‘It’s two in the morning,’ Nate says starring at the alarm on the nightstand. ‘Its two in the morning, just get up and go’ he admonishes himself. Laila had fallen asleep fifteen minutes into the movie and he can’t quite remember when he’d dozed off. ‘Any given Sunday’ is one of his favorite football movies, but laying their with Laila breathing lightly onto his neck had lulled him to sleep, now its doing little more than aiding his arousal. She’d curled herself into his body intimately as if they were life long lovers and their bodies were accustomed to one another. It felt that way to Nate at first, then all he could feel was her soft touch egging on his erection. Good sense tells him to climb out of her bed and leave, but everything else in his body wants him to stay. He pulls her curls away from her face and traces his fingers behind her long graceful neck. Laila is gorgeous, her full lips seem to beg to be touched and kissed. “Nate?” Laila awakens to find Nate watching her, his eyes tender and full of an emotion she can’t identify. “Nate, is everything okay?” he cuts off her question with his lips. He didn’t feel himself lowering to her, he can’t recall planning to move towards her, but his lips meet hers. He silences Laila’s question with a kiss; a soft, passionate, ever deepening kiss. Laila’s lips respond to his and part for him. He only lightly grazes her tongue with his own. The kiss is so soft, so gentle that it causes Laila’s hands to shake along with the tremors coursing down her spine. She’s imagined this so many times, but the actuality of Nathaniel kissing her, holding her the way he is, is overwhelmingly significant. Laila’s entire body responds to Nate and arches into his frame. In all the time she’s known him, she never thought he’d seen her in any romantic light. His kissing her so gently in the dark is a surprise, a welcomed surprise, but a surprise none the less. He pulls his lips away from hers, just barely, but his eyes remain closed; eyes that Laila wants to search for understanding. “Lai, I’m sorry I” Nate’s voice is pained and even in the dark Laila can see the confusion covering the masculine features of his face: she doesn’t wait for him to have any regrets. Laila snakes her hands around his neck, into the soft curls of his hair, and draws his lips to hers again, returning his passion. She entwines her self into him, lying side by side, face to face with the man she’s dreamt about night after night. His hands caress the nooks and crannies of her body over her jeans and top. Her moan vibrates against his lips and tongue. “Lai, I shouldn’t” she opens her eyes, his remain closed. “Laila come on, you know this isn’t what you want” Laila almost laughs, if only he could feel the throbbing between her thighs he’d know better than to say that. “Don’t tell me what I want Nate. I’m not a kid anymore. I don’t need you to protect me, not from you. You aren’t going to hurt me” Nate sighs and opens his eyes. “I’m not a good guy Laila. I’m not your type. You need to be with someone more like you: educated, safe.” Nate tries to convince himself more than her. He’s always wanted her, but his life is too dangerous to involve her in it. If anything ever happened to her he would never forgive himself. “I am safe with you, I’m safer with you than anyone else” she kisses him again softly. She wants to believe it, especially now that she knows how real monsters really are and how unsafe her life has recently become. She is expected by Heaven to protect the entire earth from all the things that go bump in the night, literally. At this moment, her childhood companion is the escape she needs from a frightening reality. Right now she doesn’t want to think about spirits or demons or fighting off the dead. Nate has just provided her mind a much needed night off, and she wants to revel in it, needs to. “I’m not asking you to marry me Nathaniel, just be with me tonight.” Laila rolls on top of his body and sits up, seductively riding his hard on through his baggy jeans. “Lai, this is gonna change things. You know that” She smiles wickedly in a manner he’d never seen before but approves of, “What, you afraid the pussy’s so good you’re gonna fall in love?” she leans forward and whispers into his ear, “I’m not gonna lie to you Nate: it is and you might” That is all he can take, Laila whispering in his ear talking shit while grinding into his dick like she can back it up. There is no way his good girl is about to work him out for a second time, his pride won’t stand for it. In an adroit motion that steals Laila’s breath from her lungs, Nate has Laila on her back. Her body hits the mattress hard enough to steal her composure. “Oh