Cayenne woke up to a sound like thunder, the air in the room cool enough that she could see her breath in front of her face. Shivering, she stood up, pulling on a black jacket and pulling it tight around herself. It wasn’t usually cold in the prison, but sometime the Ether pulled tricks and defied all laws of physics. That was why it was called the Ether, after all. No one really knew anything about it and that was why they stashed anyone who wasn’t human there.
Cayenne had never harmed anyone in her life. In fact, she didn’t even have any special powers, as the hunters seemed to think. Of course, hunters weren’t exactly known for being reasonable, so there was that.
She’d been in the Ether for a long time, longer than she would have thought possible. Once someone was placed into the prison, they stopped aging, but they weren’t immortal. If attacked by another of their kind they could be killed. Or if a hunter just wanted to blow off some steam and kill one of them, no one was going to stop them.
There were three parts to the prison. The Ether, the main part where they kept most of the “patients” as the hunters referred to them, though it was far from the truth. They were all prisoners. Next was the Asylum, where Cayenne was. It was where they put former hunters who had turned out to not be quite human. And lastly, Solitary Confinement. Not many people knew about the last one, as it was where they put the really bad ones, the ones who had gone insane or were too dangerous and violent to be around everyone else.
Cayenne had always thought her family would never give her up. In fact, most of them hadn’t wanted to, but it wasn’t her up to them in the end. Her twin brother, Caleb, had been the one to capture her, along with the help of a friend, Kara Steele. Once upon a time she and Kara had been like sisters. That was, until Kara found out what all of the hunters believed to be true: that Cayenne was not quite like the rest of them, that she was what they called a Natural.
They used the term Naturals for her kind because they were born with whatever power they had and all the powers were different. So far there was no known way of suppressing their natural abilities or getting rid of the completely.
Cayenne wasn’t really a Natural, but no one believed her when she told them that.
Hunters were skilled in all fighting styles, but they all had one extra ability that allowed them to sense a Natural from a human, and if they are a Natural how powerful they could be. They don’t sense how powerful the Natural is at that precise moment, but instead how powerful they could grow to be. The scale of Naturals goes from one (not human but not very powerful or dangerous) to ten (so powerful it nearly cripples all nearby hunters).
There were ten main families of hunters, the only ones that really mattered: Adler, Young, Marks, Wilson, Steele, McBride, Dubois, Lyons, Tyler, and Stone. Each of these families had at least one member in the Ether. Not that any of the families would ever admit to that. They were all too proud and ashamed to admit that one of their own could possibly be a Natural.
The Ether was a prison, but it was also…liberating. They were trapped in it, but it didn’t limit them as much as the hunters would like to think. They each had their own rooms and the doors could lock, but there was a sense of security within the Asylum that rendered that unnecessary. A few of them even paired up or just stayed the night in different rooms. Cayenne wasn’t as social as some of the others, but that didn’t mean they weren’t her friends.
The closest in age to her were Jinx McBride, Richard Dubois, and Riley Steele. But then, age was relative in this place. The four of them had stopped aging at nineteen, but all at different times.
Cayenne had been one of their first to be placed here, then came Richard and Jinx. The two of them had been friends outside, even dated before both of them realized they weren’t interested in the opposite sex. Jinx was easy-going where Richard just shifted his personality to adapt to whoever he was around. Cayenne was one of the lucky few to actually know the real Richard Dubois.
Jinx liked to say Cayenne and Richard could be twins. Cayenne would have believed it if not for the fact that they came from two different Hunter families and, most likely, two different times. Time seemed to be relative in the Ether, as no one really knew what was going on in the real world. It could have been decades since Cayenne was placed in the Asylum, or it could have been days.
Jinx had an older sister, Raven, who couldn’t have been more different. Where Jinx liked to joke around and flirt Raven was serious. They didn’t even look like they could have been related. Jinx had cerulean blue hair that tapered off into silver at the ends and was shaved on the left side where Raven had black hair with bright red ends. The only similarity they shared was their olive skin tone.
And then there was Remy Wilson. A unique individual, since the day Cayenne had met her. She had two older brothers, Kai and Dracien, both of whom were in the Asylum with them. Cayenne knew from experience not to mess with either of her brothers, not if you wanted to make it to see tomorrow. Remy was also unique in the way that she didn’t beat around the bush, so to say. If she wanted something from you she would flat-out ask for it. She was blunt and wouldn’t take any crap from anyone. She was also the youngest there, as she had stopped aging at eighteen.
Cayenne liked her from the moment they met.
She was never sure why, but the two of them just seemed to get along so well it was like they had known each other for years, though the opposite was true. Remy hadn’t been in the Asylum for quite as long as the others, but the noise that had woken Cayenne up told her they were about to get a new arrival. Which could be a good or bad thing, depending on which family they were from.
Cayenne hurriedly pulled on a pair of black boots, knowing the rest of the “patients” in the Asylum would be in the main area of their portion of the prison, waiting for the new prisoner to come through. It wasn’t like a door that opened, but more like a teleportation kind of thing. She supposed the hunters didn’t trust them enough to let them have any kind of doorway to the rest of the prison. It wasn’t as if they would want to escape anyways. In the Ether they didn’t have to fear capture and they lived among their own kind. Except for Cayenne, but since she’d been captured they welcomed her anyways. It didn’t seem to matter that she wasn’t a Natural, since she had been wrongly accused and there just as long as the rest of her friends.
“Kai?” Cayenne called out hesitantly as she saw a man standing next to her, a lit cigarette in his hand. “Is that you?”
He turned to her with a grin. “I don’t know how you do that. Must be your superpower.”
Cayenne rolled her eyes as she moved closer to him. They were actually pretty close, which was surprising, with the way his twin brother tended to be anti-social and shun the rest of the Naturals in the Asylum. Kai was alright, as far as she was concerned. He never really gave her grief for who her family was, as some of the others did. The Youngs weren’t exactly known for being nice.
The hallway outside their rooms was fenced in by a wall of pillars with a couple of feet of space in between each one. The line of pillars went around the perimeter of the living room, as they called it, since it was where most of them hung out on a daily basis. There was also a library, a kitchen, a dining area, a gym, and the bathrooms. The living room was also where the teleporter spit out the new arrivals.
“You get much sleep?” Kai asked, dropping his cigarette to the floor and snuffing it out with his boot. “I know you and Raven didn’t really part on the best of terms last night.”
Cayenne shrugged. She and Raven never really saw eye to eye on much of anything. Last night had been one of the worse fights the two of them had had since Raven arrived in the Asylum. Raven had attacked Cayenne out of nowhere, yelling random insults at her. Cayenne didn’t remember much, other than one name Raven had hurled at her, as one would a punch. Caleb Young.
