Two days and more than a dozen cups of coffee later, Alex was still in the same spot he had been in; sitting in a less than comfy chair, staring at the bed that held his girlfriend. She was sleeping and had been for a few hours. The fall had her suffering a broken leg and some cracked ribs.
Cole appeared in the infirmary doorway, holding another set of coffee. He sat down by the window and put his head in his hands. “This is a nightmare. What the fuck happened back there?”
Alex shook his head and ran his hands through his hair until looked messy. “From the first day Ava was brought to us, I knew she was different, even before she told me about Ian. I kind of wish I hadn’t found out about him, or hadn’t found out what he was.”
“I saw him the first day I met her,” Cole explained, leaning back, his grey eyes soft. “When Bridget was picking on Ava, I saw a shadow hovering near her. It materialized and pushed Bridget. No one else could see him, and I’m not sure he was aware that I could at that point, either.”
“How come you never told anyone?” Alex murmured.
Cole’s eyes lowered and he said softly, “I told Emma.”
Alex nodded in response. No one had talked about what had happened in the basement. When they left, the fire and smoke had eased, but they still called the fire department. By the time they arrived, they found Emma’s corpse burned beyond recognition.
“Will Tessa be okay?” Cole asked, frowning.
Alex watched him closely before speaking. “Do you think we should look for them? I have no idea where they’d go.”
“You don’t have to look far, Dr. Kinsey,” a voice said. It sounded annoyed but familiar. “Someone doesn’t want us to leave. It’s such a shame too, because I was ready to start killing more people. I suppose you’ll do.”
Ian looked irritated as he stood in the middle of the room, Ava at his side, her lips drawn back to expose her distaste for their interrupted plans. Her eyes held bitterness and angry; her old self was distant and would probably never return.
“You should be free to leave,” Alex said quietly, glaring. He wasn’t even sure why he was doing it. He glanced at Cole, who tossed him a scathing look.
“Apparently not,” commented Ian, sighing heavily. He tilted his head toward the occupied bed, a predatory smile spreading across his face.
“Don’t touch her!” Alex shouted, standing so quickly that he knocked the chair over. His hands balled into fists. “She’s been through enough.”
Ian stopped in mid-walk and chuckled. “I doubt that,” he said. “She deserves to die just as much as you do.” He looked at Ava, beckoning her with a finger. She didn’t move. He frowned at her. “What is it?”
Ava pointed. “They don’t want you near her.”
Ian lifted an eyebrow and returned his attention to the bed. Before he took another step, however, he drew back and hissed angrily.
Surrounding Tessa’s bed were three balls of light, and when they came into focus, Alex couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
“I told you,” said a soft voice, “if you touched my mommy again, you’d be sorry.”
The little girl stood beside a man, her hand wrapped in his. He was frowning, his eyes casting a slow glance at Ava.
“She wouldn’t have wanted this for you,” said the man. Then he looked at Alex. “You know who I am, don’t you?”
Aaron smiled thinly. “Take care of my wife and I’ll repay the favor by getting rid of this trash.”
Ian growled and started forward, but stopped suddenly, his eyes wide. He seemed to recoil, his hands out in front of him.
“You’re not the only one with tricks,” Emma said, stepping beside Aaron. “You couldn’t possibly have forgotten that we can create barriers to. You’re not getting near her.”
“Fuck you,” Ian snapped. “You’ve got a lot to learn, dead girl.” He smirked as he pushed himself forward, almost knocking her off balance. He was fully prepared to fight her and win, except he didn’t think of one thing.
Aaron had lifted his hand and slammed it into Ian’s jaw, forcing him to stagger back. He pushed Elise behind him. “You demons are real bastards, you know that? And you’re stupid too. Did you forget that guardians are more powerful than your kind?”
Ian’s smile faltered, and before anyone knew it, he was standing beside Cole, his hands wrapped around his throat. “Let us go or I’ll kill another one.”
“You wouldn’t do that,” Aaron reasoned, shaking his head.
Ian scowled at him and turned Cole’s neck, ready to break it. Then something stopped him. It wasn’t any sort of conscience on his part, but it was something. Someone was gripping his shoulder, trying to pry him away.
When he turned his head, he saw something that had him furious.
Ava's black eyes seemed to be flecked with green.