Episode Three: Echo Roux
Sloan walked into the room and looked at the painting in front of him. Now that he had seen her in the flesh the painting wasn’t enough even though it did do her justice. The memory of her turning away from the fridge to look at him kept replaying in his head over and over again.
Briella looked at him then looked back at the portrait.
“Sloan,” Frank said getting his attention. “How did it go with Mikael.”
“He ran the search like I knew he would,” he said not looking away from the portrait. “You wouldn’t believe who I ran into while I was there.”
“Who?” Gerald asked.
“Her,” he said still looking at the portrait. “The new Seer Queen, Tilly.”
“What?” they all said at the same time.
“Seems she’s now part of Romanov’s collection,” he said still looking at the portrait. “She’s staying with Mikael and Dexter.”
“She’s a queen,” Briella said. “She shouldn’t part of someone’s collection.”
“I think there’s more to the story than they were letting on,” he said. “She did give me a good lead though.”
“Lead on Middleton Cross?” Frank asked.
“Yup,” he said. “She said it sounded like a school and one of Mikael’s searches did bring up a school.”
“Let’s start there then.”
“You guys can go ahead,” he said turning away from the portrait. “Something else’s come up.”
“Where are you going?” Briella asked.
“To see your queen,” he said putting on his coat.
* * *
Tilly looked around the gallery and was in awe. She was happy she had decided to go with Zack, he was right it was a good distraction. She was still shaken up by the fire that had killed the very people she used to call her family. She didn’t leave her pool for two days but she decided to get out for a bit and Zack offered to spend the day with her.
“You like it?” Zack asked her.
She nodded. “It’s beautiful,” she said looking at all the various art pieces.
“It’s hard to believe only one artist did this,” he said looking around. “She really has a gift.”
“Echo Roux,” he replied. “She’s friends with Riah so when she was asked to come up with pieces for the gala to be auctioned she was more than happy to help.”
“I love it,” she said looking around then stopped when she saw Dex and Micky standing with six other guys who were talking to a flaming red head. “What’s going on there?”
“Oh,” he said looping his hand through hers. “Those are the guys I was telling you about earlier that are being auctioned off.”
Tilly smiled. “That sounds like fun.”
“I’ll say, I’m thinking of joining the bid myself.”
Tilly chuckled. “Who’s the red head?”
“That would be Riah Walker,” he answered. “Her husband, Darren Walker is the mayor”
“Oh,” she said. “They were at the party as well right? I remember her red hair.”
Dex looked over at the two of them then nudged Micky and he looked over at them as well. She knew it was because they hadn’t seen her in two days, and now she was out and about with Zack. She smiled at the two of them and they smiled back.
Dex said something to Riah Walker and she also turned over to look at them and soon the other boys were looking as well.
“Come on,” Zack said leading her over to them. “I’m sure there a number of jobs she can give you to keep you distracted.”
“The guys are doing that just fine,” she said and he laughed.
“I was gonna ask how you’re doing but if you made Zack laugh I would say you’re back to your old self,” Dex said looking at her. “You ok?”
She nodded. “Yeah, I’m doing better today, thanks.”
“Sure?” Micky asked her.
“Tilly,” Zack said. “I want you to meet Riah Walker, she’s the one hosting this event.”
“Mrs. Walker,” she said. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“Oh, please call me Riah,” she said looking at her. “I heard what happened to your friends, I am so sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you,” Tilly said. “Roman told me you wanted me to perform.”
Riah nodded. “But with everything that’s — “
“No,” Tilly said cutting her off. “I would love to perform.”
“You sure about that?” Zack asked her.
Tilly nodded. “Yes, I thought it would be something I could do in their memory,” she said. “They died in a fire, I dance with flames. It’s kinda poetic . . . in a dark way.”
No one said anything for a while.
“You should do it,” Micky said. “It would be good for you.”
“You just wanna see me dance,” she teased and the others laughed.
“Ok,” RIah said. “Why don’t you look around and see where you would feel the safest place for your performance would be.”
“I already saw a place,” she said. “I’ll tell you when you’re done with the guys.”
“Actually hang on,” Riah said looking at her. “Maybe you can help me out here. Some of the guys don’t have ideas on the dates they can take their bidders on. Any ideas?”
“Sure,” she said. “What ideas do you have so far?”
“It’s actually Micky and Tyson that don’t have ideas on dates,” Riah told her.
“Oh,” she said looking at the two of them. She knew all of the guys there because Zack had showed her pictures of them earlier. “The bad boy and the mysterious one, why am I not surprised?”
“Any ideas?” Tyson asked her.
“Well, these are all going to be rich ladies,” she said. “They are used to having everything but one thing money can’t buy is excitement. So do something with them that would exciting, like take them hunting, or shooting or flying.”
“I like that,” Riah said.
“Micky knows how to fly so you could take your date flying, let her fly the plane a bit,” Dex said.
“You can fly?” Tilly asked looking at Micky.
