Home > Demon Kissed (Demon Kissed #1)(13)

Demon Kissed (Demon Kissed #1)(13)
Author: H.M. Ward

It felt like he was hiding something from me. “Then, what did you mean?” My arms folded, defensively.

“Ivy, I mean I personally don’t believe in coincidences. That’s all. I’ve learned to look at things from all angles. It’s kinda required to stay alive.” His amber eyes flicked to mine, “Listen. Your sister’s present was a blessing. It came right when you needed it most. While you may accept that’s all there is to it, and that may be all it was, I have to consider what else might have happened.”

I said nothing. I couldn’t compare him to Jake, because Eric wasn’t Valefar, but my brains kept trying to draw the same conclusion, warning me not trust him. The problem was that I did trust him. He saved me. Of course I trusted him. I felt my arms loosen, as my offense faded. “Did you know her?” I asked softly.

Looking up, he said, “Apryl? No, not really.” He patted the napkin across his lips, and then placed it on his plate. “Ivy, I’m glad you have a piece of silver. There are two things every new Martis needs. One is silver.”

“What’s the other one?” I asked.

“Not what, but who. There’s someone you need to meet—an old Martis. Older than me. Come on. It’s not far. I’ll take you since Jake is lurking.” He slid out of the booth and asked, “Where are your books?”

I glanced down at the table, “I left them at the school.” Shrugging, I added, “I didn’t need anything anyway.” I’d left Collin in such a hurry that I didn’t grab them.

He laughed, “We have a test tomorrow. If you used your textbook for more than a doorstop, you’d get straight A’s. You know that, right?” He leaned against the side of my booth wearing jeans, sneakers, and a crisp white tee shirt. The scent of dryer sheets and Ivory soap lingered. Eric smelled wholesome.

Laughing lightly, I scooted out of the booth, saying, “Yeah, yeah. You sound like my mom.”


Eric drove without saying much, lost in his own thoughts. As we passed the Cape Cod style houses that lined the streets, we entered a neighborhood filled with life. Pumpkins lined front porches; while the more decorated houses had haystacks perfectly piled, and cornstalks tied to the porch post. I loved autumn on Long Island. It was my favorite time of year.

We pulled up to St. Bart’s parking lot a few minutes later. It was a nondescript looking church. That meant no one noticed it, because it had nothing striking about it—at all. The façade was brown, the grass was fading with the upcoming frost, and there were a few evergreens on the lawn. In other words, it was ugly, but not eyesore ugly.

Eric pushed the doors open, and I followed him inside. The hallways were silent and dark. We wound through a maze of halls, and passed a few nuns. We entered a sitting room with a haggard old nun sitting in a rocking chair. It was hard to tell, since she was wearing nun clothes, but I was sure she was built like a brick. Her body had a rectangular frame, bent with age. Her face had angular features, which must have been pretty in her youth. Sun damaged skin freckled her cheeks, and wiry hair that was devoid of color framed her aged face. Her gaze was intensely focused on the book in her hands.

Eric cleared his throat.

The nun looked up and smiled, “Ah, Eric. My favorite. Come on over here and help an old lady up.” Sister Al put her book down on the table. She raised her hand to Eric. He took it, and placed his other palm on her elbow to steady her.

This was the woman who was going to teach me how to stay alive?

“Ivy Taylor, wipe that smug look off your face.” Al’s voice was noticeably less sweet than it was a moment ago. Her black habit swished around her ankles, as she spoke. My eyes darted to the floor. “That’s better,” she said. “Things are not always what they appear.”

I nodded, at a loss for what to say. “Yes ma’am.”

The nun laughed at that. “I’m Sister Althea. You may call me Sister Al.” She extended her speckled hand toward me. I placed my grip in hers. Her ancient shake had the vigor of a twenty-year-old.

“Pleased to meet you,” I said. My gaze darted to Eric, who had sat in one of the padded chairs. “My name is Ivy Taylor.”

“I know who you are child. I know that there are great things planned for you. I know you survived already,” she winked when she said survived, “and I know that you feel cast adrift and afraid.”

I felt silly for admitting it to a stranger, but she was right. “That sums it up pretty well.”

“Uh huh. I know so.” She pointed toward a chair on the other side of Eric, and returned to her rocker. “I’m older than dirt, honey. I know lots. Just ask Eric.” She paused for a moment, watching me. “There’s something different about you,” she said. I tried to hide my panic, but I had a feeling that I couldn’t hide anything from this woman. There was something about her. The nun continued, “Yes, something’s different. You carry a burden larger than most. But it’s not beyond you.” Her feet rocked her slowly as she spoke, “Many people wander through this life, unsure of who they are. It doesn’t matter much to them. But it matters to you. The problem is that you see yourself, without really seeing yourself. You have no idea who you are yet. That’s a little unusual, but manageable.”

“So, what do I do?” I asked unsure. She was speaking in riddles. I felt like I should take out a note pad, so I could figure it out later. I hated riddles, mainly because I sucked at them.

