14 - Suspicion

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"What do you mean, Norah's alive?" With wide eyes, his friend stared at him. 

"You heard about the attack on Harlem's Paradise?"

"Yeah, who didn't. Two bodies, I heard."

"It was her, with three friends."

As unlikely as everything had been yesterday; right now he enjoyed the bewilderment on the man's face. Since the moment that Norah and he had gotten together, the three of them had been inseparable – and this time for good. Even in his darkest hours Comanche had been on his side, despite the shitty way Shades had treated him in high school; when they went through life as Hernan and Darius. 

Comanche's eyes were about to pop out of their sockets. "I don't get it... How can she be alive?"

"I don't know," he admitted. "Someone brought her back to life or someone tricked us all, making us believe that she was dead. She's been locked up for years, lost her memory... She has supernatural abilities now..."

The glance in Comanche's eyes became softer, turned into one of pity. "You miss her, I get it... But –"

"I'm not making this up!" he snapped, annoyed because his friend was acting like he'd lost his sanity. "After ten years I'm not suddenly starting to fantasize about her coming back from the dead. That makes no sense. Just go to my house, you'll see that I'm right. I got other things to do. Take her and her friends to my house close to the woods."

Comanche could only stare at him. "You're serious, huh?"

"Yeah."

Comanche kept staring. When he saw no madness in Shades' eyes, his shoulders seemed to relax a bit. "What powers does she have? Doesn't she remember anything at all?"

"I'm not sure what powers she has. Once she touches someone, she can dig into his memories and call up trauma's or fears. Yesterday she relived the day we met – you and me both. Her first day on our school, I mean. But she can't remember anything else, she didn't even know her name."

Comanche shook his head in disbelief. "Damn... Like that girl hadn't suffered enough..."

Shades kept his glance. "She's going to ask questions about Clive. Don't tell her anything. It's possible that she will find out what happened when she's digging into my memories, or in her own, but if she doesn't get the details clear it's for the best. I don't want her to go through the same pain again."

His friend nodded; he absolutely agreed.

After these words they said goodbye. Shades went to the police station first to file a report. Usually he wouldn't have bothered to do that, he'd spent a little too much time here, and not out of free will. However, this time he didn't want anything to point into Norah's direction so he had to come up with some profile he could line out for the cops. 

To his relief, Misty was nowhere to be seen. She didn't exactly have a soft spot for him; there was no doubt that she would have doubted his words. And with good reason. With her absence he could quickly finish the job; he gave three random descriptions of people who shared no similarities with Norah and her friends, by which he feigned so much arrogance that he was sure they would dismiss all other descriptions as nonsense. He couldn't say much about their intentions; he just told them they had eventually knocked him out with a bottle of wine, and that they were gone when he woke up. 

Now, time to meet with Mariah. That would probably be the toughest conversation of today.

. . .

"Where have you been all day?" she called out. He had entered the now empty nightclub to assess the damage, but that could have been worse. He wasn't surprised; after all, the whole attack had been about him. They had wanted to kill him, and something told him they would have succeeded if it wasn't for Norah. 

"I was home." He leaned into her to kiss her, feeling surprised by his own repulsion. The power she had, had always turned him on and she was interesting company, but now he'd seen Norah again it felt like he'd pressed his lips against a slimy frog – one that didn't change in a beauty of noble birth. "They knocked me out, I needed a few hours of rest."

Her suspicious glance glided across his face. "That's hard to believe."

He lifted the corner of his. "Some people just look fabulous, whatever happens to them."

She rolled her eyes before she narrowed them. "Suspects?"

"Some gang, dark men, hid their faces... They were looking for something. Very purposefully; they didn't waste time on anything else. As long as I laid down, they didn't give a shit about my presence."

Shades wasn't the type of person who was easily bothered by nervousness, but the suspicious look in her eyes as she studied his face gave him the creeps. She took a step forward. Her dark eyes drilled into his. Lifting her hand, she stroked the collar of his suit.

"You've been with another woman," she concluded in a cold voice.

Shades cursed her alertness. He said nothing, there was no point in lying. She would know. 

"What? You think I wouldn't notice? I can smell her."

Shades doubted that; Norah had not worn any perfume and they hadn't been that intimate. Unfortunately. 

He didn't avoid her glance. "I didn't sleep with her. I didn't even kiss her."

"Then who is she?"

"An old friend I bumped into on my way home. Hadn't seen her in years."

"A friend?" she huffed, as if the thought that there had been a time in which he'd had a social life was a joke. Well – he couldn't really blame her. The only person he trusted was Comanche, and in Mariah's eyes he was nothing but his former cell mate.

"Yeah. It doesn't matter who she is." He wasn't in the mood to kiss her ass, telling her she was the only one his heart was beating for. He might be devious, but he still had a bit of an ego and he was sure she wouldn't believe him anyway. "You got any idea what the intruders were looking for?" he asked her in an attempt to direct her attention in another direction.

"I heard they were gifted."

He rolled his eyes. "The moment people panic, they see those freaks everywhere. They were normal people. With a mission. So what were they looking for, Mariah? Something you kept from me? Or Cornell?"

"If it was because of Cornell, the secret went with him into the grave."

"Figure it out!" he snapped at her. "That retarded cousin of yours is still causing us mountains of problems. It feels like you've received some damned inheritance!"

After these words he strode away, hoping his so-called anger was enough to keep her thoughts away from Norah. 

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