The afternoon of fun didn’t completely dissolve the tension between Hekate and Marcia. When it was time to leave the boys and head back to her house, Hekate’s mood was already beginning to drop. The car ride back was silent. Hekate’s eyes never left the slew of trees as they rushed by. Her mind was completely blank.
“You’ve been quiet,” Marcia commented as she pulled into the driveway.
Hekate’s bottom lip twitched up into a pout before dropping. “Yeah.”
She grinned. “I told you. Love would stop you from your insanity. If anything would do it, that would!”
Hekate’s lips pinched together as she bit down on them. She knew Marcia was trying to lighten the mood with sarcasm, but there was a hint of truth behind the words. She was hurt. Marcia believed she would choose a boy over her as a reason to live.
Deciding she didn’t want either of them to dwell on it anymore, she lifted her head to grin back. “Enough about what hasn’t even happened yet and what could possibly never happen! Do you want to go to the club tonight?”
Marcia’s eyes narrowed for a moment as her grin wavered, shocked by the sudden change in topic. Choosing the accept it, her smile returned.. “I already told the boys to meet us there tonight.”
“Of course you did,” Hekate said as she rolled her eyes. “You know there is no guarantee I can go, yet. I still need to ask my mom.”
Marcia reached into her pocket and pulled out her phone. She held it up as her grin turned mischievous. “She said it was okay as long as we were going in a group. I already asked for you.”
As Hekate climbed out of the car, her mouth dropped. “You texted my mom?”
She shrugged, slamming the car door behind her. “Of course I did. I’m not letting you out of my sight! Not after the last stunt you pulled!”
Hekate reached for her keys to unlock the door. “I didn’t pull anything. I have no control over when mystical beings appear in my dreams.”
Moro suddenly manifested before them as she opened the door. “You don’t have control over them, but you do over yourself.”
“See?” Marcia said, her arm pointed towards the white wolf, “Even your spirit guide agrees with me!”
Muninn manifested on Marcia’s extended arm. “My sister has a point.”
“Oh my God!” Hekate exclaimed. “Can the audience shut up and leave me alone? What’s done is done! Geez!”
As she began to make her way up the stairs, she realized none of them had responded to her exclamation. Not only that, but she couldn’t hear their footsteps following hers. When she reached the top of the stairs, she turned to see what they were doing. She wasn’t prepared for what happened next.
Marcia suddenly charged at her, hand extended. Moro leapt onto Hekate’s chest, knocking her to the floor, while Muninn landed on one of her arms, continually flapping his wings, securing her to the ground.
“What the – ” she yelled.
Moro quickly shifted to lay on the opposite arm, as Marcia’s knees fell on either side of Hekate’s hips. She sat on her stomach, holding her down. Reaching forward, she pulled Hekate’s shirt down, slapping her hand onto the brand. In a panic, Hekate began to struggle against the animals holding her down, attempting to free her hands to push her best friend away.
But as Marcia pressed harder onto the brand, Hekate realized it. There was nothing. It wasn’t like the last time. There were no voices, no wind, nothing; Only the burning on her chest. Hekate exhaled in relief as the realization washed over her.
Marcia cursed, “What the hell?”
Muninn flapped his wings once more, his talons releasing Hekate’s arm. “Nothing can be done.”
Moro, too, stepped back. Her lips were pulled back, exposing her teeth in anger. “We cannot repeat the process.”
Marcia did not move. She, instead, pressed harder. “You’ve got to be kidding me! Why can’t I take the mark? Why?”
Hekate let her head fall back onto the floor as she began to chuckle. “I don’t know, and I don’t care.”
Moro made a sound that imitated a snort as her head shook. “Whatever Death did changed the brand. It is still War’s mark, but it cannot be transferred now. There is nothing we can do.”
Feeling something wet fall onto her chest, Hekate opened her eyes to see the black stained tears staining Marcia’s cheeks. “God damn it!”
Peeling the hand from her chest, Hekate leaned forward to pull Marcia into a hug. She held onto her tight as she cried. Glancing to the side, she noticed Moro was watching them. Her head hung low in defeat as she watched them. Muninn, too, stood next to his sister. She suspected he must have moved when she pulled Marcia down.
Sighing, Hekate tightened her arms. “I’ll be fine. We will both be fine. I told you. I’m not going to stop fighting. Just because I’ve accepted a potential fate, does not mean I’ve given up. I’m just a pessimist. That’s what I do.”
It took a few minutes for Marcia to catch her breath. But when she did, she slowly pulled away from Hekate’s arms, moving to lean against the wall. Her face was smeared with black eyeliner and mascara. “You better not. If you die, I’ll bring you back and beat you so hard, it will kill you a second time.”
