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Cursed Hadley, Page 7

Jessica Sorensen

  “Me, too,” she mumbles through a yawn. “One day, maybe we’ll have to do some detective work and figure out what he really does.”

  “Wouldn’t that be funny?” I muse. “To use the detective skills he taught us when we were younger to bust his ass for doing something illegal.”

  She laughs tiredly. “It would be pretty funny. He’d probably get pissed off, though.” A beat of silence drags by. “Had, if he ever hits one of us again, I think we should report the incident to the police.”

  My fingers drift to my cheek. “I thought about that, too, but at the same time, if the police try to intervene and social services gets called, we might be separated.” My hand falls to my lap. “But if he hits any one of you, I’ll do it. And I’m going to get him back.”

  “I wish we could just gain guardianship of each other.” Londyn yawns again. “You’re almost eighteen and way more responsible than Dad.”

  “I wish I could, but I’m not sure the system works like that.” No, unfortunately, if our dad ever does lose guardianship, my sisters are probably going to end up in group homes, even though I’ll be a legal adult in just a month.

  I remain sitting on the dresser for a few more minutes, staring at the neighbors’ creepy backyard, listening to Londyn breathe heavily as she dozes off. Eventually, my eyelids grow heavy and I move to my bed, deciding playing guard all night isn’t possible. But the moment I hop off the dresser, a large SUV pulls into their driveway and parks near the porch. The headlights click off, and four figures hop out.

  Clicking off the lamp, I hunker down as the figures move toward the house. When they step onto the porch, the porch light casts across their faces, revealing the four figures are none other than Blaise, Alex, Jaxon, and Rhyland.

  Like earlier, they’re dressed in all black and appear to be having a heated argument. Rhyland is in Blaise’s face, his hands balled at his sides as he reams into him. Blaise stands stiffly with his arms crossed, his lips never parting, while Jaxon and Alex hop up onto the railing and watch.

  As Rhyland continues to bite Blaise’s head off, Blaise’s gaze suddenly darts to my bedroom window. Panicking, I crouch down lower, even though there’s no way he could have seen me.

  With his gaze fixed on my window, he nods once. Then Rhyland nods, visibly relaxing and giving Blaise’s shoulder a pat. He says a few more words, and then the four of them head into the house. The really creepy part is that, when each guy steps through the doorway, they glance up at my window.

  My stomach twists with uneasiness as I tiptoe to my bed and climb in. With everything that has happened today, I don’t expect to fall asleep quickly, yet the moment my head touches the pillow, dreamland pulls me under.

  “Do you think she’ll actually see us?”

  “I’m not sure.”

  “Why are we here then?”

  “I already told you why. To see if she’s one of them.”

  “There’s no way she could be.”

  “You don’t know that for sure.”

  “Her sisters for sure aren’t.”

  “Yeah, but she gave off a different vibe. And she’s completely immune to our charms, which has never happened in the course of our existence. Plus, her dad … he’s definitely been branded by one of us.”

  “Look at her wall. She has a Mirror of Seeing.”

  “Who the hell’s watching her!” A growl rips through the air, pulling me wide awake.

  My eyelids flutter open, and I peer around the dark-kissed bedroom until my gaze lands on four cloaked figures looming near the window.

  Like the four cloaked figures I saw on the day my mom died.

  Thought I saw.

  I blink several times, waiting for the hallucination to fade, but the figures remain.

  Every muscle in my body coils tightly as I reach over to wake up Londyn, but her bed is empty.

  Where did she go?

  The four cloaked figures silently watch me as I feel across the bed, searching for my phone, to no avail. Giving up, I stumble to my feet, preparing to run. But in the pound of a heartbeat, the tallest of the figures is in front of me, grabbing my arm.

  “Don’t run, sweetheart,” he purrs. “The fun is just getting started.”

  The recognizable voice makes my heart slam against my chest.

  “B-Blaise,” I sputter. “What the hell are you doing in my room!”

  He snaps his hand out, wrapping his fingers around my neck. I lift my knee, preparing to knee him in the balls, but his fingers remain loose around my neck as he lightly strokes my pulse with his thumb. A relaxing warmth spills through my body.

