“That’s ridiculous!” I snap. “You’re a Child of The Blood? That’s impossible!”
“And why is that?” Jackie asks me, eyes narrowing dangerously. She folds her strong arms and taps her long nails against a solid bicep.
“Because,” I speak slowly, “of two things. The curse, or power, if you prefer, can only be passed from mother to daughter. So, for one, your mother is still alive, and two, you’re not even a real wo- umm.. A gir.. I mean, you’re a ma-ma-ma..” Dammit. I trail off in a stutter, feeling my face burn. I avoid looking at Jackie, because I know she’s pissed.
Dammit. I’m about to get my ass kicked.
I tip toe closer to Drea, who is whipping her head back and forth between me and my executioner-to-be with the glazed look of a confused person in her eyes.
“Huh?” she manages to articulate beautifully. I resist the urge to pat her on the head and coo nonsensical words of praise in her ear.
Jackie sighs and unfolds her arms. She runs her long, graceful fingers across her brow and down her cheeks, clasping them under her chin. She stands, and I flinch, but she walks away from me, toward the door that leads to the hallway.
“I was adopted when I was four years old,” she confides to us. I gasp, and try to ignore the ghostly giggles that are filling my room. “And as far as not being a real woman, as you so kindly pointed out-”
“I’m sorry,” I whimper.
“-I don’t have to be,” Jackie continues. “The rules only say that the power – not curse, child; power – has to be passed from mother to child.”
I pause and tilt my head. “Really?”
“I promise,” Jackie says, and raises three fingers. “Scout’s honor.”
“You were a Boy Scout?” I squeak excitedly.
“Not important,” she shuts me down, hard. “Now, I believe you have some explainin’ to do, eh, Layla?”
I sit down heavily on the floor and lace my fingers together in my lap. “Would you believe me if I told you I was tricked?”
Jackie sits down on the floor across from me, mirroring my pose. We’re so close, our knees are touching. She leans forward and smiles. I shudder at the murderous gleam in her eyes. “Keep talkin’, honeychile.”
I open my mouth, but close it, thinking. I twist my upper body, and glance at Drea. She still has that dazed and distant expression on her face. I draw my eyebrows together tightly. Drea is a bit flighty, but not this flighty. Suspicion warms my gut as I think of how to word my trap.
“Say, Drea,” I call out. “Did I ever tell you how I got this house?”
“Oh, sure,” she chirps. “Quite a few times.”
I jump to my feet and grabs her shoulders, shaking her. “Who the hell are you and what have you done with Drea? Not that I care or anything,” I add slyly.
Jackie’s jaw unhinges in shock and the impostor in my grip starts to laugh. “And when did you figure it out, Layla?” asks a deep, smoke-damaged voice.
I groan and squeeze “Drea’s” shoulder harder. “Come out of there, you ass!”
“Ya, I’m comin’. Sheesh.” I am forced to drop my hands as the body before me begins to smoke.
Jackie’s mouth is flapping open and shut. “Wha – what the hell is this?”
I sigh heavily as the female body dissolves and an old man climbs out of the rubble. I point to the wizened male and throw an apologetic glance at Jackie. “Sorry, Jackie,” I say with another sigh. “I’d like you to meet the man who sold me this house. This person is the sole reason I’m stuck living in this twisted, malicious, dangerous-
“Hey!” the old man protests. “It’s not that bad.”
“Jackie,” I say as calmly as I can, “meet Sinan Slaughter.. my dad.”