Andrea reluctantly handed over the car keys. Marko went out and moved the car. He returned and the trio climbed the steps back above ground. In silence, they made their way out to the car. Andrea slid behind the wheel. Janet voluntarily got into the back seat and let Marko sit in the front. Andrea blinked back angry tears and started the engine. Marko navigated them through narrow alleys and back streets, in an attempt to keep them under the radar for as long as possible.
They rode in silence for several miles. At a red light, Marko turned and looked at them. “Now that we’re some distance away. It should be safe for us to talk strategy. What’s the plan of attack?”
Andrea and Janet exchanged uncomfortable glances in the rearview mirror. Each waited for the other to speak up. Marko looked from one to the other and sighed exasperatedly when neither of them spoke.
“Don’t tell me that you don’t trust me enough to let me in on the plan. Now that my life is at risk as well as yours, I think I have a right to know what’s going on,” he fumed.
Janet leaned forward and placed a hand on his shoulder, “It’s not that Marko. Believe me we…I trust you completely. We don’t exactly have a plan. After Ethan kidnapped me from the doorkeeper compound, things moved so quickly that we haven’t had time to strategize. I can tell you that we are supposed to be going head-to-head with a very bad man. I think he’s a warlock or something. Anyway, he wants to get his hands on the talisman and we’re supposed to be retrieving the crystal he uses to amplify his powers.”
“They sent you two out on your own to do this?”
Andrea cleared her throat and mumbled, “Not exactly, Daksha is supposed to come with us but I don’t trust her so…”
“Kind of like you don’t trust me? Your suspicious mind is going to get the two of you killed.”
“We don’t need her! She couldn’t even protect her partner. How do you think we got the talisman? This was her mission and she failed. Her partner is dead. We’ve gotten this far without her. We’ll be fine.”
“You all are just starting out. Already, your sister got kidnapped and you all were almost ripped apart by a pack of possessed wolves. Ethan got bitten protecting the two of you. Think about it, Charles did all that over a necklace. What do you think he’s going to do when he realizes you two are trying to take away his crystals? What’s your strategy for dealing with his next onslaught? Huh? Don’t have one? Great so, we’re just flying by the seat of our pants?”
Their embarrassed expressions were confirmation enough. Marko slumped back in his seat. What the hell had he gotten himself into? Now, he understood why Andrea didn’t want to leave Ethan behind. He was evidently the only one with any semblance of a plan. That sneaky bastard was always thinking three steps ahead of everyone else.
Marko was so irritated that he didn’t trust himself to speak. The last thing he wanted to do was become embroiled in another argument with Andrea. They turned onto a quiet residential street. He looked out of the window and willed himself to calm down.
“Do we at least know where we’re going right now,” he asked.
Andrea sounded irritated, “Give me some credit Marko. I wouldn’t just be driving around aimlessly. We’re following up on one of the leads from the Doorkeepers. We’re going to see if we can get one of his former followers to give us something we can use.”
“So, this person knows we’re coming?”
“Yes, but he doesn’t exactly know the real reason for our visit.”
“This ought to be fun,” murmured Marko before lapsing back into irritated silence.
A reflected glint of fading sunlight on chrome in the rearview mirror caught his eye. He watched in alarm as a figure on a motorcycle came speeding up behind them.
“Ladies, I don’t want you to panic, but we’re being followed,” he warned.
Andrea looked in her rearview mirror and reflexively stepped on the gas. The motorcyclist rocketed towards them. Marko barked instructions for them to avoid looking at their pursuer. He craned his neck to see if there was a weapon in play. A car suddenly pulled from a side street directly in front of them, forcing Andrea to jam her foot onto the brakes. The cyclist caught up and drew alongside them.
He was beside the driver’s door, when Andrea inexplicably turned her head and looked directly at him. Marko shouted for them to look away but it was too late for her. The cyclist raised his right hand and a blinding flash of light filled the car. Andrea screamed and swerved away towards a row of parked cars. Marko grabbed the wheel and jerked them back into their lane.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the cyclist beeline for them again. Marko raised his hand with a grunted power word and punched the heel of his hand towards the cyclist’s helmet. He caught a glimpse of the visor shattering as the front of the helmet crumpled. The man fell limply off of the bike like a marionette with cut strings. Marko turned his full attention back to steering the car.
“I can’t see! I can’t see,” yelled Andrea.
Marko had to raise his voice over hers, “Andrea listen to me. We have to pull over. I’ve got the wheel. All I need you to do is step on the gas or brake when I tell you to. I’m going to navigate us out of traffic. Do you understand?”
“I…yes, I understand,” panted Andrea.
Marko turned the car down the next street and pulled into a driveway. They appeared to be alone but it was impossible to say how many people were after them. He hurriedly switched seats with Andrea and drove around until the traffic thinned enough for him to be certain they weren’t still being tailed.
Janet leaned over the seat and turned her sisters face to hers thinking that her sister just needed to let her eyes readjust. She drew back in shock at the sight of the thick, milky film over her eyes. Janet was glad her sister couldn’t see the horrified way that she recoiled in disgust and stared at her. She didn’t even notice that Marko had parked behind a closed restaurant until he cut off the engine.
Andrea was still weeping and Janet was at a loss for encouraging words. He gently turned Andrea toward him and moved her hands away from her face. Marko spoke soothing words and Janet stroked Andrea’s hair until her wailing subsided. He needed concentration to break the sightless spell.
Mark closed his eyes and breathed deeply, focusing inward until frustration and anger stopped driving his heart rate. He opened his eyes, placed both hands over Andrea’s eyes and uttered a spell to counteract the curse robbing her of sight. He removed his hands and she opened her eyes. The cloudy film over her eyes was gone. Janet let out a shocked gasp and Marko smiled. His relief turned into bewilderment when Andrea began to panic.
“I still can’t see. I knew you wouldn’t be able to help me! I knew it! Janet? Janet, where are you? Help me,” shrieked Andrea.
Janet leaned over the seat and embraced her sister, “I’m right here Andrea. Shhh, it’s gonna be okay. What happened Marko? Can you break the spell or not?”
“I did break the spell. Look at her eyes. They are clear. Your sister is having a hysterical reaction because she doesn’t trust me.”
“Do you mean she can see?”
“I mean her suspicious mind is playing tricks on her. The only thing preventing her from being able to see is her mistrust of me.”
“I can’t see because you didn’t break the spell you sonovabitch! I knew we couldn’t trust you. We never should have left Ethan behind. You’re gonna get us killed! I hate you!”