As a ‘Welcome’ to my new followers here and everywhere else, and as a “Thank you” to all who have taken the time to review my books, here is another deleted chapter from NO PEACE FOR THE DAMNED.
A little background, this is the third of four added chapters that gave a bit more background to how Magnolia came to rely so much on Thirteen and his opinions of her. During the final edit, it was decided that these chapters weren’t necessary as we wanted to get to the heart of the story a bit faster. If you missed the first two deleted chapters, you can check them out here.
In this chapter, Magnolia is finally learning how to drive. It doesn’t quite go as smoothly as everyone had hoped. 😉
The next weekend I sat in the driver’s seat of Thirteen’s car, my hands white-knuckling the steering wheel. I tried to calm down but couldn’t.
“What just happened, Magnolia?”
My heart pounded so loudly in my ears I barely heard him. “He recognized me, Thirteen. That man back there. He recognized me.”
Thirteen turned in his seat to look back at the crosswalk. I’d pulled to the curb and from the rearview mirror I could see the guy staggering, holding his head while his friends helped him back to the sidewalk. He wiped at his face. Blood streamed from his nose, I could see it dripping onto his suit jacket from here. Damn it!
“What did you do to him?” Thirteen’s voice was low. His trying-not-to-pass-judgment-but-still-disapproving voice.
“That man, Jeremy Jefferson, he came to the estate for Father’s holiday party last year. It was only a few weeks before I escaped. When he saw me through the windshield just now, he recognized me.”
“What did you do to him, Magnolia?”
I adjusted my grip, shifted in my seat. “Nothing, okay? I just erased my image from his mind. That’s all.”
“Then why did he collapse. Why is he still bleeding from his sinuses?”
I glanced in the rearview mirror again. His friends had moved him to a nearby bench. One was on his cell phone, calling their doctor friend before taking Jeremy to the ER.
“So, maybe I was a little too … forceful. I didn’t mean to. He surprised me.” Thirteen cocked a brow. My hackles rose. “I won’t have people recognizing me, Thirteen. It was my choice to stay around here – I get that – but Father and my family think I’m dead. I’ll kill before I let anyone tell them differently.”
I kept my eyes on Jeremy as he tilted his head back to try and stop the nosebleed. Thirteen’s gaze was a heavy weight on the side of my face. “Then you aren’t really free at all, are you?”
I spun in my seat and glared at him. “Of course I’m free. I escaped. I’m here aren’t I?”
“But you are still holding on to the notion of fleeing. You are still hiding.”
“You’re the one hiding me!”
“Not the way I was. Banks comes over regularly now; I’ve returned the house cameras to their functioning purpose, completed paperwork on your stay at the safe house. Granted, I’ve used your alias, but you’re like anyone else under Network protection now.”
The radio popped as a lash of power slipped past my control. Thirteen barely flinched.
“What do you want me to do?” I shouted. “Just announce to the world who I am? You don’t know anything! You think because you have these files and research on my family, that you have a clue who we really are. You know nothing!”
“Then explain it to me, Magnolia.”
“You don’t want to know.”
“It’s about you. Of course, I want to know.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Okay, fine. You really want to know? Fine, I’ll show you. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
His brows scrunched together. “What do you mean you’ll show –“
I drilled the memories into his mind without warning. In a dual image, I saw Thirteen’s face contort with shock and confusion at the same time I saw a younger version of my father enter his study at the estate.
“What is your problem?” Father hissed while the guards stood over me. Father wore one of his many custom business suits, while the three burly men were dressed in the black camo that all estate guards wore. Their hands and faces were splattered with fresh blood.
The biggest one stood at attention. “I’m sorry, sir, but all of our efforts have been unsuccessful.”
Father waved his hand. The giant guard flew across the room, slamming hard into the study wall before falling unconscious to the Aubusson covered floor. “I’ll do it myself,” Father snarled.
His eyes looked down on me with disgust. As I watched, his face changed. There was no shifting of features or popping of bones, but his expression went cold, dark – like he had just pulled on a mask that took his regal cheekbones and icy blue eyes and covered his handsomeness with something terrifying. I felt myself cower instinctively. Then his hands were around my throat. His fingers and thumbs overlapped because my infant neck was so tiny. His teeth ground together as his grip tightened. The pain was shocking. The burn of my lungs, excruciating. My eyes ached as dark red filled my vision. Unconsciousness took me as Father’s fingers cut through the skin at my neck.
