Shadows of Fate – Exceprt 4

Excerpt from book 2 of Oracle’s Legacy

warning: the following contains strong language.

Niagara, New York

Granger’s helicopter hovered over the roof of the bookstore around midnight, using the cover of darkness to mask his descent. He wasn’t sure if the building was being watched so he didn’t take any chances. He even bought Stone’s military-grade Night Owl, which set him back fifty million dollars. The helicopter, which specialized in stealth technology, was the fastest and quietest copter in the world, designed and built by a Stone company called Onyx. Only five were produced.

He entered the building only to get a bare foot in the face.

“Shit, Alba!” Granger stumbled back against the metal door with a loud thud. Her shielding abilities made it easy for her to sneak up on him.

“Shhhh, you’ll wake Ellis,” she hushed as she reached out to him.

“You just kicked me in the face!” he shouted, squinting at the woman whose hair was down and whose glasses didn’t cover her face. She was actually attractive when she wasn’t in drill sergeant mode.

“My apologies, but you should have phoned first.”

“I told Ellis I would be in today.” He felt his nose for any damage.

“Today not tonight.” She pointed out.

Why the hell did they have to be so damn technical? Both of them were anal.

“You didn’t bring your bags, and you have no change of clothes here. What would you like me to do?” Alba asked, taking his hand and leading him down the steps to the kitchen.

“I’ll manage don’t worry about it.”

She tore off a paper towel and wet it in the sink. “Hold your hand under your nose, you’re bleeding on my floor.”

He complied.

She ushered him to a chair at the table and wiped the blood from his nose. “I apologize for hurting you. Your powers should be healing you.”

They were and his energy took the pain away as well.

Granger couldn’t help but look at this woman he had known for nine years. She wasn’t the woman he knew. She seemed comfortable and almost stunning. Though she specialized in a form of self-defense rarely seen in the States, he had not known she was so effective at it. Then again, it was her powers that kept him from knowing her. She was a shielder. Not only could she shield her mind and body, but she could break shields as well.

Granger smiled.

“What?” she asked, cocking her head to the side.

“You like him.”

Her spine straightened. “Excuse me?”

“I can look at you and tell. You like him.”

“You need to get your rest since you will be leaving tomorrow.”

“No, we won’t. We made it to New York, so we have to stay put until we’re contacted.” He chuckled. “So talk to me, Alba, and tell me the many truths.”

“Good night, Augustus.” She balled the bloody tissue into her fist.

“If the age difference bothers you–”

“He is a Level Three as well. The age difference is nothing, considering we could both live up to five hundred years.”

“Or longer if you reach higher,” he added.

“Granger, he is suffering. Right now, his space is required.”

“That’s your crush for him talking, not the Level Three teacher. So, be the teacher and tell me: what would you say to two grown men who are on the path to enlightenment and have lost a loved one. Reach back to your own tragic past and tell me what you did.”

She closed her eyes and smiled before exhaling through her nostrils. “The first step is to visualize a better tomorrow without the past.”

“And the second step?”

“Move in that direction,” she said. She reached out and touched him on the shoulder. “Because you can’t live in the past, and if you try, you will only be living for ghosts who care nothing for you.” She opened her eyes, pinning him with her gaze. “Do you understand me?”

He nodded. The past could only make him strong if he learned from it, from Arjun. It was time to leave his mentor and friend behind.

“Now, please mind your business, and good night.” She nodded and left Granger behind, laughing.

Breathing deep, Granger looked around the dark kitchen, feeling the guards around the perimeter camouflaged, watchful. His energy stretched further, keeping an eye on the quiet city. He wandered to the refrigerator, opening it to see what kind of leftovers were there. There were two plastic containers, with red lids, filled with food. He reached for one but stopped when the energy in the room changed. He didn’t move as it crept around behind him, barely noticeable. This energy was like nothing he had felt before, an unfamiliar shadow. But there was a power behind it that made Granger wonder. It was strong enough to mask itself if it wanted to and yet allowed Granger to notice it.

“Who are you?” he asked.

The person cleared his throat as something scuffed across the floor. Granger turned to face a man he had only seen in Ellis’ mind. He had uneven choppy short black hair, a hard pale olive complexion, and wore a sloppy gray t-shirt and green sweat pants. Climbing on a chair at the table, he sat on the back of it with his feet in the seat. Leaning forward for balance, he placed his elbows on his thighs and clasped his hands together. Though he looked messy, there was a refined quality about him. His dark brown eyes almost looked black as they peered at him. Moon called him Devil’s Trill. Ellis called him Creed. He seemed to have a dark personality with a defined calm around him.

