Blaire. The girl concerns me. She is struggling. I can feel very little from Coty and her sisters, but sometimes…sometimes I just know. Life in the demon world is not going as anyone had wished.… More
No one from the sixth floor is allowed outside of the hotel at all, and the guards have doubled. Some of them…have hard hearts, and they frighten me.
I told this to Coty, and she agreed. Neither of us know what is to happen now.
There have been a dozen Lupoiux attacks on the outlying areas.
Kellis is beside herself. She had been assigned to guard Cass specifically when she is in the hotel, but I suspect there are other, male, guards near. For once, Kellis is not complaining about Kierce being so overprotective.
They have assigned two guards to Coty and her sisters, so her time with me, outside of our rooms, has been greatly curbed.
A part of me is convinced that all of this ties to the goddess. How can it not?
The Lupoiux and Dardaptoans have been enemies for thousands of years, and now we are just supposed to accept each other? And all the things they have done to us?
My own aunt, Adelais, we suspect she was taken by Lupoiux and sold to slavers in a demon world somewhere. She is most likely dead now.
I miss her so much. Yet we are just supposed to forgive those who may have been involved?
I know there are good Lupoiux now—I have met a few here at the hotel—but how many of our people have had the same experiences? How many can just trust the goddess when she is literally in bed with the god of the Lupoiux?
And with what Coty and I overheard…
There has to be something we can do, but what that is, I don’t know yet.
It is late now, close to four a.m. I have my books spread out across my bed. Ambrea had called me this afternoon, said that she had seen something to do with me.
Said that if I keep looking, I will find what I am looking for tonight.
I hate it when she is that cryptic. It’s so annoying. She is a gifted seer, though she has told very few of that power. I suspect it will grow much stronger as she ages. She is in her early 100s now. Most don’t get the full strength of their gifts until twice that.
It is always irritating when she refuses to tell you more, though.
The same with Theo.
Why can’t they just tell you when there is something you need to do? Would it really change anything if you knew ahead of time?
I have the final book open now. It is the one that Riv found in the discard pile at the back of the most hushed up aisle of the Dardanos library.
It is very old. The author’s name is very obscured. Illegible.
But does the author of any book truly matter? Isn’t it what is contained between the cover that matters most?
It felt so old, and battered, and…worthless in my hands.
It is easy to see why it had been discarded so easily. But…if I prescribe to the beliefs that Ambrea has taught me—beliefs the Woald Family crest even symbolizes—then everything happens for a reason.
I was given this book by my sister for a reason.
I just do not yet know what it is.
Just as I was given the computer I type this on now.
It sits next to the cheap one provided to me by Theo when I first came to this hotel. I prefer the one given me by Nalik Black.
Mostly because everytime I use it I am reminded of ticking off Theo and Cormac that day.
I know, petty of me, but…I have to have something stuck here, don’t I?
A part of me doesn’t want to open the book. I fear it might change things.
Silly, isn’t it? It is just…old paper and faded ink.
Perhaps it is just my overactive imagination making me feel this way.
I can be a total…what is the human word?…dork sometimes.
I’ve taken a small vacation from Jume while I finish up a few other projects (and coached kiddo’s softball team–who knew 9-11 year old girls took up sooo much energy!) I’ll have more Jumes to post next week!
One of those projects I’m finishing up is Rebecca and Matt’s book! They are getting a full length novel! After that it’s Jason/Anna, Rand/Jierra, and more!
It is a full war now. Everyone in the hotel is speaking of it. The Redd Gothan pack wants their princess, their true alpha I think she is, back. And they will kill to get her. She has been hiding here for months, ever since the Lycurgus and Adrastos Houses rescued her and some of her female packmates from those bastards who’d kept them and hurt them.
The only problem is—the Lupoiux female wants nothing to do with the beasts who whelped her. And she has said so in my hearing. But a pack…is only as strong as their true alpha.
Without her…they are weaker than they should be.
Theo had explained all of this to me years ago, and then Mak.
Lupoiux were just as complex as Dardaptoans, I believe.
I should go back a bit, shouldn’t I?
To the day I got out of the Healer’s Hall again.
Kellis was waiting there. And some of Kierce’s guards. Coty, too. She looked…frail. More weak than I was used to seeing her. What had happened to us drained her in ways I don’t think she understood. How could she? I barely did myself.
It was the empathic gifts, I suspect. Feeling what others feel…it can be such an enormous drain of energy.
That is something I am learning myself.
Everything has gotten darker now.
The Lupoiux war has just deepened. The Taniss Industries employees are even starting to notice something happening.
Female employees—unmated ones, anyway—are going missing at an alarming rate. This is something Coty shared with me—having eavesdropped on her Taniss cousins. Coty eavesdrops frequently.
