Chapter Eighteen: Training
Thoughtlessly I wandered upstairs from my room on Saturday morning. I hadn’t slept in and as I glanced at the clock in the stairwell I gave a soft grunt.
It was only 8:30am and I could smell Marley’s coffee brewing and I could hear her humming as she busied herself in her morning routine. I glared at her as she floated through the kitchen and back to her office. She was smiling and humming a melody I couldn’t quite decipher.
“Mom, why are you-”
“Ollie, be a dear and pour me a cup of coffee. One cream.”
I glared at the office door and then went about pouring two cups of coffee.
She wandered back into the kitchen again with a briefcase and dressed in black, wide-legged dress pants and a black blazer with a pale, pink camisole that popped out from underneath.
“I’m flying to Vancouver today.” Marley stopped and looked sternly at me. “You are not to go to Alex’s house, you stay here unless you work. I’ve put up wards to keep away demons.” Marley’s expression looked proud.
I felt my face tighten with frustration. “Vancouver? What’s back there?”
“My old business.” She said as she sipped the creamy liquid. “We’re having an official board meeting.”
“You’re only telling me this now?”
“Yes. Any earlier and you may have conspired with Alex to fend off the wards.” Marley groaned. “Don’t get any ideas. I’ll know who’s been here…” She paused.
“Can Michael come over? He’s not a Hunter or a mythical creature.”
“But he is a male whom you happen to be dating.” Marley raised an eyebrow. “He can’t stay the night.”
I blushed and hid my face behind my coffee mug. “Ya, okay.”
“I mean it Olivia. The last thing you need right now is to get involved with him ‘intimately’, especially in your situation. It lowers your guard.” Marley’s face softened and she moved towards me and gave me a light hug. “I don’t want my baby to end up dead.”
“I know Mom.” OH god, I know. The images of the blood on the stark-white gown turned my stomach. “I know.” I finished breathlessly.
“And please, try and keep away from the visions. Lucien may be able to track you that way.” Marley added before she left.
My heart instantly stopped. What if Lucien has been monitoring or messing with my visions some how to trick me into thinking that I’ll survive? Can he?
I caught myself on the banister of the landing and tried to calm my breathing. The questions kept coming at me; everything that I’d ever wondered surrounded me in a crushing wave.
The darkness clouded my eyes and I sank to the ground.
“Dammit” It was Alex cursing.
“Easy.” And Michael.
“What? She’s out cold and Marley is not even here. What if they were attacked?” Alex growled.
“You said there are wards all around this place. Maybe Marley set them up.”
I tried to nod in agreement with Michael but my limbs wouldn’t respond.
“Maybe.” Alex spat. “Let’s get her to my house.”
“Why move her? She’ll just be more disoriented.” Michael’s hands played in my hair with each word.
“Fine.” Alex muttered and I heard him sit down on a kitchen chair, its feet scraped across the hardwood.
Michael’s hands played through my hair still, separating all the strands. Stray hairs tickled my ears and my cheek, but my skin didn’t respond. I began to wonder if I was paralyzed.
“Her eyelids keep twitching.” Michael hummed.
“She’s dreaming.” Alex grunted.
“And her nose is all scrunched up.”
Alex laughed. “Maybe you smell bad.
“Oh shut up. I think she’s conscious, but her body isn’t.”
Michael took one of my hands and weaved my fingers through his. Even though my eyes were closed, I could feel Alex watching him.
“Stop staring.” I groaned. The words came out and startled me, instantly jump starting my body. I opened my eyes to look up at Michael, but there was no one there.
I was crumpled up on the floor by the banister completely alone. I could still smell the brew of coffee and yet, the whole house was absolutely silent. I pulled myself up into a sitting position.
A vision? A dream?
I was so confused and disoriented, standing up seemed nearly impossible. I curled up against the wall pulling my knees to my chest, I let my head fall and closed my eyes. All the questions beat against the inside of my skull, it sent an icy shiver down my back and I felt tears heat behind my lids.
Michael… I need Michael.
I hugged my knees, tears rolling down my face and then I saw the headlights stream through the front window. My heart almost pounced out of my chest and I waited for the person to come to the door. They knocked.
