It’s November, and I’m writing the ninth and final Jason and Azazel book. In celebration, every Tuesday and Thursday (TnT), I’ll be posting scenes from previous Jason and Azazel books. Obviously, if you haven’t read the series, thar be spoilers in these parts. Read at your own risk!
The reunion scene from The Stillness in the Air:
I didn’t turn around right away. I just stood, facing the door, staring down at the gun in my hand. I thought about turning quickly, before he had a chance to see what I was doing, and squeezing the trigger three times in succession. My aim wouldn’t be good the first time, because I was turning, so I might miss. He’d have a chance to get free of the ropes. He’d go for the window, maybe, or the door. But he didn’t have cover, and he wasn’t armed. I could get him in the chest, I was sure. Maybe the head. And he deserved to die. He did. But…
I flashed on his arms around me while I was screaming, awakening from a nightmare. I thought of his deep voice, his gentle hands. I thought of how much he seemed to care about me then. I couldn’t do it. Not all of him deserved to die. There was a part of Jason that was worth keeping alive. I just wasn’t sure how deep he’d buried that part.
“You look beautiful.” His voice was husky. “I had forgotten how beautiful you are.”
I turned around, bringing up the gun. “Shut up,” I growled.
He laughed. “Damn. You were always so sexy with a firearm. I’m getting all hot and bothered.”
I reholstered the gun. “What gives, Jason? We both know you could be out of here in five minutes. Why the charade? Why stay tied up here?”
Jason laughed again. He slid his hands out of the ropes, easy as pie. Standing, he massaged his wrists. “I wanted to see you. You always hang up on me when I try to call.”
He hadn’t called in over a year. Part of that time, he couldn’t, because no one really had phones anymore. Not on the east coast, anyway. For a few days after the blackout, the landlines had worked, until the generators in the stations went down or the people manning the phone companies had run screaming for home. Very few people even had landline phones anymore, though, anyway. At least half the cell phone service went out the instant the solar flare hit. It must have knocked out some satellites in space. Everyone else’s cell phones stopped working as soon as they couldn’t recharge them.
But before the lights went out, he did call me. Usually once every few months. It didn’t matter if I changed my number. He always found me. “Well, I’m here now. What did you want to talk to me about?”
Jason crossed the distance between us in three steps. I started to take a step back from him, but before I could move, I was in his arms. He pulled me tight against him, one hand on the small of my back and the other tangling itself in my hair. I had forgotten what it felt like when he touched me. His caresses were white hot, searing into me. I didn’t fight it. I was consumed by the sensation. His lips pressed against mine, and I opened my mouth to him, letting his tongue probe me. Fireworks exploded at the end of all my nerves. I melded my body against his, my arms going around him, exploring the sculpted perfection of his back, his shoulders. Ah, God. Jason.
And then I pushed him away.
He was startled, so I threw him off balance. He tried to step backwards to correct his loss of center, but he stumbled and thumped to the floor on his backside. I had my gun out again, trained on him.
He held up his hands in surrender.
“Don’t ever do that again,” I said.
“Right. Because I could tell how much you hated it.”
I decided to ignore his sarcasm. I was angry. “You and a bunch of locals kept Hallam’s group from getting west because you wanted to make out with me? Seriously?”
“No,” said Jason. “I stayed tied up in this room, because I wanted to talk to you. I wasn’t planning on trying to kiss you.” He took a deep, labored breath and shifted his gaze to the ceiling. “Can I stand up?”
“I don’t think so,” I said.
“Are you going to shoot me?”
“I haven’t decided yet.”
He lowered his hands. His voice went low and intimate. “I don’t think you’ll shoot me.”
“I might,” I said. “I’m not seventeen years old anymore, Jason. You can’t charm me that easily.”
His eyes raked my body appraisingly, taking in every nuance. “Yeah. You’re not seventeen.”
I half-wanted to shoot him just for that. “What do you want?”
“I’ve only ever wanted you.”
“That’s not true. You used to want to be a normal guy. You used to want to have normal experiences, to live in a John Hughes movie.”
“I’m not normal,” he replied. “And in case you missed the memo, it’s the freaking apocalypse. The lights went out. There is no normal.”
“It’s normal out west,” I said, teeth clenched. My arms were starting to shake. I lowered my gun so Jason wouldn’t see, but I didn’t put it away. I hated it when he started talking about how he wasn’t normal. It was his excuse for everything, and it wasn’t enough. Not anymore. I was through forgiving him.
“If it’s normal out west,” Jason said, “then why haven’t they sent any rescue teams to help us? Where’s the freaking Red Cross?”
“The Red Cross’ Administrative Headquarters was in D.C.,” I said. But he was right. It didn’t make sense. Even if the east coast had no power, and most companies were based there, why hadn’t the rest of the entire United States responded to the crisis? Why hadn’t other countries responded to the crisis? We couldn’t communicate with anyone. We didn’t know.
“There’s no reason to go west,” Jason said. “All I want is for your precious Order of the Fly to pack up and get the hell out of here.”
“How can you say there’s no reason to go west?” I asked. “We need help. People are dying. If you’d seen the things I’ve seen, you’d realize that.”
Jason shrugged. “How can you be sure the people out west even want to help us? It’s the freaking Bible belt. Face it, Azazel, when your precious Order of the Fly took over the government, all of the people out there hated it.”
