I turned to see Adrian’s body on the floor. The blast from my scream knocked the chair to the side, and he fell along with it. I flew to him, landing near his head. His breathing appeared shallow, but he was alive. The earplugs protected him just enough.
I changed back to my mortal form and looked for a place to hide Adrian. Removing the last of the bindings, I dragged his body behind a stack of crates for cover. Out of breath, I sat near him and then scooped his head up into my lap. He was a beautiful man.
Even though he’s a forger. A criminal. A liar.
Patting his cheeks did not rouse him. I patted a bit harder. Still nothing. I slapped him. No response.
Oh gods…I hope he isn’t in a coma.
My fingers reached out and pinched the soft skin underneath his bicep, hoping to wake him. I tried not to linger on his muscles.
One ticket to the gun show, please.
Isn’t that what the mortals say?
I shook my head, trying to rid myself of the thoughts about his body while he was lying there, non-responsive. He needed help, not ogling.
That shift in focus cleared my head. He needed my help.
I killed two men. How can I heal this one?
My eyes closed so I could direct my healing powers. I listened to the hum of the neon lights in the warehouse. I sought strength from the air around us. After a few moments, I could feel heat enter my hands, and then a strong throb in my veins. Current coursed through me. My whole body vibrated.
I shifted my focus onto Adrian, bathing him in a glow of channeled energy. We sat like that for some time until his breathing eased and became regular. Minutes later, his eyes moved beneath their lids and then they fluttered open. He opened his mouth to speak.
“Shhh. Don’t say anything. You need to rest so we can get you out of here.”
The force continued to resonate through me into Adrian. It was not long before he propped himself up on his elbows, coherent and seemingly normal.
“I need to explain,” he started.
“Not now,” I insisted. “If you’re okay, we should get out of here.”
“Let’s go,” he agreed.
We made our way back out of the warehouse without incident. An evening chill settled on us as we wove our way toward the main streets of the city. By good fortune, a taxi caught my eye, so I flagged it down. Adrian and I both remained silent during the drive back to the OA, each struggling with our own inner demons.
Once safely inside the building and my office, Adrian paced as I picked up the phone.
“Dirty Birds Cleaning,” a voice answered.
“Hello, Mynylia. This is Urania. I need your services.”
“Sure thing,” she responded.
“There’s a warehouse with two little messes that need cleaning. I’ll text you the address. I also need your crew to retrieve three large crates filled with artwork that need to be returned to my gallery. The crates are near the forklift.”
“Not a problem. We’ll get to it right away,” she confirmed.
“Oh, and Mynylia…if we could keep this between us, I would appreciate it.”
“I understand,” she stated before disconnecting.
Adrian raised his eyebrows at my conversation.
“I don’t need my family, or the authorities, breathing down my neck about this,” I explained.
Adrian breathed a sigh. His strong shoulders slumped.
“They have my sister,” he stated in a dull voice.
“The Russians. They grabbed her from her dorm room and have been holding her for months. I don’t even know if she is still alive,” he said.
He pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes. When he removed them, tears rolled in tracks down his face.
“They told me that they would force her into sex trafficking if I did not do what they wanted. My mother fell ill because her heart is broken. She cannot get out of bed and she will not speak. My father went after them and they beat him. He can no longer walk.” His voice trailed off.
I was speechless. My heart hurt for him and his family. I no longer felt any guilt about the happenings at the warehouse. I wished, in fact, that I could inflict more damage on all the others involved, but that would have to wait.
“I’m so sorry, Adrian. I wish I knew how to help you.”
“I don’t expect…” he started before his voice cut off in a sob. He continued to cry.
I crossed the room and embraced him, allowing him to mourn as he needed.
“I will put you in touch with my nephew, Dinlas,” I said. “He knows how to find people.” I did not want to get Adrian’s hopes up. I knew that Dinlas had been dealing with a dark underside of humanity and he was following up on rumors of traffickers, but I was unaware of the details.
“What about me?” Adrian asked. “With what I did…” he wiped his face with a tissue.
“You go home,” I replied. “We can talk later. I need some time.”
Adrian gave me a strong hug.
I handed him Dinlas’ card.
“It will be okay,” I told him as he walked out of my office.
I hoped that was the truth.
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