A large bag of Chinese food was the first thing Zan noticed, but he stopped cold when he saw who was holding it.
Rath stood just outside, and Lonnie was right next to him.
“My dear brother,” Lonnie said. “We paid for the food, so you won’t mind if we eat it, right?”
“Yeah,” Rath said. “Killing people always gives me an appetite.”
Liz gasped as fear filled her.
Zan backed up, placing himself in front of Liz. “How did you find me?”
Lonnie shrugged. “Does it really matter?”
Rath closed the door behind them, putting the food aside on a table, and they moved further into the room, quickly taking it in. “You’re not as smart as you think, Zannie-boy,” he taunted.
Lonnie continued, “I guess we can drop the pretense. Obviously you are not in L.A. and you are here with the other clones, running this little scam behind our backs.” Her gaze flicked to Liz and quickly back to Zan. “And a human, Zan?” she asked, her tone disparaging. “What the hell are you thinking?”
Zan didn’t answer, but kept his eyes on Lonnie and Rath, ready for them to make a move. For the first time he could see their hate for him completely undisguised and he wondered how he hadn’t seen it sooner.
“You should have come to me,” Lonnie purred. “We could be working together, but now…” she let her sentence trail off ominously. “You are here alone with your human, you don’t have a chance against the two of us, so why don’t you tell me where the Granolith is and maybe we’ll let you live.”
Zan’s eyes hardened. “And if I don’t?”
Lonnie smiled. “We kill you and ask your little girlfriend where it is.”
Liz shivered and moved closer to Zan, pressing her body to his back. He was powerful, but she was scared for him.
“She doesn’t know,” Zan said automatically.
“We’ll see,” Lonnie said with another shrug. “If not we can go through the other clones until we get an answer.”
Zan smiled. “I’m not stupid enough to think you’ll let me live. That’s why I left in the first place. I knew you’d rather kill me than work with me.”
“You’ll tell us where it is, asshole,” Rath said, shifting from foot to foot, ready to fight. “We’ll get it out of you one way or another.”
Lonnie moved closer to them. “I am curious, though,” she said. “Did you know about the Granolith the whole time and didn’t tell us?”
“No,” Zan admitted. “I found out after I got here. Who told you about it?”
With a wave of her hand, Lonnie dismissed his question. “So why did you come to this hole if you didn’t know about the Granolith?”
“To get away from you and meet the others,” he said.
“And get them to help you kill us,” Rath continued.
Rath jutted his chin at Liz, “And get some human tail,” he said, looking her over with a smile. “But I can see why, she is pretty tight.”
Lonnie was getting more frustrated by the moment. “Enough chit-chat,” she drawled, “tell us where the Granolith is.”
“I don’t know,” Zan said.
“Right,” Lonnie said sarcastically.
“I don’t,” he said truthfully. “They told me about it, but not where it is or what it’s for. They don’t even know what it is.”
“It is power,” Lonnie pronounced, with wild eyes, “and I want it.”
Rath was studying Zan, and suddenly blurted out, “He’s lying. He knows where it is.”
Lonnie’s eyes narrowed as she looked at her brother. “I don’t think so,” she said, “and that makes him useless to us. Just don’t kill his human, yet.”
A horrible smile raised the corners of Rath’s mouth a second before he raised his hand.
Zan grabbed Liz and pulled her behind a row of targets just as a black, crackling energy ball shot across the room. It hit one of the targets, making it sparkle for a moment as the energy arched around it like lightening, and then it exploded.
Stepping in front of Liz, Zan covered her body with his own, protecting her from the blast as he extended his hand toward it. His power left his palm effortlessly, holding the pieces of the target floating in the air for a second before mending them together to return the target to it’s original condition.
“Whoa,” Rath exclaimed, “since when could you do that?”
The real answer was since he had connected with Max and Liz, but he wasn’t going to tell them that. He shrugged, even though he wasn’t sure they could see him. “A while,” he said cryptically.