Cayenne hadn’t heard her twin brother’s name for a very long time and she’d thought to never see him again. He was probably dead by now, anyways. Besides all of that, Cayenne wouldn’t want to see him even if he was alive. He was part of the reason she was in here. He was the real Natural, but somehow Cayenne had taken the fall for him.
“What was she even mad about?” Cayenne asked, glancing at Kai. “I don’t remember doing anything to piss her off yesterday.”
Kai chuckled. “When does anyone ever do anything to piss her off on purpose? She’s a bitch.” He shrugged. “How Jinx turned out so well I’ll never know. She went so far as to insult my hair the other day. Can you believe that?”
Cayenne couldn’t help but smile at Kai. He was a strange one. His black hair fell in waves past his chin, a red streak on the left side. It was truly the only way to tell him apart from his twin brother, Dracien, who had a blue streak in his hair instead of a red one. Cayenne could tell them apart even without that, but no one could figure out how.
“She really insulted your hair?” Cayenne asked, rubbing her hands together to warm them up.
Kai nodded, his aquamarine eyes focusing on her. “Sure did. I don’t know what her problem is. Maybe she just needs to get laid.”
Cayenne rolled her eyes. “Oh, come on. Who here would even try?”
“Riley would. He’s such a hoe it surprises even me sometimes.”
Cayenne shoved his shoulder, though she was grinning. Kai could always get her to smile, even if she would rather stab someone in the eye. “We should probably get in there. The new arrival will be here soon enough.”
Kai shrugged. “Mm. Maybe.”
Cayenne turned a questioning gaze on him. “What d’you mean? Did you hear something?”
“No. Just a feeling I’ve got. When the little newbie gets here somethin’ bad’s gonna happen.”
“Any idea what?” Cayenne asked as she took a step towards the open space in front of them, getting ready to step into the living room. Even if something bad was going to happen she needed to be there to control it. “I can’t think of anything, unless Raven tries to start something again.”
Kai shrugged, pushing off of the wall he’d been leaning against. “Don’t know, but I’ll be there to help you stop it.” He slung an arm around her shoulders, frowning. “You’re so tall for a girl. Like, c’mon, chica, I’m 6 feet tall and you’re…what? An inch or two shorter than I am?”
Cayenne smiled to herself. She prided herself on being just as tall as the boys. She’d always been able to keep up with the boys, too. A fact that the boys here didn’t like very well. “Aw, Kai, don’t tell me you’re jealous of my height.”
Kai kissed her on the forehead. “Not a chance, baby girl.”
She rolled her eyes at the nickname as they walked into the living room. About half of the others were already up and sitting around in various places. Remy was lounging on the black couch, using Richard’s lap as a pillow as he played with her hair. Dracien was leaning against a nearby wall, looking like he hated the world, which was pretty normal for him. Riley, a blond surfer type, was sitting with Jinx on the red couch, laughing at something she had said.
Kai’s gaze lingered on his twin brother for about half a second before it fell on his sister. “You two serious?”
Cayenne glanced at him. “I don’t know. We haven’t felt the need to define what we are.” She shrugged. “I don’t think it makes much difference, anyways, unless her ex-boyfriend somehow ends up in here.”
Kai chuckled darkly, eyes narrowing into slits. “If he did it wouldn’t end well. He’s the one who turned her in to our asshole parents and the rest of the stupid hunters.”
“I didn’t know.”
And she didn’t. No one in the Asylum really talked about how they ended up there, unless to joke around about it. Even then, it was a tense subject.
Cayenne didn’t think anyone even knew how it was she came to be in the Asylum. If she told them they would all think she was crazy, not that that was something she really cared about. She had spent enough time with these people that she was confident they would continue to be her friend, regardless of what had happened to her in the real world. The only person she was really close enough to talk to about it would be Kai.
Cayenne couldn’t understand why, but somehow she and Kai had connected on a different level than she had with even Richard or Remy. Kai was more than a friend, he was like the one person she felt she could bare her soul to and he would treat it like it was the most precious thing in the universe. Some people might think that was strange, since Cayenne was sort of dating his younger sister, but the connection they shared wasn’t of a romantic nature. If anything, it was more a spiritual connection, if you believed in that kind of thing.
It was one of the reasons Dracien stayed away from her. He had never said as much, but Cayenne suspected he was jealous of her for being closer to his twin brother than he was. Remy, though, didn’t seem to have a problem with. She often joked around, saying they had an “epic bromance”.
“You wouldn’t,” Kai said, angling his body towards her as he glanced down at her. “She doesn’t like to talk about it.”
“She only mentioned him once and it was only to say that she’d been dating someone before coming to this place.” Cayenne shrugged. “I never felt the need to ask.”
“That’s why I like you. You don’t pry into people’s personal shit. You totally could, but you never have. Like, I know you know what each of our powers are, but you don’t seem to have one.” He immediately put his free hand up in a gesture of surrender. “Which is cool! It’s cool if you’re not a real Natural. I mean, those a-hole hunters put you in here so I figure you got on their bad side. Which is totally awesomesauce by me.”
“Did you really just say ‘awesomesauce’?”
Kai grinned. “Got you to say it, didn’t I?”
Cayenne couldn’t help but laugh at him. Just being around him could get that reaction out of her sometimes. “You’re so weird, Kai.”
He just smiled, gesturing towards the living room with his free hand. “Shall we join the others, m’lady?” He asked, tipping his invisible hat to her.
“I suppose we shall, kind sir,” Cayenne replied, lifting her imaginary skirt in a curtsy.
They were both laughing as they walked into the living room, earning a glare from Dracien, to which Kai replied by sticking his tongue out. Cayenne just shook her head at him, knowing better than to try to make peace between the two of them. Kai and Dracien might be twins but they were nothing alike, especially when it came to Cayenne. Kai loved her and Dracien might not hate her, but he definitely didn’t like her either.
“What are you two weirdos laughing about?” Remy asked as she sat up, arching an eyebrow. “Or, what are you laughing about at three in the morning? That is the question I should be asking.”
Kai just leaned over and ruffled Remy’s hair, smirking as she smacked his hand away and glared at it as if she was going to bite it. And if he made another move towards her, she might do just that. “Aw, come on, sis, you know you love me.”
Remy just gave him a skeptical look, her eyes narrowing. “You sure about that?”
Richard shot a knowing glance at Cayenne before pulling her down into his lap, earning glares from both Kai and Remy for the effort. Cayenne just smiled as he wrapped his arm around her back, resting her head against his shoulder.
“How is it you can be best friends with two guys and be a lesbian? You defy all logic,” Remy said with a pout, crossing her arms. “Before you answer, just remember we’re in public.”
