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   Chapter 9 The Ravenwood Arms

The Ravenwood Arms By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 34301

Updated: 2018-03-14 10:26

Chapter 9

Morning came early. Winston was thrilled when I awoke long before sunrise, but looked somewhat morose when my early morning did not translate into immediate park time. "Sean is taking you out this morning and I'll be taking you on our run after work, " I told him. He tilted his head to the side as though listening, but not really believing me. As usual I felt guilty for interrupting his routine.

A knock sounded on the door and I went to answer it. I smiled as Davis held out a cup of coffee in a to-go cup. I took it automatically.

"It's too early to go without caffeine, " he told me stepping inside.

"Thanks, " I said taking a sip. It was fixed just the way I liked. "I just need to get my shoes."

He nodded as I turned to leave. "I take it this is Winston?" he asked before I left the room.

"It is, " I confirmed. "I'll be right back. Winston be nice."

I went into the bedroom and emerged a second later, my work boots in one hand and the coffee in the other. They weren't as heavy duty or as beat up as the ones Davis was wearing, but they had protected my feet over countless job sites. I may not have been doing any of the heavy construction work on those sites, but I learned very quickly that when walking around on worksites, the proper foot gear was essential. My first job site resulted in a nail through both sneaker and foot and required a not so fun tetanus shot right after the screaming pain of the large nail being removed. It was not something I wished to repeat.

Winston was clearly fascinated by Davis' work boots and was sniffing them like they were dipped in buckets of his favorite scent prior to arrival. I set the coffee down on the table and pulled out a kitchen chair, seating myself so I could lace on my boots.

"I think it's probably the different scents from the various job sites that he finds so fascinating, " I explained my dog's fascination with his feet as I laced on my first boot.

"And here I thought he loved me for me and not just my foot wear." Davis said with a smile.

"I'm sure given the chance, he would adore you, " I told him as I moved to the second set of laces. "I'm also sure if you weren't in those boots, he'd carry them off to his secret hideaway under my bed. He doesn't think we know anything about that. Sean and I take turns cleaning it out when he isn't in the apartment. Mostly because there is no way he'd let us take his treasures if he were here."

I finished tying my laces and stood. "He doesn't realize the things are gone?" Davis asked, bending down to rub Winston's head.

"Sort of, " I confessed. "After we clean out some of his collection, weeding the mostly chewed tennis ball collection from ten to about three, that sort of thing, he wanders around looking over the apartment as though he is certain something changed, but he can't quite determine what."

"Ah, " Davis said straightening. I picked up my coffee and my keys and we headed towards the door. Winston grabbed his leash from its place by the door, holding it in his mouth, and waited for me to clip it to his collar.

"No Winston, " I said taking the leash from him and putting it back in its place. I picked up my coat and slipped it on. "You aren't coming this time. Sean will take you out when he gets up." Winston shook his head and snorted. He then turned around so his back was facing us and sat down, giving us his version of the cold shoulder. I motioned Davis towards the door and the two of us quickly slipped out before Winston could look over his shoulder at us and decide to make more of a fuss waking Sean, and possibly the neighbors, up. Davis held his laugh until we were halfway down the hall.

"I guess that certainly showed you, " he said.

"I guess it did, " I said shaking my head. "Winston likes his routine." We took the elevator down to the street level. While the residents had a gated parking area behind the building, Davis did not have a copy of the gate code and parked on the street. At this time of the morning there was no traffic and few cars parked on the street. The morning birds had yet to begin their chirping and the world felt cold and abandoned.

I shivered wishing my jacket was heavier, although I knew the temperature wasn't the sole reason for my shivers. Even though I did go out after dark, I always made certain to go out with groups and I stayed in well-lit areas. Even with Davis next to me, the street felt too lonely with just the two of us on it. It made me feel like a target.

We were about ten feet from Davis' pick-up truck when I heard the sound of claws scrabbling on the concrete. We both spun around at the sound and I threw a shield around the two of us so we were protected. From my perspective it looked like we were standing in a soap bubble. If anyone happened to be looking down from one of the apartment windows, they might catch a glimmer of blue from the streetlights, but nothing else. Anyone who managed to see more would no doubt have magic of their own and it wouldn't matter what they saw.

"I can hold the shield while we move to the truck, " I told Davis letting him know we could move and didn't need to stay in one place. I shivered as I saw gleaming red eyes peering hungrily out of the shadows at us. After that first attack when Sean and I were children, I practiced a lot with moving while maintaining a shield, after all, neither Sean nor I had anything but the shield and run away method of dealing with such things. It turned out, Davis did.

"Will the shield let my attack pass through?" He asked his voice was calm and steady.

