A Gift from the Goddess Book Two – Chapter 5

“Raven, wake up.

It’s midday already,” continued the voice I’d just heard. I pulled myself up and winced, touching my forehead gently. A loud thumping pulsed painfully inside as a headache immediately looked to greet me. It seemed this day was already off to a great start.

“Raven!” the voice called again.

“I’m awake!” I yelled back.

Two minutes. That’s all I was asking for. Two minutes to wake up and process… whatever the hell that had been. I could still recall it vividly, witnessing what I could only assume was the form I took when I became the beast. Perhaps this was my consciousness manifesting it.

Appearing inside my nightmare due to how prevalent it had been on my mind prior to sleeping. After all, they say that dreams hold significance to the things you are worried about when awake.

Nonetheless, it was still surprising to see its appearance for the first time; if that depiction was even accurate at all. A coat of fur as dark as my hair with fearsome eyes. Was that truly the last thing some people saw before their death?

I shuddered at that thought. Regardless, I had to do my best to push it out of my mind as there were more important things to worry about today.

And with that final thought, the door then swung open revealing an older man with greying hair. He might have even been considered handsome for his age if it weren’t for the several scars marring his face….

“Get the fuck out of bed and get your ass to the gym,” he said sharply. …And if it weren’t for his terrible attitude. My eyes narrowed slightly at the intrusion, but I kept my calm. I’d found it better not to get angry with my new tutor, Gavin.

Though nowhere near as competent as his deceased predecessor, he still was a formidable opponent’ in a fight. One with a temper as short as his patience. And with that overbearing attitude, probably compensating for something else just as short-,

“I have an event tonight, sir,” I explained politely, forcing myself to appease him. “I’m expected to make an appearance in front of many important people. The boss should have already told you that I need to look my best.”

He snorted in a laugh. “No amount of make-up is going to help you if you keep sitting on your lazy ass. Besides, I don’t see how training would interfere with the event.”

“And when I’m presented to these people covered in bruises from training, how do you suppose I explain that without a formal investigation being started? …Sir” I tilted my head and stared him down, waiting for his reply.

But instead of his brow furrowing slightly in the realisation that I was correct, like what I was expecting, instead he did the complete opposite.

…He smirked. “Well, I don’t suppose there’ll be any issues running laps, then?”. Goddammit.

Four hours later my training session was finally done, leaving me with only a few hours to get ready for the charity event.

And whilst Gavin’s inability to give me even a single day off certainly was a hindrance, what was most important now was to ensure I looked immaculate for the special assignment I’d be working come nightfall. Something easier said than done given the dark circles under my eyes.

In preparation for the mission, I’d memorised everything that the manilla folder had listed on this foreign mayor, Victor Lycroft. But despite that information, and despite the fact I’d had many missions far more difficult than this before, I still felt… off.

Was it because of my lapse in control yesterday? Or perhaps the pressure to ensure I didn’t fail again?

Or was it because I knew my punishment would be the most severe to date if I came home empty-handed?

And I felt as another wave of nausea ran through me. ! “Raven!” a voice then yelled from down the hall. One of the maids. …A call to inform me that it was time. Not wanting to delay any further, I quickly gathered my things.

“Nice of you to finally join me,” my father said as I slid into the limousine next to him. “…Apologies for keeping you waiting, sir.” “Results are all that matter,” he chuckled, sipping on a drink in hand. “I can see that black dress compliments your beauty perfectly. I doubt we’ll have any issues with tonight’s agenda, then?”

“Thank you, sir. I’m confident we’ll have no issues.”

“Father’,” he corrected. “You’re here tonight as my daughter. Remember that.”

“…Right, of course,” I said, forcing a small smile on my lips. “Father.”

It was so rare to attend events as Eric Reid’s daughter that it was easy to forget how to act during those times. Not to say he wasn’t my father, but my training had always been very strict growing up to ensure I was as beneficial as possible. My anonymity was considered one of the best benefits I possessed. Which was why this event was all the more stressful.

Tonight, I would end up being introduced to many key figures, losing that faceless edge of the past. Restricting my ability to perform missions in the future. And it also told me one very crucial thing…

It told me that my father considered this mission more important than my best asset. So just what was so special about those missing documents?

“We’re here,” he said abruptly, pulling me from my thoughts, and I felt as the vehicle slowed to a stop.

It was only seconds later that a well-dressed man opened the limousine door and offered me his hand to help me out. Not that this was strange for this type of upper-class event.

In fact, I was grateful for the gesture as I took him up on it, grabbing my floor-length dress together in my free hand to avoid tripping. “Thank you,” I said, though I was unable to stop myself from immediately looking around at my surroundings.

The place was huge. The mayor’s house was more aptly described as a mansion, all things considered. Vines crept up the walls of the three-story building, surrounded by a meticulously manicured garden on all sides. It was stunning, even more so than the summer homes my father owned.

But there was something else about this place that felt… different. Something in the air. Like a feeling of restlessness I couldn’t seem to shake. Was I still feeling sick from the night before?

“Come on,” my father said, gently grabbing my elbow. “Everyone will be inside.”

I allowed him to lead me up the stone steps and through a set of large double doors that stood at the threshold.

Inside was much of the same; an interior to match its impressive exterior. I admired some of the fine art and decorations they had on display as my father led me through the hallway. But it was we reached another set of doors that I became truly surprised.

