Did I say this was going to be five chapters? I seriously underestimated how much I wanted to cram into this short story. It's going to be five chapters and an epilogue. I mean it this time. Six chapters total.
“Back off!” Emmett scowled at the man on the doorstep as he hauled Kacy back against his chest. His stomach churned when she made no move to get free. She normally hated being manhandled. “What did you do to her?”
Thorne Dow held his hands up and cocked his head to the side. “I assure you that I did nothing at all to Ms. Adams.”
“’S John,” she murmured, turning in Emmett’s arms so that her cheek was pressed against his shoulder. Her self-preservation instincts railed against turning her back on the man who shouldn’t exist, but she couldn’t look at him any longer. He was wrong and, God, if he wasn’t John Crowder, she deserved to be back in that mental hospital.
“What was that, baby girl?”
“He’s John. He’s Sam’s brother.”
“I’m sorry, Ms. Adams, but my name is Thorne and I don’t have any brothers.”
“Shut up!” Kacy whirled around, jabbed Thorne/John in the chest with her index fingers. Her flushed face was streaked with tears and her eyes were wild. “Don’t you dare stand there and lie to me. I don’t know how it’s possible, but I know who you are!”
“Kacy!” Emmett tightened his grasp on her waist and pulled her away from their stunned visitor. Her behavior was unsettling. She’d never been violent before. He smiled apologetically at Thorne. “I’m sorry about this. I don’t know what’s come over her.”
Thorne gently grabbed Kacy’s left arm. He twisted it so that the inside of her wrist was in the air. He brushed his thumb along the ankh tattooed beneath the ‘KC.’ “Katya,” he whispered.
She yanked her arm out of his hands. “My name is Kacy.”
“I can’t believe he was right. I can’t believe it’s you.”
“Funny, I could say the same thing.” Kacy leaned back against Emmett, grateful for his presence. He was warm, solid, and real. She could trust him to protect her, even if she was certifiably insane. “I’ve got to say, you look really good for someone a hundred and sixty-seven years old.”
He chuckled. “I assure you, Ms. Adams, I am nowhere near that old.”
“No! You can’t do that!” Kacy shoved her wrist under his nose, the force of her anger sent him stumbling backwards a few steps. “You can’t claim to know who the hell I am and then lie to me about who you are, John Crowder.”
He glanced over his shoulder at the empty street. “Perhaps we should move this conversation inside. It’s not safe to be out in the open like this.”
“Not safe? Not safe from what? From whatever’s been growling outside my window?”
All traces of Thorne, the affable history teacher, disappeared. The man who all but shoved Emmett and Kacy into the townhouse was closed off and wary. He bolted the door once they were inside and closed the curtains on the picture window beside the door. Dark eyes quickly scanned the room to locate every possible exit and hiding place.
It was easy for Emmett to see the soldier in Thorne/John/Whoever-in-the-hell-he-was. He snuggled Kacy against his side, ran a hand down her trembling arm. His eyes fell on the framed Crowder Family picture on her desk. John Crowder’s grim face stared back at him. He mentally compared the image in the picture to the man prowling around his sister’s home. There was no denying they could pass for twins, but it was impossible for it to actually be John Crowder, Civil War soldier, wasn’t it?
“I’m right, aren’t I?’ Kacy wriggled out of Emmett’s arms. She planted herself in front of ‘Thorne’ with her hands on her hips and eyebrows raised. “The growling means something. It’s got you worried.”
Emmett was far too familiar with the determined expression on her face. He almost felt sorry for their visitor. Kacy was like a pit bull with a meaty bone when she wanted information.
“I heard the first one last night. It wasn’t… it wasn’t any animal I’ve ever heard.” She shuddered at the memory. “One of the ones this morning was different, though. “
“How many have you heard?”
“Definitely two different growlers.”
John ran a hand through his hair, cursed softly. “Sam.”
Kacy perked up, her head swiveled around as if she expected Sam Crowder to pop up from behind the couch. “He’s the one growling?” Her hands slid off her hips as her brow furrowed in concentration. “Is he… mad at me? It is because of the t.v. show?”
Dry laughter spilled out of John’s lips. He shook his head and leaned against the wall. “Mad at you? Kid, if you only knew…” His laughter stopped abruptly, his eyes narrowed. His sharp gaze seemed to pierce right through her. “You should know.”
