JJ is growing up just like his dad!
The four huge vampires sat parked up in the blacked out SUV. They’d been watching the flats. One picked up his phone. “Dante?”
“Keenan … everything okay?”
“Yeah, we’re outside the place now. Two local characters have gone in. What do you want us to do?”
There was silence for a beat. “Watch … do nothing yet. I want them to handle it themselves. I don’t want them to assume we’ll bail them out every time they mess up.”
Keenan wasn’t sure, but Dante was the king. So with a deep sigh, he agreed, and clicked off his phone, throwing it on the top of the dashboard.
Dante had really lost it this time. Keenan was a prince of the Santalini royal family, revered as the special forces of the race. He was also mated to the queen’s sister. They’d been brought up in a place just like this and knew how dangerous it could be. Life was cheap, and spoiled mollycoddled kids like Dante and Jay’s, could be easily crushed like bugs. They were mad leaving them here like this.
“They’ve been a while,” Reeve his guard mate said, interrupting his thoughts.
Keenan nodded absently. Those two low-life’s had debt collector written all over them.
Latitia watched in horror as the bald one walked forward forcefully, lifting JJ off the floor by the neck, and smacking him against the wall. It all happened so fast.
JJ’s face went red and his hands held the man’s wrist to try to pull him off. His feet were three or four inches off the ground. The other boys all shouted and went to take a step forward, but the bald one held out his other hand and shouted; “Keep back or I’ll snap his neck!”
Everyone was forced to watch as JJ went lip in the man’s grip. The man’s partner smiled smugly as if it was a normal day’s work for him. Xavier watched nervously, and Dwayne and Patrick caught Riana in their arms before she made matters worse.
“Now listen, you little shit. You’re gonna have five hundred quid for me same time every week. You understand?”
Latitia was watching JJ frantically, hoping he’d just agree to end this nightmare, but apart from being red at the lack of air, he seemed relatively relaxed in the guy’s grip. He’d completely stopped fighting.
Then she wasn’t sure what happened exactly. The guy holding him began to shake his head. Then he seemed to stagger forward, loosening his grip enough for JJ to slip down to his feet on the floor. JJ’s face started to return to normal. An awful noise started to come from the man’s throat as if he was in agony.
His friend went to take a step forward. “What the …?”
Xavier moved for the first time and barred his way. He shook his head. “Leave them.”
It all felt so surreal like a dream, as if Xavier knew what was happening, and JJ and the thug were just having a private chat. But that definitely wasn’t the case. JJ hadn’t spoken a word, and still held the man’s forearm while he released his throat and doubled over in the middle. Then holding his arm, the man gently eased down onto the floor until he was laying flat on his back staring up at the ceiling.
Xavier went to JJ’s side and touched him gently on the shoulder. “Enough JJ.”
JJ still hadn’t let go of the arm that held him, and blood began to trickle from the man’s nose, and down the side of his cheek.
Everyone had witnessed something, but none of them were sure what it was.
Riana hitched a breath and covered her mouth with her hand. The guy’s partner looked uncertain and agitated. “What yah done to him?”
“Stop now,” Xavier repeated, quietly.
But JJ appeared fixated on the unconscious body at his feet.
Then from nowhere, Alexia pulled JJ back by his free arm breaking his stare and forcing him to let go. He blinked appearing to wake up from a trance.
The other guy was now looking like a trapped animal, not sure what to do. JJ turned to face him, now breathing as if he’d been running. “Take him! And have the final bill next week.” His voice was cracked and dry, as if it was a strain speaking.
He stooped and struggled to pick his partner up, not allowing his eyes to leave JJ for more than a second, and hefted him over his shoulder with difficulty.
Dwayne held the door while he went out as quickly as he could stagger, and shut it and locked it after him. Latitia slowly put the little one’s down now it was safe.
