The Marradith Ryder Series: The Art of Shadows, Part 36
The next morning, Marradith woke shortly before dawn. Despite the luxury of the suite Zasha had picked for her stay, she missed home. Sighing, she got up and went into the living room.
Firing up her laptop, she went through her emails. A little shiver ran through her as she saw Rafael’s name . His lesson plans were done and uploaded weeks in advance to a secure website, which sent the messages to her daily. It was chilling to think of him in his current state. It had been three days, and he was still in a coma.
She placed Rafael’s email in a folder marked “lessons” and continued down the trail of messages.
Logging onto the Sojourner database, she pulled up a window for chat. She sent a quick message, and Will replied within seconds.
Hey there, Marradith. How are you?
Good. You must feel better. You’re back to not sleeping as usual.
Yes, you’re right. What can I do for you?
She explained her request. They chatted for a while longer. Marradith asked about her brother Danny, and about Jenny Winslow. She updated Will and what little was known about Rafael’s condition. Moments later, she logged off of chat and went into the file that he emailed her.
The file was marked Castillo.
She wasn’t supposed to have access to personnel files, but there was nothing that Will would not access secretly for her when asked.
Castillo was an Immortal, but not vampire— apparently he was born human, and changed later by way of magic, according to the information. Whether it was through his own magic, or a spell placed upon him by someone else was undetermined.
Marradith sat back, chewing on the tips of one of her fingernails. If he was made Immortal through someone else’s spell, she thought, what would happen if that person removed it? Cross referencing an article she’d read months before about demons, she found a passage about the “selling” of human souls to gain immortality. Such deals did exist between humans and demons, allowing a human to become Immortal.
With one catch…. The demon could repossess a soul, and when it did, death would follow.
Marradith wondered. Rafael Castillo had been an unstoppable force as long as most Sojourners could remember. If his Immortality was rendered through such a contract, could someone have come to collect? Was that why he was close to dying?
Fiona tried reaching her son, Terrance, but the call went straight to his voicemail.
As much as she wanted to speak with her son, to hear his voice, she was relieved that he didn’t pick up. Talking to him would mean another round of explanations about Rafael’s condition that she didn’t want to answer. Terrance never really approved of Rafael, and Fiona wasn’t sure how he’d react to the news, or the fact that she had waited before telling him.
Over the years, there were things that Rafael revealed to Fiona about his past. He described in vivid detail the destruction of his coven, and how he’d come to be an Immortal. There was more that he hadn’t told her, that was one thing she was certain of.
She showered, dressed, and went downstairs to the infirmary.
The nurse, a young woman named Stella, told her that there had been no change during the night. Rafael’s vitals were still strong. He remained in the coma.
Fiona walked into Rafael’s room and stopped dead in her tracks.
A man stood beside Rafael’s bed.
Hearing her sharp intake of breath, he turned and smiled at her.
Evan’s face was just as she remembered him: high cheekbones, mahogany brown skin, full lips and an upturned nose. She saw the shadow of her son through his father, and the recognition chilled her.
Fiona knew that she would run into him eventually, since she knew that he kept quarters at this Compound. She had expected the last place that she would see him would be in her husband’s hospital room.
“I guess they just let anyone in here,” Fiona said.
“Just wanted to see him,” Evan replied, nodding towards Rafael’s form. “He’s going to be fine, you know.”
“No,” Fiona said. “I don’t know that.”
Evan took her hand and squeezed it. “I have a healthy respect for the man, you know. We worked together for a long time. When I asked him to, he kept you safe. So it’s only right that I should come see him.”
Well he wasn’t doing you any favors, she thought.
“It’s been a long time since we last spoke,” Evan said. “But if you need anything, I’m here for you.”
“What exactly do you think you can do for me?”
“That depends on how your husband ended up this way. If this was done by a demon, then we need to talk.”
©2011 Lori Titus
For more info on the author and her upcoming releases for Fall 2011, see her interview with Richard Godwin: