Ducking down behind the dumpster, she slid down the wall and squatted there. Squeezing her eyes shut she willed them to stop. Prayed for them to give her a few minutes peace. Just a few minutes without seeing and feeling things she didn’t understand. With her hands against the side of her head, she rocked slowly. Back and forth. Back and forth. Breathe slowly.
Maybe her aunt was right, and the devil did live inside her. Why else would she see these things inside her head? What purpose did tormenting her with scenes of blood, pain and suffering do? What had she done to be born this way?
Lowering her hands, she opened her eyes but continued to rock. They were better now. Hopefully for a bit longer than last time. She didn’t know what made them fade into the background for short periods, but she was thankful it happened at all.
Looking around, she checked that no one was near her. Being near others made them worse. So much worse. Her stomach growled, reminding her that it had been a few days since she’d eaten anything that resembled food. She missed her aunt. Missed having a room to hide in away from the misery the world brought her.
“She’s somewhere around here, Capri, she doesn’t go very far.” A girl said.
“I can feel the turbulence, Monica.” A woman spoke quietly.
“Espy. That’s what I want to be called from now on. You said when you found me it was a new start, so I want a new name.”
“Espy. I like that.”
She froze. Were they talking about her? Dropping down, she pulled her legs up to her chest and hugged them, making herself as small as possible. She needed them to keep going. If they stayed too close too long, it would start again.
“There you are.”
A tall woman with long wavy black hair stood in the space between the dumpsters.
“It’s all right.” She moved closer and then squatted a few feet from her.
A young girl, close to her own age stood behind her. She had long blonde hair and eyes that were a bright green. She’d never seen eyes like that. She popped a bubble and waved at her. “Is she one of us?”
The woman held out her hand. “It’s all right. You’re safe now.”
She looked at the hand and then tucked hers between her knees.
“What’s your name?” The girl asked.
“Jerika.” She whispered.
“Cool name. Nice to meet you, Jeri. I’m Espy and this is Capri. She’ll help you.”
“Take my hand.” The woman continued to hold her hand out.
She was shaking, but she reached and put her hand in Capri’s. A feeling rushed through her as soon as they touched and her whole body relaxed.
“You’re one of us.” Capri said softly.
Jeri stared at her.
“It’s okay.” Capri smiled.
Jeri glanced at the girl again and then back to Capri. Her hair looked like it was blowing in a breeze, but there wasn’t one.”
“Another Gemini found.” Espy grinned. “We need a name for us.”
Jeri looked back at Capri. “Do you know what’s wrong with me?” She had to, right? She made it all go away when she touched her.
“There is nothing wrong with you.” Standing slowly, she kept a hold of her hand and pulled her to her feet.
“Gemini gang.” Espy popped another bubble. “No that’s dumb.” She grinned at Jeri and then nodded, “Gemini group,” she shook her head, “no. Gemini—” her eyes widened, “league.” Capri looked at her. “We can call ourselves the Gemini League. Cool right?”
Capri smiled, “it does have a nice ring to it.”
She started walking, holding Jeri’s hand. Following, Jeri decided she wasn’t going to let go. This had been the quietest her head had been since—her entire life.
“And we’re going to all ride motorcycles.” Espy nodded. “We’ll be bad butt bitches for sure. No boys allowed.”
Capri laughed softly, “perhaps we should wait on that, until you’re old enough to drive.”
“Pfft, whatever.” She moved over and walked beside Jeri. “Wait until you meet the others, there’s six of us now. Ava is going to blow your socks off.”
Jeri clung to Capri’s hand and managed a slight smile. “I don’t have any socks.”
Espy laughed, “welcome to our weird magical family, sis.”
Trendan walked through the bodies; some he was too late for. Those souls would be lost forever. Stopping, he knelt beside the bloodied body of the warrior. He was still alive, just barely. Picking up his axe, he lay it on his chest and placed his hands over it. The man responded by grasping it loosely with weak hands. He said something, which Trendan equated to thank you. He waited and leaned over him when his last breath left his body.
Taking the soul into himself was hard, but at least today, they were warriors. He could handle carrying the soldiers’ spirits. When he finished, he looked around. Women were wailing over bodies; others were scavenging the belongings of those that had no kin to mourn them. He stood up. He wasn’t even invisible. There was no need when walking among these Norsemen. They believed in things others didn’t, and rarely was he given a second thought.
Flipping his long braid back over his shoulder, Trendan scanned the remaining bodies. There was never a shortage of souls to harvest in this time. Too many battles. Too many unnecessary deaths.
He turned to see the clan shaman or seer—he wasn’t sure what they were actually called.
“Your soul will suffer through long years into new times many times over.”
He wasn’t speaking English, but Trendan heard it that way. He continued to stand there and give him his attention.
“There is no Valhalla for you, strange one.”
Trendan reached into his pocket and pulled out a rough gemstone he’d found by the shore a few hours earlier. He bowed politely to him and held out the stone.
The man took it and examined it briefly, and then walked away.
