Huntress (Chapter 13)

The kiss was warm and sweet. Not frightening. Jez felt herself relax in Morgead's arms before she knew

what she was doing. His heart was beating so fast against hers. She felt dizzy, but safe, too; a wonderful


But the approach of his mind was another thing. It was just like the first time: that terrible, irresistible pull

trying to suck her soul out and mix it with Morgead's until they were both one person. Until he knew her

every secret and she had no place to hide.

And the worst thing Was that she knew it wasn't Morgead doing it. It was that outside force doing it to

both of them, carrying them along helplessly.

Whether we want it or not. And we don't want it, Jez told herself desperately. We both hate it. Neither

of us wants to share our souls….

But then why was he still holding her, still kissing her? And why was she letting him?

At that instant she felt his mind touch hers, reaching through the smoke-screen of protection she'd

thrown around herself to brush her thoughts as lightly as a moth's wing. She recognized Morgead's

essence in it; she could feel his soul, dark and bright and full of fierce emotion for her. He was opening

himself to her; not trying to fight this or even holding back. He was going farther than the pull forced him

to, giving himself to her freely….

It was a gift that sent her reeling. And she couldn't resist it. Her mind flowed out of its own accord to

touch his, tendrils of thought wrapping around his gratefully. The shock of pleasure when she let it happen

was frightening-except that she couldn't be frightened anymore, not now.

And then she felt him respond, felt his happiness, felt his thoughts enfolding hers, holding her mind as

gently as his arms held her body. And white light exploded behind her eyes….

Jez! Morgead! What's wrong with you two?

The thought was foreign, cold, and unwanted. It broke into Jez's warm little world and rattled around

annoyingly. Jez tried to push it away.

Hey, look; I'm just trying to help. If you guys are alive, then, like give us a sign, okay?

Morgead made a sound like a mental groan. It's Vol. I have to kill him.

I'm going to help, Jez told him. Then something occurred to her. Oh-wait. Where are we… ?

It was a good question. A weird but necessary question. It took them a moment to untangle their

thoughts from each other and rise back to the real world.

Where they seemed to be sitting under the ruins of a redbud tree, arms around each other, Jez's head on

Morgead's shoulder, Morgead's face pressed into Jez's hair.

At least we weren't still kissing, Jez thought abstractedly. She could feel herself flushing scarlet. The rest

of the gang was standing around them, looking down with worried expressions.

"What do you guys want?" Morgead said brusquely.

"What do we want?" Raven leaned forward, dark hair swinging. Jez actually saw both her midnight blue

eyes underneath. "You three jumped off the roof just as the fire got out of control. We put it out and

came down to see if you were still alive- and then we find you here hanging on to each other and totally

out of it. And you want to know what we want? We want to know if you're okay."

"We're fine," Morgead said. He didn't say anything more, and Jez understood. Neither of them had any

desire to talk about it in front of other people. That could wait until they were alone, until it was the right


They didn't need to express this to each other. Jez simply knew, and knew that he knew.

"What about her?" Thistle pointed to Iona, still asleep on the sidewalk.

Jez was already moving to the child. She checked the little body over, noted the even breathing and the

peaceful expression.

"She's fine, too," she said, settling back. She held Thistle's gaze. "No thanks to you."

Thistle's cheeks were pink. She looked angry, embarrassed, and defensive. "She's just a human."

"She's a kid!" Morgead yelled, shooting up to his feet. He towered over Thistle, who suddenly looked

very small. "Which you're not," he went on unsym-pathetically. "You're just a-a sixteen-year-old Shirley


"All right, both of you!" Jez said sharply. She waited until they shut up and looked at her before

continuing. "You-be quiet and let me take care of things," she said to Morgead. "And you-if you ever try

to hurt a kid again, I'll knock your head off." This to Thistle, who opened her mouth, but then shut it again

without speaking.

Jez nodded. "Okay, that's settled. Now we've got to get this girl home."

Val stared at her. "Home?"

