Reckless Magic (Page 26)

“I know that, I’m just giving you a hard time. Chill out. But what I really need to know is if you have something nice to wear tonight…. something um, more grown up?” Now that he was forced to ask me his bizarre question face to face, I realized that he was a little shy. I inwardly felt satisfied to witness Avalon’s small embarrassment; although it could never equal my seemingly constant humiliation.

“That depends on what you have planned,” I doubted any good could come from whatever scheme he was devising.

“I, of course, can’t tell you,” he replied dramatically. “It’s a surprise,” he looked around us as if to make sure no one was paying attention. “And really, it’s no big deal.”

“Oh but you expect me to get all dressed up?” I asked hoping to get more details.

“Well, it’s just that…..” he hesitated, and looked around again. “Do you have something sexy or not?” he was barely able to say the word now that we were face to face.

“You are awesome at asking a girl out,” I was a little irritated with his funny behavior.

“This is not a date!” Avalon blurted out a little too loudly. My face flooded with heat immediately and I couldn’t look him in the eyes.

“I was just joking.” I mumbled pathetically. I knew that it wasn’t a date from the beginning. It wasn’t like that with Avalon…. but he didn’t have to react so strongly.

“I’m sorry,” Avalon calmed down and said softer, “Eden, I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. It’s just that, you know, we’re only friends right? I mean good friends… best friends…. but just friends,” I nodded my reply, instantly forgiving him, but I fully planned on milking this just a little longer. “Besides, this is a mission.”

“A mission?” curiosity made me completely forget feeling sorry for myself. “For what?”

“You’ll just have to wait and see,” Avalon responded mysteriously, flashing his big dimples at me again. “Remember, look like a grown up. I’ll pick you up at eight,” he stood up and headed for the door. I was once again left to wonder at the strange behavior of high school boys.

I checked myself in the full length mirror once again, not fully buying what I saw. Aunt Syl was working tonight and so I had full access to her “grown-up” wardrobe per request from Avalon. I obeyed his appeal to find something more mature, but left him waiting impatiently in his truck while I found the courage to leave the house.

The dress I chose to wear could have had many descriptions; some might have called it “sexy”… I called it “midnight hooker.” Somehow I thought Avalon would approve. The all black dress was simple, maybe too simple, but definitely mature. The short skirt covered just enough, leaving my legs bare, but looking extra-long. The dress covered nothing behind me above my low hip-line and I prayed it would remain tactful although completely backless; I was thankful that the neckline of the dress was just below my throat. My arms were sleeveless and the only thing keeping the dress on my shoulders was a thin ribbon that tied at the base of my hairline.

I resisted the urge to let my hair hang down covering the open back, and instead pulled it over one shoulder in a loose and low pony tail. I stepped close to the mirror and applied some bubble gum pink lip gloss. Looking over myself for a final time I realized I had forgotten shoes.

I ran back into Aunt Syl’s closet. My eyes quickly assessed the racks of designer heels and fell on a pair of six inch hot pink stilettos. I pulled them on immediately; fully aware I would regret the decision later. I grabbed a silver clutch on my way out of the massive room and went as quickly, but as carefully as possible down the stairs and out the door.

Using magic to lock the house, I made it to Avalon’s truck before I realized there was no way in hell I could make it up into his cab with class. I opened the door of the truck and eyed the step. I looked back down at the long heel on my beautiful shoes and then at my short tight skirt and laughed out loud.

“You have got to be kidding me.” I turned my eyes to Avalon and shook my head. “This is impossible.”

“You’re right,” Avalon turned off the engine and jumped down. “I said look grown up, not like a prostitute,” he hurried across the street to a silver Lexus parked on the curb. “Whose car is this?”

“I think my neighbors. You don’t have to be rude. I can go change,” I called after him; my insecurities confirmed.

“Nah. You’re fine; I was just kidding,” he opened the door of the car easily; I had expected it to be locked. Avalon took another look around and sat down in the driver’s side seat. “Come on.”

I walked over to the car with my mouth open. There was absolutely no way I was stealing this car. I half expected Avalon to rip the wires out of the steering column and do some fancy trick to hotwire it. Of course he just used his magic and turned the car on without any sign of vandalism.

“There is no way I am going to be an accessory to grand theft auto!” I shook my head and crossed my arms stubbornly.

“Come on, we’re going to be late,” Avalon ignored my objections.

“I’m serious, Avalon,” I tried again, but he threw the passenger’s side door open and revved the engine.

“Seriously Eden, we will bring it back completely unharmed. If you like, I’ll even fill up the gas tank. Now get in,” he said it firmly and I realized that he was going with or without me so I decided to get it in. Hopefully my magic would be enough to repair any major damage Avalon was able to incur.