Liz was scared, and she knew she didn’t have a chance against Lonnie and Rath, but she wanted to help Zan any way she could. Unfortunately she wasn’t sure what to do that wouldn’t get in his way.
But Zan could feel her intentions, and touching Liz, he spoke in her mind. “Stay behind me, and don’t use your powers.”
With a nod she agreed, but he could feel her fear and worry for him. “It will be okay,” he assured her. “You being here gives me more power.”
He watched as Rath and Lonnie moved, trying to get in a better position. They were arrogant in their power, not even bothering to take cover, but striding forward in the open.
With another burst of power, Zan sent out a wave of energy that made the air ripple. It struck a chair, sending it hurling toward Rath, who jumped back out of the way, but one of the legs clipped him, nearly knocking him to the floor.
A howl of pain left him, and immediately Rath retaliated, sending out a wild, badly aimed energy ball, that bounced off a table before harmlessly hitting the wall.
Lonnie raised her hand, using her power to throw aside some of the furniture and other items that were blocking her from getting to them. Things went flying as she used small motions to toss them out of her way.
As she stalked closer, she concentrated her power on Liz. She knew the human would be an easy target, and she should be able to get her to quickly turn on Zan.
Rath produced another black crackling ball, hurling it at Zan and Liz, and Zan used a flick of his hand to send out his own power, intercepting Rath’s and making it explode harmlessly in mid-air between them.
Zan was aware that Rath and Lonnie were trying to get on either side of him, trying to divide his attention between them, and he couldn’t let that happen. He kept one hand on Liz, making sure she stayed behind him where he could protect her, while his other hand was held out before him. Slowly he started moving, backing himself and Liz toward the rear door.
Rath continued to throw energy balls at them, but Zan used his power to easily disperse them or bounce them away harmlessly, while trying to keep an eye on Lonnie too.
As they moved back, Lonnie and Rath moved forward into the room, keeping up with them.
Liz had strange sensations running through her, and she knew it must be Lonnie’s power trying to influence her. She knew it wasn’t her own thought but she felt the almost overwhelming urge to leave Zan’s protection and walk toward Rath.
Even thought Liz knew what was happening, she felt herself being persuaded to act.
Zan felt Liz stiffen and knew she was fighting against Lonnie’s powers. Gripping her arm tightly, he pushed a small amount of his energy through their connection to help strengthen her resolve. “Fight her,” he said in her mind. “Just like we talked about at practice, you can do it.”
Liz could feel her body trying to force her to go to Rath, but Zan held her as she tried to push Lonnie’s power out of her mind.
Zan took his attention away from Rath to throw a few quick bursts at Lonnie, driving her back and trying to distract her. She stumbled, and Liz felt the pressure in her mind lessen instantly and sighed in relief.
But Rath took advantage of Zan’s distraction and aimed a succession of energy balls right at him.
“Zan!” Liz cried out in alarm, but he was already moving, jerking her with him out of the way.
The crackling balls hit near them with a series of small explosions, shattering a table and its contents, sending the pieces flying. Zan used another flick of his hand to stop the pieces and push them back together, reforming the objects.
Liz thought it was a miracle that they hadn’t been hurt yet, and she didn’t know how much longer their luck would hold. She didn’t know how long Zan’s strength would last against two equally strong enemies either. They needed help.
And as if her thought conjured them, suddenly Max, Michael, Isabel and Ava came bursting through the door, and both Zan and Liz felt a rush of relief.
Shocked, Lonnie raced to Rath and they stood together trying to keep their eyes on both sets of attackers.
Michael acted immediately, sending out a burst of white-yellow energy, but Rath shot his power directly into it and they cancelled out with a flash of light.
Isabel and Ava worked together, sending chairs and other items around the room hurling at the dupes.
With a flick of her fingers, Lonnie brought up a table in front of her, using it like a shield to block the thrown objects, and they crashed harmlessly to the floor.
