Home > Tegan's Blood (The Ultimate Power #1)(5)

Tegan's Blood (The Ultimate Power #1)(5)
Author: L.H. Cosway

He just sits there, holding me for a few minutes in silence, as the low chatter from the front of the restaurant flows over us.

Then he asks, “Are you feeling better now? I am sorry for pushing you.”

“That’s all right, you couldn’t have known that I’m a fragile f**king emotional wreck at the moment.”

“I don’t like upsetting you.”

“It’s okay,” I whisper.

He gives me one last look of reassurance and then returns to his seat, just as the waitress brings our food.

“So, do you mind me asking who the bastard was that broke your heart?”

I look at him a moment, chewing a neatly cut piece of burger, then answer, “Matthew.”

“You want me to hunt him down, teach him a lesson?”

“That would be very much impossible.”

“I’m known for my ability to conquer the impossible,” he grins.

“Well unless you know some way to travel into the afterlife, it is impossible to get to him.”

“He’s dead?”

“Yeah.”

“How’d he go?”

“Suicide. Slit his wrists in my bath.”

“Fuck.”

“I know. Having your boyfriend kill himself does wonders for your self-esteem.” My black sense of humour never fails to rear its ugly head.

“Oh honey, I am sorry,” says Ethan, ignoring the humour I throw out as a defence.

“Don’t be, it’s my own fault. I have a weakness for the damaged types.”

“What do you mean?” he asks, taking a sip of his drink.

“Oh nothing, I’m just thinking I should try to quit my fascination with people who’ve had hard lives.”

“Why would you have a fascination with people like that?”

I pause a moment before answering, “I suppose it’s because I grew up poor in a town full of rich people, and I began despising those who had it easy in life, people who haven’t had to deal with hardship.” People like you, my brain throws out. But I don’t vocalise the thought. For all I know he could be a self-made man, someone who dragged himself out of the gutter and worked long and hard to become successful. Perhaps his confidence is all an act.

Ethan looks at me for a long moment, as if trying to figure me out, then says, “I’m not saying it’s a bad philosophy, but it is a flawed one. You go getting involved with somebody with issues and those issues are going to affect the relationship, it can’t be avoided really.”

“Yeah, I’m beginning to get that.”

“So maybe you should think about changing your taste in men. Perhaps start going for the well-rounded night club owning type,” he smiles.

“Oh yeah? You don’t have any deep seated childhood trauma I should know about?”

“Nope. My mental health is in ship shape condition.”

“Well that’s good to hear.” I laugh.

We smile at each other for a couple of heartbeats, and it’s as if in this moment we completely get each other.

“Do you mind me asking what that language was you spoke to me in earlier, you said something like “dragostea mea”?” I ask.

“It’s Romanian,” he answers simply.

“I thought you were American.”

“I am. My family emigrated from Romania a few hundred years ago.”

“Wow, that’s impressive, I can barely trace my family back fifty years. Ethan isn’t a Romanian name though, is it?”

“No, but my surname, Cristescu, is authentic.”

I nod and take a bite out of my burger before asking, “So what’s the translation of what you said to me?”

“It means my love, it was an expression of sympathy.”

“Oh, right.”

“You sound disappointed.”

I just shake my head and continue eating. When we’re finished Ethan goes to pay the bill and I wait outside by his car. The night is chilly so I pull my coat around me tightly.

“Cold?” he asks from behind me.

I jump. “Don’t sneak up on me like that.”

“Sorry. Is it okay if we drop by the club before I bring you home? I have to check in on something.”

“Sure, no problem.”

When we get to Crimson Ethan takes my hand and leads me in through the front door where the bouncers immediately step aside for him. As we pass by the bar I notice that a barmaid with short brown hair and a nose ring is giving me the stink eye. I suppose she must have a thing for the boss. Ethan doesn’t lead me to his office but instead he brings me to the staff room where there’s a flat screen TV bolted to the wall and two large black leather sofas.

“I’ll be ten minutes tops,” he tells me before placing an unexpected kiss on my cheek and leaving in that swift way of his.

A couple minutes later the door swings open and I turn my head around to find that the hostile barmaid has entered the room. She lets out a heavy sigh and puts the kettle on. Then she sits down on the sofa opposite me, grabs the remote and switches on the TV.

I notice her look me over before saying, “So you’re the latest notch on his bedpost then.”

“Huh?” is all I can think to say in response.

She widens her eyes, as if to say duh, and then replies, “Ethan.”

“Oh, no, we’re just friends.” I assure her. Yeah, my IQ would have to have dropped a good few points before I began to hold any assumptions that Ethan’s interest in me is anything more than pure self-gratification.

“Oh pull the other one. His bedroom should have revolving doors he’s got so many jump offs coming and going.” She throws back.

“I’m sorry?”

“Fuck you’re slow on the uptake. I just think I should let you know, because you seem like a nice girl, Ethan Cristescu is a big f**king man slut. So I wouldn’t go getting my hopes up for a whirlwind romance or anything.”

“I’m not getting my hopes up for anything of the sort. As I said, we’re just friends.” Yeah so why does your already broken heart feel even more crushed? That little voice of reality in my brain asks.

“Sure you are. Well, can’t say I didn’t warn ya,” she tells me in a satisfied voice.

Then she gets up to make her tea and a minute later Ethan returns, he looks at the barmaid suspiciously and says, “I hope you’re scheduled for a break Judy, because I don’t take kindly to slackers.” His voice is harsh and authoritative.

“Yes boss I am, been hustling at that bar for two hours without a break.”

“Well wheel out the violins, a whole two hours. You’ve got five minutes and then back to work.” He replies, and this time she doesn’t retort.

