For the last week everything seemed to be working perfectly. Though I still had not approached the hunter subject with Giovanni, Jade was guarded and was being watched over by Drake and me to ensure the spell was a success.
She was in the living room watching television when Drake came over to take her home.
He grabbed my arm and pulled me into him. “Hey!” he smiled and kissed me.
“You seem to be in good spirits today,” I laughed as he pulled back.
“Yeah I suppose. How’s everything been with you?”
“I’ve been great, Drake. A little tired still and getting to work late because of it, but just fine.”
“Chris is really running you ragged huh?” he smiled as his fingers gingerly rubbed my back.
“Just a little. He seems overly excited a lot. I love it, don’t get me wrong. It’s just draining and I wish I could do more for him.”
“You know you could always come back and we could take turns with him like we used to. He’d be taken care of the entire day.”
“I know.” He smiled to hide his true feelings. “How’s Jade doing?”
“I’m fine!” she called from the other room.
“That’s great!” he yelled back.
He glanced down at my necklace. I’ve not worn my wedding band since I have to keep the Vale source on; but I don’t take off the necklace he’d given me for Christmas.
Suddenly his eyes sparked and he gripped me tight in his arms and I could feel the flames begin to surface.
“Drake! Let go!”
Jade came over to check out the commotion. He looked at her and instantly backed off.
He excused himself and rushed out the front door.
“What was that all about?” Jade asked noticing my scared expression.
“You saw his eyes?”
“He has this added power that he got from Karver, something with fire. It’s not controlled inside of him. He has traits of a phoenix, he burns hot, burns fast and burns out only to resurrect by flame. He can control the element to a point but often times it surfaces and he’s attacked me a few times with it.” My gaze fell to the floor as I thought back to those times.
“I’m sorry Zoe,” she said solemnly. “Has he not figured out how to fix it?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know, I guess not. And that’s what worries me. I could never go home to something like that.”
“Maybe he’ll figure it out. Who knows? That day may be soon.”
“Well enough about that how about you and I have a nice night on the town? I just saw an advertisement for some club downtown having a ladies night.
“Teasers!” she grinned wide.
I laughed. “The strip club?”
“Drinks are a two for one special, ladies get in free and all the hot, naked men you want to ogle!”
“Like we’re going!” she said grabbing my arm and rushing us up the stairs to my closet. “Now I have to find something that makes me look good.”
Drake rushed home; he had to learn to control the urge before it overpowered him again. His veins were showing once more and he yelled as he passed the wedding photo of him and Zoe.
“Come on Drake!” he screamed. “Get a grip!”
He stopped again on the picture and he glared at it. Her smile was bright and she was looking at him with such love in her eyes. There was no doubting how she felt about him in that moment and moments before and since she said “I do.”
He continued looking at her; studying every curve in her face, every warm and soft feature of her body. The way the sun touched her and bathed her in light. This was the woman he was destined to hold every night in his arms. He told her as much the day he vowed his undying devotion to her and now he’d caused her more pain than anything else in her life before.
“Not anymore.” He felt the fire die down as he regained control and pushed down that urge. She was the key the whole time. Not just the trigger but also the cure and now he knew how to fight it.
He looked at himself in the mirror. A new energy raged inside of him; he was determined now more than ever to win back the love of his life and he was willing to do anything to have her home again.
He rushed back over to see her and waited at the door.
“Drake?” I looked at him nervously.
“No, I’m fine now Zoe, I swear. I’ve figured it out.”
“Positive.” He looked behind me and saw Jade darting around getting things ready for our night out on the town. “Are you going somewhere?”
“Uh…kinda? Jade wants to…”
“Teasers!” she yelled at him before rushing back up the stairs humming.
“Teasers?” Drake smiled as I blushed at him. “You know if you want to stare at naked men,” he pushed into the door and pulled me into his arms. His lips caressed mine gently. His tongue pressed against my mouth with urgency and I wrapped my arms around his back as he gripped me tighter. “I can be all the naked you want,” he smiled.
