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Jivaja: Chapter Four, Part Four

Welcome to Free Fiction Friday! Every week, I’ll be posting a scene or two (in order, of course!) from my book, Jivaja. If you want to read along, just come on back every Friday!

Some scenes will be shorter, several hundred words. Some will be a thousand or more. Read them in order though, otherwise none of this will make sense!

Follow along as Mecca, a young woman with a Gift for manipulating human life force, runs head-first into a shadowy vampire-like society that discovers her power and wants to use her.

If you missed any parts, head over to the Jivaja Table of Contents to get caught up!

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Chapter Four – Mecca, Part Four

 

When she came out of the darkness, Mecca lay silent, her eyes closed.

The rough leather cuffs still held her wrists, but the pressure of the belt over her hips was gone. That was something, at least. Though she couldn’t feel it, she assumed the I.V. still had a home in her hand. She tried to shift her foot.

Damn it. Her legs remained immobile.

Why did they snatch her, and who kept her strapped to a bed in a windowless room?

Of course, there could only be one answer. She’d spent the last two days and nights researching vampires on the assumption that they— or something like them — existed. Apparently, that theory panned out way more than she’d expected. She’d found them.

Or rather, they’d found her. She still doubted the actual vampire theory. Which was more plausible, that vampires existed or that a bunch of crazy people thought they were vampires?

But why did they keep her here, drugged? She knew the secret of their existence — regardless of whether they were vampires or not. She supposed it made her a liability. She understood that. So why didn’t they just kill her and be done with it?

Not that she wanted to die. Not that she wouldn’t fight with everything she had. But they had plenty of opportunities to get rid of her. Why hadn’t they?

And, more important, where was here and how was she going to get away?

Some part of her recognized that she was being a lot more analytical than she would have expected of herself.

The door opened. The soft clack of a shoe meeting the hardwood floor coupled with a sudden electric jolt that flashed through Mecca’s belly. For a moment, every sense heightened. Sounds came clear and distinct. Will’s breathing and the skitter of the shoes seemed to rise and become more distinct. The air brushed against her exposed skin like calm waves on a sun-drenched, sandy shore. Mecca barely kept from gasping at the overwhelming sensations.

“Has she come around?” The woman’s smooth and throaty voice raised gooseflesh on Mecca’s arms.

“She hasn’t opened her eyes since the last dose,” Will said, “but her breathing changed a while ago, so I suspect she’s awake.”

“Very good. Go eat. Be back in an hour.”

Mecca heard Will leave the room with quiet steps. She slowed her breathing and concentrated her attention on listening. This was her enemy. Only the sound of the stranger’s footfalls alerted her to the woman’s movements. And then those sounds stopped. Silence ruled her small prison cell, but an electric current continued to pulse in her veins.

“Why do you lie there, feigning sleep?” the woman asked.

Mecca made no reply.

“Look at me.”

The urge to obey rose up, shocking and unpalatable, sour in her mind, like the taste of bile at the back of her throat. She struggled to keep from opening her eyes.

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“Very well. Keep them closed for now.”

The need to obey swept away in a wind, and Mecca released her breath slowly, unaware that she’d been holding it. Her senses settled down as well. Sounds, the air, everything finally registered as it should.

What just happened?

“You’re an interesting young woman, Ms. Trenow. That’s why I brought you here. Yet imagine my surprise when your bag was opened to reveal your research abilities. If I didn’t have other plans for your more unique talents, I’d consider bringing you on as an information gatherer.”

The soft rustle of paper reached Mecca’s ears.

“But that’s not where your real strength lies, is it?” She waited a short moment before continuing. “I did some digging based on a bit of information you’d already gathered. I hope you don’t mind.” The woman barked a quiet cough. It sounded staged. “There were more women than these, you know.”

The print out. That grainy photo. White Widower.

Mecca finally opened her eyes to look at the owner of this voice, her heart strumming a wild tattoo in her chest. That website contained awful, terrible insinuations about Dad, and she didn’t believe them. She wouldn’t even believe in the possibility of it being truth.

