THE HEAVY BREATHING resounded around the brick buildingâ€¦and, it wasnâ€™t the good kind. My heartbeat pounded in my head, almost drowning out the suspicious sound. I leant against the wall, my shoulder pressed against the brickwork. Waiting.
|Lightning Seeker By Rachel Medhurst|
â€œI know youâ€™re there,â€ the Dark Crawler shouted, a small high pitched laugh following his sentence.
My night had started promising. It had been a month since I had killed my hundredth and ninety sixth Fallen One. I had taken some time to relax and focus on training Chloe, but that small break had come crashing to a halt when I received a phone call an hour ago.
â€œMight as well come out and get your pet.â€
A grunt filtered to me, followed by a stifled scream. Thrusting from my safe space behind a wall, I slowly entered the outhouse. It was a huge building, old and dilapidated. A great place for a stinking dark soul to live.
Wrinkling my nose, I resisted the urge to gag when the rotting smell of the Dark Crawler drifted up my nostrils. My steps were slow, measured, as the dim light flickered overhead. Before me lay rows of wooden racks. Mostly empty now, but they made a great formation to hide behind.
There was a clearing ahead. I could just make out the shadow of the human host of the evil spirit. He stood off to the left. He must have been able to smell me to know that I was there. I was surprised, I was probably almost as dark as him nowadays. The Crawlers used their sense of smell when light people were nearby, and I was sure I didnâ€™t radiate that quality anymore.
The Dark Crawler ahead must have been in his host for a while. The longer they inhabited a human body, the more it rotted from the inside out, releasing the most putrid scent.
â€œIf you donâ€™t hurry, Iâ€™m going to jump into this pretty boy.â€ The laugh came again as the shadow moved slightly.
Taking a deep breath, I kept my gun aimed out in front of me and edged towards the end of the aisle. If I made one wrong move, my best friend would be a Dark Crawler. Although he probably had one of the blackest of human souls, he didnâ€™t deserve to die that way.
â€œWhat do you want?â€ I asked as they came into view.
Jack was on the floor, his hands tied behind his back and duct tape over his mouth. His eyes widened but his shoulders relaxed when he caught sight of me.
â€œWell, wellâ€¦the great Thunder Hunter.â€ The Dark Crawler was in a male body. His eyes bulged, as if he were high on drugs.
I knew better. He was ready for his next fix of human life. He would do anything to keep the light in his current human body so he could live. Oh, how I relished the idea of sending him back to Helheim.
â€œCome, come,â€ he gestured, his dainty hands waving for me to join them.
My gun was aimed at his chest as he shuffled nearer to Jack. I took a step, wanting nothing more than to plunge my dagger into his chest. I had to wait. If I made a wrong move, he would jump into Jack. And, the only way to get rid of an evil spirit from a human body was to kill them.
â€œTell me what you want,â€ I bit through my teeth.
The Dark Crawler regarded me, his head tilting to the side. His eyes were black, even the white part of the eyeball. He was ready to shift, ready to start again. It must be wearisome to have to keep changing lives. Being someone new every year or so.
â€œI want you. I figured if you let me take your body in exchange for your vile friend, not only will I be strong and immortalâ€¦Iâ€™ll have the favour of Loki too. Because eventually, Iâ€™ll kill your body offâ€¦and you will finally be gone from the world.â€
He was clever, I had to give him that. No other dark creature had ever tried to bargain with me before. Certainly not for my body. Although, it wasnâ€™t as exciting as it sounded.
â€œI have to give you creditâ€¦?â€ I waited for him to tell me his name.
His small feet shuffled, his grin splitting his average looking face. The mousey hair on his head was thinning and his teeth were yellow from lack ofâ€¦life force. He had probably been quite a handsome man before the spirit got hold of him.
â€œMy name doesnâ€™t matter. What do you say? How badly do you want your friend back?â€
Glancing at Jack, I raised my eyebrows. â€œWell, to be honest, he is an annoying bastard. Maybe you would improve him.â€
My contact glared at me, his eyebrows pulling low over his eyes. For the first time, Jackâ€™s usually perfectly coifed hair was a mess. Blood coated his temple where it had dribbled out from under his hairline. I guessed it was from the injury that caused him to scream a moment ago.
â€œHa! Well, I would like to indulge your fantasy of destroying your annoying friend, but I fear that youâ€™re bluffing. In which case, I would like to conclude our bargain.â€ He coughed, spitting on the ground when a glob of blood came into his mouth.
My lips screwed up in disgust. Why were the Dark Crawlers so painstakingly unsophisticated? It was as if they wiped the intelligent humans they inhabited and became uneducated morons.
â€œIâ€™m not sure youâ€™re going to get what you want today.â€ I gestured at Jack with my gun. â€œSo, you better let him go before I shoot you.â€
The man laughed, bending over as the reaction caused the hostâ€™s body to cough its guts up. â€œShooting me wonâ€™t help, Iâ€™ll just jump into-â€
A warm breeze passed my ear, making me duck to the side. The Dark Crawler flew back against the nearest wooden shelf, crashing to the ground. The ball of golden magic had come out of nowhere, hitting him directly in the head.
â€œGet him!â€ Chloe.
The little bitch had followed me when I told her not to. Running to the man, I grabbed my dagger out of my inside pocket. He threw his head back, his eyes starting to roll up. Jumping, I thrust the blade down, straight into his heart. He spluttered, his whole body shaking. His eyes focused on me as blood spurted from his mouth.
A sharp wind whipped around us as his dark soul was collected by something invisible and taken back to Helheim. My Valkyrie never came for the normal spirits, they were too below her station. She only ever transported those going to Valhalla or FÃ³lkvangr.
The hostâ€™s body slumped to the ground, his eyes closed and the stink of him wafting up as his arse hit the hard floor. I held a hand over my mouth, not quite able to stop the retch that almost made me sick.