Rath continued throwing his lightening balls at them, and Max quickly erected his glowing green shield, which bounced the projectiles into the wall.
Zan was surprised that it made him feel even stronger just having Max in the room and he used the distraction they were providing to move himself and Liz to a better position. But it drew Rath’s attention back to them.
The next energy ball Rath hurled at them, Zan concentrated on it hard, and with a motion of his fingers he turned it and redirected it at Lonnie.
She had to throw herself aside to avoid being hit, but Lonnie didn’t move fast enough and the crackling ball hit her in the shoulder, knocking her off her feet and throwing her back across the room, where she lay still.
The others took advantage, concentrating on Rath, using their powers to bombard him with anything they could, while Michael shot burst after burst of power at him.
Rath growled when Lonnie fell and he put himself between them and Lonnie, backing toward her. In a quick succession, he tossed a half dozen more energy balls at them.
Some bounced off Max’s shield, but a couple struck the wall near them and the exposed cinder block exploded, a few pieces hitting Ava. Yelping in pain, she stumbled back as blood started to quickly soak her shirt and she sank to her knees.
Immediately Isabel went to her, holding her, trying to stop the bleeding.
Rath laughed at seeing Ava hurt. “You stupid bitch!” he spat out.
Zan roared with fury, not knowing how badly Ava was wounded, drawing Rath’s attention, whose whole face twisted in hate. “You’re next, bitch,” he taunted Zan.
Drawing all the power he could feel from Liz and Max, Zan hurled it outward. It left his hand in a shimmering mass, like heat rippling across a sun-baked desert road, and directed the power into the center of Rath’s chest.
At the same time, Michael sent out a burst of white-yellow light that clipped Rath’s arm, spinning him.
Zan’s power hit Rath in the side, causing horrible snapping sounds and making him stagger. A look of complete shock crossed Rath’s face and he glanced down.
There was no visible wound but Zan knew even though he hadn’t squarely hit his target, Rath was wounded terribly. Without help, he might not survive.
Everything seemed to stop as Rath looked back at Zan and slowly sank to his knees. He struggled to stay upright for a moment, but then collapsed to the floor.
Just as Rath went down Lonnie surged to her feet, clutching her bleeding shoulder. She’d seen Rath fall and knew she couldn’t take on all of them by herself.
With a burst of power she pulled a pile of debris and furniture toward her, using it to make a barrier between them. Then she made a hole in the side of the wall and jumped through. With another jerk of her hand, she pulled Rath’s limp body after her and quickly closed the wall behind them.
Immediately Michael and Zan went after them, not bothering to clear a path, but instead racing out the door and around the building.
Max and Liz ran to Ava, where Isabel was still holding her. The small blonde was covered in blood that came from small wounds on her arm and face, and her shirt was shredded on the side and soaked in red where the large wound was located. She was shivering and seemed to be having a hard time breathing.
“She’s losing a lot of blood,” Isabel said needlessly.
Max and Liz dropped to the floor and Max placed his healing hands over Ava. “It will be okay,” he said automatically.
Ava forced a smile, but remained silent.
Using his powers, Max felt for her injuries as the connection slipped instantly into place, and he vaguely wondered if the ease of the bond had to do with Liz’s presence.
He discovered that the shards of brick had ripped through Ava’s flesh and one punctured her lung. Carefully Max dissolved every piece inside her and began closing each of her wounds.
It took long minutes, and he was scared for Ava, wondering if he had the power and the skill to help her, but the presence of Liz’s hand on his shoulder and her soft encouraging thoughts in his mind reassured him.
Finally it was done and Ava took a deep breath to fill her newly-healed lungs.
“Thanks,” she said to Max as they helped her up off the floor.
She looked a little stunned and stared at Max briefly before she felt her face and ribs. “That is one handy power,” she said with a smile.
Max smiled back. “I’m just glad I could help.”
Isabel and Liz hugged her just as Michael and Zan came jogging back around the building and through the door.
