworld and calling a shade.”
I frowned, “What’s a shade?”
Jenny seemed to consider that, “It’s kind of like a ghost – but they were never people. At least I don’t think they are.” She looked to Kate and Vic for help. “They drain life force from humans and preters. You seemed to call one up to act as a bodyguard.” She looked at HP, “But that brilliant puppy closed the rift and sent the shade back.”
Before I could ask anything else, we all paused hearing a car pull up. “Oh my god, that’s gotta be Constantine. Is him being here going to make all this worse?”
“He’s the guy that got you all worked up?” Vic asked.
We all glared at him, but I nodded weakly, “I guess. I hadn’t thought about it. I mean, he’s a guy and he’s attractive. It wasn’t like I thought about it.”
Kate interrupted, “I’ve bound Kyle, so even when he wakes up, he’s not going anywhere. And Constantine might be able to help.”
Jenny shrugged, “I don’t think it can get any worse.”
I noticed for the first time how tired she looked. She looked like she hadn’t slept in days. I glanced back at Vic and wasn’t sure if the two-day stubble and tired eyes were normal for him, but he matched her for looking worn out. I wondered what the two of them had done when they left the house. He still seemed under her control and didn’t seem any happier about it. I wondered what it has cost her to keep him this way.
I frowned at her but had to save my concern for later, “Fine, we’ll let him in. But seriously, this is going to get really awkward.” I realized that we’d have to explain the situation to Constantine, and that meant I’d be explaining he was attractive.
Kate opened the door for him, and Constantine stepped into the house.
He quickly glanced around the room, “Have I come at a bad time?”
“I don’t think it would have mattered when you arrived,” I mumbled. I managed to make introductions and suggest we move to the dining room. Kate said Kyle would be out for at least a half-hour. I noticed that Constantine looked pleased with her.
He looked back at me, “I told Dee that she should have brought you into our world sooner, regardless of what she promised your mother.”