Hands caught her and she was gently lowered to the ground. A dark-skinned woman grasped Grace by her waist and pulled her aside with the ease one picks up a child. It sent shivers down her back, and it took all of her will to not wrench the car door open and run for her life. Grace shouldered her bag and walked on. Nassar held out a chair for Grace and she sat down. Grace swallowed and moved within its reach. She winced, expecting his power to mug her, but it simply touched her gently, as if her magic and his held hands.
Jonathan Mailliard of your family was to marry Thea Dreoch. He loomed, a spot of otherworldly magic among people who stubbornly ignored his existence. Tower Dreoch, Uncle Gerald had called it. They met in college, in English Composition 101, where Ilona got a better grade. The Dreochs had her mother and if she did run, her mother would have to take her place.
She willed her body to obey, but it refused. If Nassar was a sword, Alasdair was a dagger. His green eyes arrested her and Grace halted, suddenly realizing she wanted to know what he would look like naked. Grace knew what she had to do, but her nerves had been rubbed raw, and she simply stood, unable to move, her muscles locked into a rigid knot. An unspoken command to follow. The bag slipped off her shoulder, and Grace pulled it back on. Grace was learning to decipher their code.
Grace followed the servant into a spacious atrium. His magic brushed her again and she edged away from it. Her mother had been paying it for years, carrying the burden alone. The man held the rear door open for her. Neither I nor my family will torture, rape or degrade you in any way. An unspoken command to follow.
Sweat gathered at his hairline. They live in dark places, where there is stagnant water and decay. She winced, expecting his power to mug her, but it simply touched her gently, as if her magic and his held hands. The airport, the booming announcements spilling from the speaker, the crush of the crowd, all of it blended into a smudged mess of colours and noises. And one of these clans had their family in bonded service. Uncle Gerald thrust into her view. Muscles bulged on his chest when he moved his arm to underscore a point.
Her family owed a debt. Before they do it, they want to weaken us. This area of the city was warded off from the rest, hidden in the cocoon of magic and altered. He could still remember her scent: the light clean fragrance of soap mixing with the faint rosemary from her dark hair. According to Gerald, she was wrong.
Grace always knew her family was special. We need your services too much. Her mother had told her nothing; she simply went in her place. It was just an animal reaction, Grace told herself. It all seemed so dreamlike.
We did our best to keep this fact to ourselves, but I have no doubt the Roars know it. The man slid next to her, filling the vehicle with his presence. Power coursed through them and vanished, a sword shown and thrust back into its scabbard. According to Gerald, she was wrong. They took the escalator down to the baggage claim. They stepped into sunshine in unison. The crowd of people parted.