A Broken Trick: Part 2

Part one: here

Note: There’s a treat for you if you click the name when our friend introduces herself. Enjoy!

            He had a headache as soon as he opened the door.

            “What did I tell you about bringing your damn study to my house?”

 

            Edge was more tired than upset with his friend, but he stood in the doorway with a frown and his arms crossed over his chest. Gabe towered over him by an extra foot and had his hands on the shoulders of a girl in front of him much closer to Edge’s height. She was not only confused, but found herself growing agitated with the pressure on her skin, and realizing that she was likely to be thrown back to the streets any moment now.

            Pale eyes of moss regarded her with a bored expression before the man let out a heavy exhale and stepped out of the doorway. Her heart involuntarily rose, but she dared not move just yet.

            Gabe leaned over her, squeezing her shoulder and ignoring the jolt of her nerves trying to shove his hand off. “Go on,” he encouraged, warm breath brushing down her neck.

            Still, she waited until the shorter man gave her a nod in response to the question quietly written into her violet eyes.

            The hands left her shoulders as soon as she passed the threshold, Gabe moving to walk beside her instead, and she let out a relieved sigh.

             “Gabe, we need to talk,” it was a command from Edge. The girl tensed, forcing him to address her as well. “You go warm up by the fire, and don’t leave this room until we’re back.”

            She did not protest nor ask questions. This was something she was used to; being ordered around absurdly with her life forfeit and left to dangle in someone else’s hands. Hadn’t Gabe promised he could change things? She let herself chuckle around the foolish thought.

            Contrary to the anxiety building in the girl, Gabe had strolled into the kitchen with his head held high and perched himself cross legged atop the island counter. Edge was glaring at him from below, but the fire was barely lit.

             “Why did you come here with her,” he asked quietly.

             “My acreage isn’t exactly habitable at the moment,” came the flippant response.

             “And why not?”

             “I may or may not have a pissed off possessed doll wielding a butcher’s knife running around somewhere.”

            “… I thought Zade made you burn it last year when you held that party… what did you call it? ‘Russian Roulette: Demon Hide and Seek Edition’.”

            There was silence while Gabe let his trademark, sardonic grin plaster to his lips as he relished the memory. He’d hosted humans and creatures alike in his home after having ‘played a game’ that attached a spirit to a home-made doll. The point of the game was to find the doll to release the spirit before that doll could find someone to stab and quite possibly possess. Being Gabe, he obviously had to raise the stakes; to which Abdaziel had responded the way any sane person would. The party was cut short, all humans escorted safely out, and Gabe was placed on house arrest for months while the half angel had stayed with him to ensure a second try would not happen.

             “You did it again as soon as he left didn’t you,” Edge guessed, pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration.

             “Of course I did. It was adorable,” Gabe stated.

             “Okay, let’s bring this back around then: what makes you think I’m going to change my rule just because you’re an idiot?”

             “Because she’s less likely to get hurt if I’m babysat and you know it.”

             “Yes, but you also have me mistaken for someone who would care about her well being. I don’t. I care about the dynamic of our friendship which seems built upon you keeping your games elsewhere. My home is your sanctuary. Not your playground, your party house, or your study. This is the safe house, not the crack house. If she stays, you’re not playing with her mind. At. All.”

            Finally, Gabe’s smile began to fall.

            Edge took one step closer, raising his chin to glare at his friend above him. “Do I make myself clear, Gabe?”

            He nodded solemnly. All the tension in the demon below rushed out with his exhale.

            “Alright then, you can make us dinner for this idiocy. I think I need a drink after this crap. And I guess I have an introduction to make.”

            Edge walked out, scowling.

            The girl was faithfully seated next to the fire with her hands clasped in her lap, eyes downcast to the ground lost in thought. He concluded quickly that this was something she’d been conditioned before to do when receiving orders. It wasn’t unusual for abuse to cause submissive behaviors in humans. Absently, he wondered at her story, knowing it had to be unique to attract his deranged friend.

            She did not look up when he took a seat in the chair across from her.

            “You’ll be safe here,” he started with a tone much more tender than it had been with Gabe. “Don’t think you have to walk on eggshells to avoid a beating. I don’t know where you came from or what you’ve had to adapt to, but I protect who’s in my home. I welcomed you under my roof, which puts you under my care. Do you understand?”

            She lifted her gaze with hesitation, lips drawn into a tight line.  

            “Do you have a name,” he pressed, gently.

            “Ahrynn.”

            And in that moment, everything snapped back into focus. He knew exactly what this ‘game’ was about. Of course, Gabe would find her again after all these years. Gabe couldn’t ignore something once it had his attention, even if that means stalking someone for twenty years until they’re vulnerable and impressionable outside of the watchful eyes of the family’s guardian. As was his nature.

            Suddenly, he was much more interested in who she was. At the same time, a hollow pit of dread opened up in his gut. If Gabe wasn’t careful, he could very easily bring down the wrath of not only an extremely powerful family but also attract the attention of their guardian, the hybrid assassin Edge particularly didn’t enjoy. 

            “That’s a beautiful name,” was all that he said though, then added his own introduction, “you can refer to me as Edge.”

            She nodded, giving a weak smile.

            Gabe swept in moments later with that trademark grin plastered to his lips, holding a tray of sandwiches and small glasses which the demon easily guessed were shots of scotch. When Edge had asked for dinner, he had meant more than that, though he was hardly surprised. Gabe was six feet two inches of pure childish spite.

            Is her name only a coincidence, kid? He sent to his psychic friend while he accepted his measly dinner. Gabe’s response was only a wink as he seated himself next to the girl and offered her the last plate on the tray.

            “I’m not really hungry,” she mumbled in a soft, apologetic tone.

            Gabe frowned in response, gesturing once more with his offer and receiving a shake of her head. He sighed heavily, setting it down on the table between them before shifting to give her more space.

            The entire exchange was rather odd. Edge had seen many broken girls and even men at Gabe’s side over the years that were with him for the sake of his study, yet this was the first time the person did not seem grateful. It was as if she had already come to realize her saviour was no real hero. Interesting.

            How had Gabe convinced her to come to him if she held such distaste? Unless perhaps it was during their journey to this mansion when she lost her ignorance of his true intentions. 

            He was suddenly more interested in this whole situation and almost regretted that Gabe couldn’t continue the game with someone who seemed to become self aware rather quickly. Not that it was enough to change his rule, but he was going to enjoy the next few days of this strange dance between the two nonetheless.

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