Avalon played with the dial of the radio, until he found something he deemed suitable. The loud music reinforced the point that this was definitely not a date and I realized once again that I was totally fine with that. My interest was raised however, and I couldn’t even imagine where he was taking me.

Avalon drove out of my neighborhood and towards downtown. I lived nearly exactly midtown, in an area called Dundee, so it only took fifteen minutes or so before we were driving on the old brick streets through the Old Market. Shops and restaurants surrounded us on both sides of the old fashioned part of town.

We drove slowly to avoid the meandering pedestrians and occasional horse and buggy. Cops sat on street corners talking casually with street artists and a group of musicians played the blues with an open guitar case set out in front of them.

Although the weather was still fairly warm, the days were growing shorter and it was already dark outside. My magic was pulsating and my senses were heightened. I could feel the pull of strong magic in the direction we were driving causing my heart to beat even faster.

Eventually Avalon pulled over in a more deserted area of downtown. My pulse quickened as we stepped out of the car. I could tell where we were going now from the draw of magic beneath the ground, but I let Avalon lead the way.

I followed Avalon to a darkened doorway that appeared to be locked; the door was made out of a strong wood but had been painted black. A brass door knocker sat in the middle shaped into the same image that Avalon had tattooed on his left wrist: a large snake wrapped around an apple, eating its own tail. A chill ran up my spine; I was not entirely sure what I had just gotten myself into.

Avalon gripped the doorknocker in his palm and held it for a few seconds. The brass turned to gold and then illuminated the doorway for only a second before dulling back into the brass we first encountered. I heard the lock click and the door opened partway. I followed Avalon into the building realizing he had given me no explanation as to what was behind this door.

A long and lighted hallway surprised me, as I had expected something dark and dingy. Candelabras on mahogany tables were placed evenly down the length of the hallway; the carpet was plush and burgundy and the wallpaper, a beautiful and intricate gold-leafed. Although the entrance was not what I had expected, it still offered no explanation as to where I was.

“Follow my lead.” Avalon turned his head and whispered to me. “And stay close,” the look in his eyes helped me understand his seriousness. I nodded my head, swallowing the huge lump in my throat and continued down the hallway.

At the end of the passage was a large mahogany door with a similar brass knocker as the first door; only this snake was much skinnier and wrapped around a scroll. Avalon wrapped his hand around it and the same effect as before occurred. This time however, beyond the door was a set of stairs winding downward, but significantly dimmer than the hallway.

I could hear many voices below us and the strong drag of magic left me certain this was our destination. I followed Avalon down a twisting path of stone stairs that seemed like it would never end. My stilettos made a clicking noise with each step.

At the bottom of the stairs was a surprisingly large room full of people. The room must have covered the entire block underneath the streets up above. The people all dressed extremely well, milled around the room on plush couches and chairs covered in ruby and gold thread. Small tables sat in between them and I noticed in one corner of the room larger tables, set up for poker. A counter ran half the length of the back of the room serving drinks and I realized that this place was a bar, or a club, or Ok, I didn’t really know what this place was yet, but something along those lines.

Avalon walked straight over to the long counter and ordered two drinks; I stayed close to his side and took the brown liquid he offered to me. I sipped the strong smelling liquor, pretending I knew what I was doing, but nearly spit it out in the same breath. The strong, woodsy whisky burned as I struggled to swallow it and then gave me an instant heady feeling, making the room spin around me.

“Use your magic,” Avalon whispered to me through gritted teeth. I forced a smile and then worked harder to force my magic into control. I calmed my nerves and cleared my head. I would just pretend to drink whatever it was.

Avalon looked around the room nervously and I wished I knew what he was looking for. I did my best to pretend to be bored; mimicking the stance of the other scantily dressed women I saw standing around the room. Avalon stood on his tippy toes to get a better look and I contemplated telepathic communication to get some answers, but decided against it.

The force of magic radiating around the room and my blood, hot and boiling, combined with the energy buzzing inside of me confirmed my belief that everyone in here was an Immortal. I was at once thrilled that there were so many others like me, but then cautious again when I realized they were still all strangers. They however, all seemed to know one another. Maybe this was some type of Immortal club that I hadn’t been inducted into yet.

“Stay here,” Avalon commanded and turned to walk away.

“Wait,” I demanded. “Where are you going?” I was suddenly nervous and shy.

“I’ll be right back…. I promise,” Avalon softened his tone and gave me a reassuring smile. I tried to trust him, but this whole night had just been too weird.

I attempted to follow Avalon with my eyes, but I quickly lost him in the crowd. For a while I could follow his trail of magic, but the overwhelming quantity of mixed energies in the room made me lose that as well. I looked down into my glass and swirled around the golden liquor, contemplating another sip.