Chapter 14: Walking on Eggshells

Jae's POV

I frowned, concentrating. A bead of sweat was game enough to roll down my cheek as I studied the small, round object lying meekly in the centre of my palm.

Just how the fuck was I supposed to open this thing? If it was a grenade my fingers would figure it out before my brain could even think about it. But this- this was too smooth, too small, and the last time I'd checked it had no pin for me to rip at with my teeth. Damn, why didn't these come with screw caps?!

Finally, I cracked it.

Tia grimaced as the egg shell split into four pieces, all landing in the bowl of flour with soft plops. The yolk slid between my fingers and quivered on the table where 24 pieces of egg shell already lay abandoned.

"For heaven's sake Jae, we had a dozen eggs in the fridge. Now what am I going to say to mum- I decided to make a giant twelve person omelette on Saturday morning?!"

"What? Stop distracting me, I almost had it," I complained as another shower of doomed eggshells hit the table. Slightly frustrated at my apparent inability to crack eggs, I ignored her as I wrestled another egg out of its cardboard socket.

"The eggs are not amused."

I spared a look up from the demanding task at hand, eyes wide. "Babe," I proceeded to explain in a mock serious tone, "That's because they're too busy being broken."

"Very funny- NOT." She half growled, eyebrows drawn over blazing brown eyes. She opened her mouth again, obviously seeing the conversation as far from finished. Although, of course, she and I had a very different definition of the word "finish". I curled my upper lip.

"I don't understand how you can press my door bell at 7am on a SATURDAY. Repeatedly. For one bloody hour. Don't you know that I don't feel like seeing your face? In case you didn't, let me remind you: I don't want to see your face."

I brushed off her flippant words easily, "He challenged me."

Wiping her floury hands on a dish towel, she rolled her eyes. "Yes, Asher very seriously threatened to duel you to the death with a blueberry muffin. Hardly challenging."

"It wasn't about the fucking muffins. If I wanted muffin- which, by the way, your," I held up two fingers in the shape of quotation marks, ""friend" refused to hand over- I'd have stuck a picture of Britney Spears in a xxs 'I heart NY T-shirt' on your fucking window."

"You really need to substitute that word."

"Screw you."

"Oh, very creative." she bit her lower lip tantalizingly. "But whatever. Look, Huntington, do you seriously have this much time on your hands?"

"As a matter of fact-"

"Save it."

I grinned, changing the topic, "This apron is fucking ridiculous."

She took a step towards me, brandishing an eggbeater.

"And yellow. You guys really like the colour don't you?"

The eggbeater was coming dangerously close to beating my cheekbone. Lithely, I side-stepped, grabbing her arm as her momentum propelled her forward.

"Tsk, it's not safe to charge around the kitchen with the enthusiasm of a premenstrual rhino," I wagged the egg in her general direction whilst trying not to poke several holes in it. I narrowed my eyes seductively. "Though the apron's not too bad- when I'm wearing it."

"Uh… Jae? Is there something wrong with your eyes? They're kind of twitching," Tia smiled sweetly before pretending to gag, "Let go of me!"

I considered this possibility. I gave her a chance to take back her words. Of course, she didn't.

"Now!" She stated instead.

""Hmmm, fine." I smirked, releasing her arm. "Have it your way."

There was a loud crash and a lot of high pitched cursing in which at least ten members from my family tree were called back from the grave and castrated, their testicles strung from a 500 watt electric cable. How endearing. But now was not the time for name calling.

Turning back to the bench, I smiled smugly as the yolk and white landed in faultless circles on top of the flour and milk mixture. Using one hand, I threw the perfectly halved shells into the bin behind me.

Things were definitely looking up.

"Asher, please. You can't eat the mixing spoon," Tia let out an exasperated sigh while I stuffed a muffin into my mouth behind her back.

"Can you guys just cut it out?" Tania shrieked as Simon swiped at her cheek with a flowery finger.

"So," Asher guffawed, two fingers hooking into quotation marks. "Big bro."

I launched at the guy, toppling over the sofa.


Ignoring the scream of frustration emanating from the kitchen, I attempted to grab Asher's shirt while he enthusiastically punched my face with the cushion.

"Ash, for God's sake, how many times do I have to tell you to stop hitting Huntington with Mr. Piggy?! What if the stuffing comes out?" Obviously, the dull thump-thump-thump could be heard from the kitchen.

What the fuck, here I was having my face bashed in, and the girl was worried about her cushion? I growled, wrestling Asher off the sofa and onto the floor.

"Aw, Tee, leave them be! Look, aren't they cute? It's like pitching a pitt-bull against a toy poodle!" Tania slapped her knee with amusement as she peeked into the living room.