“The priest told you some interesting things didn’t she?” His dark voice was masculine, but soothing, and there was something hypnotic about it that reminded him of Ollie. More so than Ellis’ calm voice. “Did she also tell you that I have been watching you since you were born and before that when I knew you were going to exist?”

Granger closed the refrigerator door and leaned back against it, his arms folded across his chest.

“That is one of your defensive poses that helps keep your emotions in check. But in truth you want to hurt me bad.”

Hurt wasn’t the word. Kill was more like it. He could have saved Ollie, Arjun, his mother. Instead, he watched it all from his safety zone wherever that was. Ellis said the man only appeared if it was safe. He couldn’t possibly think it was safe right now in front of Granger.

“You are young, so you will never understand the truth of things until you mature more. Even your employee, Alba, in all her wisdom can’t completely understand this world the way those of us who lived in it longer can.”

“Where is Bones?”

“The boy is fine,” Creed said.

“You took him.”

“No, he is staying with me of his own free will. I can no more control him than I can control you.”

“Then what the hell do you want from me?”

“Only to protect you. And I have done a good job so far,” Creed said with pride in his chest.

“You lied to Ollie and Ellis.”

“I lie to a lot of people. Ellis will heal.”

“Yes, but will he forgive you for using his sister like you did? She died because of you.”

“But she died with purpose. I think that was a great accomplishment for her, considering she spent most of her life uselessly.”

Granger’s body moved across the room, tossing the table, kicking the man in the chair as it and Creed both fell back. The man’s eyes sparked wide with shock and fear. Granger picked him up by the neck, plowing him back into the floor. His spirit saw everything done, but did nothing to stop it. He had lost control again, just as he did with the assassin who killed Arjun.

When his body, mind, and soul unified again, he felt someone pulling at him, but he wouldn’t budge.

“Granger!” Ellis shouted. “Don’t hurt him. We need him to get Bones back.”

“Augustus, please.” Alba’s voice was stern, but fear trickled in her energy.

Looking into the terrified eyes of his prey, Granger saw a glimmer of Ellis. “Bastard, I can’t believe Ellis is biologically related to you,” Granger growled, lifting off the man and turning to face the others.

“What?” Ellis stumbled back. “What-what did you just say?”

“You heard me.” Granger stared him in the eyes. Ellis looked like he had just been the one assaulted. You and Ollie are related to Tesen. Creed’s your great-great grandfather. He sent him a message so Alba couldn’t hear.

“Creed?” Ellis pointed down at the man, not believing he had any children.

The asshole coughed.

“Creed?” Ellis rushed toward the man as Granger spun around. The man cringed on the floor. Granger hadn’t seen into the man’s mind before because his energy masked his thoughts. But in Creed’s fractured state, Granger saw raw images of abuse. Cornered in a dark room, young Creed, who was no more than eight, was beaten with fists until his face and body were blue. Images flashed of him, a young child, tied to a chair and about to be lashed on his bare chest and legs with a coarse rope. Visions of death screamed into Granger’s mind, seeing the boy reach for air as he drowned under scalding hot water. The abuse continued for seventeen years and ended with a bloody massacre in his family’s kitchen, after a last cruel lesson was struck across his back.

His eyes focused on Ellis, who was helping the man sit up and was wiping the sweat from his forehead, saying something in Italian over and over again. A song? Was Ellis singing? It was low but it carried a soft tune in the air. Creed’s eyes were off in the distance as they stared at Granger with fear. No sympathy came to Granger as he stared back.

“I underestimated the effects of what you would do to me,” Creed finally croaked out. “I saw it, but I had no idea.”

Granger turned around to look at the guards who must have entered the room when they heard the ruckus. They looked at Granger horrified. They feared him more now than ever.

“Straighten the room,” Granger commanded, and they moved.

Alba rubbed her arms, watching him with wonder, instead of fear. “What did he do to you?”

“He opened his mouth,” Ellis said, hitting the man on the back of his head. “Creed likes to provoke, and play games with people’s heads. I wouldn’t be surprised if all of this we’ve gone through was an elaborate scheme on his part.”

Granger was shocked. Ellis had already suspected it was Creed’s fault.

“Say what you will, but I never, never lifted a hand to him.” Creed’s mind slowly began to return. “Help me up,” he ordered.

