“My gift.” She thought about that goth girl she’d changed in Cambridge. The fanatical feeling of rightness that had taken over Eden as the thing inside her had transformed goth girl into a human. That thing was like a sentient being, something separate, something powerful. If Eden were honest it had been quite the rush.
“We told you not to use your powers and we understand that it was in the heat of the moment.” Val nodded, her face still stern. “But you have to promise us, Eden, to not use your gift again.”
She blinked. But… the threats were gone now. Was that really necessary? Her gift… it was important… it freed people. “It shouldn’t be wasted.” Eden shook her head. Her eyes shifted to Cyrus, pleading. “I don’t understand.”
Cyrus sighed. “It is still not safe for you to use it, Eden. We are not saying forever, we are just saying… not now.”
OK. A part of her felt surprisingly sad over the promise they wished to extract from her. However, if these last few weeks had taught her anything, it was to trust these two implicitly – despite appearances, their motives were born out of protecting her. “So… how long?”
Her guardian and mentor looked at one another as if coming to a silent agreement on something. Cyrus’s gaze slid back to Eden. “Three or four centuries.”
Her mouth fell open. “What?”
He shrugged. “Neith memories are long… but hopefully by then the Neith will think of the tales of Eden MacDouglas as myth and legend. That is usually the way of things.”
Three or four hundred years?!
“It’s not that long, Eden,” Val assured her. “Not to an immortal.”
“It still sucks ass.”
Cyrus grunted. “My daughter, ladies and gentlemen.”
Despite the sarcasm, Eden felt that mushy warm glow within when he called her his daughter. That would never get old. She grinned, despite herself. “OK, OK, I promise.”
“Really?” they asked unison, disbelief coloring the word.
Eden rolled her eyes and she stood to her feet. “I promise. It sucks but… I can live with it.”
After holding eye contact with her for a minute they seemed to relax, reassured she was on the same page as them. The two older Ankh asked for a few more promises from her: she was never to disappear, always to let them know where she was going, to keep her cell switched on at all times, and to try not to venture anywhere alone. That last one in particular stuck in Eden’s craw but to appease them she nodded along with a lot of ‘yeah, yeah, yeahs’ and ‘I promises’. Finally, they let her leave… but not without one last word from Cyrus.
“And Eden,” he called as she opened his door.
Not liking the very father-ish tone in his voice, Eden tensed, throwing him a tentative look over her shoulder. “Yeah?”
He scowled at her now. “I would prefer it if Noah refrained from sleeping in your bed.”
Embarrassed, Eden threw Val a look of betrayal. Val held up her hands. “I didn’t say a word.”
Cyrus sighed. “You really think I do not know exactly what is going on in my own home. I am all knowing, sweetheart.”
Flushing, Eden nodded, hardly able to meet his eyes. “It won’t happen again.” She stopped and turned back. “Not until I’m eighteen… right?”
“Not until you are eighteen hundred.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me?”
“I never kid.” He shook his head, completely immovable.
“Well that’s just ridiculous.”
“That is ridiculous,” Val agreed, making a face at Cyrus. “Loosen up.”
“I am loose. I am completely loose. My daughter, however, will not be.”
Cheeks burning, Eden decided she’d had enough mortification. “Alright, I’m out of here.”
“Remember… not until you are eighteen hundred!” he called from his suite as she strolled down the hall back to Noah.
“Sorry, Princeps,” she muttered, smiling when she opened the door and found Noah awake and waiting on her. “That’s one rule I’m going to have to break.”
“You all packed?”
Tobe had been so busy checking her room over to make sure she had everything, her mind crammed full of so much that had happened over the last few weeks that she hadn’t even heard Eden approach. She smiled up at her, still tripping from fatigue. “I didn’t really have much with me.”
Eden nodded, stepping into the room, glancing around. “Where’s Cameron?”
Tobe grimaced. “Councilman McLeish wanted to have a word with him before we fly back home. I think about his mum and… well… the whole him being psychic thing.”
“And your parents?”
At the thought of her parents, Tobe relaxed, the tension that kept creeping back up on her dissipating when she remembered that they were safe and here with her. “Getting as much sleep as possible. We talked last night. They’re… getting there.”
“They went through a lot. It’ll take time.”
That was an understatement. Not only were they reeling from having been taken, and at having not been able to protect their own daughter, but also from having played their part in setting up Adam Lincoln. Tobe’s parents were honest, genuinely nice people… it didn’t sit well with them to lie about anything, especially not something so huge. But… they had done it for Cyrus. For the relationship between the Ankh and Neith. “Yeah.” She nodded and then smirked, remembering last night’s conversation. “On the plus side, they’re going to let me start patrolling.”
Eden grinned back at her, understanding how exciting it was for her. “About time.”
“Yup. I’m a big girl now.”
They sniggered and Eden drew closer. “I can’t believe you’re leaving already.”
“I know… but… it’s only a few months until Christmas. Maybe you could visit?”
“I’d really like that.”
“Good.” Tobe saw a flash of melancholy in Eden’s eyes and frowned at her. “Come on, it won’t be for that long.”
“I know.” She nodded. “I’m just… gonna miss you. You were, like, the only person who had my back even when I was being a crazy bitch.”
“That is true… you were a crazy bitch.”
Eden punched her in the arm. Hard.
Tobe was still rubbing the bruised flesh and whining when Eden sat casually down on the bed and grinned wicked
ly up at her. “So… you and Cameron huh? That all back on track?”
“Is it true Noah spent the night in your bed last night?”
“Hey, don’t change the subject. And yes. Now you answer.”
Feeling a pang in her chest, Tobe tried to ignore her own feeling of sadness that she and Eden wouldn’t be able to see each other every day, that they wouldn’t be able to hang out and mock and support the other. She sighed and flopped down beside her. Her friends back home didn’t understand her like Eden did. Although… she did have Cameron. “He’s going to be OK.” She nodded. Eden and Noah weren’t the only ones who’d spent the night together, although Tobe and Cameron had spent it talking and just being happy to lie next to one another. “He’s a bit freaked out, naturally. It’s not every day you find out you’re an effin’ psychic but despite everything… I think he knows his Uncle Neil will protect him. We’re kind of intrigued to see what it all means though. It’s really cool.” She cocked her head, thinking about all the things they might discover with Cameron’s new found abilities. Now that he was reassured she still cared about him. “You know I think he was more scared that I was mad at him about the whole soulless thing. Which is completely idiotic. You’d think I was prone to holding a grudge or something.”
“I didn’t say anything.” Eden held up her hands, her mouth quirked up in the corner as if she were desperate to laugh.
Tobe rolled her eyes. “Like I’d hold a grudge against Cameron for something he couldn’t control. He was trying to save my life at the time.”
“I know, I know. So you’re all cool?”
“We’re getting there. Now it’s just returning home to bitchy Neith like Shona, who no doubt will have something to say about me and Cameron dating.”
At the mention of Shona, Eden curled her lip. Her cousin really hadn’t liked her fellow Neith. Not that she did either, but Eden particularly despised her for the way she talked to Tobe. She huffed, “Shona’s a shrew. Anyway…when’s your flight?”