This story takes place in the same universe as the Dead End series. It's not a continuation from Dead End Dimension, but it does take place before the next book, so I thought I'd squeeze it in before I did that one.
The title is a working title because I have no clue what to name it. I'll change it eventually. Or at least I hope I will, I always end up saying I'll do things and then I end up not doing it.
"No, no progress what so ever," Liv mumbled in a groan and buried her head in her hands. Rocking the tall stool back and forth a bit, with her feet pushed against the counter, she huffed in annoyance. A few of her black curls fell onto her face and she attempted to blow them away but was unsuccessful. Her hair always had a mind of it's own. She gave up with a shake of her head and curled her fingers around the glass in front of her, a tall, empty wine glass that had been filled with clear sparkling white wine a minute ago. "And I'm trying so hard, too," she added, wriggling her nose in defeat.
A bottle appeared, clinking on the rim of her glass as slender hands poured her glass full again. "Maybe you're trying too hard, Liv," a melodic voice spoke softly. Resting his elbows on the counter once he had put the bottle away, he took her hand in his pale fingers with the black painted perfect nails, running his thumb in smooth circles on her dark skin. A sparkling, fanged smile tried to reassure her but she just shrugged at him. "Have you tried-?"
"Sly, really," she breathed, interrupting him, "I've tried everything, I've been taking everyone's advice for years and years now, but nothing." She pulled her hand out of his grasp and downed a large gulp of her wine. It tickled her throat, but it wasn't her first glass, not even her second, so it didn't bother her. She hadn't planned on coming to Dead End that night to complain, she was just going to check in on her aunt, maybe say hey to Sylvester and then be on her way home, but one drink of wine followed the next and soon she found herself tipsy and spilling all of her worries to the tall Vamp. "I blew up another mailbox yesterday," she confessed, feeling herself sink lower on the stool as she recalled the moment. "I thought I was over that, but it just happened."
"How?" A curious smile formed on the Vamp's lips.
"I got angry," she whispered in a groan, covering her face in her hands again out of embarrassment. "Some idiot in a suit pushed past me on the sidewalk, I lost my balance and fell, he didn't even look over his shoulder when he yelled at me to learn how to walk. I got angry and then BOOM!" She waved her hands in the air to mimic the effect. "Why does that keep happening, Sly? Why is that all I'm capable off? And I don't even mean to do it, it just happens when I'm angry or upset."
Sylvester choked down a laugh that almost escaped him. "I don't know, love. I just don't know," he drawled, "Why are you asking me, I haven't got a magic bone in my body, I don't know how it works."
"At least it's proof that I can do something," she reasoned with herself, "Even if I don't mean to." She licked a droplet of wine from her bottom lip and then bit it in deep thought, tapping her fingers on the clean counter. "Maybe I'm just one of the few witches that will never be able to do magic properly, I should just accept that."
"Nonsense," a stern voice broke into their conversation, soft paws padded over the counter to them and a large, elegant cat curled its gray tail around its feet as it sat regally next to the ice-blonde Vamp, watching Liv with disappointed yellow feline eyes. "You come from a long line of proud, powerful witches, none of whom had as much trouble in the magic field. You will find your magic. Somewhere," the cat continued "No witches in the Edwards family have ever lived like simple humans, and neither will you. In time, anyway."
"But one of them does live life as a simple cat, doesn't she, Alyssa?" Sylvester teased with the most innocent facial expression he could muster. 'Innocent' was particularly hard for a vampire, he didn't pull it off, they were born predators.
"Easy Vamp," Alyssa warned, a feline growl deep in her throat accompanied the words, "Don't forget it's partly your fault I'm in this predicament. It was out of the goodness of my heart I helped you out and was punished by The Witches."
Liv quickly interrupted them. "Aunty A," she pleaded with the cat. She was in no mood to hear her bickering with her employee and always felt it better to stop them before they really got into it. "I am trying, I really am, but I think I need more time, or something. I don't know. There's something I'm missing and I don't know what it is, it's like I can feel the switch inside me but I don't know how to turn it on."