"Yeah, Val." Jez picked the child up. "In case you missed something, she's not the Wild Power."

"But…" Val wriggled his broad shoulders uncomfortably and looked at Morgead. "You mean you

were wrong?"

"There's a first time for everything, right?" Morgead glared at him.

"But, then-who is the Wild Power?" Raven put in quietly.

"Who knows?" It was the first time Pierce had spoken, and his voice was low and distantly amused.

Jez glanced at him. His blond hair glinted in the red light of the sunset, and his dark eyes were mocking.

I really don't think I like you much, she thought.

But of course he was right "If this kid isn't the one-well, I guess it could have been anybody at the

scene," she said slowly. "Anybody worried enough to want to save her. One of the firefighters, a


"Assuming the blue flash on the tape really was evidence of a Wild Power," Pierce said.

"I think it was." Jez glanced at Morgead. "It sure looked like blue fire. And it certainly was some kind of


"And Grandma Harman dreamed about the Wild Power being in San Francisco," Morgead added. 'It all

fits too well." He looked at Jez slyly. "But it couldn't have been anybody at the scene, you know."

"Why not?"

"Because of what you said about that line in the prophecy. 'Born in the year of the blind Maiden's vision.'

That means it has to be somebody born less than eighteen years ago. Before that, Aradia couldn't have

visions because she wasn't alive."

Goddess, I'm slow today, Jez thought. I should have thought of that. She gave him a wry nod of

respect and he returned it with a grin. Not maliciously.

"It's still not much to go on," Raven said in her pragmatic way. "But don't you think we should go back

inside to discuss it? Somebody's going to come along eventually and see us with an unconscious kid."

"Good point," Jez said. "But I'm not going up with you. I'm taking the kid home."

"Me, too," Morgead said. Jez glanced at him; he had his stubborn expression on.

"Okay, but just us. Two motorcycles are going to be conspicuous enough." She turned to Raven. "The

rest of you can do what you want tonight; try to figure out who the Wild Power is or whatever. Well

meet again tomorrow and see what we've come up with."

"Why wait?" Val said. "It's only dusk. We could meet tonight-"

Tm tired," Jez cut in. 'It's enough for the day." And Goddess knows how I'm going to explain being gone

this long to Aunt Nan, she thought wearily. Not to mention missing school.

Pierce was watching her with an odd expression. "So you'll have to report to Hunter that we failed," he

said, and there was a probing tone in his voice that Jez didn't like.

"Yeah, I'll tell him you screwed up," she said heavily. "But that we still have some options. Unless you'd

rather I just tell him that you're all idiots and not worth giving a second chance." She kept looking at

Pierce until he looked away.

When she turned to Morgead he was scowling, but he didn't say anything. He silently started toward

their bikes.

They couldn't talk while they were riding. Jez was too full of her own thoughts anyway.

She was finally free to consider those last minutes with Morgead.

It had been… amazing. Electrifying. But also enlightening.

She knew now what had happened to them, what was happening. He had been right. It was the

soul-mate principle.

So we're soulmates. Morgead and I. After all our fighting and challenging each other and everything. It's

so strange, but in a way it makes sense, too….

And it's really a pity that even if we both survive the next week or so, we're never going to see each

other again.

The thought came from some deep part of her that was utterly heartless and practical and saw everything

in the cold light of truth.

Because unfortunately the universe had picked the wrong person for Jez to be soulmates with. It had

picked one that would hate her and want to kill her once he realized what she really was.

Bad mistake, universe, Jez thought, biting down on a laugh. She realized, dimly, that she was verging on

being hysterical.

It had been such a long day, and she was so tired, and so hurt, and she'd failed in her mission, and now

Morgead was in love with her, but there was just no hope. Small wonder she was punchy and an

emotional wreck. She was lucky not to be railing off her bike.

