Jordyn (A Daemon Hunter #1) - Page 16

"You are special, not normal," he stated like I should feel honored or something by the fact.

"I don't like being studied all the time like all of you are waiting for the next weirdo thing I'm going to do."

"You are of great importance to Guides and Protectors alike, not to mention humanity."

"Wow, all of humanity too? Sweet, nothing like having the pressure of humanity on your shoulders," I said sarcastically.

"Precisely," Haniel said, looking pleased as my sarcasm missed him by a mile.

"I was being sarcastic, Haniel," I complained, rising to my feet.

"Are you not always sarcastic?" he asked, throwing an uncharacteristic verbal jab.

"Look at you trying to be funny. I'm going to go shower."

"Feel better?" Krista asked, looking up from her chaise lounge in the corner of the living room where she was writing.

"A little," I said, not worried about my aggravation with Haniel. It seemed inevitable that we'd always have a love/hate relationship. I loved that he was a cool mentor, but I hated that he continued to treat me like a little kid. If I hadn't won his trust by now, it was unlikely I ever would.

"Where did Haniel take you?" Krista asked as she curled up her legs so I could sit on the foot of her chaise lounge.

"Inukjuak, Quebec."

"Ooh, we've never made it up to that region. How was it?"

"Beautiful. Lush hills, like, as far as the eye can see. It had a definite tranquil feel to it."

"Maybe your uncle and I will have to pop up there one afternoon," she said, taking in my shining eyes as I described it.

"You totally should. You guys should take a picnic up there or something. It's an amazing place to see."

"That sounds like a great idea. It's been awhile since we've had some time to ourselves."

"Hey, it wasn't my idea for you guys to lock me away like some fair maiden."

"We were just trying to protect you since you seemed hell-bent on defying us," she said, smiling at me to soften her words.

"I know," I said, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek. "I'm going to go shower. What did you guys decide to order for dinner?"

"Well, since it's really just the three of us, since your friend Emrys and Haniel don't eat, we decided to go with cold cuts from Joe's Deli. We figured keeping it casual would help make it less awkward."

"Right, because eating in front of an Archangel and a Soul Trader won't be awkward enough," I quipped before heading off toward my bathroom.

"Keyword was 'less' awkward," Krista called after me, laughing.

Despite myself, I laughed with her as I closed the bathroom door behind me.

Two hours later, laughter was the furthest thing from my mind as I perched on the edge of the sofa in the living room, trying not to fidget. I wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans for like the millionth time as I once again checked the time on my phone. In all my ignorance on the proper rules of dating, I'd neglected to nail down a time when I mentioned the family dinner to Emrys. It was twenty-seven minutes past five and Emrys was still absent. I tossed my phone on the couch beside me in frustration, vowing I wouldn't pick it up again for at least ten minutes.

Mark and Krista seemed oblivious to my agitation as they sat reading in their respective chairs. I watched them for a moment, admiring their ease. The phone sat where I had thrown it, taunting me. I couldn't help snatching it up again, forgetting my vow.

Five twenty-eight. "Damn."

I was literally in slow-time hell. I contemplated calling information like a dork to make sure the time was right on my phone, but Mark and Krista would think I was wacked. Tossing the phone back on the couch, a sudden thought dawned on me, making me hop to my feet. Maybe Emrys was here but was waiting for me outside, I thought as I strode toward the French doors.

"Your aunt would have told you if he was out there," Mark teased from behind me.

Damn, I'd forgotten about her built-in radar system.

"What time did you tell your friend to come over?" Krista asked, looking up from her Kindle.

"Um…" I started to say just as the doorbell rang. "Five thirty," I lied, saved by the bell.

"I'll get it," I said lamely, ignoring Mark's chuckles behind me.

"Behave," I heard Krista mutter to him as I pulled open the front door.

All breath escaped me when I took in Emrys's appearance. Emrys in jeans and a leather jacket equaled hot. Emrys in slacks and a button-down shirt equaled scorching.

CHAPTER TWELVE

"Wow, you clean up nice," I stuttered, holding open the front door like a moron as Emrys grinned confidently. "Lose the grin before I clothesline you, pretty boy," I threatened. I was done with him having the upper hand.