JJ staggered and held his head. Xavier and Alexia rushed to him and got under each of his arms to take his weight. Before they led him away, JJ looked up and found Latitia’s eyes and held them for a moment. It was a look that held such sadness, like an unspoken apology. And somehow she knew it was for more than witnessing what happened.
Her hand went to her throat as a trickle of blood ran from JJ’s nose.
Riana saw the same thing, and ran to him, grabbing some tissue quickly from the loo. “He’s bleeding. Let’s get him straight to bed. I’ll phone a doctor.”
“It’s okay,” Xavier said. “It’s a migraine. He’ll be okay after he sleeps it off.”
Latitia swapped a look with both her brothers who were following the scene as closely as she was. They raised their eyebrows at each other; none of them sure what they’d just witnessed.
Keenan stepped out form the gloomy stairwell into the path of the two men he’d seen going into the flat. Except this time, one was carrying the heavy weight of the other one in a fireman’s carry. “Need a hand, mate?”
He stopped in front of Keenan abruptly.
After a darting look he cast his eyes down to avoid conflict, and went to step around him. “Nah, it’s alright.”
Reeve stepped out from a doorway blocking his way again.
The bloke sagged knowing he wasn’t getting out of this easily. He slowly let his partner down till he was lying on the floor at his feet. “What do you want?” His eyes were flat, waiting for the inevitable violence.
“Your pal don’t look so good,” Keenan said, flashing a look Reeve’s way. He understood, and bent down to put two fingers to the side of the unconscious man’s neck. He nodded. “He’s alive.”
Keenan put his attention back on the man in front of him. There was no point in wasting time asking what they were doing at the flat; he’d seen his type a hundred times. It was however, intriguing how a woman and a bunch of kids managed to incapacitate a grown man built like a doorman. “What happened to your friend?”
“Walked into a door.”
Keenan didn’t miss him tensing and ready to fight. He could smell the spike of adrenalin and his fear. He smiled and took a step into the guy’s space to intimidate him. At almost a foot taller it wasn’t hard. The blood that washed over his eyes and flash of elongated fang made his eyes widen and any bravado disappear.
The bloke visibly recoiled. “Look, I dunno what happened. There was a kid up there. One minute Steve ‘ad ‘im by the throat, the next he doubled over like he’d snuffed it. That was it … no one done nothin’”
Keenan frowned slightly. “Which kid?”
“I dunno … some blond posh kid.”
Keenan was beginning to lose patience. “And that’s it?”
“Look, what do you want?” the bloke said, mirroring his impatience.
Keenan answered by taking another step closer. “You don’t go back there, okay?” he said in his most quiet and reasonable voice.
The bloke was already shaking his head. “Look it’s not up to me, mate. They owe money.”
Keenan relaxed his stance slightly. The bloke was shitting himself more about the consequences of not going back than he was of him. He was just the messenger and if he didn’t go, someone else would be sent anyway. It was better to deal with someone he knew.
“Did she pay today?” Keenan asked.
The bloke looked uncomfortable. “The kids paid.”
“Five hundred quid.”
Keenan quirked an eyebrow at the amount of cash the kids had on them. “How was it left … apart from the obvious,” he said, bobbing his head at the body at his feet.
“Steve told ‘em we’d collect the same amount next week. The kid said to come back the once for what they owed. That was when it kicked off.”
Keenan exhaled loudly. The boy was so like his dad; it was untrue. He narrowed his eyes on the bloke. “This is what you will do. When you come next time, you’ll come alone, and you’ll come here but you won’t go to that flat … are we clear?”
The bloke frowned. “Yeah, but what about the money … how will I find ya?”
“I’ll be around. Don’t worry ‘bout a thing.” Then he let a swirl of blood into his eyes as a reminder. “You’ll get the money from me. But don’t get greedy.”
The bloke went to stoop to pick up his partner, but Keenan reached out a hand to stop him. “And you won’t say what happened up there … just make something up,” Keenan finished with a polite smile.