His hands were still on me when I opened my eyes again, but the terrifying mask was gone. His eyes grew so wide I could see the white all the way around his expanding pupils.
“Is there a problem?” Uncle Max’s drawl came from somewhere nearby. Father’s face shut down. His posture took on that arrogant stance that would later become his trademark in the business world.
“No problem, Maxwell,” he said smoothly. “Just a change in plans.”
I warned you this would happen. Uncle Max’s voice was different this time. Further away.
We’ll harness her, Father replied in an equally faraway tone. Transfuse her blood into ours. I’ll need to test her first, see what other abnormalities she might have, but her blood will only grow our strength.
And if her powers can’t be harnessed?
Father glared down at me again, that terrifying mask back in place. No one can heal everything. He turned with a flourish and left me, staring at the ceiling, struggling to breath past the pain of resurrection.
Thirteen blinked, took a steadying breath. I didn’t care. I wasn’t done with this little show and tell. I pushed more memories into him, knocking him back against the passenger door.
Straps, chains, blood, pain – again and again, always more pain. Always Father’s terrifying face. Over the years, too many failed attempts to end my life had changed the mask. There was rage over the darkness now. A hatred so pure, so evil, that no normal human being could contain it. His powers fed off of it.
I slowed the flow of memories and brought to surface one where I was being whipped, blood dripping down my face into my hair as I hung upside down over a drain in one of the horse barns. Through the pain I saw my two brothers, hiding in the shadows, watching. Malcolm smirked at the sight of me. Markus cowered.
“Mallroy is going to throw a fit about your messing one of his horse stalls again,” Uncle Max said. I was a young child now, old enough to recognize the difference between their spoken voices and their telepathic ones. The black suit he’d worn for the election celebration hung perfectly over his middle aged physique. His thoughts were particularly smug – the minds of his constituents had so easily fallen prey to his mental manipulations. He’d won by a landslide. Now, he was in the mood for some entertainment.
Father stood back, eying me with a clinical detachment. The barbed whip hung loosely in his hand. He’d rolled up his shirt sleeves after the party but it hadn’t kept my blood and flesh from splattering all over him. He ran the back of his wrist along his brow trailing a slash of red in its wake.
“Look at her,” Father said baring his teeth. “So fucking defiant. It’s like those blasted gypsies all over again. Thinking they were powerful enough to muscle us out of the Russian weapons deal. Fucking fire-starters. And she’s even worse! You know she doesn’t even cry out anymore at the whips? Hardly even worth the time to come out here.”
Uncle Max stepped closer to me. I flinched automatically. He smiled.
He grabbed my hair and held my head in place. “You’ll have to be especially creative if you want to break her again. After all, she isn’t like the other supernaturals we have to deal with on occasion. She’s one of us.” Only more so in some ways, aren’t you little Magnolia? His thoughts whispered to himself. What is it inside you that allows our blood to grow so much stronger? I stared into his eyes, not moving, not reacting at all. His smile vanished as his eyes narrowed.
Heat pressed against my forehead – the familiar prelude to Uncle Max’s aggressive telepathy. Instantly, I focused my thoughts. I could feel his powers as they scrubbed the inside of my mind – scraping at my thoughts like nails on a chalkboard. I made sure he saw all the fear, all the pain. Dear Lord, how much more pain could they entice? When he finally pulled back, that small smile had returned. With a toss of my hair he pushed me back. The room spun, the hooks through my heels that dangled me from the ceiling pulled against the tendons. I bit my tongue until I tasted blood just to keep from screaming.
“Try heating up the barbs before you use the whips,” Uncle Max suggested as he strolled away from me. “She wants to know how much more pain you can actually entice. Apparently, she hopes to challenge you.”
I closed my eyes. Father roared.
The memory faded until the sound of Thirteen’s sobs were all that filled the car. He was white as a sheet. Both hands covered his face – it would be a while before he’d be able to speak again. I glanced in the rearview mirror. Jeremy and his friends had moved on, probably to the nearest MedCheck to make sure he wasn’t hemorrhaging or something.
I ignored my shaking hands and started the car. No point staying around here. Something told me Thirteen wasn’t in the mood to finish our driving lesson.
As I pulled into the street, Uncle Max’s words echoed in my ears. After all, she is one of us. Thirteen had wanted to know about me and my family? Well, there it was. We were evil. Power, hate, pain – it was in our blood. And whether I’d participated in their violent criminal acts or not, I was one of them. Even Uncle Max acknowledged that much.