I was worried my voice wouldn’t work, but I had to try. I turned my head towards the rail and could see Michael in the door’s window.
“Come in.” My voice crackled but carried to the door.
Michael did just that and let himself in. He only took two steps into the house when he saw me and pounded up the stairs and kneeled down in front of me before I could even take a breath. His eyes were wide with worry and he dropped his hands onto my shoulders with a light squeeze.
“Are you okay?” His tone was frantic.
“I passed out and I can’t stand up.” My voice was shaky and filled with fear.
Michael didn’t say anything, he just wrapped one arm around my back and another under my knees and lifted me from the ground and carried me to my bedroom.
I looked up at him from my position on my bed. His eyes were wide and worried; he paced the space at the end of my bed as I wiped my tears off my face. He sat in my computer chair and rubbed his temples.
“Michael, are you okay?” I asked quietly.
Michael looked up at me; his face was completely solemn and cold. It startled me and I took in a sharp breath. “I’m fine. You just scared me.” His face slowly warmed up and he let loose a warm smile. With that, he wandered over to my bed and curled up next to me and wrapped his arms around me.
“I’m sorry.” I kissed his neck and curled into him. My legs slowly warmed up and I wiggled my toes a bit to get the feeling back. “I was just really happy you came over.”
“No doubt.” Michael laughed nervously. He rolled his head to meet my eyes. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
I nodded. “Now I am.” I curled up tightly to him, letting my head fall onto his chest and I heard his heart beating at an incredible pace. I lifted my head and met his eyes with shock. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” He blushed.
I scrunched up my nose and traced his cheek line with my finger. “You’re lying. Why did you come over? I didn’t call.”
Michael’s whole body acquired a deep red blush and he averted his eyes. “Um, I, uh…”
It suddenly clicked and I blushed and started to giggle slightly. I stretched up and kissed his nose and wet back to listening to the rapid humming of his embarrassed heart. It had never occurred to me that Michael would be the type of guy to come over for a booty call.
I feel bad now for telling him to come on in. I’ll have to make it up to him some time.
My cheeks burned slightly with the memory of my first time at the beach with him. I’d worn a bikini that tied up at the back of my neck with a single –easily undoable- knot. I dove off the end of the dock and came up to my surprise without my top. Michael had retrieved it, his whole face ashamed and bright red. I just laughed nervously and took my top from him and asked Carman to help put it back on.
What was going to happen if he saw me completely in the nude?
I relaxed next to him and let my breathing slow. He pulled my quilt over my legs and wrapped his arm around me even tighter and kissed the top of my head. “Ollie, I really hope I didn’t offend you.”
I shook my head against his shoulder. “Not in the least.” I smiled.
We just lay there and I drifted off to sleep.
When I woke up it was just after one in the afternoon and Michael was nestled up next to me watching cartoons on the CW channel.
“Good afternoon.” I kissed the muscle in his neck.
He glanced down at me, his cheeks pink and grinning. “Hello. How was your sleep? Any nightmares?”
My heart fell a little. I recalled the horrific wedding and a bloody wedding gown. I had kept my visions and dreams at bay for the most part. “No.” I shook my head.
“Good.” He pressed his cheek against the top of my head.
My cell jingled happily on my nightstand next to Michael. He picked it up and read the name that came up on the display screen. ALEXANDER.
“I believe it’s for you.” Michael sighed.
“Odd.” I flipped it open and pressed it against my ear. “Hello?”
“Olivia. Do you know that Marley has wards up all around your house that prevents me from coming into your driveway?”
“Actually, yes.” I’ll have to thank Mom for that. I grinned at Michael.
“Well, come outside. I have a message from Gabriel.”
“Just tell me now.” I grumbled.
“He wants you to start physical training of Viv’s caliber.”
I shot up. “NO WAY! She’ll kill me.”
“No she won’t. But Gabriel said its time.”
I stared at the wall across from me, in complete disbelief. “Fine. I’ll be over by three, I have to get dressed.
“Fine. Till then.”
The phone was silent and I snapped it shut and looked at Michael in apology. “I’m so sorry. Gab – I mean – my Father called in new orders for my training today. Vivian is going to be doing it. I’ve seen her and Alex on the mat before, she’s terrifying.” I shivered.
