It was the moment of truth. Elayne took a deep breath and began. “Okay, what I am about to tell you is going to sound really strange, but you have to believe me.” Her eyes met each of the three men’s in turn and she waited until they all nodded in agreement. Ronnie and Evan were obviously confused about what was going on, while Scott took a relaxed pose as he crossed his arms over his chest and eyed her carefully.
“Someone has been manipulating you in some way,” she said, not sure how fast she should be explaining this whole thing. “The van breaking down like it did last night wasn’t a coincidence.”
“What are you talking about?” Evan asked. “I know the mechanic couldn’t find anything wrong with it, but he didn’t find any obvious signs of tampering, either.”
“Yeah,” Ronnie added. “It’s not like any of the fans could get to the van anyway. There’s too much security.”
“That’s why it’s so important that you listen to what I’m telling you,” Elayne replied evenly. She knew that she had to maintain a level head if she were going to get them to understand that what she was telling them was the truth. They had no idea that magick actually existed so she had to be very careful in how she explained things to them.
“You have to admit that the idea is pretty far fetched,” Evan scoffed as he glanced quickly from Scott to Ronnie.
“Please, guys,” Connie cut in, understanding that her friend was attempting to be truthful with the three men and wanting to help. “Let Elayne finish. What she’s about to tell you may sound ridiculous at first, but she’s not lying to you.”
For reasons that he couldn’t begin to fathom, Scott found himself wanting to believe what Elayne was about to say. Even though he hadn’t known her very long, he felt that she only had his best intentions in mind, but how could he be sure? Trust wasn’t easy for him since his divorce and he barely knew the woman in front of him. As he watched Elayne he could almost sense the inner turmoil she must be feeling under his close scrutiny, but he had to know the truth. The next few minutes would decide her fate. He met her gaze and nodded slowly.
Not knowing how else to convince them she was telling the truth, Elayne decided that a direct approach to proving her magick was the best course of action. She held out her left hand in front of her collar bone, palm up and spoke calmly. “Brigit, Guardian of healing and inspiration and Goddess of the burning flame. I summon thee to warm this space with your brilliant light. As I will it, so mote it be.” As the words fell from her lips, an orb the size of a pinhead appeared over her palm and by the time she had finished speaking, the orb became a blue flame that hovered about an inch above her skin.
“Holy shit,” Ronnie exclaimed.
“Oh, my God,” Evan added, his mouth nearly touching the floor. Connie was smiling as she watched the astonished faces of the three men as they tried to understand what they were seeing. Elayne was only concerned about Scott’s reaction. She knew that summoning the flame like she had was blatant use of her power, but the good thing was that it left little doubt that she was lying, either.
For his part, Scott was strangely okay with what he was witnessing and watched the blue flame flicker above Elayne’s hand with calm scrutiny. He didn’t think that it was a parlor trick, but how had she done it? You couldn’t just summon flame from out of thin air… that’s what his common sense told him, but here was a woman who had done just that, so it seemed.
Elayne allowed the flame to burn for about thirty seconds, then released its energy back to the earth from where she had summoned it. “Someone has been using magick against you,” she said to Scott. “Do you believe me?”
“I think it’s hard not to after that little display,” Evan commented as the awe wore off and suspicion set in once again. “The real question becomes how do we know it isn’t you who’s causing all this?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Connie blurted out angrily, her green eyes flashing with loyalty as she took a step closer to her friend. “To even suggest that is preposterous.”
Elayne had worried that when the guys found out what she was that they would think she was the one responsible. “I can understand where you might think it was me,” she told them calmly, “but I can assure you that it’s not my kind of magick involved. Whatever it is we’re dealing with is dark in nature and has the capability to be very evil.”
“So what is it exactly that you suggest we do?” Evan asked, still sounding leery.
“Well, I’ve done what I can to protect Scott for now,” Elayne replied as she glanced in Scott’s direction. He had been very quiet since her little fire display and she would have given anything to know what he was thinking at that moment, but she couldn’t bring herself to use her powers to find out. “The best thing to do is to attempt to find out whoever is responsible and deal with them. Hopefully their obsession is for Scott only and they won’t go after anyone else.”
“Has anything odd happened during the tour?” Connie asked, trying to get everyone to focus on the task at hand. “I find it hard to believe that the van was the first incident.”
The men thought for a minute. “I can’t really think of anything,” Evan said finally. “When we’re on tour things tend to mesh all together.”
“What about the girl in New York?” Ronnie blurted out. He received blank stares from Evan and Scott so he explained. “You remember. We had an entire floor at the hotel and somehow this girl got by everybody.”
“That’s right,” Scott said as he pointed in Ronnie’s direction and recognition flared in Evan’s gaze as well. “The hotel had security posted at all the elevators and stairwells and somehow this girl just showed up on our floor.”
“She even avoided the cameras in the hall I think,” Evan added.
“Yeah,” Ronnie continued with a nod. “I was leaving my room with Daryl to go down to Raoul’s room and hang out for a while. She came out of nowhere.”
“Did you get a good look at her?” Connie asked.
“Not really,” he replied with a shake of his head. “Daryl pushed me back in the room so that he could deal with her. She had really long black hair, though. I remember that. And her eyes were this weird shade of green that I’d never seen before.”