He led me to the living room and pushed me down on the couch and started dancing. I laughed watching his body wiggle; his hands slowly pulling his shirt up. “Woo, shake it baby!” I cheered.
He smiled before tossing his shirt at me. Jade came down with Chris in her arms and joined me on the couch. “Not a bad bod but the moves can use some work!”
“Well fine, those guys get paid for this. Where’s my pay?”
I stood and placed a kiss on his cheek before sitting his son in his arms. “You can babysit tonight,” I winked and went up to get ready.
“You and I need to have a talk!” Jade said sternly motioning for Drake to follow her into the other room.
“Why do I get the sense that I’m in trouble?” Drake held up his hands following behind her with slow cautious strides.
“Because you will be if you don’t make all the right moves! Drake, Zoe misses you and it’s obvious you miss her too! I can hear it in the way you speak to each other and the fact that you can’t keep the ‘separation’ in ‘we’re separated!”
“We’re not separated!”
“Yeah…” Jade smirked shifting her weight, “and I’m not running from a redheaded sex addict!”
Drake narrowed his eyes curiously as she continued.
“Listen, I have a plan to help both of you come out of this happy and in each other’s arms but you have to trust me.”
“As long as I get my family back, I’ll do anything.”
“That’s the spirit!” Jade slapped Drake on the ass before ducking her head into the other room to make sure Zoe wasn’t in earshot. “This is what you do,” she grinned rubbing her hands together deviously.
Jade and I got to Teasers for Ladies Night. The taxi dropped us off at the door and the bouncer didn’t bother carding us, but his eyes remained focused on Jade a little longer than I think she was comfortable with.
“Zo?” Vincent called me before we successful walked in the door.
“Vincent? What are you doing here? It’s Ladies Night.”
“Exactly,” he smirked. “Sorry.”
“Don’t be. I know how you are.”
“Hey Jade,” he smiled as she approached us.
“Vincent. Your hair looks better, less staticky,” she teased.
“Thanks Beautiful. Zo can we talk?”
“You’re among friends, Vincent, talk,” Jade said inching closer and wrapping her arm around my neck.
I laughed. “She’s a Seer, Vincent, you pretty much can’t hide anything from her; just talk.”
“I wanted to apologize to you for what I did between you and Drake at the Eve. I didn’t mean to cause that argument. I just thought it was best he knew.”
“Yeah, I figured as much, Vincent.”
“You look gorgeous tonight.”
“And?” Jade pressed him.
He sighed. “Nevermind, I’ll catch you later, Zo.”
“Bye Vincent,” Jade said pulling me towards the door.
Vincent stood in the lot staring as we walked off into the club.
We took a seat closest to the stage and she beckoned a server over and placed her drinks order.
“So what happened between you and Drake?” Jade asked taking a sip from her third Molotov Mixer as a stripper neared her.
“Karver. He manipulated Drake into bad magics that caused our son and me a great deal of hurt. I stayed with him for as long as I could but after I thought we were done, he pulled us back in,” I said also turning my attention to the beefcake near me.
“And so now what? You’re moving on to that guy Vincent?”
“No. Vincent and I are just friends.”
“Just friends? Girl please! He sniffs behind you like a love sick puppy! But Drake, he seems like a decent and loving man; I don’t think you’re ready to move on from him. If you want I can actually turn Vincent into a puppy. One of those little ones that run around humping the legs of chairs! That’s fitting!”
“Thanks for the offer Jade, but I think I’d find him even cuter as a puppy!”
“So you have feelings for him? And you slept with him?”
I shifted in my seat under the inquisitive eye of the Seer sitting across from me. Jade smiled. “I’m making you uncomfortable?”
“No. I guess I need to own up to what I did. I never really have. But yes Vincent and I have slept together. It was during a very confusing time for me. Drake was dead, I was brainwashed and Vincent was a friend in desperate times.”
“So you slept with your husband’s best friend and fell in love with him? Wow your life is a real soap opera! That’s something you’d see on Jerry,” Jade said stuffing another bill down the thong of the stripper bouncing his package in her face.