  “Relax, sweetheart.” With his free hand, he draws the hood from his head, the moonlight trickling in from outside making his blond hair look white.

  “I thought we already established that you’re not supposed to call me vomit-inducing nicknames,” I manage to whisper through the almost frighteningly calm sedation settling over me.

  One of the others chuckles.

  “And I thought we already established you shouldn’t try to order me around.” Blaise continues to caress the side of my neck. “I’m your master, not the other way around.”

  I let out a dazed laugh. “Are you fucking being serious right now? Or are you just that arrogant and moronic?”

  His eyes flash green, the glow illuminating through my bedroom and across the other clocked figures’ faces, giving me a good glimpse of their features.

  Rhyland, Alex, and Jaxon.

  “Why are you guys in my dream?” I ask as the light in Blaise’s eyes shines brighter.

  It feels like maybe I should be startled that his eyes look like lights from an alien spaceship or something, but that strange calmness trickling through me overpowers any other emotion.

  “Because we need to find out something.” Blaise’s eyes dim as he wets his lips with his tongue.

  Then, unexpectedly, he’s leaning in …

  To kiss me?

  Freak out, Hadley! Do not kiss this guy, even if it is in your dreams!

  But that euphoric state I’ve reached won’t allow me to budge.

  “Wait.” Rhyland steps forward, lowering his hood from his head. Strands of his short brown hair are sticking up, and his eyes are shimmering like stars.

  “Don’t,” Blaise growls. “We all agreed it should be me.”

  “I know that, but …” Rhyland studies me with his head tilted to the side. “Now that I’ve seen how she reacts to you, I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”

  “She’s fine,” Blaise bites out, almost in desperation.

  “Take a look at her eyes, Blaise.” Rhyland searches my eyes. “She despises you.”

  “But I …” Blaise’s fingers on my neck begin to tremble.

  “I know.” Rhyland’s expression softens as he glances at his brother. “But we need her as calm and as comfortable with this as possible, or else it might not work, and then we won’t know for sure.”

  Shutting and opening his eyes, Blaise’s eyes stray to my lips before he abruptly releases my neck and steps back to join his brothers.

  Rhyland turns to me. “I need you to relax, okay?”

  Shaking my head, I back away. “You guys snuck into my house in the middle of the night, dressed up as like the freakin’ Grim Reaper or something, and you want me to relax?”

  Alex snorts a laugh, fiddling with a piercing in his brow. “Gods, it’s been too long since I’ve seen someone snap at Rhyland. I forgot how entertaining it is to watch.”

  Jaxon’s lips quirk slightly as he stares at me in curiosity. “It definitely is. I can’t wait to see what other tricks she can do.”

  “I’m not a circus animal,” I seethe, “so stop talking about me like I am, you stupid asshat.”

  Jaxon rubs his hand across his mouth, trying to wipe away a smile.

  Alex chuckles, drawing his hood down and rolling up the sleeves of his cloak. The ink tattooing his arms is glowing.

  More glowing?

sp; “You should be proud of yourself, princess,” he tells me. “Jaxon rarely smiles.”

  “Stop calling me stupid nicknames,” I warn, aiming a shaky finger at him. “And if you guys don’t get out of my room right now, I’m going to scream. This is all too creepy with your glowing and your smirks and your cloaks.”

  “Go ahead and scream then,” Blaise challenges with his arms crossed.

  I wasn’t planning on actually doing it, but since he challenged me …

  I open my mouth and let out a piercing scream.

  Not a single sound leaves my lips.

  Clearing my throat, I try again, but all that releases from my mouth is a breathy exhale.

  “What did you guys do to me?” I whisper as I back away until I bump into the wall.

  Appearing apologetic, Rhyland reduces the space between us and braces his hands against the wall, trapping my head between his arms.

  “We’re sorry, Hadley. We really are, but we need to know.” An unsteady breath falters from his lips, then he leans in and seals his lips to mine.

  I stand motionless, my lips frozen, confliction twirling inside me.

