Chapter 13: Comeuppance – part 5
Myers’ blood arced from his throat in a graceful scarlet parabola. Idly rolling his prism between her fingers, Joon admired her handiwork from a safe distance. The fountain’s height metered the bastard’s life, growing shorter with each heartbeat.
Then he smiled.
Joon snarled. How dare he mock her during her victory? Her eyes followed his line of sight to a framed photo on the floor. A beautiful Negro woman smiled through—
(Me.) The scalpel slipped out of Joon’s hand.
Joon’s eyes turned back to Myers. His eyelids had lowered, but he still smiled at the woman. (Dr. Addison Harris.)
Do you know who you are?
Doctor Addison Harris, she’d said dozens of times with an accent that wasn’t hers.
“Not mine!” Joon shouted aloud.
(Too deep. Not my voice!)
Joon’s eyes, which hadn’t left Myers’ face, saw him again. His blood only climbed a few inches into the air before adding to the dark puddle. “My voice,” she murmured, holding her prism tightly in her hand.
The photograph pulled Joon’s eyes back. “Mine,” she told the woman. Joon accepted her silence as assent.
The growing pool of blood enveloped the scalpel at Joon’s feet. She stepped back. Dr. Shane Myers didn’t track blood everywhere.
Trapped by the bloody charade Triptych forced upon her, Addison played dumb when her daughter teleported away without a word of explanation. They’d both heard Jake’s thoughts and felt his panic. Dad’s blood. The words made her blood run cold.
Her son vanished into his alien side, and Ashlynn was as alarmed as her brother had been.
Addison tried again. Ashlynn, what is going on?!
We’re handling it, Mum. Then her shields went up, locking Addison out.
Shaken, Addison bowed her head and drew a deep breath, willing her composure to hold.
“Dr. Harris?” a voice ventured.
Addison jerked her head up. “What?!”
Dr. Rausch took a step back, his eyes wide. Wariness rolled off the portly, spectacled man. He motioned at the array of bronze message cylinders on the table between them. “I was hoping that you could take a look at this. Miss Harris, er, stepped out in the middle of this catalogue. You might have some, ah, insight into what she might have completed.”
Addison was too upset to properly chastise the man. “Start over,” she snapped, and strode to her office.
She managed to lock the door behind her before losing it completely. Trembling and tearing, Addison slumped in her chair. First she reached for Jake, then Ashlynn and lastly Shane, hating that she got no response from any of them. The latter scared her most of all; her sense of Shane was tenuous at best.
Unable to wait any longer, Addison teleported to where she sensed her children and her husband: Shane’s office. The blood-splattered floor and walls and Shane made her stomach drop to her feet. Panic raced through her body. Somehow she brought a fist to her mouth to stifle her scream.
“Mum!” Ashlynn darted in front of Addison, holding her by the arms. “You shouldn’t be here. You can’t be here.”
Addison struggled to break free. “Let go of me!” The sight of Jake working to heal Shane’s injuries did little to soothe her fears.
Let go of me! The empathic push behind the words made the girl step aside before she knew what had happened. Addison rushed over to Shane, falling to her knees on the blood-soaked carpet. She cradled his head in her lap and sensed his mind, however dimly. He’s alive, she sobbed, both terrified and relieved.
Ashlynn gently touched her mind. Mum, please. You know you can’t be found here like this. Blood squished under her daughter’s steps, and her hand rested on Addison’s shoulder. Shane will be fine. Jake will see to it.
She knew that Ashlynn didn’t believe her words one hundred percent. Addison shook her head, studying Shane’s lax features. It didn’t make sense. Less than an hour earlier they’d been tangled together in her bed. Now he lay limp and ashen. I can’t leave him.
Yes, you can.
The flash of light and heat and the shift of the room took Addison by surprise. She blinked at the sight of her bathroom and the feel of cold tiles beneath her knees. “Ashlynn!”
Ashlynn kneeled beside her, pleading, Don’t be cross. I had to take you away. Her daughter wrapped Addison in her arms. Jake will help Shane. He will. I know it.
The words, repeated like a mantra, and the fact that her daughter was comforting and reassuring her, brought Addison to her senses. “Right.” She scrubbed her face with her hands. “He’ll be fine. He’s too stubborn for anything else. The prat.” Her voice almost broke on the last, and she swallowed a panicked sob.
With Ashlynn’s help she stood and moved to the sink. Her reflection prompted a startled yelp. Blood darkened her blouse, her eyes were red-rimmed and bloodshot, and streaks of blood and mascara ran down her cheeks. Addison nodded. “I should get cleaned up a bit.” She turned the hot water tap.
“Mum?” Worry crept into Ashlynn’s voice. “Are you—”
“I’ll hold it together.” She met the girl’s brown eyes in the mirror. Addison wouldn’t promise to be all right, but she could promise to not do anything foolish. Shane would survive and she wouldn’t jeopardize what they had. “But I need you to go back. I need you to be there and find out what happened. Can you do that?”
For a long moment, Ashlynn said nothing. Then she nodded. “I’ll do my best.”
“Thank you, moppet.” The old nickname didn’t earn a glare.
“I have to,” Ashlynn said quietly. “He’s… I… He’s my dad, too.” Then she teleported away.
One of the advantages of being Dr. Myers, Joon found, was that no one had the balls to ask why blood spattered her dress shirt and slacks. That, or Harris’ employees hadn’t noticed, Joon mused as she walked to the woman’s quarters. The ever-helpful facility computer had told Joon where the bitch resided. Compared the amount of blood he spilled, I’m nice and clean.
Joon hesitated at the door to Harris’ quarters. The woman was rumored to have mind-wiped more than a few of her or Triptych’s enemies. Then Joon thought about the boredom that awaited her at home. Little challenge remained in her work, and Marcus and Ginger had abandoned her. Myers had proved too dangerous to tame, so she’d been forced to eliminate him. All that was left was Harris.
After palming another drugged dart, Joon pressed the buzzer, anxious for the challenge. She hoped that the bitch would answer.
She did, greeting Joon with an elated, surprised smile. Shane! How—
Joon darted through the doorway as the woman’s delight morphed into alarm. Joon backed into the door, pushing it shut. “Hi, honey,” she giggled. “I’m home.”
For an instant they stared at each other. Harris, whose eyes were red and puffy, was shell-shocked. Joon, however, admired the curves under the woman’s bathrobe. Adrenaline and testosterone got her hard.
Joon’s arm was already in motion when Harris’ mind slammed into hers. Sheer luck stabbed the dart into the bitch’s neck. Mentally and physically paralyzed, Joon struggled to hold on until the drugs shut Harris down.