Trendan blinked and then shook his head. He hated the days the flashbacks hit him. Lately, it had been more frequent, and he didn’t have time for this. He looked around, especially while he was standing on a roof. Not the wisest idea. Turning, he looked down at the building that he’d stared at so much in the last few weeks that he could probably identify each brick. The reason he stood here, again walked out of the garage, and spoke to the little scary Gemini woman, Ava.
She was beautiful in an unmade-up way. Her long dark hair wasn’t processed and preened. He couldn’t say what color it was; some days it looked brown, others red. Her face was absent of makeup, yet her mouth was the shade of roses, and her eyes were naturally shaded. It wasn’t just her looks that intrigued him to the point of distraction; it was her soul. The soul inside her feminine body was meant for him; honestly, he didn’t know what to do about it. Her DNA was such a mix that it shouldn’t have been possible. He saw human hues in her, as well as Veiltide, FaTerra, and of course, Solrelm. How that had happened, he had no idea.
His phone rang for the fourth time in the last thirty minutes. There was only one body that would annoy him this much. His brother Bastian. Answering it, he didn’t even speak. It was necessary with Bas; he did all the talking.
“Where are you?”
“Aren’t you home? You could just look.”
Bastian snorted. “I don’t use the control room to spy on everyone.”
“Fine. I’m not in the control room. I’m waiting on the Princess to tell me what’s happening with Glen.”
“Am I needed?” The woman, Jeri, turned and looked up. He knew she could see him and did nothing to hide.
“I need you to go to Nova’s. Alterealm’s Princess Kara is meeting her there, and they need an escort, even though they won’t admit it.”
Trendan looked at Jeri once more and then turned on his heel. “I’ll go there now.”
“Perfect. I will catch up when I can.”
“Where am I escorting them?”
“To one of the safe houses.” Bastian sounded anxious, which was his state often lately.
“I’ll get them there safely.”
“Good, good. Talk in a couple.”
He went down the ladder on the end of the building and across the next roof. Bastian’s Nova had a whole series of fast routes on top of buildings, and he had to admit it was less complicated than being down on the street or trying to be invisible.
Nova opened the door and smiled. “I knew he’d send someone.”
He shrugged. “I wanted to see the safe house.” He lied.
“Oh.” She nodded. “Good. We can use all the help we can get.” She motioned for him to come in. “Kara will be here in a few minutes. She was feeding her cat or something.”
Trendan walked in and stood by the sitting room. Queen Alona from Alterealm had been helping update the décor and furniture, and he had to admit it was looking less garage sale in here now. The young teen came out of the kitchen. “Sedric.” He inclined his head to him.
“T, how’s it going?”
Trendan grinned at the name. Why was it the modern generation felt the need to shorten names to one letter? He’d never know. “It’s going fine.”
Without warning, Princess Kara appeared in the middle of the room. On top of her was a mountain lion. Trendan reached for his gun.
“Holy fraggle. Look what you’ve done.” Kara reached up and squeezed the animal’s face. “Off, Tawny.”
“When you said she was feeding her cat, I didn’t know it was a cougar cat.”
Kara got up and tisked at the animal. “Sorry. She pounced just as I was porting.”
“That is so cool.” Sedric stepped toward the animal and then stopped. “Can I pet it?”
Kara flipped the hair out of her face. “Yes. She’s harmless.”
Kara looked at Nova and then sighed. “I might have to get Raf to come to port her back. I won’t be able to focus.” She watched the animal follow Sedric into the kitchen. With an awkward smile, she turned to Trendan. “You’re on escort duty?”
He shrugged a shoulder.
“Bart is fixing the fence again, so thanks, and I’m sorry to bother you.”
There was a crash in the kitchen. Trendan ran in behind Princess Kara.
Sedric sat on the floor against the counter with the cat standing over his legs.
“Tawny. No people food.” She went over and grabbed the box, and looked at it. “Especially not chocolate cereal.”
“Sorry.” Sedric slid across the floor so the animal wasn’t over him. “I was getting a bowl for myself.”
Kara leaned down and took hold of the animal’s face, “she has no manners. At all. You wait until I tell Raf what you did.” She released her face. “Lay down and try to be good for a minute.”
Trendan was shocked when the animal lay at Kara’s feet and rested its chin on its paws. “Is your mate coming to the safe house?
Kara pulled out her phone and shook her head. “Right now, he’s working with your guards before we start hitting those places your brother gave us.” She typed on the screen and then glanced at him, “We’ve tracked down several of the locations their cameras were watching, so tomorrow, we’ll be checking those out.”
Trendan crossed his arms over his chest. “I’d like to help, for both.”
“You’ve had training, fighting?”
He grinned, “A few thousand years.”
“Oh, pish, I keep forgetting how old you guys are.” She shrugged, “I’ll tell Raf to bring you in when they’re planning them.”
He nodded and then looked down to see the cat staring up at him. It was no wonder at all that Bas loved hanging out with the Alterealm Royals—their crazy, almost outshone their chaos.