The Taniss alpha Jason, a rather imposing male, I must say, has been searching relentlessly. I do not know how many of these innocent young human women have been taken. The mere idea…breaks my heart for them. Coty says she knows most of the females who have disappeared—they are within five or ten years of her, all unmarried, and almost always they have no close family. It is almost as if someone somewhere has known of these females all along.
And is targeting them now.Using them for something I can’t hope to fathom.
Jason Taniss has recovered four of the missing females now. But the last…she has just been missing some four or five hours, Coty believes.
And Coty is very angry and afraid. This woman who has disappeared—Celena Hopkins—is a friend of hers from before. When they worked together in Taniss Industries IT department.
Coty is intensely worried.
Jason Taniss and some of his pack are searching for Celena now.
The Taniss Equa have adjusted to life here, I think. But the idea that a Taniss Industries complex is situated just north of town—it still infuriates many of our people, I believe. At least those who know what Leo Taniss and Albert Boltier did. And they wish to see all connected with TI pay.
Not all of our Kind want peace now.
They believe this hatred is behind the repeated attempts on young Cass’s life.
The mere thought of that child being targeted like this boils me with anger. She is so…different…from the rest of the Taniss females. She is softer, dreamier. She wants nothing to do with their business, all the child wants to do is work with plants. She has so much insight into the growing of things for one so young.
When I was released from the Healers’ Hall (they should just give me my own suite there, it would save so much time) she sought me out. To make sure that I was recovering. And she sat with me a long while, there in my little suite. I know she has a much larger suite in the House of Dardanos itself. Next to the dahn. But she was content to sit with me in my tiny quarters. Just…talking.
I suspect Cass is needing connections to this new world, more than the girl realizes.
For her, too, it is almost as if she has just been parked here at the hotel. But because of her family connections, Cass will never be forgotten about.
Sometimes I don’t know which is worse—being forgotten, or not.
Cass and Coty came to me the next morning. There were memories in their eyes. And questions. Questions I couldn’t quite answer.
All of us knew something significant had happened. But what it was? I did not know.
And if I didn’t, how could two mere girls?
Life returned to the normal it was becoming. At least, for us at the hotel. The prison.
It was hard not to feel trapped here.
They have doubled the number of guards on us. And…it limited Coty and my freedom to do what it is that I now know compels us.
If we can change something, maybe we can change everything.
At least for the ones we love.
But a part of me feels…nothing we do will change anything.
That we can’t.
Something greater than the two of us is at play here. What that is, I do not know.
And it terrifies me. There is…more terror now in my heart than there has been before.
My terror is reflected in Coty’s eyes now. She feels it too.
And yet…we do not know what it is.
I do not know what to do now.
But I have to do something…
Before it is too late.
When next I woke they were there. Again. Waiting. Theo, the dhar of our people, and of course, Cormac.
The male just couldn’t seem to get enough of me lately, could he?
I was really starting to feel sorry for that female of his.
She deserved so much better.
“So…now what are you involved in, female?” Cormac leaned over me, and asked.
“I don’t know what you mean. I was…g-g-gardening. We were next to the grotto, discussing the plants that might grow best, when they…came…came…came for us. No. Came for her. Cass.”
“And you and Coty Boltier did something to stop them, didn’t you?” the dhar asked.
“I…am not certain. I know that there was a shield. But I do not know if I did it. Or if Coty did. Or…maybe it was even the goddess’s doing.”
“What I know is that I’ve seen that shield before. Welded by demon females in the demon worlds,” Cormac said, leaning closer. “So tell me…why is that you were the one who brought it?’
“B-b-because of the demonspirin, p-p-perhaps? I do not know…” I didn’t have a clue. I told him that. He didn’t believe me, of course.
But I kept one thing a secret—it wasn’t just me. I know that shield grew…the instant Coty and I had connected with Cass.
That girl isn’t fully human, I’d bet good money on it.
And neither is Coty.
But just what they are…well, I don’t know the answer to that, either.
I answered their questions as best I could, but I was so tired. I could barely keep my eyes open. “I-I-I was just gardening…”
I looked into Theo’s face. There was exasperation there—and fear. For me?
I do not think this cousin of mine has my best interests at heart now. No. He cares only for the good of our people, perhaps. His female. His closer family.
I have no one, save the friends I have made, and the sisters I love so much to look out for me.
I will not forget that.
No matter what is to come.
“How did you stop them?” a harsh male voice whispered in my ear late that evening. There was a hand over my mouth.
It was all that kept me from screaming. I blinked at the male holding me in place for a long moment. The scar told me exactly who it was.
