Even with that slightly terrifying thought, I slept quite well. I awoke the following morning refreshed and quickly dressed. I exited my room to see Steven making pancakes.
“Hi,” Steven said, a light smile on his face. “Are you hungry?”
“Starved,” I joked and he chuckled, gesturing to a stack of pancakes. I took three off the top, covering them in blackberry jam. I sat in front of him at the bar, taking a bite and exclaiming how delicious they were. Steven smiled again, thanking me, as Russel stumbled into the kitchen.
“Pancakes?” Russel rubbed his eyes. “We only get pancakes on special occasions.”
“I’d say it’s a pretty special occasion,” Steven winked at me and I laughed. Russel stacked five pancakes on top of each other, covered them in syrup and sprinkles. Steven tried to swipe the sprinkles from Russel before he could put them on his pancakes but was unsuccessful. Steven sighed before reminding Russel of the ‘last time’ he had sprinkles on his pancakes.
“Can’t hear you!” Russel covered his ears after taking a large bite of his stack. Elaine and Caleb soon joined us, with more reserved toppings for their pancakes. Elaine apologized quietly for what happened during the night and I accepted.
There was no sense in holding a grudge if I was going to stay there awhile.
After breakfast, Steven invited me to go grocery shopping with him and I accepted, not wanting to spend all my time cooped up in the apartment—despite how nice it was. We first went to the local store, grabbing basics like bread and cereal. When I went to grab a dozen eggs, Steven stopped me and said we would get them at our next stop.

After paying, Steven and I drove to the river, where the farmer’s market was in full swing. “This is where we buy eggs,” Steven explained, adding on that they buy their fresh produce there as well. We stocked up on every kind of fruit and vegetable, and I treated Steven and I to some lavender lemonades.
“Steven,” I called his name, my voice portraying my fear. He looked toward me before following my line of sight, pinpointing the woman with a trident tattoo portrayed prominently on her cheek. She was scouring the market but hadn’t yet spotted me.
“Now that’s a statement,” Steven mumbled, paying for the tomatoes he had in his hands. “Let’s go.”
“Those guys must’ve shared what I now look like,” I gritted my teeth and Steven nodded. We decided to stop at a convenience store to pick up new hair dye. I decided to keep my blue eyes, but the red hair was too easily recognizable.
“Brunette it is,” I said when Steven got back into the car. I hoped the new hair would last me longer than the last.
Steven decided to bring up the fact that he knew my father ran Poseidon, “What was your role in the organization?”
I snorted, “Organization? That’s way too fancy a term for Poseidon. More like a crime syndicate.”
“What is it that they do?”
I raised an eyebrow, “You don’t know?” Steven wobbled his hand and I frowned in surprise, wondering why Caleb hadn’t told him. “Poseidon is essentially a gang. They want money from you, they take it. They want to kill you, they will. But mostly,” I paused, gauging my next words. “Mostly, they take magic from other people like us.”
Steven took a sharp intake in breath, “I don’t think any of us knew that they stole magic.”
“Oh,” I answered, not sure how to respond. We had returned to the apartment, so we carried the groceries in. Steven seemed on edge, and once the groceries were put away, he called the others into the living room.
“I have a new development,” he said. “I know why Jason was taken.” The family began demanding answers and I piped up.
“Who’s Jason?”
Elaine looked at me solemnly, “Jason is my older brother. He’s been missing for two months.”
“How do you know?” Russel inquired Steven. Steven looked toward me and it dawned on me what he was thinking.
“You think he was taken for his magic,” I said aloud and everyone but Steven looked at me surprised. I sighed, saddened, “I am shocked you guys didn’t know, but Poseidon kidnaps people like us to steal their magic.”
“Jason was really strong,” Caleb muttered and Elaine stood, coming to stand in front of me.
“Please, help me get my brother back,” she pleaded and I hesitated. I was running away from that life, I didn’t want to go running back.
I relented after staring at Elaine’s miserable expression, “Yes, I’ll help. But, it’s not going to be easy.”
“We’ll do anything,” Steven said and I nodded.
“First, I need someone to re-dye my hair.”

Follow this collection if you want updates on future chapters! XOXO sborek