"Yes, ma'am," he replied with a grin still in place as he tried to stroll in past me like he owned the place.

Unable to resist, I stuck out my foot and smiled with satisfaction when he stumbled slightly. He looked back surprised and I feigned innocence, even going as far to hold up my hands innocently.

"Walk much," I teased, finally grinning back at him.

"Guess not," he said, laughing. "Maybe you should hold my hand to make sure I don't fall and hurt myself," he said, taking my hand in his before I could object.

"Smooth," I whispered, leading him into the family room.

Haniel had joined Krista and Mark by the time we walked in. All three of them were standing like soldiers. You could see the tension and unease in their posture, except for Haniel, who was as stoic as ever. Emrys, on the other hand, seemed to ooze casualness, standing in the middle of the room next to me like this was his own house. My hunch was dead on—tonight was going to be a bundle of fun.

Before the awkward silence could make things any more uncomfortable, I finally dragged Emrys over to Mark. "Um, Uncle Mark, this is Emrys. Emrys, this is my Uncle Mark," I said as Emrys reached out to shake Mark's hand in a very human way.

It was glaringly obvious that a handshake was a bad idea when both guys decided to test their strength against each other. Next, I guessed they'd whip out their you know whats and have a pissing contest, the way they were acting. I was debating whether to interject by giving them both a punch in the gut to make them stop when Krista stepped in deftly and held out her own hand.

"Emrys, it's nice to meet you. I'm Jordyn's Aunt Krista," Krista said, sticking her hand in front of Emrys's face.

He finally unclenched his hand from Mark's and turned to Krista with an amused look on his face. "It's a pleasure to meet you," he said, shaking her hand more delicately and flashing her a devastating smile.

"Likewise," she answered, smiling at him as some of the unease disappeared from her face. Even as an Ascended, I guess she wasn't immune to his charm.

"Haniel, it's a treat as always to be in your great presence," Emrys said, turning to Haniel with a mocking smile.

"Soul Trader," Haniel greeted him evenly.

"Emrys," he corrected Haniel before dismissing him by turning back to me. "So, what's for dinner?" he asked, rubbing his hands together.

"Uh," I answered like a complete dip, thrown off by his question.

"I think he's joking," Krista said, sliding an arm around my shoulder.

"Right," I answered, glaring at Emrys. "Don't be a dick," I growled under my breath as I elbowed him in the ribs.

He grunted in pain making Mark laugh out right. "It's nice to see even you're not immune to Jordyn's strength," he said, settling into his chair as some of the tension left him.

"What, that was just a tap," I said sweetly.

"Yeah, you always just tap, uh-huh," Emrys replied, raising his eyebrows at me as he perched on the edge of the sofa, rubbing his abdomen.

"Don't be a sissy," I said, sinking down next to him.

"Sissy?" he asked.

"I wouldn't take it offensively. She calls us all sissies," Mark reassured him. "So, Emrys, what exactly are your intentions with our girl here?" he asked, all humor gone from his voice as he sat forward in his chair.

"Uncle Mark!" I hissed, shooting an apologetic look at Emrys.

"Don't 'Uncle Mark' me. I think we have a right to know exactly what his plans are," Mark said, not bothering to look at me.

"Well, my immediate plans are to get to know her better. She intrigues me, much as I'm sure she intrigues all of you," he answered like I wasn't even there.

"Yes, Jordyn is very special. We don't want her to feel like she is caged in, but we also want to protect her," Mark said. "We are strong believers in freewill, and that everyone should always have control over their thoughts and actions. Do you understand what I'm saying?" he continued with a hard edge in his voice.

I stifled a groan, knowing where the conversation was going, but didn't have a clue on how to stop the runaway train.

"No, sir, I don't," Emrys answered.

"Imeanwe can all appreciate the fact that Jordyn intrigues you, but we'd like it if you allowed her to see if you hold the same appeal to her without manipulation."

"Oh, I see," Emrys said, shooting me a devilish grin. "You haven't told them?" he asked, looking amused.

"The time never seemed right," I answered lamely.

"Riiiiiight," he answered in his typical way. "Well, this ought to be cute."

