Daniel Taylor Between Two Worlds (5 page)

“What’s up with you?” Mike asked as they were packing up their things and making their way to the exit after the class.

“It’s nothing.” She didn’t want to talk to him about Daniel, especially since Mike still suspected that her boyfriend had broken into his apartment.

“Are you sure?” He stopped before the door and took her by the shoulders. “Is it something about Taylor?”

Of course, Mike knew nothing about Danny’s demonic side, so Vanessa had to be careful about what she said. “Well …”

“Did he do something to you? Pressure you into doing something?” Mike frowned. “Just say the word, and I’ll take care of it.”

“Oh, it’s nothing, we just had a fight is all,” she replied quietly, but she couldn’t stop the tears from welling up in her eyes.

“Hey, come here.” Mike hugged her, and Vanessa leaned into his chest. “That happens even in the best of marriages.”

Vanessa sniffled. “Smart-ass.”

Mike stroked her back soothingly. “You’ll work it out, I’m sure.”

Daniel was sitting on a park bench near the dance studio, keeping his eyes fixed on the entrance. Vanessa would be coming out soon, so for the hundredth time he went over what he wanted to say to her. He had overreacted, and now his guilty conscience was plaguing him. He had just been so jealous! Vanessa was more experienced at kissing than he was, and then this Casanova just had to be her ex-boyfriend. This morning, Daniel had actually played with the idea of dropping out of school and getting a job so that he’d be able to offer Vanessa something more.

I’ll invite her to Lorenzo’s for a snack
, he decided; Vanessa would surely be hungry after dancing, and her parents must have already eaten dinner. He discarded the idea when he saw Mike coming out of the studio, his arm around Nessa.
I knew it!
But what he saw next stopped him short before his anger could surge again. What was Marla doing with them? Daniel was amazed to see how his half-sister was dressed. She looked super!
Super normal.

Now he was curious. He stood up to walk over to the trio. Vanessa noticed him first, even though his dark figure was nearly swallowed up by the encroaching twilight. She immediately pulled away from Mike and ran over to him.

She stopped a few steps away from him. “Hello! What are you doing here?” She seemed surprised.

His voice was unusually cold as he replied, “Well, I wanted to invite you to Lorenzo’s, but I can see that you’re otherwise engaged.”

“What?” Nessa frowned.

By this point, Marla and Mike had caught up with Nessa. “Hey, Taylor,” Blondie said.

Daniel ignored him. He glanced over at Marla inconspicuously, but she seemed to sense that the air was thick with tension and strolled on a little farther.

“I just saw you two,” Daniel growled at Vanessa. “He had his arm around you.” He would have liked to ask Marla about it, but he couldn’t as long as Blondie was here. Daniel could have tried communicating with her mentally, but he didn’t want to take the risk. He hadn’t quite mastered the trick of letting only Marla into his head while shutting out the other demons. There really was nothing else for them to find in his consciousness, but Daniel could feel them incessantly trying to tap into his mind.
Maybe Marla’s taken Nessa’s side in this
, he considered, then said to Mike, “You two seem to be awfully close friends.”

“Yes, we’re friends, what of it?” Mike crossed his arms and planted his feet firmly apart. They were about the same height, so they had no trouble glaring directly at each other.

“It looks like something more than that!” Daniel hissed.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Taylor!”

“It’s less ridiculous than your suspicions. I was never in your apartment!” Daniel knew from Vanessa that Mike still thought he had been the intruder who had left the note on the desk.

Out of the corner of his eye, Daniel saw Marla studiously examining something on the sidewalk. What was up with her? Why was she behaving so strangely? Did she feel bad because
had been the one to leave Mike the message about where to find Joe Adams’ corpse? Nonsense, she was a demon! They didn’t have guilty consciences. Sometimes Daniel wished that he didn’t have one, either, or any feelings. He felt like the whole world was conspiring against him. Daniel had to take care not to send anything flying through the air this time. He balled his hands into fists, his palms tingling dangerously, and moved so close to Mike that their noses almost touched.

“Hey!” Vanessa inserted herself between them, facing Daniel. Tears were shining in her eyes. “Why don’t you two just stop it? I don’t want to be caught in the middle.”

“All you have to do is pick one of us!” Daniel snapped at her.

He immediately regretted his words. Damnit, he was making a mess of this! She was hurt enough. All he wanted was to take her in his arms and forget the world around them. Vanessa was the one person who he felt understood him and accepted him for who he was. He hadn’t even confided in his mother about his demon nature. Who else could he talk about these things with, if not Vanessa?

“Just calm down, Taylor. You’re confusing the hell out of her.” Mike put his arm around Nessa again and led her to his car, a red Pontiac that was parked in front of the dance studio.

“Marla!” Daniel hissed helplessly, but his sister simply shrugged her shoulders and ran after Mike and Vanessa.

This can’t be happening!
Daniel couldn’t understand why they had all turned against him. Things had been going so well!

Frustrated, Daniel watched as the three of them got into Mike’s car and drove off. Then he set off toward home. He was so angry that he could barely think straight. A gaping hole had opened up in his heart. He made an effort to get his feelings under control, but he only succeeded after he had sent a trash can flying through the air with his telepathic powers. Once back in his room, he let it all out. He turned up the stereo full blast and made the model truck that stood on the shelf above his bed explode into countless pieces. He began to feel a little better.

