(Cass Part 4… continues from here)
Luka had cooked dinner, my favourite chicken and pasta, and we were lingering over bowls of ice cream as we caught up on each other’s day. Nothing unusual, except the ice cream, we didn’t eat that every night. Luka was telling me about the testing he had been doing the last couple of nights how it had identified vulnerabilities that led to more testing and how excited he and my father were about it all.
Yes my boyfriend worked with my father but that wasn’t how we had met. Luka’s dad and mine were old friends so we’d grown up knowing each other but Luka was a couple of years older than me so we had never really been friends. You know how it is, your parent’s friend’s kid, you tolerated them, were polite to them, but they were never going to be your bff! I remember thinking Luka was arrogant and a bit of a snob growing up and since I had inherited some of my Mom’s emphatic powers I had picked up on the fact that he wasn’t comfortable around me.
I was right about him being arrogant but I suppose he had reason for that, with his looks, brains, and family connections. He wasn’t a snob though, it had been a classic case of a boy not knowing what to say to a girl he liked. His discomfort stemming from, as he put it, inappropriate thoughts about me. Obviously the attraction wasn’t at all one sided since we were sitting together eating in our apartment. But that’s another story.
“Sage wants me to take another run at it tonight if we’re not too busy?” he ended his retelling with a careful question and a hopeful grin.
I shook my head at him and rolled my eyes, as if I could deny him anything when he looked at me like that. “Ah so the truth is revealed. Dinner was a bribe,” I teased as I scooped up the last of my ice cream, chocolate of course, and licked the spoon clean.
Luka’s eyes twinkled as he shrugged and pushed his half full bowl across the table to me. “No darling, this is a bribe,” he said, his voice a low purr.
“You don’t need to bribe me lover.” I used a strand or air to push the bowl back to him. “But you might have to make it up to me later.”
“I’m sure I can come up with something to please you,” he promised as he picked up his spoon. “What will you do while I work?”
I didn’t go for a run and it wasn’t to avoid anyone. I hadn’t seen my little brother in a while so I headed to his shop. Little was a total misnomer given he was taller than me and only ten months younger (my parents were keen eh?), but ten months or ten minutes, little was little.
“Be right with you.” His voice carried from the back where the break room was and I was already on my way there when I heard a clatter.
“It’s just me little brother,” I said as I reached the doorway to find him sitting at the small table he had set up shovelling food into his mouth.
He grunted and lifted his chin at me, his lips tilting up in greeting as I took a seat opposite him. He chewed and swallowed then picked up a bottle of water as he stared at me with slightly narrowed eyes. “So, what brings you here?” he asked finally.
“Luka’s working and I haven’t seen you in a while. Everything okay?”
Dean looked tired, his dark blue eyes, so like his dad’s, were clouded.
“I’ve been busy. You?” he said flatly and I frowned at him.
“Same old things, you know. Except Luka working from home for a couple of nights. He and Vader are working on something interesting.” I air quoted the last word with a grin.
“Uhuh.” Dean nodded and opened his water to take a drink then stood up slowly to glare down at me and my smile faded.
“Everything okay Dean?” I asked though I knew it wasn’t. He wasn’t just tired he was angry and as it pulsed from him I didn’t know how I hadn’t noticed it earlier.
“I wasn’t sure you know?” he muttered. He screwed the lid back onto the bottle and thumped it down onto the table.
“I thought I had it wrong, thought it had to be someone else.”
“What? You’re not making sense.”
“Yeah well…” He shook his head and pointed at me. “Look at you.”
“What?” I stood up and looked down. I was wearing jeans and a hooded jacket, nothing unusual.
Dean snorted and glared at me so I glared right back.
“I don’t know what your problem is little brother,” I started to say as he threw up his hands and stalked out of the room.
“This!” he yelled and I followed him to the front of the shop, his workspace with its easel and stacked canvasses. He stomped over to one of the stacks and picked up the last one to place on the easel. “This is the problem big sister,” he sneered as I stared in open mouthed shock.
My brother is an artist with a gift for prophecy and he had painted a couple standing on a rooftop adrift in a sea of lights. The woman stood in front of the man and he was holding her shoulders, his head lowered towards her, her head was turned to the side with her long dark hair flowing across obscuring both their faces. I lifted a hand to my chest, touched the familiar pattern of a stylised dragon on the front of my jacket, the same pattern he’d painted. But my eyes were drawn not to that pattern but to the figure he’d painted standing behind the couple. Dean really was an excellent artist, there was no mistaking Luka’s face.
“What the hell Dean?” I tore my gaze from the painting to look at him.
“That was my question. What the hell?” He jabbed a finger at me. “Why am I painting you and Luka and… and whoever the hell that is?”
Guilt swamped me as I shook my head. “This is… it’s just a painting,” I said desperately.
Dean laughed hoarsely. “Hello? Have we met? I’m Dean the fucking Seer of the family. I paint the future Cass, so again I ask, what the hell?”
I stared at my brother then looked back at the painting, this time looking not just at Luka’s face but the expression on his face. He was smiling.
“I don’t know,” I whispered and shook my head. “I really don’t know.”
to be continued…