Zan’s eyes went to Ava first, checking to see if she was okay. Seeing she was fine he turned to the others as Michael blurted out, “They got away.”
Max looked from Michael to Zan, “How did they get away? Rath was unconscious.”
“I don’t know,” Zan said. “Maybe they had a plan or maybe they had some help.”
“This whole thing was a load of crap,” Michael said. “It couldn’t have gone much worse.”
“At least everyone is okay,” Liz said with her arm still around Ava.
“They got away, Liz,” Michael barked. “They know our plan now, we’ve lost our biggest advantage of surprise. None of us are okay. They could come after any one of us at any time.”
Max glared at Michael, “Liz knows that, Michael,” he said. “You don’t have to be a jerk about it.”
Michael looked at Max with surprise. His mouth opened to snap back and then he remembered that Max was back together with Liz. Sheepishly he apologized. “Sorry,” he grunted, “I’m just frustrated.”
She nodded. “I know. We all are.”
Zan spoke up. “I can’t believe we had this great plan and it’s all gone to hell.” He shook his head. “And Michael is right, they could come after any of us. We need to find Lonnie and Rath before they hurt someone else.” He looked at Ava and then Liz. “Or worse.”
It took a while to repair the practice room and put everything where it belonged, even with all their powers. And while the guys were cleaning, Liz and Isabel made some phone calls.
Quickly they filled in Alex, Maria, Tess and the Valentis and then helped fix the room while they waited for others to arrive.
Within minutes Tess was leading the Valentis through the door with Alex and Maria right behind.
Looking around quickly Tess scowled. “Why are you all here? Were you having a meeting,” she asked stiffly, “without me?” She turned to look at Max. “I thought you were going to a movie tonight?”
“We were,” Max assured her.
“Hi to you too, Tess,” Michael snapped. “Zan and Liz nearly got their asses roasted. It’s just lucky we happened to come by.”
Jim stepped forward. “Maybe you better start at the beginning,” he said softly. He glanced at Zan. “You and Liz were here, ummm, alone?”
Zan nodded. He wasn’t going to tell the whole truth about why they were together, but it was close enough. “Liz was getting in some extra practice with me and we ordered out for some Chinese food.”
Michael glanced at Max, wondering how he would feel about Zan spending so much extra time with Liz, but was surprised to see it didn’t seem to bother Max.
Zan continued. “Lonnie and Rath showed up and threatened to kill us if we didn’t give them the location of the Granolith.”
Isabel gasped. “So they know about the Granolith.”
“Yeah,” Zan said, his eyes sliding around the group. “When I told them I didn’t know where it was, they decided to kill me and try to get the info out of Liz.”
Liz spoke up. “Zan was great, he protected us.”
“And we were on our way to the movie,” Michael said, continuing the story, “me, Max and Isabel. We were just a couple of streets away when Max felt like something was wrong with Liz. He knew she was here so we came to check it out.”
“You could feel her?” Tess asked Max incredulously.
Max nodded. “I could just tell she was in trouble.”
Tess focused on Ava. “So why were you here?”
Ava shrugged. “I had a date with Kyle, but I forgot the CD I made for him with this new band. I got here right as they did,” she explained, motioning to Max, Michael and Isabel.
Michael continued. “It was pure luck that we all happened to show up or things might not have turned out so well,” he told Tess. “We came in and found Lonnie and Rath blasting the place to pieces. We helped distract them and Zan took them down, but Lonnie got Rath out of here somehow, and they disappeared.”
Jim’s eyes narrowed. “What do you mean disappeared?”
Michael pointed to the wall. “She took him out through the wall and when we got around the side of the building there was no trace of them.”
“Maybe they had help,” Jim suggested. “Nicholas and the Skins.”
Max agreed. “That’s what we thought.”
“So,” Alex spoke for the first time, “you think all of us might be in danger.”
