Thursday, March 28, 2013

April Challenge the Second: Blogging A to Z

Blogging from A to Z

Along with participating in CampNaNoWriMo this April, I thought it would be fun to challenge myself to a Blog contest. Just like NaNo, this is a self challenge. The only prize is the fact that at the end of the month I will have completed 26 posts, each based on a topic that begins with the Letter of the Day! I'm hoping to join the two challenges into one adding a bit more fun to the April Shenanigans.

My plan is this:
  1. Write 2,166 words daily to reach my self-challenge of 65,000 words ( fifteen more than November's NaNo)
  2. After completing the daily word count, I will post a selection from my work (Approximately 250 words) that will either begin with the letter of the day or deal with a topic that begins with the letter of the day. 
  3. ???
  4. Profit 
This will be an interesting challenge but I think in combining the two it will keep me on track to reach both of my goals. This, on top of my daily school work and play rehearsal is sure to make this April the most memorable.

Am I crazy? Of that I have no doubt. Viva la Insanity!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Chapter 4: The Wizard's House

Revised chapter 4 of The Wizard's Pearl

            It hadn’t been Gabriel’s plan to run into Finnean and Toby that night. He had forgotten about them in the midst of Seth’s arrival. It was luck, then, or fate that had him walking the same path that Finn and Toby were to reach The Circle. Toby had looked angry, ready to chastise Gabriel for lying to him and forcing Finnean to lie in turn. But one look at Gabe’s face had Toby rethinking his words and whatever boiling hurt he had felt at Gabe’s betrayal left the moment he heard Gabe’s story about Seth and the job he was supposed to finish by midnight.
            “You promised you wouldn’t go back to stealing again,” Finnean said, giving his brother a disapproving look.
            “That’s what you got out of the story?” Gabe snorted. “I just told you some jackass is in our apartment and blackmailed me into lifting this thing from some wizard and the only thing you can say is ‘you promised you wouldn’t go back to stealing’? Thanks, Finn. You really know how to look through the bull to find the heart of the story.”
            “Stop it,” Toby said, having been around the twins long enough to know that they could bicker and argue for hours without skipping a beat. “One thing at a time, yeah? What exactly did he blackmail you with?”
            “That’s not important,” Gabe said, quickly changing the subject. “It was a risky move, I’ll give him that, but it worked and now they know they have something to hang over my head whenever they want me to do something for them. After this, I’m stealing those pictures back, do you hear me?”
            “You promised you wouldn’t go back to stealing!” Finn said again, glaring at his brother this time.
            “Shut up about the stealing!” Gabe hissed. “My hands are tied and if you want us both to go back to our lives than I’m going to have to do this one last job. If I don’t, we can both end up in the clink and I am not going there and I refuse to let you end up there because of me.”
            “Both of you relax,” Toby interjected again, needing to be the one voice of reason between them. “If Gabe’s in it this deep then we really don’t have a choice. Even though Finn is right, now is not the time to get into who said what.”
            Toby closed his eyes and thought of Luna and Aidan. They were waiting for him to return home. He should have just gone with Finn and forgotten whatever Gabe had planned. It all seemed to go awry anyway. “We’re coming with you,” Toby said succinctly, knowing that he could barely go home knowing that his friends were in trouble.
            “Like hell you are,” Gabe laughed. “No offense, but what do you know about breaking and entering? I don’t think you’ve crossed the line once since we’ve known you.”
            “Gabe does have a point,” Finn said, shrugging his shoulders. “You aren’t the most quiet of people and we’ve been doing this far longer than is safe to admit.”
            “Oh, now you’re on his side?” Toby frowned. “Look, if you’re going then so am I. I’m not entirely sure I’ve forgiven you about lying to me and if the only way I can be certain you’ll make it back here safe and sound so that I can give you a piece of my mind is by going with you, then by the gods that’s exactly what I’m going to do. You owe me, Gabe. For all the times I watched out for you and stuck up for you, you owe me. When we return after this is all over, you will tell me why you thought it was necessary to send Finn to distract me while you were sneaking into the Gallagher’s store room.”
            Gabe grumbled beneath his breath and turned to his brother. Finnean shook his head as though replying to a thought that they both shared. “You’re taking both of us,” Finn said. “You’ve heard how stubborn Toby is about this and you’re not leaving me behind.”
            “Fine,” Gabe spat. “But if either of you get us caught-”
            “We won’t,” Toby said, feeling strangely confident. “It’s not even an option. We won’t get caught and we’ll bring Seth the ball.”
            “I will bring him the ball,” Gabe said before adding, “And not because I’m in it for the fame - don’t look at me like that, Finnean. It’s the way that Seth talked about this job. He was scared. Not only that but he came to me instead of doing the job on his own. Something else is going on and I don’t think it would be a wise decision if you both were with me when we turn it over. There’s just something -”
            “Not right,” Toby filled in, his voice distant. “I feel it too. But it doesn’t matter. First thing is to get the ball, and then we can discuss who will deliver it.”
            The two brothers exchanged another silent look before Finn nodded. It was strange but the atmosphere between the three of them suddenly changed - shifted. He had never known Toby to show an interest in taking the lead but now, it seemed to come as natural to him as breathing.
            “Let’s get moving,” Gabe said, pulling his coat tighter around his shoulders. While Finn seemed to be in awe of the new found confidence in Toby, Gabe was more wary of it. He shivered, feeling the strange sensation of being lead to his doom. He didn’t like this and with every minute that passed he liked it even less.
            Toby followed as Gabe lead him down a winding path of side streets and alleys. They seemed to be avoiding any area where others could see them and that made sense. The light was dim now - soon it would be completely dark and the grey in the shadows would hide their forms. He felt an odd sense of excitement fill him and his steps grew light, almost as if he instinctively knew how to walk without making a sound. It was true, he had never really wanted to go with Gabe before and he had been pulled along from time to time but this time was different and he could feel it deep in his body.
            He could sense things that he couldn’t before, his eye sight seeming to melt the dark into shapes. And something was pulling him, luring him on. It was mad to think and he was sure that if he confessed his thoughts to Finn and Gabe he was sure they would declare him unfit to continue and brush him off. But Toby didn’t want to go home. He needed to do this, to go to the Wizard’s house and to find this ball - whatever it was. It was so important and more so than just for Gabe and Finn’s sake.