“Show me some time,” she smiled.
“Sure,” he said.
“Get a room,” Tyson said rolling his eyes and the other guys seemed to agree.
“So you will take your date out for a flying lesson,” Riah said making a note of it. “And Tyson what about you, do you know how to shoot?”
“I can take her sky diving,” he said. “My brother and his wife run a business that does that kind of thing.”
“Oh I wanna do that too,” Tilly jumped excited.
“Sure thing,” Tyson said. “Just let me know when you’re ready.”
“I’m ready now,” she beamed.
“Slow down,” Dex said. “No need to get carried away.”
“What are you doing with your date anyway?” Tilly asked looking at Dex just as Micky’s phone rang.
“Excuse me,” Micky said taking his phone out and leaving the group.
“Hiking,” he answered.
“Oh,” she said slightly surprised. “I thought you would take her to see some museum where you would go on and on about something you read.”
He glared at her and the others chuckled.
“What will they be wearing?” Zack asked.
“Well,” Riah said opening another page on her tablet. “I thought it would be clever to have them in something that matches the personalities we gave them. You know, have the jocks in sports jerseys, the bad boys in leather jackets, the good boys in tuxedos, that kind of thing.”
“Oh I love it,” Zack chirped. “Have they already gone shopping?”
“Not yet,” she told him.
Tilly looked away from the two of them and looked over at Micky who seemed to be annoyed with whoever he was talking to.
“That doesn’t look good,” Max said also watching Micky.
“I agree,” Tyson said. “Who do you think he’s talking to?”
“Best guess,” Dex said also watching him. “Would have to be Sloan.”
“Sloan?” Zack asked turning away from Riah. “Did I hear you correctly?”
“Yeah,” he said. “You did. He came by the house a couple of days ago asking for a favor.”
“Hey Dexter that actually reminds me,” Jerome said. “I’ve been meaning to ask you if you’ve heard of or read something.”
“What would it be?”
“Middleton Cross,” he answered.
Dex looked away from Micky and looked at Jerome. “Middleton Cross?” he asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “Have you heard of it?”
“Yeah,” he said glancing at Tilly then looked over at Micky who was done with his phone call and was walking over to them.
Dex nodded. “It was the same thing Sloan wanted us to look up.”
“So you know what it is?”
“Not yet,” he answered. “Micky and I are both still looking into it.”
“Why are you interested in it though?” Zack asked.
“There’s been a lot of chatter about it for the last couple of years,” Kyle said as Micky joined them. “I don’t know if you heard of the prophecy.”
“Prophecy?” Riah asked.
“Yeah,” Mark said. “About a Seer who would bring an end to an entire species.”
“So what does Middleton Cross have to do with anything?” Zack asked.
“That’s the only name that points to her whereabouts or anything,” Jerome said. “It’s like everyone is racing to figure out where it is.”
“Is that where people think she is?” Riah asked.
“Yeah,” Tyson said. “It seems to be the only lead anyone has so they’re trying to find out where it is and hopefully that location will lead to something.”
“So you haven’t found anything?”
“Nothing conclusive yet,” he answered.
“Wow,” Riah said looking back at her tablet. “If Roman’s own dream team is having a tough time finding this place, how does the rest of the world fair?”
“I don’t see why you’re laughing,” Dex said looking at her. “You’re part of the dream team.”
“Yeah but research and tracking aren’t my field,” she smiled. “It’s your fields.”
“You haven’t heard anything?” Tyson asked her.
“Just the name every other day,” she answered. “Everyone seems to be either looking for it or just curious about it. Other than that I don’t know anything else. Besides I thought it was a name of a school.”
“That actually kind of makes sense,” Mark said.
“Yeah, the Seer is probably still a teenager,” Kyle agreed. “Thanks.”
“We should probably also check it out,” Dex said looking at Micky.
“Already on it,” Micky said looking at the phone in his hand.
“As interesting as this is,” Riah said looking at her watch. “I have to go, I’m having lunch with Darren and some senator and his wife.”
“Oh the life of politics,” Zack said.
“Thank you guys for coming,” she said kneeling down next to her handbag. “I will see you all later on. Tilly do you mind coming by then as well, so we can talk about your performance?”
“No problem,” she said.
“I should head out to,” Tyson said looking at his watch.
“Yeah,” Jerome agreed. “Before Sara kills me.”
It wasn’t long before the other six were all rushing back to work. Dex and Micky stayed behind with Zack and Tilly.
“You ok kiddo?” Micky asked her.
She nodded. “I already told you I’m fine, I can’t mope around for –“
“I’m not referring to that,” he said cutting her off. “I mean the world wide hunt everyone seems to be on.”
“Oh,” she frowned. “I was fine until you put it like that, now I’m freaking out.”
“We’re not going to let anything happen to you,” Dex assured her.
“That would make me feel better if I didn’t know you have a contingency plan in place in case things don’t go your way,” she said pacing.
“Do you blame us?” Dex asked.
