vero-photoart-176526 portrait man damon

“Come on Ella! Daddy won’t mind!”

“But he said we weren’t to go in the garden without him. I don’t wanna play outside anyway.”

“Don’t be such a silly! I’m so bored! You can bring barbie and I’ll have iron man and we can play adventures – I’ll even let you have the secret hiding space for the treasure if you like”

“But what if we get growled?”

“Daddy won’t mind! I’m old enough now to look after us, and i promise we won’t talk to anyone we’re not supposed to. It’ll be fine!”

Ella looked at Matt with the trusting and worshipful eyes of a 4 year old little sister.

She slipped her hand into his, holding barbie dangling by an arm. “Ok!”

Both children went quietly to the front door and slipped out. Simon, on a conference call in the study, never even heard the door close.

******

Marius tried to ignore the sick feeling in his stomach. It was a bit easier than ignoring the voice in his head telling him that by doing this he was crossing a line he’d sworn never to cross. One should never harm children. The argument he’d had with his brother after Damon had allowed that human woman with the floppy hat to nearly murder her nephew to show her how dangerous she was swirled around his conscience. He’d been furious with Damon, and not just because it had worked and he and Aeron had lost a possible key. He couldn’t believe his brother of all people had been so reckless with a child’s life. And now here he was, 30 odd years later, about to steal the children of another human woman.

Disgust roiled through him, grey and damp and dulling.  There was no alternative. They had to disable Phoebe somehow and Aeron was enraged to the point of madness and hurt to the point of revenge; she didn’t much mind who she took it out on as long as she could lose her own pain by inflicting it on someone else.

He kept his eye on the house. Despite himself he felt his spirits lighten – it was beginning to look a bit pointless. If the others had been here, which it was likely they had, Damon would have warned Simon about inviting in people he didn’t know. He heard Aeron shifting in her spot on the other side of the wood.

I told you we would have to be more active. Her voice in his head was jarring. We cannot afford to wait. We will need to flush them out somehow.

And what do you suggest? He tried to reduce the sarcastic tone in his mindvoice, he didn’t need Aeron turning on him right now.

I think a fire would be sufficient.

He rolled his eyes. Of course. Because why take a subtle way when a show of violence and intimidation was more fun? He understood why his cousin was so crazy, they had shared a childhood after all, but it made her difficult to work with. Before he could argue, he felt her intake of breath and sudden sharp awareness and looked back to the house. Crap. The two children were coming out the front door – sneaking almost. His heart sank. Looked like it was going to be a lot easier.

Aeron’s urgent voice rang in his mind but he blocked her out. He knew what he had to do. It might damn him forever but maybe he could make it easier for the children. He walked slowly over to the garden gate, allowing the glamour to slip so he could be seen. They were playing with toys, absorbed in the world they were creating and didn’t notice him at first. When they did, they froze and looked at him warily. The oldest, a boy, unconsciously stood in front of his sister. The move made Marius smile sadly, remembering other big brothers and different times. The little girl stepped forward, a crumpled frown on her tiny face.

“Are you like the other one? the dark one?”

“Damon…” whispered her brother, every line of him a rigid tension waiting to run.

“Yes, like Damon? because you smile like him!”

Marius stilled and then, a pit of darkness roiling through his heart, damned himself. “Yes. Yes I am his brother and he sent me here to look after you.”

*********

Simon put down the phone and stretched. He hated conference calls, but being stuck at home meant that it was the only way to make sure the project didn’t stall without him there. He put his chin on his hands and stared unseeing at the desk. This whole thing was crazy. It seemed so unreal, and yet he had seen what Phoebe could do. He didn’t blame her, it was so clear how shaken and upset she was. It had been years since he’d been in love with her but she was a good person. He’d been surprised at how much better he’d felt after seeing her this morning. Maybe he should have talked things through with her before. Oh well he thought, there’ll be time for that after this has finished and the kids are safe again. The thought made him sit up. He hadn’t heard them for a while now, which he’d been relieved about as conference calls interrupted by calls for ‘DADDY!! I WET MY PANTS!’  were never the best, but he couldn’t hear the TV either, and that was worrying. Maybe the little scallywags had gone outside. He walked to the window and froze as he saw Matt and Ella speaking to a tall fair man over the gate. A woman was coming up behind him and something about the pair flicked all his alarm bells. He didn’t even bother with going back to the door – he shoved open the window and leaped out, hitting the ground running.

“Oi! clear off! Kids, get back here NOW!”

He saw Matt whirl around with fear on his face, his little arm grabbing at Ella’s hand. The man scooped Ella up, ripping her away from her brother. Rage filled him and his fists clenched as he ran full tilt towards them.  He never saw the bolt of crimson that hit him in the chest and sent him flying across the lawn, stopping when he smacked into the pine tree. Struggling to open his eyes against the pain he saw Ella screaming and kicking as the man ran off with her. Matt was staring at the woman who, he noticed fuzzily, seemed to be glowing crimson.

He had to save his son.

He held on to the tree and pulled himself to his feet.

“Matt” he tried, then more loudly “Matty! Run! Hide!”

Grabbing the garden fork from the wheelbarrow next to him he threw it at the woman as his son turned and ran. It didn’t hit her but it distracted her, turning her attention away from Matt who was heading to his secret hiding space. He faced the woman, blinking pain from his eyes. The look on her face was cold and clinical and he straightened. She would not get his son. This time he saw the crimson bolt, and was grateful that it was him and not Matt who it hit. Then he saw nothing.

 

 

_____________________

From Light Breaks – unfinished first draft waiting to be revisited.

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