“Do you remember anything else about her?” Elayne asked. She thought that maybe they were on to something. Those that were providing security for the band knew what they were doing. People didn’t just appear out of thin air unless they were using magick or were a really good cat burglar. Right now they had to look at anything that was unexplainable.
“I thought I saw a bandage of some kind on her wrist,” Ronnie said as he crossed his arms over his chest and put one hand to his chin. “I only saw it for a split second before the door closed, but it looked like the kind they put on when someone tries to kill themselves, you know?”
Elayne did know and she didn’t like what it implied. Of course the information was circumstantial at this point, but if it was a bandage that Ronnie had seen, it alluded to the fact that the girl could have been using blood in her spell work. And from Elayne’s studies that generally meant dark magic. Not always, but more often than not. It also gave them a real person to think about instead of a phantom.
“What is it?” Scott asked.
Elayne shook her head. “I don’t want to say anything until I know for sure, but if there was blood involved I don’t like the implications.” She knew that this was a lot for the three men to take in all at once so she was trying to keep information overload to a minimum. But it was essential that Scott and the others understand what was at risk here. “Is there anyway you could get a copy of a picture of the girl?”
“Unfortunately no,” Evan replied. “We were told that she ditched the hotel security before the police could get there to arrest her.”
“Lucky for the Houdini Girl,” Connie muttered.
“She told the manager that she had an appointment with someone on the floor before she left,” Ronnie continued. “She said she couldn’t go into details, kind of like she was a prostitute or something.”
“Oh, that’s a good story for the papers,” Connie commented dryly.
“That’s part of the reason we kept the whole incident quiet,” Scott said. “There’s been too many scandals already. We didn’t need something like that getting out. Especially because it wasn’t true.”
Elayne saw the brief flash of hurt that crossed Scott’s eyes as he spoke, even though he was quick to hide it again. She knew that he must have gone through hell when Kristen had asked for the divorce and that the media, like with all celebrities, had had a field day with the circumstances.
“Is there anything else you can think of?” she asked, trying to change the subject as quickly as possible to ease Scott’s discomfort.
The three men were silent for a moment, then Ronnie and Evan’s eyes darted toward Scott expectantly, as if they were waiting for permission from him so they could share whatever it was that they had both thought of. Scott noticed their attention and with a deep sigh and a torn expression he spoke, “Something happened in Boston, too. I was running late to get to the arena. Everyone had gone ahead, but there was a car waiting to take me.”
He glanced around the group before he continued, “Hotel security found a bouquet of roses in the back seat of the car.” It was apparent that whatever had happened had freaked him out and that he was hesitant to share the details even now. Elayne reached out and took his hand in hers and squeezed. She could sense his unease more with the skin on skin contact and she used it to give him comfort.
Scott looked down at her and smiled slightly then went on with his explanation. “They were doing a routine sweep of the vehicle before I got in and there were these flowers just lying there on the seat. The guard assumed that the flowers had been from a public appearance we had gone to earlier in the day and thought that it would be best to bring them up to my room so that they could be put in water before I left. On the way up he noticed that there wasn’t any card with the roses and that they had thorns that were way too large to be normal. He brought them in and showed them to our hired security and they immediately didn’t like the situation and just wanted to dispose of them. They knew that no one from the label or any of the appearances that day had sent them because none of the others had received any. I managed to get look at them before they were trashed and-” Scott stopped and visibly shuttered.
“It’s okay,” Elayne told him soothingly. She put her other hand on his forearm and used her thumb to lightly caress the back of his hand.
“The flowers were the strangest color I’d ever seen,” he said. “You’ve heard the term blood red roses, right? Well, these were different. They weren’t the deep velvet red normal roses are. They were actually BLOOD red. Unnaturally red. And the thorns looked like nails, that’s how big they were. Frankly I’m glad that I didn’t find them. The hotel security guy was lucky he didn’t get gashed by them”
Blood again, Elayne thought as she looked to Connie and could see that she was thinking the same thing. She was convinced now more than ever that the girl’s obsession with Scott wasn’t of good intent and she hoped again that the amulet would help keep him safe.
“Hey, how’s it going back here?” Ollie called from the doorway. He had his famous lazy grin on his face, but it was obvious that he was really tired. “Raoul and I are getting swamped out here guys. There’s about fifteen girls crying for Ronnie to come out and frankly I’m sick of hearing his name. Can we get a hand or something?”
“Of course, man,” Scott said as he put an arm around Elayne’s waist and edged forward in Ollie’s direction. “Sorry. We got caught up in our discussion.”
“Good to see you’re feeling better,” Ollie said as he fell on Elayne’s other side and the three started down the hall together. “What did the doctor say?”
“Nothing. My voice just came back,” Scott replied as he looked down at Elayne and she felt his arm tightened around her. He was confident again that he could trust her and now he didn’t want the night to end. They had to leave tomorrow, but after talking to Elayne and Connie, he now had to admit that he was up against something he couldn’t take on by himself and he had reservations about what to do next. He was grateful for the charm that Elayne had made for him and he had already made the decision that he wouldn’t take it off.
The problem was would the necklace be enough? If this elusive girl with black hair was the one who was pursuing him for some reason how was his security people supposed to protect him? It was obvious that Elayne felt the girl meant him harm, but he was powerless to stop her. Suddenly he found himself wishing that he didn’t have to leave the next day, but there was nothing he could do. He had to go. It was his job.
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