“What?” she cried.
“Think about it Tilly,” Micky said leaning on one of the tables. “The prophecy talks about you being a force that wipes out an entire species. Dex is a human, I’m a hunter not to mention Roman, Zack, the Holmes, they are all also humans. None of that falls in your species, so it’s obvious you would wipe out either of the two but not your own.”
“Hey, I may be the cause but it doesn’t mean I’m the one that does it, i keep telling you Seers dont kill,” she snapped. “Besides if I am somehow able to wipe out an entire species I would go after your species. I would leave the humans alone.”
“What did Sloan want?” Zack asked him.
“He wants to talk to Tilly,” he said.
“Why?” Dex asked.
“She’s queen Seer,” he shrugged. “If anyone would have answers on this matter it would be her.”
“What did you tell him?”
“I told him to leave you alone,” Micky said. “You’re going through stuff with your tribe being killed.”
“You didn’t tell him about the circus?” she asked.
He shook his head.
“That list I gave you,” she said. “The one with all the Seers that had been murdered before and after I became queen, where I wrote where they were taken, how they were taken and how they killed, what did you come up with?”
He didn’t say anything.
She looked at Dex then looked back at Micky. “What aren’t you telling me?”
“Nothing — “
“Don’t lie to me,” she snapped. “Just tell me.”
“I read through the list you gave me. I did background checks on all the Seers that have been murdered and the only thing they had in common was that they were Seers and maybe a few connections with each other here and there.
“Then I looked into how they were killed. The way you described their killings as per your visions and compared it to the ME’s notes of the autopsy –“
“Hang on,” she said cutting him off. “How did you get those?”
“I hacked the system,” he answered.
“Right,” she said feeling stupid. “I forget there’s more to you than just hunting.”
“Go on,” Zack said.
“Hang, what’s an ME?”
“Medical examiner,” Dex said.
“Go on,” Zack prompted again
“Anyway,” he said glancing at Zack. “It looked familiar to me the way everything was carried out.”
“Hunters,” Zack said.
“Hunter or Pious or Ancient Pious like you?” Tilly asked.
“Pious,” he answered.
“You know who’s killing them,” she said not taking her eyes away from him.
“Tell me,” she said.
“It’s a small group of them. They are most commonly known as the horsemen, they used to be four of them so at the time the name made sense now it just stuck.”
“I’ve heard of them,” Tilly said. “Growing up, other tribes used to talk about them a lot. They were ruthless and killed anyone or anything that got in their way or didn’t get in thier way.”
“They do have a rather violent reputation,” Dex said.
Tilly ran her hands through her hair. “We don’t stand a chance; my sisters are going to get wiped out. Three Pious agents tracking and hunting us down, not to mention I have a traitor in my own tribe.”
“Tilly calm down,” Dex said holding her shoulders. “Right now you need to be calm and rational. Look, I know it might not look it but Micky, Zack and I we’re on your side and so is Roman. We have your back.”
“What about my sisters?” she asked him. “I can’t just think about me here; I also have to think about them. I have an entire tribe under my care and I have no idea how I can help them.”
“I have an idea,” Dex said.
“You said you know just how many Seers there are correct?”
“Ok what about Seers in this particular city?” he asked. “Can you tell how many there are?”
“About a hundred or so,” she answered. “Not that many. . . where are you going with this?”
“Roman has a lot of property, houses, villas, ware houses you name it. We can move the Seers to a secure location and put a couple of protection spells around them that way your sisters won’t be killed off any more.”
“What?” she asked confused. “Roman would never agree to that.”
“Yes he would,” Zack said looking at her. “Honey you are part of his collection now, and if there is one thing my man does is he takes care of his own. You’re freaking out that your tribe is getting killed off, he will help you protect them. Besides, Dex is right, Alex, does have a lot of property, it’s about time some of it got put to good use.”
“You call him Alex?” she asked tilting her head to one side.
“Is that all you got from all of this?” Micky asked looking at her.
“No,” she said. “I heard everything; I’m just wondering where you would get a castor to cast protections all over these properties that Roman owns.”
“I know a couple of witches,” Dex said.
“What’s wrong with that?”
“Witches use magic, Castors are magic,” she said. “Between the two I would trust a Castors spell over a witch’s oath.”
“They use spells too,” Dex said.
“No,” she said shaking her head. “Witches make oaths. They have to sacrifice something to which ever spirit they happen to get their source of power from, it’s easy to remove their spells, even I can do it. So no, no witches.”
“It’s so refreshing to learn something new that isn’t from Dex,” Zack said and Tilly giggled.
“I’ll be honest, I always thought they were same thing, now I guess I have to read up on them.”
“Feel proud?” Micky asked Tilly amused.
“So proud,” she said throwing her hands in the air and punching.
“Whatever,” Dex said rolling his eyes. “I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to find a castor or two, you focus on telling your Seers that you want to move them to secure locations away from the witch hunt, so to speak.”