A grand ballroom was set up to accommodate the large volume of people in attendance. It was by far the most expensive looking event I’d ever personally attended, something that probably wasn’t too difficult to accomplish given this was my first time being invited to such a prestigious event.

Or, at least, being invited to accompany my father inside, as opposed to just running perimeter security on standby.

“Eric,” someone said in greeting. I quickly refocused in as a man approached. A man I instantly recognised as he shook hands with my father politely. He was approximately the same age as him but where my father’s features were dark, this man’s were lighter with blonde hair.

“Mayor Lewis,” my father replied. “Thank you for inviting me to your lovely home. It’s always a delight whenever I’m able to come visit.” “Of course, of course!” he said, smiling.

“I can’t imagine a charity event without one of our most important sponsors. And I see you brought along a very beautiful date tonight! You lucky man.” I shifted uncomfortably at the comment but was thankful that my father only laughed it off. “Ah, that is probably my mistake,” he said gently.

“This is actually my daughter… Raven.” Lewis’ face immediately went to one of surprise as he took in my appearance once more. “Oh… Oh, I’m so sorry,” he said. “I didn’t know you had such a lovely a daughter! But I can see why you hide her away.” Social. I needed to be social tonight. This wasn’t a job I could accomplish from the shadows.

For me, this was normally the easiest part; talking to strangers and leaving a good impression.

So why was I finding it so difficult to concentrate?

My father must have sensed my lapse in normal etiquette, and I felt as his cold eyes turned towards me. As if silently prompting me to get it together.

Smile, Raven,’ I told myself. Those were the words he’d told me just yesterday.

…And I quickly shook off my underlying discomfort “Mayor Lewis,” I said, forcing my lips to respond. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you. My father speaks of you often.” …To constantly complain or discredit his policies. But he didn’t need to know that part. “Thank you so much for selflessly organising this event,” I continued. “And to even do so in your very own beautiful home.

I feel as though the donation from our family won’t come close to the generosity you are showing us tonight.” I held out my hand and Lewis immediately took it, planting a small kiss in greeting on the back of it.

“And so charming,” he remarked to my father. “My word, Eric, you’d be best to lock this one up.”

He tries sometimes.

“She works herself so hard I barely need to worry,” he lied, laughing. “She’s got a knack for the family business. I basically had to tear her away just to come to tonight’s event.” “Is that so…?” ….And now he would be wondering how much of my father’s ‘business’ I was actually involved with. Not that he would openly ask the question. There was a reason why Lewis didn’t pry too hard, and it had a lot to do with the ‘donations’ received at events like this.

A corrupt, yet symbiotic relationship of sorts. Lewis’ inquisitive stare lingered a few seconds longer than I would have liked but I held my polite smile nonetheless. Showing him that I found his remarks welcome despite his jokes essentially implying I should be imprisoned.

Hilarious.

“Speaking of business, Eric,” he said, turning back toward him. “Did you have a chance to overlook the new city proposal? I could really use your… opinion.”

He meant money.

My father’s eyes darted back to me, realising that this sort of conversation wasn’t one I needed to be privy to, and quickly went back to the mayor. “Sure, let’s get a drink and talk it over,” he said, extending a hand for Lewis to lead them to one of the private studies.

“I’m sure we won’t be missed if we keep it brief.” And with that, the two of them began to leave. “Make yourself at home, Raven!” Lewis called back out to me, right before they became lost in the crowd.

I gave him a smile and a small nod in acknowledgement, but exhaled in relief the very second they were gone. …A feeling of relief that was almost instantly overshadowed by my discomfort settling back in. It was almost suffocating. A sensation of needing to escape, of being on edge.

Something that only became gradually worse as I took in the unfamiliar faces of men and women around me. Seeing their mixed expressions as they judged me within just the silence of their eyes alone. …I needed some air.

My legs began moving on their own accord, walking automatically towards the back door where a set of stairs led into the gardens below, and within moments I found myself amongst the green vegetation outside. A cold wind blew by me, tousling my hair and catching my dress.

Only I couldn’t really feel it. If anything, I felt as though my head was burning up, the pulsing of my earlier migraine returning Something wasn’t right. But I couldn’t be sure; was it because of this place… or was it me?

I continued to walk away from the event inside, allowing my body to do whatever it needed in order to be satiated. To lead me wherever it needed. And yet the further into the dark I walked, I couldn’t shake the feelings churning within.

As though I were becoming weightless, breathless…. …It didn’t feel too dissimilar to the way I felt when I lost control. Was that what was happening? Would I find myself in another pool of blood when I finally came to? Because I wasn’t sure if I could handle such an ordeal so soon.

I immediately dove into the clutch purse I brought with me, searching for the small bottle of pills within. Not normally something I carried with me, especially so soon after an accident. Typically, I could go at least another few weeks before something happened again-.

SNAP,

My ears picked up on the sound of something nearby. But it wasn’t just the noise that made me flinch and rapidly reach for the dagger secured on my back No, I could sense it now, even

amongst the other feelings currently overwhelming me. I could sense something stalking me from within the darkness.

…I wasn’t alone. The wind picked up once more as I frantically spun my head around, looking for the danger. Looking for whatever was coming for me.

SNAP

Another branch. …And I threw my dagger towards the noise behind me.

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