Comfortably Numb

Ant took me to the Night Life building. All the way to the second to the top floor. He opened one of the apartments up that wasn’t locked and it wasn’t really an apartment it was a gym of sorts. There were no weights, more a dojo maybe. In the middle of the mat was the blonde Chevalier of Il Cane’s. Ryan looked up when we entered and smiled. “Bought time you got here, what ya do walk?”

Ant laughed. “Yeah. Actually we did.”

Ryan shook his head. “Cari said you wanted my help?” He looked at me when he asked.

I shrugged. Ant shut the door and locked it behind him. “He needs a suitable substitute.”

Ryan nodded and stood up, “Comfortably numb without the drugs or alcohol or abusive sex.” Ryan grinned. “Got it. Warm up. We got this.”

Ant took off his shoes and started to stretch so I followed suit. And soon the three of us were sparing. And not just any sparring – a no hold barred type where I walked away from each round with bruises.

My heart was pounding. My arms and legs hurt, but Ryan and Ant pushed me. They each took turns after a while pummeling me. We went for several hours until my phone rang. Ant picked it up, “Nox’s Phone.”

I heard the giddy voice on the other end. “Is he okay?” My brother asked and I heard Henry giggling in the background, both were a little drunk.

“He’s okay. What do you need?” Ant asked.

“I’m just making sure he’s okay. I’m going home with Henry.”

Ant nodded, “I’ll make sure your brother gets home alright.”

Nick laughed, “Thanks whoever you are.” And he hung up.

We went for several more rounds.

Dawn was fast approaching and Ant laughed, “I need to be in bed. You two can keep going.”

I shook my head. “No, I need food and then sleep myself.”

Ryan wrapped his arm around my shoulders, “Feed me, then grab a shower, and I’ll walk you home like a good friend, then I’ll crash too.”

So that was what we did. I cooked for Ryan, and the rest of Cari’s herd, including a man I’d never met before. He looked more strung out than I felt. His eyes were bloodshot. Alison smiled at me, “Nick is an empath and a ghoul. Don’t mind him.”

I looked at him and empathized. He smiled back at me though it didn’t reach his eyes. “Food will help.”

He nodded, “I can say the same for you. And sleep too.”

I sighed. “I wish sleep came as easy as food, but I’ll damn well try.” I was dead tired. I was starving, my body ached but in a good way. I didn’t regret my actions despite feeling like crap. I think that was Ant’s point. If I want to hurt, then make it worth while. A long run. A good fight. But not self destructive.

Ant laughed, “There you go thinking too loud again. But if you need help just call me Nox. I’m here whenever you need me.”

I nodded, “Thanks Ant.”

He went to his own apartment and I fed the crew. Then grabbed a shower. Ryan gave me a pair of sweats said they kept spares on hand. And then he walked me home. But he didn’t come up to my room. He laughed, “I don’t want to go in there if that’s alright. But Ant’s right, you call and we’ll come. I promise one of us will be there.”

I nodded, “Thanks Ry. I appreciate it.”

He grinned, “You got to take care of yourself now. You have a cat, and two brothers who damn well would miss you if you left this earth too early. And all the rest of us would miss you too.”

I gave him a wry grin. “Thanks.” He sent me on my way and I was taking the stairs slowly, my legs were sore and I was tired. I just didn’t want to take the elevator and press my luck.

In The End – Beautiful Chaos

I walked the halls and stair wells for what had to be hours. My stomach was the one thing that pulled me back to reality. I couldn’t fathom how much of my life had been a lie. One lie after another. I felt my power leaking from me and I knew I had to vent some of it before it became dangerous to myself – not to others. I had since lost the capability to lose control. But holding that much power at bay that wanted to escape was dangerous to myself.

I should have gone to get food but instead I found myself in the Academy behind an orange door. The room was similar to every other one in the Academy, used to train students with fire without burning the place down. The room was coated in fire retardant material and the sprinkler systems were set to a different than the rest of the building.

It was the one place I could let go of my power and not hurt anyone. Walking into this room caused paralyzing fear, today I wanted to drop to the floor and lose control.

I didn’t drop to the floor, and I didn’t lose control. The door locked into place with the in use sign outside. I let my power flair. The fire in the room, it was everywhere. It always was. The heat from the sun powering its essence. I pushed it away and the room lit into a small inferno. I stood in the center as the fire ran up the walls and across the ceiling. Crawling like I wanted to. A storm cloud formed above me and the rain fell drenching my body in the warm drops of water. A small breeze cooled the water further as it sped up around me. Earth was never fun, but it circulated through the air with the other elements helping to power and fuel the others. I could feel the life in the elements. I let them swirl and combine and make patterns all of their own accord.