A grin spread on Sylvester's porcelain face. "Well, I can certainly give it a-"
"I didn't mean it like that!" Liv blurted out, much too loudly, "I didn't mean it as a sexual invitation," she continued in a loud huff, earning her the attention of the guests scattered around the diner. "Damn you Vamps, is that all you think about?" she scolded him gently. It was a rhetorical question. She damn well knew that was, mostly, what they thought about. She gave a quick smile and nod to the other guests, hoping she wouldn't look as embarrassed as she felt. Not that there were many there. It was a full moon, the Weres would all be in lockdown until the sun rose, and night had only just begun leaving most Vamps just rising from their beds. Or coffins, depending on how traditional they were. The few Vamps there had just a while ago arrived, and were being served by the scantily clad ghost that she knew as Erika, she usually ended up with all the attention anyway, and Liv and her outburst was soon forgotten completely. "I don't know what to do anymore," Liv said in a sigh.
"You, Olivia Edwards, is a bright, intelligent, young woman, and you will find your magic eventually." Alyssa stood up, stretching her back all the way to the tail and yawned. "But I am getting worried," she continued, licking her teeth as she watched her niece with large yellow eyes, her short fangs glinted in the florescent light. "You are twentyfive after all."
"Go easy on her, Alyssa," Sylvester said with a shrug of his shoulders, refilling Liv's long-stemmed glass, "She'll learn."
Liv downed the glass, much too quickly, and slammed it down on the counter, a little too hard. "I need to clear my head," she announced and stood up. She pulled on her coat, that she had thrown over the chair next to her. "It was nice seeing you, Sly," she offered. He nodded and took her glass back to the hatch, pushing it at the kitchen where it disappeared when picked up by an invisible force. "I'll see you later, Aunty A. Mom says she'll give you a call later." She gave Alyssa a quick scratch behind her ear. The cat breathed out a huff, pretending not to like it. And then Liv left.
"She'll learn," Sylvester said casually when he returned to the cat, who was still watching the door after her niece left. "It'll just take some time"
"I hope you're right," Alyssa mumbled.
Liv grumbled to herself on her way home. Summer was almost over, not long now till the winds would start to pick up. She pulled the coat closer around her, a sudden chill swept up around her from the water. She was taking the long way home, needing some air to clear her head, and to shake out the wine Sly had poured her. Walking along the East River, she listened to the slow drumming of the water against the bank, echoing under Brooklyn Bridge high above her. She stopped for a moment, leaning on the back of a bench.
What was she going to do? A witch was nothing without her powers. A witch without her powers was pitied without much sympathy behind it, maybe even ridiculed some places. She groaned again and rubbed her forehead, letting herself sit down on the bench. She loved this walk at night, the lights reflecting in the water, the cool air, not many people around. It was a perfect time for thinking, for reflection.
Only today her only thought was how useless she felt. She started picking at one of the many loose strings on her old worn coat, it was way too big, a large, dusty brown, wide-shouldered man's coat she had stolen from her father years ago. With mismatched patches on both elbows and one on the large pocket, her gray, woolen hat pulled firmly down over her wild curls and her big, old boots, she looked every bit the part of a witch. That, or a homeless person. But why hadn't her powers come yet? She was way past adolescence, when powers usually showed up. So why was she the only witch in the city struggling with something that came so natural to her kind? She was even part of one of the oldest, most powerful families of witches there was. So why was she such a failure?
She heard herself utter another groan. She should stop that. She sounded like a sick dog. She should just go home to her apartment, there was no point in sitting out there, wallowing in her own misery. But she knew what she would be going home to, an empty apartment with no distractions or things to take her mind off her self pity. She needed something to do, something to occupy her with. Maybe her favorite sushi place was still open. She could bring home a platter, open the bottle of wine she was saving for a special occasion, and then eat and drink until she forgot her worries. Or until she passed out. Whichever came first. Just thinking about it made her mouth water for some shrimp nigiri and some tempting salmon rolls. Her stomach growled and she started wondering if she had even eaten dinner that night.
Digging deep in her pocket she fished out her phone, hoping René would be in the mood for an impromptu girl's night in. But the large full moon reflected itself in the black screen before she could even check for texts from her best friend. Full moon. Of course. René would be in lockdown til morning. Damn. She had forgotten.
She sat back, listening to the slow drumming of the water against the bank. The sound always soothed her, waves crashing against barriers, it was a rhythm she enjoyed immensely. In fact this was her favorite spot, the bench under Brooklyn Bridge high above her, especially at night. A strange thunking against the bank caught her attention. Something was in the water, something large by the sound of it, floating in the small waves, bumping around just below the railing in front of her. "Idiotic humans," she mumbled to herself and crossed her arms over her chest with an annoyed sigh. "Throwing garbage in the water," she continued in a huff. The sea was so beautiful and there they went, destroying it, seemingly with a vengeance against mother earth herself. Gross.