â€œJack,â€ I heard Chloe say behind me. â€œAre you okay?â€
Turning, I watched as she bent down and ripped the tape off his mouth. He howled, his head hitting the ground where he reacted soâ€¦girly. â€œOuch, bitchhhhhâ€¦.â€
â€œI just saved your life!â€ Chloe barked, backing away from Jack and clicking her fingers.
Rusty came trotting in, his dark eyes looking at us before he sat next to his owner. Bending down, I untied Jackâ€™s hands before straightening.
â€œWhat the fuck was that about? You almost hit me!â€ My temper was simmering just under the surface.
The woman was going to kill me one day. I sometimes wondered if she had been pretending to be a descendant of Freyaâ€™s all along. She certainly acted like one of Lokiâ€™s lot most of the time.
â€œYou were dragging your feet,â€ Chloe said, waving her hand in dismissal.
Jack clambered up, his hands brushing the dust off his jeans before he checked the cut on his head. The male was vainer than a catwalk model. Bloody man.
â€œWhen I tell you to stay at home, I mean stay at home. Itâ€™s about time you got your own place.â€ My words were sharp as I strode past her.
She put a hand out to stop my retreat. Jack followed quickly on my heels, not daring to look back at the body that stunk up the whole place.
â€œWhat do we do with him?â€ Chloe pointed at the previous Dark Crawler.
Glancing over my shoulder, I frowned. â€œNothing.â€
Going to move again, I gritted my teeth when she stared, her gaze boring into me. â€œYouâ€™re just going to leave that poor man there?â€
Jack scoffed, his hands reaching out to grasp the edge of my shirt. â€œTrygger never worries about the leftovers.â€
â€œLeftovers? As inâ€¦a man who was possessed and now his body is a rotting mess because of an evil spirit. You call that a leftover?â€
The grimace on Chloeâ€™s face was pretty deserved when she put it like that. To be honest, I had never thought about the bodies. There had been so many of them, they became a distant memory on my way to more important things. Namely, the other Fallen Ones.
â€œWell, if you care that much, that can be your new job. Dispose of the bodies so no one finds them.â€ Pleased with my conclusion, I moved past her before she could go on.
Clearing her throat loudly, she called out when I ignored her and kept going. â€œIâ€™m not going to discard them! Theyâ€™re people. Shouldnâ€™t their families know that theyâ€™re dead?â€
Jack laughed at the same time I did. Chloeâ€™s running footsteps came closer. Looking behind us, we both started to run when we saw the heat in her eyes. The bright red of her cheeks warned us of her fury.
We were both faster than her, although that was mainly because I dragged Jack with me. He held his hand to his head, groaning about a headache or something.
â€œHow the hell did you get caught, anyway?â€ I asked as I shoved him into my car.
Chloe caught up with us, Rusty by her side. That was the good thing about that dog, I could always trust him to look after her. Even when I was there, he stuck close to her.
â€œI felt like walkingâ€¦or fuckingâ€¦on the edgeâ€¦â€
It had been a while since I had cringed so often in such a short amount of time. Nothing Jack did surprised me, usually.
â€œAre you saying that youâ€¦did youâ€¦? Thatâ€™s necrophilia!â€ Chloe blurted.
A burst of laughter escaped me as Jack slumped on the backseat, his head hanging. Chloe let Rusty in the boot before joining me in the front. My car was matte black with changeable number plates. I had a whole stock of them in the apartment. There was nothing like keeping my identity safe in a world where quite a few people wanted me dead.
Putting my foot down, I finally took a deep breath. The air was fresh as I wound down the window and blasted the car clear of the lingering smell of dead flesh.
â€œDid you actuallyâ€¦?â€ I couldnâ€™t help the question, it was morbid curiosity.
I glanced into the rear-view mirror as Jack shook his head. â€œNah, I only courted the idea for a second before I came to my senses. It was too late by then. Iâ€™m such a prick, ainâ€™t I?â€
Both Chloe and I nodded in agreement. There was one small thing about the incident on my mind. â€œHow did he know that he could use you to get to me? Did you tell him who I was?â€
The drop of Jackâ€™s gaze made it very clear that he was guilty. On one hand that was a good thing. It wouldnâ€™t do for the crawlers to know who I was all by themselves. However, it seemed my friend had broken my trust.
â€œHe tricked meâ€¦Iâ€¦â€ His sentence trailed off as his eyes rolled into the back of his head and he fell back against the seat.
Chloe looked around, her hand reaching out to grab his knee. â€œJack!â€
â€œItâ€™s okay, heâ€™s probably got concussion. He was hit around the head before I got there.â€ Clearing my throat, I turned my attention to her. â€œYou do know that Iâ€™m going to have to teach you a lesson?â€
Her lips turned up into a snarl as she let go of Jack and sat forward again. â€œFirstly, how do you know itâ€™s just a concussion? Secondly, youâ€™re welcomeâ€¦â€
Snorting, I leant my elbow on the ledge of the door while I scratched the stubble on my jaw.
Earlier, the text had come in from Jackâ€™s phone, but I could tell by the tone of the message it wasnâ€™t him. He had asked me to meet him at the abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of London.
I hadnâ€™t told Chloe where it was. That was a very good point. How had she known where to find us? â€œFirstly,â€ I said in a fake high pitched voice. â€œâ€¦it serves him right if anything more is wrong with him. Heâ€™ll have more than a concussion to worry about when Iâ€™m finished with him. Secondlyâ€¦â€ I went back to my normal voice. â€œâ€¦How the fuck did you find us?â€
For the first time in a while her face lit up in a genuine smile. There were two peopleâ€¦and a dogâ€¦in my life. And, both of them had betrayed me in one way or another in the last hour. No wonder I didnâ€™t trust anyone.
â€œI tracked you.â€
Well, shit. Chloe had explained how she had found the Fallen One a month ago. She had used photos to identify her. She then hacked into the national database to research all the records of the woman, who just so happened to host one of the evilest spirits in the world. She wasnâ€™t one hundred percent sure that it was her, but sheâ€™d claimed she had a gut feeling it was. And, she was right.