Wait a sec... just who the fuck was the poodle?

Tia finally appeared in the lounge room, eyebrow raised, hands on both hips. "So God help me, I am going to KILL you both if I see one bit of stuffing-"

"Mmmmorghghhfuuuugggoofff!" I managed to gasp out in between mouthfuls of cushion.

And that's when the doorbell rang for the second time that day.

"Coming!" Tia called out as she opened the door. There was a moment of silence.

"Oh, uh. Hi mum." She smiled brightly.

Her mother surveyed the havoc behind her daughter.

"Honey, who are these people?" Mrs. Adler questioned, when it was obvious that what she really wanted to ask was: who are these bastards ripping apart my living room? And OH MY GOD what the HELL happened to the curtains- WHAT ARE THEY DOING? Oh, oh GOD, is that what I THINK it is?

I was in the process of grabbing Asher's hair (since his shirt had slipped out of my hands)- not that I'd ever admit to such a girly action. Simon and Tania were painting each other's faces with flour and blueberry mix.

"Oh. Mum," Tia slung an arm around Tania, grinning widely. "You forgot my siblings?"

Mrs. Adler hesitated, as though actually considering the possibility of this, then smiled wryly at her daughter. "What, you mean the ones I never remembered having?"

"Mrs. Adler, don't you remember us?" Asher sidled up to Tia's mother like the simpering mummy's boy he was.

"Ohhh, you're from Tia's old school right?" Mrs. Adler's eyes were warm as she surveyed us. Her eyes lit up when she noticed me standing next to Asher.

"Tia, you invited your boyfriend over while I was away?" She murmured. But it must have been loud, because there were three collective "WHAT?"s.

And then, Tia had to explain it all over again. Leaving out the part where I wasn't actually her boyfriend, of course.

Sin waited for his chance. He was good at that, the waiting game.

The smooth metal barrel of the gun rested against his forehead. His gloved finger pressed gently against the trigger.

So this was what it felt like to be facing death- this was not nearly as terrifying as he'd thought. He flicked back the latch with a resounding click, and pulled.

"It's empty." She grinned at him, draping an arm over his shoulder. Her voice smoldered as she traced a line from the opening of his shirt down to the first button. "Now, you didn't really think I'd let you go through with it, did you?"

Simon Delacor remained expressionless, with nothing to indicate he was even breathing except the faint tilt of his pale lashes.

In a second he was out of the seat, hurling the useless gun against the wall where it rebounded and scattered across the floor.

She patted his arm obligingly and pulled him closer, whispering against his ear with breath as hot as flame. "No, you're much more valuable to me than that."

FUCK. I can't believe I was conned into attending this lame festival shit. We were each holding a tray of muffins. Needless to say, my muffins turned out perfect.

"You're looking like the cat who got the canary," Asher commented as he walked past the stall.

I resisted the urge to snap his scrawny little neck. Something about him just rubbed me the wrong way.

Throwing down the tray, I sauntered away from the festive tents and toward the shower block. Cold water blasted against my skin, a welcome distraction from everything else.

Goosebumps ran down my arms as I let myself into the pool area. Beads of water dripped from the spiky ends of my wet hair and into my eyes.

The water in front of me was as silent and still as liquid death.

"One for the team," I murmured, diving into the deeper end.

It was only when I broke the surface that I remembered.

I didn't know how to swim.

"Father!" Jaedron Huntington screamed, water filling up his lungs as he struggled to stay afloat. He clawed at the water as though it had some substance.

The black figure stood motionless on the bank.

Michael Huntington pulled Jane back as she tried to rescue her son. His eyes were hard, like stone.

Jae could barely hear what he was saying.

"If you save him now," Michael Huntington stated coldly, "He'll never learn how to save himself."

Jae's arms were getting tired, and his ears were blocked.

"Jaedron!" his mother cried as he sunk below the surface for the last time.

I couldn't move. Well, father, looks like I've learned fuck all after twelve years.

Still sinking like a god damn cannonball.

The corner of my mouth deepened, and my arms stretched upwards, floating towards the surface of the water. Or was it the bottom? My back hit the cold tiling of the pool floor as I took my first gulp of the chlorinated liquid.

There is never enough air.

Not for a monster like me.

Never for a monster like me.

I closed my eyes.

Gently, she grabbed my hand.

A/N: I lives! But yes, I know, as if the last cliffhanger wasn't bad enough...

Thank you for the lovely readers who have continued to support this story for the last 2 years, truthfully the only reason why I'm updating is because of you. Heart you all, without you there will be no story. Also I've started a page at wordpress (eyesofahuntress), and I will be updating with some spoilers, story spin offs and other general bits of writing/rants (soon!) so feel free to check that out.