Never.  Never had Corrin been reduced to this . . . this preposterous version of life. Never even imagined it existed.  She loathed the world Marc had brought her into – had she been warned about it and not forced into it, she may have been able to cope.

            But no.  No, she had been forced and now she lay on the stone cold floor in a cave of some type – a place Lord Kayne called a lair.  Bruises remain on her arms and legs from days ago when Kayne had kidnapped her and used his abilities to hurt her.  She hated that he had not just killed her then and there, but she could never be that lucky.

            “Ooh...” Corrin moaned as she struggled to turn over onto her back.  She succeeded and she stared up at the odd-shaped ceiling, her breathing uneven and ragged.

            “Wow.” A deep, husky voice from behind made her flinch and she could barely move to see Kayne enter, the large, stone door scraping loudly against the same stone ground. “I am surprised to see that you are still alive.”

            “It’s kinda hard to die, you know.” Corrin’s voice was hoarse and hard to understand.  She tried to clear her throat, only to receive even more pain from her throat; she groaned in pain.

            “Well, I could kill you now, if you want?” Kayne suggested.  Corrin heard flames licking up the walls as he lit his “office” area. “No thanks, I just love to suffer until death retrieves me.”

            “You know, you could’ve avoided all of this if you’d been a little less curious.” Corrin barely heard Rayne’s chuckle even though it echoed off of the walls of the small cavern.

            “Curiosity killed the cat.” She murmured, half to herself, pain gripping her heart tightly.

            “Got that right, kid.” Kayne muttered, giving a big yawn. Corrin sighed and struggled to sit up. After about a minute, she was able to sit up and she twisted her body until she could see Kayne fully. “I don’t get it. Why didn’t you just kill me then? When I first saw you?”

            Kayne just shrugged and added to the flames already licking up the walls. Corrin cringed away, the light piercing her eyes as if needles were being shoved into them. She shielded them and turned her green eyes instead on a small, red pebble lying on the floor, looking out of place in the dark gray backsplash.

            “Because I needed you for something.” Kayne said through something—seemingly food or maybe the scorpion’s blood he used as his “charger” for his abilities. Corrin shuddered as she imagined Kayne with a scorpion pressed to his lips, his strangely pointed teeth cutting into its shell and drinking its poison and blood...

            “What is that something?” Corrin asked, squinting her eyes so she wouldn’t receive the full impact of the fire’s light. She inhaled the sweet aroma of something close to the scent of chicken and felt her stomach growl. She gulped and shook her head.

            Corrin watched Lord Kayne gulp down another bite—looking juicier and even more delicious than Corrin could imagine—and then he replied, “To get my successor here. For her to take over.”

            Corrin’s brow crumpled in confusion. “Huh? Her?”

            “Shaylese Brady, of course.”

            Those five simple words made Corrin’s heart stutter in shock and fear. She could not move, could not talk or even breathe. After about two minutes sitting in silence, besides the tearing of flesh and the fire, Corrin’s breathing picked up again and her heartbeat steadied out also. She gulped in a painful lungful of air and said, “My best friend, Shaylese Brady?”

            Kayne nodded and mumbled, “Mhm.”

            Hot, sticky tears rolled down her cheeks and she suddenly collapsed onto the ground, her body screaming in pain and protest, the bruises probably widening.

            Suddenly, there was a loud boom outside of the large door. Corrin jumped and then cringed in pain again. Several more booms rocked the rocky formation and she clutched the ground for support, sobbing loudly. “What is she doing?!” Kayne roared from the corner of the cave. Heavy footsteps echoed throughout the cave heading towards the door. One last rumble occurred before Kayne opened the door and shouted, “What in the bloody hell are you—” but he shouted something unintelligible and stumbled backwards until he’d almost met Corrin, lying there.

            “No!” Kayne roared. “No, this can’t be happening! I killed you fifteen years ago—before you were a threat!”

            Kayne may have been upset—terrified even—of his visitor, but, who stood before Corrin today . . . was her savior.

            Marc Jackson.



“Hmm . . . hmm . . . mmmm . . . hmm . . . mm—”

Corrin was cut off in her tuneless humming as Dante growled, “Corrin, please, you can’t sing—you can’t hum. So please stop.”

            Corrin rolled her eyes and flipped her long, brown hair over her shoulder. “Please, Dante, can’t you be nice for at least an hour?”

            “Not when I can hear you,” Dante murmured under his breath, but Corrin heard it and stalked over to him, her hands on her hips and her expression in a tight grimace.

“You need to stop harassing me, you hear?” she whispered scathingly. “Or I’ll get Shaylese to go off on your a—”

            The doorbell rang then, cutting her off and she sighed, spun around on her heel, and walked—more so, danced—to see who the caller was. She flung the door open, seeing her best friend, Shaylese Brady standing there, iPod in her hand, winding the earphones back up. She smiled at the sight of Corrin and they hugged quickly before Shaylese came inside.

            “What’s up, girl?” Shaylese cheered as she plopped down on the burgundy couch.

            “Nothing much...” Corrin shrugged. “So...” she murmured thoughtfully, sitting beside her friend. “What’s going on at home?”

            Shaylese shrugged and averted her eyes to look at Dante, who had risen from the floor in front of the television, to sit beside his girlfriend. He pecked her on the cheek; Shaylese gave him a small hug and pulled away, murmuring, “We’re having a funeral tomorrow...”

            Corrin started and shook her head. “No,” she murmured. “No, he couldn’t have...”