â€œYouâ€™re going to have to show me your tracking skills.â€
It was my way of praising the one skill she had mastered. Okay, so she might have helped me by hitting the Dark Crawler with magic, but I would have just shot him anyway. Why she felt the need to help me, I didnâ€™t know. I hadnâ€™t survived a millennia for nothing. A simple Dark Crawler was easy for me to kill.
â€œI will. But, only if you thank me for helping back there.â€
The car pulled into the side of my building. The factory had recently shut down, leaving me the quiet of the day as well as the night. It had been discerning two weeks ago when the noise of the daytime work had come to an end. The property was going up for sale soon. I couldnâ€™t wait to buy the whole place.
â€œChloe, I had control on it. I would have killed him easily.â€ I looked at her, sad that she thought I was that useless.
A small noise left her throat before she turned in her seat to face me. â€œBut, itâ€™s not so easy for me. Tryggerâ€¦that was the first time I reallyâ€¦helped.â€
Suddenly getting her meaning, I leant my skull against the headrest. Jack was still out cold in the back. Served him right. Chloe wanted me to acknowledge that she had done well. It did take a lot of courage to do what she had done. Even if she did ignore my orders.
â€œStop with the firstly, etc.â€ She giggled.
Nodding, I faced her. â€œIâ€™m pissed that you didnâ€™t listen to me when I told you to stay at home. Youâ€™re like a child, pushing the boundaries to see how far Iâ€™ll let you go.â€
Her face screwed up at just the right time, proving my point. â€œWait, I-â€
â€œI havenâ€™t finished,â€ I interrupted. â€œThe reason I donâ€™t let you come to these things yet, is because youâ€™ve only been training for just over a month. You need time. Butâ€¦you hit your target well.â€
â€œThank you,â€ she muttered.
I paused, waiting for the backlash, the tantrum, the disagreement. It didnâ€™t come. Instead, she climbed out of the car and retrieved Rusty before going up the steps that lined the side of the building and disappearing into our home.
â€œNow to deal with you, you snidey bastard.â€
Getting out, I shivered as I left Jack in the back of the vehicle. It was a cold evening; we were even due a frost. Jack would wake up freezing his arse offâ€¦and I hoped his bollocks too.
Jack, the Informant
â€œSHOW ME HOW itâ€™s done.â€ I grabbed the spare chair, plonking it next to the computer desk.
Chloe stared, her eyes looking straight into me. Looking away, I tapped the keyboard to bring the computer to life.
â€œI canâ€™t believe you didnâ€™t keep up with the times.â€ She tutted, typing something in the search bar before bringing up a document she had typed out.
Scanning the words, I gave up when none of them made sense to me. It was computer speak. Websites and codes that I had no clue about.
â€œI do keep up with the times. I know how to use a computer.â€
â€œHe just knows how to search for escort services and take-aways.â€ Jack offered his opinion as he came into Chloeâ€™s room.
Rusty got to his feet to say hello. The dog had become used to the regular visits from my friend. In fact, since Chloe had been in our life, he had been around a lot more than usual.
â€œHowâ€™s your bollo-?â€
â€œTrygger!â€ Chloe snapped, hitting my leg.
True to my word, I had left Jack in the car all night long. His face was pale, his hair still messed up. But, he was alive.
â€œYouâ€™re a bastard for leaving me out there.â€ Jack knew that he had some explaining to do, but that would have to wait.
I had been bugging Chloe to show me her tracker skills for a month. So far, she had been too busy with her physical and magical training. Today, I had bribed her with a trip out if she agreed to finally let me see what she could do.
â€œGo and have a shower, it will warm your knackers up nicely.â€ Waving him away, I gestured for Chloe to continue.
Shaking her head, she did as she was told. Pointing at the list of websites, she started to explain how she used them.
Jack shuffled out of the room, mumbling some curse words under his breath. Ignoring him, I listened to what Chloe told me, enthusiasm making her voice fast and excitable.
When she had finished, I nodded, impressed by how much knowledge she had. â€œSo, you use that programme to get a good face likeness before you search for pictures online that match it? Social media really has made it a lot easier to find out information about everyone.â€
Chloe nodded, sitting back in her seat with a smile on her face. â€œI know. The day my familyâ€¦or, not my family, but Lokiâ€™s descendants gave me my first computer, I almost had a heart attack. The internet is my best friend when it comes to this part of the job. I just wish I was as good with magic.â€
â€œTalking of magic,â€ I said, stroking Rustyâ€™s head when he nudged my knee. â€œOur trip todayâ€¦weâ€™re going to see the witches that worked for the last Fallen One.â€
Chloe jumped in her seat. She was about to lean forward to throw her arms around me, but I put my hand out to stop her, accidently brushing against her boob.
â€œOh, shit, sorry,â€ I stuttered, getting up from my seat.
My cheeks heated as she grabbed her breast and stared at me, the skin on her neck blushing red. â€œItâ€™s okay, it was an accident.â€
Clearing my throat, I looked everywhere but directly at her. â€œThank you for showing me that. I trust thatâ€¦Iâ€™m just going to see where Jack is.â€
Escaping, I blew out my breath. The sound of feminine laughter made me pause at the top of the stairs. Slapping my head, I skipped down the steps. What was wrong with me? I never acted like such an idiot around women. Especially women like Chloe.
â€œJack,â€ I called when I got to the kitchenette and switched on the kettle. â€œGet your girly arse out here, we need to talk.â€
The door opened to reveal my butt naked friend. Turning away, I distracted myself by making tea. â€œPreferably dressed,â€ I muttered.
â€œYou want to talk, Iâ€™m ready to talk, my man. Although, I still havenâ€™t forgiven you for leaving me passed out in the car. I could have died, mate.â€
Turning to face him, I crossed my arms over my chest and leant against the work surface. Luckily, Jack had wrapped a towel around his slim hips. His arm bulged as he reached up to brush his hair.