I giggled seeing her hand linger down his waistband. “Jade my Dear; you don’t even know the half of it!”
Her head bounced in rhythm to his gyrating hips.
As he tried to back away, she grabbed him again, tearing the loose cloth from his body. She looked up at him with an innocent smile and shrugged.
He bent over to retrieve his lost clothing and the bills she’d generously offered, pecking her cheek as he backed up onto the stage.
“I’m sorry what were we talking about?”
I laughed and shook my head at her. “You’re crazy! Nothing like I’d have imagined after what you went through!”
The waitress came over with another round of drinks and Jade immediately dove in.
“And you really like your drink.”
“I’m the baby in my family. I admit I can be a little wild.” She quickly downed the glass in front of her, cheered and jumped up on the stage with the stripper.
He rocked his hips into hers keeping up with her pace as her hands worked along his torso. The bouncer came over to remove her and I blocked him from reaching. “She’s a little drunk right now.”
“Get her down or I will.”
I motioned for her to join me again at the table and she pouted as her feet pounded down the steps.
“So tell me more about Drake. Are you planning to divorce him?”
“No, of course not! I could never do that. I love him too much. I’m just scared for Christopher right now; the things he went through because of Drake’s deal I think would traumatize a normal child. But he just takes it in stride; he’s a real gem and very strong and for that I’m grateful. But I still can’t risk anything happening to him.”
“Not only that, Drake attacked me in the house a few times. His power he got from Karver sends him into an uncontrollable rage and I always seem to be his target.”
“Wow, Zoe that does sound scary. But you can’t blame him for that really. I mean if you say the powers came from Karver, maybe he is somehow controlling him in that state.”
“I know what you mean, but I think I just needed to get away, to change the situation a little.”
“You know what? Let’s go dance!” Jade said grabbing my arm. “It’ll make you feel better, trust me!”
“The security guard will kick us out,” I cautioned her.
“Compel him, Zoe! There’s no fun in having that trick if you don’t use it every once in a while to your advantage right?”
I smiled as I nodded and joined her on stage with the strippers.
“You’re a bad influence Jade!”
“No, I’m just what you needed! You died before you could live a little so I’m going to make sure you take advantage of that in your afterlife!”
The stripper’s hands started roaming down my hips and he pulled me closer into him. I could feel him becoming aroused as he bounced against me. I turned my head and Jade smiled.
“I won’t tell!” she said innocently.
I laughed as I backed away from him. I nodded my head towards the table and Jade stole a kiss goodbye.
“You know if you’re looking for change, try your hair. Drake’s a great catch and would never intentionally harm you. Trust me on that, I can see it!” she smiled.
“My hair? What’s wrong with my hair?” I asked pulling at the loose strands that hung in my face.
“Nothing, I just think you’d look great if you dyed it black. I could do it for you, it’ll be fun. And I think Drake would love it!”
“In speaking of Drake, let’s get out of here. I want to get back to the house and relieve him. I worry not knowing what might be coming after him.”
She nodded and we retreated outside and hailed a cab back to my place.
“Chris is sleeping. He’s been fed and bathed and he left you something on your bed,” Drake reported as Jade and I entered into the living room with him.
“Thank you, Drake.”
“Zoe, you don’t have to thank me for taking care of my son.” He looked over at Jade and she shook her head no.
I narrowed my eyes at them trying to figure out their unspoken words.
He took my hand and walked me towards the front door. “Did you have fun tonight?”
“Yeah, it was nice. It was definitely not something I’d expected, but fun just the same.”
“Good,” he said before pulling my lips to his. He kissed me hard his hands held me close to his chest and his arms would have depleted me of oxygen if it weren’t for the fact that I didn’t need it.
I pushed him away and he sighed. “I’ll see you later, Zoe. I love you.”
I put the lock in place and turned to the living room to catch Jade jumping away from the door as if she hadn’t caught the exchange between Drake and me.
“I saw that!” I yelled in to her. “Elephants don’t make great spies; they always stick out behind bushes!”