Her aged eyes locked with mine, “You need to get rid of that anger seeping into your soul before it pollutes you.” She watched me. Closely. I didn’t move. I neither denied, nor affirmed it. I knew I had issues. But Eric didn’t seem to like her answer. Her arthritic hands grasped the rocker as she leaned forward toward Eric. “You show her how to handle that anger. Teach her to defend herself. And then we’ll train her up right, showing her how to use all her powers—as a Martis.” Her ancient eyes bore into mine, making me flinch.

Eric faltered, reaching for the right words, “Sister, I don’t know what you mean.”

Her head snapped toward him, “You do so, boy. And I expect you to teach her. Without losing that anger festering inside her, she’ll never become who she’s meant to be.”

I snorted, “Meant to be? You think this is all destiny?” I couldn’t help it. “This isn’t destiny! This isn’t fair!” This wasn’t my destiny! It was a death sentence.

Sister Al’s eyes swept across my concealed mark before she smiled gently, and said, “No, it’s not fair that you were turned so young, while I was turned so old. It’s not fair that you had no choice. But you have a choice now. You can choose which side you want to fight for. You can choose whom you align yourself with. And you can choose how you live. Life isn’t fair, child. But you wouldn’t have been chosen if there wasn’t something special about you.” Her skin was weathered like old leather, but her eyes still sparkled like they were young. “Come here Ivy.”

I looked at Eric and he nodded, encouraging me to go. To trust her. I looked at the woman. She was a nun. If I couldn’t trust a nun, I was severely damaged. Feeling silly, I padded across the carpet. It muffled my clumsy steps. I stopped in front of her rocker.

Sister Al leaned forward and said, “May I?” I nodded, not knowing what she was doing. Sister Al pressed her gnarled fingers into my palm. They scratched against my smooth skin like sandpaper. I felt my body tense, unsure of what she was doing. Her gaze remained on my hand, as she blinked slowly. When she released me, she turned her face up to mine. For a moment she said nothing, no sparkle in her eyes—no smile on her face. It was an expression I recognized in the eyes of my mother when she was notified that Apryl died. It was like time froze, and she was too stunned to blink or breathe. Sister Al held the same anguished expression.

When she spoke, her voice was low. “Dear girl.” She closed her eyes, shaking her head slowly. “You have a unique set of circumstances, don’t you?” I didn’t say anything. I just stood there, wide eyed waiting for her to out me. “Your vice is also your savior. That is a very sticky situation.”

“What is it?” I asked. My stomach folded over, squashing itself into nausea.

She smiled softly at me, releasing my hand. “Passion. You have the strength to follow through the things that you care about, but you also have the ability to be influenced by the things that haunt you. It’s going to be problematic at some point.

“Your passion will keep you alive Ivy Taylor, but it will also risk your soul. It dictates what you do, how you live, and with whom you lay your loyalties. Oh child. You have so much good in you, and so much darkness too.” Her voice trailed off.

Uncomfortably, I stood there and felt like a big fortune cookie. Sliding my hands in my pockets, I noticed Eric’s eyes on me. His expression wasn’t good. I tried to repress a shiver, but it raked my body, causing my shoulders to twitch. Wanting to kill the horrific silence, I asked, “You read palms?”

Surprise melted the serious look off her face. “Ha!” she snorted, “No, child. But I suppose you can call it something like that. It’s part of the power of the Martis. I’m a Seyer, rare as we are.”

I nodded, not knowing what to say, or what she meant. An uncomfortable silence dragged on, while the two of them stared at me. My fingers nervously clawed my leg through my jean pockets. Finally, I turned my back on them, unable to stand their stares any longer. I paced the room, slowly. Waiting. Eric’s eyes were on me, watching me. He missed nothing. Maybe he was dangerous.

“Eric,” she said. “I want her training to start immediately. Teach her how to fight. We need her to survive, especially after what happened the other night. That Valefar will be gunning for her. And I want you to train her. Not one of the others. You and only you. If you need help with something, you may ask the other Martis, introduce her, but do not allow her to train with them. Got it?” Her gaze landed on him with an intensity that backed the importance of her words.

Eric’s eyes darted between me, and then Al. “Sure, but why me?”

A smile pulled back the corner of her mouth. Aged teeth were revealed behind her thin lips. “You’re the best warrior we have. She needs to learn from the best. That’s all. It won’t interfere with your other duties. You teach her to fight and I’ll teach her the rest. Me and you’ll get her trained in no time.” She folded her gnarled knuckles in her lap, smiling up at me. It was a knowing smile, one that said bad things were coming.

I looked back at her aged face, wondering how I was supposed to survive this. I couldn’t fight. When someone messed with me, I didn’t fight back. I wasn’t that girl. But after Jake attacked me, I wished to God I were that girl. Lying there helpless, well, I was done with that. I never wanted to be trapped like that again. And if it came time to have my soul ripped from my body, or kill—I’d kill. The thought shocked me, but logic intervened. Of course I’d kill. I never wanted to live through that pain again, and I didn’t want anyone else to, either. Not if I could stop it. Determination shot through my veins, flooding my body with resolution. I would learn this. I could do this. I had to.

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