“Oh that is an epic pun,” Tilly smiled.
“It wasn’t intended,” he said putting his hands in his pockets. “I have a couple of phone calls to make, I’ll see you later.”
“Bye Dexter,” she waved at him.
“You’re never going to let him live this witch castor thing down are you?” Micky asked her.
“Not at all,” she said shaking her head. “I struck gold.”
* * *
Briella opened her eyes and looked up. She could see three heads peering in at her but she couldn’t really make out their faces even though she knew who they are. She exhaled slowly and could feel herself rising to the surface of the water. Once she reached the top she swam to the edge of her pool and looked at the three of them.
“What happened?” Gerald asked her.
“It wasn’t a vision,” she said climbing out of the pool and squeezing water from her hair.
“What was it then?” Frank asked.
“Our queen,” she answered. “She wanted to talk to all the Seers.”
“She can do that?”
“Yes, I just didn’t know she had already figured out how to go about it.”
“What did she want?” Sloan asked.
“Well for one, she knows you guys have been doing the killings,” she answered. “Not you specifically, but just that the horsemen are behind the killings.”
“Mikael must have figured it out.”
“What else?” Frank asked.
“She’s having all the Seers moved to private locations,” she answered. “She told us Romanov has agreed to give up a number of his properties to keep us safe depending on which part of the globe we live in. She’s starting with this city since it’s the one she’s in and it’s the one with the most deaths so far then she will branch out.
“She wants to meet all of us who are in this city first thing in the morning by an old cemetery where we will be taken to the new, secure location.”
“How does she plan on keeping you safe at these various locations?”
“It appears they have a Castor willing to help,” she answered. “She talked about them finding a Castor who has agreed to help conceal us.”
“You should go,” Gerald said. “We’ll need a Seer on the inside.”
“From the way it sounds, it doesn’t seem like I’ll be able to get out once I’m in. How can I be your Seer on the inside if I can’t get any information to the outside?”
“I don’t think she’s would keep any of you there against your will,” Sloan said. “She’s doing this to comfort you, let you know that as queen she is not just sitting idly by while we kill you off. You’ll be able to leave so show up tomorrow.”
“Unless you think she knows you turned Skylar in?” he smirked.
“She may be queen but she’s young,” Briella said. “She barely knows how her powers work. Skylar was twenty-four when she became queen and it took a while before she was able to master all her powers. This girl is still a kid, and from what I can tell, she’s barely had any visions.”
“Ok then,” Frank said walking slowly to the door. “Be there when she wants to meet and report back to us.”
“What’s going through your head kid,” Frank asked looking at Sloan. “You have this look.”
“It’s just, Tilly seems to know who’s behind the killing just as our collective name but not our individual selves.”
“So?” Briella asked.
“So I’m wondering why she doesn’t know.”
“What?” Gerald asked confused. “Dude you’re not making any sense.”
“If she knows it’s us, it means Mikael must have told her. He knows how we work, our style how we hunt, torture, kill, he knows it all. However, I’m wondering why exactly he didn’t tell her.”
“Well obviously if he gave names, yours would come up.”
“Yes it would,” he said. “It wouldn’t be long before she figured out that he was the fourth one but he left.”
“Exactly, so he probably didn’t want to scare her away.”
“Yes,” he nodded. “I thought of all that already, but why? Why does it matter if she knows he was the fourth or not?”
“Guess he wants her trust,” Briealla said.
“In all the years I have known my brother, trust wasn’t something he sought after, so why now, why with this particular girl. With Roman it made sense, guy was rich, gave him all the gadgets in the world. But this girl has nothing to offer, why is he on egg shells with her?”
“You obsess over your little brother way too much,” Briella said looking at him. “Let it go, he probably didn’t feel it was her business to know what he did in his past.”
“Hmm,” he shrugged. “Maybe I am over thinking things.”
* * *
Roman walked into the room and watched as Tilly climbed out of the pool and he took a seat on one of the pool chairs that were there. He had had to empty out the entire pool and fill it with fresh water so the chemicals in the water wouldn’t affect her.
She paused when she saw him and looked around the room.
“It’s just us,” he told her.
“Thank you,” she said. “For letting me use your properties for my sisters.”
“Anything I can do to help,” he said. “Dex informed me that you want the younger ones to be with you here?”
“Yes,” she said. “Having an Ancient Pious around, as scary as it may be, also seems to have its perks.”
“Will they be here full time?” he asked.
“No,” she shook her head. “Only in the evenings. There aren’t that many of them in this city so I’m pretty sure we’ll all be able to fit in this pool.”
“Thank you again,” she said. “For everything, I know you don’t have to do any of –“
“Tilly,” he said cutting her off. “Like I told you, it’s the least I could do.”
“I’m very grateful,” she said. “And so are my sisters.”
“Well in all fairness, my properties would do good with some people living in them. Kind makes me feel better for acquiring so many to begin with.”
“Riah told me you’re still performing at the gala,” he said.