The sounds of the noisy city behind her almost drowned out the watery sound of the river, people in the distance laughing and shouting, somewhere a siren, somewhere loud music blaring. She decided she was getting old before time, she preferred a good, calming classical tune to the obnoxious music she heard everywhere, a nice old book and a glass of wine on a Saturday night instead of going out. She was definitely growing old. And at only twentyfive, as well. Rubbing her face she stretched out her legs in front of her. It had been a long day, cataloging the books and old furniture in her Antique shop had given her a headache, it might have been the dust, it had been the only reason she went for a walk that evening and ended up at Dead End, instead of just walking up the stairs to her place. She really should just go home, if only going home didn't seem so daunting, it would just be another place where her disappointed thoughts would haunt her. Instead she sat on the bench letting the water take them away, with ever wave she felt her shoulders relax slightly.
That damn banging, it tore her out of her thoughts again. What the hell was that? It didn't sound like just another bottle. Or just another wooden log. Or just another dumb thing someone had chosen to discard in the river. She rose from the seat, wrapping her coat around her again, and walked to the metal railing. She stared into the darkness below, straining her eyes, trying to make out what was floating in the water. There was definitely something large there but it was hard to tell what, covered in seaweed and caked in mud it continued to bang against the bank.
Then it groaned.
"What the-?" Oh no, was that-? Could it possibly be-? Was that a person? Liv listened intensely for some sign, some hint of that down there being a person, refusing to let her imagination run away with her. It could very well just be garbage, and the sound could just have been wood rubbing against wood. Her eyes adjusted to the darkness and she could make out a hand floating on the surface, then the lump tangled in seaweed spouted a nose, a mouth, closed eyes. The person was face up, luckily, but not moving. Definitely not just garbage. Liv slammed her hands down on the railing, looking around for someone, anyone, near her for help. "Help!" she shouted into the dark, but her voice only drowned in the noise from the city. She was alone, there was no one around to help her. She could run for help, she suggested to herself. But then this person might have drowned in the meantime. No. No, she had to do something.
Tearing off her coat and dumping it on the ground, jumping out of her boots and pulling her woolen hat off her head, she jumped over the railing and landed in thick mud to her knees, sinking fast until she stood in water to her waist. The icy water made her yelp but she couldn't really concentrate on the pain. Wading through the mud she reached the floating body, whose head kept banging on a pillar. She pulled the body towards her. She could tell it was man. A rather large man. A very large, heavy man. How was she expected to pull him back up on land? "Of all the times to be a witch without powers," she grumbled in frustration and pulled him closer to her. The railing seemed miles above her and now she was sinking into the soft thick mud. "Just fucking great," she growled and pushed the man against the railing with his back. His head rolled down to rest on his mud covered chest. He would be no help at all, stupid unconscious man. Her arms started hurting from the pressure, she wouldn't be able to hold him for long, and then they would both be gone. Drifting out to sea was not on her to do list that night. She fumbled furiously, trying to get a grip on the railing, perhaps even to pull them both out of there. But as soon as she caught hold of the netting in the railing, the man slipped out of her arm and went under the water. Bubbles started popping at the surface. "No, no, no, don't you dare," she growled and had to let go in order to get the man back.
With a splash she pulled him close to her again and held him fast against her chest. She sighed in defeat. "Help," she cried again, hoping someone would have come by by now. But still nothing. He groaned again. She pulled the seaweed from his mouth. Wait, the seaweed. That was strong. Quite strong, at least for what she needed it to do. Eying up the metal pole holding up the railing, and decided to try. She pushed him further up the railing with what strength she had left and growled in annoyance, with the help of all the tangled up seaweed ensnaring him she managed to latch him onto the metal pole. Finally he was hanging steady, not floating up and down the bank, although it looked kind of uncomfortable and slightly undignified the way he was flapping his limps with every wave. That couldn't be helped.
