My Defender (Bewitched and Bewildered Book 8)(8)

By: Alanea Alder

"It would be a nice break for you," Marjoram paused. "What about the caves?"

"Kari said there are no caves, that they have large open caverns sometimes twenty to twenty-five feet high. She assured me there were no small spaces."

"Well, that's comforting. When do we leave?"

Ellie felt a wave of relief wash through her. Marjoram chuckled. "You honestly didn't think I was going to let you traipse across the country, to a city of vampires all by yourself, did you? That meeting with your director must've upset you more than you're letting on."

"Thanks Gram. I didn't want to assume you'd go, but I am very glad you are. I told them we would be ready by tomorrow. Their doctor is supposed to be emailing me a list of equipment they have on hand. I'll try to bring whatever else I can to supplement, including medicines, although, I have no idea what to bring to treat shifter children." Ellie chewed on her bottom lip.

"I suggest you stop thinking of them as shifter children Ellie, and start thinking of them as sick children. Treat the symptoms."

Ellie smiled at her grandmother. "When did you get so smart?" she teased.

    Marjoram winked. "Someday I'll tell you."


The next morning, Ellie and her grandmother stood in an open field outside Chicago. It was one of the few portals in the country and could only be opened by the fae. Beside her on the frost covered ground were cases and cases of medicine and equipment. She'd only brought a small suitcase of clothing for herself, as had her grandmother. Just as she checked her phone for the time, the air shimmered in front of them, and the portal appeared. A moment later, two tall blond men stepped through.

"Hello ladies, I hope you haven't been waiting long. My name is Etain, and this is Sulis. We've come to escort you to Noctem Falls." He looked down. "Is this all the equipment you brought?" he asked, pointing to the stack. Ellie nodded somewhat tongue-tied. The two golden men were absolutely stunning. Marjoram placed a comforting arm around her shoulders. "Yes, this is it," Marjoram confirmed.

Sulis began carrying boxes through the portal as Etain stood off to one side maintaining the portal connection. He smiled at her. "Just a few more moments while we get the boxes through to the other side. Once there, other unit warriors will lower your equipment and boxes down to the ledge to be carried into the city and to Level Six. The wolves have an open courtyard that's being used for the sick children."

Ellie shook her head. "I'm confused. From the phone conversation I had with Kari yesterday, I assumed it was just one or two children; you make it sound as if there are more."

Etain frowned, his eyes filling with concern. "Last night, three more children started exhibiting the same symptoms. Dr. St. John is doing the best he can, but he's being stretched a bit thin. Your presence will be most welcome," he assured her.

Ellie looked up at her grandmother; they both shared the same worried expression. The sooner they could get to the city the better. They needed to take a look at these children. When the second fae warrior carried the last box through and disappeared, Etain stepped into the middle of the portal and held out his hand. "Ladies." Smiling, Ellie and her grandmother placed their hands on his and walked through the portal.

One moment they were shivering from the Chicago winter winds, the next practically broiling under the New Mexico sun. When she started to remove her coat, Etain shook his head. "Better keep that on. I'm not saying that it's cold in the city, but it's nowhere near this warm." He led them to the edge of the canyon where another warrior waited for them. His body language was completely different than the other two. He looked completely relaxed, his face smiling until he saw them approach. Then his features took on a tragic expression; he clutched at his chest and swayed. For a moment Ellie was concerned, but then he opened his mouth. "By the gods! Look at these two heavenly creatures. Have we been blessed by Fate that these two gorgeous women will brighten the halls of our dismal city? Who might the two of you be?" he asked smiling at them charmingly.

Ellie felt her cheeks heating up. "I-I-," she stammered.

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