There really was no hope. Even in that last encounter, even when Morgead had been revealing his soul

to her, Jez had managed to keep her own secrets buried. He didn't know. He had no idea that the girl he

was in love with was vermin. Was working with Circle Daybreak. Was lying to him to steal the Wild

Power out from under his nose and end the hopes of the vampires for a world without humans.

He was ambitious, she had always known that. All he'd ever cared about was climbing higher and getting

more power. She'd promised him a position in the new world order-while all the time she was working as

hard as she could to make sure that the new world order never came.

He would never forgive that deception. He would never even be able to understand why she had done


So you have to forget about him, the cold-and-practical part of her mind said quietly. And there was

nothing inside Jez that even tried to argue.

It was dark by the time they reached the Marina district. As they approached the housing project, Jez

saw flashing lights ahead.

Police car lights. Well, that wasn't unexpected. Iona's mother would have notified them by now. Jez just

hoped she wasn't too worried….

Idiot! her mind said sarcastically. How worried do you expect her to be, with it getting dark and her

eight-year-old missing?

She turned into an alley and Morgead followed her.

"Well have to do a drive-by," she said over the thrum of the engines. "Drop her by the police cars and

then shoot out of there. They'll probably chase us. Are you up for it?"

He nodded. "We should go separate ways. That'll make it harder for them to catch us."

"Right. You go on home once you lose them. So will I."

She couldn't see his features clearly in the dark alley, but she knew he was looking at her. "So will you?

Go home?"

"I mean I'll go to the place where I'm staying."

She expected him to ask about that, try to find out where it was, what she was doing. He didn't Instead

he said, "Do you have to?"

She bunked at him, startled. Then she frowned. "Yes, I have to. I want to. I'm tired, Morgead, and

anyway I'm not ready to be spending the night with a guy."

"I didn't mean that-"

Jez waved a hand. "I know. I'm sorry. But I'm still tired, and-" And I've got other responsibilities that

you don't understand. And if I stick around you any longer, while I'm this tired, I'm afraid that you're

going to find out what they are.

"And you're still mad," he said bleakly.

Tm not mad-"

"Or disgusted or whatever."

What was he talking about? Tm just tired," she

said firmly. "Now let's drop the kid off, and I'll see you tomorrow."

"I-" He let out his breath violently. "All right."

Jez didn't waste any more time. She unzipped her jacket, which had been holding Iona firmly against her.

Then she sped out into the street.

One block, two blocks. And now she was right beside the dark and deserted playground, and now she

was almost level with the police cars. There were several officers standing around talking, and several

other bystanders who might be neighbors.

Jez targeted one of the neighbors.

She swooped in toward the woman, who was on the outside edge of the sidewalk. She came up fast,

then hit the brakes.

"Hey," she said. "Here."

The woman turned around and her jaw dropped. Jez didn't hesitate, just bundled Iona into her arms.

The woman grabbed the child's weight automatically.

"Give her to her mom, okay?"

And then Jez was roaring out and away. She could hear Morgead behind her, and shouts from the

housing project. Then a police siren.

She glanced back. Morgead was just turning on a side street. He waved once at her, and then he was

speeding off.

Jez could hear more sirens now. She twisted the throttle and headed for the Bay Bridge.

At least a pursuit was something she could enjoy.

When she finally shook the police cars tailing her, she turned toward Clayton. She would have

been worried about what her aunt and uncle were going to say if she hadn't already been too worried

about Iona.

She'll be all right, she told herself. She shouldn't remember anything, and her mom will take care of her.

But Jez couldn't help but feel guilty… and just plain sad. There was some sort of bond between her

and the child. She felt-responsible for her, and not just because she'd kidnapped and terrorized her.

Nobody should have to grow up in that kind of place. I may have run around on the streets when I was

little, but at least I had Uncle Bracken, and a nice home to go to if I wanted. Iona-she doesn't even have

a safe playground.

I should do something for her, but what can I do that would matter?

I don't know; maybe I can visit her sometime. Maybe I can buy her a plant….

There weren't any easy answers, and she was drawing up to a neat yellow frame house.