He was still an extremely terrifying male, but I did not think he would harm me.
“D-d-did you kill him?”
We both knew who I spoke about now.
Equan Black nodded. “Tell me, Jume, how did you stop the attack today?”
“I-I-I am not entirely certain. All I remember was feeling what they were after. Who.”
“The Taniss girl.”
“Yes. Cass…Cass…Cass is so young. So innocent. There was no reason they should have come for her. I remember reaching for Coty. And then…the shield was there. I do not think it was just Coty’s doing. But I know it wasn’t just me.”
“And the fire? The flames? What caused that? There is talk, speculation now. Not all of it good.” He sank into the chair next to my bed, right there in the healer’s hall. “Some is about you—but most is about her. That girl. A mere babe.”
There was disgust in his tone.
Disgust I understood. “Well, th-th-they aren’t going to hurt her. Not if I can stop it.”
His smile quirked. He was such a darkly beautiful male. But there was no humor in the expression. None at all. “Because you are such a fierce protectress, little one?”
“Be-be-because it is the right thing to do. She is barely more than a child.”
“She is full-grown. Do not doubt that. But I agree…the girl is far too innocent for this world.”
“Yes. She is. But then again, so are the Boltiers.”
“Are they now? Not as evil as the one who sired them?”
“N-n-no. Not at all. They are…so clean of heart. Far more than even some of our own.”
“Then the goddess has forsaken them, just like she has the rest of us. Rest, little Jume. And thank you. I owe you a great debt. I will repay it someday. You have my word.”
He touched my face, just once. And I slept.
I couldn’t resist, after all.
He was the most powerful male I have ever seen…
But…I know one thing down to my soul:
Unlike many of our people, there is nothing evil about Nalik Black.
But the man…he is most definitely up to something.
Then again, so am I.
When I woke, Kellis was staring down at me, a worried look on her face. Kellis was always worried about me lately.
It isn’t as if I try to do these kinds of things lately.
They just sort of keep happening.
“W-w-what day is it?” I asked. My mouth was so dry.
It definitely hadn’t been Thursday when it had happened. Tuesday. I think it had been Tuesday. “Are Cass and Coty ok?”
“Better than you.” Kellis was fussing over the blankets. “They both woke yesterday. Neither of them had any answers, either. So…”
“Let me g-g-guess…Cormac Jareth has the questions?”
“Spot on. What exactly were you doing out there?”
“Gardening. We were just…gardening.” I just looked at my sister.
I definitely didn’t know anything more than that.
Unless…the attack may have had something to do with what we were searching for regarding the Goddess?
But no. That didn’t make sense, either.
“Th-th-they were after Cassandra. I could feel it. But I c-c-couldn’t feel why.”
Kellis settled next to the bed. I finally looked around and figured it out. “Healer’s Hall. Again. Where are Cass and Coty?”
“Cass is with the dhan. She is extremely upset about what happened to her baby sister. I can say that I understand her reasoning. You have to be more careful, Jumena. If I was a human female, I’d be getting gray hair from all of your adventures, lately.”
“I am not exactly ad-ad-adventurous, Kellis. I just…they didn’t come for me. They came for Cass. Coty and I…and Cass…we stopped them somehow.”
Wasn’t that the million dollar question? “I-I-I don’t know. I don’t know at all…”
I told them that when they came to question me again. Of course, it was Cormac Jareth and Aodhan Adrastos…and this time it was the dhar himself and Theo.
Of course, it was Theo.
It was almost always Theo and Cormac when things went wrong in my world.
Perhaps they were the curse now plaguing me?
I looked at the dhar. I have spoken to him before, of course, as Theo’s secretary, but now…
There was a look of anger in his eyes that had me shaking. “I do-do-do not know why they came when they did. But they were after little Cass. I could feel it.”
The dhar’s face tightened. With worry, of course. And I understood it.
Cass was his female’s only sister, after all. And just twenty-two years.
Monsters should never have come for that girl.
Something knocked me to the ground. I just screamed, and fought. A green glow surrounded me, and my new friends.
I did not know where it came from.
But it was working. The Lupoiux were backing away. From me.
From Coty, who had somehow gotten in front of me. Her hands were up in front of her.
And I knew…it was me and her together that were doing this. We were keeping these beasts at bay.
And they were there for little Cass. Why? Why could such horid beasts go after such a sweet, young girl as Cass?
She was on the ground behind us. I reached down, with strength I didn’t know I possessed, and pulled her closer. Between me and Coty. They had the same eyes, these two young females. Family. Even though they barely knew one another.
It was their family that made them targets now. I could feel the rage of those beasts battling at us.
I wrapped my arm around Cass and tried to protect her head.
