Ocean Kills:Book One of Ocean Breeze(10)

By: Jade Hart

But right now, I had business to complete. I needed cash. With the ability to port, there were countless untapped avenues of money. Robbing banks, for one. But I refused to be a thief. I may be a killer, but I had morals to uphold.

Taking note of which grey street I stood on, I sucked in a breath, and straightened my shoulders. My breasts teetered on the cusp of popping from my silver boob-tube, and my exposed midriff looked hoochy. Definitely not acceptable attire for wandering English streets at lunchtime, but I didn’t need to go far—Maurice lived on this block.

The imposing black and white Tudor home beckoned me with old world charm and ghostly wonkiness. The facade was well cared for—a much-loved home, but the stories were melting. Instead of the crisp lines of modern architecture, the building slowly sagged. Gravity extracting its toll as the centuries lashed at the structure.

It was the one and only place I was safe, and I'd avoided coming here for six very long months. Stupid. So stupid.

My pride. . . my fear kept me from the one person I loved. I could blame the last hunt. Blame my responsibilities. But it would be a lie. How I lasted six months away from Maurice, I couldn’t contemplate. I needed him as much as I needed food to port.

Smoothing my chocolate fire hair—courtesy of Garnier hair color—I gulped some courage and knocked on the twisted Tudor door. Eyeing the prehistoric plaque stating how historical the dwelling was—1597 to be exact—I thought, not for the first time, how cool it would be to port to the past, to see how people lived without electricity or indoor plumbing.

“Ocean.” The door remained closed.

Frowning, I looked for the voice. A small communication panel crackled as I pressed a button to respond. This was new. Looking directly into the small security camera staring me in the face, I said, “Open up, Maurice. Don't make me lurk on your doorstep dressed in these clothes.”

He chuckled, and the door clicked open.

Stepping over the threshold, the house seemed to sigh and hug me with its dark paneling, faded oriental rugs, and a welcoming musty smell. Crap, it had been too long. Way, way too long. Me and my stubborn pride.

“Come in here!”

Was he in a grump or excited? I couldn’t tell. If he was mad, I supposed it was fair for how I left last time. Still didn't stop me from shaking my head at the command. For a whippet of a man, Maurice was bossier than the queen.

I followed his voice toward the drawing room brimming with porcelain figurines and trinkets. The exposed redbrick fireplace roared with heat. The cognac colored walls glistened with a fine layer of coal dust. Maurice did his best with housework, but a renovation was in dire need.

“My dear! I can't believe it. You're here. You're back.” Maurice's weathered face glowed as he motioned for me to come closer. Perhaps he wasn't angry after all. His legs were encased in a tartan quilt and his old sheepdog, Tessie, was sprawled on his feet. Two old codgers—they were as grey as each other.

Maurice sported a new comb-over, which made me chuckle, but the rest of him was sprightly. Vibrant eyes and glowing skin spoke of happiness and health. I kissed his powdery cheek, inhaling deeply. If it wasn't for old people and newborns, talcum powder factories would have gone out of business years ago.

“Hello, Maurice.” I smiled, very aware of the tightness in my chest. My emotions continued to be traitorous against my strict orders to remain icy cold. My heart didn't like to be locked in a fridge around Maurice. “I'm sorry it's been so long. Life got in the way. . .” What a pathetic excuse. Life never used to get in the way of visiting this man I loved as a father. My own pitiful fear kept me away. Fear of what I was becoming.

He squeezed my hand. “Don't fret, child. Come, sit down. Tell me everything.” Maurice's bushy white eyebrows rose. “You look thin and tired. How fares the hunt?” His clear hazel eyes were knife-sharp.

Maurice was the only person who knew what I did. Apart from the cop who I'd told my deepest, darkest secret to before disappearing, of course. I wanted to groan at my stupidity. Why, oh why did I do that?

Maurice found me when I was fourteen. I’d been hunched over a male corpse with a stolen steak knife in my hand. It had been my first kill; I'd been sloppy. Instead of reporting me, Maurice bundled me into a black Jag and ferreted me away in his historical house.

Our first conversation had been interesting. He didn't blame me for killing the man. He'd heard the news, assumed I was a victim and it was self-defense. I allowed him to think that for a week, before his empathy and acceptance thawed a small part of me. Finally, I admitted: I hunted and killed the man. I wanted to stop him from hurting others.

In the middle of our heart-to-heart, I teleported by accident. Emotions were a hair trigger for me. Dangerous. However, I didn't go far. It only took me a couple of hours to find his house again. I didn't know why I returned to Maurice. He knew my secrets—he was a liability. But he touched me in a way no one had before or since, and I loved him. I wouldn't have survived, nor grown into the person I was, without his help and guidance.