shit” she exhales breathlessly. “Oh shit is right” he practically growls into her ear. “It’s you who should be worried girl, not me.” His sensual warning only infuriates the pulsating between her thighs; she can feel her wetness spreading. Suddenly Laila finds herself questioning her own bravado. It’s been a long time since she’d slept with anyone, more than a year she’s been single. She wonders if she can handle Nate. He sits up just enough to look down and study her body, his eyes rake every visible inch of her form as if deciding where to begin, or even how to begin. This isn’t any other woman he’s been with, this is Laila. Nate refuses to treat her like some booty call or girl he picked up at a club. ‘Laila is not the kind of girl that you fuck,’ he thinks, ‘she’s the kind of girl you make love to’. She chews her lips nervously below him, unsure of what to expect. ‘There’ he finally decides, her lips have always captivated him. Laila’s body molds into his as he lowers himself over her, joining their lips again. His hands slide up and over her hips, graze over her ever tightening stomach. He brushes his fingers across the swell of her breast, causing another moan to escape Laila’s lips and enter his own. Her excitement urges him forward, but he is inclined to move slowly. If their friendship will be ruined forever, he’ll at least make it worth their while. Nate’s kisses travel from her lips, to her cheeks, to her ears and finally her neck. He kisses and sucks a hot trail to her collar bone making sure to lavish the very sensitive skin surrounding it while his fingers continue to tease the erect bud beneath her blouse. Nate continues in his efforts until she’s trembling from his touch. With one hand he’s able to yank her silk blouse over her head and thick curly tresses; Laila wonders how many times he’s pulled that move to be so good at it, but the thought is banished by the return of his lips to her skin. He maneuvers around the white lace he’d seen her pull out her drawer earlier. What seemed so small and sexy before now is an annoying hurdle and blockade shielding him from reaching his goal. He takes no time but great effort in removing Laila’s lacy bra before tossing it over his shoulder to the floor.
The sensation of Nate’s lips lavishing her erect bud and continuing to stroke her body is intense. Her head falls back by no power of her own. Laila has no control over her self as she trembles under Nathaniel’s calculated and tender touch. “Oh god,” the words escape her lips on a shallow breath, and draws Nate’s attention. He raises his head to make eye contact with her, she can only tell from the cool air replacing the warmth of his tongue on her breasts. His smirk is devilish at best, “I haven’t even got all your clothes off girl, and you’re already calling heaven?” He’s proud of himself, it shows in his boyish grin. “Shut up Nate” is all she is able to manage. The amorous look in his eyes, his sinful leer, and the heat they both cause are too much. Logical thought fails to form in her mind while in his arms. Coherent speech is seriously less than plausible. “Oh, so you callin’ shots now?” The timber of his voice sends another current of chills down her spine. She’d never heard it in such a deep, sexual octave. “I’m just saying, there are better uses for your mouth right now than talking shit.” She manages to reply. “I talk shit because I can back it up” Nate says, lightly tugging at the zipper to her jeans until it gives way. With deliberate and agonizing care he pulls her jeans down to her ankles, over her feet, and sends them on a journey to join their co parts on the carpet. Her lace underwear quickly follow suit. Her silky skin glistens in the moonlight that filters in through the slightly strewn curtains. Nathaniel finds himself mesmerized. No woman has ever held him so enrapture. The moisture surrounding her completely bare mound heightens his arousal in a way he doesn’t expect. Laila is wet and writhing beneath him, like she’d been in so many of his teenaged wet dreams. Every touch, every breath, and every moan that escapes Laila’s lips seems to add to his ever hardening length. “Damn Lai, you’re beautiful, ” His words fall off as he realizes he’d made that confession out loud. He makes no effort to take it back despite his embarrassment, he’d meant it. Laila is gorgeous, perfect from the swell of her pert breasts, to the athletic rips in her abs he had never known existed. He imagines that her crawling through caves and into holes n the ground requires some level of physical fitness. The sensual curve of her hips and the smooth silky length of her long legs leave nothing wanting. Laila is nothing short of amazing.