“It’s possible,” Isabel answered. “They might believe you know where the Granolith is.”
“Terrific,” Maria huffed. “We had this great plan and now it’s all gone to hell, and we could get attacked at any time.”
Tess rolled her eyes. “Like anyone would think you or Alex knew anything.”
“We can’t take that chance,” Max said. “We have to keep everyone safe.”
“How are we going to do that?” Jim asked. “We can’t be together all the time, and we don’t have a clue where to start looking for them.”
“Well,” Zan said, thinking out loud, “Lonnie and Rath have to know that they don’t have a chance of getting home without the Granolith, and the summit is in about a week. I think they’ll try to get it again before then.”
Max nodded. “I agree. It would be their only bargaining chip.” He glanced briefly at Liz. “I don’t think we will have to find them, they’ll come after us again, soon.”
Ava added. “Lonnie sucks at healing. So unless their helpers have a healer, she and Rath might be out of it for a while.”
“We can’t assume anything,” Isabel said. “The Skins could have a healer. They probably do, if he is still alive.”
“So how do we keep everyone safe?” Valenti asked.
“It would be easier if we knew what Lonnie was planning,” Ava said. She looked at Isabel. “You could try to contact her.”
A shiver of revulsion went through Isabel. From the small glimpse she’d gotten of her double, she knew she didn’t want any closer exposure. She didn’t even want to imagine they were created from the same person, much less take a look inside her.
“I can try,” she said hesitantly, “but I don’t know how she will react. What if she can tell I’m in her head? It will be like warning her. And what if I can’t get in? Maybe she can block me somehow.”
“I think we have to take that chance,” Max said reluctantly. He didn’t like putting Isabel in danger, but at that point what choice did they have?
Zan nodded. “I agree. The more information we have, the better we can protect ourselves. They could be gathering right now in huge numbers to attack us again. We need to know.”
Isabel nodded. Alex brought her a chair, and as she sat down, he knelt beside her. “I’ll be right here with you,” he said.
She tried to give him a smile, but her mouth just tightened briefly. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and concentrated on her clone. It was weird without a photo, but she reasoned that somewhere deep inside, Lonnie was like a part of her.
Everyone seemed to be holding their breath as they watched Isabel. Her brow creased with concentration, her face scrunching with her effort. She moved restlessly, her hands twitching, grasping at air.
Liz put her hand to her mouth and flinched every time Isabel moved. Without thinking she started to move slowly forward, hand outstretched. She had some vague idea about helping Isabel, but before she had gone more than a step, Max put his arm around her, holding her.
He spoke in her mind. “Let Isabel try it first,” he said. “We don’t want to expose your powers yet, if we don’t have to.”
Nodding, she leaned into him briefly, wanting nothing more than for them all to be safe and to be held in Max and Zan’s loving arms.
Nicholas glanced at the caller ID when his phone rang and picked it up when he saw Lonnie’s number.
“Where the fuck are you?” Nicholas bellowed into the phone. “I waited at that café where we usually meet for the last two days, and you didn’t show. Don’t tell me you’ve changed your mind about our deal.”
“Well…,” Lonnie started, only to be cut off.
“Oh shit,” Nicholas spat. “You went and did something stupid didn’t you?”
“We’re in Roswell,” Lonnie confirmed.
Nicholas cursed again. “Fuck! After I specifically told you not to do anything to mess this up?” he growled. “What part of ‘the summit is a trap’ didn’t you understand? You idiots have ruined the whole plan.”
“Zan’s in Roswell.” Lonnie spelled out. “He already knew about the summit, and was setting a trap of his own for us.”
“How did he find out?” Nicholas snarled. “You must have done something that made him suspicious, and they sure as hell all know about the trap now, so we’ve lost all the element of surprise.”
Lonnie was still angry from losing what should have been a single-sided fight, and getting herself and Rath injured. She didn’t need a lecture from Nicholas as well, but she worked to keep her voice neutral. “We didn’t do anything to warn Zan. We don’t know how he found out. Maybe you have more traitors in your troops.”