It was a beautiful cacophony of colors and I felt better as the winds died down. The fire started to spluttered out and the rain slowed. The earth settled to the ground and soon there was nothing but me standing in the room alone staring at the far wall with tears running down my cheeks.

A voice crackled over the intercom. “Nox. You okay?”

I turned to the window above the room that let others look down upon the training and I saw the face of my angel – my Wicked Truth and I frowned. “No, but I’ll be okay. I’m done. I’ll meet you outside.”

I unlocked the door and stepped outside into the cool air-conditioned hall. The special room had become a sauna of my creation. Sage was downstairs in a heart beat with a small child holding to his hand and two bags of things with him. He smiled. “Dorian told me to take you away from all of this for a few weeks.”

“A few weeks?”

Dorian stepped out of the stair well. “You’ve got a lot to think about I think. Your father told me what happened. I found Sage with Drake and figured it was best he take the two of you away. Everything will be as you left it when you return. Take a vacation. I think Dae’lin will agree. Learning your father is alive and well is one thing. Learning your motherly figure all your life killed …”

I placed a finger to Dorian’s mouth. “Enough. I’ll go. Do you have Sage’s address?”

Dorian nodded. “Yes. Why?”

“I’d like Jace, Mia and Naya to meet him. If you could arrange with Sage a time to have them over. I’ll cook. Maybe you and Aiden can come play with Drake too.”

Dorian nodded. “Sounds like a plan. I will let Sage take you home, and we’ll talk tomorrow when he drops Drake off for class.” He looked at me sternly. “You, young man, are not to step foot in this building until at least July 6th. Do you understand me?”

I nodded. “Yes, sir.”

Dorian smiled at me then patted Sage on the shoulder. “He’s all your’s. Take care of him.”

Sage knelt down and whispered in Drake’s ear. I heard him tell Drake to offer me his hand, and we’d swing him. Drake followed his instructions by holding up his hand and smiling at me. I took his hand gratefully and smiled down at the most beautiful family I could ever hope for. Everything would be all right.

The Last Phoenix (in order)

Comfortably Numb (5/12/2018)

In The End – What the Fuck!

I turned and waved and then found myself in an empty conference room. But it was set up for dignitaries and here I was in jeans and a t-shirt. Oh well, I thought. I took a seat on the side of the large conference room table while I waited for others to arrive.

The door opened to the conference room and a small black man came into the room. I could see the small dragon shadow behind him and stood up. He smiled. “Sit, Mr. Sétanta. I’m only making preparations for The Council.”

“Do you need help?” I asked.

He shook his head. “No sir, security and all that. We trust you are as unarmed as you come?”

I grinned. “Yes, sir. My only weapon is my ability.”

“As is ours. We appreciate it.”

I laughed, “Except some of you can apparently control Magnus, and others of you can just eat us whole. So it’s perfectly acceptable.”

The black man smiled. His dark brown eyes light with humor I thanked the heavens for a sense of humor. “Yes, you are right. Perhaps we should inform you that there is not a representative here from the Council that has The Dragon’s ability. Only the oldest of us could tame the beasts inside of you.”

“Do you mean that others here wouldn’t be a challenge?” I asked.

“Yes, Mr. Sétanta. The leader of your Venatori will not risk meeting with any of the older dragons.”

“Nox, please. Are any in New York, the oldest of you?” I asked.

“Of course… Nox.” He gave me a wary glance before continuing. “Reginald Pittman is always in New York. Why do you ask?”

I smiled. “Why isn’t he joining us then?”

“Your leader will not permit him on your property.”

“I’d like to meet him. Can that be arranged?” I asked.

“Of course, sir. I can have him here with the others if it is to your liking.” He stated.

“Why would you do that for me?”

He only smiled and pulled his phone from his breast coat wallet. “Alexandra. Mr. Pittman’s presence has been requested at Apex Unlimited.” He paused while he listened to the other end. I could have listened, but I didn’t, there was no need and I didn’t care.

“Yes, Alexandra. The area is secure and there is no danger. The Venatori have agreed we are not in danger, nor are they.” I could hear a frantic voice on the other side. He interrupted. “I assure Mr. Pittman that Mr. Green will not follow through with his threats. It is in his best interests to allow this meeting.”

A few more moments of silence from my black friend and he hung up the phone. “Mr. Pittman will join us with the rest of the contingent. Would you like to add a person to the parlay?”