            “Toby?” Finn asked, seeing the strange change in his friend. He had never seen Toby so focused before. It was almost frightening to see that with every step, Toby seemed all the more anxious to get there. “Are you alright?”
            “Of course I am,” Toby said, grinning at Finn. “What wouldn’t I be alright?”
            “You just seem... different.”
            “Different? From ten minutes ago? It’s your eyes, Finn, they must be going. I’m just anxious to get this over with.”
            Finn frowned as Toby walked ahead of him, catching up to Gabriel. Something was off with Toby and Finn had such a bad feeling about what they would find. Or worse, that Toby would end up making a mistake that landed them all in so much more trouble. It was one thing if Gabe or Finn landed on the wrong side of the police but Toby had a family that cared about them. Finn would never forgive himself if he was the reason that Toby lost that family he so happily found.
            “Pick up the pace, Finn,” Toby said, looking back with a smile. “Gabe says it’s only just around the corner.”
            “Yes, yes, I’m coming.”
            The houses grew larger as they moved closer into the center of town. This was where the rich lived, the ones that held high positions in the local government. Wealthy merchant homes made up the outer circle but even they were separated from the true upper class - the Wizards. A wire wrought fence separated the two, as though the wizard class felt the need for protection from the less fortunate. It was a laugh, Gabe thought as he climbed up the fence and hopped over. The fence actually trapped the wizards, making them such easy targets for cat burglars and petty thieves alike. By living together in a large community, the wizards ensured a rich pay day to any who was brave enough to venture past the walls.
            Gabe had always been brave enough.
            “It’s the third house on the right,” Gabe said once Finn and Toby were over the wall.
            “What are we waiting for?” Toby said, winking at Gabe as he took off, moving swiftly in the dim light. Gabe frowned and looked back at his brother, his own mood sinking just as quickly as Toby’s seemed to rise.
            “I don’t like this, Gabe,” Finn said, confiding in his brother as they closed the distance between themselves and the house.
            “It’s just a routine job,” Gabe shrugged.
            “No, I mean him - Toby. There’s something wrong with him. Ever since you showed him the picture of the ball he’s changed.”
            Gabe wanted to brush his brother’s worries off but he couldn’t, not when Finn was right. “We’ll just have to keep an eye on him,” he said with a sigh. “If he gets too unpredictable I’ll count on you to help me drag him out.”
            “And the ball?”
            Gabe was silent. He knew that no matter what they would need to get the ball if they had any hope of putting Seth off of their backs. “Just help me, Finn,” he said, reaching out to touch his brother’s hand. “Please. I’m sorry for dragging you both into this mess but... help me.”
            Finn squeezed his brother’s hand affectionately before he lifted it and swatted at the back of Gabe’s head. “Idiot,” he said with a smile. “I always help you no matter how big the mess you get me into.”
            “What are you two doing?” a loud whisper came from the third house on the street. Toby was standing in the garden, hidden in a darkening shadow. For a moment Finn thought he saw Toby’s eyes glint in the dying light but, no, that was just his mind playing tricks on him.
            “Calm down,” Gabe said, seeing how jittery Toby was as the other boy was practically bouncing on the balls of his feet. “We need to take this slow. I don’t know the layout or where the ball is located. All I know is that these are Wizards and we need to assume that they have certain traps set up to protect against anyone who wants to break in.”
            “Right, slow,” Toby said, looking up. But he couldn’t go slowly, not now. He needed to get inside. Once there he was sure he could find the ball. How he knew that was something he really wasn’t focused on. He just knew it and the longer they waited outside the more anxious he felt.
            “How far do you think that balcony is?” Toby wondered out loud, a plan already formulating in his head.
            “Are you mad?” Gabe hissed. “Maybe you should wait outside - be our look out. Finn and I will find a low lying window and check to see if there are any warding spells that-”
            Toby didn’t let Gabe finish. He crouched down and jumped, his hands closing around the metal bars of the balcony. He swung there for a moment, feeling the exhilaration of dangling in the air before he pulled himself up. Below him, Finn and Gabe stared up in shock. There was a good fifty feet of space between the ground and the balcony. No one should have been able to leap that high. And yet-
            “He must have climbed,” Finn reasoned, seeing Toby grin down at them and give the two boys a wave.
            “Climb what?” Gabe said incredulously. “Do you see anything he could climb?”
            “Maybe there’s a drainage pipe or the brick is crumbling.”
            “He jumped,” Gabe said his voice still quiet. What in the hell was happening here? “There is no way he could have climbed the wall. He jumped fifty feet from a standing start.”
            The air was calm, almost too still. Finnean shivered.
            “Hey, the window is opened up here,” Toby whispered down to them, his mind completely focused on the task at hand. He didn’t even stop to think about the impossible feat he had just accomplished. His mind was completely on that ball - the Pearl. How he knew it was called the Pearl he wasn’t sure. It might have to do with the strange attraction he seemed to feel for it. Toby needed the Pearl, needed to touch it and hold it in his hand. He would do anything to get it.
            He reached for the window and he paused only for a moment. A bell rang in his ears and he winced. It was an alarm of some sort but it only seemed to ring for him. The bell stopped just as soon as it had begun and it was then that the whispers started. He couldn’t make out what they were saying but it was as if the voices were calling to him, beckoning him to enter the house.
            “Wait for us,” Gabe called up to him but Toby seemed to be mesmerized. He watched as Toby slipped his hand into the open window, opening it a bit more before disappearing inside. “Toby! Hey, come down and let us in. Are you listening to me?”
            “What’s wrong with him?” Finnean asked, seeing the way Toby completely ignored them. It was almost as though he had forgotten the reason they were here. Something was wrong. Something was most definitely, horribly wrong.
            Gabe cursed before he turned to the nearest window. He dug beneath his shirt and pulled out a small necklace with a grey stone on the end. A rune was carved into the stone - Gabe used it on most of the jobs he was given in the Wizard’s district. It was a neutralizing stone. Any spell that the Wizards would have cast to shield the windows and other entrances was dispelled when the stone crossed their borders. It was a skeleton key for Wizards and Gabe kept the fob very close to him at all times. If any found out how he was able to do the impossible jobs then he would be a target himself and that was something Gabe was not keen on happening.
            He took the fob and placed it on the sill of the next window. He waited, counted until five before he placed the stone beneath his shirt. The window was unlocked and Gabe made easy work of lifting the glass pane before he slipped inside. “Wait here,” he whispered to Finnean. “I’ll get Toby and the ball and meet you. You know what to do if you see someone.”