Nicholas considered. “It’s always possible we haven’t weeded them all out,” he admitted. “Or maybe there are no traitors, just idiots who talk too much. If you didn’t warn Zan, then someone else did. Seems like no one can keep their mouth shut any more.”
He continued. “What did you hope to accomplish with this little foray into the desert?”
Lonnie sneered. “We thought we could kill Zan and get the Granolith without all the fuss,” she explained. “We waited until Zan was alone with a human and we attacked, but the others showed up and we barely escaped. If we hadn’t parked close, I doubt we would have made it.”
Nicholas made an impatient sound.
“Rath is really fucked up,” Lonnie said, clutching her own hurt shoulder. “I’ve done all I can for him, but he still won’t wake up.”
“Idiots!” Nicholas growled again. “You almost got yourselves killed.”
Lonnie rolled her eyes. “Well, there is no point in having the summit unless there is someone to attend,” she said coaxingly. “You’ll need to come here to… convince them yourself.”
“And heal Rath’s worthless ass,” Nicholas added in a bored tone.
“Yes,” Lonnie agreed.
Nicholas snorted. “You almost sound like you care if he lives or dies.”
She sighed. “You know I only care about his power helping us to kill Zan, then he can go to hell.”
“Good,” Nicholas said, “because the return trip to Antar is only for you, and only if you help us get the Granolith.”
Lonnie resented having to bargain with Nicholas or anyone to get what she wanted, but for now he was necessary. “When can you get here?”
Nicholas let out an exasperated sigh. “Well, there isn’t any hurry now that you guys have fucked up the plan. Maybe it would be better to wait for a while and catch them more off guard.”
Lonnie was furious. “No! Fuck no! What about the summit?”
He rolled his eyes. “You can’t possibly think the summit will happen now. There is no King to attend, and without one of the Zans it’s not going to happen.”
“But our deal is still good if I get you the Granolith,” Lonnie insisted.
Nicholas grunted. “Yes.”
“So,” Lonnie purred, “you need to come here and fix up Rath so we can get it for you.”
He was tired of her and Rath and their fuck-ups. “A few days,” he barked.
Trying to keep her emotions under control, Lonnie was angry to hear her voice shake. “But Rath could be dead by then,” she said harshly.
“That would just be too damn bad,” Nicholas said sarcastically, and hung up.
Suddenly, Isabel’s eyes flew open and she sat forward with a gasp.
Max went to her, taking her hand. “Did you get in?”
She nodded. “I only got a few impressions, but they won’t be coming for us again soon. Rath is hurt badly and Lonnie can’t help him.”
“And the Skins?” Michael asked.
“They aren’t here,” Isabel said. “Lonnie called Nicholas. He was mad. I’m not sure when he is coming, but not for a couple of days or more.”
“Could you tell where they were?” Zan asked.
Isabel met his eyes, seeing pain but determination. “No, but it was somewhere abandoned. It looked shabby. I think it must have been outside of town. An old house or business maybe.”
Max looked at Isabel. “Do you think she knew you were there?”
She thought for a moment and then shook her head. “No, at least I don’t think so.”
“Hopefully we have a little time,” Zan said. “We’ll have to keep an eye on everyone,” he said glancing at Max. “We’ll be together as much as possible, and nobody goes anywhere alone. At night is when we are most vulnerable. After tonight we should all stay here.”
“Yes,” Max agreed. “I’m not even sure if Lonnie and Rath or the Skins know about the Valentis or Maria or Alex, but we can’t take the chance.”
Tess snorted but didn’t say anything.
Maria nodded, exited to be included. “We’ll make excuses to our parents for why we’re gone. My mom thinks I’m sleeping at Liz’s and her parents think she’s sleeping at my house.” She smiled. “Just like the old days, only with homicidal aliens this time.”
Alex shook his head. “We might be able to get away with it this weekend, but what about after that?”