â€œI still havenâ€™t forgiven you for telling our dead friend about me. Whatever possessed you?â€
His movement paused as he stared at himself in the mirror. The slight clench of his jaw was the only thing that gave away his unease.
â€œI wasnâ€™t thinking, I wasâ€¦enjoying myself a little too much. He was talking about the Hagalaz cult, I was trying to get as much info as I could, but I got carried away, mate. I promise I didnâ€™t mean it. Iâ€™ve never told anyone. In fact, why did I say anything? I never say anything.â€
He turned to me, his face screwed up in confusion. I could tell a lie a mile away. My friend was telling the truth. Had he been tricked into saying something?
â€œHe gave me cocaine, I remember. Thenâ€¦started to hint atâ€¦you know.â€ His cheeks flushed, his eyes dropping to the ground.
It was unlike my friend to be ashamed of his desires. What had got into him? I had never seen him back down when I questioned him. Shame wasnâ€™t a word I associated with him. Ever.
â€œMaybe it wasnâ€™t cocaine,â€ I suggested, ignoring his pitiful stare.
His gaze snapped up to mine. â€œTrue. Maybe I was a little too trusting in the Crawler. Dan introduced us at the club last night. Heâ€™s had his ear open about the Hagalaz cult.â€ He paused when I narrowed my gaze on him. â€œAlthough he doesnâ€™t know that itâ€™s you that needs the info,â€ he quickly added.
Pushing away from the side, I finished making the tea as Chloeâ€™s footsteps came down the stairs.
â€œPut some clothes on Jack, no one wants to see all that first thing in the morning,â€ she quipped.
â€œDonâ€™t lie, baby, you want to climb all over thisâ€¦You pine for me when you try to sleep at night. Just admit it, Iâ€™m the best looking man youâ€™ve ever seen, ainâ€™t I?â€
Chloe flipped him off as she waltzed past and out the front door, swimming gear in hand. The woman was toning up nicely, her fitness regime paying off. Her magic practice was going well, but I had a feeling she had a lot more inside of her. And, that was the reason for our visit to the witches.
â€œIâ€™m taking Chloe out today,â€ I said as Jack pulled on his clothes with the bathroom door wide open.
Rusty wandered over to me after watching Chloe through the vast glass window on the side of the building. She didnâ€™t hesitate when she got to the side of the water, stripping her clothes straight off before she jumped in.
â€œShame sheâ€™s wearing a swimming costume,â€ Jack said, joining me at the counter and snatching a mug of tea.
Moving to my chair as Chloe started her lengths, I sat down, waiting for Jack to sit opposite. He took a moment mucking around in the kitchen, but then joined me. Rusty jumped on the sofa next to him, laying his head on Jackâ€™s thigh. The dog was a traitor.
â€œWhere are you taking Chloe?â€
Waving away his question, I stared, waiting for him to impart the most important information. The only reason I hadnâ€™t killed him already was because he knew so much about Hagalaz. And, although I had put the whole cult thing to the back of my mind for the month, it was time to pick it back up again.
â€œOkay, Iâ€™ll tell you what I found out, but youâ€™ve got to promise not to ram the dagger you have tucked in your boot into my throat when Iâ€™m finished,â€ Jack said, downing his mug of tea in one go.
The lad was nervous, which was a good thing. He should be. If he had been anyone else, he would be facing the end of my blade when he had finished talking.
â€œAs much as I hate to admit it, in fact, it makes me retch just thinking itâ€¦â€ I pretended that I was going to be sick. â€œI need you.â€
Jack fake growled in his chest, shaking his head as he turned to look out at the river. A small smile landed on his lips before he turned back to me. â€œSee, I always knew you had a thing for me, pretty boy, you just canâ€™t help yourself.â€
â€œTell me what you know, bastard.â€
Waiting, I sipped my tea. The hot sweet liquid slid down my throat, reminding me of a time when I would make tea for a special friend. A woman I had become close to all those years ago. I never fully let anyone in, but she had a way of making me want more. Her corset teased me in a way no other womanâ€™s did. Her long wavy dark hair had curled into ringlets at the end.
And, yet, in my negligence, my stupidity, I had allowed myself to care for her over three hundred years ago. Which had ultimately killed her.
The Fallen One I was hunting at the time had got wind of my affection for the woman. She was a lady of noble birth from Italy, a proper aristocrat. Yet, I couldnâ€™t save her when the evil spirit that had escaped Freyaâ€™s field all those years ago came for her.
â€œHe confirmed that Martin is the leader of the club. Itâ€™s super exclusive. Which was obvious, werenâ€™t it?â€
Jack brought me back from my reverie, snapping me into the twenty first century. Oh, how I wished my memory would be hazier than it was. Humans lost their memories over time, the emotions attached to them dulling or disappearing altogether. But not me, no. As a quarter god, Thorâ€™s grandson, I had an incredible memory. Which meant the emotion that I had felt would come crashing in if I ever let it.
Swallowing hard to push it all away, I gestured for Jack to go on. My throat would close if I tried to speak before I had completely forgotten about Rosa, the woman from the past, and everything that had happened to her.
â€œApparently, Martin fancies himself a descendant of Odin. He lied to us when he asked us to help him find out about his dead, not dead, daughter. Do you remember?â€ Jack absently stroked Rustyâ€™s head as he spoke.
Nodding, I cleared my throat. â€œYes. The daughterâ€¦who I know in quite an intimate way. She must have told him that she had met me at Frankieâ€™s party.â€ I recalled our passionate liaison in the toilets and dispensed a small smile. â€œYet, why did he send us to the Fallen One?â€
Jack sat forward, apologising to the dog when he disturbed his stroking motion. â€œExactly. Quite frankly, Thunder Hunter, Iâ€™m astounded that you ainâ€™t been back to see this Martin bloke. Why havenâ€™t you found out what the hell he was playing at?â€
â€œChloe needed my guidance in her training. Sheâ€™sâ€¦doing okay, but she hasnâ€™t once mentioned that night. She saw me behead the Fallen One. And, sheâ€™s managed to get out of speaking about the journal every time Iâ€™ve asked her.â€
â€œDo you think she might be a little bitâ€¦?â€ Jack screwed up his eyebrows as he thought of the best word.