“Where’s Bones?” Ellis asked.

“Safe,” Creed said with a face as cold as steel.

“No peanut butter cookies for you,” Ellis said, leaving to his room.

“What? No fair.” The Eyes of God pouted, a reaction that was nothing Granger expected. He looked like a sulking child. “Fine, you’ll see him, but not today. Only when it’s safe to travel.”

Ellis stopped walking. “Apologize.”

“Huh?”

“You heard me.” The tall scholar’s voice carried warning.

“I apologize, Granger, for what I said. I was out of line,” he said, sounding less than convincing, and his eyes showed something mischievous. “If I had known that you and Ollie were so close, and that your feelings for her were more than just friendship, I would never have said such things. I had no idea you two were so intimate.”

Ah, hell…

“What are you saying?” Ellis stepped forward, eyeing Granger. “He had a crush on Ollie, but they had no relationship.”

“Really?” Creed scoffed at Ellis as if the young man should know better.

Ellis turned his head sharply in Creed’s direction. “You’re lying.”

“Not this time. It was as short lived as she. Actually, it began and ended the moment you left her on his yacht.”

Ellis launched his body at Creed, but Granger and Alba both grabbed his arms, holding him back.

“Get off me!” he barked, pulling away from Granger. “Both of you can go to hell.” He stormed off.

“Are you happy?” Granger asked Creed, whose face became sorrowful.

“No, and I never will be.” He sighed. “I just forfeited my cookies for a very long time.” He shrugged.

“You’re a miserable SOB to use his sister like that against him.”

“He needs to get used to it. He needs to start seeing the truth and get his head out of the books because the truth is coming hard and fast.” Creed looked at Granger with mournful features. “If he can’t accept it, I will have to mourn his death as well.”

“You’re saying that everything you do is with a purpose.”

“As horrible as it seems. I have no need for uselessness.”

This man reminded Granger of Ollie. “You should have raised Ollie.”

“I almost did.” Creed sighed and rose. “But that is a story for another day. Just think, if I did she would be more twisted than she was. Hmmm…now that would be interesting to see.”

“What is wrong with-” Never mind Granger thought shaking his head turning to see Alba staring at them.

“I would like an introduction,” she said bitterly, nodding toward Creed.

Creed walked up to Alba, scrutinizing her. Granger saw concern trailing in their energy. Concern for Ellis. Alba’s new attraction. Creed’s grandson and adopted son. Granger held back a grin.

“Alba isn’t your real name. When are you going to tell him that?” Creed asked.

“Who is he?” Alba asked, shocked. “How can he read me?”

“He’s not reading you. He has the Eyes of God,” Granger informed her, so that she’d know he could see everything about her. She gawked in horror and surprise.

“You will keep that to yourself, like you did that little incident that happened twenty-one years ago,” Creed warned.

Alba stepped up to him like a soldier. “What else do you see?” her professional tone cold.

He shrugged. “That you aren’t good enough for him.” Creed walked past her. “I’ll take one of the unused rooms. Goodnight.”

“I’m not good enough,” she said saddened.

“That’s a concerned guardian speaking. Don’t worry. In his eyes I probably wasn’t good enough for Ollie.” Granger sighed, wishing he’d had the chance to find out.

“What was she like?” she asked.

Granger rotated his head easing the tension in his neck as he checked out how fast the kitchen had been straightened. He tried to forget about her, but there was no way he could do that. For the first time, he had felt a passion for someone. A love different from that of a friend or father. He had cared for women before, but nothing like what his heart wanted from Ollie.

“She was hellfire,” he said, walking off. Going into a room that was clean and unoccupied, he closed the door and slid down it to the floor. Hellfire wasn’t the right word. She was fire but she was also ice. As cold as an arctic winter if she had to be. The only time she ever hesitated to do what needed to be done was when it pertained to her family.

He was going to miss Arjun for a long time, but for some reason he couldn’t feel he would miss Ollie the same way. It wasn’t the fact he hadn’t known her the same length of time, it was something else. Since the moment she died, he had a feeling that didn’t sit well with him. Though she had died, her presence kept coming back to haunt him. It transformed Bones and, in a sense, him as well. Every day he felt a little less control over his existence. The cold was starting to fill him and he wasn’t sure he wanted it to stop. Feeling nothing was good right now. Then he wouldn’t care who died or who hurt him and the people around him. He just wouldn’t care.

Ollie, I think I understand you more now than I did.

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