He wasn’t a murderer. He was her father. But still, she opened her eyes.

“You’re lying,” Mecca said. She twisted her wrists in the cuffs. “I don’t know why, but you are.”

“No, I’m most definitely not.”

The woman sat in the chair beside the bed with one leg draped over the other, a stack of papers resting on her knee. She had Asian features: a small nose, almond-shaped eyes and high cheekbones. Black hair cut in a severe pageboy style framed her round face. She looked tiny in that chair and younger than Mecca would have expected. She could imagine having a class at the university with this woman.

“You’re Emilia?”

“Yes.”

“Why am I here? Why didn’t you just kill me?” Did she really want to know this?

The corners of Emilia’s mouth curled as she smiled. Some part of Mecca expected her teeth to be long and thin. They turned out to be small, square, and compact. Just teeth. Not fangs.

“There is information you have that I want. Keeping you this way” –she waved a hand at the room– “seemed much more conducive to getting that information.”

“What information?”

“You killed someone recently.”

How could she know that? Mecca’s face grew hot, and she looked across the room at the wooden door with its electronic lock. This woman knew she killed that Hayden guy. How? Had she seen? Shame threatened to overwhelm her. She fought to keep tears from her eyes.

“Tell me how you did it.”

Again, that need to speak pushed at her mind. Mecca knew how she’d killed him, though she had no idea how she would explain it to someone, even if she wanted to explain it. Emilia watched with her eyes like black marbles and the urge to spill everything about that night in the parking lot hit harder. Mecca closed her eyes. “I don’t know what you mean.”

The pressure to speak came stronger and then passed. Mecca gasped, relieved, feeling like a stone had been lifted from her chest. When she opened her eyes, Emilia still watched her, but a smile flitted along her thin pink lips. After a moment, she stood and dropped a news clipping onto Mecca’s lap.

“That is Susan Harrington — or, rather was Susan Harrington.”

Mecca couldn’t keep from looking at the newspaper copy. A small article mourned the death of a local Chicago philanthropist to a mystery illness. A statuesque woman in her fifties, with dark hair, smiled out at her. Beside the photo was another candid shot, this one of her husband, a non-local twenty years her junior. According to the caption, they’d wed the summer before, after a whirlwind romance on the tennis court of the local country club.

That young husband had Mecca’s smile. On his head grew the same unruly curls that her father now fought with a flat top haircut. In the photo, he wore a black suit and a frown.

Emilia continued. “She was a very well respected woman in the Chicago area. Her first husband died of prostate cancer, I believe, and left her extremely well off.” She slid the article into a manila folder at the bottom of her stack and then laid another clipping in the same place on Mecca’s leg. “Carol Dodson. Her mother was heir to a coffee dynasty and had already left her more money than she could possibly have spent in her own lifetime. Your father was twenty-four when he met her.”

Mecca grimaced, but couldn’t keep her eyes from being drawn to the clip. She hated that she wanted to read. But wasn’t it better to know the truth? Part of her screamed, “No!” but she read the clip anyway.

There stood her father again with those same curls. He didn’t look as old as in the previous photo. A young woman’s arm looped through his, and they both wore formalwear. A glittering diamond necklace graced her throat, a facet reflecting the flash from the camera.

According to the article, Carol Dodson also died of a mysterious wasting disease that doctors and researchers had since been studying diligently. Mecca leaned back and glared at the ceiling. She didn’t even want to touch the tangle of feelings surging through her. Disbelief, confusion, fear, anger.

Emilia made an amused sound, before she gathered up the clipping. “Unfortunately, I have some business to attend to and I don’t yet trust you. So I am going to direct Will to administer another sedative. When you wake, you will be allowed limited movement and all of this paperwork will be available to you.” She dropped the folder onto the table, before she turned to look at Mecca again. “Where would I find your father?”

Mecca’s raised her head to meet Emilia’s gaze. She whispered, “Fuck you.”

 


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