â€œSheâ€™s too emotional. When you allow that to be a part of you, all sorts of mental health issues can arise. I justâ€¦â€ Sighing, I looked out of the window to where Chloe still swum against the current of the River Thames.
Maybe the girl had managed to shut that night out. However, her silence about it was discerning. Especially as it seemed like she hadnâ€™t seen a lot of bloody action throughout her lifetime. For me, it was usual. An everyday occurrence.
â€œSheâ€™s pretty tough, too. I mean, youâ€™ve got to give her credit for firing the dude with magic last night.â€
Jackâ€™s vocabulary expanded and changed almost every day. It seemed that the way he spoke related to the way he felt.
â€œYeah, it feels like a dude day.â€
â€œLanguage nowadays.â€ I finished my tea and dug my phone out of my pocket.
â€œAlright, grandad. I just hired a new American bartender at the club. Sheâ€™s studying ancient mythology at university. Sheâ€™s a clever little hot piece of arse. And, sheâ€™s gayâ€¦â€
The frown on Jackâ€™s face made me smile. All that man ever thought about was sex. The more debauched, the better.
â€œMaybe she knows a Dark Crawler or two so you can, what is itâ€¦ Hook up?â€ I said, keeping my face straight.
Jack glared so hard, his eyeballs almost popped out of his head. Getting up from his seat, he kissed Rusty on the nose before he turned to face me. â€œOn that note, unless you need me, Iâ€™m out of here.â€
I didnâ€™t care about Jackâ€™s comfort, or lack of. There was more to what he found out. I wasnâ€™t going to let him get away with it that easily.
â€œI donâ€™t think youâ€™ve finished.â€ I pointed at the sofa.
The front door opened and Chloe came in, dripping water all over the floor. â€œShit, its cold out there.â€ Her teeth chattered as she rushed into the bathroom and slammed the door shut behind her.
Lowering himself again, Jack resigned himself to staying a bit longer.
â€œHe said that Martin had studied Norse mythology his whole life. He was visited by Odin in his sleep. Apparently, the god told him that he was his last surviving male descendant and had a mission.â€
My eyebrows rose as I waited for Jack to go on. In the past, Lokiâ€™s ancestors had claimed that Loki visited them in their dreams. That was the way the god had told them to kill me. His planning and scheming had all been done in their dreamtime. If Odin could do the same, was Martin telling the truth?
â€œThe Dark Crawler didnâ€™t know that much because the cult doesnâ€™t allow them in. Which is interesting in itself. If heâ€™s speaking the truth, do you think Odin sent them to help you, too? He is Thorâ€™s father after all.â€
Jack had been doing his research it seemed. Before he met me, he didnâ€™t know much about Norse mythology or Vikings in general.
â€œIâ€™ve been down here for a thousand years, I canâ€™t see why Odin would be interested in me after all this time.â€ Running a hand through my ponytail, I stared out of the window.
Odin was my great grandfather. Thor had been reluctant to let me meet him, but when I turned eighteen, he took both me and my father to Asgard. It had been an otherworldly experience. One of my only memories that was a little blurry. I remembered Odin to be kind but powerful. Someone who wouldnâ€™t put up with any nonsense.
â€œMaybe he needs Thor to be alive for some reason. Surely, he would want to help his own son? And, great grandson?â€
Chloe came out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around her. The steam of the bathroom billowed into the kitchen, wafting around her as she flicked her wet hair behind her shoulder. â€œGreat grandson? Are you talking about Odin?â€
I watched as she waltzed over, her eyes glancing between us as we stared. There wasnâ€™t one moment in history when a woman had walked out of my bathroom wrapped in a towel. I had rarely brought a woman back to my home. Chloe looking soâ€¦settled, made my insides shiver. It unnerved me.
â€œWhat do you know about Odin? Why wonâ€™t you tell me more about the journal?â€ I snapped.
She frowned at me as Rusty went over and nudged her knee. Bending down, she clasped the towel together to hide her body as she stroked him.
â€œIf I nudged your knee, would you stroke me?â€ Jack asked, wiggling his eyebrows in invitation.
â€œNo, I bloody well wouldnâ€™t.â€ Chloeâ€™s retort was joined by her back straightening and her retreat towards the stairs.
Jackâ€™s words had obviously made her realise that she was standing naked, albeit covered, in a room with two very dark males. I watched her calve muscles as she rushed up the stairs, not bothering to glance at us until she was safely on the balcony above. Her body was much more toned than it had been a few weeks ago. She was determined, I had to give her that.
â€œThanks for the show of flesh. On that note, I need to go and see someâ€¦friendsâ€¦â€ Jack got to his feet, adjusting his stupid skinny jeans as he did.
I frowned as Chloe squeaked, obviously seeing what he did, and disappeared into her makeshift room.
â€œAre you coming?â€ he asked me.
It was oh so tempting. It had been weeks since I had last snuck a visit with a female. My body was ready for some release, but I had been too slack. It was time to get back to work.
â€œNo, Iâ€™m going to pay a visit to Martin. Find out what his deal is.â€
My plans had changed. Seeing the witches could wait until a later date.
Jack stalled on his way to the front door. His hands clenched at his side, obviously torn between his need to satiate his desire and his curiosity. Spinning, he held his hands out to the side. The freshly washed hair on his head flopped into his eyes. There was no gel in my bathroom to help him stick it up. Somehow, the bastard managed to pull off the look.
â€œDo you have to go now? I want to come.â€
â€œDonâ€™t whinge like a little girl,â€ I said, getting up from my chair.
Stretching high in the air, I released the tension in my shoulders. I had worked out for an hour already this morning, but had skipped my swim to make sure I caught Jack when he woke up.