Cayenne just stuck her tongue out as she closed her eyes, slowly warming up as she stole Richard’s body heat. “I don’t use labels.”
Remy just made an annoyed sound, to which Kai started laughing.
Cayenne had never felt this relaxed before she had become friends with the people in the Asylum. When she’d first been teleported into the Ether, she had been completely and utterly terrified that she was going to die alone or go insane. It wasn’t until her tenth suicide attempt that she finally accepted the fact that she couldn’t die here. As she later found out, as soon as you were placed into the Ether you stopped aging and death was impossible.
In the first few months she went from anger to depression and back to anger. She punched the walls so many times she lost count of how many times she actually broke her hands. She’d tried to kill herself when the pain didn’t seem to bother her anymore. And when that hadn’t worked…she just sat in her room and didn’t move for days.
And then Jinx and Richard had arrived.
But it had already been two years.
At first she hadn’t wanted to go anywhere near them. She had hidden in her room and anywhere else she could find to get away from them. The presence of two actual people had been too much for her to handle and she had almost lost it. They didn’t even realize she was there for more than a month.
When she finally did show herself to them she had broken down into tears, unable to stop herself. It had been a hard time and it had forged and unbreakable bond between the three of them.
The three of them had become so close that when Sawyer Stone arrived he had felt like an outsider. Cayenne had avoided him for weeks before Richard finally convinced her to go talk to him. They weren’t really close, but she did consider him a friend.
In fact, Cayenne considered every person inside the Asylum a friend. Even those that seemed to resent her very existence.
A sudden shaking startled Cayenne out of her thoughts, causing her eyes to fly open as the sound from earlier assaulted her senses. Richard’s hand tightened on her bicep as his other hand slipped into her own. “You okay?”
Cayenne forced herself to nod. “It’s just been so long since we had a new arrival. I guess I’d gotten used to how things have been…” She shrugged, sighing. “I don’t know, Rich, maybe I just don’t like change.”
He chuckled. “Well, yeah. I know you don’t. Why do you think you avoided me and J for well over a month before you finally let us know you were here?” He smiled, pressing a lock of her hand behind her ear. “It’s cool, since we love you so much, but when we first met you we thought you were crazy.”
“I didn’t mean to scare you.” Cayenne looked down, avoiding his all too familiar light gray gaze. “I had just been alone for too long.”
Richard smiled softly. “I know. Believe me, I know. My point, though, is that you hate change. You hate it so much you drove yourself to your breaking point to avoid it.”
Cayenne glanced up at him as heat filled her cheeks. “God, I love you so much sometimes.” She sighed, whispering, “Why couldn’t you have been my brother instead?”
Richard kissed her on the forehead, smoothing her hair away from her face. “How do you know I’m not? Maybe we were meant to be brother and sister. Maybe we were meant to meet this way, no matter the ups and downs we may have had.”
Cayenne kissed his on the cheek. “Sure, Rich. Maybe.”
“Hey, look!” Kai said, leaning over the back of the couch, his face right next to Richard’s. “Someone’s coming through the portal!”
“We should all gather over there,” Richard pointed out as the others started walking towards a blank wall on the opposite side of the room that was starting to glow with a soft blue light. “Jinx and Riley are already over there.”
Cayenne nodded as she got to her feet, Richard and Remy standing up on either side of her. Remy grinned and pulled her into a passionate kiss. “You ready to meet the new arrival?” She asked with a mischievous look in her dark blue eyes.
Cayenne smiled as she slipped her hand into Remy’s. “As ready as I’ll ever be, I suppose.”
Kai claimed Cayenne’s free hand before Richard could, jumping over the couch and nearly falling in the process. “I am!”
Remy rolled her eyes, trying to kick her brother in the shin before he could get away from her. When he managed to avoid her he smirked, but before he could say anything he had a face full of pillow.
As Kai fought to get the pillow off of his face Remy started laughing. Her power was one of the more interesting ones, actually. She could create anything she desired out of nothing. No one was really sure how it worked, but when she tried to explain it she had said, “Well, I’m not sure, really… I guess it’s just like…reaching into a pocket dimension and pulling out whatever I was thinking of. That’s the best way I can think of to explain it.”
So, you could suffice to say no one really wanted to mess with her. Kai had once said she buried him under a mountain of stress balls just because he’d tried to wake her up before noon on a Saturday. No one wanted to know what the limits of her power were and she’d never really felt the need to test them.
“I’m going to stay over here,” Richard said quietly. “I don’t think we all need to be over there for this.”
Cayenne turned to him, eyebrows furrowed in concern. “You sure?”
He nodded, but the look in his eyes was telling a different story. Cayenne knew she would be talking to him about this later, and so did he. “Alright,” she amended. “See you later.”
Richard just laid back down on the couch and closed his eyes, a somewhat pained look on his face. Cayenne wanted to ask, but she knew now wasn’t the time. Instead, she turned back to the others.
As they walked over to join the others Cayenne saw a flash of gold out of the corner of her eye and turned her head to see a familiar set of deep green eyes and a mess of unruly brown hair.
One of the more unique prisoners in the Asylum. The hunters had ranked his danger level almost as high as Cayenne’s. He had complete control over all mental powers: telekinesis, telepathy, and the whole nine yards. No one really knew the extent of his powers either. Cayenne was just glad he didn’t believe in using them unless he had to.
“Hey, Brady.” Remy said, lifting her free hand in a wave. “Get any sleep?”
Brady shrugged. “Not really. You know how it goes. Raven gets pissed and none of us can get any sleep.”
Kai just chuckled. “Sucks for all of us that her powers gotta affect our dreams.”
Cayenne wasn’t really sure what Raven’s power was but it somehow turned the most innocent of dreams into the worst nightmare you’d ever encountered. It took all of your fears and threw them at you in the worst way possible.
“It sucks that we have to tiptoe around her all the damn time,” Remy said with an annoyed sigh. “Just because we don’t want to deal with the nightmare shit we try not to piss her off and that’s stupid. We’re already in prison, we shouldn’t have to censor ourselves for her.”
“Totally.” Kai agreed.
Cayenne gave Kai a look. “Come on, guys, you know it’s been hard for her, being here…”
“It’s been hard on all of us,” Brady pointed out. “We all have to learn how to deal with it.”
Cayenne sighed. “I know that. I just…I feel bad for her.”
“Why?” Remy asked with a curious expression. “I mean, she has nothing but hatred for you. She doesn’t care what her powers do to any of us. I don’t see why you should care how she feels.”
“I think maybe she doesn’t have any control over them and that’s why we’re all targeted whenever she gets upset.” Cayenne shrugged as they came to a stop next to Jinx and Riley. “I just think we should all give her a break.”