“Yes I am,” she said. “I thought I could perform in their memory. Also Micky said it was a good idea to have me exposed as often as we possibly could.”
“Hiding you in plain sight,” he said. “I agree.”
“Yeah,” she said. “He’s a little too good at what he does it makes me a little nervous.”
Roman laughed. “I agree with you.”
She smiled at him and squeezed the water out of her hair.
“How are you holding up?” he asked. “I know you must be going through a lot, being pulled from one life to another and dealing with your new life as well as being queen.”
“I have a billionaire’s money to help cushion my many falls,” she said and he laughed.
He said still amused, “I will take that as you are doing good?”
“I have to get back to the office but if there is anything else you need, please don’t hesitate to call.”
“You’ve done a lot already,” she said. “Thank you.”
* * *
Dex and Micky walked down into the basement and were greeted by an overwhelming fragrance. They had both been there a number of times before in the past but each time the fragrance took them off guard.
“Should have worn a mask,” Dex moaned while he took out a handkerchief from his pocket and covered his nose.
Micky grunted in agreement.
They reached the bottom of the steps and Micky moved the veil of beads out of their way and they stepped in. Madame Rose was laying down on her pillows as she always was with her pipe.
“Boys,” she said with her eyes closed. “I knew you would be coming.”
“Do you also know why we are here?” Dex asked lowering his handkerchief back into his pocket.
“That much I don’t know,” she said opening her old brown eyes to look at them. “There’s something different about you,” she said looking at Micky.
“How many people have asked you about Middleton Cross since we were last here?” Micky asked ignoring her statement.
“A lot,” she answered. “I’ve lost count. But I do understand a lot more people are curious about it, Seer killings have increased.”
“That they have,” he said with no emotion.
“You found her haven’t you,” she said watching them closely. “You found the Seer that’s going to end an entire species.”
“Yes,” Micky said. “We found her.”
“How did you know it was her?”
“Coz everyone is looking at it all wrong,” Dex said.
“Middleton Cross wasn’t a place where we would find her,” Micky said.
“It’s her name,” Madame Rose said realizing where they were going with this. “Well I can’t say I’m surprised that out of everyone looking for her, you two would be the ones to find her.”
“We’re good at we do,” Dex said looking around the room. “Are you home alone?”
“My daughter has gone out for a bit,” she answered. “Why do you ask?”
“I don’t understand,” she said looking back at the two of them. “Why would you come all the way this way just to tell me this? You know a lot of people are looking for her, they would pay me very well to know this piece of information so what’s the catch?”
“Closure,” Micky said taking his hands out of his pockets.
“Closure?” she repeated.
“It’s the least we could do,” Dex said pacing slowly toward the window in the basement. “You’re right a lot of people would pay you well for that piece of information, and that’s just something we can’t let happen.”
“Then why tell me?” she asked.
“Coz,” he said taking his hand out of his pocket holding his handkerchief, he turned it inside out then reached out to close the window. “You were the best lead we had at finding this girl, we know you’ve told other people about her. So now the race is on to find her, the horsemen have even gone as far as killing off any Seer they can get their hands on.”
“The horsemen are your people,” she hissed looking at Micky.
“I don’t associate with them in that way anymore,” Micky said making a circular motion with his hand.
“I still don’t understand why you told me who she is,” she said looking at the two of them.
“It’s the least we could do,” Dex said moving away from the window. “We wouldn’t have found her without you but at the same time you blabbing your mouth to everyone who would pay you pretty penny has made things a lot more complicated for us. If you had just kept your mouth quiet, we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all.”
“Are you going to kill me?” she asked horrified.
“Now she gets it,” Micky smirked.
“I promise I won’t tell anyone,” she pleaded. “I won’t sell this information to anyone, I won’t even tell my daughter, I promise.”
“You got cocky Madame Rose,” Dex said. “We promised you our protection if you kept this to yourself but you just had to talk.”
“Please,” she begged as tears rand down her face. “Please I promise I will do anything you want. I will lead them in a different direction.”
“That’s something we can do on our own,” he said. “All you had to do was keep your mouth shut. You were under our protection.”
She got on her knees. “Boys please I will do anything, anything you want. Let me talk to Romanov, please I promise I will make it up to you.”
Micky looked over at Dex who nodded and he looked back at his hand he had been using to twirl in a circular motion. There was now a small transparent orb in his hand. He looked back at Madame Rose and gently blew the orb in her direction.
It floated over to her and before she knew it she was inhaling it. She fell back into her pillows and started to choke. The two of them didn’t move, they watched her as she suffocated but neither of them made a move.
“We should go,” Micky said turning away. “Before her daughter gets back.”
“I thought you liked watching them die?” Dex asked turning away and leading the way out.
Micky shrugged. “Yeah but we have to meet the Castors remember?”
“Oh yeah,” he said as they climbed back up the stairs leading out of the basement. “I forgot about that. Who did she go with to meet the Seers?”