He wrapped his arms around me again. “You’ll be fine.” He kissed me.
It was a rushed kiss; just an awkward, quick peck and I didn’t get the chance to kiss back. So I pulled him back and pressed my lips against his, but it still didn’t last long enough.
Michael looked away. “Shouldn’t you shower?”
“Not to fight a nymph. I have to fight dirty.” I wrinkled my nose and slid off the end of my bed and intended fully on getting dressed before Michael, but he left the room. I scowled at the empty doorway, my eyes narrowing.
What’s up with him?
Michael and I drove to the Teagues’ home of residency and parked in the round a bout in front of their house instead of behind the black Mercedes – Jonathan’s car – and the Audi. Just looked at the Audi made me giddy.
I pulled myself out of the Mazda and tugged along with me my bag with my change of clothes. Michael followed behind me, his left hand on my lower back, only touching me ever so slightly. It kinda tickled.
Jeesh, you’d swear he’d joined the secret service or something the way he’s acting. Reminds me of a movie… hm. I wonder why… I’ll ask him after I get my ass kicked.
We made our way up to the door and rang the doorbell. Nothing happened. I knocked a few times. Still nothing. I felt like kicking the door in from frustration. From beyond the oak door I could hear music and people talking, I figured the TV was on. I gripped the doorknob and suddenly I was nervous and carefully opened the door.
Vivian charged me, though I wasn’t sure if it was actually her, she hit me like a wild boar. My lungs compressed as she hit me, all my oxygen exited past my lips in a whooshing sound. I hit the floor with a loud crack and my limbs all tightened and twisted. I was lying on my back staring up at Vivian and Michael on the front porch, Vivian looked very pleased.
As my breath caught up I managed a scowl in Vivian’s direction. “The hell was that?” I gasped and managed to sit up, my limbs still in shock from whatever hit me. I still glared at the nymph. Michael’s presence behind me was all that much more amplified by the fact that he was freaked out and breathing heavily.
“The start of your training. Surprise attacks.” Vivian winked and folded her hands over her hips. She was thinner and leaner than I remembered, and her face was so intense. She scowled at me from my staring. “So get up. I have a lot of work to do with you apparently.”
“Whatever.” I snapped and bounced up to my feet. Michael and I followed her into the house. Kat was sitting on the couch watching cartoons and lost in her own little world. I refrained from greeting her and followed slowly behind Vivian as she led the way to the basement.
This was going against all of Marley’s orders and a little flame of guilt sparked up inside of me. As we walked by the kitchen, I spotted Célone watching something rotate in the microwave. Her eyes never left it, even when Vivian let out a little ‘humph’.
Michael snorted at the sight; it was all he could do. He clapped a hand over his mouth from letting his laughter loose. I was more interested in why she was downstairs than in what she was doing.
“She was hungry.” Alex answered my thoughts.
I forgot he could do that. I shivered.
The entire way downstairs, Michael stayed awfully close by me. I swear he would have been able to push me down the stairs with his knee if he wanted. I shivered again.
“You know where to change.” Alex pointed towards the bathroom. I followed his finger and wandered into the tiny, yet familiar bathroom. It had a tiny corner shower with a frosted glass door and a toilet and vanity sink. It was a small room compared to how large the rest of the house as. I quickly peeled off my winter clothes and pulled on my gray shorts and yellow tank top.
I pulled my curly hair up in a tight knot at the back of my head and pulled on my runners again. I appraised myself in my mirror and psyched myself up in front of the glossy surface. My tank top was fairly tight and exposed how tiny my waist was and how small my bust was. My gray shorts didn’t help, they fell down mid-thigh, but that’s when I noticed the line of muscle forming all down my body.
All this working out and stressing out: fainting and running, it’s working?
I burst out of the bathroom, not ready to get a beating, but to deliver one. I joined Vivian on the large mat while Michael and Alex sat in the den in an awkward silence.
I squared out on the mat across from her and stared her down. There was something in her eye that almost seemed a little nervous. I opened my eyes and my mind and as if I had pushed a fast forward button and I could see Vivian move before she even blinked. I gasped and moved with my eyes closed.