He can see a blush come over her face, even in the darkness. “Stop it Nate, You’re embarrassing me” she laughs. Now that’s his Laila: sweet, demure, and painfully unaware of the power she holds over the opposite sex. “Okay” he smiles, “no more teasing” Nate tugs his T shirt over his head before leaning over Laila’s body once again, kissing her deeply and passionately before letting his lips travel down her body, past her breasts, her ever constricting stomach, until he reaches her holy land. The very touch of his lips to her throbbing blossom sends a powerful arch up Laila’s spine. She is hardly able to contain herself as Nate’s lips and tongue pave paths over and through her hills and valleys. He holds gently to her hips as they rock and sway upwards of their own volition. His name flows from her lips again and again like a melody in the darkness. Laila’s cries become wild and tortured; her body begins to thrash harder against him. Only then does Nate relent, allowing her to catch her breath. He’s taken her to the edge, now he’ll take her over it. Laila sits up on the edge of the bed, attempting to compose herself. Nathaniel standing in front of her with his sinfully chiseled physique does no good in that regard. With shaky fingers she begins to tug at the button on his jeans until it gives in to her pleadings and releases him. She has an equal struggle with his zipper. Nate just watches her, running his fingers through her chocolaty curls, at a loss for words as she pulls his blue striped boxers down past his ankles. A smirk comes across her face as she eyes his bobbing length. “What?” he asks. “So Tiesha Baker wasn’t lying, I almost feel bad for beating her up now.” She states in a matter-of -fact manner. “What are you talking about?” Laila laughs unabashedly as if they weren’t both stark nude, and Nate’s loins tighten at her parted lips being so near them. “You remember, I beat her up in the girl’s locker room for telling everybody that she let you hit it and how you were sooo big.” Laila lets her voice change into the nasally one that Tiesha had used. Nate can’t help but laugh as well, his member bouncing up and down in approval. “I thought you two got in a fight because you called her a hoe?” “I did, then she called me a jealous bitch, then I beat her up.” Laila’s smile is wide. “Well, you can send her an apology note.” “Later” Laila says, scooting away from him further into the center of the bed. Nate takes that as his green light, she is ready. He eases atop her body slowly, peppering her neck with heated kisses as she entwines her legs around his waist. She arches her body into his erection, urging him onwards. Slowly and methodically Nate enters her tight wet Eden, convulsing from the immediate contractions he causes within her.
His first thrust snaps her head back against the pillows with pleasure. Nate is momentarily frozen with pleasure, her body is so warm; not warm but hot, searing him with a pleasure he’s never before experienced as her muscles clench around his manhood, pleading with him through their rhythmic squeezing not to stop. He answers her silent plea, deepening his thrust, pleasing her with a great precision that she didn’t previously know existed. Laila’s hands wrap themselves around his tight waist, pulling Nate into her in frenzied panic with her fingers splayed against the small of his back. The feeling of his body filling hers is amazing, like some drug induced high. Nate’s Rhythmic strokes are maddening. Every place on her body that he touches seems to tingle with static electricity. She thrusts her hips upwards into him over and over again, quickening his pace and intensifying the electric shock he is sending through her nervous system. “Nate, please, yes” the words stumble from her lips in no particular order and with little sense attached. Her ranting only pushes him further into the insanity that her sodden garden had sent him into the second he’d entered it. He is beyond pleasure and beyond control. She is so hot, so wet, so much more than he’d expected. Laila’s body, her erotic moans, her intense heat is overwhelming at very least.