“She went with Roman,” he answered. “Zack and Anna agreed to help with getting the other castors to put protection spells around the other properties.”
“How do you think that’s going?” he asked as they walked out of the basement and Micky closed the door behind them.
“Better than it would have if we were there,” he said as they walked out of the house.
Dex chuckled. “Point.”
They walked out of the house and walked to their separate cars they had parked a couple of house away on opposite ends of the street.
* * *
Roman watched as she danced with the children and he smiled to himself. It had been a long day for all of them and he wanted nothing more than to sleep but he wanted to see how Tilly was fairing with the children she had offered to protect.
Their ages varied from three to eleven and in total there were twenty-four girls under her care. He wasn’t sure how she was going to handle it but it seemed she had a way with them. They were outside by the outdoor pool dancing around.
She had borrowed a speaker from Micky and was playing music from one of the girls’ phone. The older ones weren’t really dancing with her, but he could tell they were still having a good time. He could still remember all their excitement when they found out where exactly they would be staying.
Looking at all the young girls he understood just how much faith Seers had in their queen. She was still a teenager yet they had entrusted her with their daughters, after only meeting her for the first time that morning. He then understood just how much pressure Tilly was really under. With the way she used to behave, no one would ever guess.
“How is she still standing?” Zack asked coming to join him. “Or dancing for that matter, she’s had a long day just like the rest of us.”
“She is younger than the rest of us,” Roman said.
“Don’t remind me,” he said yawning.
“Pizza’s here,” Micky said walking out.
Suddenly one of the girls screamed and soon they were all screaming. Roman looked over at the girls and saw they had all rushed over to Tilly and all of them looked terrified.
“What’s going on?” Zack asked confused.
Tilly seemed to be saying something to them but none of them could hear what she was saying over the music but they kept glancing at Micky from time to time.
“They know I’m a hunter,” Micky said.
She then walked away from them and stopped the music and walked over to where Micky was and held him.
“What are you doing?” Micky asked her.
“Showing them how harmless you are,” she said looking up at him.
Micky looked away from her and looked over at the younger Seers. They were all watching the two of them and he could see the fear in their eyes.
“Is everything ok?” Dex asked coming out. “I thought I heard screams.”
“Micky was getting his rock star greeting from the Seers,” Tilly said leaning her head on his chest.
Dex looked at the two of them and raised an eye brow. “Ok, so what are you two doing?”
“She’s showing them how harmless Micky is,” Zack mused.
“Come on girls,” Roman called to them. “Your pizza’s here.”
The younger ones ran over to them but the older ones seemed a bit more cautious. Tilly let go of Micky and lead the younger ones inside the house. Roman looked back at the older ones and soon they started to walk over to the house as well. He watched them as they carefully made their way past Micky and followed their young queen inside the house.
“I should go help her,” Zack said walking in as well.
“I’ll be in my room if anyone needs me,” Micky said and walked back inside the house.
“I want to talk to you,” Dex said when he was sure Micky was no longer near them.
“You don’t want to be in a house full of little girls?” Roman asked looking at him.
“Not particularly,” he said admitted. “But that’s not what I wanted to talk about with you.”
“Let’s walk,” Roman said turning away from his protégé and started to walk.
Dex caught up with him and put his hands in his pockets. “We went to see Madame Rose today.”
“I saw on the news earlier that an oracle was found dead in her basement,” Roman said. “Police say it looks like she suffocated, the window in the basement was closed so all her smoking and incense sucked out the oxygen that was in the room.”
“I saw that too,” Dex said.
“You boys really know how to cover your tracks,” he said.
“I can’t take credit,” Dex said. “Micky came up with how to stage it.”
“I’m guessing that’s who you want to talk about.”
Dex nodded, “Yes.”
“Go for it,” he said.
“Well when we got there, Madame Rose said he looks different,” he started. “I didn’t think much of it until he started to manipulate the air around him. I know he can manipulate all of the elements but he was always more comfortable with earth. But watching him manipulate the air around him, he was barely breaking a sweat doing it, I thought it would take a while but he was ready within two minutes.”
“You think he’s activated another lever of his powers?” Roman asked.
“Yeah,” he nodded.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out as well.”
“You think he knows how to access the levels?”
“Did you ask him?”
“I did,” he said. “He just shrugged and said he doesn’t know.”
“You think he was lying?”
“I’m not much of a people reader,” he said. “Even if I was, Micky isn’t someone I can read even if I’ve known him over ten years.”
“Good thing we have our very own lie detector then,” he said.
* * *
Tilly opened her eyes and exhaled slowly and could feel her body floating to the surface of the water. She swam to the edge of the pool and stopped when she heard a body rise to the surface. She looked back and saw it was one of the younger ones and soon another one rose to the surface as well. They both slowly sank back down again while three others rose to the surface.
She climbed out of the water and squeezed her hair and left the indoor pool. She climbed up the stairs and stood outside the door. She paused for a bit then finally knocked on the door. She waited for a bit then knocked again.