“Are you calling me fat? This is YOUR dress you know!”
I walked into my bedroom to change and found the gift from CJ on my pillow and it reduced me to tears. He’d drawn a picture of me and Drake with broken hearts over our heads. It was a message I received loud and clear.
The next morning at work, I entered prepared to talk to Giovanni. I knocked on his office and waited. He didn’t respond so I tried the lock.
“He’s on vacation,” Caroline called behind me.
“Vacation? When will he be back?”
“Sometime next week.”
I sighed as I realized our talk would have to wait. I worried he had left to make arrangements with his other “ex-hunters” though and it was all I thought about as I tried to start up another painting.
“What’s going on?” Vincent asked as he drove me home.
“You’re really quiet. Did you talk to your boss?”
“Not yet, he wasn’t in today.”
“You can’t keep putting this off, Zo. My killing hand is starting to itch,” he said tapping it on the wheel.
He laughed as he pulled up to the house. “Seriously though, Babe. I won’t let him hurt you.”
“Thank you,” I smiled as I walked CJ into the house.
Drake quietly sat outside watching his wife go about her daily routine. Their son had been fed and was quietly sleeping in his room and now she had time for herself.
He watched as she rubbed the pain from her neck and right now he’d give anything to be the one massaging away her hurt; comforting her and making those sorrowful glances disappear.
Come inside, Drake. I pushed into his head. I could feel his presence now like a cold breeze floating across my skin and causing goosebumps all over my body.
It wasn’t long before he was standing behind me, his hands rubbing the sore parts of my neck and shoulders. “How long were you out there today?”
“After I finished up at the Pit; I got home, showered and came over. Christopher is really taking to painting and drawing. I love watching the two of you together.”
“Yeah, he practically begged me to buy him some paints and crayons. I love that, I really do.”
“Does that feel better?” he asked as his hands slipped from my back.
“Much, thank you.”
“So, uh, how was work?” he asked taking a seat on the edge of the bed and watching as I slipped out of my clothes.
“Fine, I’m nearly finished the second of the pieces I was commissioned for. I really enjoy working there, doing what I love; it’s been great.” I turned and smiled at him. “Enough about that though. Come here.”
He walked over and wrapped his arms around my waist as I pulled him into a kiss. His hands worked up and down my back. He gripped my thighs and lifted me onto the dresser.
His body pressed closer to me as he worked the clasp of my bra. He pulled his shirt off over his head and quickly undid his belt buckle.
“I’ve missed you so much, Zoe,” he growled in my ear as he lifted me slightly to remove my panties before placing me back atop the counter. “You feel so good.”
His mouth trailed kisses down my chest and belly before he again wrapped his hands around me and carried me to the bed. He slid my skirt from my waist and spread my legs apart. He was on top of me, kissing me just as he did moments ago. His soft lips teased me as he slowly kissed his way down between my legs.
I grabbed a handful of his hair as his tongue found my sensitive spots. “Drake,” I moaned as he tasted me; his lips pressed against my soft flesh and worked expertly with the fingers he was slowly moving in and out of me.
I felt a numbing sensation; thousands of tingling pin pricks as he rocked me to my first orgasm. “Yes!” I wailed. I covered my mouth to drown out the moans ripping through my body. My other hand gripping his hair tight holding him in place, I was aching to feel him inside me.
And as if he’d read my thoughts, he was on top of me within moments; one hand gripped my breast tight, pinching my nipple as I floated on the sensation. His other hand was working on removing his pants. My fingernails raked across his back; breaking the flesh and causing him to bleed slightly before the wounds healed.
The door to the bedroom crept open. “Drake stop!” I said trying to push him away.
“Zoe, don’t. I need this.”
“Mommy, I’m hungyy,” CJ said stepping next to the bed. His eyes went from me to Drake and I couldn’t hide my embarrassment.
Drake pulled up and got his pants back on and tossed my shirt at me. “Mommy will see you in the kitchen ok? Just give me one minute baby.”
“Ok!” he said as his feet happily pounded out of the room.
