“What do we do,” asked Janet.
“I know what I would do, but that’s not feasible with you two. We’d better get going. If we keep moving, then there’s less of a chance that the others will catch up with us. It’s harder to nail down a moving target.”
“Wait a minute, I want to hear what you would do,” insisted Andrea.
“Well, I would face the problem head on and terminate the contract.”
“That sounds good. Let’s do that.”
“You don’t understand, in order to terminate it you’d have to find out who is behind it and…persuade them to terminate the contract.”
“I know what you’re saying Marko. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to…terminate the contract. I’ve killed before and if that’s what it takes to keep my sister safe then I’ll do it,” said Andrea grimly.
Marko raised a surprised eyebrow and looked over at Janet, who nodded her confirmation.
“In order for me to find out who is behind the contract, I would have to go underground. It wouldn’t be safe for me to leave the two of you behind.”
“So take us with you.”
“That would be disastrous. We would be dealing with ruthless individuals who strike first and ask questions later.”
“I’m not afraid,” Andrea said defiantly.
“That’s the problem. You don’t have a cautious bone in your body and you’re hard-headed.”
“What do you mean hard…”
“I mean you don’t listen, because you always think you know everything. I tried to tell you about that cat and you wouldn’t listen.”
“Oh come on, what are the odds that a possessed…”
“That’s what I’m trying to tell you Andrea. In the circles we’re travelling in, the odds are ten to one that even the most harmless looking person or thing is a dangerous. Things and people are rarely ever what they appear to be, when magic is in play. If you’re going to survive this… mission, then you’ve got to get it through your head that you cannot take anyone or anything at face value. That goes for both of you. If we go underground, I may only get one chance to warn you about something. You arguing with me or doing the opposite of what I say could get us all killed.”
“Don’t you think you’re being a little dramatic?”
“No, I don’t. See this is what I’m talking about! You don’t take anything seriously. All the things you’ve seen since we started out and you still won’t accept the fact that anything is possible. I grew up with magic, yet you refuse to acknowledge the fact that I know what I’m talking about!”
“I never said you didn’t know what you were doing. Look, I’m sorry ok? It’s just that well, Ethan and I are close…at least I thought we were close. When he betrayed me and kidnapped my sister…I can’t even begin to explain how that felt. Ever since then, I guess I’ve been having trouble trusting anyone. All the freaky things that keep happening on top of that, makes me feel helpless. I’m used to living by my wits. I haven’t figured out how to do that when nothing is what it seems to be. I guess I’ve been in denial, because I’m…scared that I won’t be able to protect my sister. I don’t know what to do about those feelings.”
“For starters, you could trust me. Work with your sister and I as a team. Do you think that you can do that?”
Andrea held up a restraining finger and said, “I’m all set to be a team player as soon as I do one last thing.”
Janet and Marko exchanged bewildered looks as Andrea walked away. She disappeared through a side chapel door. They were talking strategy when she returned looking visibly shaken.
“What’s wrong with you Andrea,” asked Janet.
“Well, I called to give Jagathy a piece of my mind for getting us into this mess. I told him what that gypsy said about somebody in his organization leaking information. Jagathy flipped and started talking about us being burned. He said our lives depended upon getting back to the Doorkeeper compound ASAP. He’s sending Palin to pick is up in a squad car.”
“So you told him where we are? That’s just great. How do you know we can trust him? I don’t get you Andrea. One minute you want me take you underground, the next minute you want to go crawling back to the Doorkeepers. I thought you trusted me.”
“I do trust you Marko..”
“Well you sure as hell have a funny way of showing it!”
“I’m still down for doing things on our own. However, we have almost no money, no food, and I don’t know about you two but I’m exhausted. I just want to go back long enough to recharge and regroup. Besides, I want to have a doctor look at those scratches on Janet’s neck. They’re pretty deep. I don’t want them getting infected. Feel her forehead. I think she might be running a temperature.”
Marko placed a hand on Janet’s forehead and swore under his breath. He had noticed that her eyes were bleary, but had chalked it up to their sleepless night. She could have a fever. He dropped resignedly into a pew, ignoring Janet’s insistence that she was fine.
The last thing he wanted was for her to get sick. Besides, it would be nice to get a good night’s sleep and have a real meal, instead of the fast food they’d been forced to eat. It was one thing to put himself in harm’s way due to exhaustion and quite another when others were depending on him.
It didn’t take Palin long to find them. They hurriedly transferred their things to the squad car and climbed in. Palin didn’t ask any questions and they didn’t volunteer any information. Andrea couldn’t be sure, but it looked as though Palin and Marko had shot one another hateful looks. The long ride to the Doorkeeper compound passed in preoccupied silence, each occupant of the squad car distracted by their own troubled thoughts.
They arrived and Palin directed them to the rooms they’d previously occupied. The sisters opted to share a bed, so that Marko could remain close in the adjoining room. Wordlessly, they went to their rooms and got ready for bed. Janet slid between the cool sheets and almost instantly fell asleep. Andrea lay beside her sister turning things over in her mind, until sleep overtook her.
The hours ticked off, as the trio slumbered. At midnight, some small sound in the hallway disturbed Andrea’s fitful sleep. Her eyes opened gazing into the face of her sister. She looked so peaceful with her eyes half open. Andrea smiled, remembering the first time as a child she discovered that her sister slept that way. The memory comforted Andrea and she felt herself relax. As her eyes slid shut, Janet shifted and a shaft of moonlight illuminated her face. Her eyes reflected the light. The glow startled Andrea fully awake. She sat bolt upright.
“What the hell,” exclaimed Andrea.
“Janet awoke with a jolt, “What’s wrong?”
The unnatural shine was gone so fast, Andrea told herself that she had imagined it.
“I…nothing. It must have been a trick of the moonlight, or maybe I wasn’t fully awake just now.”
“What did you see?”
“It’s not important. Go back to sleep Janet. I didn’t mean to wake you.”