            “Be careful,” Finn warned Gabe.
            Gabe nodded, knowing that they were far beyond being simply careful. He turned and let his eyes adjust to the darkness inside the house before he began to navigate his way through the lower level. He hated that this was a blind job. He should have known it was all pear-shaped before he started and this was just damned icing on the cake. When they got out of there he was going to knock some sense into Toby’s head. His friend must be touched in the head to act like this and Gabe knew exactly the sort of medicine to cure the sort of madness that had you running around and acting like some damn hero in an adventure story. Gabe had been on the receiving end of his fair share of beatings for that very same reason and he wasn’t about to let someone else’s delusions ruin his reputation or land him in jail.
            He moved silently through the house, listening to the sounds around him as he slipped across the room (the dining room by the looks of the furniture and the fine crystal that was being held in the cabinets around him) towards the hallway and the stairs that lead up to the second floor. Small creaks above him indicated movement and Gabe held his breath, not wanting to make a single sound. He didn’t know if the owners of the house were sleeping or if they were out for the night. Again, he cursed the circumstances that landed him in this damned situation. After he thumped Toby for running about like a lunatic, he was going to murder Seth for being the jackass that plopped this job in his lap.
            Gabriel reached the top of the stairs and he turned, counting his heart beats as he waited, listening to the house. The silence could be deafening but in the quiet even the smallest noise sounded like a crash. He could hear someone moving in the room down the hall which could only be Toby. The floor was soft and carpeted so Gabe was able to move quickly down the corridor towards the room. He wanted to begin a systematic search of the rooms but he couldn’t, not without knowing what Toby was up to. It was a liability to have him inside the house and until Gabe was absolutely certain he wasn’t going to muck everything up, Gabe couldn’t finish the job.
            He reached the door and pressed his ear to the wood, listening to the sounds that drifted through. Gabe could hear a rustling as someone opened and shut different drawers and objects, clearly in search. Gabe frowned before he pushed open the door. The window was open, letting the moonlight illuminate the study. Toby stood by the wall with a strange look on his face. He seemed hypnotized as he ransacked the room dumping papers and books on the floor. His mouth was moving as though he was muttering to himself, growing more and more agitated as he went.
            “Toby,” Gabe said, growing a bit more frightened now. He walked over to his friend, reaching out to touch his shoulder when Toby’s eyes widened - his focus completely on a box he had pulled from the shelf. The look on Toby’s face was so terrible that Gabe pulled away, unable to do much but watch his friend.
            “It’s here,” Toby whispered to himself, caressing the box almost affectionately as he lifted the lid. A pale pink glow filled the room, making Gabe feel as though his skin was crawling. It was a repulsive light, making Toby’s face appear hallow and sunken in. The other boy didn’t seem to mind, in fact, his eyes were filled with a frantic joy as he reached out to touch the ball.
            A loud, harsh caw reverberated in the room and pulled Gabe’s eyes from Toby’s face to the large black bird that had appeared at the window. At first, Gabe couldn’t understand why a bird would suddenly show up at the window but when the creature shifted and a tall, thin man stood where the bird had been Gabe remembered. “Magpie,” Gabe breathed, remembering the few times his path had crossed with others. They were bird creatures, able to shift between a large crow and a human form. Just as the Wolves, they were not common in the cities but as they were hopelessly attracted to anything valuable and shiny, the Magpies were becoming far more attracted to the Wizards and their riches.
            This one seemed to be just as focused on the ball as Toby was - mesmerized and completely taken in by the appearance. The man reached forward and with a speed that was only a blur to Gabe, the pink ball was in the Magpie’s hand. A snarl appeared on Toby’s face and his eyes seemed to glow, highlighting the oddity of them - one green and one blue. The Magpie had been about to shift again, moving his hand with the ball up to his mouth so as to carry the object in his ‘beak’ when he saw the glow of Toby’s eyes. Gabe watched as the Magpie’s mouth opened wide and the pink ball fell to the floor, bouncing and rolling towards Gabe.
            “Caspian,” the Magpie said his voice high-pitched like the voice of a crow.
            A growl came from Toby’s chest as he took a step towards the Magpie, his hand out to his side as if he was holding something. Gabe lunged for the ball and covered it, using a piece of cloth he kept in his pocket to pick it up just as the something in Toby’s hand turned out to be a long staff that he used to swing at the Magpie. The man took one look at the staff and cawed, shifting just in time to miss being hit by the staff. The bird took off, flying off into the night and leaving the two boys in the study behind him.
            Gabe pulled the ball to him, careful not to let it drop to the floor once more. There was something about the ball that made him want to stay very far away from it. There was an ugly, dirty feel to it and Gabriel would be happy when they dropped it off. Let Seth deal with the creepy thing.
            The moment the light was gone from the ball, Toby collapsed on the ground. Whatever Gabe had seen - the strange staff suddenly at Toby’s fingertips and the brightness of his eyes - was gone now. Gabe wasn’t even certain if it had been there in the first place of if he was just seeing things. He highly suspected that the pink ball was a magical item that could make a person see strange things. That was just what they all needed, a damn ball that created hallucinations. As though they hadn’t already seen enough weirdness tonight.
            “Toby,” Gabe said, careful to keep the ball away from his friend. “Toby, are you alright?”
            “Gods, my head,” Toby whispered, his hands moving up to rub his forehead.
            “What in the hell was that?” Gabe asked him, refraining from giving Toby the thumping he had been dreaming about in the hall.
            “What in the hell was what?” Toby asked, his voice sounding very small and weak.
            “That staff, your eyes, the glowing pink ball - take your pick!” Gabe snapped before he took a breath. “Never mind. Can you walk?”
            “I... I think so,” Toby said, pushing himself up off of his knees. He felt so strange and he couldn’t for the life of him remember where he was. He had a vague memory of Gabe telling him about a job - something about a ball but after that his mind went hazy and … pink.
            “Where are we?” he asked as he followed Gabe out of the room.
            “Not now. Outside,” Gabe whispered, needed to keep his voice down just in case the Wizards, who he assumed weren’t home since all of that commotion would have woken even the living dead, returned home. “I’ll explain it all when we get outside because, to tell you the truth, I have no idea what I just witnessed. No idea at all.”