Remy frowned. “Not after yesterday. She doesn’t deserve it after she treated you so horribly.”
Kai let go of Cayenne’s hand so he could wrap his arm around her shoulders, pressing a kiss to the side of her head. “I have to agree with Remy on this one, Caye. Raven was a bitch to you yesterday and you shouldn’t have to put up with it. I know we never really set down any ground rules or anything, but I think maybe we should. Especially if Raven thinks she can go around talking to any of us, let alone you, like that.”
Cayenne sighed as she leaned into him. “I know. I just don’t want to start another fight with her. Besides, no one here wants to listen to me trying to have another meeting. The last one went so badly I almost don’t want to even try to hold another one.”
Brady winced. “That one was pretty bad, Kai.”
Kai’s expression morphed into one of confusion, reminding Cayenne that he hadn’t been there for that one. It had been quite some time and it had only been Cayenne, Richard, Jinx, Brady, Riley, and Raven. Not too long before Remy and Ronan arrived.
Ronan was a bit of a loner and the only person he would really talk to was Remy, mostly because they’d been brought in together. Cayenne had a feeling it went further than that, but neither of them wanted to talk about it and, so far, no one had pushed them to. He actually looked a lot like Brady, except his hair was shorter and his eyes were brown. His power was a bit of mystery to everyone there, except maybe Cayenne. If her reading on it had been right he had been ranked at a ten – the only other Natural she knew of, other than herself, that the hunters had ranked that high – with the ability to control reality itself.
Cayenne shuddered. “I don’t think any of us could stand to relive that.”
“What happened?” Kai asked, playing a lock of Cayenne’s hair.
“Only about half of us were there,” Cayenne began. “Me, Richard, Jinx, Brady, Riley, and…Raven. We were trying to figure out how we should all live together since my method of avoiding everyone ever wasn’t working out. Let’s just say there were some harsh words thrown around and everyone said something they wished they hadn’t, myself included.”
Kai blinked. “Raven was there?”
Brady nodded. “Yep. And if you’d been there, too, you would understand why she hates Cayenne so much. It’s also the reason she knew your brother’s name, or did you forget?”
“I don’t think anything could make me forget that day,” Cayenne said in a low voice. “It was worse even than my first day here.”
Remy’s fingers tightened around Cayenne’s. “So maybe the meeting isn’t such a good idea?”
Kai glanced at Remy, then at Brady. “No, I still think we need to have it. Especially once this new person gets here. What if he or she is just as bad as Raven? Or, god forbid, what if one of us know them? That spells out danger, guys. We can’t just stand by and let members of our family kill each other.”
“So we’re all a family now?” Brady asked.
Kai shoved his shoulder. “Oh, come on. How can we not be? We’re all going to be stuck together for…well, for eternity. We can’t die and we don’t age. None of us are going anywhere anytime soon. And, besides, I think of the lot of you like family, even if some people don’t.”
Cayenne smiled. “I do too.”
Remy rolled her eyes. “Of course, I think so, too, you big idiots.”
Brady shook his head at them, but there was a fond smile on his face. “You know how I feel about it. You guys have been family from day one.”
Jinx turned to them with a smile curving her lips upward. “I hate to eavesdrop, but you guys are so not subtle… Anywho, I totally agree with you. Raven may be my big sister, but you guys are family. You always have been.”
Riley had an arm wrapped around her shoulders and he had turned with her to face them. He grinned now, “I don’t know what it is about this place, but it just…you know, it just brings us all together. Gotta appreciate that even though those assholes wanted to isolate us they created something a lot more important. Something none of them could ever understand. If even a single one of them had a concept of family we wouldn’t be here, none of us.” He gave them all a thumbs up. “So, you know what? I’m glad I’m not a stupid human. I’m glad we all ended up in jail.”
There was about a second of silence before they all burst out laughing. Cayenne grinned as she detached herself from Kai and Remy, pulling Jinx and Riley into a hug. “I have to talk to the both of you later. It’s important.” She whispered before standing back.
Jinx kissed her on one cheek as Riley kissed her on the other. “You know we love you, too, Caye, but we’re too gay for each other to accept your love,” Riley said with a mischievous grin. “And, yes, Remy, I know that sentence made absolutely no sense.”
Jinx and Riley may have joked about being together, but in all reality, Jinx was a lesbian and no one really knew what Riley was. After a certain amount of time, though, anyone could be anything they wanted to be. At least, that’s how it was in the Asylum, and probably the Ether in general. In the time they had been there most of them had dated at least two of the others. Cayenne was currently with Remy, but she and Riley had been together at one point, too.
Before Remy could reply there a sound like a pack of wolves howling at the moon and the room had one, long, final tremor.
Everyone fell silent as the light from the wall in front of them intensified as they turned towards it. Cayenne stepped back to stand in between Remy and Kai, slipping her hands into either of theirs. Riley stood on the other side of Remy while Jinx moved to stand next to Brady. Cayenne didn’t turn around, but she knew when the other Naturals came up to stand around the portal, except for Richard, who hadn’t moved from his spot on the couch, and Dracien, who never joined them for anything, unless he could help it.
With a flash of bright light a girl appeared in front of them, kneeling on the floor. She had blond hair with streaks of blue that fell in waves to her shoulders. When she looked up Cayenne could make out a pair of sky blue eyes and a freckled face.
Cayenne took a step forward and offered her a hand, a welcoming smile on her face. “Hello. My name is Cayenne.” The girl took her hand and Cayenne pulled her to her feet. “I know the circumstances are not ideal, but welcome to the Asylum. I’m sure you’ll grow to…not exactly love it here, but not hate it, at the very least.” She laughed nervously. “What’s your name, sweetheart?”
The girl met her gaze without blinking, but before she could answer there was a sound that could only be characterized as full of pain from behind her.
Cayenne whirled around to see Riley had taken a step forward, his uniquely different eyes, one blue and one gray, narrowed in what could only be anger. “What the hell are you doing here?”
The girl stared dumbly at him for a moment before her gaze hardened and she crossed her arms. “I should have known they’d stick me in here with you, Steele.”
Cayenne aimed a nervous look at Kai, who nodded and focused his attention on Riley. No one had ever seen him really pissed off before so they had no idea what he was capable of. “I take it you two know each other?”
Riley had a dark look in his eyes as he snorted. “Yeah, you could say that.”
Knowing she wouldn’t get a straight answer from him, Cayenne turned towards the girl. “Care to enlighten me?”
A slight shake of the head was the only answer she received.
Several moments of tense silence passed before Riley muttered something unintelligible under his breath and threw his arm out, a stream of water hitting the wall to his left. Cayenne gaped at the show of power. Riley never lost control and he rarely used them to hurt anyone. It was something of an unspoken rule never to use them around a new arrival.