“We need to find them,” Michael said. “Fast. Maybe Isabel can find out something more.”
Max nodded hesitantly, knowing his sister’s power was one of their only options. “So tonight we will be safe. Tomorrow, everyone work it out with their families to spend the night somewhere else, and we’ll bring everyone here.”
Liz spoke up. “I have to work tomorrow, the closing shift.”
Everyone looked to Michael but he shook his head. “I don’t work.”
“I’ll stay with her,” Zan volunteered. He turned to Max. “You guys make sure that everyone else gets here safe.”
“Okay,” Max said with a nod, glad they had a plan.
Tess watched the looks back and forth between Max, Liz and Zan and wanted to barf. There was no way she was going to be stuck with them at a ‘slumber party’ seeing the three of them pretending they weren’t together all night.
She could imagine the longing glances, covert touches, and them sneaking away when they thought no one was looking for stolen kisses or more likely a grope in the corner. She’d never survive it.
This whole thing with Lonnie and Rath was a complete mess. She needed it to be over so she could work on Max again about going to the summit. Since they’d all be staying together, about the only place she could get him alone was at school, but in the mean time, she had to get out of the sleepover.
Stepping forward, Tess spoke up. “You know, I’m sure Lonnie and Rath and the Skins don’t have any idea about the Valentis. It would probably be better not to involve them. They could stay at home, and I could stay with them, just in case.”
Max and Zan looked at each other and then at the Sheriff. “How would you feel about that?” Max asked.
Valenti nodded. “I agree that we probably aren’t targets, and we don’t know anything.” He paused, glancing from Max to Zan, “And maybe it would be better if we were out of your way if there was trouble.”
“Okay,” Max agreed, “Tess will stay with you at your house.”
Zan spoke up. “Maybe Ava should go too,” he suggested, “just in case.”
Kyle smiled, slipping his arm around Ava. “I think that’s a great idea.”
“Well,” Valenti admitted, “I would feel better with two of you there.”
“Then it’s settled,” Kyle said cheerfully.
“Great,” Tess said with a forced smile. It took all the willpower she possessed not to roll her eyes. She had gotten away from one set of lovers, only to be sucked into another.
Ava waited until the others had left and she was alone with Zan before she turned to him.
“Um Zan,” she started hesitantly. She really didn’t want to bring up the subject with so many other things going on, but she thought he needed to know.
He looked at her curiously and she continued. “When Max was healing me,” she said, “I got some flashes from him.”
Zan stiffened, wondering exactly how explicit her vision had been. Had she seen him having sex with Liz and Max? But he played it cool. “What kind of vision?”
“I didn’t see much,” she admitted, “but Max’s mind is full of Liz. He loves her,” she said, looking up to see Zan’s reaction. “Max’s feelings are so strong. She is all he was thinking about.”
With a rush of relief Zan’s mouth quirked in a half smile. “I know,” he said softly. Again he considered telling Ava the whole truth, but hesitated. How would he tell her? He decided to wait. “I know Max loves her. That is one of the reasons it is so complicated.”
Ava studied him carefully. There was something he wasn’t telling her, but was it really any of her business? Nodding she tried to smile. “I just hope it all works out and you can be happy.”
“Me too,” he said, wrapping an arm around her. “And I’m glad you’re okay,” he said. "We both deserve a little happiness.”
Later that night, Liz quickly got ready for bed so she could keep her appointment with Max and Zan. They’d agreed to all connect and discuss the situation.
Smearing toothpaste onto her brush, she scrubbed at her teeth as her mind raced. It made her feel sick that they had been so close to losing someone today. Zan, Ava, or any of the others could have died just like that. Their lives would have been over.
She’d felt bad about killing Lonnie and Rath, but not anymore. They had no respect for life. They were willing to torture and kill just to get home. They had to be dealt with. There was just no other choice.