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Wizard's Pearl on LeanPub

I've been doing some thinking (dangerous, I know) and some research. I'm still pursuing a literary agent for The Wizard's Pearl, however, I've discovered that generating a want and need for the story is as important as publishing credentials. Publishers do not want to take a gamble on someone who has never been published and is a general unknown.

And so, I've been posting the Wizard's Pearl on different websites in order to generate buzz. Currently, the entire novel is available on Authonomy . I have also begun to e-publish the book using Leanpub - an e-publisher that protects first printing rights and allows authors to generate interest while the book is still in progress. My plan is to keep the novel available on Authonomy until mid-April at which point I will shorten it to a selection and move the book over to Leanpub.

What does this mean for readers? For now, the book is available for free through Authonomy. It can be viewed in chapters online and comments/critiques can be posted. Once the book is moved, a small fee will be attached to reading the entire book ($0.99 to start) and a selection will be available at Authonomy. Comments/critiques can still be made and are always welcome.

The benefit of using Leanpub is that it creates a polished copy that readers can download in a variety of different formats: .pdf , .epub, .mobi. This allows the book to be downloaded to e-readers, tablets, iphones without needing to be connected to the internet. The copies can be shared with friends and recommended to others which will hopefully increase the readership.

Is this a grand undertaking? Perhaps, but it seems as though many agents and publishers want to know that an author is dedicated to working on their novel and marketing it as much as possible. I have a very good feeling about The Wizard's Pearl. All I need is that one person to say yes. Maybe lots of people can lead to that one person who will help me take the next step into print.

The website for LeanPub is:

At the moment, the landing page merely has information regarding the book and generating interest. Feel free to drop your email address if you'd like to be updated when the book becomes available.

In the meantime, I begin working on The Dragon's Circle April 1st. I will be posting my progress here on the blog and selections will be posted every day that I take one more step closer to my ultimate goal of 65,000 words.

Feel free to cheer me on!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

So I took the plunge and posted The Wizard's Pearl on a book rating community. The Wizard's Pearl is posted on Authonomy. If you are having trouble leaving comments on the blog (trust me, I am working at fixing the problem) leave the comments on the Authonomy page. The entire book is posted (3rd edition edit mostly).

Read it, send me feedback, share it with friends. I am anxious to hear what everyone thinks.

Also, the second book is now in the works and slated to begin April 1st. The tentative title of this book is The Dragon's Circle. I hope to update the blog with selections as the story begins to form.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chapter 3 - The Circle