Riley frowned, closing his eyes as he fought to get himself under control. The girl just shook her head, mumbling something about how he never could hide his stupid water power very well.
When Riley opened his eyes he gave the girl a hard stare, crossing his arms. “You want to know how I know her, Cayenne. She’s my girlfriend. She’s the person who turned me in. Her name is Cassie Tyler.”
Cassie smiled. “Guilty.”
None of them had really known how to react once Riley dropped that particular bomb and Cassie confirmed it was true. Cayenne had thought, for a second, that Riley was going to attack Cassie. His posture was rigid, his hands curled into fists at his sides in his anger. And if this really was Cassie Tyler, as all evidence seemed to suggest, then Riley had every right to hate her and to be angry.
When the silence had stretched into several minutes and no one had moved or dared to speak, Cayenne walked over to stand in front of Riley. Even though they were no longer together, that didn’t mean she wanted to watch him go through something like this without even saying she was sorry. What she really wanted to do was punch Cassie in the jaw, but if she did that then what hope was there for all of them in this place?
Instead, she rested her hand on his shoulder. He looked up at her, anguish in his eyes. “Caye…”
“Come on, Riley,” Cayenne said as she slid her hand down his arm and into his hand, wrapping her fingers around his. “Let’s go for a walk.”
Riley didn’t say anything, but the way his hand was shaking was answer enough as he allowed her to lead him away from his painful past. Cayenne glanced at Kai as they walked past, mouthing, take care of this. She knew everything would turn out fine as long as Kai didn’t go crazy and start throwing punches, which was a very real possibility. He and Riley were pretty good friends so he knew how much Cassie showing up had to hurt. Cayenne was about eighty-three percent certain Kai wouldn’t hurt Cassie. At least, not in front of his sister.
They didn’t say anything while they were walking, but it wasn’t an awkward silence either. When they had first broken up, they had avoided each other for months, but gradually they’d started talking and had easily become best friends again. The sad part about all of this was that Cayenne knew just how much Cassie meant to him. Before she had betrayed him she had been his everything. He had loved her so much that when she turned him in to the council it had felt like he’d lost a part of himself, too. That was how he had described it when he told Cayenne about Cassie.
Cayenne and Riley had been together for about five years, depending on how you looked at time. In the Ether, it was probably about five years, but they didn’t know how long it would have amounted to in the real world. Cassie and Riley had been together for seven years there and he still wasn’t over her.
Eventually they ended up in the kitchen, Cayenne sitting on the island in the middle of the room while Riley just leaned against it, resting his head against her side.
They had been sitting in a comfortable silence for about ten minutes before Cayenne felt Riley wrap an arm around her waist. She was about to ask him if he was okay when she felt a wetness soak through her shirt and heard him give a little gasp and then a sob, his fingers curling into the material of her shirt.
Without thinking about it, Cayenne wrapped her arm around his back, rubbing his shoulder as a way to try to comfort him. For as long as they had known each she had never really seen him get upset. For the most part, Riley was a pretty laid back guy and it took a hell of a lot to upset him.
After he had gotten out all of his crying he took a step back and wiped his eyes. Cayenne watched him for a moment, hoping against all the odds that Riley would come out of this okay. If it had been her she knew she wouldn’t have been able to keep it together even this long. Of all the people in the Asylum, Riley had to be one of the strongest. All of them had been through a lot and they all had to find a way to keep going, but Cayenne had seen more than one of them completely lose it and break down in front of the others.
Cayenne scooted to the end of the island she was sitting on and tried to hop down without injuring herself, but in the process her foot slid sideways and she would have fallen and might have broken something if Riley hadn’t been standing close enough to grab her arms and haul her to her feet. As an immediate reaction, she gripped his forearms, her breathing slightly accelerated. She didn’t really have a fear of dying, not after all that she been through, and she knew that a fall like that wouldn’t kill her, but she knew it could have potentially been bad.
Looking up into Riley’s blue eyes, she offered a small smile. “Thanks for catching me.”
Riley didn’t quite manage a smile as he replied, “Anytime.”
It was then that Richard walked into the kitchen, Jinx trailing along behind him. They both froze when they saw Riley and Cayenne and she realized just how compromising a position they were in. Even though she and Remy weren’t necessarily an actual couple and she and Riley weren’t doing anything wrong, she felt guilt start to creep up on her.
“Oh, crap, did we just walk in on you guys having a moment?” Jinx asked, brown eyes widening as she looked from Cayenne to Riley and back again.
“I thought you and Remy were together…” Richard pointed out, blinking slowly.
Cayenne forced herself to look back at Riley, an apologetic look on her face. Slowly, she let go of his arms and shoved her hands into her pockets before turning back to face Jinx and Richard. “We weren’t having a moment. And Remy and I aren’t exclusive, but yes, I am with her.”
With an awkward look back at Riley, she slipped out of the kitchen, walking down the hallway towards the library. Since no one ever really went to the library Cayenne was hoping to have some time to herself to think. The guilt churning in her stomach was enough to make her feel sick.
But we didn’t even do anything wrong.
No matter how many times she told herself that the guilt just wouldn’t go away. She didn’t know if it was because for a split second she had wanted to comfort him in the best way she knew how. She had just wanted to hug him until he was okay again. And…she had wanted to kiss him. Something she had never thought to feel ever again.
It had taken them almost as long as they were together to learn how to be friends again. That wasn’t something she was prepared to lose for a tiny slip in judgement. If she had kissed him she had no doubt he would have kissed her back, which would have created a whole mess of problems.
Cayenne wasn’t even sure how she felt about Remy.
All she knew was that she used to be in love with Riley. Now he was hurting and there was nothing she could do to make that better. She didn’t think even telling him she still cared for him would make that particular hurt any better. What Cassie had done to him was terrible, but if Cayenne told him she might still have feelings for him, did that really make her any better?
No, she decided. It didn’t.
Cassie Tyler was the one person Riley hated more than all hunters in general. Each of them had a person like that, sometimes the one who turned them in, sometimes not.
For Cayenne it was Caleb Young. Her twin brother.
The last time she had seen Caleb it had been raining, storming actually. She had been afraid of storms for as long as she could remember, a fear that only Caleb had known about. As a Hunter, she had hated herself for having such a childish fear. Even though Caleb was her twin, younger by only a minute or so, he had never really seemed to be afraid of anything. And, somehow, during every storm, he had been there.
For a moment, the voice sounded just like Caleb’s and when she turned around she was expecting him to be standing there, blood on his hands. There was so much blood on his hands. So much that he would never be able to wash it all off.
