The Witch With No Name
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I should have.
I didnt answer, thinking about my date tonight with Trent. Well, not a date exactly, but I had to get dressed up as if it were one. I was still trying to decide whether to put my hair up or wear it down. Chocolate chip is his favorite.
Oh God, Jenks moaned. Youre thinking about him. I can tell. Your aura shifted.
Embarrassed, I halted at the crosswalk, waiting for the light. It did not.
It did, he complained, but I knew he crabbed because he couldnt say he was happy for me lest he jinx it somehow. So its been like what, three months? Does he still curl your toes?
Totally, I said, and he made a rude noise at my blissful smile. Hes a total toe curler.
Awww, this is sweeter than pixy piss, he said with false sarcasm. All my girls happy. I cant tell you the last time that happened.
My smile widened, and I pushed the walk button as if that might hurry it along. I think it was when
The unmistakable sound of tires screaming on pavement iced through me. My breath caught, and I turned. Jenks was gone, his white-hot sparkles seeming to burn an airborne trail back the way wed come. A woman screamed for help, and I jumped back when a black sedan roared past me, the front fender dented. Somehow I knew, like when a picture falls off the wall, or the clock stops ticking.
Ivy, I whispered, then turned and ran.
The thumps of my feet on the pavement jarred up my spine. Dodging people turning to look, I followed Jenkss fading dust. My heart seemed to stop when I turned the corner and saw Ivy crumpled in the street. Marsha and Luke were standing looking down at her, dazed. A car stopped even as I watched, and a man got out, white faced, his phone in hand.
Call 911! I shouted as I slid to the pavement beside Ivy. Shit. Ivy. She had to be alive. I shouldnt have left you.
Jenks was a frantic, darting shape as he dusted the blood from a scalp wound. Shed hit her head. Her chest moved shallowly, and her legs were twisted. I was afraid to touch her, and my hands hovered over her, reminding me of Marsha standing over Luke.
Pain charm! I thought frantically as I searched my bag. Fingers fumbling, I dropped the charm over her head. I was putting a Band-Aid on a concussion, when she took a clean breath.
Did you call 911? I exclaimed as a pair of Meris dress shoes scuffed before us.
Her voice was soft, almost not there, and both Jenks and I looked at Ivy. She was pale, and pain pinched her still-closed eyes. That was good, right? She wasnt unconscious, even if her eyes were closed. Damn it, I should have learned how to make a healing curse! But Al was gone and it was too late.
Ivy. I brushed her hair back, my fingers trembling. They came away warm and red, and my fear redoubled. Shed hit her head badly enough that Jenkss dust wasnt stopping it. Ivy! I called when her eyes didnt open. More people were ringing us. Look at me, damn it! Look at me! Can you move your fingers and toes?
I think so.
Her eyes opened as I took her cold hand. The pupils were fully dilated, scaring me. I wasnt sure if it was from head trauma or my fear. The circle of people around us whispered, and when a smile of satisfaction edged over her pain, panic took me. Ivy?
Her hand squeezed mine, and she moved her legs, wincing as she straightened them. She could move, and I remembered how to breathe.
Marsha and Luke are gone, Jenks whispered as he hovered by my ear.
Like I freaking cared?
She was trying to sit up, and I gingerly helped her as the heat from the stopped car bathed us. Little fish, Ivy said, hair coming out of the bun as she held her middle. They werent after them. Oh God, I think I cracked a rib.
Dont move, I said, stiffening as a siren lifted into the air. The ambulance is coming.
No hospital. Her black eyes fixed on mine, and she went whiter still as she tried to take a deep breath. No safe house. Ive been marked.
Marked? Her gaze went to the pain charm around her neck, and she gripped it tight, shocking me. She never used my magic. Avoided it. You need a hospital, I said, and she hissed in pain as she tried to turn her head.
Ivy, you were hit by a car! Jenks had dusted her cuts until they were only a slow seep, but her eyes were dilated and she hadnt taken her other hand off her middle.