            On the outskirts of town there stood a dilapidated old building, the bricks crumbling and ivy threatening to engulf the structure. It had been a winery before the Fall. Cafall’s Vineyard boasted the best vintage and all of Eirre. The bottles lived up to the claim, gracing the tables of the elite in the Capital of Thrall. Yet, after the Fall, the family that owned the vineyard disappeared leaving the building to sink into disrepair. The vineyards that surrounded the building dried up into barren husks leaving nothing but an empty shell inhabited only by the ghosts of memories.
            Many in Cafall were happy to keep it that way. The family that had owned the vineyard had been Wizards and loyal to the Magistrate who had come to power during the Fall. It was rumored that dark magic had been used to create such an irresistible wine and the building was cursed with evil creatures. The building continued to crumble until a stranger from the North arrived and bought the building, converting it into a night club.
For many of the residents of Cafall, The Circle was worse than the haunted building. Rumors began to fill the sleepy town about the club and the man who had bought it. It was said to be the meeting house of The Old Boys, the local gang of criminals and thieves. They would meet in the basement where the floor was stained with the blood of those who crossed them. It was filled with non-humans and Wizards, hiding their faces as they indulged in wicked vice. It was not a place that the good citizens of Cafall treasured although it did little to cut through the crowds on a Saturday night.
Above the cellar where the night club was housed were two flats. The stranger who had purchased the winery had wanted a place to stay when he came to visit the club. It remained vacant most of the year until two twin boys had mentioned that they were in need of a place to stay.
The boys had been far too young to be in a place such as the Circle and even the Stranger seemed concerned when he saw their identical faces peek over the bar at him. The rumors in some respects were true and the Stranger could see the signs of the streets on the boys, reading in the way they spoke and acted. The Old Boys recruited the young ones from the orphanage, teaching them to be pickpockets before moving on to more elaborate heists. The Stranger didn’t say a word about the Old Boy’s habits, but something about the twins piqued his interest.
Gabe had been skeptical at first when the Stranger (“Call me Dante,” he had said. “I’m not all that strange.”) had offered them the flat above the club. It had seemed far too good to be true and Gabe knew never to trust an offer that didn’t have a visible hook attached to it. But, Dante had insisted, asking them only to look after the Club on the nights when Dante was out of town (“Don’t let the place burn and I’ll consider rent paid.”) It had been three years now that Finn and Gabe called the Circle home and it was where they felt the most comfortable, especially Gabe.
            It was early and the club was not yet open for the night which Gabe was thankful for. Tonight, he wanted a moment to think before losing himself in the chaos. Finnean had done his job well, just as he was sure he would and yet it was bittersweet to know that they could trick Toby as well as they had. No matter how much trouble Gabriel had landed both his brother and Toby in over the years, he had never outright lied to them when something important was at stake. Yet, he was convinced he acted in Toby’s best interests. For once he was looking out for him rather than the other way around and that was the one good thought in the midst of the worry.
            Something was going on. Something big, that much Gabriel was certain and based off of what he discovered tonight he hadn’t even scratched the surface. What Luna and Aidan were hiding was bound to shake their little world up and for the first time Gabe wasn’t sure if he ought to let that happen. They had it good, didn’t they? He and Finnean had a place to live that was safe and comfortable. They had friends here, ones who actually gave a damn if they lived or died. It hadn’t always been that way and now that Gabe had people he could trust he wasn’t willing to give it all away. Still, Toby was his friend, his best friend besides his brother, and something about the information that he found told him that Toby needed to know. If it was him, he hoped someone would do the same for him no matter how much he fought against it. Some knowledge was just that damned important.
            Gabe heard the thumping on the stairs outside long before the knock came at the door. He walked across the small apartment with a frown on his face, his mind lost in thought. “Come in,” he said, certain that the only two people who could be outside would be Toby and his brother, Finnean. He stood just besides the door, an apology ready on his lips when the door opened with a bang and three men entered - ones that he would never have invited in had he known they were out there.
            Two of the men were very large and very muscular. Gabe frowned, recognizing them for the shakers that they were. Men like that only showed up on your doorstep when they wanted something and unless you paid up front, they would have no trouble roughing you up. The man that followed them was much smaller in height as well as girth. He was a thin, tweedy looking fellow who was not much older that Gabe but it was clear that he took great pride in his appearance. His dirty blonde hair was slicked back with grease and a thin mustache graced his upper lip. He was dressed like one of the upper class Wizards and tried to pass himself off as such but Gabe knew better. Underneath the fine clothes lived a man who had spent his life on the streets of Cafall, scrambling after the next big payout. He would do anything for anyone as long as it meant he’d be paid and paid well.
            He wasn’t the type that Gabe would typically invite into his home even if they both did frequent the same circles. Gabe wasn’t afraid to admit that he was a criminal and a damned good one at that. He just didn’t brag about it, unlike Seth who used every opportunity he had to drop the jobs he had done or the items he had grabbed. Opening your mouth was a good way to land you behind bars and if that wasn’t the worst of it, Seth had a bad habit for being far too quick with a knife. He was the worst sort of cat burglar - he was sloppy and anyone who associated with him usually ended up worse than when they started.
            “Seth,” Gabe said, frowning deeply as he watched the three men begin to walk around the room. If Gabe knew any better he’d say that they were casing the apartment but no, there was honor among thieves and even Seth wouldn’t be idiot enough to cross that line. “What in the hell are you doing here?”
            “I was invited,” Seth said with a smirk sliding across his face. His arms spread out - always the dramatic performer even when in casual conversation. Gabe hated it.
            “You did say come in, didn’t you?” Seth continued. “I mean, I assumed that you knew who you were inviting in. It would take a real fool, a pea-brained sized imbecile to simply call out ‘Come In’ without checking to see if danger lurked outside. You’re not an imbecile, are you, Gabby my boy? Of course you’re not. Aye, I can tell by the look in your eye you knew exactly who was beyond your door step. None such as you would ever make such a grave mistake.”
            Gabe gritted his teeth, forcing himself not to hit Seth in his greasy little face. The two goons watched them closely as if they were just waiting for one of them to launch into a fight. He could take Seth easily. The other two would be much more difficult. “What do you want?” he asked between clenched teeth.
            “What, I need a reason to come visit one of my good friends?” Seth laughed before clearing his throat, shaking his head. “Oh of course, I kid. I would never drop by this dump unless I had a damn good reason. Listen, I’ll lay all the cards out on the table.”
            “That would be a first,” Gabe snorted under his breath.
            “I want to make you a proposition,” Seth said, ignoring Gabe’s words for the time being. The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a slip of paper. Gabe looked at paper warily, uncertain he wanted to take anything Seth offered him.
            “Take it,” Seth said, shaking the paper a bit. “It won’t bite, you know.”
            “I wouldn’t be so sure of anything at the moment,” Gabe scowled but he snatched the paper away from Seth and opened it, a quizzical look on his face. It was a drawing but of what he couldn’t decide as the language was strange and unlike any he had seen before.
            “What is this?” he asked, looking up at Seth and for the moment he forgot that he was supposed to be irritated at the man who was interrupting his evening. There was something about the drawing that piqued his interest. It was something that would generally be right up his alley. Gabriel loved anything old and steeped with history. The expression on Seth’s face when Gabe met the other man’s eyes told him that was exactly the impression Seth wanted to make on Gabe.
            Bastard, Gabe thought viciously.
            “That’s the puzzle,” Seth said, a smile on his face that said he knew he had Gabe’s attention. “What is it? Luckily, we don’t get paid to know what something is, just location and the removal of said object without too much attention. Who gives a damn what the hell it is - what I care about is how much it’s worth.”