Cayenne blinked away the image of her brother covered in blood as Remy took a step towards her. “Cayenne? Are you alright?”
Cayenne shook herself out of her thoughts and forced a smile, watching as Remy slowly approached. “Yeah. I’m… That was…hard, to watch.”
Remy smiled sympathetically. “It sucks that such a good guy has to deal with something like that. Cassie seems like a bitch.”
A small, baby of a laugh, escaped Cayenne before she could stop it. “I think maybe she always was.”
And then there was a wetness on her cheeks that she couldn’t explain, a blurriness to her vision that definitely wasn’t there before, and she collapsed against the wall.
“Cayenne!” Remy’s voice was loud, louder than it had been a few seconds ago. “Cayenne, oh my god! Are you okay?”
When Cayenne just slid down the wall to the floor, her hands falling to her lap, unable to answer, Remy leaned down in front of her. Remy put her hand on Cayenne’s knee and kissed her on the forehead. “I’m going to go get help. I’ll be right back, I promise.”
And then she was gone.
But you should never make promises, Cayenne thought. Promises don’t mean a thing.
Caleb Young was never much for family gatherings or gatherings of any kind, really. It had a lot to do with his family being a bunch of pathetic assholes most of the time. Of course, he himself was a pathetic asshole for what he had done to his sister. The sister that they never bothered to talk about anymore. The horrible truth of it all was that she wasn’t even one of the creatures they hunted.
So, yeah, Caleb kind of hated himself.
Another Young family trait, that was. Every single one of his siblings, all twelve of them, hated themselves for the part they had played in Cayenne’s imprisonment. And yeah, some of them had never met Cayenne, and some of them were only half siblings, but they all knew who she was.
Caleb blamed himself most of all, even if none of them did. He and Cayenne had been pretty close, as twins go, and the fact that he had been the one to betray her was not lost on him. Of course, he never would have had to do it if not for Freya Adler.
Now, that was a name that was long past forbidden. Even worse than Cayenne Young. And more recently Cassie Tyler.
It seemed like every family of hunters had at least one Natural in it throughout the years. Caleb had never actually been into the Ether, but from what he had heard it was not a pleasant place. His mother, the only person in his family he didn’t have an intense hatred for, had been there, as she had been the one to transport Cayenne into the Asylum, whatever that was.
Caleb had only heard bits and pieces about the Asylum over the years but it was rumored to have only been used for the most powerful of Naturals. If they found out about Caleb that was surely where he would end up.
He was currently hiding in the library in his father’s horrifyingly familiar mansion. He had hated it as a teenager and he hated it now, even if he did still look nineteen. So what if he was stuck as a teenager for the rest of time. Cayenne was probably dead by now, so what did he care?
He had long since grown tired of the fake sympathetic gazes of his various family members and snuck away to have a drink when someone snuck up on him. A rare feat to do to someone who had been alive as long as he had been.
Caleb whirled around, a gun in his hand within seconds. Until he took in the sky blue eyes and wavy blond hair. “What the hell? Cassie, is that you?”
Cassie Tyler was a sneaky little bitch, he had to give her that.
She grinned. “I guess you’ve heard then.”
Caleb glared at her, gaze unwavering. “Yeah. I think everyone’s heard by now, Cassie. Why the hell are you here?”
She shrugged, a strange look on her face that Caleb didn’t quite understand. She held her hands up in a gesture of surrender. “I came to turn myself in, Caleb. They know about me. I don’t know how and I don’t really care either. It’s probably Riley’s revenge from beyond the grave.”
Caleb chuckled. “Probably. If they find me out, it’ll be Cayenne’s.”
Cassie turned serious. “That’s actually why I’m here. They’ll be sending me to the Asylum.”
Caleb frowned. “How can you know that? Nobody knows anything about the Ether, let alone the Asylum.”
Cassie scoffed. “Oh, plenty of people know about it. I did some digging these past few months that I’ve been on the run. Apparently it’s where they send the Naturals that were once hunters. And my source, which I won’t reveal at this time, told me that you can’t die once you enter it. And, I can’t tell you much about it, but Cayenne is still alive.”
Caleb couldn’t believe the words he was hearing. “She can’t be.”
“She is,” Cassie assured him. “Do you have a message for her? I…I’ll do my best to get it to her.” Her voice started to shake near the end and she had to look away, clearing her throat. “I’m sure she’s fine, Caleb.”
Caleb froze. Cassie never got choked up about anything, not even when she was facing other Naturals that they had to capture and take in to be transported to the Ether. It just…wasn’t Cassie Tyler. She never got freaked out about anything, and honestly, she was one of the strongest people Caleb knew.
He couldn’t help but notice that there was something wrong with Cassie. When she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear he noticed that her fingers were shaking. Her eyes were slightly wider than usual and her face was pale, as if all of the blood had been drained out of it. The one thing that really told him something was wrong was the fact that she couldn’t quite look up into his eyes, and her gaze was all over the place.
So, yeah, Caleb knew that there was something very wrong.
“Cassie? Are you…scared?”
Cassie turned her head to stare at him so fast he was sure she would get whiplash. He took a hesitant step towards her and she took a panicked step back. He could see it in her eyes, the look of a wild animal, trapped and about to be captured or killed.
And then he realized.
Cassie was terrified of what would happen to her in the Asylum. If she was right and it was where they took Naturals that had once been hunters, then she had every right to be worried. Her ex-boyfriend, Riley Steele, was one of the Naturals imprisoned there. Something a lot of people didn’t know was that it wasn’t Cassie’s fault he was in there.
Cassie blamed herself for what had happened to Riley, just as he blamed himself for Cayenne, but really what happened to Riley…it was an accident. It should never have happened. And Cassie never should have been the one blamed for it. Not that the hunters would ever blame a Hunter for bringing in a Natural.
And now Cassie was being hunted, quite literally, for being the very thing they had been taught to hate.
Now, didn’t that just suck?
Yeah. It really did.
And Caleb was pretty sure he was next.
It was storming.
Of course it was storming. It was always storming these days.
Cayenne hated the way the thunder rumbled in the distance, the lighting flashing through the sky. Caleb couldn’t seem to get enough of it.
Just goes to show not all twins can like the same things. Sure, they had some similar interests, but this was definitely not one of them. If Cayenne had her way there would be no such thing as storms. The only good thing about them was that they made her that much closer to Caleb.
Whenever there was a storm, or even just really intense rain, Caleb would always crawl into Cayenne’s bed and lay there with her. It became a kind of ritual when they were children and continued on into their teenage years. Sometimes they would lay there in the silence and listen to the thunder growing closer. Other times they would blast music so loud their neighbors would complain (if they had any neighbors, that was) and dance like there was no tomorrow. Caleb made those terrible days bearable.