She heard movement so she took a step back and looked at the small puddle she had made of the floor. She looked back the way she came and saw she had left a trail of water.
He opened his door and she looked back at him. She swallowed when she saw he was only had his boxers on. She looked his chiseled body and bit her lip.
“What?” he asked rubbing sleep from his eyes.
“I can’t sleep,” she said looking at him.
“So what do you want me to do?” he asked looking at her. He looked over her body then looked away. “You know you’re wearing white right?”
“Huh?” she asked looking down at her nightdress then she realized what he was talking about. Her nightie had stuck to her body and everything was showing. From her perky breasts to her flat stomach to her Sponge Bob Square Pants knickers.
She gasped and put her hands over her breasts. “It’s still pretty dark though, how can you see?”
“I’m a hunter, my eyes adjust to the dark.”
She stood there horrified.
“Come in,” he said opening the door and walking back in his room.
She entered his room and wasn’t surprised that he had more than one monitor screen in his room. What did surprise her was that he had a number of them going along one side of his wall. It felt almost like she was in some evil villain’s layer.
“How do you sleep with all of these on?” she asked looking at them.
“They don’t bother me,” he said walking into a different room she guessed was the bathroom.
She walked over to the wall and looked at the screen and realized what was on. It was feed of the mansions where the other Seers were staying. They were all sound asleep from the looks of things and the security that had been posted there were all doing their rounds.
“Put this on,” he said coming back out.
She turned around and he threw a t-shirt at her. She caught it then turned away from him and pulled off her wet night dress and put the dry t-shirt on. She wasn’t surprised that it reached her knees, he was after all very tall.
She looked over her shoulder and saw he was sitting on the edge of his bed with his back to her and seemed to be going through his phone. She turned away and raised the t-shirt and took off her wet knickers.
“Where should I put my wet clothes?” she asked turning to face him while she pulled down the t-shirt.
“Just leave them there,” he said not looking at her. “Why can’t you sleep?”
“I’m worried about the other Seers,” she said looking back at the screens.
“Coz,” she said folding her arms. “Briella is there.”
“She showed up, she’s now at one of the mansions with all the other Seers. For all I know she’ll sneak in the horsemen and have them all massacred in their sleep.”
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
“Coz I could tell she doesn’t think I know,” she said still watching the screen. “She sees me as young and that I barely know how to use my powers. Also, you and Dex weren’t there.”
“Well that much is true,” he said and she could tell he was standing. “You are young and still figuring out your powers.”
She turned to face him. “Micky, I’m really worried.”
“Don’t be,” he said. “There must be a reason she showed up. Right now she doesn’t know that you know she betrayed Skylar. All that aside she gambled on that coz there is still a chance that you do you know. You have to wonder why she felt that gamble was worth it.”
“She’s after something,” she said.
“But what?” she asked.
“Information,” he answered. “Also she did it to save her neck. You did contact all your Seers to inform them that you want to move them to secure locations since you’re being hunted. It would look weird if she didn’t show up, especially at a time like this.”
She nodded. “You’re right.”
“Let her get close to you,” he said. “It’s obviously what she wants anyway.”
“So what, the whole ‘keep your enemies closer’, thing?” she asked.
“Something like that,” he said. “You know that saying does go on.”
“How does it go?” she asked.
“’Keep your friends close, your enemies closer and your weapons closest’” he quoted.
She smiled. “I actually like that.”
He smiled back at her.
“So what now, I’m supposed to walk around with a small dagger at all times?” she asked. “I told you, Seers don’t kill.”
“I’m not talking about killing,” he said looking back at his phone and one of the screens on the wall changed to an old manuscript. “Dex was doing some research on Seers, mainly Seer queens and he came across this. I don’t think he’s done translating it yet but I figure you’ll be able to read it.”
“You and Dex were doing research on us?” she asked.
“Just Dex,” he said.
“He told you about it?”
“Not directly,” he said. “His computer did.”
She turned to face him. “You hacked his computer?”
He shook his head.
“You bugged it?”
“I thought you’re friends or whatever. Why are you keeping tabs on him?”
He didn’t answer.
“You don’t trust him,” she said.
He shook his head.
“You’ve known him for over ten years,” she said looking at him.
“Time doesn’t cement trust,” he said.
She raised an eye brow. “Is that your motto?”
“No,” he said. “I just don’t trust people easily.”
“What about us?” she asked. “Well me, can I trust you?”
“Well that depends,” he said.
“How Naïve you are.”
“Do you trust anyone?”
“No,” he said looking directly back at her.
“It must be lonely in that lone wolf world of yours,” she said turning away from him and looking back at the screen.
“Can you read it?” he asked changing the subject.
“Yeah,” she said. “Give me a second.”
“Take your time,” he said.
“Can you just send it to me,” she asked turning to face him. “I don’t really feel like reading.”
