• Chapter V: part 3

    AFTER SETH left the room, a sense of relief washed over me, and I felt like I could relax again. Vincent had given me the gun and asked me to shoot at the targets for a little while. Unfortunately, target practice wasn’t going very well. Every time I shot the gun, the kick either caused me to drop it, or I would miss with horrible precision.

    “I’m not even hitting the targets,” I cried, obviously frustrated.
    I’m never going to get this. At one point, I thought about throwing the gun down and telling Vincent that I quit.

    The sound of Vincent’s amused laugh echoed from behind every time I messed up, which was pretty much every time I shot the gun. “Here. Let me help,” I heard him say.

    I rolled my eyes and turned around to see him walking toward me.
    “Turn around,” he gestured with his finger. As much as I just wanted to give up, there was still a bit of hope lingering in the back of my mind, so I decided to do what he said. “Spread your legs a little more for better balance.”

    “Like this?” I asked.
    He winced and stood behind me. “Almost, but…”

    My pulse leaped out of my throat when Vincent put my body in position, heedless of where he placed his hands as he spread my legs apart.

    “Now hold the gun like this.”
    He demonstrated by wrapping my fingers tightly around the gun, but when he didn’t move his hands, blood rushed to my face, and my heart started pounding unevenly in my chest. I was very conscious of the fact that he was practically embracing me. This was the closest I think I’d been to Vincent. I could feel his breath on my neck, and it sent chills running up and down my spine.

    “Aim the gun just slightly above the target,” he said in my ear as he slightly raised my hands.
    The nervous and anticipating feeling I was experiencing made it difficult to concentrate. I didn’t want to let Vincent affect me in this way. But then again, I’d never been close like this to a boy before. I’d probably feel the same way if it were Jeff here with me instead of Vincent.

    I closed my eyes as Vincent slowly drug his fingers down my forearm to my shoulders, our faces inches apart. “Now, breathe in and out, steadily.”

    The first breath I took in was a bit uneven, thanks to Vincent’s hands lingering down to my hips, but eventually I was able to steady my breathing and still keep the gun aimed at the target.

    “Keep both eyes open, and concentrate on nothing but the target.”
    I opened both of my eyes, and just as Vincent asked, I blocked out every other thought except hitting the target. I didn’t care that Vincent’s hands were at my waist. I didn’t care that I was conscious of him standing so close to me. It was all about the tunnel vision. And when I got that concept, all that was left to do was pull the trigger.

    It happened so quickly, but all I remember is the sound of the target exploding, and Vincent practically shaking me out of existence. “Kida!” He shouted ardently. “You did it!”

    I was so stunned that I could barely even hear Vincent’s excited praise. The entire target was practically shattered from the blast, but there was enough left to see that the shot went straight through the heart. Where I was aiming. And it finally hit me that I did it. That I actually did it! I turned around and embraced Vincent tightly around the neck, with no regard to how I previously felt. I was just too excited. The adrenaline rush was like that of sky diving! Even though I’d never actually been sky diving.

    “Uh, Kida,” Vincent said. I looked up to see the uncomfortable look Vincent was wearing. Realizing what I was doing, I released my arms and laughed, embarrassed.

    “Sorry…I just got a little excited.”
    “Of course! Good job,” he said patting me awkwardly on the shoulder. “Now keep shooting.”

    I nodded and walked back over to the shooting area, more disappointed than I should have been after my previous success.


    I LEANED back in a nearby chair and watched Kida shoot at the targets, each one rebuilding itself after she shot it perfectly.

    She’s definitely a natural.
    There was a surprising bitterness in that thought, and I wondered if it was natural to feel jealous of this girl. I remember training for hours upon hours every day to become skilled in sword play, which this day in era seemed a little outdated. At this pace, Kida would probably be able to take me one on one, which I had to remind myself was a good thing. She’d need to be able to defend herself when I was gone.

    When I’m gone…
    Kida turned around suddenly and jumped up and down, laughing mirthfully. “I did it again!”

    I nodded, impressed that she was able to get a perfect shot again. She turned back
    around with what looked like a sigh, and I suddenly felt guilty for not giving more of a response. I hated myself for not being able to show more emotion, but after the life I’d lived, I’d learned to leave emotions at the door. Not to get involved with anyone. But as I watched Kida praise herself after every shot, I found myself actually smiling.

    Smiling at the way she smiled.
    Every time it felt like the room brightened just a little. Without a doubt, she reminded me a lot of her mother. She was strong physically and mentally, but soft emotionally. Just from the short time I’d been with her, I’d hurt her feelings on several occasions. She wouldn’t outwardly express it, but I could tell. Even when she was younger, I could easily bring her down.

    But the difference between then and now was that I felt guilty whenever I upset her.
    As I watched her, I began to realize how differently it felt to be around her. How much times had changed. I was beginning to become comfortable with her. To connect with her. It was as if the animosity I had toward her when she was younger was depleting. It was like she was a completely different person, but I couldn’t allow myself to get close to her.

    I studied her intently.
    Her slender, tanned legs. Her subtle curves. Her toned arms. Her dark, satin hair. I was conscious of the way that she stood. The way that she moved. The way that she spoke and the way that she smiled.