“Oh shit” Laila manages to mutter feeling another bolt travel up her spine and shaking up everything she’s ever known about desire and satisfaction. Of all the inopportune moments for her powers to be kicking in, this has to be the worst. She can feel the all encompassing heat rising in her belly adding to her coming orgasm like gasoline to a flame. She can see the golden orbs on the ceiling, no doubt coming from her eyes, and shuts them tightly. She can’t stop, she doesn’t want to stop, but Nate can’t see this. There is no way he’ll understand. How do you tell a childhood friend ‘Oh by the way, I’m the gatekeeper to the undead.’? You don’t, she decides still grinding into him at a fevered pace. “Oh god Laila, I can’t, I’m, I…” Nate stammers over words of objection. This is unreal, she is unreal. Her moist pulsating womanhood is like pure heat. Her name rolls off his tongue like a mantra, combined with the chorus of moans Laila provides creating a midnight symphony in worship of their union. With a flood of ecstasy Nate reaches his peak, his point of no return, and Laila falls off the edge of the map with him… and the room explodes with light.
That was not supposed to happen, Laila muses in the chaos of her own mind. Not only did I seduce my best friend into sleeping with me, but then I had to go all supernatural on him. She’d lost control of herself with him inside of her, so much so that her powers took over. Nate had taken her control and mocked it with each deep stroke into her body. He doesn’t stir in the bed at all, his heavy, contented breathing is the only thing that tells Laila that her little outburst hadn’t killed him, just knocked him the hell out. She’d nearly panicked when she opened her eyes and realized what had happened. She would have had to suck it up and call her mother if he wouldn’t have turned in the bed and wrapped himself around her. She decided that seriously injured people don’t cuddle. Thus alerting her family that she’d slept with Nate was absolutely unnecessary. She’ll just climb out the bed, shower, and let him sleep it off. He’d done her so well last night that the man deserves to sleep in. A warm smile curls her lips as she looks back at Nate stretched out in her queen bed like he belongs in it. His strong masculine figure looks almost silly on the backdrop of her very feminine room, with its soft sun set coloring. She rustles through her desk drawer for some stationary and a pen to write him a note and leave it on the pillow next to him on the bed. Lingering under the covers with him would only make it more awkward when he wakes up. This was a one time deal, a whole lot of years of pent up attraction all culminating into one fantastic night of sex, and nothing more. At least that’s what Laila keeps telling herself as her eyes are continually drawn back to Nate sleeping in her bed. Everything in her wants to climb out of her sweats and tee, back into the bed, and into his arms, but fear of looking foolish keeps her feet treading the opposite direction out of the door, and down the stairs. She glances at the time on her thin silver watch; its 7:00 and she has only half an hour to be at the museum for lessons and only until 9am to open up and start her first tour. Her mother’s small museum is never wanting for visitors. She, dawn and Nina, always make certain that the museum is up to date with the latest of discoveries, information and technology. Laila really hates leaving Nate behind. More than anything she wants to let him wake up to her so she can tell him everything her life has turned into, but that simply can’t be. Nate would never understand that her life has literally become a nightmare that she can’t escape. He’d undoubtedly want to do would he could to help her, and would likely lose his life for it. There is simply no room for Nate in her new life, Laila sadly concludes. With garment bag and Luis bag in clutch, she hops into her Mustang and speeds off into the Los Angeles Traffic.
“Where were you last night?” Dawn asks wearing an kind smile as Dawn practically skips into broad, faux gold, double doors of the museum. Dawn’s long onyx hair is in one high ponytail bouncing happily at the crown of her head. She had also shown up in gym clothes: blue jogging pants fitting tightly to her small waist and a matching jogger jacket. Laila feels as if she can keep up with her sister’s light heartedness this morning. Lai walks so lightly that the soft pat of her sneakered feet on the black granite tiled floor can scarcely be heard, and she’s keen enough to know why she’s feeling so light on her feet. It is Nate, or rather what Nate had done to her. “I was at the apartment, getting some much needed rest.” “Rest, is that what you got last night?” Nina chirps in wearing an disturbing smirk along with her black yoga pants and white tank. Her long brown hair is wrapped in a loose bun at the nape of her neck. “Don’t start on me Nina, okay? I needed to get away from everyone. I was perfectly safe at home. I just needed to be alone.” Nina glares at her sister as if waiting for her to say something else. “So that’s it? You went home and got some rest? Nothing special happened last night?” Laila’s heart speeds up in her chest. Had her sisters somehow discovered what she’d been up to? Did Dawn come home in the middle of the night or had she phantom dialed Nina while flipping about in the blankets? Lai tries to maintain her game face, but she knows that if anyone can read it, its Nina. “What exactly are you two heifers getting at?” Laila asks accusingly, eyes bouncing between her two sisters who had managed to trap her between them. Dawn comes within a whispers distance of Laila, “You turned on last night and we know you did, so don’t pretend. You turned on and you were alone.”
