The Hangman's Noose

Billie Black and her friends are closer than ever before to rescuing their loved ones whom were stolen from them years ago. A journey around the country proves perilous when the coven and their allies come face to face with their greatest enemies.

A band of men hell bent on killing all that is unnatural to them - Witches, Vampires, Werewolves and many other Supernaturals flee from their path or die at their hands.

Billie can't rest till she knows her lost loves are safe but new knowledge shows they are defenseless. Learning all they can about these men they seek a weakness a chink in their chain of command and only one man may show them mercy in spite of his beliefs.

Now Billie must lead them all to safety or perish in the Hangman's Noose...

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2. Open Eyes

I found Riona in her kitchen eating soup when I teleported into her beachside home in Salem, MA.  Just as she placed a piece of bread in her mouth she choked at my appearance.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” I hastily apologised.

“No, don’t worry about it.  How did you get on?”

“We got her home just fine.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful.” she smiled brightly.  “Has she woken yet?”

“No, I’ve got the others watching her just now.  But I think you’d better come with me.”

“Why what’s wrong?” she asked concerned.

“We caught the person who induced her into a coma.”

“WHAT!?” she asked surprised.  “Who was it?”

“I think you’d better come see for yourself.”

“Let me make a quick call.  It’s my shift at the shop this afternoon so I’d better make sure there’s someone who can cover it if I don’t make it back in time.”

“Sure, that’s fine I’ll call home to see if there’s any change with Ruby.”

 

Riona ran to her room to find her cell phone while I called home in Penn Gate.

“Hello?” Matilda’s voice called after answering on the third ring.

“She’s not awake but she keeps twitching and she even muttered something.”

“What did she say?”

“We’re not sure.  But it almost sounded like ‘mother’.”

“Mother?”

“Hang on, talk to Faith they’re calling for me.” she said before passing the house phone on to Faith.

“Hello?” came Faith’s bored drawl.

“Faith, it’s Billie, what the hell is going on?”

“I don’t know.  I’ve been helping clean up your dirty uncle.  Hang on, I’ll poke my head through.”

 

I heard several yelps as Faith said, “Guys, what the hell is going on?”

“Why are they screaming?” I asked.

“I scared ‘em.  I keep forgetting they don’t all know that I have the power to walk through walls.”

“So what is going on?” I asked impatiently.

“She’s moving around a lot.  May be you ought to get back here.”

“I’ll be there in a minute I’m just waiting for Riona to make a call.”

“See you soon then.” she said hanging up.

“Riona!  We’ve really got to go now.  They think Ruby is starting to wake up.” I called up to her.

“Coming, coming, coming.” she said running downstairs.

 

I didn’t even wait for her to get off the bottom step I just grabbed her wrist and teleported us straight into my room where Ruby was writhing in her bed.  The crowd in the room jumped as Riona and I suddenly appeared before them.

“Come on, Ruby.  We’re here, we’re not going to let anything harm you.  Come on, you can do it.” I said taking her hand.

Ruby stopped wriggling and started breathing easier as her eye lids fluttered and fought to open themselves.

“Ruby, you can do it,” said Nana.

“Open your eyes.” said Rowanne.

“We’re all here.” said Brian.

“Come on, girl.  Open those beautiful eyes.” Riona said, tears streaming down her face.

“We love you, Ruby, and we believe in you.  Come on, you can do it.” I said kissing her hand.

“Billie?” she whispered.

“Ruby!?” I started to cry.

“Mmm… so hungry.” she said turning her head to me.

 

Her eyelids fluttered one more time before they opened up to reveal her hazel coloured eyes.  Brian, Rowanne, Nana, Riona and I crowded around in happy tears as the others silently sat in the background until Ruby was ready to be introduced to them.

“Ruby, can you hear us?” Nana asked.

“Yes, Nana.  I can see you too.” she giggled.  “Can you help me sit up?”

 

As she leaned against us we helped lift her into a sitting position before resting her back on the pillows.

“How do you feel?” I asked.

“Mmm… thirsty.  I’m very dry and… who are they?” she asked looking at the eight people behind us.

“This is um… Riley.  He’s my boyfriend.”

“It’s nice to meet you properly, Ruby.” he said friendlily.

She smiled.  “This is his sister, Faith, and his brother, Willem.  They’re… Dad is just down the hall.  And these are my friends, Dulcie, Matilda and Torsten.  Lee here is family now.” I said as they came closer to Ruby’s bed.

“We’re so glad you’re finally awake.” Matilda said shaking her hand.

“Yeah, nice to finally see those eyes at last.” Dulcie added.