And even though they weren’t currently connected, Liz knew that Zan and Max felt the same way. Their anger pulsed across the bond they shared.
Pulling a t-shirt over her head, she went back into her room, quickly putting it in order before she turned off the light and climbed into bed.
A glance at the clock told her it was time for Max and Zan to contact her.
She felt Max then, and his first thought was and apology. “I’m sorry, Liz,” he said into her mind. “We were too far away when I felt you were in trouble. It took us too long to get there and you could have been hurt.”
Liz could feel his sorrow and disappointment with himself along with the seething anger that she could have been injured or worse. “Max,” she soothed, “you can’t be with me every hour of the day. And I was with Zan. You know he’d do anything to keep me safe.”
“I know,” he said, “but I don’t want anything to happen to either of you.”
Liz felt Zan’s strong emotions coming through a moment before he spoke, “Thanks,” he told Max, a feeling of warmth and belonging filling him. “I don’t know what to say.”
“The three of us are in this together,” Max said. “Just in this short time I’ve come to think as you as one of my best friends, and it’s almost like you are a part of me.”
“I know what you mean,” Zan said. “Even though I’ve never had a brother I imagine that is what I feel for you, or even closer, like a twin.”
“Yes,” Max confirmed, “exactly.”
Liz’s eyes filled with tears as she heard their words and felt their emotions. It was wonderful knowing that the two men in her life had such a strong bond.
“I love both of you so much,” she told them.
“And we love you,” the said at the same time.
Wiping at her eyes, she smiled. “After this is all over, we need to figure out a way to spend more time together.”
“Everyone will realize there is something going on between the three of us,” Zan pointed out.
Liz sighed. “I don’t think I care,” she said. “And I think our friends are starting to suspect something anyway. Maria already asked me if I was with one of you because I looked so happy.”
“Michael guessed we were back together,” Max said with a chuckle, “for the same reason.”
“And Ava guessed the same thing,” Zan admitted.
Liz laughed. “They’ve noticed more than I thought. I wasn’t sure how to tell Maria I was with both of you, so I told her I wasn’t with either of you.”
“Well,” Zan said, “there’s no pressure. We can tell them in our own time.”
“We want you to feel comfortable,” Max said.
She knew neither of them liked hiding their relationship. They wanted to be together publically, and she wanted the same thing. They had a non-traditional relationship but they had nothing to be ashamed of. “When all this is over,” Liz said decisively, “we’ll tell all of them the truth.”
She felt the rush of excitement and satisfaction from both Max and Zan.
Liz still wasn’t sure how it was going to work, but she was determined not to live in the shadows and hide their love.
Lonnie paced back and forth, listening to Rath’s ragged breathing, wondering if each moment would be his last.
She still wasn’t sure how she’d been able to get him out of the building and to the car so quickly, but it had probably saved both their lives.
Somehow she’d dragged his unconscious body into the back seat of their nearby car, and then driven as quickly as she could to the abandoned warehouse where they were staying. He’d started to come around by the time they arrived, and she was able to help him inside and onto a bed.
It might have been better if he was still out, because he was in a lot of pain, and she couldn’t do much to help him. Several of his ribs were broken and she had no idea of what internal injuries there might be.
He gasped for each breath, and moaned in pain with each small movement, but it wasn’t like she could take him to the hospital.
Lonnie laid her hands over him, using all of her concentration to mend his ribs. Even to her unskilled touch it was obvious that they weren’t completely healed, and she was unsure of what else to do for him.
She’d hoped Nicholas might help, but he’d been unconcerned with Rath’s life and wouldn’t be there for a couple of days at least.
Sitting down on the bed next to her lover, she put her hand on his. She was a bit confused. She was willing to betray him to get back home but she didn’t want him to die. They’d been together all of their lives.
If he did die, she only had one person to blame. Zan.
He’d done this to Rath and she was determined to get revenge. She was going to take away something Zan loved, and she though she’d start with his human.
Never Underestimate Destiny|
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