Cormel, she said softly, hatred temporarily overriding her pain. I told you Marsha and Luke werent worth all of this. I wasnt supposed to walk out of that apartment alive. That charm was aimed at me, too. He wants me dead . . . so you . . . will figure out how to save the souls of the undead. The car was a last effort to salvage their plan before going back with failure.
My heart seemed to catch, then it raced as I looked at the surrounding faces for anyone watching too closelytheir eyes holding fear. Ivy moaned as she breathed in my alarm, but I couldnt let go of it. I couldnt distance myself. The lethal charm had been aimed at all three of them. If I hadnt been there to break it, Ivy would be dead and Id be getting a call from the second-rising morgue.
I dont want to become a dead thing, she whispered, then clenched in pain. Rachel?
I closed my eyes. Ivy groaned, her pain doubling as my panic pulsed through her, bringing her alive even as she struggled to stave off death. I couldnt do this. I couldnt be her scion. But I knew I would if it came to that. Cormel had grown tired of waiting for his soul. If Ivy was dead, me finding out how to return the undead their souls would move way up on my to-do list.
We had to get out of here. Even the safe houses held death, and the hospitals would only make her passing smell of antiseptic. Why had I worked so hard to save their miserable existences? I wondered as I found my bag and looped it over my head. But it hadnt been just the undead in the balance when Id freed the mystics last July, it had been the entire source of magic.
Jenks dropped down as I gathered my resolve. Theyre everywhere, Rache, he whispered, his fear easy to read on his narrow, pinched features, and Ivy nodded. Surrounded by onlookers, we had a small space to breathe, but we couldnt stay here.
Slowly I began to think. Trent. He had a surgery suite, one that wasnt staffed by people who could be bought. I wasnt sure where he was, but I could text him. Ivy was sitting. Maybe she could move. Ivy, I said, blanching at the blackness in her eyes when she looked at me from around a stray strand of hair. Can you move?
Her boots scraped as she shifted themunder her. If I cant, Im dead.
A few in the crowd protested, but they backed up when Jenks rose, his fast, darting shape and the sharp sword in his grip making him a threat. My stomach turned when every hold I tried to help Ivy with only brought more pain. Teeth clenched, I tucked my shoulder under her arm and rose, staggering until we found our balance. Ivys eyes closed. We hung for a moment, waiting to see if she was going to pass out. In the nearby distance, a siren rosebut it brought death, not life.
Okay, nice and easy, I said, and Jenks kept everyone back as we started for the curb. Ivys head was down, and she moved in sudden, painful limps. Step, pause. Step, pause. Her weight on me was solid, and her scent was tinged with sour acid. Tears threatened, and I ignored them. I couldnt live with Ivy if she was dead. I couldnt be her scion, but I knew Id do it, even as it would destroy me. Id try to keep Ivy sane, knowing it was a bitter fallacy. I couldnt kill her a second time as she would want me to. I was a bad friend.
Im sorry, Ivy said as we reached the curb and she took her hand from her middle long enough to use the lamppost to help her step up.
This isnt your fault, I barked so I wouldnt cry. Well get you to Trents, and youll be fine. His compound was almost deserted since the serious inquiries into his illegal bio labs had begun, but he probably had a surgeon on call.
Seeing her standing to catch her breath, I dug in my bag for my phone. Can you hold this? I said, giving her my splat gun, and she held it loosely. My fingers shook as I scrolled for Trent. He was the last person Id called, and knowing he might not take a call but would always check a text, I wrote 911 and Eden Park and hit send.
My stomach was twisting as I tucked my phone in my back pocket. It was all I could do. But we couldnt stay here. Each moment seemed to weigh more heavily on Ivy. She was slipping, and her living vampire endurance would mean nothing if she gave up.
You cant go to the car, Rache. Jenks hovered before us, watching us and our backs both. Theyll run you down.
Shit. He was right. Tears of frustration pricked, and Ivy leaned against the lamppost. Behind her, people were turning away, leaving us to die.