    I leaned forward in my chair with an abrupt and surfacing intensity as I suddenly realized…that I didn’t want to leave. Not for the previous reasons, anyway. Before, all I wanted to do was get away from her. To train her to defend for herself, and leave. But now…

    Now I wanted to leave to protect her. I knew that staying would bring more trouble. They’d find me again…eventually. And if they found me, then they found Kida, and I couldn’t let that happen. I had to make this quick.

    Luckily, she was catching on pretty fast. But despite knowing this, I couldn’t help but feel uneasy about the future. There was a certain foreboding in the air that I couldn’t brush off. For whatever reason, I felt that life as both Kida and I knew it would change drastically. Good or bad, it was going to change in one way or another.

    And it starts now.


    THE NEXT couple of hours consisted of Vincent teaching me not only shooting techniques but hand-to-hand combat as well. On top of that, he gave me full lectures on the different species of Other-worlders.

    “How am I supposed to remember all these types of Demons?”
    Vincent rolled his eyes and turned the page of Demons: A-Z. “Maybe if you’d pay attention—”

    “Paying attention isn’t the problem,” I interrupted.
    “Whatever,” he said shaking his head. “Ipos. He’s a prince of the Underworld and also in league with the Order. The Council counts on him often times for predictions and”—He stopped suddenly and looked at the pages confused.

    “What’s wrong,” I asked curiously.
    “Prophesies,” he continued as if he’d just remembered. “They count on him for prophesies.” It was then that I saw the shadow pass over his features. “Perhaps we should end the lessons for now.”

    “Now,” I asked, finding it suspicious that he’d suddenly end the lessons without an excuse.
    “Yeah,” he said closing the book. “It’s about time that we start heading back, anyways. You’re party starts pretty soon if I’m not mistaken.” I watched him through narrowed eyes place the book back on the dusty shelf.

    “Okay,” I said standing up, but when I turned around, I wasn’t able to see him take the book and place it inside of his jacket.

    “I MUST say,” I whispered to Vincent. “I wasn’t expecting Seth to follow us to your car.” Vincent chuckled and glanced back at Seth who was trailing not far behind us.

    “He’s just coming along to make sure no one follows us,” he said reassuringly. I nodded but was in no way reassured. Especially since I knew that he was shooting daggers at me from behind. For whatever reason, Seth had been nothing but hostile toward me the whole day.

    “I can hear you guys whispering about me,” Seth said from behind. I jumped involuntarily at the sound of his voice, despite the fact that he literally had the voice of an angel.

    When we finally reached Vincent’s car, I was surprised to see Seth jump ahead of me and open my door. I reluctantly began to get into the vehicle but was immediately halted by the strong fingers now gripping my arm.

    It was surprising how strong Seth was. I would have never guessed from his slight figure. My attempt to give him an intimidating expression failed at the sight of his piercing gaze. For a slight moment, I watched his brown eyes change into purple and back. Was I seeing through his glamour, or did he do that on purpose?

    I averted my gaze to his hand, remembering what happened last time I got lost in his stare.
    He whispered in my ear, “You would be wise to watch your back, Miss. Kida. I would hate for anything unfortunate to befall you.” I winced as his grip tightened.

    “Are you threatening me?”
    Seth’s hand suddenly released my arm with a jerk. “Of course not,” he said almost contritely. I looked up at him a bit shocked by his response. “I—” His expression hardened again, and he cleared his throat. “I simply don’t want Vincent to be going through all of this trouble for nothing.” I swallowed hard and nodded.

    “I understand.”
    “Very good,” he said gesturing for me to get into the car. After I sat in my seat and buckled up, Seth looked over at Vincent and said with a surprising gentleness, “Be careful, Vincent.” Vincent snorted and looked over at him.

    “I’m serious,” Seth frowned.

    Were his feelings hurt? It was an interesting thought. I didn’t think Seth had feelings.
    “I know,” Vincent said more kindly. “I’ll be as careful as circumstances allow.”
    “That’s not good enough.”
    “It never is.”

    Seth sighed and shut the door with more force than necessary. As Vincent started leaving the parking lot, I watched out the window at Seth’s worried expression.

    “Vincent,” I asked curiously. “How long have you two been friends?”
    Vincent sighed wearily. “A long time.”

    It wasn’t’ an exact answer, but I understood. There was a strange connection between the two of them, and the vibe that emanated from Seth when he spoke to Vincent gave rise to new questions.

    What exactly was Vincent to Seth? Why did he hate me so much? And if he did hate me as much as I initially thought then why was it that he went out of his way to tell me to watch my back? I mean, he said that his interests lied only in Vincent’s well being, but, for that split moment, I honestly felt that he was actually worried about me. That maybe him being hard on me was just his way of showing tough love. After all, Seth was the one who took care of
    me when we arrived in the States.

    I exhaled slowly. There were still so many unanswered questions. Everything just seemed to be unraveling all at once, like a ball of yarn that was dropped from a tower. No matter how many times you try getting a hold of that string, it won’t stop falling. It’s going to continue to unravel, until eventually, it hits the ground.