  I should shove him away, right? I shouldn’t want him to kiss me.

  But wait … Is he even kissing me? His lips sure as hell haven’t moved yet, nor has his tongue slipped inside my mouth. All he’s really doing is sucking in shaky inhales through his nose.

  “Fuck,” he finally growls shakily, removing his hands from the wall and moving them to my hips. His fingers tremble just as badly as his breaths as he grips the hem of my shirt. “I think I … I want to …” He struggles to breathe evenly. “Fuck.” Then he crashes his lips against mine, parting my lips with his tongue.

  This time, without questioning, I know he’s kissing me.

  I kiss him back. God, do I kiss him back. I’m not even certain why, other than the searing heat of his lips feels as if he’s branding me.

  “Easy, Rhyland,” Alex cautions. “You’re going to end up branding her if you don’t stop.”

  Rhyland releases the most painful groan as he jerks back, gasping for air. “I’m sorry,” he breathes out, his gaze welded to mine.

  My lips part. I’m not even sure what I’m going to say. Then Jaxon is suddenly in front of me and pressing his lips to mine.

  He groans at the contact, sparkling warmth flowing through me and briefly stealing my ability to rationalize.

  “You taste so good,” he murmurs against my lips while tangling his fingers in my hair.

  As quickly as the kiss begins, it ends, as he’s jerked away from me.

  Before I can even catch my next breath, Alex’s lips are on mine, equally as searing as Rhyland’s and Jaxon’s, yet somehow, a coolness whips through my veins. It feels so amazing, mixing with the heat and creating the perfect temperature.

  “Enough,” Rhyland demands. “You’re going to overwhelm her.”

  “Just a little longer,” Alex pleads then steals another kiss.

  My head is spinning from all the kisses and heat that I can barely comprehend who I am, let alone push him away.

  “Alex,” Rhyland warns. “You need to stop for now, or else it’s never going to be able to happen again.”

  Sighing against my lips, Alex pushes back and reels toward the now open window. Lowering his head, he ducks out and leans forward …

  “Wait,” I call out, but he jumps anyway. “Oh, my God.” I move toward the window, wondering how hurt he is, since my bedroom is on the second floor, but Alex snags ahold of my arm.

  “He’s okay.” He stares into my eyes, a light flickering in his pupils. “We all are.” Then he leans in, softly kisses my cheek, and whispers in my ear, “Go back to sleep, our little cursed fire reaper. You’re safe now. We’d never do anything to hurt you.”

  “What …?” I trail off as I float toward my bed, my eyelids slipping shut as a sleepiness blankets me.

  The last thing I see before my eyes slip shut is Blaise’s glowing eyes.

  I realize he is the only one who didn’t kiss me, and for the smallest, lose-my-mind moment, I actually feel sad he didn’t.

  Chapter 7

  I wake up the next morning feeling as though I spent all night throwing back shots. My head and cheek are pulsating with pain, and my mind is groggy. That doesn’t mean I forgot about the dream from last night.

  “That was by far the strangest dream I’ve ever had,” I mutter as I sit up in bed and stretch my arms above my head.

  Combing my fingers through my hair, I shove the blankets off me. Londyn’s bed has already been made and her boxes are emptied out. She must have gotten up really early in order to finish unpacking. Or I just got up late, I realize as I check the time on my phone.

  It’s almost noon. I never sleep this late, unless I’m hungover.

  Frustrated with my laziness, I drag my ass out of bed and tear open the box where all my clothes are stuffed. I dig out a black T-shirt, a pair of jeans, and then turn to take a shower. But as my attention gets snagged by the house next door, memories of the dream flood my mind so potently I swear I can feel the heat of their lips on mine. The dream felt so vivid, so real. And I was so comfortable kissing them. It makes no sense.

  Just like all those many strange things they mentioned, like about the mirror on my wall …

  My gaze floats to the mirror, green light illuminating my skin. What did they call it again …? The Mirror of Seeing?

  Picking up my phone, I type Mirror of Seeing into the search engine. Nothing pops up that stands out.