“He’s going to be scarred for life now. You can’t get over seeing your parents in compromising positions like that,” Drake said as he finished zipping himself.
I looked over at him; a look of frustration crossed his brow as he reached for his shirt. “I’m gonna get going.” He walked over and kissed my cheek.
“Drake?” He turned and looked at me. “Just give me five minutes to get him something? Wait for me?”
He smiled and lay back down. “Hurry back or I’ll come hunting for you!”
“I’m not comfortable with this idea, Mordonna,” Evelyn shrieked behind her.
“Well, if you expect to get what you want, I have to know what we’re up against. It’s either this or nothing. Make your decision, but do it quickly. I don’t have the time to waste on your indecision!”
Evelyn sighed before consenting. “If she messes this up, I’m going to dine on her!”
“She’s one of my best girls, you’ll be fine,” she assured her. “Let’s get started.”
I rushed downstairs and found CJ with his hand in a box of cereal. “Aww, baby, you know that’s not going to fill you up. Those are for Aunt Jade,” I smiled.
I opened the fridge and pulled out a bottle to fix him a meal.
“Hey baby, welcome back,” Drake smiled. “Where’s Chris?”
“His room. We should buy him a new bed. He’s getting older.”
“Or we could just buy a new house, you know, room to grow?” he said patting the bed next to him.
“Whatever you want honey.”
He smiled and pressed his lips hard against hers. “Do you think he’ll be busy for a while?” he winked.
He rolled on top. “I love you Zoe.”
His erection rubbed happily against her through his jeans as his lips kissed up and down her neck.
“Enough teasing Drake, take me now!”
Her words excited him and he responded by ripping her nude of her clothes before quickly undressing himself.
Without pause he entered her and shuddered feeling her beneath him. He looked at her eyes, his sparked red and he backed away.
I placed Chris in the playpen before heading upstairs.
I heard voices in the bedroom before I entered. “Drake? What the hell is going on?” I noticed a naked woman standing across from him and he too was nude.
“It was you Zoe,” he said trying to replay the last moments in the room with her. “It wasn’t her, she had your face, your body, your voice; it was you, Zoe, I swear!”
I lunged for the woman who was standing near the bed smiling. She quickly disappeared before I could get my hands on her.
I turned to Drake with anger in my eyes and feeling a little hurt.
“Zoe, look!” he said showing me his thoughts; I could see what he’d thought was me and the events that happened up to me entering into the room.
“The moment I realized I stopped. I swear I didn’t know.”
“Chris,” I said rushing back down to him.
“Hi Mommy,” he smiled.
Drake walked over and picked him up. He examined him closely before looking at me. “It’s him.”
“How do you know?”
“Zoe I know my own son.”
“But you don’t know your own wife?”
He sighed. “Here,” he said showing me proof positive he was holding our child in his arms. “If it were a demon he would not be able to mimic red eyes and he’d smell of sulfur.”
“Make them blue again please. I don’t like seeing him like that.” I took Chris from his arms. “You said this shit was over, Drake. What the hell is going on now?”
“Zoe I don’t know, but I am sure as hell going to find out!” he said before leaving for the Pit.
“It was Mordonna,” Karver said behind him. He smirked watching Drake’s reaction. “I’ll let you deal with her, but do it, slow. I’ll handle Evelyn myself.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Do you know what kind of demon Mordonna is? She’s a Matron. What you may refer to in your realm as a Madame. She’s the one that supplies my girls and up until now that’s been her only use. I didn’t know she could do so much more.”
“Again I ask Karver, fill me in. What the hell is going on? You knew about that look-a-like?”
“I think I’d rather let you beat it out of her. I told you, death to all with their own agendas, Drake. Now get to work!”
Drake located Mordonna heading into the brothel and threw her against the wall.
She smirked as his arm lay across her neck. “You can’t be this stupid!”
Drake shook off the intense feelings of rage boiling in him. “It was you!” he accused as he backed away.
She laughed wickedly watching him stumble and try to maintain the fire he was feeling more as he dropped to his knees. “How? Why?”