“Sure thing,” he said looking back at his phone and pressing a number of buttons. He raised his head and looked at the screen. She turned around saw the screen he had brought up using his phone had gone back to the original footage. He then brought up another screen and she realized it was the indoor pool.
She walked over to his bed and sat down on it. She was surprised with how soft and plush it was but she liked that it smelled like him. She crawled over to where his pillows were and grabbed on then crawled back to the edge and laid her head on it watching the screen.
“Is that normal?” he asked watching as the younger ones kept rising and dropping.
“Yeah,” she said. “They can’t hold their breath for as long as we can while asleep so each time they exhale they rise to the surface. Then when they inhale they drop back down.”
“That’s adorable,” he said getting his bed as well.
She turned her body away from the screens and turned to face him. His bed was big so they weren’t next to each other. She watched him as he laid down and he turned to face her and paused a little when he saw her acid green eyes were on him.
“What?” he asked her.
“Do you ever feel the urge to kill me?” she asked him.
“All the time,” he answered with no emotion.
“Why don’t you?”
“Coz for all I know, killing you maybe what brings about an end to an species and because I don’t know which species it is you will end, I would rather not take chances.”
“That’s a good point,” she said looking at his lips. She wasn’t sure why she was looking at them but they seemed rather inviting. It was probably the way the light from the monitors hit them but she found herself wanting to kiss him so bad.
She jerked up when she realized what she was thinking about doing and looked away from him. “I should go back,” she said getting out of his bed. “Sorry I woke you and thanks for putting up with me.”
“Sure,” he said watching her as she picked up her wet clothes from the floor and practically bolted out of his room.
* * *
Riah Walker watched her as she danced on the small podium. She wasn’t wearing the costume she had seen her perform in but that didn’t make her performance any less enticing to watch. She was in a crop top and a short skirt while she danced with her fans.
Her fund raising gala was only two nights away so she wanted to make sure Tilly’s routine wouldn’t cause any problems since she would be working with flames. She also wanted to make sure it wouldn’t trigger any of the smoke detectors or it would lead to ruining some of the art pieces that didn’t have protective covers. She had made sure those pieces were put to the side while Tilly went through her routines.
“Wow,” a voice behind her said and she knew immediately who it was. “You are amazing.”
“Thanks,” Tilly smiled looking past Riah.
RIah turned around and sure enough there she was. She had tied her hair back and was wearing a black maxi dress. Her one arm was covered in a sleeve of tattoos but Riah looked away from her. All the same she knew what the tattoos were since she had once looked at them carefully once before.
“Tilly,” Riah said looking back at the young girl. “This is Echo Roux, she’s the artist of the stuff you see here.”
Tilly gasped. “No way,” she said holding her fans up. “I am a huge fan of you work.”
“You flatter me your majesty,” Echo said with a slight bow.
“Uh no,” Tilly said slightly embarrassed. “Please, call me Tilly.”
“Majesty?” RIah asked confused.
“Yeah,” Echo said looking at her. “She’s the queen of the Seers.”
“How do you know that?”
“She’s a phoenix,” Tilly said. “Phoenix just know stuff annoyingly.”
“You’re a phoenix?” Riah cried surprised.
“Does that bother you?” Echo asked sitting on one of the stools.
Riah curled a strand of her flaming red hair behind her ear. “No,” she said. “I’m just surprised you never told me before is all.”
“Never came up,” Echo shrugged.
“I didn’t think it mattered, if I had known it would bother you this much I would have told you sooner but I didn’t think it was important.”
“It’s not important,” she said curling another strand.
“Really? Coz you’re doing that thing you do when you’re upset by something but you don’t want to make a scene so you try to act all calm but you’re twitchy the entire time.”
“I am not twitchy,” she hissed.
“And pissy,” she said leaning back.
“Uh, do you guys need a minute?” Tilly asked and the two of them both looked at her.
“What? No,” Riah said running her hands through her hair. “So you said you can perform for how long?”
“Half an hour if I don’t take breaks,” she answered watching the two of them. “But I need to hydrate in between so it would take longer.”
“That’s perfect,” she said.
“I need to hydrate now,” Tilly said closing her fans and the flames went out.
RIah nodded and helped her down the podium. She walked over to the bag she had brought with her and took out a bottle of water as well as her cell phone. She excused herself and went outside to make a phone call.
“So,” Echo said looking outside as Tilly spoke on the phone. “That’s Roman’s new toy?”
“Rather inhumane way to put it but yes,” Riah said. “She’s part of his collection.”
“I knew it,” she said.
“Knew what, it was pretty obvious she’s part of his collection. Everyone has been buzzing about it.”
“Not that,” she said still watching her. “I knew that if anyone would find her, it would be him.”
“Middleton Cross,” she answered.
Riah froze for a second. “What? I thought that was a place?”
“No,” she said shaking her head. “Well it probably is, but in this case that’s her name.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because,” Echo said turning away from the girl and looking directly at her with her light brown eyes. “I knew her parents.”