A/N: This is the third installment of a series. The first book is Brave New World, the second is The Queen's Court. Enjoy!
It was an uncharacteristically warm April day when the Sorcerer Adonis—Donny—Tui passed away. He'd been sleeping on the couch in his penthouse, surrounded by empty bottles of vodka and cigarette stubs, when death had come for him. It hadn't come as a shock to anyone, however. Least of all his apprentice, Jorge Santos. Donny's cancer had spread at an alarming rate, even for someone who declined all forms of treatment. Some speculated he used his magic to urge the disease on, but others said that was too unkind. If there was one silver lining in the tragedy that was Donny's death, it was that he was no longer in pain. And if there was a second, it was that he died doing what he loved: drinking and smoking.
So instead of following her usual routine and maintaining her shop, the Sorceress Reyna—just Reyna—was standing inside of a Catholic church, paying respects to the ashes of a man that hated her. Donny hadn't been religious, not in the very least, but Jorge was. Or, at least, he tried to be. So a priest was present, giving Donny his last rites and prayers even though Reyna knew he'd scoff at the gesture were he still alive. But that was the thing, wasn't it? He wasn't alive. So what did it matter?
Clearing her throat, and blinking away some nasty tears, Reyna brought herself back to the present and tried to listen to what the priest had to say. The priest himself hadn't known Donny, so his sermon was pretty bland, but he was trying, and that's all anyone could ask for anymore. Or so it seemed. Overall the mass was going by quickly, since there weren't too many mourners in attendance. It was just them, the Council of Three. Jorge, Marcus, and Reyna. Jorge had explained that Donny's parents had passed years and years ago, when he was young, and that he had no siblings. He had cousins, apparently, but they were all back in Samoa.
Once the final Amen had been said, the priest bowed his head and stepped off to the side, signaling the end of the funerary mass. Jorge, flanked on either side by Marcus and Reyna, walked up to take Donny's urn from its honorary place on the alter. "Thank you, Father Flannigan," Jorge nodded to the man.
The priest, an elderly white man with a balding head, nodded back and smiled sadly at the three of them. "You're welcome, my son. I hope you and your companions may soon make peace with Adonis's departing." Jorge looked as if he were on the verge of tears once more, and took a shaky breath in before swallowing and nodding to the priest.
As they exited the church with Donny's ashes, Marcus asked, "Where to now?" He nodded to the urn, "Are we burying him or spreading his ashes?"
"Neither." Jorge told them, then shook his head. "At least, not today. I plan on spreading them in Samoa. That's what he wanted. He told me that was the last place he was happy. So I'll go, and I'll have another funeral with his relatives, and then," he paused. "I'll say my final goodbye."
Marcus reached up and squeezed Jorge's shoulder, "It'll get easier. I promise you it will."
"Yeah?" He asked, his eyes so sad and yet so hopeful.
"Yeah," Marcus smiled tenderly, "and one day you'll be able to think about him, and it'll make you smile—not cry."
Reyna said nothing on the matter. There wasn't too much she could say. Her Master was still alive—banished, but alive. She couldn't relate. Instead she looped her arm through his and gave his bicep a sympathetic squeeze. Looking up at him, she did say, "You're looking better. I'm glad." It was true, too. During Donny's illness, Jorge had let himself go. Grooming, socializing, everything had become second to finding a cure for Donny's cancer. He'd lost his natural brown coloring, his hair had looked like dried straw, and his cheeks had sunken in so deep he'd looked skeletal. He was still on the mend, of course, but now that Donny was dead—not dying, but truly dead—it was like a curse on Jorge had been broken, and small slivers of life had returned to him.
Jorge hummed, reaching up to run a hand through his short hair, "Yeah. I looked in the mirror and well," he swallowed, "I didn't like what I saw. Donny wouldn't have—he wouldn't want me to waste away. So I'm not going to." He smiled, though it still resembled a wince, and joked, "It's gonna take me a while, though, getting used to this length. My hair hasn't been this short since I was nine."
"It looks good, though," Reyna said, though she too would miss his long, golden tendrils. It would grow back, soon enough. "Looks healthy." He smiled again, this time wince free.
As they walked down the street, further away from the church, Marcus asked, "So what are you doing for the rest of the day? Want to grab lunch and then maybe," he paused and looked at Reyna, "I don't know. We could do anything. Eat a carton of ice cream at Reyna's, or play video games to take your mind off of . . . everything?"
"Nah," Jorge declined, shaking his head slowly. "I've still got a bunch of Donny's stuff to go through. You know, deciding what to keep and what to toss. I don't think he cared for any of it, really. Most of his things were chosen for him by an interior decorator."
"What about the apartment?" Reyna asked, "Think you'll keep it?"