Caleb used to say it sounded like the clouds were mad at the lightning and grumbling about it. He would say that they didn’t mean to make her cry and that it made them sad when she did. Which, of course, got her to stop because she didn’t want to upset the clouds any more. Granted, she had been five at the time, but the memory of that day had never left her. She loved Caleb for that day, and she only wished that the day he hurt her beyond repair hadn’t been a stormy day.
Cayenne had always hated that the sound of a new arrival had to be so similar to that of a storm. She had never told anyone why it scared her so much, and the only person that might be able to guess was Kai. Kai had spent more than one night in her room, trying to calm her down when she couldn’t breathe because she was so terrified.
Nothing else really held any fear for her, other than death, and sometimes not even that. With the amount of times she had tried to kill herself since being locked up in the Asylum, one would think she no longer had any fear of dying, but the opposite was true. The more she thought death would bring her peace and she wouldn’t have to be so hurt over Caleb’s betrayal the more fear it held for her.
She couldn’t explain it, but she felt if she actually managed to kill herself Caleb would haunt her for all eternity.
It wasn’t true, but no matter how many times she told herself that it wasn’t the more she felt afraid of it. She hadn’t been able to sleep much lately because every time she closed her eyes she saw her brother’s face and it just made it all hurt worse. After this much time, she had hoped it would go away, but it never did. To be honest about it, she didn’t think it ever would.
So, the night after Cassie arrived…well, it wasn’t fun. To say the least.
No one could quite figure out what had caused Cayenne to pass out earlier and they’d all kind of agreed she shouldn’t be alone, but she also didn’t want to be with Remy or anyone she was close to, really.
The only problem with that was that Kai couldn’t take no for an answer. His motto was “if they keep saying no you’re asking the wrong question”.
Cayenne loved Kai to death but her insomnia didn’t love him quite as much. Of course, when she couldn’t sleep and she had to deal with her memories ganging up on her, she liked to walk. The only problem was she couldn’t get away from Kai for even two seconds. When she had to go the bathroom he’d insisted on standing right outside and she could hear him singing Roar by Katy Perry the entire time.
Anyone else would find it extremely annoying, but for Cayenne it was...oddly endearing. Of course, she’d had time to adjust to Kai’s strange and sometimes erratic behavior. She was sure there was some kind of backstory there but he’d never asked for hers so she never pushed him to talk about his.
Maybe that made her a good friend, or maybe it just made her considerate. Either way, she appreciated Kai for just being there, for not pushing her to talk. She was sure he understood what she was going though, how she was feeling a lot more than he let on.
They had been laying in the dark of her room for about half an hour, maybe longer, when Kai started dozing off. Cayenne was wide awake, unable to sleep for fear of nightmares that paraded around as dreams until they hit you in the face with a frying pan and revealed themselves for what they really were. Plus, insomnia was a bit of a factor.
She had always had insomnia, even when she was a kid. No one could really figure out why, not even the numerous doctors her parents forced her to see. Caleb had always stayed with her, then. He hadn’t wanted her to be alone on those painful nights when she couldn’t sleep, even when there was no scary storm on the horizon. Sometimes she thought maybe he needed her as much as she needed him.
Caleb had long since proven that was not true.
Cayenne still needed her little brother, but he had never needed her. Not even when their sister died in front of them.
These were the thoughts Cayenne tended to have when her insomnia took over and she had nothing else to torture herself thinking about. Even with Kai laying right next to her, barely asleep, she couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Sometimes she wished Caleb were there with her. Just so she could tell him how much she hated him. Sometimes she even wished he was there so she could tell about all of the ways she had tried to kill herself. All of the ways in which he had broken her. Sometimes she just wanted to hurt him as much as he had hurt her.
As she was thinking this, Kai suddenly jerked upright, pupils blown, breathing accelerated. Cayenne was immediately on red alert. She couldn’t let something be wrong with the one person that was always okay. Kai was her best friend. Kai was the one person that she could honestly say she loved.
He closed his eyes, covering his face with his hands. She wasn’t sure what he needed from her right then, but she knew she could be there for him. If he needed her to be strong, then that’s what she would be. Or, maybe he just wanted to be left alone. That one would be a little harder to give him, especially if he was upset. But for him, she could try.
Cayenne hesitantly reached out a hand and laid it on his shoulder. He flinched, but didn’t move away. Instead, he seemed to shudder, blowing out a long, shaky breath. Very slowly, he lowered one hand away from his face and then placed it on top of hers.
It was Kai’s way of saying, “I need you. Don’t leave me.”
Those words never needed saying between them, and they had never said them. Kai always assumed Cayenne needed him unless she said otherwise, and vice versa. Kai had never been quite this upset before so Cayenne wasn’t sure how to help.
It took about half an hour of sitting there in silence before he was able to lower his other hand to his lap and angle his body towards her. Cayenne watched him intently, hoping she would be able to help him with whatever was troubling him.
Kai’s voice was shaky when he finally started talking, his eyes trained on his lap. “I’ve never told you this before but I have night terrors. It’s…hard. When I first came here, I don’t know, I felt an instant connection with you. I have absolutely no idea why, but it feels like we’re connected. Heck, girl, I love you.” He let out a shaky laugh. “But, lately, it’s been getting worse. I can’t… What I’m trying to say is… Can I…move in with you?”
Cayenne blinked. “We already live next door to one another.”
“If you don’t want to –”
“I didn’t say that,” Cayenne quickly cut him off. “I think you should keep your room as it is because you do need your own space, but if you spend some nights in here and I spend some nights in your room, well I don’t think that would be the worst idea.”
Kai managed to look up at her, a small flicker of hope in his eyes. “You would really do that for me?”
Cayenne felt a smile light up her face, the first genuine smile she’d had on her face for days. “Of course, Kai. I love you, too, you big idiot.”
Kai managed a small half smile, even with how upset he still clearly was. He was just that strong. “Thank you,” he whispered. “You don’t know how much this means to me, Cayenne.”
Cayenne took Kai’s arm and wrapped it around her shoulders, leaning forward to rest her cheek against his chest. Kai shifted so they could lie down together, curled against each other.
As Kai rested his other hand on his stomach, Cayenne wrapped her free arm around him. They laid in silence for several minutes before Cayenne whispered, “I think I do.”
She couldn’t see him in the dark of her room, but she was pretty sure that he smiled. Which unintentionally brought a smile to her face.
Before long they had both fallen into a rare dreamless sleep.
When Cayenne woke up she was surprised to see that Kai was gone. Whenever he stayed with her all night he usually didn’t leave until she was awake. At first, she thought he might have just gone to his room to get dressed, but that soon turned out not to be true. Instead, he was hiding out in the gym, sparring with Jinx while Richard, Riley, and Brady watched.