â€œLetâ€™s compromise, lovely,â€ Jack said, swaying over to me and putting a hand on my arm. â€œWe pop by my club first, meet a need or two, then go over to Martin.â€
The corner of my lip lifted into my cheek. Jack knew how to provoke me into doing what he wanted. It was his speciality. Knowing what someone craved so he could use it to persuade them to give him the information he needed.
â€œWe can carry on our conversation on the way.â€
Nodding, I waved for him to wait as I went upstairs. Taking the steps two at a time, I almost crashed into Chloe as she came thundering out of her room, her phone in her hand.
â€œWhat is it?â€ I asked before she even saw me.
Her face was pale, the colour completely gone from her previously pink cheeks. â€œIâ€¦â€ she stuttered, staring at her phone. â€œLookâ€¦â€
Handing me the phone, she crumbled to her knees. Rusty licked her face, trying to make her feel better as she stared at the wooden floor. Frowning, I looked at her phone, freezing when I saw the picture.
It was a photo of the two dead children that Chloe had lived with. They had been killed over a month ago. She hadnâ€™t mentioned them or even grieved fully. Had she been completely detached from them? From the look on her face, she had blocked out the pain in order to deal with it.
â€œWho sent this?â€
Chloe blinked, her face finally looking up at me when I clicked my fingers in front of her eyes. â€œMy cousin. Orâ€¦not my real cousin, but the woman you heard come back to the house that night.â€
â€œWhy send it now?â€
I paced away from her, returning quickly when it looked like she might faint. Getting my hands under her armpits, I was glad that she had at least managed to put clothes on. The jumper was soft, gentle against my rough calloused hands as I dragged her to her feet.
â€œIf you scroll down, youâ€™ll see a message. She wants to meet to talk about the death of our familyâ€¦and the role I played in it. Itâ€™s regarding the journal.â€
Her rushed words filtered out of her as she thrust away from me and stormed back into her bedroom. Following, I watched as she dug around in her bag and pulled out the journal she spoke about.
â€œThe famous journal you keep promising to tell me all about, then conveniently donâ€™t. The one that says Odinâ€™s descendantâ€™s still live.â€ Moving to take hold of the book, I paused when Chloe spun away from me and ran out of the room.
What was her problem? Since she had got there, I had let her go at her own pace. Every time I tried to talk to her, and she wasnâ€™t ready, I left it alone. No more. She would no longer hide anything from me.
Taking my time, I left the room and followed her downstairs. Chloe stood in front of Jack, trying to shove past him to get out of the front door.
â€œLet me go,â€ she pleaded.
â€œChloe!â€ My tone was demanding, something she could not ignore. â€œSit down.â€
Her shoulders sunk as she turned to face me, her eyes brimming with unshed tears. For so long she had held in all her emotionsâ€¦and it looked like it was about to all come tumbling out.
â€œLetâ€™s go to my club. A change of scenery may help,â€ Jack said, putting an arm around Chloe.
She nodded quickly, ready to escape the house. Reluctantly, I agreed, frowning when she put the journal on the kitchen counter and picked up her leather jacket.
â€œI canâ€™t take that with me,â€ she said, gesturing to the book. â€œItâ€™s too dangerous.â€
It was getting more and more cryptic. A journal, one with a pattern in the leather that matched the engraved pattern in Rustyâ€™s dog whistle. What did it mean? And, who the hell was making up bollocks about Odin? Today was going to be a day of answers, I could feel it in my bones. Even if I had to break some other peopleâ€™s bones, I would find out just what it was all about.
Releasing the Need
â€œIS YOUR CLUB OPEN during the day?â€ Chloe asked as we went into the private entrance.
Jack nodded, a grin spreading on his face. â€œItâ€™s open most of the time, lovely. People are drawn to theâ€¦beauty of the place.â€
He opened the inner door, leading us into the main room. The dim neon lights made it feel like we had just stepped into the night. A few people were dotted around the dance floor, completely lost in their own world of drugs and fantasy. Another group of people were crammed in a booth, laughing and drinking.
Chloe paused, staring straight at one of the humans who laughed with her friends. â€œThatâ€™sâ€¦â€
I grabbed her hand as she went to step towards the famous person. It would do no good for us to mingle with the rich and famous. And, the woman would certainly not appreciate Chloe being a fangirl.
â€œLeave her,â€ I ordered, leading her towards a different booth as Jack gestured to the barman to bring drinks.
Chloe kept looking over her shoulder as she moved along with me. I managed to get her to a booth far away enough for her not to be able to see the others. Making sure I sat on the side that meant I could see everyone from all angles, I waited for Jack as he went over to speak to a pretty woman.
â€œThatâ€™ll be his new American employee.â€ I stopped speaking when he brought her over.
The woman looked at us both, her eyes widening when they landed on Chloe. â€œHello, my nameâ€™s Serenity.â€
â€œOf course it is,â€ I muttered, grunting when Jack threw his elbow into my arm.
â€œI know what youâ€™re getting at, but Iâ€™m not offended.â€ I could see the appeal for Jack.
Serenity wore tight, leather clothes and painted her face with dark makeup. Her tattooâ€™s covered her arms, right up onto the shoulder. If she wasnâ€™t gay, she would be Jackâ€™s ideal woman. Someone he would probably consider marrying.
â€œI love this tattoo,â€ Chloe said, reaching out and tracing a butterfly.
The contact made Serenity grin like a maniac. She gestured for Chloe to budge up so she could sit next to her and talk. What had happened to our own little chat? Somehow it was always stalled.
Resisting the urge to growl my frustration, I decided to take Jack up on his offer to see to a need of my own.
â€œWait with them for a moment, will you?â€ I asked, ready to go on the hunt.
My friend knew me well. If he didnâ€™t let me do what I needed to do, I would be hounding them to tell me about the journal before going on a rampage to seek answers from Martin. He was stupid if he thought I wouldnâ€™t do that anyway, but it was best to release some of the tension.
â€œGo.â€ Jack lowered himself into the booth opposite the girls as they chatted.