“I didn’t know we were parlaying. I think we are good.” I stood up and offered my hand to the man. “What should I call you?”

“My name is Marcus, sir.” He took my hand and there was a strange feeling of power struck between us. I don’t think I’d ever been this close to a dragon who wasn’t trying to kill me before.  Which wasn’t necessarily true, my Nanny had been a dragon, but she was just a faded memory of a baby.

Marcus smiled at me. “Is there anything I can get you?”

“No. You are our guest, are you not? Shouldn’t I be asking you that?”

Marcus laughed. “Perhaps. But sit. I will have water delivered and maybe some refreshments. I think everyone else is about to arrive, anyway.” He tapped the security comms in his ear.

I nodded. “I’m underdressed aren’t I?”

Marcus laughed again. “Sir, you are dressed exactly how everyone expects you to be.”

“I don’t know if that’s a compliment or an insult.” I sat down and waited.

Marcus moved to the door and stopped with a grin. “It is merely a statement of fact, sir. No one expects anything of you.”

I sighed. “Now that is an insult.”

Marcus frowned. “It wasn’t meant as such, sir. Please excuse me while I finish my rounds before the others arrive.”

I nodded and turned back towards the table wondering what had just happened. Why would anyone counter Mark Green’s words over mine? I knew why I’d made the request, a lot of it had to do with Sage’s last instructions. And to prove to myself I would not let myself be controlled again like that.

I was pulled out of my revelry when the large double doors opened to the conference room. Dae’lin and Gary entered with Mark Green. Walker, my father and Emilio followed them in and took up a post at the end of the wall while the other two sat down. Dae’lin smiled when she saw me. “Sit down, Nox.”

I wanted to stick my tongue out at her but I didn’t. Walker chuckled to himself against the wall. My father and Emilio gave him a sideways glance, and he clamped his mouth shut.

Mark Green took up his station at the head of the table in front of the three standing Venatori. Dae’lin and Gary to each side. Dae’lin sat next to me for which I was grateful.

Our leader was a balding man in his late 60s who was the oldest living Cesari. He had made his name helping Asher Eriksen run Apex Unlimited. But his pattern was weak. He was NC5 but I could feel it was barely on the cusp of it. I let my senses flow. I saw the patterns around Dae’lin fluctuate with her ability. Fire, Air, Earth, Water oscillated in and out of her like they were fighting to take control, but fire was brightest. She had been a fire-starter. But everyone in her family was, her control was scant, but she had controlled it early and hadn’t undergone the same lessons I had.

The Dragon Council contingent was three men and one woman. I recognized Marcus, but he was the weakest of the bunch. He was first and lead the way to their side of the table. The woman was next. Marcus pulled the chair out for the woman with the ruby red hair. Her dragon shadow was ruby colored. I could almost make out the individual scales on her. I smiled as she sat down next to me.

Across from me, a man with blue eyes sat down. His suit matched his eyes, and the dragon shadow behind him was the same color. I felt power dripping from him. But he was not holding back. None of them were as far as I could tell.

A man with graying wispy hair followed them in. His skin was touched with golden hues that were not normal. I smiled and stood as he took his seat. “Mr. Pittman, it’s an honor to meet you.” I gave him a slight bow before retaking my seat.

The golden man chuckled. “You can tell who I am by just looking at me?”

I smiled. “You radiate power. The dragon shadow is larger than the others here. And you are the only one who’s shields are tightly locked down. I can’t see the color of your dragon, but I can guess you are a Golden Dragon. Exquisite and extremely rare, hunted by humans and other races a like for their precious scales, almost to the point of extinction.”

“You know a lot about dragons for one so young.” Mr. Pittman said.

“I take pride in knowing everything I can about the creatures I’m charged with bringing in.”

“An interesting phrasing. Most of your kind just kill.”

I laughed. “You must not have heard of me then.”

“Oh, Mr. Sétanta. I have heard of you. Ilesha speaks highly of the boy she was asked to raise.”

“You know my nanny from when I was a baby?” I asked.

“You think it odd, that your nanny was a dragon? For a Venatori human mother?”

“I was five when I last saw her. I didn’t think beyond that.”

The old dragon smiled, and it was not a human smile, sharp pointed teeth shown through. His own protections must be weakening. He waved his hand and the double doors opened and Dr. Margo Silverman walked through my door. Mr. Pittman spoke from the end of his table. “Nox. I would like to like to introduce you to Ilesha.”