"Good heavens, no!" Jorge's spine straightened and his eyes widened at the thought. "Do you know how much that place cost? It's ridiculous! That's another thing I've got to deal with—finding a Realtor to sell it."
Marcus whistled lowly, the tick in his jaw the only sign of his jealousy towards Jorge's inheritance. Donny had been rich. Unfathomably rich, apparently. And Reyna never really understood how. Meanwhile, although Marcus and his family were better off now than they ever had been before, their purse strings were still tighter than the hangman's noose. "What will you do with it—the money, I mean." He tried to ask nonchalantly, but still had to look down at his feet—a heavy blush on his cheeks—to hide his embarrassment.
"I don't—I don't know." Jorge admitted, "There's . . . a lot of it. And, I mean, I'll be practical with most of it, I think. Like, I'm going to put some of it to paying my student debt, and—and I wanted to donate a large amount to cancer research foundations, maybe even donate a new wing to the hospital in Donny's honor." He stopped and sighed.
"But?" Reyna prompted, feeling there was a but.
"But Donny's lawyer—and don't get me wrong, he has every right to be—is cautious. He doesn't want me to squander the inheritance all at once. He wants me to pace myself, I guess."
"Pacing is good," Marcus nodded his head, his skin returning to its normal hue. Jorge hummed noncommittally, but didn't continue. Eventually Marcus asked, "So, you want us to come with you? To Donny's? We can help you sort and stuff."
Throwing his arm around Marcus's shoulder and hugging him to his side, Jorge kissed Marcus's curly head. "Thanks, Marco, but I'll be fine. I think—I think I need to do this on my own. It'll be good for me . . . or something." he winced.
They came to a crosswalk and stopped. Here Jorge would take a right, towards the subway. Marcus would take a left, towards the bus stop that would take him home. And Reyna would continue straight, towards her apartment. "Give us a call if you need anything, okay? Anything." Reyna took his hand and squeezed it between both of her own. "Anything at all."
Bending down to hug her, he sighed and squeezed her tight. "Thank you," he whispered into her ear before letting go.
Once the three of them said their final goodbyes, they separated and went their own ways. Reyna, after making sure her phone's volume was turned up high—just in case Jorge did decide to call—took a right at a street she'd normally take left and headed towards the Beekman school. Liam, her ward, would be finishing his final period soon, and she decided she'd surprise him by walking him home. He had no plans for the evening—at least, none that he'd said—so it would work out. Unsurprisingly, just a block away from the school, Reyna heard a familiar caw from above. Looking up, she saw her friend, Poe the crow, flying circles above her. Smiling and extending her arm, she signaled for him to land. Swooping gracefully onto her forearm, Poe cawed loudly in greeting before waddling up the length of her arm to perch himself on her shoulder. He nibbled on Reyna's earlobe, making her giggle. "I'm sorry, Poe. I don't have any snacks for you right now. You'll have to wait until we get home." He made a disgruntled noise and ruffled his feathers, letting her know his thoughts on the matter.
Rolling her eyes, she continued her way towards Beekman, arriving just as the final bell rang. A small number of students slowly walked out of the front doors and down the school steps before Liam's blond head made an appearance in the crowd. Instead of calling out his name, like some parents did, Reyna sent a small jab of magic towards him, making his nose tingle with the threat of an oncoming sneeze. Rubbing his nose and glaring, he looked around for her. When their eyes connected, he stuck his tongue out petulantly, but made his way over to her nonetheless. "Why'd you always gotta make my nose itch? It's annoying," he complained.
Poe cawed at him and Reyna smiled before flicking his forehead. "'Cause it's fun to mess with you," she told him. "Now, come on, kid, let's head home."
"How was the funeral?" He asked distractedly. He was trying to get Poe to step away from Reyna's shoulder and onto his arm, but without any luck. Poe just kept pecking him with his beak. Pouting, eventually Liam gave up and pulled out his phone to save face.
"Quick. Jorge looks better though, so that's good. He was starting to look like a scarecrow, to be honest."
"That's good," Liam nodded while his thumbs flashed this way and that over his phone's keypad.
"Yeah, I mean, he was still a little reserved. He won't be back to normal Jorge for a while. Hell," she moved Poe to her wrist and cradled him to her chest, "he may never return to 'normal Jorge' again, but at least he's not working himself to death anymore."
"That's good," Liam said again, making Reyna grit her teeth.
"Have you heard a word I've said? Who're you texting anyway? Helen?"
Liam's brows furrowed and his thumbs froze. "What? No, I—I mean, ugh, well, you know—"
Rolling her eyes, she asked, "When are you going to ask her out, anyway?" She kissed Poe's head, and he cawed softly, affectionately.