Cayenne watched them spar for a moment before she walked over to sit with the others. Richard smiled when she approached, scooting over so she could sit in between him and Remy on the floor.
Remy kissed her on the cheek once she had sat down. “You feeling any better?”
“I’m alright. Kai stayed with me all night.”
Remy nodded, glancing back at her brother. “I know. He seemed…different this morning. I’m not sure why. Did something happen?”
Cayenne turned her gaze on Remy, blinking. “Are you asking me if I had sex with your brother?”
Remy’s cheeks immediately turned red as she turned her face away. “It sounds so bad when you say it like that.”
“That’s because it is.”
Cayenne couldn’t explain why she was so angry, but the way that Remy had asked if she and Kai had been together in such an intimate way just made her want to leave the room. Kai was more like a brother than anything to her. And she would never do that to Remy. Even if they weren’t technically a couple.
Without giving Remy a chance to answer she stood up and turned to Richard. “Will you spar with me?”
Richard stared up at her with wide eyes. “Are you sure? You never want to spar…”
Cayenne crossed her arms. “I’m sure.”
“Alright.” Richard shrugged, getting to his feet. “I guess I’m in.”
Cayenne forced a smile as she turned around and started walking towards the portion of the gym they had sectioned off for sparring. There were four sections in all: one that was set up with workout equipment, one that was set up for running, one for sparring, and the last was a basketball court. It was a pretty big gym and one of the strangest parts of their section of the prison.
As they walked towards the sparring part of the gym Kai and Jinx stopped fighting and shook hands, both of them grinning. It was kind of a tradition for all of them to end a match with a handshake, kind of a way for them to say, “We’re all good. No hard feelings”. It was also about the only place that didn’t make Cayenne feel like she stuck out among the Naturals. It was the only place where they all agreed not to use any powers.
For Cayenne, that was normal, but for the rest of them, it was a little more difficult.
“Hey guys,” Jinx said with a smile and a wave.
“Wait. Cayenne, you’re going to spar with Richard?” Kai asked, eyes wide.
It was a little known fact that Richard was the second best fighter in the Asylum.
It had surprised everyone that Cayenne held the number one spot for that particular category. She just liked to smile and tell them it meant she could kick their asses so they should never try to use their powers against her. Which they shouldn’t try to do anyway unless they wanted Kai, Richard, and Jinx to simultaneously kill them.
Cayenne shrugged. “Your sister pissed me off.”
“She asked if the two of you had slept together.” Richard said quietly, lifting one shoulder in a shrug. “She shouldn’t have even considered asking that, but that’s just my opinion.”
Kai’s expression darkened. “She really asked you that?”
Cayenne jerked her head up and down in a nod. “Sure did.”
“Well, that’s really fucking rude,” Jinx said, glaring over Richard’s shoulder towards where Remy was sitting with Brady. “I should go talk to her. And let my fists do the talking.”
Cayenne sighed. “It’s whatever. I just need to get my anger out in a constructive way.” She glanced at Richard. “You ready to do this?”
He nodded, taking his jacket and shirt off and handing them to Jinx while Cayenne stripped down to her shorts and sports bra. Kai whistled, which earned him a punch to the arm from Cayenne while Jinx just laughed.
“You guys gonna watch?” Cayenne asked as Jinx took her t-shirt and jeans from her.
Kai nodded. “Sure.”
Jinx grinned. “Go get ‘em girl.” After a moment, she added, “I still don’t get why you wear shorts under your jeans. Like, what the heck?”
Cayenne shrugged. “An old habit. When Caleb and I were about twelve we used to have to be ready to spar at a moment’s notice. Our dad insisted on it. So, I just learned to wear shorts underneath my pants. It was easier than trying to fight my brother while wearing jeans.”
Kai, Richard, and Jinx all stared at her with wide eyed stares.
Cayenne cocked her head to the side, confused. “What’s wrong?”
“You just…” Richard trailed off, unable to finish the sentence.
“You just talked about your brother,” Jinx said bluntly. “You never talk about your brother.”
“Oh.” Cayenne blinked slowly as she took that in. Jinx was right. She had never talked about Caleb to anyone other than the three people standing around her. She’d never even talked about him to Riley, and they had dated for five years. “I didn’t even realize I was talking about him.”
Kai placed his hand on her forehead. “Are you feeling alright?”
Cayenne shoved his hand away. “I feel fine, Kai.” She sighed in exasperation. “Come on, guys, quit looking at me like that. It’s not the end of the world. So what if I mentioned my stupid twin brother?”
Jinx’s eyes widened even more. “Wait a second. He’s your twin?!”
“I never mentioned that before?”
“No, Cayenne, you haven’t.” Richard answered quietly, looking worried. “You’ve only talked about him twice. And none of it was good.”
Jinx exchanged worried looks with Kai. “If Caleb’s your twin, that means he can get into the Ether, and potentially…the Asylum and Solitary Confinement.”
Cayenne felt all the blood drain from her face at Jinx’s words, along with the small amount of anger that she had left; it had been slowly draining away during their conversation. “Please tell me you’re joking.
“I wouldn’t joke about something like this.”
Kai rested his hand on Cayenne’s shoulder. “Are you alright?” When she didn’t immediately respond or even look up, he tightened his grip. “Cayenne. Talk to me.”
“I…” She trailed off as panic started to build up in her chest. “I can’t. No. I can’t see him. Never again.”
Cayenne was shaking her head as she backed away, before turning and running from the room. She didn’t stop, not even when she heard them calling after her.
If Caleb could get into the Asylum he could hurt her. And if he could hurt her she would break all over again.
So she ran. And she kept running until she collapsed from exhaustion.
Cayenne sat on the floor until she had managed to get her breath back and the headache pounding behind her eyes had dimmed a bit. She knew she should go back and ask Jinx how she knew all that she did about Caleb being able to get into the Ether, and why it was that he would potentially be able to do that.
Cayenne had been a Hunter for nineteen years before she’d been locked up in the Asylum and she’d never heard of anyone being able to get in, let alone anyone in her family. She just hoped Caleb didn’t know about it. If he was even still alive. For all she knew he had died a long time ago.
At that thought tears sprang to her eyes, blurring her vision. She wiped angrily at them. Angry at herself for caring what happened to the bastard. After what Caleb had done to her she shouldn’t care if he lived or died. She shouldn’t care that there was a good chance he had been dead for a very long time.
Cayenne couldn’t help but be angry at herself for hoping he was still alive. Because, even after everything he had done, he was still her brother. In the end, Caleb Young still mattered to her.
And she hated herself for it.