I wasn’t the only one staring at my therapist. But it was only Kai who gasped with the knowledge he’d been sleeping with a dragon. The shield around Margo evaporated and the surrounding shadow opened into a golden dragon half the size of Mr. Pittman’s. I turned to look at him and saw the familial resemblance. “Your daughter? Is she really a therapist?”

“I am, Nox. It’s been a struggle to keep the fact from you for so long. You grow in power every day. Your schedule with me is something even I need to rely on. Shielding that tightly costs me.” Margo said. She knelt down next to me and looked up at me. “I am still the same person.”

I asked, “Why lie to me?”

Mr. Pittman answered. “The dragons felt your presence come into the world in Boulder. That was when Ilesha went to your mother and offered her services as a Nanny. We sense any dragon born into the world – your young Drake here in the building – we knew of his birth.”

I stood up but Margo’s hand on my knee stayed me. “Drake will not be harmed. It is your will.”

“I’m not a dragon.”

Margo smiled. “No, Nox. You are Cesari. The dragon’s feel your kind like our own. Dragons born with human blood.”

“I am still not a dragon.”

Mark Green sighed. “All Magnus are of dragon’s blood, Nox. You know this. You have reminded us of this fact frequently. Every dragon you bring in. Every vampire and every were. Every creature has a history and a life. You remind us everyday we shouldn’t just kill first when the laws are broken.”

I sneered, “Yet we still do it.”

Mark nodded. “We are not so easily changed.”

I rolled my eyes and turned to the Dragon Council. “One of your own tried to take down humanity’s economic and power infrastructure. He’s dead now.”

Mr. Pittman nodded. “We are aware of the passing of The Dragon. The power loss is surmountable. It is my understanding he called you.”

“He made me his puppet, yes.”

Margo’s hand squeezed my knee, but I didn’t turn to look at her. I wasn’t sure I trusted her now. All the lies that I’d been told in my life and she kept a big one. I would deal with it later. Right now there were other things my plate.

“And you broke his control?” He smiled. “I’m highly impressed. Few could do that.”

“Why are you watching me?” I asked.

“We watch all dragons born to humans.”

“You kill them all.” I said.

He frowned. “That is an old tradition. We like to think ourselves a little more civilized than your kind, but sadly yes, that is usually the case.”

“So why is Drake still alive then if you knew about him?”

“There is a method to the tradition. Each child born must be killed in succession. For the past 23 years, half dragon and Cesari have been allowed to survive.”

“You’ve been killing Cesari?” I asked.

Margo frowned. “As much as the Venatori infiltrate the world, everyone else infiltrates the Venatori. The answer is yes, Nox. There are dragons among the nurses who watch for babies of the dragon.”

“So why did you let me live?” I asked her. “You weren’t sent to be my nurse maid were you?”

She shook her head. “No, Nox I wasn’t.”

“So why am I alive?” I looked at her. “Why didn’t you kill me as baby?”

Mr. Pittman spoke, “She…”

“No, sir.” I looked at him. “I want to hear it from her mouth.” I turned back to my therapist, “I want to hear Margo tell me why she didn’t kill me.”

She stood up and backed away from me. Her face was ashen. Her usual bright green eyes were lost in the clouds of memory dulling them completely. “When I found you, there were two of you. A girl and a boy. The first was easily smothered in her slumbers. Air sucked from her lungs – painless. The second child, felt the loss of his sibling and protected himself. I could not get to him. I tried everything. That was when I went to your mother and asked to be her nanny. When she handed you to me, I couldn’t do it anymore. And I’m glad I didn’t.”

I stared blankly in front of me as she told the story of my birth or rather the death of my sister. Margo whispered, “Nox. I think of that day and I regret it every moment.”

I held up my hand with one finger to silence her and her sentence cut short. I stood up and looked at Mr. Pittman. “Will you retaliate against what I did to The Dragon?” I felt my power flair with the question.

He shook his head. “No, young one. Even by Dragon law, he overstepped his bounds.”

“And Drake?” I asked.

“He is in the right hands.” Mr Pittman said. “No one will harm him.”

“And as long as I live no half dragons can die?”

The man nodded. “That is correct.”

“I’m done here.” I walked out of the conference room but Margo grabbed my arm. She said something, but I gave her a level gaze and her hand dropped from my arm and she looked to the ground.

The Last Phoenix (in order)

Comfortably Numb (5/12/2018)

In The End – Sagely Advice

I shuddered and left my boyfriend to get dressed while I ran the shower as hot as I could stand. My mind glided over the past night, remembering the events as if there were happening to someone else. Like I’d watched it all happen.