The first attacked on me failed and I moved without a breath, but I lost focus from the excitement and she kicked me in the stomach knocking me on my back.
“Get up Olivia.” I heard Alex snap.
I glared over at him and stood up. Vivian no longer looked nervous, instead she looked as she always did and charged me again. She swung her legs in a drop kick motion. I dodged and got her from the back with my hand and she toppled forward but swung around quickly and aimed for my face with a hand shaped as a tree. For one moment I was surprised but slowly it came back to me that she was a creature of nature.
I ducked and charged at her waist and together she and I flew into the mat. She growled something unintelligible and kicked me off before regaining her composure.
“So, you know that I’m about to do before I do it eh?” Vivian grimaced. “Then nothing will be pre-meditated.” She crouched down and that same boar was before me.
I rolled my eyes and walked off the mat. Alex glared at me and held out a hand to stop me.
“You don’t think demons can change shape?”
“No, I do” I sighed “but she changed and I already knew she was going to do it.” I rolled my eyes and squatted down on the floor and caught my breath.
Vivian was eyeing me from the mat. “So I’m predictable?” She looked hurt.
“Yes.” I said flatly.
Alex eyed me and left the room and I rejoined Vivian on the mat and regained my position. She stood there and watched me. I targeted her at the waist but didn’t make a move. Michael came into the room and watched. I pushed off my left foot and sprang at her in a leaping jump.
She tried to move, but I quickly assumed a dodge roll and swung across the mat and knocked her feet out from under her. It didn’t matter though; she managed to stay up and retaliated. Vivian pounced on me and straddled my waist and was about to flatten me when someone cleared their throat.
It caught me off guard and Vivian pulled me up off the mat and threw me as far as she could and I rolled onto my knees only to see Alex standing by the mat wearing his sweats. He had taught me the basics of battle but now he was hear to assist Vivian. I groaned.
“Two on one?” Vivian smirked.
“Yes. This way she’ll have to work harder.” Alex winked.
I groaned again and pushed myself onto my feet and glanced over at Michael. “See… I can do that stuff in gym class.” I winked.
“Are you okay?” Michael asked.
“She’s fine.” Vivian snapped. “Let’s go.”
Alex, Vivian and I stood in a triangle formation, the ‘siblings’ both ready to give me the beating of a lifetime and slowly my confidence began to dissolve.
Alex charged without warning and grabbed my arm and swung me onto my back, but I rolled over my head and swung my legs out and connected with Vivian’s calves. My face changed into a whirl of confusion as I stared at Vivian crouched on the floor in front of Alex.
When did that happen? I focused again, made sure that there was pre-meditation and focused on what I could ‘see’.
I moved without hesitation as I foresaw what the future held and swung my legs out as I saw Alex tumbling towards me. I frowned as he came to a stand still and Vivian did the same. I blinked and stood straight.
I felt the presence I hadn’t seen before and I spun to examine it. It was Célone, huddling at the end of the stairway looking awfully shy.
“Célone?” I breathed. This whole time I hadn’t seen her, and Michael had been standing only a few feet from us. She could’ve – I stopped. “What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Nothing. I was just interested in you guys and your stances. You two are a really good tag team.” Célone added shyly.
Vivian seemed to beam a little at the thought, even though it wasn’t exactly praise meant for just her. “Okay…” Vivian snapped “…but what are you doing down here?”
Célone seemed to retract from the seen a bit. “I’m sorry. I was just so… interested.”
Alex had his eyes narrowed. “Upstairs Célone. Where’s Jonathon?”
“Not here. He and Sarah are on a date.” She blushed.
I heard Michael inhale sharply and then he moved towards me, a million questions flaring behind his eyes. I just shook my head in a silent response and his shoulders relaxed. His hand swished my bands away from my face, but not without consequences.
I winced. I had a cut above my eyebrow and it was threatening to bleed into my eye.
“I think that’s enough” he smiled “at least for today.”
I nodded in response. Just to get away from Célone and Jonathon. I frowned and made my way to the bathroom to fix myself up and examine my battle scars.
Sure, there was a shallow gash above my left eyebrow and I could already see the bruises, but if felt… normal. Odd.