Where else can I go, Jenks? I shouted, frustrated. Nowhere on earth is safe from them!
He shrugged, even as his dust grew dismal, but behind him was Eden Park, and a flash of hope lit through me. Ivy sensed it, and her eyes opened, glazed with pain.
The park. I wiggled under her again, and we staggered into motion. Ivy, hold on.
The park! Jenks echoed in disbelief, and then he nodded, rising up to fly five feet over us where he could keep watch.
The park. There was a ley line in it, thin and broken, but it was there. I couldnt jump the lines without Bis. He wouldnt be awake until the sun went down, but I could shift realities if I was standing in a line. The ever-after was a poor choice, but no one could follow us there, and maybe we could walk to the churchs ley line and pop back into reality.
Ivy stumbled as we found the grass, and we almost went down. Her moan sounded almost like pleasure. Old toxins were being pulled from her tissues to cope with the pain as her body struggled to stay alive. But this time it wasnt a master satisfying his blood urge that was killing her, and her breath quickened as she took in my fear and kindled her own long-suppressed desires.
Almost there, I panted, struggling under her weight as I scanned the open grass between us and the footbridge. It was exposed, but they probably wouldnt shoot her and risk hitting me by accident. Cormel needed me alive and Ivy dead. They only had to wait.
This was partly my fault, and I felt the helpless tears trying to start as I took more of Ivys weight. There was no way to bind a vampires soul to his body once he died, and as we slowly limped across the green space to Twin Lakes Bridge and the broken ley line, a warm tear ran a trail down my cheek.
Dont cry, Ivy slurred. Its going to be okay.
I wiped my eyes between our lurching steps, my stomach roiling. Almost there.
Jenks dropped down, worry pinching his features. Her aura isnt looking good, Rache.
I know! I shouted. I know, I said again, softer.
It hurts, Ivy said as I took even more of her weight. Its not supposed to hurt, is it?
Oh God. I knew the pain amulet was outclassed, but that the damage was too much for even the vampire toxins to mutate was scary. Almost there. Hold on, I whispered, eyes fixed on the statue of Romulus and Remus. You can rest when we get to the line.
But I didnt think we were going to make it, especially when Jenkss dust went an angry red. Therere two blood bags on the footbridge, he snarled, his blade catching the light. Keep going. Dont stop no matter what you hear. Ill take care of them.
Jenks! I cried out as he darted away. Beside me, Ivy wheezed. Her fingers rose to touch her mouth, coming away red with blood. Immediately she curled her fingers up in a ball to hide it, but a flash of fear lit through me. Internal bleeding. My gun, too, was gone, left behind somewhere on the summer-burnt grass.
Almost there, I said again as we moved another few feet, but inside, I was despairing. There were no hospitals in the ever-after, only demons who didnt care. I didnt think wed make it all the way to the church. If Trent didnt show, I might have just killed Ivy by trying to save her.
Ivys breath became labored, and the sudden shouting at the bridge yanked my attention up. With a quick flurry of motion, a woman swung wildly at Jenks, falling down the embankment and into the water, harried the entire way by the pixy. Suddenly she was screaming as Sharps, the resident bridge troll, rose up, swamping her.
Without a second look, the other vampire continued toward us, leaving her to sort herself out. He was vampire-child, beautiful, graceful, and sure of himselfand when he looked at me, I shuddered.
Jenks darted in and away, distracting him.
Move faster, Ivy, I begged, knowing Jenks couldnt hold off a determined vampire. Eyeing the statue of Romulus and Remus, I brought up my second sight. A faint haze, ill looking and sporadic, hung at chest height. It was Als line, half dead because of the shallow pond someone had dug out under it, but unable to die because the other half of it lay in the dry, desolate ever-after. It reminded me of the demon himself, having given up on life but clinging so tightly to the memory of a love he had once had that now he couldnt live or die.
He would never help me. Not now. And an old guilt pulled my brow even tighter.