The music suddenly stopped, and Daniel spun around. His mother was standing there staring at him, her mouth hanging open, finger still lingering on the power button of the stereo. She was still wearing her jacket; she must have just come home from the hospital. “Danny, have you lost your mind?”

No, just my girlfriend
, he thought, frustrated. “Sorry, Mom, I didn’t know that you were home.”

“What happened here?” His mother frowned as she saw the pieces of plastic littering his bed. She looked exhausted. There were circles under her eyes, which were red and swollen. Daniel almost felt bad for her, but he was still angry at his mother as well.

“When will you finally tell me where I can find my dad?”

“Soon. You just have to have a little patience.” She left the room, pulling the door shut behind her.

“Patience,” he muttered, pacing across the room. “Understanding, time … I can’t take it anymore!”

He leaned back up against his desk and bowed his head. They were all against him.
Then there must be something wrong with me; I’m just not normal.

“Of course not!” He slammed his hand against the desk in frustration.

What would it have been like if he had decided to stay in the underworld?
They would have given me the proper respect I deserve. I could have ruled them all …
But then he couldn’t have been with Vanessa. Nessa … He missed her. Over the last few weeks, they had spent almost every day together, from morning to night. They went swimming and to the movies, rode their bikes, took long walks in the park, made out, talked, laughed, and made out some more …
Maybe I overreacted. I should apologize to her. Right away. Mike’s probably brought her home by now.
He looked out the window, but there was no light on in Vanessa’s room. The whole house was dark, even the ground floor. Daniel knew that the Barkleys were out bowling tonight. But where was Vanessa? He gradually began to get worried.

Suddenly, the demonic part of him sensed that he was no longer alone. He spun around and saw Marla lying facedown on his bed, her head buried in his pillow.

“What’s wrong?” Daniel sat down on the bed next to her. In a way, he was happy that she was there.

“Do you really want to know what’s wrong?” The face she raised from the pillow looked so angry and upset that Daniel thought her eyes might start to glow.

what’s wrong!” With her hand, she drew a small circle, causing a portal to materialize. The porthole opened, allowing Daniel to see through the wall. Naturally, he didn’t see the little forest that stretched out behind his house. Instead, Daniel was looking directly into what he assumed was Mike’s living room, where his blond rival and Vanessa were sitting on a black leather couch, arm in arm.

Daniel flipped out. “Why should that bother
the one who’s dating Nessa!” …
Used to date
, he corrected himself, jumping up. Every nerve in his body was vibrating dangerously. As Marla closed the portal, Daniel felt a pain he had never felt before in his chest.
I never would have thought she’d cheat on me.

“Damn women,” he growled, earning an evil glare from his sister.

To make matters worse, Sirina appeared, as if on cue. She emerged through a portal over his bed, leapt agilely over Marla, and landed gracefully in front of Daniel.

“Silvan, lover, I sensed that you’re not feeling so well, so I came right over to cheer you up. What’s happened?” she asked, saccharine-sweet, rubbing up against him like a cat. The fabric of her green dress rustled quietly.

Daniel could sense a buzz in the air as Sirina and Marla exchanged thoughts. When Sirina suddenly grinned from ear to ear, he knew that she had been informed of the latest events.

“I told you right off that your human strumpet wouldn’t make you happy, lover.” She took him by the shoulders and pushed him back until his knees hit the bed. Daniel was paralyzed. He couldn’t take his eyes away from Sirina’s, which were rapidly changing color. One second, they were bright blue, the next a poisonous green.

“Let him go, Sirina!” Marla jumped up from the bed. Sirina took advantage of this to shove Daniel back onto the space she vacated on the mattress.

Why am I not fighting back?
The thought drifted slowly through his head.
I can’t stand Sirina!
He suddenly felt strangely tired, as though he had been drugged.

Sirina lay down on top of him, her breasts pressing against his chest.
There’s so much potential sleeping within Silvan
. Daniel could faintly hear her voice.
But he doesn’t know how to focus his powers

I have to exploit that!

Daniel realized that Sirina was communicating telepathically with Marla when he heard his sister’s voice in his head as well:
Stop manipulating him. You definitely won’t win him over that way.

“We’ll see,” Sirina said, leaning over Daniel’s face. Her lower body was pressing hard against his, and Daniel couldn’t help but feeling aroused by the contact.

“What are you trying to do, witch?” His voice came out like a croak. He could still barely move, but he desperately tried to fight her spell.
Damn it, how do I use my powers?
He knew that he should be able to send Sirina flying, to slam her against the wall!

“Come with me into the underworld, and I’ll teach you how to use your powers.” She nibbled on his neck, coming dangerously close to Daniel’s mouth …

Vanessa felt secure in Mike’s arms, but it wasn’t the same as with Daniel. That was okay — right now, she just needed a friend who would listen to her and let her cry on his shoulder. “Are all guys always after just one thing?” she asked hesitantly, her face reddening. Embarrassed, she turned the silver ring that Danny had given her around and around on her finger.

“Well,” Mike said, pulling her closer to him, “most guys, I guess. After all, it’s a nice feeling to have the woman you love so close to you.”

Vanessa sighed. “Daniel thinks he’s missing out on something.”

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