Laila sighs, immediately relieved that al they are concerned about is her lighting up. How do they know that anyway? “Yeah, I did. So what?” Nina scowls, “So what? You went into full battle mode, stronger than I’ve ever felt you! Were you attacked? What in the hell came at you so hard that you had to light up like that. I’ve never felt power like that before.” The confusion Laila feels is evident on her face. “No, I wasn’t attacked; I was in bed when it happened. How do you guys even know about that?” Nina links arms with Laila and leans in close to respond. Nina is much taller than Laila and has a significant height difference to make up for if she wants to attempt any decent type of whisper. “We felt it. We felt you come on sometime after 2 in the morning. It woke us both up.” Dawn nods her head up and down so hard in agreement Laila fears she’ll give herself a concussion. “Wow” Laila says in genuine amazement. Her apartment is nowhere near her childhood home. The fact that they’d felt her from that great a distance is amazing at least.
Laila attempts to absorb this curios new information as the three keep walking down the halls of the many displays of fine art and artifacts held in the museum worth hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars. Her sisters chatter on about the near electric charge they’d felt until they reach a very large carpeted room in the back. Laila recalls feeling a charge too, but she’d attributed to Nate’s love making. She’d felt it every time he touched her skin with his. They’ve seen it all before. This museum is like a second home to them and a haven for Laila. It is where she’d first developed a serious interest in history. She’d always been intrigued by what little they taught in school about ancient cultures like Greece, Rome, and Egypt, but until she first stepped foot into this museum it all seemed liked some distant concept with no valid basis in reality. It had been her first real step at being a part of the family. Big Daddy had noticed how distant she was from the other girls, how she was making no effort to connect to them or the rest of the family. “You’re one of us now baby girl,” he’d said leaning into her door jamb as he would for many more years. “I think it’s time we take you down to go learn about our family business.” Laila did little more than roll her pre-teen eyes from beneath her head full of thin braids. “Be ready to go in fifteen minutes” he’d said walking away from her door, knowing his word was law. At first Laila resented his authoritative ‘my-word-is-the-last- word’ nature, but she’d grown to appreciate it, and even depend on it from time to time. From the first moment she stepped in that museum she’d been in awe and amazement. It was like every piece of every culture represented spoke to her there. From then on she was hooked; she fell in love with history.
“Breath in deeply Laila and try to picture yourself doing it” her mother encourages after several failed attempts at controlling any of the elements. The only ‘doing it’ she can picture is last night with Nate. “Come on Lai, focus, its not that hard.” Dawn says, having gotten a great deal of control over her whole fire fisted thing. Laila is only more annoyed watching Dawn make her flames rise and fall, reach across the room and come back. Her genius apparently transcends beyond education and into the supernatural… great. Nina ignores them both, having learned a new trick that she’d focused all her energy on. She could create sharp, jagged dagger like icicles in her hand and throw them like spears, drawing from any water source. The walls are slashed and stabbed in testimony of her new found skill. Laila can hardly watch as she struggles for basic control. Ever since arriving at the museum earlier in the morning Laila has done nothing but struggle. All she’s managed to accomplish is figure out how to whisper to her sisters telepathically over the past few weeks, and with great inaccuracy. Telepathy is far harder when it comes in random uncontrolled fits and spurts. Not even her mother had seen it coming. Laila sits Indian style in the center of the room with a bucket of water and a bucket of sand. Nina had realized just days before that her control of water branched out further than she’d known. She can also move earth: rocks, sand, stone, and mud. It was the mud that tipped her off. She’d been practicing with her water, had a spill, and one thing led to another. She was controlling the soils like she could the water. Laila just lights up.