“Tegan, you ready?” he asks, his tone changed from mean to friendly just like that.

“Yeah.” I tell him and get up immediately.

Judy doesn’t fail to roll her eyes at me as I glance her way when we’re leaving.

“What did she say to you in there?” Ethan asks, lowering his brow.

“Nothing.”

“She must have said something, Judy has a serious problem keeping her trap shut.”

“Well – she told me that I was just another of the many notches on your bedpost.”

“She did?” he says, his lips tilting up in a small smile. “Do you believe her?”

“I don’t know. It’s really none of my business anyway.”

“She’s lying.”

“Were you two together?” I ask, all too worriedly.

“I don’t sleep with my workers.”

“But you wanted me to come and work for you.” Beat that logic.

“You are an exception. And I haven’t slept with you – yet.” Nice save.

“And how many other exceptions are there?”

“Tegan, you are the only exception.”

I laugh. “Yeah, I’ll believe that just as soon as hell freezes over.”

Ethan studies me a moment. “You should think about believing in things more often. You might even be surprised at what you see.”

In an effort to ignore him I begin randomly switching nobs on his CD player. But it won’t come on for some reason, so I just sit back and stay quiet. When we pull up outside of my apartment block Ethan just sits still and gazes at me.

“What?” I ask.

“I’d love to come up there with you,” he breathes.

I’m silent as he watches me but I think he gets the message from my facial expression.

“Here,” he says, handing me a small white business card with his number on it. “I’d like it if you’d call me.”

“We’ll see,” I tell him before opening the car door and getting out. As I make my way up the steps to the front door of the block I look back at him and he gives me a lazy wave.

Once I get inside my place I call up Nicky and ask her if I could borrow some job hunting clothes for tomorrow. Then I get into bed, crank open my laptop and make a list of all the places in the city who’re hiring. Not long after that I fall asleep.

Chapter Three

Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble

The next day Nicky brings over a black bag full of clothes for me to pick from. She tells me that she’s brought over enough to last me for a while, not just job finding clothes. She says she’s got too much at home anyway and that I’d be doing her a favour by taking some of her older stuff.

“Oh, by the way,” she begins. “Did that blond guy from Crimson call you? I gave him your number the other night when he asked me for it, I hope that’s okay.” I can see the nerves in her expression. Poor Nicky, she must still think I’m on the verge of breaking down at any moment, especially if we get onto the topic of my love life.

“Yeah he called, and don’t worry about giving him my number, it’s fine.”

“Cool, so what did he want?”

“He asked me out for dinner”

“And you went?” she asks in surprise, hovering by the door and checking her watch. I know she’ll be late for work if she stays much longer, and I’m glad because I’m not in the mood to tell her about Ethan just yet.

“Go to work, Nicky,” I tell her, “we’ll talk about it later.”

She gives me an exasperated look but doesn’t argue and instead gives me a quick hug before rushing out the door.

My job hunt goes disastrously until I get to an occult shop called Indigo. It’s the kind of place that sells crystals, incense, angel figurines and books about witchcraft. I’ve passed by it a couple times but have never gone inside. I’m not much of a believer in the spiritual, I believe in what I can see with my own two eyes. But I suppose I could fake an interest if it gets me a job.

Chimes ring above my head as I enter the shop, the furnishings are all light pine wood and there’s a mezzanine floor with bookshelves and a cash register. A man in his fifties with long grey hair tied back in a ponytail is drinking a cup of herbal tea. He sees me approach and smiles widely, but for some reason as I finish climbing the steps and come face to face with him he narrows his gaze.

“Hi, I’m Tegan Stolle,” I begin, smiling despite his hostile expression. “I was just wondering if I could leave my CV with you since you’ve advertised for staff,” and I hand him the crisp white sheet of paper.

He looks at me strangely for a moment before taking it. “Yes, I’m looking for a shop assistant. My name is Marcel Girard, I’ll take a look at this and call you if you’re suitable for an interview.”

“Thanks,” I say, and turn to leave. I’m almost out the door when he calls me back.

“Miss, may I ask a question?” His voice is tentative and unsure.

“Ask away,” I reply, walking back to him.

“Are you a Wiccan?” he asks.

An involuntary laugh escapes my lips. “Me? No sorry, not my thing I’m afraid.”

“So you don’t even dabble in magic?”

“No, not at all.”

“Do any of your friends practice? Perhaps a room mate or a family member?”

“Not as far as I know, and I don’t have a room mate. The only family I’ve got is my dad and he’s definitely not the magic and witchcraft type.”

He ignores my insensitive response and takes a deep breath, then draws nearer to me. “May I be frank?”

“Sure.” I answer, a small bit puzzled. You run into all sorts in places like this.

“Well, hmm, how do I put this?” he says in a pondering tone. “You see, there’s a heavy magical aura all around you my dear. It’s almost as if someone has cast a spell on you, a strong one, one that has been permanent for a long time now.”

“O-kaay, well that’s good to know.” I tell him, eager to get away from this lunatic.

He fumbles in his pockets and then asks, “Could you wait here a moment? I’d like to get a second opinion on this.”

“All right,” I reply out of courtesy. He rushes off to the back of the shop and walks through the storeroom door before returning a minute later with another man.

The man he returns with is much younger than Marcel, probably mid-twenties, with dark brown hair and a fringe that sweeps to the side of his face, his eyes are a dark green colour.

“This is Gabriel,” says Marcel, “he works here in the shop and is a highly skilled Wiccan.”

Gabriel has a silver earring at the top of his right ear, and he’s wearing black jeans, steel toe cap boots, and a loose grey shirt. He’s carrying a stack of books, and he puts them down on the counter before asking, “What can I do for you Marcel?”

   
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