“Maybe they’re trying to help. Maybe they can’t. But whatever is happening, we know they had power. Right after the outage. We have to get across the river. And you and your little goons are blocking us.”
Jason stood up. He walked over to the broken piano and began to plunk some of the keys. They didn’t make any noise. “Here in Kentucky most people weren’t crazy about the Order of the Fly either.”
“Columbus was liberal,” I said. “They got that Democratic candidate here—”
“Because it’s a poor state, and they needed federal funding. Not because they agreed with the OF’s agenda on religious freedom.” He looked at me. “Understand, I don’t care if they want to use magic, and they want to promote the rights of Wiccans and pagans. I never cared about that, you know that. But I’m not letting anyone go west.”
He wasn’t? Why did he care? “Why not?”
Jason crossed the room to me and took my hand. I pulled it away. He let his own hand dangle in the air for a few seconds and then he dropped it. “Things are good here. Now.”
“What? Things are not good. There’s no electricity. It’s chaos.”
“Yeah. There’s no… there’s no government. There’s no authority. There aren’t people with tons of power trying to throw their weight around and force people to do stuff they don’t want to do. Everyone is free.”
Was he insane? “There are mobs. There are gangs of people stealing food and gasoline, shooting innocent people. There are turf wars and starving babies. People are not free.” I’d been traveling up and down the coast, trying to help the military keep order. I’d seen what the world had become.
“That will stop,” said Jason. “Soon. I’m just not going to let the OF stick their noses into this and ruin everything. I will stop the OF. After I stop them, I can help everyone else. I can bring everyone back together, and we can all have freedom. We can live without anyone looking over our shoulders.”
Kieran was right. He was psychotic. I took a step back, shaking my head.
“Can’t you see it, Azazel? You and I were made for this. You wouldn’t be working with the OF if they didn’t recognize your talents were perfect for this situation. All our lives, people have prophesied that we would be important if something like this happened. We are the key players here. Why don’t you help me? Leave the OF, and help me—”
“Help you what?” I said. “Rule the world?” I felt cold all over. Jason was mentioning things from our past, things that I thought I’d buried when I’d made every single one of the men chasing us kill himself.
“Help me help the world rule itself,” said Jason. “With your powers, we could—”
“I’m not using any of my powers,” I said. “Not anymore.”
Jason looked shocked. “You’re not?”
“You know what happens if I do!” He’d been there when we found out. He’d watched the tiny casket get lowered into the ground. He’d known that it was all my fault.
“Azazel, even Agnes told you that we were important to the future of the world. You and me. We’re supposed to be part of this massive change that’s overtaking everything. This power outage is the first step. And if you just run from who you are—”
“Who am I, Jason? Am I Kali? Am I the vessel? Your dark counterpart? The person who’s supposed to save you? The person who’s supposed to kill you? If this is the apocalypse, am I the messiah or am I the anti-christ?”
“We’re both all of that,” he said, his eyes burning. “But apart, we’re nothing. You and I are made to be together. We are soul mates. You can’t keep running from me. Not now. If you used your power, you’d—”
Jason must have heard something in my voice that told him I was serious, because he didn’t say anything. He was close to me now. He reached out and stroked my cheek. I recoiled.
“Don’t touch me.” My voice was hoarse.
He was quiet for a little longer. When he did speak again, he was quiet. “You know that what happened was an accident. I didn’t mean for him to get hurt. I wish you could forgive me.”
“I wish it wasn’t so easy for you to forgive yourself.” I turned and walked to the door of the room. “They sent me here to try to convince you to join the OF and help us return order to the world. I guess that’s a lost cause.”
“I’ll never join them. I don’t deal well with people telling me what to do.”
That was true, as far as it went. He’d never been particularly good with any kind of authority. I put my hand on the doorknob. “You might want to tie yourself back up again.”
He rushed to me, grabbing both my hands. I tried to pull away, but he held me firm. “Azazel, is there any way you’ll come with me? Please?”
He was just as exquisite as he’d always been. Dark, dark hair. Huge dark eyes like pools I could swim in. His heart-shaped face. I didn’t know if I would ever look at him and not feel a stirring inside me. I’d always want him. But that was all.
“I love you,” he said. “I’ll always love you.”
“I can’t ever love you again.” My voice was shaking. Was it from rage? Fear? Pain? I wrenched my hands away from his.
He looked wounded, like a little boy. Then he squared his shoulders. He laughed. “Tell Hallam, tell Marlena, tell the Order of the Fly to leave. Leave, or I will make you leave.” His mouth twisted into a cruel, satisfied smile.
I crossed my arms over my chest. So it was going to be like that, was it?
“You know me,” he said. “You know I can do it. They don’t know what they’re up against. Make them see that it’s impossible to win against me.”
“It’s not impossible,” I said. “If anyone’s your match, it’s me.”
Jason chuckled. “I taught you everything you know.”
I shook my head. “Not everything.”
Jason turned the knob on the door.
My hand went to my gun. “You’re not just going to walk out of here.”
I drew the pistol, flipping off the safety.
Jason’s hand paused on the knob. He looked at me. “Are you fucking that Kieran guy?”
I was caught off guard. “What? No.”
He moved too fast. His hand was on my wrist in a second, twisting. I let go of the gun. He caught it with his other hand.
Damn it. He had me. Jason pointed the barrel of the gun at my face. Fine, then. I could play dirty too. “Maybe once,” I said. “He didn’t need me to show him where my clit was.”