  “What were you expecting, Hadley? For it to declare you have some magical mirror hanging on the wall and that your next-door neighbors are Grim Reapers or something?” I pause, remembering something else that happened in my dream. They called me a cursed fire reaper.

  When I type those words into the search engine, a lot of bizarre articles pop up, mostly about Grim Reapers. One in particular does mention a cursed fire reaper, and just so happens to be on the site linked to the Honeyton High School. But I need a student ID number to read the book, or I can check it out directly from the school. Since I don’t have my ID yet and school doesn’t start for another week, I can’t access it right now.

  Frustration burst through me, which has me really questioning my sanity.

  Why does this even matter? It was just a dream!

  Forcing myself to forget about it, I change out of my pajamas and secure my hair into a high ponytail. Then I head downstairs to get some lunch, since it’s already past noon.

  When I step into the kitchen, my dad is at the counter, dressed in a jacket, jeans, and work boots, and he’s stuffing a sandwich into a baggie.

  “Where are you going?” I wonder as I collect a cup from a box and grab the juice from the fridge.

  “To work.” He tosses the bagged sandwich into a lunchbox and adds a water bottle.

  “It’s Saturday.” I take a sip of my juice.

  “Yeah, so? People sometimes have to work on Saturdays.” He zips up the lunchbox and collects his car key he got made the other day from the local hardware store. “The job I got actually requires me to work seven days a week.”

  I nearly drop my cup. “So, you’re going to be working every day?”

  He nods, crossing the kitchen toward the door. “It’s called a full-time job, Hadley, and it’s about time I got one.” He exits the house, slamming the door behind him.

  Man, he’s acting weird.

  Shaking my head, I hurry across the kitchen and open the door, stepping onto the small porch.

  My dad is already in his truck and backing down the driveway. He turns right on the road, heading in the opposite direction of the main part of town. I make a mental note of that, wishing my car was functional so I could tail him and find out where he’s working.

  “How long are we going to be gone today?”

  Voices float from next door as Rhyland, Blaise, Alex, and Jaxon file out of their house and down the front porch. Like yesterday, they’re dr
essed all in black, some with studded belts, some with chains on their beltloop. Rhyland even has studded suspenders hanging from the waistband of his jeans.

  “I’m not sure yet.” Alex tosses the keys to Rhyland. “The boss just said it was going to be a long job.”

  Jaxon sighs tiredly as he reaches a black SUV with tinted windows parked out front. “I’m still so tired from the last job. And being here.”

  “I know, but we don’t have a choice.” Rhyland rounds the front of the car and opens the driver’s side door. “Until we finish our debt, we can’t go home.”

  “I miss home,” Alex remarks longingly. “I miss the drinks, the drugs, the music.”

  “I do, too.” Blaise stops at the passenger side door and grabs the door handle. “Although, I’m starting to think our time here might not be a complete punishment.” His eyes stray toward my house, quickly finding me. He fleetingly stiffens before that stupid trademark smirk graces his lips. “Gentlemen, we have an audience.”

  Four sets of eyes lock on me. But that four hastily turns to three as Jaxon yanks open the door and dives inside the SUV so swiftly you’d think looking at me burned his retinas or something.

  “Hadley,” Rhyland greets me with a smile.

  Images of last night’s dream consume my thoughts, and my skin stupidly warms, but I keep a neutral expression.

  “Rhyland,” I say in a formal tone.

  He chuckles, dragging his hand across his mouth.

  “Where’s my greeting?” Blaise questions, drawing my attention.

  “Right here.” I flip him the middle finger.

  Dirty dream or not, the asshole still messed up my car.

  Alex snorts a laugh as he pulls open the back door to the SUV. “She’s so feisty.”

  “Yeah, I know.” Blaise’s intense gaze sears into me. “Maybe we should tame it out of her.”

  “Nah, I like it,” Alex comments before climbing into the SUV.

  Heat rushes through me. “Maybe I should train the asshole out of you,” I quip to Blaise with my hands on my hips

  His eyes narrow, his hands clenching at his sides as he steps forward. “I think it might be time—”