“Dulcie… you’re the Empath.” Ruby said staring straight at Dulcie.  “You were in the hospital with Billie.”

“Oh my god, you remember?” Dulcie asked shocked.

“Vaguely.” she said looking around the room.  “Do they know… ?” she suddenly asked Nana.

“They all know, Ruby.” Nana answered.

“About us too?”

“They know everything.” I answered.

“And you?” she asked uncertain.

“I’m a Witch, Ruby.  I turned eighteen six months ago.”

“Why do they all know though?” she asked arching a copper brow.

“It’s ok.” said Matilda.  “I’m a practising Pagan.  Dulcie’s aunt Laura is teaching me their way.”

“I’m a long story.” Torsten snickered in his German accent.

“I’ve only recently discovered my magical lineage.” Lee added.

“We’re different too.” Riley added.

“Different how?”

“We’re half human.” Said Faith.

“And half vampire.” said Willem.

“Their Dad used to know one of our ancestors.  Josephine.”

“She knows about Josephine too?” Ruby asked Riona.

“Yes, dear.” she answered.

“What else have I missed?”

“Uh… I have a bit of a confession to make.” Rowanne added embarrassed.  “I’m a Werewolf, Rubes.”

“So?” Ruby asked impatiently.

“What do you mean ‘SO’?” Rowanne barked.

“Oh, come on, Row.  It’s not that big of a deal.  How long have you been a Werewolf?”

“Since I was four.”

“WHAT!?”

“I thought you said it wasn’t that big of a deal?”

“All this time and you never told us!?”

“I’m sorry, okay?  I really am.” Rowanne cried.

“It’s okay.  I didn’t mean to yell.” Ruby apologised.  “How long have I been in this bed?”

“Three years.” Brian answered croakily.

“Three years since the crash?  He’s kept me asleep all this time?”

“You mean you knew who it was all along?” I asked.

“My Dad.  I don’t understand… why would he do that?” she asked tearing up.

“He’s down the hall if you want to ask him.” Riley said nodding in the direction of the bathroom.

“What about… ?”

“What about what, Ruby?” asked Nana.

“Where’s my Mom and Vincent?  Where’s uncle Brendan and aunt Jessica?”

“Your Dad has hidden your mother and brother somewhere else.  Remember, you showed me?  He won’t tell us where.”

“And Brendan and Jessica?  They were in the car with me.”

“They didn’t make it.” I shook my head.

“Oh my god.  No!  I’m so sorry.” she cried.

“It’s okay, Rubes.” said Brian.  “You don’t need to worry about it just now.  Just rest, okay?”

“No, I’ve been in this bed for three years.  I’ve rested enough.  Help me up, please.”

“Just wait till we get Alexa in here.  She’s a nurse, she can help.”

“Alexa!” Matilda yelled down the hall.  “She’s a moving, we need your expertise.”

“I’m here.” Alexa said flying into the room with her stethoscope hung round her neck over her baggy blue scrubs.

“She wants to get out of bed to stretch her legs.”

“No, food first.” Alexa said examining Ruby.  “Get some energy in you first.  You’ve been lying on your back for three years, you need sustenance.”

 

Rowanne and Brian rushed to the kitchen to make her something to eat while Alexa examined Ruby a few more times until she was certain that Ruby was fine.  Brian returned with a tray of food in his arms which contained a PB and J sandwich, a banana, beetroot soup, chips and vanilla yogurt.  Rowanne came hurling in right behind Brian with a large jug of ice cold water and a tall empty glass in one hand and in the other she carried another glass full to the brim of OJ.

 

Alexa wasn’t happy that they hadn’t brought her anything with sugar in it so she explored the kitchen herself before returning with three cookies and another glass of OJ.

“Okay, I’m full.  I can’t eat another bite.” Ruby said pushing the last cookie away from her with a look of disgust on her face.  “Can I get up now, please?”

“Alright, but take it easy.” Alexa said.

 

Lifting her right leg up, she swung it to the right side of the bed then did the same again with her left leg.  Dulcie grabbed a pair of my slippers and put them at Ruby’s feet so she would be warm.  Pushing herself further to the edge of the bed, Ruby slid her feet into my plush white Ugg slippers.  With the help of Alexa and Riley she stood up.  Her knees trembled as she attempted to move her right leg forward.  Stumbling into Riley on her right she held tight to him as he righted her again.  Putting her left foot forward she steadied herself by gripping onto Alexa’s shoulder.  Awkwardly she continued to step forth right to left until her legs steadied themselves without her needing to grip onto anything or anyone.