It was pretty obvious that he wouldnâ€™t get a look in. The last thing I heard before the music blocked out their voices was him asking for a threesome and getting a less than positive reply.
Prowling came a little too easy for me. The handful of people on the dance floor glanced at me as I wandered across the sticky floor. There was something about a challenge that drew me away from those people and towards the booth Chloe had been so interested in. The group of people were still drinking noisily, downing shots.
â€œWho do we have here, then?â€ one man said as I approached.
Leaning against the side of the booth, I smiled down at the famous woman. She was on one of those reality television shows. I never watched programmes, but I had seen her face somewhere. She was pretty, her small mouth painted a pale pink. The fake eyelashes fluttered up at me as my gaze bore into her.
â€œJoin us,â€ she said, laughing when one of her female friends nudged her.
Raising my eyebrows at the man next to her, I smirked when he reluctantly got up from his seat to let me slid in. Brushing my thigh against hers, I leant closer to whisper in her ear.
â€œIâ€™m Trygger, whatâ€™s your name?â€
Her eyes sparkled as she looked at me, her cheeks glowing slightly when she noticed my gaze drop to the plunge-line of her dress. Her cleavage was natural looking, which was unusualâ€¦and impressive.
â€œNo, donâ€™t tell me,â€ I interrupted her.
She frowned, her eyes widening when I reached for her hand and visibly checked for a wedding ring.
â€œSheâ€™s single.â€ Another friend sat giggling at us.
The womanâ€™s breathing deepened when I grinned. The soft rise and fall of her chest made me want to reach out and run a finger down the plump curve of her breast. I had never bedded a celebrity before. Not in all my thousand years. I had always been put off the idea of getting caught in the spotlight.
Today was different. Something in me felt a little reckless. A little less worried about getting caught. Sometimes I needed to do something for me. Okay, that was quite an understatement, maybe it was because Chloe was so interested in the woman, it made it more exciting for some reason.
â€œShall weâ€¦?â€ She gestured to the exit of the booth.
Immediately picking up on her invitation, I poked the man who had sat back down next to me, asking him to move. He did, scowling to himself as we climbed out of the booth and left the catcalls behind. Taking her hand, I led her towards the corridor that went to Jackâ€™s office. He wouldnâ€™t mind me using it for some privacy.
â€œThat tattoo, it reminds me of a similar shape Iâ€™ve seen,â€ the woman said as we went through the door and towards the office.
Squeezing her fingers slightly, I looked down at her, staring into her eyes. She blinked, unable to keep the intense stare. Her green eyes were flecked with tiny bits of gold. Who she was didnâ€™t matter to me. Should I care more about that?
I was about to question myself when she ran a hand up my chest and around the back of my neck. Tugging on my hair, she pulled my head down. Her lips met mine in a mess of heat and desire. It pulsed from her into me. It seemed that she had a need too.
â€œI never do this, but thereâ€™s something about youâ€¦I needâ€¦â€
Smiling, I backed her into the office. She came willingly, a wicked grin stretching her cute painted lips. Was my darkness a drug to women? Was that the only reason I had managed to have my way with so many?
Shaking my head to clear my thoughts, I cursed Chloe in my mind. My apprentice had obviously poked my conscience awake. I would prove her wrong. Everyone had something to offer. And, this woman wanted to give me herself. And, I would give her the time of her life.
â€œAh, a sex swing. Iâ€™ve always wanted to try one of those.â€
Jackâ€™s face came into my head, but I quickly shoved it away. He wouldnâ€™t mind if I borrowed the thing. He had bragged about it. Time to put it to the test.
â€œWell, nowâ€™s your chanceâ€¦if youâ€™re up for it?â€ I dug my fingers into the back of her hair, bending to kiss her again.
She nodded when I released her mouth, taking my hand and dragging me to the contraption that swung from the ceiling. Grabbing my jeans, she undid the button and tried to shove them off me. Taking her hands, I pulled her away, reaching for her clothes first.
Shaking her head, she shook me off, going to grab me again. I stepped back, out of reach. My breath was heavy as I watched her. Her face straightened, the spark in her eyes dulling.
â€œI like being in control,â€ I said.
Clearing her throat, she licked her lips. â€œI also like to be in control.â€
My heartbeat sped up. I had never met a woman who didnâ€™t just let me take her at my own pace. Which was pretty fast, hard and disconnected. The skin on my arms heated as she ran her gaze down my whole body, lingering on my crotch. Could I give up control for just a moment?
â€œGet in the swing,â€ she ordered, pointing at the leather.
Nope, a thousand years was too long for a pattern to be broken that quickly. It would take a lot more than a celebrity to bring me to my knees in surrender. â€œNot today, lovely. If you want to do this, youâ€™ll give in to me.â€
The hesitation was apparent. I had thought she just wanted a quick bit of fun. I didnâ€™t actually have time to play dominatrix with her. She would have to find some other man for that. One who would happily give up control.
â€œOkay,â€ she breathed.
Reaching for her top, she started to undress. I watched her, my greedy eyes drinking in her perfect figure. My mind went blank as I focused on the end goal. Release. It was always about letting go for a few seconds. And, then bringing myself back to control.
Walking forward when she was completely naked, I backed her to the swing. She sat willingly, her big eyed gaze sending heat down my spine as it connected to mine. Lifting her by the waist, I settled her comfortably, her legs spread enticingly.
â€œIâ€™ve never seen you in here before,â€ she said, her voice trembling slightly.
Was the beauty less confident than she made out? Going to my knees, I ignored her question and set to work tasting her. The pleasure built in her quickly. If one thing in a thousand years had taught me something, most women liked a man who knew how to use his tongue.
â€œWow, how did you do that?â€ She panted as I got to my feet and pulled my trousers down.
Stepping out of one leg, I moved forward, raising my eyebrows in question. There was no talking, no dragging it out. I had warmed her up, it was time to finish the job. Her throat bobbed where she swallowed.