I’d known what was going on despite the battle for my self. I heard the Venatori crash through the windows of the warehouse once Ye Pan had crushed my body with his power. My father had to feel the power.

I remember looking up just in time to watch the muzzle flash of my father’s gun go off. He’d fired at Ye Pan and I watched it travel through the air. The power of the dragon before me slowed it. The air around it solidified until it stood feet away from him hanging in mid air.

And then his command puppeted me towards my father and the others. Walker among them. There was a knock at the bathroom door but Sage didn’t wait for me to say anything as he stepped inside closing the door behind him. “You okay? You won’t have enough time to eat.”

I nodded. “I’d gotten lost in the memory. That wasn’t good.” I turned off the water and grabbed the towel that hung inside and dried off before stepping out into the cool air of my bathroom. Sage set clothes down on the counter.

Sage smiled. “Get dressed. Hurry so you can at least eat something.”

The door opened, and I smelled coffee and I did as Sage instructed. I didn’t think it was his suggestion more than the desire for coffee. But I had a feeling just letting Sage run the show for now was why I wasn’t panicking about sleeping in, about not hearing my text messages go off. By the lost memories. There was much to trouble my mind. But Sage took care of it, took care of me. I smiled as I applied the eye liner and then stepped out of my bathroom ready for the rest of my day.

Sage grinned. “I like that shirt.”

I had paid no attention to what he’d chosen for me. I looked down to see the skeleton climbing out of a rib cage with the fires of hell behind it. It was one of the few long sleeved t-shirts I owned. I chuckled at the irony. “That’s how I feel today.” I wrapped my arms around him and kissed his neck and whispered in his ear, “Thanks to you.”

Sage laughed and pulled me to sit next to him. “Eat. I did nothing, Nox. I was just here.”

“You have no idea what you did, Sage. But you did more than just be in this room with me.” I opened the Styrofoam box that Sage had brought and found a large omelet of roasted vegetables and sausage. I looked at him, “You ordered ahead?”

He laughed. “I did. Apparently Ms. Shelia caters to a lovely young man who likes to cook with her.” He ate a few spoonfuls of his own oatmeal. “I think she has a crush on you.”

I grinned at him. “Why wouldn’t she?” I ate a few bites of my omelet before I added. “She kept me fed during some pretty rough times when bullies decided I shouldn’t eat for a week of breakfasts in a row.”

Sage wrapped his arm around him. “We’ll I’ll make sure the bullies leave you alone now.”

I laughed. “I don’t have to play nice now. The last time Aaron decided my breakfast belonged on the floor and I was a punching bag, he got in one good shot before he was lying on the floor choking. He ran away with his tail between his legs. Him and his buddies. I think that had more to do with Walker than me but I’ll take it.”

“My boyfriend, the big bully.” Sage laughed.

I stuck my tongue out at him.

Sage raised his eyebrow at my action. “You remember what I said about that.”

I grinned at him. “I do.”

“I don’t think it’s quite the reprimand it should be.” Sage grinned.

“I’m okay with that.”

Sage shook his head and finished his breakfast and his coffee before he swiveled in his stool and watched me eat my food.

When I put the last of my omelet into my mouth Sage turned me in my bar stool, my knees were on the outside of his. Sage stood up and put his hands on my shoulder. “Stick it out again.”

I gave him a look of defiance but I obeyed after a moment. I stuck my tongue out him even more childishly than before. Sage chuckled before he put his lips around it and sucked on it. It tightened things below my belt. I hummed in pleasure and Sage bit and my eyes opened wide in surprise. He chuckled against my lips as he let go and licked my lips. “You always taste good.”

I laughed. “I try.”

“We should go. I’ll walk you downstairs. You gonna be okay?”

I nodded. “Yeah, I’ll be fine. Thank you for your help.”

Sage pulled away. “There will come a point when you need to take control back, you know?”

I nodded. “Soon as we walk out the door. I’ll be the adult I’m supposed to be. If that’s all right with you.”

Sage laughed. “Let’s go. I can be whatever you need, whenever you need it, Nox.”

I joined Sage and pulled him against me. “I’ll be whatever you need me to be, too. Just let me know what that is.”

Sage grinned. “We are doing pretty good, I think.”

I kissed him in agreement. His lips were soft and warm and I wanted nothing more than to stay here in his arms but the Dragon Council wouldn’t wait on me. I broke the kiss and smiled at him. I was so far down the rabbit hole there was no coming back up. I only hoped I didn’t scare him away. There was no I could handle it.