She latched onto the metal netting and managed to pull herself up and over the railing, falling with a heavy, wet thud on the concrete. She spat out a huff, it hurt to breathe, she was so cold. Shakily she stumbled to her feet, catching her breath before being able to move, she jumped to the railing again. The man was still hanging down the side, but the seaweed was breaking and she would loose him any moment. Without hesitating she grabbed hold of his arms, his shoulders, pulling with all her might. She whined and growled and struggled and toiled. He was so heavy, why did he have to be such a heavy man?
With a final pull and a battlecry from deep in her throat, she dragged him over the railing and he landed heavily on the concrete where she had lied only moments before. Finally. She collapsed into a sitting position next to him, panting and wheezing. "That's it," she breathed to herself, "I'm going to start working out." She could barely move, her whole body hurt and she was so cold, soaked to the core, her wet curls slapping her face with every breath.
The man stirred, only a little, but it was enough for her to jump in surprise. The relief of having finished her task had completely pushed out the thought that there was still a man there in need of help, and she was not done. She scrambled to her feet, leaning over him. He was on his front, his face squashed against the hard ground, making him utter little whistling sounds with his nose as he breathed. She rolled him over onto his back, tearing the seaweed off him. With a little effort it snapped around him.
And then she realized he was naked. Completely naked. Liv tried swallowing the lump forming in her throat. This was not the time to be prudish or squeamish. It was just a man, like any other. Removing the entangled plants from his head she finally saw his face, dirty pale skin, why was he so pale? He looked almost like moonlight, for a second she was convinced if light shone on him he would sparkle but quickly shook the thought out of her head. His nose was pointy but wide, his lips full, almost hidden by his beard the same medium blonde color of his eyebrows. She stroked his hair, it was almost as pale as him, only she could have sworn gold strands nestled in the tangled, yellowy, long locks. He was still breathing, luckily, she didn't know what she would have done if he hadn't. She didn't know the first thing about CPR, no witches did, they used their powers. Damn her for being so useless.
She brushed more seaweed off of him, the mud that caked his body, exposing his dirty wide shoulders, his impressive chest that left her biting her lip, his ripped stomach that made her throat constrict awkwardly. She played with the thought of removing the mud and seaweed further down, but couldn't get her hands to cooperate. There wasn't a lot of it, all it would take was to peel the strand of brownish wet weed from his abdomen and he'd be exposed. She strained her eyes in the darkness, imagining that she could see right through the mess of leaves and dirt in his lap. Then she came to her senses, coughed and cleared her throat, and her brain from dirty thoughts. What was wrong with her? This is so not the time to be a pervert! she scolded herself, The man is unconscious and you want to peek at his privates? You're an idiot. She took a deep breath, steering clear away from that area with her curious eyes she focused on his long, muscled legs stretching out on the ground, all the way down to his naked toes. Even they seemed to be sculpted like the rest of the man. How does a man like this end up in the East River?
She placed her hand on his abdomen, unable to stop herself any longer from touching him. He felt cold and wet, a little strange though, his skin felt odd. She ran her fingers along his stomach softly, feeling every bulge of his tight muscles. She really was a pervert, wasn't she? She looked around for prying eyes that might judge her actions, but she was still alone. She felt guilty though. She should try to wake him, try to help, not feel up a helpless, unconscious man.
She pulled her hand away from him. Or at least tried to. With a jolt the man's eyes shot open, looking around wildly as he took hold of her wrist in his strong grip. He gasped loudly, as if air entered his lungs for the first time, and coughed up water. Liv was too shocked to move, too shocked to do anything but stare at the man in front of her. He blinked, his eyes searching his surroundings, and then he found her. She almost choked on the air when the bluest, clearest eyes she had ever seen locked on to hers. Such a pale blue, the color of the summer sky. Never had she seen such an intense stare burn into her mind.
"Witch," he breathed, his voice raspy. "You are a witch."
She nodded. "Yes," she managed to stutter. How did he know? How could he tell?
The man seemed to relax slightly once she confirmed his statement, but didn't let go of her wrist. His neck cracked when he did a slight nod to himself. "Witch," he repeated calmly before his eyes rolled to the back of his head, his lids slid closed and his head fell back down on the ground.
"Uhm," Liv coughed out awkwardly. His grip on her wrist loosened, and his fingers released her as his arm fell back down on his chest. "Hello?" she tried, poking him on the forehead, then his chin. Nothing. "I am a witch," she mumbled to herself, "But... who the hell are you?" She ran the back of her hand down his cheek, his skin still felt strange, otherworldly. She then corrected herself, "What the hell are you?"