 

Letting go of Riley and Alexa as they arrived at my bedroom door she stepped outside the room without any support from the rest of us.  She looked at the door opposite her that led up to the attic and her head turned upwards as she remembered where the door led to.  Turning to her left she looked at the next door on the left side of the corridor and strolled towards it.

“Uh… Ruby, I don’t think that’s a good idea.” said Rowanne.

“Why not?” she said placing her hand on the door.

“Ruby?” came Dexter’s voice from within the bathroom.

“Dad?” she said groping for the handle.  “It is you.” she said swinging the door open to reveal Dexter slumped against the wall while Leonard casually leaned against the shower eyeing Dexter watchfully.

“Ruby, you’re awake.” Dexter said mournfully.

“You!” she suddenly burst out angrily.  “You’re the one who kept me asleep!  How could you!?” she yelled before attempting to run away.

 

Ruby blundered out into the hall where her legs seemed to turn to jelly before giving out on her completely.  Face down on the floor she pushed herself up to look around for something to heave herself up on.  Weakly she pushed herself onto her knees before falling back over again on her side.  Her red hair spilled on the carpet as she gave up and cried until her tears ran dry.

 

Telekinetically lifting her I took her back to my room before settling her on my own bed.  There she sobbed herself into a stupor of sleep.  I shoved my hand out from the bed to close the door as I could her Riona start to shout and rage at Dexter for what he had done to his wives’ family.  The door barely blocked the sound but Ruby’s grief had taken her to a world far from what she knew.

 

*************************************

 

Ruby finally shed the last of her tears about a week after her awakening and was determined to get on with life and help start the search for her mother and brother.  She never once spoke to her father before Riley and his family moved him to their own house on Declan Street where they had better restraints and more secure room to keep him in until we needed him again.  If I was certain of one thing I was certain that we wouldn’t be letting him go until I loosened his tongue and I was certain there were only two ways of doing so.  Way one; use magic.  Way two; use Ruby.  We decided to let him stew, stuck all alone in a room all day long with no one to talk to and nothing to do, we were sure he’d crack soon enough.

 

I wanted to do all I could to help Ruby get back to life and put the past three years behind her, if that was possible, so that she’d have a future to look forward to but a dark cloud always seemed to follow her wherever she went.  Every now and then I’d catch the dark look in her eyes that she did her best to keep hidden from her concerned relatives and new friends.  Of course none of us expected her to wake up to be happy with the way our families’ world was right then.  Half dead and two missing.  She’d go down to the graveyard almost every day to leave flowers for my parents and our Pops.  She seemed to spend a lot of time there than anywhere else.

 

For the last week the house was more than a little cramped.  In my house we have four bedrooms and a converted dusty old attic.  In each of the bedrooms there were queen sized beds and in the attic there were two singles.  Ten people could sleep in this house but at the moment we had fourteen.  Ruby, Rowanne, Nana, Riona, Brian, Dulcie, Matilda, Riley, Willem, Faith, Leonard, Torsten, Lee and myself.  You could find four sleeping bags in the living room filled by Riley and his family, in Brian’s room were two sleeping bags filled by Torsten and Lee and two camper beds in Dulcie’s room filled by myself and Matilda.  Although Matilda and I had our own camper beds she still managed to disrupt my sleep with her earsplitting snoring, it was a wonder how Dulcie managed to sleep through it.

 

The nights I really struggled to sleep I’d leave to meet Riley in the garden which was really the only time we got to spend together in private.  On the sixth night I was awakened by Matilda’s arm colliding with my face.  On my way down the corridor, towards the staircase, I saw a curtain blowing as I passed my bedroom door.  Stepping inside my room I saw Ruby wasn’t asleep in my bed but was sitting outside the window on the porch roof.

“Ruby, what are you doing out here?” I asked climbing out beside her.

“Couldn’t sleep.” she answered.

“Aren’t you cold?” I asked while rubbing heat into my arms.

“Not really.” she said gazing at the moon.

“What’s on your mind?” I said shuffling closer to her.

“It’s my eighteenth birthday tomorrow, and Vincent’s…”

“Yes, it is.”

“So, I’ll come into my powers but not Vincent.” I stayed silent.  “If we don’t find him before tomorrow does that mean he won’t get his powers?”

“No, not at all.  Ruby, the legend says we don’t come into our powers till our eighteenth birthday… it doesn’t say anything about us not getting them if we don’t access them on our birthday.  Besides, I brought Lee’s powers out weeks after his own birthday and he’s not even a Black.”

“So what is he?  And how come his grandmother couldn’t bring them out for him?”