I stepped out from between the bar stools and grabbed my phone and keys. Sage was already standing in the open doorway leading into the hall waiting on me. “I’ll go check on Drake. Make sure he gets to school on time. I like your father. He’s good with Drake. The three of us spent time together while you were out doing your thing.”

I took a deep breath and tried not to sound angry. I’d wished Dae’lin had stayed out of it. But family was important to Sage – more so than the family I wanted to have – he wanted everyone to be happy which included my relationship with my father. Sage must have gathered my thoughts because he took my hand in his and squeezed. “I know you are trying. He knows too.” He smiled at me. “Did you know he has a standing monthly appointment with Dr. Silverman to discuss you.”

I shook my head. “I’m sure it’s just an excuse to take her out for lunch.”

Sage shook his head. “He said you’d say that. But he said it was in her office. Officially recorded. And the discussion notes are in your files if you ever wanted to know what they said about you.”

“I know. I’ve skipped past them. I don’t want to know what other people tell Margo. If it’s important enough for me to know she tells me. And if it’s not, then whatever they are trying to do to help I see in the real world.”

Sage grinned. “So if I spoke to Dr. Silverman about you, you’d not read it.”

I stopped in the hallway and looked at him. “I’d….No.” I shook my head. “I wouldn’t read it. I don’t plan on keeping things from you. But I’m difficult to live with. You can ask Jace or Dorian and even Dae’lin. I don’t want to know when you need to vent because I’ve been a dick, or I said something I didn’t mean. Or because you are just plain fed up with how I react to stress. I can’t say it’s not tempting because it is. To know what someone feels about me for real in their own words unfiltered by my needs it’s comforting and scary all at the same time. We’ll work this through. If it doesn’t work out, I don’t want to know all the ways I fucked up.”

Sage sighed and walked pulling me along with him. “I think that’s the hardest part in all of this. You are the first person to put yourself down.”

“Years of practice.” I said.

Sage stopped and pushed me up against the wall pinning my shoulders to it. My pulse quickened and I could feel my pores dripping with sweat. I swallowed hard, and I saw the look of concern deepen as he saw the fear coursing through my body. He shook his head and then kissed me deeply. He pushed me further into the wall. If he’d had super human strength, the dry wall would be damaged. But Sage was just human. A human with human magic but still just human.

He pressed his body against mine and he framed my head with his forearms against the wall. I had no choice but to look into those big blue eyes of his. I saw sorrow and hope, happiness and despair. Sage was conflicted. “I need you to do two things for me.”

I nodded. And Sage continued. “You won’t say anything bad about yourself. I don’t even want you to think it.”

I sighed and dropped my gaze from his eyes. I gave him a slight nod before he continued. “You won’t let anyone step all over you. That includes yourself.”

My eyes flicked up to meet his as I asked, “What do you expect me to do?”

“Stand up for yourself. You aren’t a child anymore, Nox. No one treats you like dirt. You have the ear of the most powerful vampire in the world. You beat one of the oldest dragons. Not only did you beat him, Nox, you over threw his control of you.”

“Who told you that?”

“I saw it all happen. Walker and the others all had video feeds.”

I felt deflated. I saw the memories floating out. The weakness of my mind – the control that had been taken from me. Sage kissed me hard and brought me back from them. “No.” Sage bit out in a cold white heat I hadn’t expected from him. “You don’t beat yourself up. There is nothing wrong with you. Shit happens. It wasn’t your fault.”

Sage pulled away from me and took my hand in his and pulled me towards the elevator and down to the conference room level. He got off the glass death trap with me and turned me towards him and dusted off my shoulders as if I had something on them, straightened a fake tie at my neck and kissed my cheek. “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

I couldn’t help but smile at his joke. “Casablanca.” I grinned.

“You’ve seen that?” Sage asked.

I shook my head. “No but I know Humphrey Bogart when I hear it.”

Sage grinned. “We’ll have to watch it together one day – soon.”

I nodded, “Any time with you is well spent. Thank you, Sage.” Three little words sat at the tip of my tongue and I held them back. I wasn’t ready to utter them and I was certain Sage wasn’t ready to hear them.

He smiled at me and pushed me off toward the large conference room. “Good luck,” he called out after me.

The Last Phoenix (in order)

Comfortably Numb (5/12/2018)

In The End – Best Night Sleep , Ever!

The rest of the way home was quiet. My father made sure I made it inside my apartment. He didn’t go past the hall. “I’ll take care of Drake. You take care of you.”