“Lai, you look like you need a break” her dad says, seeing her obviously defeated demeanor. He’s been in and out of the back room all day. He and Nadine still have a museum to run, and tours wait on no man, especially middle school tourists. There are three scheduled for the day alone. “Why don’t you girls go take a break, huh? Go and grab some lunch or something, and bring something back for me and your mother.” Laila lets out a slow, long sigh of aggravation, “They can go, I need to keep working” she says. “I’m sure you need a break too baby girl,” Her father stands over her in the center of the room, acknowledging that she’s accomplished very little more than splashing some water and spilling sand in the carpet. “No, Dawn and Nina need breaks, they got something done today. I’ve just sat here on my ass making a mess like a damned preschool kid” Her voice is low, but seething with self loathing. Daddy Walker looks up at Nina and Dawn and they immediately know it’s time for them to go. “We’ll bring you something back Lai” is all that Nina says as she quickly retreats. Before they can get two steps out the door tears of frustration begin to slide down Laila’s cheeks. “I can’t do this Dad” she says in a small voice. “I’m supposed to lead this team; I should be the strongest and look at me. I’m worse than both of them. Dawn and Nina both could whoop my behind in a fight, and they’re the good guys, they’re my back up. The only time I have any real power I’m unconscious” she mocks herself pitifully. “I don’t think I’m cut out for any of this Dad. Maybe you and mom were wrong, maybe one of them is the Gate Keeper.” Laila looks up from her spot on the floor at Maurice expectantly. He’s been the doting father so often throughout her youth: wiping her tears, protecting her, and building a bond that was and is inseparable. Her breaths are shallow and shaky, threatening to burst into uncontrollable sobs. “Stop making excuses for yourself, and knock off all that damned crying. You better get it together Laila, and you better do it now” Laila winces from her fathers harsh words as if she’d been slapped. “But dad…” “No, don’t you ‘but Dad’ me. You are not a weak person Laila; you never have been and you never will be so stop with the act. You’re making excuses and I know we raised you better that. Your sisters are only doing better than you because they take this seriously. You keep trying to close your eyes and pretend none of this is happening. No matter how much you whine, no matter how much you complain, none of this is going away. Those demons will still hunt you, and believe me they get bigger and stronger than the few you’ve seen.”
Laila sits motionless on the floor being lectured as she had many times throughout her life, but usually the lectures were from Momma. “Don’t be stupid girl, and stop being so damned selfish. Your sisters and all of us are working our asses off while you disappear over night with out telling anyone and go make late night Ice cream runs like life is normal. Life is not normal Lai, and it never will be again. The sooner you come to terms with that the better off for you and the rest of us. So you sit here, you practice, and you get your gift together, before you get yourself or one of us killed.” He is angry, Laila can tell by the way his fists clench as he speaks. “I’m trying Dad” “Then stop trying and just do it. You have no idea what these things can do to you. I won’t watch any of you girls go through what these things can put you through. You have no idea what they are capable of. Your mothers’ heart couldn’t bear seeing any of you suffer like that, so you need to pull yourself together and get this stuff right, do you here me? More than just your life depends on it” There is a level of conviction in his tone and eyes that Laila has never seen before. She peers deeper into his brown eyes that shine with unshed tears and sees a suffering in them that she had not known before.