I didn’t know how long this shield that Coty and I had somehow created would last.
I could hear the battle raging around us, though my sight had somehow clouded in a way I could not explain.
I reached out, almost blindly. Linked fingers with Coty.
The three of us were touching, connected. Power surged around us so strongly, I was knocked to the ground.
Trees around us caught fire, for just the quickest second.
Warriors were coming, running. To protect us?
Well, a little too late, in my opinion.
Hands were reaching for me. Pulling me to a seated position.
I wasn’t going to stay there, I could have told them that. I was too weak.
Warriors lifted us. I could barely open my eyes.
When I did, I wish I hadn’t.
Cormac Jarath. Again.
That male…why was it always him?
“I’m not sure. I think a better question is…why is it always you, Little Jume, that the world just keeps coming for now? And just…what in the hell did the two of you do this time?”
How was I to know?
I didn’t have a clue.
But…his arms were strong and my head was swimming, and we were safe again.
I let my eyes close, and the darkness took me once again.
I haven’t forgotten Kellis’s warning, but Coty and I had a purpose now. One that I just felt was right for me now. Evalaneadea and the girl goddess.
They were tied together so tightly, and what I could find now, could…be the answers I sought.
To questions I’m not even certain are fully enough formed yet to even matter. To anyone other than myself, that is.
I have to do this. It…drives me now.
Coty had a worried look in her eyes when I told her that a few days later.
She had been spending time with her young cousin Cassandra in the main gardens of the hotel. They have discovered a love of plants in common.
It is a love that I share. The three of us have spent many hours clearing the weeds around the grotto. My cousin, the head of the grounds crew, has been a bit slack on his duties lately.
He stood glaring at me—and my new friends. I shot him a pointed look. He would not intimidate me, like he was no doubt wanting.
I am tired of males thinking they can control what I do.
I am Jumena Woald. I have no male relative with a right to control my business. I answer to myself, my Equan, and my Dahr. And somewhat to my sister, Ambrea.That is it.
I was discussing that with Coty—and young Cass, though she was busy digging in the fresh earth and humming, next to my left side. They agreed with me. Coty was full of questions about the different expectations of my culture compared to hers, where females were concerned. And why it was allowed.
I wasn’t sure how to answer that.
I think our people, our females especially, have lived in fear of the other Kinds so long that when the big strong warriors told us that they would protect us, we just…rather sort of went along with it.
When perhaps we should not have.
Even sweet young Cass snorted at that.
I sensed a great soul within the young girl, but just what it is about her that is so different, I have yet to put my finger on.
We were planting a row of poppies, my favorite flower, when screams broke out somewhere just along the other side of the wall.
And then…the beasts were on us.
I screamed, as loudly as I could. And put myself in front of the two younger girls.
They were human.
They could die a lot easier than I could.
There were eyes on us. I have not forgotten that Cormac and Theo have been watching me this long. The mere idea of it disgusts me. I feel like a pawn upon the chess board of my own life.
I am sick of feeling this way.
My sisters came to visit. Of course, my Julea found my new MacBook. I lied, told them that I had done a favor for the head of the Black House and he repaid me with the computer.
I then had to explain what that favor was.
Fortunately, little Alleah interrupted at just the right moment.
I didn’t have to tell them the entire truth at all.
Something…something doesn’t feel right, right now. I know that sounds crazy, but there is a charge in the air that wasn’t there before.
I can’t put my finger on what it is. It is probably from the goddess being amongst us now.
She has been kept busy with making reparations with the Wolf god. Trying to fix what the two of them have broken with their bitter arguments that have cursed us all.
Sometimes I struggle with the anger towards her. I will freely admit it.
I am never going home.
I told this to my sisters, once Alleah was snuggled in my bed, napping. She was a bit too old for naps, but she always had liked curling up like a little kitten. Especially in a hotel bed.
She, like many other young girls, imagined life in the resort to be so romantic. Complete with a wealthy Rajni to love you forever.
It was more filled with danger and sadness now than anything.
“There are problems arising,” Kellis warned me when we had a quiet moment alone, after the rest of my sisters left. “Some in the House of Black are blaming the Woald for the death of that little bastard.”
“But we did not do it.”
“No. But that doesn’t matter. We are Woald. We are convenient targets. You shouldn’t forget that.”
“There is something else. Something with the Dhar’s heir, Jierra, and the male she has been mated with. And the goddess and wolf god. Something…is changing. I just don’t know what it is.” Kellis hugged me quickly. “Watch yourself. It’s…dangerous now. In ways I can’t put my finger on. I don’t want to see you get caught in the middle of it.”
“I won’t. You have my w-w-word.”