I nodded and closed the door behind me. I didn’t lock it, locking it meant having to get up out of bed when I didn’t want to. I kicked off my shoes into the corner by the door. Placed my keys in the bowl on the bar and then pulled my hoodie off. I shed everything but my boxers on my way to my bed in the dark. My phone held tightly in my hands as I curled under my blankets.

I looked at my phone ignoring anything there except to pull up Sage’s contact.

Me
646-555-4512
Tue, 06/26/2015


I’m home. In bed.
8:32 PM

I tucked my phone under my hand as I curled around my pillow and closed my eyes. I could still see the power of The Dragon. I could still feel the call of it coursing through my body. Green glowing eyes floated in front of me, crushing me to the ground.

My phone chirped at me bringing me back from the depths of the darkness I had descended.

I opened my eyes and looked at the message.

Mysterious blue-eyed boy
646-555-2915
Tue, 06/26/2015


Do you want company? I’m still in the building.
8:33 PM


Me
646-555-4512
Tue, 06/26/2015


Why didn’t you go home?
8:33 PM


Mysterious blue-eyed boy
646-555-2915
Tue, 06/26/2015


I wanted to make sure you were okay.
8:33 PM


Mysterious blue-eyed boy
646-555-2915
Tue, 06/26/2015


Would you like company?
8:33 PM


Me
646-555-4512
Tue, 06/26/2015


If I answer that truthfully you won’t come up. The door is unlocked.
8:33 PM

I drifted off into the depths of the darkness again. The glowing green eyes and the suffocating power encompassed by the weight of an unseen force pressing into my body. I jumped when I felt the cool touch of long fingers on my arm. I jerked away from the touch and I heard a loud thump on the floor.

I flipped on the light with flick of air and saw a beautiful blue eyed face staring back at me rubbing his head. He smiled shyly from the floor. “I should have woke you up first.”

I couldn’t speak as I was trying to catch my breath and calm my rapidly beating heart. I held out my hand to him and invited Sage into my bed. He’d already removed clothing and was wearing only a pair of boxers. I pulled him close and let him wrap his arms around me. I laid my head on his chest and said nothing as I curled around him. I felt childish, like the five-year-old my father had resurrected curling around a worn out old dragon who had been my best friend. I whispered, “I’m sorry I’m a broken mess.”

Sage chuckled as he pulled me closer and rubbed my naked back. “You are my broken mess.” I tensed against him, but he continued to rub gentle circles against my back and hummed softly in my ear and kissed the top of my head. “Give me your phone,” he instructed. I slide it to his chest from the place I’d held it between us. “I will silence it and put it here.” I didn’t look to see where he did only nodded. “Now go to sleep.”

My body relaxed as Sage held me. The monotony of the circles on my back made my eyes closed and I listened to the beat of Sage’s heart below my ear. I let the touch of his fingers, the sound of his voice in my ear, and the rhythm of his heart take me deep down into sleep.

A gentle hand on my shoulder and a soft voice in my ear woke me. I couldn’t make out the words. There was a gentle shake, and I grumbled under my breath. The voice laughed in my ear. The sound sending shivers down my spine which made open my eyes and look up at the face staring down at me. “Hmmm?” I said putting my head back on Sage’s shoulder and closing my eyes again.

Sage kissed the top of my head before he spoke in my ear. “You need to get up.”

“Why?” I asked. I fought down the urge to panic. Sage was calm. He wouldn’t be if things were bad. I knew he’d key me into the situation.

“The Dragon Council will be here in an hour.” Sage showed me a text on my phone from Dae’lin.

Boss lady
664-555-4189
Wed, 06/26/2015


Tell him the Dragon Council will be here at 9:00 AM on the dot. I need him here.
6:15 AM

I glanced up at the time on the phone and saw it was 8 AM. I sat up and Sage was staring up at me from where he’d remained lying in my bed. “I’ve been asleep for over ten hours?”

Sage nodded. “Yeah?” He sounded confused, “Is that a problem?”

I shook my head. “No. Just it’s never happened before.”

Sage smiled. “You had a rough night.”

“You don’t understand. I was having nightmares before you came to my bed last night. Even in the half sleep between text messages. You are here. I didn’t wake up. My nightmares didn’t show up. Sage. They never do that. I always have a nightmare. I always wake up in 6 hours. Always.”

Sage sat up and kissed my cheek. “Well. You can deal with that later. Right now you need a shower, and I’ll go downstairs and grab breakfast so you won’t be late to the meeting with the Dragon Council.”

I nodded and got out of bed with little more discussion. Sage chuckled at me. “Is this going to be a common occurrence?”

I looked back at him in confusion. “What?”