Time, Jez thought, to face the music. Uncle Jim and Aunt Nan and nasty little Claire. She just hoped they

left enough of her alive so that she could call Hugh afterward.

She pulled her motorcycle into the garage, climbed off, and went inside.

"… at all is bad enough, But to do it the day after you make us a promise-well, what are we supposed to

think? How are we supposed to trust you again?"

Jez was sitting on the blue floral couch in the living room. The Goddard living room didn't get used much,

only for very formal occasions.

This was one of them. It was a court martial.

And there wasn't really a thing that Jez could say to the humans she lived with. She certainly couldn't give

them any excuse that would make sense.

"First, ditching Claire even though you swore to us that you'd let her drive you to school." Aunt Nanami

was ticking items off on her fingers. "Second, ditching school after you swore to us you weren't going to

skip again. Third, going off some place you won't even tell us about. Fourth, not even calling to let us

know you were still alive. Fifth, getting home at almost ten o'clock at night-"

Uncle Jim cleared his throat. "Nan, I think we've been over this already."

A couple of times, Jez thought. Oh, well, at least Claire is enjoying it. Her cousin was standing at the

entrance to the living room, openly listening. When she happened to catch Jez's eye she smiled brilliantly,

her small face actually glowing with smug satisfaction.

Aunt Nan was shaking her head. 'I just want to make sure she understands, Jim. I thought she

understood last night, but obviously…" She threw her hands up.

"Well, the thing is-" Uncle Jim cleared his throat again and looked at Jez. He looked uncomfortable; he

wasn't very good at discipline, but Jez

could see that he'd reached his limit. "The thing is that we can't just keep yelling at you. We have to do

something, Jez. So we've decided to lock up your motorcycle. You can't ride it anymore, not until you

learn to be more responsible."

Jez sat stunned.

Not her bike. They couldn't take her bike from her.

How would she get anywhere?

She had to be mobile. She had to get to Morgead tomorrow-she had to get to Hugh sometime. She had

to be able to track down the Wild Power. And she couldn't do any of that without transportation.

But she could see from Uncle Jim's face that he was serious. He'd finally decided to put his foot down,

and Jez had gotten caught underneath it.

She let out her breath. Part of her wanted to yell and storm and rage about this, to lose control and

make a big noisy fuss.

But it wouldn't do any good. Besides, she'd managed to keep her temper for almost a year with these

people, to live her double life as a student and vampire hunter and make it all work. To blow that now

would be stupid.

And another part of her was scared that she was even verging on losing control. That was what even a

day with Morgead did to her. It cut through all her careful discipline and changed her back into a raving


Morgead… she couldn't think about him now.

"Okay, Uncle Jim," she said out loud. "I understand. You do what you have to."

"If you can just show us that you're learning to be responsible, then you can have the bike back. You

have to learn to take life more seriously, Jez."

That forced a tired snort out of her. She was laughing before she knew it, and her aunt and uncle were

looking shocked and displeased.

I'm sorry," she said. 'I'll try harder."

And I'll just have to take public transportation tomorrow, she thought when the lecture was over and she

was free to go to her room. Even though that's a lot more dangerous. I could get hunted down so easily. .

. .

"You messed with the wrong person, you know?" Claire said as Jez reached her door. "You shouldn't

have dumped me like that. You shouldn't make me mad."

"Yeah, Claire; well, now I know better. I'm terrified."

"You're still not taking things seriously, are you?"

"Claire-" Jez rounded on the smaller girl. Then she stopped dead. "I don't have time for this," she

muttered. "I have to make a call. You just run along and harass somebody else."

She shut the bedroom door in Claire's face.

Which, she realized later, was a mistake. At the time, though, she was too tired to think about it.

She was too tired to think properly at all. Tired and distraught, with the feeling that everything was

closing in and happening too fast.

And so when she picked up the phone to dial Hugh she hardly noticed the little click on the line, and she

didn't stop for even a second to consider what it meant.