Moving to lean against the opposite wall, Hekate felt Moro shift to lay down next to her. Muninn flapped into the air for a moment before landing next to Marcia. He nudged her arm, attempting to comfort her. She unconsciously lifted her hand to begin scratching the back of his neck.
Hekate’s own hand moved to pet the top of Moro’s head for comfort. Her lips lifted into a side grin. “You would too. You’d get these two to help you find a way to do it.”
Muninn nodded. “True.”
They sat in silence for a while. Both of them needed the time to take in the revelation of the day with the comfort of their other halves. It was true, Hekate wasn’t willing to give up fighting. Not yet. But at the same time, she was ready to accept that fact that no matter how hard she fought, it could be a losing battle. Killing a Horseman was outside the realm of possibilities. Trapping him was the only option. But that wouldn’t be so easy.
Marcia reached to wipe away the tear-streaked make-up. When she noticed the amount of make-up on her hand, she stood up and walked to the bathroom. Hekate heard her groan. “Oh man.”
She chuckled. “That’s what you get for wearing make-up.”
“Shut up,” Marcia grumbled, “Go get dressed. I have to fix my face.”
As Hekate stood, she felt Moro beginning to follow. Stripping from her clothes, she reached into her dresser to pull out a pair of skinny jeans. After she had squeezed into them, she opened a different drawer to pull out a white tank top and an over-sized sweater. Slipping it on, the long sleeves hung past her hands as the top hung loosely off of her shoulders.
Are you truly going to keep fighting?
Staring into the mirror, Hekate watched as the wolf jumped onto her bed to watch her. Instead of speaking aloud, and worry Marcia again, she simply nodded. Moro nodded back, but her eyes narrowed, not truly believing Hekate’s answer.
When Marcia walked in with a fresh face, she whistled. “I didn’t know you had something like that in your closet. It’s cute.”
“Thanks. It’s not something I wear often,” she said.
Reaching into the same dresser, Marcia pulled out another top Hekate owned, yet never wore. It was something her mother had made her last year, in hopes to make Hekate feel more cute and confident. A navy blue off-shoulder halter top that hung loosely off of Marcia’s shoulders, yet hugged her chest and torso tightly.
Hekate never really felt comfortable in it. She was always a little self-conscious of her stomach. Although she wasn’t overweight, she felt extremely uncomfortable whenever her stomach was exposed. That included shirts that were too tight. She even felt uncomfortable in her gymnastic leotards but dealt with it long enough to perform her routines.
It suited Marcia more. She had the confidence to wear it. Not to mention the tight stomach. She had a habit of being more careful with what she ate than Hekate. That and Hekate believed she had better genes.
“Hekate! Marcia! You guys here?” a voice yelled from downstairs.
Hekate sighed. “I’ll be right back.”
Marcia shut the door as Hekate left. The last thing they needed was to explain the wolf and eagle in her room. When she walked into the kitchen, Hekate found her mother unloading her grocery bags. “I didn’t think you’d be home this early.”
“You mean on time?” she jested.
“Duh,” Hekate said with a smile. She pulled for the bags from her mother’s arms and began to put the boxed ingredients away in the pantry.
Her mother glanced at Hekate as she took the bag. “What’s that?”
When Hekate turned, her mother pointed to the brand on her chest. “That. Do not tell me that is a tattoo. Because if it is, you are going to be in so much trouble.”
Rolling her eyes, Hekate reached for another bag that contained vegetables and some fruit. “It’s not a tattoo. It’s a scar. I’m not sure when I got it. Just noticed it. Probably from some gymnastics thing. I tend to fall a lot.”
Although she was still frowning, her mother nodded. “Just promise me that if you decide to get a tattoo, at least tell me first. That’s all I’m asking.”
“Tell you what?” Marcia asked as she skipped into the kitchen.
“Tattoos,” Hekate scoffed.
Marcia grinned. “Oh yes, I think she should get one with Caleb’s name. Put right over her heart.” Her hands folded together over her chest as her eye fluttered at the comment.
Hekate felt the heat rush from the brand on her chest to her face. Eventually, her entire body felt like it was on fire. “You’re being ridiculous!”
“You really are!” Her mother joked.
Marcia feigned offense. “Whatever could you mean? Your daughter is in love! Of course, she should prove it!”
Hekate said nothing. The last thing she wanted to do was admit her feelings for anyone. Especially in front of her mother. She wouldn’t live down the embarrassment.
Moving to the cabinet to pull out a wine glass, her mother poured herself a glass of white wine as Hekate and Marcia put away the rest of the groceries. She moved to sit on a bar stool to watch them. “You girls aren’t even eighteen yet. You aren’t old enough to understand what love really is. What you know are infatuation and lust. Not that I am encouraging any form of reckless behavior, but that’s what that is.”