The bloke frowned slightly as if to say he didn’t much know what went on anyway, but nodded.
Reeve helped him put his partner back across his shoulders. With a furtive last look, the bloke couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Keenan watched him leave while he put his phone to his ear.
Xavier helped Riana put JJ to bed with a cold compress on his forehead and a bucket next to him in case he was sick. They drew the curtains and left him in peace and went back out to the hallway. The others had gone.
“Will he be okay?” Riana whispered.
Xavier nodded. “He’ll just sleep now.”
Riana still looked concerned. “I won’t pretend to know what just happened, but I’m grateful, okay … to both of you.”
Xavier smiled wanly without answering. The least said the better. He walked into the living room where everyone was sat in stunned silence. Even the little ones were subdued and looking at everyone to gauge whether they should still be scared. Dwayne was holding a cold flannel to his eye and cheekbone.
He walked in awkwardly and sat on the sofa next to Alexia. “I want to go home,” she whispered.
Xavier just patted her leg. He didn’t want to upset her with his disturbing realization that they really were on their own here. No cavalry was going to gallop in and save them. Their father’s message had come through loud and clear; they had to grow up.
The embarrassing silence seemed to go on forever – even when Riana brought them all a cup of hot sweet tea for the shock.
“Is someone gonna address the elephant in the room?’ Patrick said, in amazement.
“Dwayne!” Riana said, flashing him an angry look.
He frowned like he couldn’t believe no one else was asking the same thing. “In case you didn’t just see what I saw, but a bloke the size of a brick shit house just keeled over in our hall, with just a look from the boy wonder in there.”
“We all saw, Patrick,” Riana said in her strict parenting voice trying to shut him up.
“JJ done something to him … we all saw it,” he persisted.
Xavier felt Alexia look at him fearfully. All the children of sirens had strong telekinetic abilities; partly due to genetics, and partly because they were brought up closely with the Murrs – the purest family of their race.
But JJ was an anomaly. With the weakest bloodline, as his father was human, he seemed to have the most developed mental abilities out of all the offspring, and had them since he was really small. No one could ever get in his head if he didn’t want them there, and he could easily control things around him. The problem was that his gift came at a price. Whenever he used it aggressively, as he’d done today, he always suffered a terrible backlash effect. Normally in the form of a debilitating migraine, it could put him out of action for days. “You’ve got a vivid imagination, Patrick,” Xavier said. “The guy must have had a stroke or a heart attack.”
Dwayne looked exasperated. “But we all saw …” He looked around at the others for backup.
“Leave it Dwayne,” Latitia said, coming to Xavier’s rescue.
But the look she gave him told him she didn’t believe him for a second. Without saying anything else, she got up and left the room.
Latitia closed the door to the living room and padded over to the room the boys shared. Quietly opening and peering inside, it was quiet and almost dark – Just a blue gloomy light coming in through the curtains, as it was still light outside. Holding her breath, she crept in and closed the door. Then she tiptoed to the bed next to the window and could just about make out JJ’s still form, lying on his back with a blanket over him.
She knelt down next to him. He was fast asleep but still frowning as if in pain. The compress had slipped off and lay on the pillow next to him, so she folded it into a nice oblong and put it back across his forehead.
His arms were outside of his blanket resting by his sides. A golden bangle about an inch wide circled his wrist. It was the first time she’d noticed it. It fit so snugly she wondered how he ever got it on and off.
“Who are you?” she whispered.
But his chest continued to rise and fall peacefully. In fact he seemed a lot more comfortable than when she first came in.
He’d confused her and intrigued her from the moment she clapped eyes on him. A good looking teenager who appeared confident and wealthy, but underneath he was harbouring some tragic secret. She saw it in his eyes tonight. There and then she made up her mind that she had to get to the bottom of who he was. He’d proved tonight that he was most definitely not an average boy.
Young Atlanteans – Copyright T Stedman 2016