            Again, the skepticism was back and Gabe glanced down at the paper, trying to decide what sort of game Seth was up to playing. He should hand the paper back and walk away. He was being set up, he knew it, he could feel it but, damn it if he wasn’t genuinely interested in what this drawing was. He felt he had seen it before, knew the object but from where he wasn’t certain. Still, he was playing right into Seth’s hands and he couldn’t let the smug bastard have the satisfaction of knowing he was that easy to goad.
            “Why should I care?” Gabe asked, shrugging his shoulders and folding the paper once more. “I can get plenty of jobs on my own, thanks. I’m not desperate for a hand out so if you’re worried about me you can take your newfound charity and shove it up your ass.”
            “Tut, tut, Gabby boy,” Seth said, shaking his head. “You just don’t get it do you? I’m not asking you to do this job for me - I’m telling you.”
            “Like hell you are!” Gabe barked back, almost laughing at Seth’s audacity. “See, the benefit of not working for anyone is that I only take orders from one person - me. And, really, if I wanted to listen to a stuck up prig telling me what to do I would just head down into the Circle and find someone into that sort of thing. I doubt it would take me long to find someone willing to hold my leash.”
            “As enlightening as it is to hear of your deviances, you seem to be missing the point. I knew you wouldn’t be interested in a job from me or anyone I associate with. I enjoy that, actually. It keeps things separate and ensures me that I never have to see your ugly face around.”
            “The feeling is mutual,” Gabe interrupted and was happy to see the red flush of anger spread across Seth’s neck.
            “But this isn’t about me,” Seth snapped angrily. “This is about my employer. And he wants you, you specifically. So you will do this job or you will have him to deal with.”
            “I’m not afraid of Gunny,” Gabe snorted. “Nor am I afraid of Frik and Frak that you brought with you. Seth, I’ll try to make this as plain as I can manage it so that even you can understand. I do not do jobs for Gunny. I will not do jobs for Gunny and I sure as hell won’t do anything you tell me to do.”
            Seth was quiet for a moment and Gabe could see the veins in his skinny neck begin to pulse. He was angry, that was clear, but Gabe really wasn’t sure why. Seth couldn’t have been stupid enough to think that Gabe would have simply accepted his job offer. In fact, Gabe was still unsure why Seth had come to him in the first place. He wouldn’t have put it past the other man to take the job himself no matter what Gunny had demanded. Sure, Gunny was a powerful boss - he had his fingers in a lot of pies so to speak and was intimidating to Seth and others just like him but that still didn’t explain why Seth was here in his living room demand that Gabe take a job from a boss that he didn’t do business with.
            As Seth gathered his thoughts, Gabe saw the sweat on the other man’s brow and it was then that he realized there was more to it than just anger. He’s afraid, Gabe realized and that could mean that things were much more serious than he previously thought.
            “I think you ought to rethink your stance,” Seth said after taking a long breath and running his fingers through his hair, messing up his perfectly oiled hair. “You might not care what happens to you or what Gunny could have done to you, but maybe you’ll have something to say if your brother were to meet with a little accident.”
            “Finnean?” Gabe said, laughing. “Go ahead. If you think that Finn is a weakling who doesn’t know how to defend himself you’re in for a big surprise, especially if you-”
            “Call the police and identify a man working at the local bakery as the same man who stole evidence from the safe right from under their noses?” Seth offered with that same smug smile on his face. Gabe’s laughter died and he couldn’t help but feel that cold shiver race up his spine.
            “What in the hell are you talking about?” he said, his tone terse. “I never stole evidence. It’s nearly impossible, especially with all the Wolves they started promoting to the local police department. Damn things can sniff you out. It’s too risky.”
            “Deny it all you like but we have evidence that places you at the scene,” Seth smirked. “How very unfortunate that due to the nature of the evidence it is almost impossible to tell the difference between your face and that of your identical twin. And, due to the sensitive nature of the evidence and you know how proud the Wolves are, do you really think the courts will be worried about giving him a fair trial? He’ll be tossed into jail faster than you can blink and as you pointed out before, I’m sure it won’t be very difficult until he finds someone to, how did you put it? Hold his leash?”
            The urge to punch Seth in his stupid looking face was stronger now than it had been before. He knew he should call Seth’s bluff. No one could have any information on him. He was careful and that was what made him so damn good and yet, there was that possibility that what Seth was saying was true. Gabe had never known Seth to resort to blackmail before. True, he wasn’t the best thief and he took risks that Gabe would never dream of but his pride would never have allowed it. Seth was too obsessed with being the best and by his own methods, no matter how underhanded. Blackmail on behalf of Gunny was just out of character for him. Still, whatever was prompting Seth to act so strangely managed to hit all of Gabe’s vulnerable spots, and Seth knew it. Damn it all for caring so much about Finn - sometimes it was far more risky than it seemed.
            “You’re a bastard,” Gabe spat, knowing that Seth had him by the balls.
            “So, does this mean you’re going to be a good boy and play along?” Seth asked, his voice once again sounding as though he was completely in control. You’re still afraid though, Gabe thought. Once I figure out why then the game changes again, this time in my favor.
            “The way you put it I don’t have much of a choice, do I?” Gabe scowled. He opened the paper again and stared at the drawing, taking a closer look. “So what the hell is this? Some sort of crystal ball?”
            “Does it matter what it is?” Seth chuckled. “All you need to know is that it’s a job and it needs to be done by tomorrow at first light.”
            “Why the rush?” Gabe asked. “Does the damn thing sprout legs and walk off or turn into a pumpkin at the stroke of six?”
            Seth wagged his finger at Gabe, the smarmy attitude making his skin crawl. He glanced at the two goons who had stood silently besides Seth the entire time and he wondered if he’d be able to take them. Almost as if they could hear him, the one on the left tilted his head to the left and a series of loud, audible pops filled the room. The one to the right mimicked the motion and Gabe realized that to get out of this without serious bodily harm, he was going to have to put up with the obnoxious tone and the stupid smirks.
            “You don’t get to ask questions, Gabby. You’re working for me now and what I say goes. I guess I’m the one holding your leash tonight.”
            On second thought, a punch in the face didn’t seem so bad.
            “Tell me where it is and I’ll get it for you,” Gabe said, wishing this night was over. The thought of working for slime like Seth was bad enough. He wanted to get this over with and forget that it had ever happened.
            “Here’s the address,” Seth said, passing over a scrap of paper. “The object should be on the second floor. Not sure if there’s a safe or not but, I don’t think you need me to do all of your work for you. Either come back with the ball or don’t come back at all. I don’t think I have to remind you of the consequences of failing.”
            “No, you don’t,” Gabe snapped, slipping the piece of paper in his pocket. “I said I’ll do it and I will. I’ll have the ball to you by midnight. It won’t take me longer than that.”
            “That’s good to hear,” Seth grinned. “As I’ll be making myself comfortable here until you return.”
            Seth walked over to Gabe’s couch and flopped down, resting his dirty boots on the coffee table. Gabe hadn’t realized he’d lunged forward, his hands balled into a fist until one of the goons grabbed him by the shoulder and squeezed tight. Seth ignored Gabe’s anger and instead continued to make himself at home.
            “Midnight,” Gabe said tersely, pulling himself away from the tall, muscular man as he walked to the door to put on his jacket. “Not a second later. And then I’m throwing you out on your ass.”
            It took every inch of self-control for Gabe to open the door and walk out without letting loose a string of curses. As it was, he waited until he was down the steps and halfway into the alley way before he shouted, angry at fate for forcing his hand and pissed that a slimy bastard was currently in his home. He would finish the job, alright, and shove the damn object down Seth’s throat when he was done. Let the son of a bitch choke on it for all he cared. At the moment, he was without mercy.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Chapter 2 - Toby