The playful attitude Marcia had suddenly adopted began to falter. “Oh come on. Just because we’re young doesn’t mean we can’t fall in love. I’m in love with Erik. Have been for years! And Hekate is in love with Caleb! It’s so obvious!”
“Can we not talk about this, please?” Hekate begged.
Raising her glass, she pointed at Marcia. “I’m not doubting your feeling, honey. You’ve been obsessed with that boy for a long time. It could very well be a form of love. But it could very well just be lust. You’re young. It is easy to confuse the emotions.
But I know my daughter. She’s not like you when it comes to the heart. She won’t give it away that easily. No boy can blink their innocent eyes at her and suddenly gain her favor. There is no way. The day that happens, the world will end. That or pigs will fly.”
Suddenly the heat that had flooded Hekate’s body a moment ago seemed to completely dissipate. The warmth was replaced with a cold sensation that left her with goosebumps. Her mother was right. It wasn’t like Hekate to suddenly become infatuated with anyone out of the blue. But something about Caleb drew her toward him. The mere memory of him usually left her warm inside, enough to cloud her mind of anything else.
Suddenly, Marcia’s arm was around her shoulders as she pulled her around. “Look at this face. How you can claim this redness is just lust?”
Her eyes narrowed, staring at the two teenagers defending their love. Instead of arguing further, she simply shrugged. “Fine, fine. You girls know your hearts better than I would. But don’t just blow me off. Think about it before doing anything stupid, please. It would make me feel better.”
“Yes ma’am,” Marcia said with a smile.
Hekate kept her eyes on the floor, unable to hear anything anymore. Was she in love with Caleb? Really? It was true they had only known each other for a couple weeks, if that. Yet somehow, Caleb seemed to make her feel things she had never thought possible. He made her chest burn and her stomach flip in ways that nearly made her sick.
Not wanting to think about it anymore, Hekate threw away the last plastic bag before reaching for her keys. “Can we go now, please?”
Her mother began to giggle. “Oh come on, I didn’t mean to embarrass you! But I know you! Don’t I?”
“Not better than me!” Marcia exclaimed as she followed after Hekate.
The question echoed in Hekate’s mind, but she had no answer to give. She wasn’t sure, herself. Instead, she simply climbed into the driver’s seat of Marcia’s car.
“It’s too bad your mom came home. We could have flown and saved the gas,” she said, climbing into the passenger seat.
Hekate swallowed her nerves as she asked what she was afraid to ask. “Do you think my mom was right?”
Marcia dropped her head before groaning. “Please don’t listen to her! You know yourself better than anyone else. Well, except for me. It’s the adult’s job to tell us that. To prevent anyone from losing their virginity.”
“You mean mine,” Hekate said in jest.
With a grin, Marcia winked at her. “Exactly.”
Her fingers began to tighten on the steering wheel as she drove. “Theoretically, though. What if my mom was right? About me, I mean.”
Marcia’s eyes narrowed as she turned to stare at her. “Are you talking about you giving your heart up as easily as me? Because I took slight offense to that.”
“She had a point, Marcia,” Hekate said.
Flicking her tongue against her teeth, Marcia nodded. “I guess. Why is this freaking you out?”
Her lips pinched to the side in frustration. “I’m not sure. What she said really got me thinking. I was infatuated with Caleb from day one. There wasn’t a lot of get to know you time before we just started dating and making out. That’s something I’ve never done before. Ever.”
Nodding her head, Marcia argued, “Although true, you’ve got to remember something. You’ve never had feelings for a boy before. Not really. This is your first relationship! It is all going to be new and feel like some whirlwind romance. That’s the beauty of it.”
Hekate knew she had a point. She couldn’t compare Caleb to anyone to know for sure about her own feelings. Everything was new to her.
“And,” Marcia began, “Feelings like that are why Marcus is suddenly wanting to be your best friend. He always had a crush on you and now that someone has taken you away, he’s suddenly become braver.”
Rolling her eyes, Hekate felt her grip loosen on the steering wheel. “You’re nuts. Marcus is just a friend.”
Marcia chuckled. “Yeah yeah. Whatever you say. Just listen to me when I tell you this: don’t doubt what you’re feeling just because of what someone else says. Listen to what your heart is telling you and you’ll be all right.”
“I guess you could be right,” she said in a murmur.
They were approaching the club when Marcia grinned and said, “I’m always right. When are you going to figure that out!”
As Hekate’s eyes found Caleb in the crowd, she felt the brand begin to burn. Marcia nearly jumped out of the car before Hekate had even put it into park, giving her a moment alone.
“Moro, can you look into something for me?”
What is it?
“Find out more about Caleb,” she said. After a moment of hesitation, she finished, “And Marcus.”
Tainted Wings – Chapter Twenty