“Well, I don’t know. I’ve never met Sam Crowder.” Kacy plopped onto the couch, propped her heels up on the edge of the coffee table, and rested her aching head against the soft cushions. It had to be a dream. She was going to wake up at any minute with one hell of a red-wine hangover. “Of course, that’s not surprising, since, oh, I don’t know, he died 119 years before I was born!”
“No he didn’t.”
Kacy turned her eyes to a silently-observing Emmett. “Em, was I born in 1982?”
“That’s what the doctors figured when they checked you over.”
“Thank you. And, according to the letters written to his mother and the paperwork his commanding officers filled out, did Captain Samuel Crowder die in 1863?”
“That’s the story.”
“Thank you, again.” She flashed Emmett a smile before glaring at John. If she found out Juan had put ‘John’ up to this, she was going kill him. “I’m sure you think screwing with me is a ton of fun, but you’re going to have to find another victim for your little game. I quit.”
John hesitantly moved towards Kacy and perched on the edge of the coffee table. He kept his body positioned between her and the door. Half his attention was trained on the door. “Sam didn’t die in 1863. There was so much confusion then, it was easy for him to swap identities with another soldier that had been killed. I had done the same thing a couple of months earlier. ”
“That’s horrible!” Anger clouded Kacy’s face. She surged forward to slap John’s arm with the back of her hand. The heartbreak Annie Crowder must have felt, and for no reason at all! “Your poor mother! How could either of you do that to her?”
Rather than be indignant over her accusation, he stared at her in wonder. “You really don’t remember anything do you?”
“What am I supposed to remember?”
“Your parents, for one thing.”
Kacy shivered at the frost in his tone. When Emmett claimed the cushion beside her, she gratefully curled into his warmth. “I have parents: Jenny and Paul Adams. I have a brother, too. I had good childhood; I wasn’t spoiled but I never wanted for anything. I had friends, I played sports, and I got good grades.”
“But you don’t remember the first five years of your life.”
Emmett wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her against his chest. He wanted to punch John in the face. For years Kacy had agonized over the blank spot in her memory. It wasn’t fair to bring it up when she’d finally moved on. “The doctors said it was unlikely she’d ever remember. Her brain buried those memories deep to protect itself from some sort of trauma.”
John paled. His righteous anger faded into a grimace. “I’m sorry. It was… traumatic for all of us. I can’t imagine what it was like for you. It never should have gone down like that.”
“What are you talking about?” Kacy demanded.
“What do you know about incubi?”
“W-w-what?” Kacy sputtered. “I ask for an explanation and you ask me about mythology?”
"They’re demons that feed off sexual energy. “Unexplainable” pregnancies were blamed on incubi. There’s a variation of the myth in dozens of cultures. Legend says that Merlin’s father was an incubus.” Emmett flushed and shrugged when two sets of eyes zeroed in on him. “What? I was an English major. I took a couple of mythology courses!”
“The myths are only half right. We require energy to survive, but it isn’t limited to sexual energy.” John frowned. “I don’t know for sure about that bit regarding Merlin.”
“Wait!” Kacy froze. Her fingers tingled and her stomach twisted. The fog that always shrouded her early childhood started to thin. “You said ‘we.’”
Her lips twisted in a humorless smile as bile rose in her throat. Something inside her compelled her to believe his story, but she clung to logic. “You’re crazier than I am!”
“Or I’m telling the truth.” John started to reach for Kacy’s hands but pulled back when Emmett snarled warningly. “My mother was a succubus and my father was an incubus. I was born in 1543. My younger brother Samuel was born in 1550 in London.”
“That’s… that’s really not possible.”
“Sam and I are incubi. So, Katya Clover, was your father. Your parents were part of our clan. Sam and I used to babysit you. You had Sammy wrapped around your bitty fingers. He called you Clover, you know. You hated it.”
Before Kacy could respond, the front door crashed open. Emmett instinctively curled over Kacy like a human shield. John braced for an attack. The growl died in his throat when he spotted the man standing in the doorway.
“We’ve got to get Kacy out of here. I ran him off earlier, but Charles is on his way back!” Sam Crowder, his jeans and sweatshirt a far cry from his Confederate uniform, rushed into the townhouse and grabbed Kacy’s limp hand. He smiled charmingly and winked before scooping her into his arms. “Hello again, little Clover.”
Come on, who didn't see that coming? Still with me, here?