"Yes, " I replied, thinking of Jimmy's little electric sparks. After a hit, the shadow creatures would yelp and maintain a cautious distance, preferring their prey not to fight back. The distance often helped with the running away part. Davis nodded and my eyes widened as I saw three of the shadow creatures slinking around the edges of the light cast by the streetlamp. With the exception of the first attack when I was a child, I had never seen more than one at a time. Davis cupped his hand and drew power from himself in much the same way I did to create a shield. Instead of a blue-ish soap bubble however, Davis looked like he was clutching a pulsing red sphere about the size of a baseball.

His baseball looked rather angry and kept spitting out little red-gold sparks. Davis pulled his arm back as though the red ball were an actual baseball. He threw it directly at the nearest of the shadow creatures like a fast pitch, putting his whole body into it. The ball not only hit, it stuck. In awe I watched as the ball stretched out to become a blanket, covering the strangely shaped creature. The red covering pulsed twice and then seemed to turn black. For a second it looked as though the creature was frozen in place under its now black blanket. Then one of its legs began to crumble away beneath it, tilting it precariously to one side. The lean became more pronounced as gravity took over and it began to fall to the sidewalk.

I peered through my shield, realizing the creature had in fact turned to ash, or something like it, and was disintegrating as I watched. As I studied the first creature, Davis finished off the other two. I turned to look as the other two shadow creatures disintegrated, the ash blowing away on the icy breeze.

"Handy, " I said, my voice sounding somewhat breathless.

Davis smiled at me. "It's a lot easier to pull off from behind a shield, especially when there's more than one."

"Yeah, " I replied feeling somewhat dazed. I stared stupidly at the last of the ash floating away.

I wasn't sure what was showing on my face, but Davis closed the short distance between us and slipped his arm around my shoulders. "You can let the shields down now Alice, " He told me, his tone gentle. "If there were any more of those things out there, they would have fled."

"Yeah, " I repeated, nodding. "Right sorry, just old memories." I shook my head and let my shields drop. The coffee cup was less than steady in my hand and Davis guided me to the passenger's side of his truck, keeping his arm around me. I wondered how bad I looked and tried to push away the memories. I was no longer a child and, thanks to Davis, the shadow creatures hadn't even laid so much as a claw on my shield, even if I could still hear the echoes of their scratching in my mind. I slid into the truck, Davis' arm sliding off my shoulders. He closed the door and walked around to his side. I took a small sip of the coffee and tried to relax.

"Everything is fine, " I mentally told myself as he settled himself behind the wheel.

"Did you hurt your leg?" he asked. I blinked in surprise and looked down. My hand was rubbing the old bite scar through my jeans the same way Sean rubbed the scars on his arms. I stopped and balled my hand into a fist in my lap.

"Sorry, no that's just…"

"Where you were bitten the last time you were attacked?" he guessed. I looked over and he shrugged. "You mentioned a scar."

"So I did, " I replied, remembering the café. I opened my fist and reached for the seatbelt, fastening it into place as Davis started the engine. I sighed as heat rolled out of the vents.

When the car didn't move, I looked over at him. "We can put this off for another day if we need to Alice. I mean if you are too shaken…"

"I'm fine, " I told him smiling weakly. "Knowing that I'm putting up shields for other people to safely sleep behind helps with my personal freak out."

Davis smiled and put the truck in gear, accepting my answer. I took slow and steady breaths to calm myself. "That was quite a nifty trick of yours back there." I told him as I settled. "Much better than hitting them with a handy piece of scrap wood."

"Scrap wood?" he asked, sounding slightly amused.

"It was my plan B in case Malak didn't arrive, " I told him not mentioning that I thought he or one of the other contractors could do the hitting. "Put up my shields and hit them with a piece of scrap wood, preferably one with old rusty nails sticking out of it."

Davis chuckled. "I'm not so sure that would work, " he said conversationally.

"Because shadow creatures don't get t

h, especially when they went after the boys, " he told me.

I looked around and realized that while people had started coming into the diner now, no one was seated near us, or at least near enough to be overheard. "Can she even see them?" I asked. Most people born without some ability of their own couldn't even see the creatures.

"No, but she is sensitive enough to hear them, " He explained.

"Wow, " I said to myself. I took a sip of coffee. Seeing the shadow creatures was bad, hearing their claws and howls and growls, but not being able to actually see them sounded even worse somehow. I shuttered. "I'm guessing the boys aren't the only ones with nightmares then?"

"Nope, " Davis confirmed. "Hopefully that will end now."

"Making me doubly glad I included the yard, " I replied. "When I was little I woke up to find one of them pressed against the window watching me sleep, " I told him. "It freaked me out for weeks after, although I never forgot to close the curtains again and whenever possible, I always include the yard. Especially when children are involved."

