Chapter 13: Comeuppance – part 2
Shane halfheartedly watched cranes lower enormous footings for a bridge-in-progress on his plasma-screen TV. On the rare occasions he indulged in television, documentaries about large-scale construction often captured his interest. He’d much rather be spending time with his wife, but she and her staff were pulling 80-hour weeks thanks to the recent finds in the Marianas. So he waited for her finish work for the evening, or for 9:00 to roll around. At this rate, it would be the latter.
At 8:55 light flashed, and Addison appeared a few feet in front of Shane’s spot on the couch. Bags drooped beneath her eyes and wrinkles creased her tailored blouse and skirt, but she still looked good enough to eat. “This project will be the death of me,” she sighed, smiling at him anyway.
Shane stood and pulled her close. No, it won’t, he said as their lips met. I forbid it.
Addison grinned at him after they’d come up for air. “Is that so?”
“It is.” He slid his hands down her back to her ass, letting his body react to hers. Despite having been together–really together–for three months, the honeymoon was still going strong.
Addison moaned, then took a step back. “Stop it, you. We promised we’d meet the hellions tonight. I’ve already put this off twice.”
Shane stepped up to her, pushing his ardor to her. Her whimper made him chuckle. “Ten minutes.”
Her shields snapped up, dousing some of his desire. “Last time you said that ten minutes turned into an hour.”
“It’s not my fault you’re such a good lover.” He crossed his arms and mock-scowled at Addison. “Promise you’ll make it up to me later?”
Her dark curls bounced as she nodded. “I promise,” she said, and her mind touched his again. Any idea as to what they’ve cooked up?
None. Jake’s been shielded more often than not.
Addison’s worry echoed his. Lynn, too.
It’s probably something like the bracelets, he said, in part to convince himself. Explains the cloak-and-dagger act.
Addison shrugged, which made her breasts bounce under her blouse. Shane admired them until Addison crossed her arms over them. “Let’s get this over with.”
Shane stepped up to her, slipping one arm around her waist. He felt her temperature spike, and his living room dissolved into the painted cinderblock walls of the kids’ lab.
They found Ashlynn and Jake sitting side by side at the lab bench. The former smiled a hello; she’d probably sensed their arrival. Jake looked up from his tablet computer, surprised. “You’re on time!”
Addison arched an eyebrow. “So?”
“We just figured,” Ashlynn said, gesturing between Shane and Addison. “You know. Hormones.”
Shane suppressed a grin. “We do have some self-control.”
“A little,” Jake conceded. His grin seemed forced, oddly enough.
Ashlynn added to the awkwardness by turning her back to them and facing the wall. She swept her hand over the painted block and murmured something. A moment later she moved to the neighboring wall and repeated the gesture.
Addison and Shane exchanged a look, then turned to Jake. Anti-scrying spell? Addison asked.
Jake nodded. Shane felt his son swallow his unease. Neither of them liked magic.
Once Ashlynn had finished securing the room she returned to her seat at the bench, gesturing for her mother and Shane to join them. “We can talk now.”
As they took seats opposite the kids, Addison asked, “About what?”
Ashlynn studied the lab table. “My nightmare.”
Shane hadn’t seen her this contrite since Addison had doled out her punishment after the bracelet fiasco. “Nightmare?” he prompted.
“Yeah. Been having it on and off for the past few weeks,” she said, shivering.
Annoyance warred with Addison’s sympathy. “Telling us about a nightmare warrants all of this?”
“Yes,” Jake and Ashlynn replied. Their certainty sent a chill down Shane’s spine.
Ashlynn met Shane’s eyes, then turned to her mother. “Do you remember back when I was little–”
“It’s Daniel’s fault,” Jake blurted. His eyes darted between Shane and Addison. “Daniel kept you apart!”
Shane shook his head. “Wait, what?”
“What does this have to do with the nightmare?”
“Remember that big fight you had years ago?” Ashlynn continued. “Right after Jake was born?”
Addison’s expression hardened. “Ashlynn Marie Harris, we are not discussing this.”
Mention of that fight brought back memories of Addison’s betrayal. It had been ages ago, but still hurt. “It’s water under the bridge,” Shane stated. “No point rehashing it.”
“But Dad, it wasn’t your fault!”
More of Shane’s long-buried resentment surfaced. “Wasn’t my fault?!”
“You–” Addison began.
Jake cut her off. “Either of you! Daniel, or someone ordered by Daniel, cast a spell on you both.”
“What you saw wasn’t real,” Ashlynn added.
Shane felt Addison wrestle her emotions under control as he tried to do the same. “How do you know?”
“I remember now, thanks to the nightmare.” Ashlynn took a deep breath before continuing. “Remember the black, twisty thing I was afraid of? It was a spirit that neither of you or Svetlana could see, so you didn’t believe me. But Daniel did. He explained it away, and I forgot. He said that…”
Shane’s whirling thoughts drowned out everything else. Twelve years. Gibson was responsible for twelve years of misery. For all of the fighting, the venom, the Joon fiasco. It all was on Gibson’s lying, scheming head. That bastard would pay in spades. He’d dope him up, and restrain Gibson like he’d done to Shane after that awful fight. Then he’d–
He felt multiple hands on him, as well as a jumble of love, concern, and worry. Jake’s cool energy cut through the morass, and Shane latched on to it. Now calmer, he realized he was halfway to the door, dragging his family along with him. He stopped, shaking from adrenaline. “I’m going to kill him,” he panted.
“Yes,” Addison said, her voice icy-cold. “We will.”
“Soon,” Jake added.
Ashlynn nodded. “Once we figure out how.”