“She was never a coven leader.  But since I was the one to bring forth his powers I’m guessing it makes him an Honorary Black.  At least until he rebuilds the Rockwell coven.”

“What happens to him till then?”

“We treat him like family.  I’ve given him a blank spell book so that he may rebuild the Rockwell Craft also.  But until he does, he’s family.  We must love him as fiercely as we love each and every other person in our family.”

“What about my Dad?  Must I still love him?”

“That’s really up to you, Ruby.  What he did was unforgivable, but you can’t let anyone decide your feelings for you.”

“I feel like I should hate him.”

“Hate is such a strong word… are you even capable of hate, Ruby?”

“He deserves no less.” she said as her voice shook.

“Goddamn, we can feel the draught all the way down the hall.” Matilda said appearing behind us with her night dress askew, her ‘All divas need beauty sleep’ mask stuck up in her birds’ nest hairdo.  Trailing a fleece out with her she hopped onto the porch roof as Dulcie joined us with three more blankets from the linen closet.

“Its frickin’ freezing!  You’re both crazy.” she said climbing through the window also.

“Why are you both up so late?” Matilda asked.

“Because somebody just about knocked my teeth out in their sleep.” I said pointedly gazing at Matilda.

“I’m just too scared to sleep.” Ruby said, cowing her head.

“It’ll pass.” Dulcie said reassuringly.

“I hope so.”

“Shouldn’t you be excited?  You’re coming into your powers tomorrow!” said Matilda excitedly.  “I can’t wait to see Billie do that voodoo hoodoo that she did at Rowanne’s birthday.”

“That voodoo hoodoo what -?” laughed Ruby.

“It’s the ceremony where I help you find your powers.” I answered.

“So what do you do?” she asked.

“It’s… hard to describe.” I hesitated.  Looking around me I could see that my cousin and my friends wanted answers.  “When I did it with Rowanne we joined hands.”

“Yeah, we know that part now get to the reeeeal interesting part.” said Matilda.

Sighing I continued.  “I felt the spark within me, the spark of power, flow through our joined hands into her.  It didn’t exactly leave me, more like it was tethered to me.  I know that sounds strange but it’s the best way I can think of how to describe it.”

“Go on.” Dulcie encouraged.

“My spark flew to Rowanne’s heart where her spark slept.”

“Slept?” asked Matilda.

“Well, yeah.  The spark doesn’t just appear when you turn eighteen, it’s been there your entire life that’s why sometimes some people show their powers prematurely.  The spark has resided within you all along.  Dormant, sleeping, slumbering.  Whichever way you want to put it.”

“I wonder what kind of power you’ll have.” Matilda said awestruck.

 “We’ll find out soon enough.” I added.

“What about Dad?  What do we do with him?  He’s been locked up for over a week.” All three turned to me for the answer.

“I’m going to bring him in tomorrow.  Hopefully, all that time alone has loosened his lips.”

“But what if he still doesn’t talk?” Matilda asked soberly.

“He’ll talk, all right.  Even if I have to loosen his lips with magic.”

 

When we climbed back through the open window Ruby climbed back into bed and shut her eyes to sleep.  Matilda and Dulcie silently skipped back down the hall where they too went to sleep.  At the thought of going back to being slapped by Matilda I changed the course of my footsteps and headed downstairs and out to the garden where Riley was waiting with two sleeping bags.

“I hope I didn’t keep you waiting.” I apologised.  “I just had a chat with Ruby and the girls.”

“About?” he asked.

“What happens next.  What happens after she gets her powers.  You know, the really easy topics.”

“And what did you tell them?”

“I told her we’d talk to her Dad again tomorrow.”

“What happens if he doesn’t give you the answers you’re looking for?”

“Why does everyone expect me to have the answers?” I asked frustrated.

“Probably because your our leader, Bill.  We follow in your footsteps.”

“I don’t know what to say to that.  I don’t feel like a leader, Riley.  I’m not leadership material.”

“That’s exactly why you’re the right person for the job.” he said holding me.

I sighed.  “You’re wrong about me.  Yet I still feel the weight of the world on my shoulders.”

“May be it’s good that you feel that way.”

“Why would you say that?” I asked.

“Keeps you on your toes, stops you from getting sloppy.”

“I don’t know, Riley.  How can I play leader all on my own?”

“You won’t be on your own.  You’ll have your aunt and your grandmother.  You’ll also have me by your side every second of the day.”

“Thank god!  I honestly don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“You’d survive.”

“Doubtful.” I said snuggling into him.  “Don’t ever leave me.”

“Never.” he said kissing me good night.

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