            The sounds of the buzzing market and the heat from the street engulfed Toby as he helped the last of the customers pack their groceries. “Have a nice day!” he greeted them cheerfully on to be countered with a stern look and a pointed finger.
“One of the last,” the elderly people in the village would say. “Ought not to trust the warm yellow sun too much. This late in the season the sun is a devil, tricking you with wawrmth one day only to take it all away in a sharp freeze the next. Mark my words, boyo. This time next week we’ll be eye deep in the snow.”
Toby would smile and nod, not letting their warnings ruin what had already been a lovely day. He enjoyed the weather, taking in the last of the warm sun with a wide grin and a sigh of relief. The air always seemed cleaner, sweeter perhaps, without the summer’s dry heat. Days like today were ones to be enjoyed no matter the occasion. Today was an especially beautiful day, even if it was one that found him working at the busy market.
            The Gallagher’s Open Air Market was the only place in town where fresh fruits and vegetables were grown and stocked all year long. Toby knew it was all due to the Gallagher’s talent in magic but they were different from the wizards that visited from the city. Those men and women in their fine robes and fancy cars always held an air of contempt over the simple farmers and their wares. Even the Gallagher’s were looked down on by their peers, not that you could ever tell by looking at them. Luna and Aidan were special and in more ways than just their kind and warm nature.
            For as long as Toby had known them the Gallagher’s had opened their home to the people of the village, offering them food,, shelter and aid whenever they needed it most. They were the doctors when none could visit the village. They were the caretakers and teachers when parents needed a trusted soul to look after their children. They used their talents and their magic on any who needed it. In a world where most humans viewed wizards with distrust and suspicions, the Gallagher’s were loved and revered by the community. It was here that Toby felt safe and honored enough to call Luna and Aidan his parents.
            Of course, they weren’t his true parents, not by blood but to Toby there really wasn’t a distinction. He wouldn’t know his birth mother from any other woman who passed through the village yet he knew Luna. He knew her laugh and her smile and the way she hummed to herself as she baked Toby’s favorite cookies. It was possible that his father could have been one of the rich, noble wizards who occasionally shopped in the market for the “atmosphere” but Toby wouldn’t have cared. The only father that mattered was Aidan and the way he ruffled Toby’s brown hair, sitting next to him as they poured over one subject or another, devouring books and discussing them late into the night. It was Aidan and Luna he loved, and it was them that he owed everything.
            Toby took a deep breath, his mind filled with warm thoughts just as his body was bathed in the heat of the lovely autumn day. There was the smell of freshly pressed cider and spiced cookies passed by his nose and left him with a large smile on his face, pausing to enjoy the moment even though he should have been finishing up sweeping the floor. It was just about time to close up the market when his thoughts were interrupted by a large thump on the back that nearly had him stumbling into a large pile of potatoes.
            “Sorry, oh, Toby, I’m sorry!”
            A pair of hands reached out to steady his shoulders before he landed face first in the bin. Toby laughed, turning to see the concerned face of his friend. Finnean Doyle, Finn to his friends, could be clumsy at times, but his kind nature always served to make others forget any harm his ungraceful feet could cause. “I’m fine,” Toby said, brushing dirt from his apron. “Really, I’ve been pushed into worse things.”
            “I know,” Finn said a wry smile on his face as he shook his head. “I’m usually the one who accidentally sends you flying into those things.”
            “Not all the time,” Toby grinned, clapping a hand on Finn’s shoulder and watching as a cloud of dust puffed up and into the air. “Most of the time, yes, but I can’t say that you are always the culprit. Your brother shares some of the blame in that arena.”
            “When it’s Gabe, it’s more intentional than accidental,” Finnean replied, rolling his eyes. Toby couldn’t help but laugh. Gabriel Doyle was Finnean’s identical twin brother and as much as they looked alike, they were each other’s polar opposites. Where Finnean was a touch clumsy and gentle in nature, Gabriel was light on his feet with a sharp wit. Both intelligent and bright, they were as different from each other as night was from day. Still, they were both his best friends and their differences only served to create hours of adventures.
“Speaking of Gabriel,” Finn continued. “Has he been by? He said something this morning about wanting to see you.”
            Toby shook his head. “No, I haven’t seen him since last night. Why, is something wrong?”
            “I’m not sure,” Finn said and shrugged his shoulders. “It’s difficult to tell, though, so perhaps there is something wrong. You know Gabe; it’s probably nothing. Anyway, he said something about a job but he was very cryptic about it.”
            Toby sighed. Whenever Gabe spoke about a ‘job’ it typically was code for needing a lookout. It was one of the secrets that Toby held regarding the twins. They had been outcasts once upon a time, living in the streets of Cafall. During the day they would attend the local school but at night, instead of returning to the home for boys which was where the three had met, they would go out at night and run jobs for the local criminals.
 Thieves and pickpockets were what they were but Toby had never been very good at it. Neither had Finn but Gabe had excelled, finding more and more dangerous jobs as the years passed. It wasn’t odd to have Gabe ask Finn or Toby to come and be his look out. Toby never enjoyed doing it and he had tried his best to push Gabe off, reminding him that his life was different and he was trying to play it straight. That didn’t mean Gabe stopped asking.
 He leaned the broom against the nearest box and looked over Finn’s shoulder at the late afternoon sun. It was such a beautiful day but it seemed that he may not be able to enjoy it for very much longer. “I already have a job, Finn,” Toby said. “Gabe knows that. He also knows that I don’t fancy his games any longer.”
            “It’s different this time,” Finn said but it was clear that even he didn’t believe that. “Look, he doesn’t have anyone besides us to really look after him. We can disagree with him all we want but even he knows that we won’t let him go off on one of his adventures on his own.”
            “He has a damned six sense when it comes to guilt,” Toby frowned, watching as the sun began to sink behind the houses. He should say no, he knew that, but Finnean was right. No matter how many times Toby insisted that he was through watching Gabe’s back, he would because Gabe was just as important to him as Luna or Aidan. Finnean and Gabriel were a part of his family, the only ones that he had. He didn’t have to be blood related to call the twin boys his brothers - they just were and he would do anything to keep them safe.
            “Tell Gabe that I’m in,” Toby said, turning to point a finger at Finn. “Whatever it is, I’ll go along with the scheme. But this is it. I’m serious, Finn. If this ends up going pear shaped...”
            “It won’t,” Finn promised. “And if it does, you can blame me.”
            Toby snorted before he smiled. “I’ll put the blame where it belongs - on your brother for using you to talk me into these messes.”
            Finn shrugged and tried to ignore that fact that he was embarrassed Toby was able to see through to the heart of the matter which only served to make Toby’s smile widen. While the two brothers were fiercely loyal to each other, they knew how to use the other’s weaknesses to their own best interest. Gabriel was the best at it, using Finn as a trusting middle man whenever Gabe was in the mind to try something bold and all too risky. Toby knew this and yet, he felt sorry for Finn. He was only trying to look after his brother, after all, and while Finnean wasn’t stupid, he did tend to think the best of Gabriel even when his brother didn’t warrant that trust.
            Toby clapped his hand on Finn’s shoulder and handed him a broom. “Help me clean up the store otherwise I’m likely to be here all night. Whatever Gabe has in store for us, I’m sure he wouldn’t appreciate it if we were late.”