Leaning down, I licked her skin, grimacing when perfume layered my taste buds. Sticking my tongue into her mouth to get rid of the horrible fake fragrance, I checked if she was ready for me. When I pulled away, I looked into her eyes, waiting for her consent.
â€œIâ€™m ready,â€ she whispered, trying to reach for me.
The swing made it hard for her to touch me. I liked that. Standing straight, I pulled the swing up so our pelvises were in line. Squeezing the flesh on her stomach, I moved into her, ready to take what I needed.
She instantly tried to wrap her legs around my hips, but she was hindered. I liked the sex swing, it gave me absolute control. I smiled when she threw her head back and groaned. She had been completely ready for me.
She gritted her teeth, her fingers touching her breasts in lieu of not being able to grab me. I watched as my body tingled, ready to really lose it. Luckily, I didnâ€™t need to wait for her. She was right there, waiting to explode with me. Which she did. â€œI like it quick sometimes,â€ she muttered, her breath rushing in and out of her as I stepped away.
Adjusting myself before I pulled up my jeans, I slowly evened my breath, bringing it back to normal. The pleasure that had rocked through me vibrated through my body. Taking a deep breath when I was ready, I helped her off the swing. She laced her hands around the back of my neck and brought my head down for a sweet kiss.
I allowed her to hug me close, unsure why I hadnâ€™t pushed her away instantly, as was my usual response. Her nose buried into my chest, her hands stroking my back. Taking her arms, I pulled her off me, kissing the tip of her nose as a distraction.
Moving to Jackâ€™s desk, I dug into his drawer for a bottle of whiskey. When I found one, I smiled, waving it at her. She grinned back as she got dressed, her clothes covering the luscious curves of her body. I was going to allow myself one drink and five minutes of revelling in the feeling of release before I got back to work.
The door opened, revealing Chloe. She froze when she saw the woman she had admired pulling her dress over her head. Her gaze shot to me, her eyes widening.
â€œWell, Iâ€™m sorry for interrupting yourâ€¦clandestine tryst.â€ She crossed her arms over her chest, frowning at the celebrity as she tugged her dress into place.
â€œI know youâ€™re old, but those words are no longer used. Get with the times.â€ I unscrewed the bottle, only mildly pissed that I wouldnâ€™t get to enjoy my drink and the womanâ€™s beauty in peace.
â€œSheâ€™s not old.â€
Chloe came into the room, screwing her nose up as she did. The smell of sex and sweat was probably already soaked into the pores of the room. Jack was a man of insatiable lust. Someone who explored the world of sex with wild abandon. I had never been tempted to copy, always too consumed with my mission.
Taking a long swig of the whiskey, I offered the bottle to my celebrity fuck. She came over, took the bottle and did the same. Handing it back to me, she tapped her long fake nail on the end of my nose and then started towards the door. The woman was a charmer. I liked her.
Chloe stepped aside as the woman smiled at her kindly, slipping past without saying anything. Sitting at Jackâ€™s desk, I drank another mouthful of whiskey and ignored Chloe as she came to sit opposite me.
â€œI canâ€™t believe you justâ€¦â€
â€œShagged the celebrity you were gawping over? Donâ€™t worry, thereâ€™s no need to be jealous.â€ I frowned at myself, unsure where that sentiment had come from.
Chloe barked a laugh. â€œDonâ€™t panic, two-minute wonder, Iâ€™m not.â€
Her little jab made me bite the inside of my mouth to stop from smiling. She had no idea why I was so quick when I had sex with someone. And, it wasnâ€™t something I was prepared to share with her.
â€œWe need to go and see Martin,â€ I said, giving up on my idea of a tiny moment of peace to enjoy post-coital bliss.
Chloe glanced at the sex swing, her eyes widening as she shook her head and faced me again. â€œYes, we do. Although, Iâ€™m not sure itâ€™s a good idea that I go in.â€
Waiting for her to go on, I kept my fingers wrapped around the whiskey bottle. I hated people who baited me to try and get me to ask them why. If she had something to say, she would.
Eventually, she rolled her eyes, knowing exactly why I hadnâ€™t spoken. â€œMartin was the one who gave me the journal when I very first came into Lokiâ€™s modern family.â€
Tale of Odinâ€™s Tale
MY FISTS HAD STAYED by my side from the moment I left the club. Chloe was lucky I didnâ€™t hold her against the wall by the throat and demand that she tell me everything. I was done being nice to her. She had kept too much hidden for too long. And, there I was, turning soft to try to make her trust me enough to tell me herself. It hadnâ€™t worked.
â€œWhy didnâ€™t she tell you how Martin came to give her that journal? And, why didnâ€™t she mention it before?â€
Jack walked beside me, his steps quick as my strides took us away from the river, towards the art gallery.
â€œShe said she didnâ€™t know who he was. He approached her when she was out shopping one day. Giving her the journal, he said that he was a friend and wanted to help. Then he told her his name and disappeared.â€
Gritting my teeth, I resisted the urge to thrust my way through the crowd of people walking on the pavement. London city was a hive for tourists. Slow tourists. Daytime strolls were not my thing.
Jack gripped my arm as I was about to knock someone flying. â€œCareful there, Thunder-â€
â€œDonâ€™t call me that,â€ I snapped.
Why Jack had decided to start calling me that again, I had no idea. But, the name was too known. A dark creature may be able to tell who I was by smell or my face, but a lot of humans knew my name. The legend of Thunder Hunter anyway. Certainly those who hung around with the likes of Jack.
â€œWhatâ€™s got you so riled up? I thought you just released all that tension.â€
Ignoring him, I crossed the road without warning. A car beeped as I hopped onto the pavement in front of the art gallery. Jack joined me a moment later, his breath huffing.
â€œYou almost killed me.â€
â€œHow?â€ I asked, waving away his pathetic blame.
He grumbled, running a hand over his floppy hair to try and smooth it down. â€œI tried to follow you, but I wasnâ€™t quick enough. Anyway, forget that. Whatâ€™s the plan?â€
* * *