Elements by Nia Markos – Chapter Twelve
My eyes latched onto Aidan’s when we entered the room. He nodded slightly to me, his presence somehow reassuring me. Odd he suddenly made me feel this way. Up till now, he was nothing but aggravating. Instead of sitting, I stood next to my mother who took a seat next to Bet.
“Is there anything else?” I forced myself to look at Eliana, not wanting her to see how she unnerved me.
“I think that will be all for now. We should be ready to leave at first light.” Her words were more like an order.
“I’m not going anywhere unless I know where I’m going.” She would not rule over me. Her eyes blazed briefly in anger before she answered me.
“We have a place in mind, although there may be a problem. It doesn’t matter, you will be safe there.”
“What problem?” I insisted.
Her silence spoke volumes. She did not want to answer me. Anger like I had never known before grew in me. I was ready to explode at her. Calm down. Aidan was looking at me, worried. I told you to stop that. I pushed back at him.
“We have a place in mind. I’d prefer to keep everyone together.” Aidan answered for her, his last thought to me had me counting to ten, trying to control my anger.
“Where is this place? Why wouldn’t we be together?” The rest of them could come, but if Eliana wanted to leave she was welcome to do it. Aidan smiled slightly, hearing my last thought.
“It is the place where you found me and Elron this morning. We are not sure if only you will be able to enter with us. Our side can go there easily. I’m not sure about your mother.” Aidan explained.
“Oh. I don’t know how I ended up there either.” Still surprised I somehow breached into that world.
“Yes, that is a mystery.” Asher spoke under his breath. The man realized he spoke aloud, and quickly glanced at his wife before falling silent again. She did not even notice as she continued unrelentingly staring at me.
“Can’t we find somewhere else? I need my mother with me. We can’t leave her unprotected.”
“Don’t worry about me.” My mom reassured me.
“Whoever planted the explosion at your apartment thought you were inside at the time. It was luck you weren’t there. Bet was sent to keep you safe. She should have known what was going to happen. Her feelings for you caused her to lose focus of her assignment.” Eliana harshly admonished her daughter.
Bet’s face showed shock at her mother’s cruel words. I walked behind the sofa Bet was sitting on and placed my hand on her shoulder, squeezing it. This woman needed to be put in her place. What was the matter with her?
“Your mother was already intercepted by Vanya to keep her safe. We were not in time though to save my other son. He was caught in the explosion. Now you see how easy it is to lose sight of what must be done.” She finished her sentence; her eyes accusingly looked at me.
Stunned, I realized that was why Bet was upset yesterday. I looked at Aidan, his anguish at the mention of his brother tore at me. I saw in his mind how he stood in front of the building when the explosion ripped it apart. What could I do to ease their pain? Was this my fault?
No Alexa, never your fault. Don’t blame yourself. He shouldn’t have gone in alone.
Aidan tried to ease my guilt.
“None of this is your fault.” He reassured me. “They would have found you.” He stopped mid-sentence, something catching his attention outside.
Noticing his gaze focusing on something outside the window, Asher quickly stood, walking towards it. He pulled the curtain aside and we all saw what Aidan had. Four lights were meandering down the road towards our location. Before Asher could turn to warn us, the ground shook beneath my feet. An explosion rocked the house’s foundation. Everyone was thrown off their feet as another shock wave hit us. Aidan and Asher were thrown away from the window as I stumbled and fell to my knees. I heard my name being called, but I could not find my voice. Black smoke filled my lungs. Panic rose in me. Bet ran towards me when another blast threw her aside. I saw Aidan getting up from where he had fallen not far away from me, trying to reach me before another explosion threw him back.
Asher grabbed onto Eliana, vanishing with her before my eyes. I saw Elron lift Bet to her feet while she frantically tried to find me in the destroyed room. I searched for my mother, but could not see her. Finding my voice, I yelled for her, my throat growing hoarse from the smoke. Where was she? Where was Rider? My father. Would I lose him before I got to know him? Tears from the smoke blinded me. I crawled towards the broken window, the fresh air coming in from it drawing me to it. Aidan was somewhere close to the window. Maybe I could find him. I lost all sense of him in the attack. Who was out there? I neared the window, gulping in the clean air. Aidan lay close by, his body under parts of a sofa and a table. The steady rise and fall of his chest let me know he was alive.
In the silence that descended inside the house, I heard Bet’s voice cry out for me. I could barely make her out from across the room. The woman, Vanya, was standing next to her, with Elron on the other side. She said something to them I could not hear. Elron nodded, touched Bet’s arm, vanishing before my eyes. Vanya started walking slowly towards me. I felt a hand on my arm, nearly screaming at its contact. Vanya’s eyes followed to where Aidan was standing next to me. She nodded at him before also disappearing.
Voices outside had me looking to see who was out there. Whoever they were, they were coming closer. Aidan pulled me up beside him, supporting me when I stumbled. He was about to speak when I saw a face in the window staring back at me. A face out of a nightmare, hideous and twisted, filled the space. The man scowling at me had an ugly red scar running from his right eyebrow, down across the bridge of his nose and his lips, to his left cheek. I screamed as he broke the remaining parts of the window and tried to reach me with his hands. Aidan pulled me back, placing himself in front of me. The look of menace on the man’s face held me riveted in place. I held on to Aidan’s arm trying to pull him away. He was ripped from my side by some unseen force. Thrown clear across the room, like some rag doll, I saw Aidan quickly get to his feet, running back towards me. I faced the window again, seeing the hideous creature trying to enter the room. His wrinkled hands, long bony fingers with sharp razor-like fingernails reached towards me. I was mesmerized by the chilling look he gave me. Turning towards Aidan, I reached out for him. He was still too far away. I closed my eyes just before the nightmare behind me touched me. I felt like I was floating for a second, like I was not part of the world around me. Silence filled my ears; a blinding light lit my still-closed eyes. Landing softly on what felt like a soft carpet, I slowly opened my eyes. I landed on my knees, my arms still stretched out reaching for Aidan. Above me the sun blazed strongly. I found myself in a forest, the towering trees surrounding me.