"I don't—that's not—why don't you—I mean, really," his skin was turning a darker and darker red with every syllable he uttered.
"You know," she continued her torture, "I'm gonna have to meet her eventually."
Puffing out his cheeks, his face now a dark maroon, Liam was able to finally string together a full sentence. Dropping his head, he asked, "Why do you do this to me?"
"Because," she calmly stroked Poe's feathers, "if you ask a question, you should listen for the answer."
Groaning and hiding his face in his hands, he ground out, "Fine. I'm sorry. Now can we please change the subject?"
Laughing, Reyna nodded. "Sure." They were around the corner from the apartment now. "Oh, yeah, did I tell you? Bub and Hannah are having twins! They just found out the other day."
"Twins? Just the other—but isn't she like, six months pregnant? How are they just now finding out?"
Reyna shrugged as she unlocked the door—which was a little difficult since Poe refused to return to her shoulder—"Don't know. I mean, I have a theory, but there could be a few reasons. Number one being their doctor was incompetent."
Liam snorted, "Yeah, okay, sure. What's your idea?" He asked as they walked up the steps and into the apartment. He dropped his backpack on the floor and kicked off his shoes. "Oh, wait," he said, looking up at the rafters. "Magic."
Flicking him on the forehead again, she grinned, "Don't diss the magic, kid." Reyna walked over to the fridge and began pulling out a couple Tupperware containers full of leftovers. "How does pot pie for dinner sound? It's that or casserole . . . remind me why we have that again?"
"Jorge gave it to you," Liam reminded, sitting himself on the couch behind the kitchen counter. "'Cause his fridge was full of them. Pot pie is fine, though, yeah." He turned on the T.V and began flipping through channels. Poe flew over and perched himself on the back of the sofa, next to Liam. They stared at each other for a minute, before Poe scooched over and began pecking Liam's shoulder. "Oh," he said dramatically, lifting his hand to scratch the bird's head, "now you want my attention."
Popping a plate of leftovers into the microwave, Reyna grinned and called over, "You know Poe's a mama's boy!" Poe cawed out—indignantly or in agreeance, she wasn't sure—before hopping down into Liam's lap for a better head scratch.
Liam settled on a channel—cartoon network—and while absentmindedly petting Poe, asked, "Wait, so . . . magic?"
"Hmm?" Reyna checked the warmth of the pie and decided it need a few more minutes. "Oh, yeah. Well, you know Bub's a Devil—"
"So freaking cool," Liam said under his breath.
"—And they have their own . . . frequency of magic. Sort of." Shaking her head, she continued, "So I'm guessing some of that power has been passed down to his kids. They probably have some powers in the womb. I wouldn't be surprised to find out one of them had cloaking abilities. That's my guess as to why the doctor didn't know there were twins before now, but it's hard to say, since a Devil hasn't fathered children before." She paused, "Well, not in this exact way, at least." The microwaved beeped and after a touch test, Reyna took out the pot pie and placed two plates on the kitchen table. "Dinner's ready!" Pouring a glass of milk for Liam and a glass of water for herself, she sat down and waited for him to turn off the T.V, grab some napkins and silverware, and join her.
Poe cawed angrily, not like having his cuddle session cut short, and flew up to the rafters into one of his nests. Making sure to wash his hands, Liam grabbed all the items and sat down. "But," Reyna continued, mushing her pie around so the crust was mixed in with the chicken and carrots, "it wouldn't be the first time a doctor missed something like this, either."
"Yeah," Liam started, talking around a wad of food, "but missing a whole baby? That's . . insane."
"Hey, apparently it's happened before—or, so say the T.V shows." She winced, realizing how lame that sounded.
Liam snorted into is plate. "You watch way too much T.V."
Hiding her face in her hand, Reyna looked down at her plate and laughed, "I know."
A/N: WHOO first chapter! This is exciting! I'm especially pumped about the third installment of Reyna's story because think I have a very strong plot and have written myself a very solid, manageable outline. As of now there are 10-11 planned chapters, and I believe this chapter will be the shortest of them all. I'm expecting updates to come slightly further between because of this, but yeah I think they'll all be 5000+ words. Maybe more. We'll find out.
I also think I'll be more direct with this one, and not get so distracted as I did with The Queen's Court. While I was editing it I could see the exact moment where the story kind of lost its way. Hopefully that doesn't happen with this story. I'm also going to try and edit before posting (and if I can't, let you know in my A/N). This one here has been edited, but if you guys notice anything I missed, please just let me know and I can easily fix/update the mistake.
As always, please leave a review. It always helps to hear feedback and know that people are interested in the story. And, as another author put it: a comment a day keeps the writers block at bay. I thought that was cute (not that I expect a review a day, though a review a chapter would be nice).
Hope you enjoyed and let me know what you thought!