"You didn't on the Fausti job, " Davis said as the waitress brought our breakfasts.

"I didn't, " I told Davis as I watched him with his waffle. He smeared butter over the surface making certain every square was equally coated. Then as it melted he reached for the syrup and made certain to pour the same amount into every square. I was less methodical, giving a swipe of butter between each pancake in the stack and a light coating of syrup over the top.

"But I did cover the pathways, " I reminded him. "It added $160, 000 to their final bill and they decided that was better than paying for the square footage of the entire property on top of the buildings."

"So you don't always include the yard?" he teased as he cut a bit of his waffle, trying not to spill the syrup from its squared cells.

"All of the bedrooms in the Fausti house are on the second floor, " I replied. "Even in the guest cottage. Besides I think the creatures can sense the shields. The more you have in an area, the less likely they are to come sniffing around in the first place. It's sort of like a flashing 'Do not Enter' sign. There were a lot of shields on that site."

"Now that's handy, " Davis replied.

"Personally, it always makes me want to sneak onto the property of my old elementary school and add some shielding, " I replied. "But that is not allowed."

"I take it you didn't go to one of the private schools?"

"Nope, regular public school all the way. My parents thought that since we made up such a small percentage of the population, we should learn to blend from the beginning. Luckily neither Sean nor I had abilities that could go too badly awry if the school bully knocked us down."

"Yeah, " Davis said nodding. "We had issues with control when they first kicked in. Most of us have somewhat…defensive abilities."

"Defensive?" I replied with a laugh washing down a bite of my pancakes with the coffee. "I am defense, you, I think, fall more into the offense category."

Davis chuckled. "I only go on the offensive when I feel the need to defend, " he said with a laugh.

"I can't imagine anyone attempting to bully you, " I told him. "Although I'm sure you were much smaller when younger."

"I was, " He replied with a laugh. "And luckily for me I had the entire Davis army watching my back. It's one of the benefits to a large family, especially as we were in public school too. With so many of us, most bullies considered it unwise to mess with us as they knew they would be taking us all on. It meant fewer chances for our offensive defenses to be triggered once they started to develop."

"And as they put Jimmy Lucas to shame, it was probably a good thing." I told him.

"Jimmy Lucas?" Davis repeated.

"He lived a few doors down from us and was our little group's defense, " I explained telling him about the four of us uniting our skills for safety.

Davis chuckled. "This would be Jimmy Lucas the quarterback of the Northdale High football team?"

"Yeah, go Cougars." I replied. "Why you know him?"

"Please tell me you weren't friends."

"I wasn't, " I said honestly. "I was the art geek and Sean was the brainiac gay boy. Jimmy put up with us because we helped him and his sister stay safe after dark. In addition his family was often born with multiple talents as opposed to just the one talent per person so he tended to think his station was a little above ours. When we graduated, his little sister who was about two years younger, joined another after hours cluster and I never saw him again."

"He was my brother, Scott's nemesis in high school. Scott was quarterback for Westbridge High back in the day."

"Our biggest rival, " I replied with a nod.

"We were, " Davis agreed. "Jimmy'd use that little electric stinger of his during games to help his team. It was much more subtle than anything we could do and he could hide it pretty well, at least he never got caught using it on the field. It used to drive Scott insane every time we played Northdale. He especially liked to use it on those with stronger abilities who couldn't risk using them in public."

"I can't say I'm that surprised, although I never actually saw him do it. It fits his personality."

"So you went to the games?"

"Quite a few of them, " I told him.

"You know you probably saw me play then, " Davis said with a smile. "I'm surprised we never met."

"I said I went, I didn't say I watched, " I replied. "The school had pride points which you got for going to school functions and occasionally they came in handy, so I went to a lot of the games. Most of the time, my friends and I would play poker instead of watching the game. Football was never really my thing."

"Not a lot of school spirit huh?" Davis said with a grin.

"I had plenty of school spirit, " I replied. "But most of the people I knew on the football team were Jimmy's friends and sort of cut from the same cloth as he was even if not all of them had his sort of abilities. Encouraging them never seemed like a terribly good idea. It was like rewarding a dog for biting the mail man."

"I can understand that. So are you any good at poker?"

"I'm okay, " I told him. "I haven't played in years though so I am a bit rusty. As a friendly warning, never play with my cousin."

"Is he good?"

"He is scary good."

"I will have to remember that." The two of us finished our breakfast and the waitress brought both the extra sandwich Davis ordered for his brother and the check.

"Don't even think about it, " Davis said as I began to reach for my wallet. He handed the waitress a credit card and she wandered off.

"You didn't have to buy breakfast, " I told him.

"And you didn't have to shield the yard."

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