I sat up, hissing in pain. My brain felt like it was on fire. The lights weren’t on, but I heard the power stop and cycle back on. The house computer issued a warning as it did a quick reboot.
“What was that?” Paolo asked as he sat up, shirtless, beside me. It was hard for me to concentrate when he had his shirt off. As if him being dark haired, olive skinned and possessing a perfect Roman profile weren’t distracting enough.
I was about to answer him when another wave of pain crashed on me and a bright flash blinded us as the protective wards I’d laid on my house were violently dispelled. The house computer did a really bad Max Headroom impression and died a moment or two later.
“Did your wards just die?” He asked.
“Yeah,” I said as I got dressed. Paolo was already dressed and striding towards the door.
“I’ll check it out. Stay here.” I sighed and felt my heart do a little dance when he said that.
“I appreciate that, sweetie, but I’ll check the front and you get the back.”
“Fine.” He agreed. I could tell he didn’t want to, but I’m glad he did. I gave him a quick smooch and went to the living room. I got there just in time to watch the front of my house explode.
“Aero Crebar!” I shouted and the air in front of me hardened and deflected the oncoming debris.
When things finally stopped hitting the shield, I looked up and saw my living room. What was once so beautiful and ordered and homey, now looked like Mogadishu on a good day. The furniture was blown out of place, water sprayed from the broken water lines and the house computer system and other electrical wiring sparked and smoked, the ozone tang of the compromised systems hung heavy in the air. The only thing that hadn’t moved was the fireplace.
I was about to lower the shield when I saw someone moving through the smoky ruin of my living room with purpose. Anger pulsed from their aura and reflected in the set of their shoulders. They raised a hand and the smoke parted to reveal Miri Angelo, in a cranberry blouse and black pants with matching boots. It was cute, except for the murderous look in her dark eyes. Actually, they were white and glowing. Not a good sign.
“Where is he?” she asked.
“Oh, you mean Paolo? He’s not here,” I lied.
“His car is parked in the alley,” Miri pointed at me and I was frozen in place. I couldn’t move. Miri raised her hands and I obligingly floated in the air in front of her as she asked, “Again: where is he?”
I was going to answer truthfully. Really, I was, but the bitch just fried my wards, killed my computer and destroyed part of my house. Any fear I felt was burned away as anger replaced it. I told her to go to Hell.
She slammed me against a wall. I was partially protected by her teke spell, but the back of my body was livid with pain. I was still conscious, though just barely, but I wasn’t gonna let Miri get away with this shit.
“Arcios!” I shouted and lightning leaped from my eyes and struck her in the chest. I fell to the floor as Miri cried out in pain. I stood up, leaning heavily on the wall. It hurt to move, but I had the momentary advantage and I made sure to press it. Hard.
“Tempestas Orbis!” I snarled. A tornado sprang to life around Miri, lifted her off the floor and spun her like a top. I stopped the spell and watched her fly into a wall and fall to the floor. She stirred and started to get up. I called on more lightning but it flashed harmlessly against a shield. Miri flinched and looked as surprised as I was that the bolt didn’t hit her.
“Cate, stop.” Paolo said as he ran to me. He looked genuinely torn seeing his mother and girlfriend fighting. My heart broke for him. I was looking at him, but I should’ve kept an eye on his mother.
Miri stood up, her eyes and hands glowing bright red. Paolo stood between us to keep something, anything from happening, but it was obvious that Miri was going to cast her power at me. After that, all bets were off.
Ice formed around her feet and flowed upward until her whole body, except for her head, was encased in clear, cold crystal. Miri’s hands stopped glowing and she bellowed in pain and frustration.
Paolo and I looked towards where the front door used to be. Giuseppe, Paolo’s father stood there.
He was older than me, the gray in his brown hair was ample proof of that, but he still looked strikingly handsome (which meant Paolo came by it honestly).Normally, his face held a smile and a twinkle of mischief in his eyes. Right now, there was no mischief, but a steel hard glint of barely restrained anger. The look softened when he looked at Paolo and I.
“Good evening, Caitlin,” He said with a sad grin. “Sorry for barging in like this.”
“No problem. Good timing actually.”
“Well, Agatha called and told me that she let slip about you and Paolo to Miri during their lunch date.” He looked around at the ruin of my home. “I’m guessing she didn’t take it very well.”
“That’s an understatement,” I said.
I turned to Paolo. “I thought you talked to your parents about us.”
His face turned red and he crossed his arms. “I was going to tell them tonight.”
“Just for future reference: Sooner is better than later.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
(c)2012 W.L. Sherrod