“For Evelyn. She was sick of that witch you married and I can completely understand. She messes everything up. She even killed my best girl! She had to go, Drake. It was just perfect to watch you, the man that was supposedly so in love with her, be her murderer!”
Drake clutched at his chest to try and fight down the urge to kill. “I don’t understand.”
“I sent my best girl to your realm to find me more souls. She was the best at her job! Supplied me with plenty of unfaithful men and it fed me so well! That is until she met you and that stupid friend of yours! You may remember her, Drake.” She waited for him to catch on and when she realized he had long since forgotten she threw her hands up even more infuriated.
“Was it that long ago? Have you killed so many you forget the ‘insignificant’ Hajar Femi?! Does that ring a bell or two now?”
“The succubus!” Drake growled. The veins in his eyes bulged as he realized the way he’s been attacking only married or engaged women. The first which reminded him so much of Zoe and the reason he couldn’t bear to be around her after he was touched by Mordonna.
“You had me under the Succubus seduction?”
“Succubae are the perfect creatures and I love my girls, every one of them! There are several stages to the seduction. First there’s the song, the soft whispers in the victims’ ear that causes them to fall madly in love with her. Then there is the killing, ridding the marriage of the female half. Finally the act is complete with sex. Once the man has been with my girl their soul is mine! Once she feeds on them I immediately feel empowered!” she stalked behind him menacingly as he crawled on his knees towards the door.
“You were completely different, thanks to Karver. That fire in you was so easy to manipulate. We all work on hellfire, so twisting you and making that fire attack that bitch that killed Hajar was simple.”
“Watching you squirm and cry over the pain you caused her, OH!” she shrieked. “Even better.”
Drake lifted his head as he got to his feet. “You just said the wrong thing Mordonna.”
He turned to her with a pleased look himself. A twisted smirk crossed his face as he summoned up a large fireball. “Hellfire is it? You loved watching my wife in pain? All this time you and Evelyn manipulated that fire in me?”
“How are you doing this?” she asked watching him take over the rage and urgency.
“I learned to control it. I had to in order to get her back. I just wanted to increase this power so I let you ramble on. You made it hard for me to touch my wife. You made her afraid of me and keep her distance and for what? Some easily replaceable whore? Say hello to Hajar when you see her!” He gathered the flames at the tips of his hands.
“Go to hell, Drake!”
“We’re already there!”
He tossed the flame at her and she immediately went up in smoke.
Her screams pierced the hall and echoed throughout the entire Pit as the flames consumed her. The force and the power behind Drake’s summon increased as he stared on. Her body fell to the ground in a smoldering pile of ash.
Karver turned to Evelyn whom he’d locked in his throne room. “One down, you’re next!”
“Wait, Karver please! I can still be of use to you!”
“You lost that claim when you started this scheme with Mordonna. What did you think would happen Evelyn? Did you really believe that I would let you go with a slap on the wrist? You knew more than anyone the consequences of betrayal”
“The girl! I know where she is. Jade. I’ve seen her! You talk about betrayal and you have no idea what’s happening right under your nose.”
His eyes pierced a bright red at her and he scowled as he grabbed her throat and began throttling her. “Talk! Where is she?”
“With…Drake…,” she coughed up.
He dropped her hard to the ground and turned his back as he thought about her words. “How sure are you about this?”
“I’d give my life on it.”
“Interesting offer,” he smiled wickedly as he turned back towards her.
She backed away as he offered his hand to help her to her feet. “Two days. If I don’t uncover this thing you mentioned as fact…I don’t have to finish that do I?”
“My Liege,” she said bowing as she exited the room.
He quickly made his way to the torture chamber and found it empty. Near the back wall he found Drake’s personal effects. A toy CJ treasured and a photo of Zoe.
His face burned with fury as he thought about the situation. “Drake,” he growled. He thought about how easily it would be to kill him. But why not make him suffer instead. “You just signed her death warrant,” he said tossing the image of Zoe to the ground, shattering the frame into pieces.