Second Star to the Right
Wednesday’s body hangs lifeless in my trembling arms, her head lax, falling backwards, her limbs limp. The last words she whispered before passing out were, “help me” and it takes every ounce of willpower I have not to let my shadow take over.
I feel him under my skin, slithering like a snake, begging to be set free. My body physically cages him in and he riots against the binding, his magic pushing against my bones.
If I knew how, I would release him into the world again. Sharing our body is dreadfully unpleasant. In the realm of the living, we don’t have a choice. My soul is forced to return to his former self.
A simple shadow.
A mirrored version of myself with no ability to move on his own and no voice to be heard.
I’m not a fan of silence. I like being able to hear my other half, especially when his thoughts are baleful.
“Let me hurt them,” he whispers. “I’ll kill everyone that touched our Darling.” Shadow’s rage tangles with my own, creating a dangerous cocktail.
I want to rip the throat out of the person who hurt our Wednesday Darling. I want them to suffer. I want their heart to beg for release. I want to feel each beat until it finally stops, and then I want Shadow’s magic to bring them back to life just so I can do it all over again.
I want to avenge our Darling, but killing everyone on this side of the Island to find the sorry bastard isn’t in the cards.
Shadow’s impatience sends a burst of energy from my chest. The shockwave ripples through the air with enough force to blow napkins off the table and rock a windchime.
I search the room, my eyes taking in every detail with a speed and clarity I don’t usually possess.
Shadow’s power rolls beneath my skin like a wave in the ocean. I can touch it, manipulate it, but he wields it’s true potential. He’s connected to the island in ways I can only dream of. It bends to his will and feeds off of his emotions. Even now, the clouds outside of the bar darken in the sky. Thunder rolls above us and I can feel the shift in the room’s air, just like I would if I were to stand outside.
Lighting cracks somewhere overhead. A flash of yellow flickers in the gradually darkening bar. The room is empty, save for the drunk who’s passed out in the corner and the shakey barmaid. At first glance, nothing looks amiss, but it doesn’t take me long to notice four glasses on the counter top.
Two filled nearly to the top.
Sitting side by side in pairs.
Shadow’s voice screams in my ears to burn down the bar and torture the maid until she squeals like a pig. I'm inclined to listen, but the featherlight woman in my arms keeps me somewhat grounded.
Still… someone did this to my Darling—again—and when we find out who it is they will pay.
“I see you’ve met my date,” my brother’s voice croons from the doorway.
My shadow lurches at James with the intent to smother his lungs with darkness until he can’t breathe. Dark mist drifts towards my brother like a cloud of fog in the night, but it only stretches an arm’s length away.
Shadow is tethered to me and his anger is a seething heat that overpowers my senses. I feel his desire to tear James to shreds and while I am not my brother’s biggest fan, he is still my brother.
My flesh and blood.
More than the bonds that tie me to the Lost.
The only living family I have left.
James’ boots carry a heavy thud as he crosses the room. Our bartender visibly relaxes in his presence and I try not to laugh. Now that Shadow and I are bonded, I think I could strike James down with a bolt of lightning should I choose.
And that’s where the problem lies. Most days, I don’t want him to suffer.
My brother may have chosen to side with the fae, but he doesn’t hold their powers. He’s still human, with an unbeating heart and a soul that can be saved. The day he sacrifices that, it’s game over. I will have lost him to the fae.
“Your date?” I echo.
Shadow thrashes like a ship trapped in a glass bottle during a hurricane. Gusts of wind rattle the windows. Wooden shutters slam against the siding and innocent people holler to each other outside on the street to find safety.
Shadow doesn’t like the thought of Wednesday being in the same room as James, let alone his date
James’s brows pull together and he frowns. He drinks in my darling with his eyes, thirstily lapping every inch of her lifeless body. “What did you do to her?”
Wednesday shudders and gasps for air. Her lungs wheeze, struggling against whatever coils around her bones like a snake.
I shift her in my arms and steady her head against my shoulder. I hear her heart rhythmically beating in her chest, but with each second that passes it weakens. Her life force disappears, like the sands in an hourglass, reminding me that time is precious and being wasted.
Still, I hold my composure. Appearances are everything. If James knows what the Darling means to me, to all of us, he’ll tell his fae bride. Wednesday will never have a chance at life if Bell knows she exists.
“I was about to ask you the same question.”
“Don’t be coy with me, brother,” he snaps. “I just got here.”
“Right and I’m supposed to believe that’s not your drink over there.”
“It’s not,” James growls, his tone final. So much like father.
Without warning, Wednesday’s body violently trembles. I hold her tighter, unable to breathe as I wait for the convulsions to pass. Seconds turn into a painful minute and her seizure shows no signs of stopping.
Shadow grows weary. His nervousness turns my stomach. Another minute passes. Shadow’s dark presence stops reaching for James and wraps around Wednesday like a blanket. He steadies her heart and slows her breathing. After what feels like a lifetime, she settles but still doesn’t wake.
“You're wasting time, Peter. Time she doesn’t have!” Shadow yells at me.
He’s right, but the adrenaline I felt when I walked into the bar is wearing off. I need Wednesday to be okay. Not because she’s the key to breaking the curse or because she’s Wendy’s reincarnation. I need her to survive whatever this is because if she dies it will be my fault.
If I hadn’t listened to Shadow and left her alone, she wouldn’t be dying.
James grabs my elbow and tries to shift Wednesday out of my arms and into his. “I’ll be taking it from here.”
“Over my dead body.” I jerk free of his grasp. Anger pours out of me in waves again, this time it’s just as much mine as it is the dark beast’s. Shadow’s darkness shoves James back a few steps, then wraps around Wednesday again. My brother’s balance falters, but that small win does nothing to ease my fury.
“That can be arranged,” James grins and the wickedness in his expression chills my bones.
I shoulder past and ignore his last comment. I’d rather not fight my brother right tonight. I can’t guarantee Shadow will let him live this time, not when it’s our Darling’s life on the line. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t put a dagger through his heart if it meant Wednesday would live.
James follows me through the saloon’s swinging doors and yells, “Peter!”
“Ignore him,” Shadow urges, but I can’t.
My brother sounds worried, an emotion I can say he never showed when Wendy’s life hung in the balance. I turn to face him, unsure if the delay is a trap, but he genuinely looks concerned.
“Is she okay?” he asks.
I let out a heavy breath, two things coming to light at once. One, James knows Wednesday. The how is irrelevant, our island is small and I know she wondered at times. I let her because Shadow was always close by to keep our Darling out of danger.
What concerns me though is how well they might know each other. How deep do my brother’s feelings run for the other half of my soul? I close my eyes and swallow the sting of the past as it creeps up my throat.
The second thing I know at this moment is that James would hesitate if he had to kill her. What I don’t know is for how long. How far will his defiance be tolerated before Belle forces his hand?
“I don’t know,” I admit. “But she will be.”
I push off the ground, not wasting another minute, and shoot up into the sky. I don’t think about how James has never seen me fly or what the pirates will assume. My thoughts are on Wednesday.
The sun begins its descent into slumber, twilight rising to prepare us for night. I know the direction I’m headed like I know my shadow. To the second star, soaring until the magic of night ripples through the air and the sun crosses into the other realm. By sea or by sky, that’s when the veil between our world and hers is thin enough to pass through.
It kills me that I have to do it this way, but I’m keeping my promise.
It’s time to take my darling home.