I curled up around Alex’s pillow and tried to gather my senses as I stared at the ceiling. It was getting late and time was worrying me. But I had other things to deal with at the moment.
The elements shifted and scattered around me. The sounds around me numbed my skull. At least the smells weren’t making my stomach churn. Not that there was anything left to empty.
I didn’t really feel any better except for not sicking up. I felt small. Lost in a world so large. I wasn’t myself.
The door opened and Alec came in. He smirked at me, “A sandwich?”
I shrugged as I slowly sat up. “It’s food.” I laughed softly, “I really don’t want to eat.”
Alec nodded, “I know my Prince, but eat. Your cat says to eat. I’d listen.”
“Since when do I listen to my cat?” If it had been Fee she’d have tossed her tail up but Eddie just sat there and pushed his head against my hand. A loving cat instead of the distant one I had before.
I scratched at the stiff fur at the back of his head, and ate the peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwich Alec had made me. “Hunter’s favorite.” I said.
Alec grinned, “He made it.”
“You asked my son to make me a sandwich?”
“No, I was in the kitchen staring at the things in your fridge when he tapped me on the shoulder and he handed it to me. Seeing the future has it’s advantages.”
I rolled my eyes. Alex pushed into the room hurriedly as I was licking my fingers of the goop that had been left of the last bite of my sandwich.
There was no bag of food but several bruises on his face and hands. “Forget something?” I asked.
He looked at me like there was something wrong and, “Oh, the food, it’s in the kitchen. Jin took it from me.”
“And you rushed in here.” Alec said. “He needs to eat.” The vampire growled.
The hair on the cat I was petting was standing on edge and he was tense. I stood up setting the cat in Alec’s lap and moved to Alex. I frowned as I moved closer and his eyes didn’t light up like they did when I had only eyes for him. Alex wasn’t here. Where was **my** Alex?
It took only a moment for the surprise to register on the imposter’s face when I stabbed an elemental blade below his rib cage and up into his vital organs. The gorgeous blue eyes slowly shifted to a muddy dying brown and the room around me erupted into chaos around me.
The door burst open as I let the slowly fading illusioned body fall to the ground. I looked up to see Alex’s blue eyes staring back at me, at the body on the ground that still looked mostly like him but was slowly changing back to the Venatori who had tried to kill me.
Alex stared at me a bag of food in his hand. I looked at him over the dead body and I lost what little control I had on my self and collapsed to my knees in the pool of blood gathering at my feet.
Alex shoved the bag of food into Alec’s hand, “Make sure the kids don’t come in here.” And then he was at my side. “Jesus, Nox. It’s not me. Baby it’s not me. I’m right here.”
I blinked at him as he pulled me into his arms and lifted me up and carried me into our bathroom.
Griffin was following not two feet away from us. Alex glared at him, “Griff, I get you want to protect him, but he already did that. I need to take care of him. You can’t help with that.”
The man didn’t nod, didn’t do anything except follow us into the bathroom where he shut the door and stood on the inside. “I will not fail a third time.” He said.
Alex rolled his eyes. “Fine. Just stay out of the way.” And then he was back to me pulling my shirt and jeans from my body and running hot water in a bath. “Baby, it’s okay. Why is all your power everywhere?”
Griffin answered for me, “The cat told him to let the power go. He needs to eat. So says the cat.”
There was a soft scratch at the door and Alex turned to look at it. He growled, “Since when does the cat talk?”
“Since two hours ago.” Griffin said. “Very loud and very bossy.”
I turned to look at him and frowned, “I’ve not been awake that long.”
Griffin nodded, “Still two hours of a bossy cat. The children all said their good nights and were sad until the new cat came into our heads.”
“Why are the kids still up?” I demanded, and then I looked at Alex, “Where have you been? You okay?” I reached up and found a bruise and looked at his hands, “I… The… Are you okay?”
Alex grinned at me, “I’m better now that I’m back with you. There was a commotion outside in the alley and I thought I saw you. But it wasn’t and when I stepped in to help you they turned on me. One of them left, and the other two kept me away from you. I had other things to say about that.”
I growled, “Jin let him in!” And just like that the power inside me flared and the blood was gone from my person. I stalked out of my room but Alex was in front of me with a shit eating grin on his face.
“As much as you look hot angry, you need clothes on.” He chuckled.
I looked down and frowned and confusion washed over my face as I remembered the moments before. I was moving in so many directions, the emotions going from one extreme to the next. “I need to eat.” I said sinking down to the floor and pulling my knees to my chest.
Alex waved for the bag of food and Alec brought it over. “I will fetch some coffee.”
Alec squeezed out the door and was off before anyone else could agree or disagree. Alex pulled me away from the door and into his lap then he opened the covered Styrofoam plate. It smelled great even though it was cold. And it tasted even better.
I stabbed a piece of lemon garlic asparagus and chomped on it.
Alex sighed, “Are you mad?”
“Why would I be mad? Are you okay?” I asked.
“I’m okay, pretty boy.” Eddie came over and started butting his head against my arm and I reached down to pet the furry thing with my free hand. “There was something going on in the alley. I thought I saw you. I went to go help.” Eddie moved from butting my hand to pushing against Alex’s leg as he talked. “It wasn’t you, but by then they’d turned and jumped me. I had no choice but to fight back. It felt good to fight back. But this girl showed up, helped me. Blond, felt familiar, but when the fight was over I was in a rush to get back to you here, figured something was up.” He nodded towards the dead body lying on the floor. “And I was right.” Eddie became more aggressive in his attempt to get Alex to pet him, “What’s with the cat?”
“The cat is Eddie.” I said letting Alex change the subject without hesitation. “He’s part of the umbra. A spirit, a manifestation. I don’t know but he said I’m poorly lacking in training, and that the dreams won’t work because you block him from entering my dreams. And the nightmare before you. So this is his alternative method. Fee got to go back to the universe and he gets a body to be loved on.”
“So this is going to be a thing?” He nudge the cat with his hand. “All this touchy feely – is not going to go away.”
I laughed, “It’s so me. Don’t ya think?”
Alex rolled his eyes. “Yes. So what exactly is he helping you with. Why is Eddie telling you to let your power run wild.”
“Not run wild, but not trapped. It’s been fighting me by doing shit I don’t want because I keep it locked up. Is that right Eddie?
“Holy fuck! I don’t think I’ll get used to that.”
I grinned. “Telepathic connection. And that bothers you?”
“It’s a cat.”
“The umbra is magic. Where your power comes from, where mine comes from, it powers vampires, and cursed the therians. This cat is host to only a tiny fraction of the umbra.”
“You are feeling better.” Alex laughed. “All talkative again.”
He grinned at me, “Don’t be.” It didn’t surprise either of us when there was a knock on the door.
“I have the information Nox wanted.” Doc said, “On how they died, and who they are.”
Doc opened the door and looked at us sitting beside it then at the dead body still lying on the floor. “Do I?”
I shook my head, “No. I killed him with a blade of elements.” The whole thing played out in my head and again and Alex pulled me close.
“It’s not me. It never ways. You knew it wasn’t me. Fuck baby you knew!”
“What if it was you?”
Alex chuckled in my ear, “I’m Chevalier now, I can’t die.” Alex was reassuring me. He looked up at Doc, “Tell him what you found so he thinks of something else.”
Doc complied, “They drowned, buried alive, and there are signs of smoke inhalation. I don’t know what killed them short of the fact that they were suffocated.”
“That’s pretty much what I thought. Alex didn’t know what to do so it did everything.”
“They were Venatori.” Doc went on.
“I know.” I answered. I knew exactly who they were and how they were getting in.