Drip Drop Teardrop Page 21

“Oh god,” Avery beseeched, choking on hard sobs. Her legs gave way and she slid down the wall to the floor, watching as Anonna approached her slowly, the knife gripped hard in her hand.

This couldn’t be happening. This wasn’t supposed to happen. She was supposed to be with Brennus and Caroline was supposed to be saved and they were supposed to have the happily ever after thing that she knew just couldn’t be true but she had so hoped, oh god why had she hoped, she couldn’t have done anything worse than hoped. All that time wasted, dreaming about him, wanting him, all those books and research on the web about the Ankou… all that-

“Oh God.” Avery looked up sharply and Anonna stilled at the look in her eye.

“What?” Anonna asked hoarsely.

Avery shook her head as the answer came to her. She prayed the thick tome from the library had it right. “I’m so sorry.”

“What-”

“THANATOS, I SEEK AID AGAINST A FALLEN ONE!” She screamed, her face rushing with blood.

“NO!” Anonna shrieked.

A scuttling sound, like a million cockroaches appearing from the dark, enveloped the room. Avery tried to shrink back against the wall as Anonna swung around, her eyes stark with terror. She brandished the knife. “No,” she whispered as the scuttling grew louder.

And then Avery saw it and her stomach clenched in absolute horror. Dark, misshapen shadows crawled along the walls and floor, all heading for Anonna. They swam towards her, in bobs and fits, the scuttling so loud it was a like a shriek. Anonna turned back to her, staring at her as if she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. And then she closed her eyes as the shadows swam up her legs, torso, chest, mouth… covering her in its shrill black ink until she was drowned in the entities grasp. With one last wail the shadows fell to the floor, disappearing and melting into nothing.

Avery stared at the empty spot before her, her heart slowing.

It worked.

Thank God.

During her research she had come across this passage about Ankou that broke the rules and stalked humans. It sort of majorly pissed of Thanatos who was kind of their leader, and if you called to him, he’d come and take care of the problem. Avery was so glad the scholar who’d written about it, knew what the hell they were talking about.

She blinked and tried to stand to her feet, but as she did the room spun and she fell forward, collapsing onto familiar wooden floors. She groaned and flipped over, staring up at the ceiling of her sitting room. Craning her neck around, she saw Caroline asleep on the sofa.

She closed her eyes in relief and sagged against the cold floor. “Where are you, Brennus?”

“I’m right here.”

She snapped her eyes open. He towered above her. He was the most beautiful sight. His scent enveloped her. She felt stupid tears prickle in her eyes and her lip trembled. “You came.”

Brennus glanced over at her sleeping aunt as though checking he hadn’t disturbed her, and then he knelt down beside Avery, hesitantly reaching out to help her sit up. “Are you OK?” He asked softly and she nodded, disappointed as he let go of her quickly.

“I’m fine.”

“I heard.” His face was dark. Dangerous. She knew that look. He was seething. “Anonna has been punished. She’s no longer an Ankou. She’s been sent into her afterlife.” He shook his head, regret in his dark eyes. “I am so sorry, Avery.”

“No.” She hurried to assure him. “Don’t. It wasn’t your fault.”

He waved away her reassurances and stood back up. “I just came to see if you were alright. I don’t know where you learned to do what you did, but I’m glad. I’m glad you weren’t hurt because of me. Goodbye Ave-”

“No!” She yelled and then bit her lip, glancing back to make sure she hadn’t woken Aunt Caroline.

Brennus stilled, startled by her exclamation. He frowned down at her. “What?”

Feeling a little unsettled sitting at his feet, Avery struggled to her feet and gazed up into his face imploringly. “Brennus… I- I miss you.”

His jaw clenched. “I miss you, too.”

“No.” She reached for him, clutching a hold of his arm, her fingers digging into his skin in desperation. “I mean, I miss you. Tonight I went to the club looking for you.”

His eyes widened and he clasped her hand tight. “Avery?”

She smiled softly, reassuringly, and then lifted a hand to silence him. In a hush, she went over to Caroline and stared down at her aunt’s peaceful, yet sickly face. Slowly, so not to wake her, she leaned over and pressed a gentle kiss to her aunt’s forehead.

Just as silently she returned to Brennus’ side to take his hand. “I want to make the deal.”

The colours of the room faded around her until she vanished from the Brooklyn apartment. The only evidence of her existence was her tiny teardrop that had dripped onto her aunt’s cheek.

It slid down off Caroline’s chin and splashed onto her favourite sweater.

Indelible. Eternal.

You Can Feel the Earth Shake

When They Start to Dance

They closed the deal. In more ways than one.

Avery stretched like a cat. A naked, satisfied cat. She smiled with her eyes closed and let Brennus pull her back into his body.

“I don’t ever want to get up,” she said softly, stroking a finger along his cheek.

He took hold of it and kissed it. “I know. But we have to.”

She grinned at the colour of his pallor. He was no longer pale. He was no longer Ankou. And she was no longer mortal. “Why? We have all of eternity to get up.”

The sheepish look he gave her made her draw back from him a little.

“What did you do?”

He sighed, rubbing his cheek with his fist. It was a gesture of his when he wasn’t looking forward to telling her something. “I may have promised the house to the new Ankou.”

She felt a twinge of disappointment. She loved the house. “But this is your home.”

“If I can use the old cliché, my home is wherever you are.” He pressed a soft kiss to her lips and she melted into him happily.

***

As they sat on the fire escape, peering inside her old apartment, Avery was glad that some of Brennus’ powers remained intact. Like not being seen by her Aunt Caroline as they watched her move around the apartment. She was wearing cycling shorts and a sports top, her sneakers squeaking against the hardwood floors as she rushed around getting her stuff together. There was no sign of the cancer. She looked younger than ever. Avery’s eyes prickled with happy tears. Brennus had given her such a wonderful gift. As Caroline passed the telephone cabinet in the corner, Avery spotted a picture of her parents instead of the photo of her at her prom.

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