            “It’s Gabe,” Finn said with a shrug of his shoulders. “I don’t think it matters to him either way.”
            “Then he won’t mind if we stop home before we head out,” Toby winked at Finn. “Luna said she was working on a new batch of spiced cookies. I can think of two hungry mouths willing to test them out.”
            Strangely, Finn looked down at the floor, sweeping quietly instead of responding. That was odd, considering that Finnean and Luna always got along famously. The boys were always welcomed over at the Gallagher’s. It was a home when Gabe and Finn were down on their luck and needed a roof over their heads. “Something wrong?” Toby asked him. “You don’t like spiced cookies?”
            “What? Oh, no, it’s not that,” Finn said, biting his lower lip as he leaned against the broom, idly kicking at the ground.
            “Then what is it?” Toby said, growing more concerned with the way Finn was acting.
            “Nothing,” Finn said, shaking his head and offering Toby a smile. “Really, I think I’m just nervous about Gabe, that’s all. I’m afraid that he might be getting himself into trouble.”
            “When is he not getting into trouble?” Toby laughed but he saw that Finn didn’t share his smile. It was usually very easy to get Finn to cheer up but for some reason he still looked as though something on his mind. “Is there something else going on?”
            “No,” Finn replied quickly. “It’s nothing. Really, just forget about it. I’m sure I’m just reading into things. You know how I can do that from time to time. Never mind, yes, I will be happy to try Luna’s spiced cookies. I don’t know what I was thinking before. It’s just been a strange few days, that’s all.”
            “Has it?” Toby said, watching his friend carefully. Something was bothering Finnean, he could see that very plainly but what could it be that Finn felt the need to hide it from him? Not to mention the fact that he seemed visibly concerned about visiting Luna and Aidan’s home. Maybe this trip tonight wasn’t just another of Gabriel’s little adventures. Perhaps it was something more, something dangerous.
            “What aren’t you telling me?” Toby asked Finn gently, his focus intent on his friend. He could see that whatever it was needed to work its way out but Finn just shook his head.
            “It’s nothing,” he said again, this time the words were accompanied with a smile, albeit a sad one. “Besides, it’s not mine to tell. Ask Gabriel if you get the chance. Perhaps he’ll talk to you.”
            Something was definitely going on but if Finn was reluctant to speak about it than no amount of prying would get him to open up before he was ready. Toby nodded and offered his friend a smile in return. “Let’s finish up and head on back,” he said, reaching out to squeeze Finn’s shoulder affectionately. “Have a few cookies; convince Aidan to let us have a pint. It sounds like if we’re going out tonight we may need it.”
            “Gabe’s going to be sore he missed out on a pint when he finds out,” Finn said, his tone cheering up a little.
            “That’s the spirit! Let’s rub his nose in his lost opportunity,” Toby grinned, even though his head was spinning. Whatever was going on wasn’t good, that much was certain. Finnean was rarely so out of sorts and when he was it usually meant that Gabriel was in trouble. If that was the case then he was going to have his work cut out for him tonight. He only hoped that the adventure that Gabriel planned for them was merely a boy’s night out and not something more serious.
            The sun had nearly disappeared below the horizon when Finn and Toby had finished closing up the market for the day. The streets were empty as they walked towards the edge of the village where Luna and Aidan’s house was situated. Finnean seemed to grow more and more agitated the closer they walked to the house until Toby couldn’t keep quiet any longer. He turned suddenly and stopped Finn, his eyes narrowing as his usually slow to burn temper was on the rise.
            “Tell me what’s going on,” Toby demanded. “You’re lying to me, I can tell and you never lie to me. What is Gabriel doing that is so bad that you have to lie to me about it?”
            “I can’t,” Finn said, shaking his head. “I promised. He said that he wanted to be the one to tell you.”
            “Tell me what?” Toby snapped.
            “Gabe didn’t send me to invite you to go out on some wild night he had planned,” Finn said, his voice soft and apologetic. “He asked me to come here and distract you.”
            Finnean winced at Toby’s tone. “There was something at your house, something that Luna and Aidan were talking about a few days ago. Gabriel overheard them say something about your past and he... he didn’t want you to get upset so he wanted me to keep you busy while he went into the Gallagher’s private store room at the Market-”
            Toby’s eyes went wide and he suddenly felt betrayed by two of the people he trusted the most. He opened his mouth to speak when he realized there weren’t enough words to express how wrong this felt. Instead, he made a frustrated sound and he turned on his heels, heading in the direction of the market once more, leaving Finnean to rush to catch up with him.
            “Wait, Toby, just wait, would you? I’m sorry, ok, I am but if you could just hear what Gabe did you’d understand-”
            “No,” Toby said shortly. “I don’t want to know. I don’t. You don’t get it, neither of you ever did, but I don’t care about my past. For all I care, Luna and Aidan are my parents. That’s all I ever want to know.”
            “That’s what I told him but-”
            Toby stopped and whirled around, pushing Finn’s shoulder so that the boy stumbled back. “No,” he said again. “I don’t really care how important you think it is or if you’re looking after me. Did you honestly think I’d be ok with Gabe breaking into the Market? No, you didn’t which was why you concocted that story. Gods above, Finn, I had hoped you had more sense than that.”
            “Please, Toby, just talk to him,” Finn pleaded, not wanting his friend to be cross but at the same time understanding why he was. “That’s all you have to do is just talk. He has his reasons and for once I don’t disagree. Please, would you just see what it was he heard?”
            Toby wanted to hang onto his anger. He had every right to be pissed at Finn. He didn’t like to be tricked and when it was by his friends it felt even worse. Still, he would be lying if he said that he wasn’t curious as to why Finn had abandoned his honest nature in favor of deceiving Toby for the afternoon. That just wasn’t like Finn. Gabe could talk him into a lot of different things but lying? No, Finn was far too honest for that. There must have been something valuable or at least incredibly important for Gabe to convince his brother that lying was the best option. Toby wondered what it was and yet, did he really want to know? He wasn’t entirely certain and  now that seed of curiosity was planted in his mind. Even if he didn’t speak with Gabe, the thought would constantly be there, nagging at him and causing him to worry. Could he just keep going on knowing there was some grand mystery hanging over his head?
            No. He couldn’t.
            “Fine,” Toby said a frown still on his face. “But just remember that I’m not happy about any of this. I don’t like being lied to. If you both had something to tell me you should have come to me. Gabe sneaking into the store room on my behalf is not something I want done, do you understand? Luna and Aidan trust me and the last thing I need is for them to think I was helping you both steal from the store.”
            “He didn’t take anything,” Finn said swiftly in Gabe’s defense. “Or if he did, it isn’t any merchandise from the store, I promise you that.”
            “We’ll see,” Toby replied, not wanting to argue with Finn any longer. “Where is he now?”
            “Back at the Circle,” Finn said, his voice sad. “Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen.”
            “Save it for later,” Toby sighed, still feeling anger and hurt bubble beneath the surface. “First, I need to talk to your brother.”
            He turned and walked away, heading towards the nightclub known as the Circle, knowing that Finnean wouldn’t be far behind. He was feeding the curiosity even though a small voice in the back of his mind said that it was such a bad idea. Still, he couldn’t help it. The doubt would always be there and if he didn’t satisfy the craving to know now, it would just grow all the more worse until one day he was the one breaking into the Gallagher’s private store room. As it stood, he still had a chance to put it to rest once and for all.