            Shaylese sobbed and let her head fall onto Dante’s shoulder. Soon, tears streamed down her freckled cheeks. Corrin shot a look at Dante, whom was also looking at her inquiringly. Corrin scooted over towards Shaylese and put a reassuring arm around her shoulders, sadness protruding her mind and body. She was trying not to cry, to be the brave one, but couldn’t hold it in; tears burst from her eyes and she sobbed.

            She cradled Shaylese in her arms as her head rested on the girl’s shoulder.

            “I’m so sorry...” Corrin murmured. “He was so young...”

            “Corrin...” Shaylese sobbed, lifting her head a little bit. “’s two funerals.”

            Corrin froze, shocked into silence. “What?” Shaylese sobbed uncontrollably for a few moments before answering almost incoherently, “Mom crashed...Shayne in the a bridge...Saubrou Lake...” Shaylese’s voice trailed off in more tears and sobs.

            Dante rubbed her back and shoulders, cooing to her, murmuring comforting words.

            Corrin jumped to her feet and walked towards her lit fireplace, tears streaming freely down her face, arms crossed.


“Haha, haha!” Shayne laughed as Corrin and Shaylese chased him around their old colonial home.

“I’m gonna get you, Shayne!” Corrin laughed, inches away from grasping the back of his blue blazer’s collar. Shaylese jumped in front of Shayne and he screamed and dodged to the right, under the dining room table.

“No fair, Shayne, we can’t reach you!” Shaylese complained playfully.

“That’s the point, Shay!” Shayne laughed heartily. “I’m supposed to be runnin’ away from you!”

Shaylese and Corrin laughed together, standing and shaking their heads. Suddenly, as they went to sit on the black, leather couch, a fit of coughing came from under the table.

“Shayne?” Shaylese spun back around and darted towards the table to see what had happened to her little brother. Corrin followed slowly, cautiously.

“Shayne!” Shaylese started shouting. “Shayne? Come on, Shayne!”

Shaylese was lying on the floor, half of her body under the table, the other half squirming with some sort of effort. Corrin bent down and gasped at what she saw.

Shayne squirmed around on the floor, coughing or choking, looking as if he was really struggling to breathe. “Shayne!” she instinctively called out.

“Call the police, Corrin!” Shaylese yelled at her; Corrin jumped at her harsh tone, but did as she was told and darted away to find the phone, Shayne’s choking noises following her.

She found the phone between the seat cushions and quickly dialed 911.

“Hello, emergency services,” a woman’s voice chimed on the other end.

“Um, hello,” Corrin said in a shaky breath. “I’m at my friend’s house at 206 Poplar Street—her brother is choking or something and coughing and it looks as if he can’t breathe. We need an EMS over here immediately. Thanks, bye!”

Corrin hung up the phone and ran back to Shaylese; she held Shayne in her arms as he choked and coughed uncontrollably. She sobbed and cooing to him, telling him it was going to be alright, but Corrin had her doubts.

A few minutes later, two police cruisers and an EMS pulled up outside and four cops and three people in blue and white came in, two with a stretcher, the other carrying some type of tools.

Shaylese shouted when they took her brother away from her, but, otherwise, let them take him away to the EMS.

A policeman stayed with them to question them on the matter and offered to drive Shaylese to the hospital with her brother. She told him that her mother was not home and his face hardened, but he offered her the ride anyway. Corrin went home immediately, thus beginning Shayne’s sickness—his lung had collapsed after he'd gained lung cancer...all from his mother’s smoking.

Corrin turned around to face Shaylese and saw that her friend was looking at her intently. Dante was still cradling her and rubbing her back soothingly. Corrin stared at Shaylese a moment longer before turning around again and saying, “Where’s your dad?”

            Shaylese didn’t reply at first, but then murmured, “He’s in Japan...talking to the Ambassador or whatever...”

            “Oh...” Corrin murmured, sneakily wiping away a tear. She said, “When’s he coming back?”

            “Should be soon.” Shaylese shrugged Dante off. “I called him last night.” Corrin felt a sudden pang of sorrow, more than from the news of Shaylese’s family’s death, but more from the sadness that came from the loss of her mother last year. She had only their godfather taking care of her and Dante. She felt regret push itself into her body, pressed against remorse and sorrow and flinched unwillingly.

            Dante suddenly jumped to his feet and gasped, “Dad’s home!”

            “What?” Corrin gasped just as equally shocked. “No way, he’s supposed to be in Feudal Mongolia! Why’s he returned?”

            “I dunno!” Dante shouted excitedly. “Maybe he’s—” But Dante cut off and a solemn expression crossed his face. His mouth closed and turned into a frown.

            “Dante?” Shaylese and Corrin said simultaneously. “What’s wrong?” Corrin stepped up beside him and looked out the window also. “Is he—”

            Corrin’s eyes widened and she staggered backwards. “No!” she yelled. “No he...he can’t be...”

            Dante opened the door and stalked outside, confronting the man in an all-black suit. He stabbed a finger at him and angry tears streamed down his cheeks. He started yelling, but Corrin, nor Shaylese, could hear. Corrin collapsed onto the couch and let her head fall onto the arm, not even feeling the pain that sprouted there. She didn’t even acknowledge Shaylese’s arms wrapped around her, nor the door slamming and Dante stalking up the stairs. Corrin just let every thought, feeling, and sense, drift away with her tears.

            Soon, she just closed her eyes and gave in, hardly bothering to listen to Shaylese.


The End

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