“You doing what I say when I say it?” He grinned up at me from the bed. He purposefully stretched elongating every muscle in his body making sure I saw him do it too. “You’ve been doing it all night. Even in your sleep. You’d roll away, and you’d whimper. I’d pull you back and whisper for you to relax and you would. I think I spent most of my night subconsciously comforting you. I’m surprisingly well rested for keeping you relaxed.”

I smiled and walked over to the lounging cat that was my boyfriend trying to entice me with his languid body. “It’s what I need.” I kissed him on the lips. “We can talk about that late,r too. I need to take a shower.”

Sage laughed. “You do.” Sage got up and pulled on his jeans. “I’ll get breakfast and coffee.”

“At least make coffee here. The stuff downstairs is horrible.” I pleaded.

Sage nodded. “I can do that. Can’t be that hard.”

I leveled a gaze at him and frowned. He grinned. “I can’t cook. I burn water.”

The Last Phoenix (in order)

Comfortably Numb (5/12/2018)

The Call of the Dragon – Fatherly Chat

We walked away in silence. My father and Emilio waited at the end of the alleyway for us. They would carry the bad news to the woman who had passed in The Dragon’s fire. Emilio and Walker refused to let Kai tell me her name. Emilio making him promise to not tell me.

It didn’t matter either way. I would find out her name. When we joined Walker and Emilio pulled ahead of my father and I.

Kai watched me as we walked. Emilio and Walker went down the stairs to the subway station I didn’t feel like joining them, but I was surprised when my father kept walking with me. We walked two additional blocks in silence until Kai broke it. “I didn’t know you had it in you.”

“Know I had what in me?” I asked.

“To pull the trigger on a man.” Kai said. I could hear the concern in his voice. “What did he do to you?”

“He controlled me. What did it look like?” I said, my voice dripped with sarcasm.

“How?”

“Dragon Blood.”

“That should be weak inside of you – half human and all. He couldn’t control me.”

I sighed. “I’m Cesari you are not. You can’t bend all four elements.”

Kai nodded. “Still, you shouldn’t go up against dragons again until we explore it.”

“Whatever.” I moved forward at a faster pace but my father kept pace with ease. So I stopped instead. My father followed suit a few paces ahead of me. He turned to look at me. I asked him, “You aren’t great at this are you?”

“Good at what?” My father returned the question.

“At pretending you care.”

Kai closed the few paces between us and I took an involuntary step backwards as my father stepped into my personal space. He’d backed me up against the wall and held his finger in front of me to scold me. I stared back with a look of defiance etched on my features, but I could the fear in my pulse rise as he did it. But he didn’t scare me, not in my rational mind. But my mind was never rational. I felt like the child I had been before I knew Kai Viddens was my father. I felt five with Garrett standing over me wielding the same finger and the fury of his hidden powers with them. The intensity of the lessons that day would be worse. Flashes of my nightmares floated before my eyes.

I don’t know what my father saw on my face but his face softened as he took a step back and lowered his hand. “Who the fuck messed you up?”

I knew I should answer him or face his wrath but my mouth was dry I couldn’t speak even if I wanted to. I felt lost, even more so than before. All control was gone. My father could manipulate me like The Dragon except it was my fear, my memories that paralyzed my body from doing what I wanted it to do. “Those scars on your back. They aren’t just you were they?”

I shook my head. “I used to hide them.”

“Why don’t you now?” Kai asked his voice was softer now.

“No point. Too much work. I’m not required to disrobe in front of strangers. And I forget now I should when in the gym.”

Kai asked, “You okay?”

“No. I need to go home.” It was the truth. All I wanted was to curl up in my bed and cry. But I wouldn’t tell that to my absentee father.

“Let’s go then. We will take the next train.” Kai glanced at his watch and then reached for my shoulder which I pulled away from immediate. Kai dropped his hand to his sides. “Let’s go, son. I’ll make sure you make it to your apartment. Do you need me to tell someone?”

I only shrugged as we walked. I wanted Sage to be there. But I wasn’y about to put this on him. The next station was only half a block away and as we were going down I whispered, “Can you make sure Drake has a place to stay tonight?”

Kai nodded. “He can stay with me. Unlike most of my children you grant me that privilege occasionally.”

I gave my father a weak smile. “Don’t try to be a good father. Be a great grandfather for him. You and me, we’ll work on it through him.”

Kai laughed. “That’s exactly what Margo said.”

I gave him a genuine smile. “She’s a smart woman.”

The Last Phoenix (in order)

Comfortably Numb (5/12/2018)