Laila stands to her feet, attempting to quell her emotions and succeeding at the task. “What did they do to you Daddy?” her voice is soft in the way a little girls’ is for her father and her father only. Laila reaches up and rests her palm on her fathers’ stubbly cheek. His five o’clock shadow had shown up about two hours early. Their eyes lock and images begin to fill Laila’s mind like broken film footage. Maurice and Nadine had been in many battles together and apart, Laila can see their battles like a slide show in his eyes. Horrific things had infected peoples minds and spirits causing pain and anguish in so many ways, Laila hadn’t understood the depth of what was going on. She is supposed to hunt them, not the other way around. “Their like a disease” Laila whispers in disgust with the images still flashing through her mind. Maurice’s head is lowered and his eyes closed, but it does not stop Laila from seeing into his mind and his heart. That is when she sees it; he’d been injured in battle. Some creature dug its claws into his chest, rendering Daddy motionless. Laila nearly collapses to the floor in pain, she can feel the pain of it ripping through his muscles and searing his skin like acid. She wants to scream, to run, but she can’t. Everything around her is dark and all she can see is Daddy and that demon breathing its putrid stench over him. She can hear Momma screaming somewhere far off, but cannot see her. She can only see the dripping mess clutching her fathers’ body as if the giant of a man were a rag doll. She can feel her body weaken as she sees her fathers do the same. Slowly, as if Laila were apart of the memory, the creature turns and looks at her. Her eyes lock with the demons’ and she sees darkness far beyond her previous comprehension. A darkness so deep and so empty she feels as if she could be sucked right into it as if through a black hole. The thing disappears and leaves Daddy’s body strewn on the ground. Laila’s entire body trembles as she pulls her hand away from his face. “You could have been killed” she whispers eyeing her father up and down to make certain she’d seen a memory and it all isn’t happening right now. He is free of blood and markings of battle, so Laila is satisfied. “That was only the beginning Lai, there was so much more” Daddy says in a defeated tone as if just remembering the ordeal is physically painful. With no words Laila takes her same right hand and places it over his chest, where the creature left its mark. Maurice grabs her wrist in an attempt to stop her, but it is too late. A torrent of pain overcomes her, almost knocking her off her feet. Maurice doesn’t fall so she uses her strength to stand with him, and he uses his grasp on her wrist to keep her steady. Violent images of his body flopping wildly in torturous pain and inescapable cold on the ground flood her consciousness. She can see Momma watching and nursing him, tears falling down her face until there are no more tears left to cry. Something was attacking his spirit, something had held on from the demon that had tossed him aside. Laila can see it, writhing around just below his skin, killing him a little bit at a time, weakening his spirit, his body, and his mind. More images of night after night being tormented, in pain, and without sleep play in her mind. Her big, strong, Big Daddy has been suffering for a long time.
Slowly, with great resolve, Laila pulls her hand away from his chest, willing her knees not to buckle beneath her. His breaths are shallow and labored, not yet fully recovered from his memory. It had not played back in his mind so clearly since the moment it occurred. He was not prepared to relive that moment again, and wasn’t aware Laila could do that. With her eyes still trained on her father Laila says on a whisper. “Dawn, Nina, come back. I need you.” In her mind she can see them in line at the taco shop across the street. She can hear the noise in the background; she can even smell the food cooking. She can see her sisters eyes meet as they both step out of the line. Laila continues to stand with her palm just inches away from her fathers’ chest. “What is going on?” No one had seen or heard Nadine come in the back room. Momma’s voice is quiet, but resolute. One look at her husbands face and she knows immediately that something is very wrong. She can even sense what it is. “Laila baby, you had better go” she says stepping closer. “Stay back Mom” “Lai you don’t understand what’s about to happen. I know what to do baby, let me soothe my husband.” Daddy’s eyes begin to darken; a sheen of sweat covers his skin. “What’s wrong?” Nina bursts through the door first and Dawn is on her heels out of breath, They’d run from the restaurant when they heard Laila call. “Be on guard” she says, still watching her father. “I’ve got a hold on something and it is very strong, be ready.” Dawn’s eyes narrow on her father as if she were looking through him at someone else. “Lai that’s daddy, have you lost your mind?” Nina’s voice is low and harsh. “Look, you people keep asking me to do my job, so shut the hell up and let me do it! Follow my lead and be ready!” He’d started to shake just a little bit, and his eyes lowered to just slits, looking down on Laila. “You don’t understand Lai, please just let me help you” Nadine’s voice is weak and pleading. Laila has never heard her mother sound so desperate. “Mom please, stay back”