"Told us what?" Krista asked as her eyes darted back and forth between us.

"It's really no big deal," I said, making the mistake of looking at Haniel. I could see by the look on his face that he'd figured it out. "It's just that Emrys's skills really don't work on me," I added.

"What do you mean they don't work on you?" Krista demanded.

"I mean he can't bend my mind with his mumbo jumbo," I answered carelessly like it wasn't the big deal I knew it was.

"How do you know?" Krista asked, skeptically.

"Because he tried and it was a no-go. My mind is unbendable."

"That doesn't make sense though. He's bent your mind plenty of times since he met you…" she trailed off as understanding dawned on her. "You went with him willingly," she finally shrieked when she put all the puzzle pieces together.

"Um, yeah, I guess you could say that," I said uncomfortably. I looked to Emrys for some kind of help, but he sat there, almost gleefully, soaking it all in.

"Why? Why would you put us through that hell? We have been worried sick that he's been bending your mind. Why else would you run off irresponsibly with him and get a tattoo if he wasn't bending your mind?" she asked, shaking with uncharacteristic anger.

"Because I wanted a break," I finally answered as my own anger rose to the surface. "I needed a break. All of you are always watching me, expecting things from me. You make me feel like I'm a robot or an alien from another planet with all your expectations of my every action. I get it, I'm 'special,' as you've all pointed out a million times, but you could at least treat me like a person. I like hanging out with Emrys because he makes me feel normal," I said. "I'm sorry you've been worried, but I'm not sorry that I went with him."

"You should have asked us," Krista said quietly, calmer than she was a moment before.

"And that would have worked? You would have let me go with him? I doubt it." I said, sarcastically.

"We would have taken it under advisement," Mark answered. "By not trusting us, you took the matter out of our capable hands," he continued, looking more disappointed than mad.

His disappointment deflated my anger like a balloon that had sprung a leak. Yelling I could handle, since it usually sparked my own defense mechanism. Disappointment, though, had a way of seeping through my shield.

"Hey, it's all good now," Emrys answered, holding up his hands as he took in my defeat.

"Perhaps in the future you will think twice before whisking away an underage girl," Mark said, glaring at Emrys. "We're her guardians and we take that job seriously," he continued in a voice laced with steel.

"I'll take it under advisement," Emrys patronized. "Like all of you, I care about Jordyn and have been nothing but truthful with her."

Haniel and Mark exchanged looks, and I couldn't help grinning slightly. Score one for Emrys.

"So, Emrys, why don't you tell us a little about yourself," Krista said, trying to bring the conversation back around to some semblance of civility.

"What would you like to know? Emrys asked, relaxing his posture.

"What do you do when you're notworking?" she asked, saying the word carefully.

"I enjoy spending time at the theater."

"Really? Broadway?" Krista asked surprised.

"Porn," he answered. "Kidding," he corrected quickly before their heads exploded. I wish I had a camera to capture the looks on Mark's and Krista's faces at that moment.

"I'm actually more a fan of the undiscovered productions over in Italy," Emrys continued. "Italy has been a famous backdrop for theater companies for many centuries. Italian storytellers have a way of making a story come alive. Most times they are set in Latin and then translated. England has always been fond of the Italian storytellers, like Boccaccio and Ariosto. I like to enjoy them before mainstream popularity discovers them. Small theater has an intimate feel that I prefer," he answered with passion.

I couldn't help gaping at him in astonishment. I would have never tagged him as a theater buff.

"Hey, what can I say, I'm a sucker for romance," Emrys said, meeting my amused stare.

"I just pegged you more for a barhopping thug," I teased.

"Gee, thanks, but since I can't drink or eat that pastime is rather lackluster," he quipped. "Theater only requires my patronage to be entertaining."

"Why don't you tell her about your work," Haniel said, speaking for the first time. His point was clear. Emrys casting himself as a sensitive theater crony didn't bode well for the soul sucking image he was supposed to have.

"My work seriously bends your feathers doesn't it, Archie?" Emrys mocked. "You'd think someone in your position would appreciate someone like me. Perhaps you've missed how many souls I've delivered to your boss."

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