Maurice Parker, the man the three women know as their father, has gone. He is no longer in the body standing before them, and Laila can tell immediately. The dark eyes glaring down at her hand near its chest are not those of her father. Maurice speaks in a voice not his own, “I have been waiting on you”. The voice is high and raspy, not the deep comforting baritone of her father. “Well here I am, come on out and play.” Laila challenges this thing, unafraid of the consequences. Any demon, spirit, or monster that is stupid enough to attack one of the people she loves, is just stupid enough to die slowly. A strange smile etches across Daddy’s face before he cries out in pain. His head snaps back as claws slowly distend from his finger tips. His body begins to morph like many of the beings Laila and her sisters have encountered. Laila can hear her mother pleading behind her saying that she doesn’t know what she is doing, but has to ignore it. She has to ignore Daddy’s cries of anguish. She has a job to do. “No, I think you misunderstood me. I said come out and play.” Laila’s hand goes back to his chest and grasps onto something. She can see darkness in his aura that doesn’t belong and she grabs onto it, pulling it out and away from him. The claws retract and his eyes become more intense. “What are you doing?” It asks, sounding concerned. Fear. That is what she hears in its voice, fear. “You won’t do this in his body, come out and come out now.” She yanks the darkness away from her father with such resolve that his body collapses and hits the floor, ashen and pale. The creature from his memory stands before Laila, its long talons glistening. “You smell like someone I know” It says, not having looking up or addressing anyone else in the room. Its head and body are shrouded under a grey, cape like, garment. Only its dagger like fingers and hooked feet are showing aside from the black glow of its eyes. “How fortunate” it says in a hiss. Laila doesn’t comprehend what the thing is talking about, and doesn’t dwell long enough to care. “It’s Calvin Klien, a lot of people wear it.” Laila’s voice is calm, not betraying the rage bubbling beneath her skin like acid. Wind flurries around Dawn’s body, causing her hair to whip around her face. Long Samurai blades of serrated ice stretch from both of Nina’s hands in an instant. Laila’s eyes light up bright gold. As if on cue Nina and Dawn attack the beast. Dawn blasts it with super heated wind, lifting the thing from the ground and holding it prone 3 feet above ground. In two swift, soundless swipes, Nina relieves the demon of both its gruesome hands.
Laila stretches her arm out behind her and the sand from her practice bucket begins to lift and pour into her open hand. She grasps the sand as if it were solid, like the handle of a blade. Flames shoot from her finger tips, lighting the sand, melting it and solidifying it in mid air until it forms the perfect razor sharp edge of a blade. In seconds the sand is a gleaming, clear, glass-like, long blade in her palm. She never even stops looking at the demon. She tests her hand made blade in the air, enamored by the slicing sounds it makes as it cuts through the air. Again her eyes meet with the injured monster hanging in the air before her. “Stay away from my family.” The glass like blade lights up golden in Laila’s hands, shooting a beam of light out of its razor sharp tip as she plunges it into the chest of the demon, where its heart should have been. The creature bursts into ash and rains down on the room, completely incinerating before a single piece of ash can hit the floor. Nadine is immediately at her husband’s side, helping him to his feet and then to a seat.
What just happened?” Dawn is the first to ask as she makes the winds subside in the room. “What was happening to you Dad?” Nina asks, approaching the chair he relocated to. Their mother is far past words. She kneels before her husband with her arms wound tightly around his waist sobbing. Laila begins to regret pulling that stunt in front of her. “Its okay D, I’m okay” Maurice comforts his wife, running his massive hands through her locks with the gentle caress of a surgeon. “You girls had better get changed and see to the museum until it closes. I need to get your mother home.” His voice is tender but unyielding. He holds onto Nadine as if some creature had just crawled out of her chest instead of his. “We have it under control” Laila answers, her sisters remain silent and unsure of what had just transpired. Big Daddy Parker had all but transformed into a demon right before their eyes, Laila literally yanked a demon out of his chest, and now everyone is supposed to just get back to daily business? It’s more than either Dawn or Nina can comprehend. “Nina, Dawn lets go.” Laila calls behind her, grabbing her garment bag and heading out of the room.