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Redemption(6)

By:Amy Miles



“Is that even possible?”

Fane rolls his head to look at Nicolae. “Anything is possible, but would you really want to light yourself on fire?”

“Good point.” Nicolae watches the emotions playing across Fane’s face. It is strange to see this side of the man he grew up hating. Nicolae had never stopped to consider that the evil Fane lived with would haunt the immortal just as much his own parents death did with him.

His gaze drops to Sadie’s still face. “Do you think she will be like Vladimir? If she survives?”

Fane shakes his head. “No, but she will struggle. We all do. Blood calls strongly to us, but we don’t have to let it control us. Roseline is the strongest person I know. I can’t think of anyone better to show Sadie the right way to live.”

“But she’s not here,” Nicolae protests. He stops and blinks, grimacing as he looks up to meet Fane’s hollow gaze. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said”

“No.” Fane rises from his chair. “It’s the truth. Sadie needs Roseline.”

Nicolae watches his friend move toward the door. Fane opens the door, pausing with his back turned toward the room. “Once Sadie is on her feet, we will need to leave. It’s not safe here anymore.”

“And Roseline?”

Fane shifts so that Nicolae can see his grim profile over his shoulder. “She’s a fighter. I know she will last long enough for us to find her again. She has to.”



***



Strong winds tousle Gabriel’s hair, biting at his cheeks. Small ice crystals cling to his blond strands, clacking together as he wills the numbness to return. He is adjusting to the cold, just as Elias said he would. Staring out over the thick Siberian forest before him, he can’t bring himself to feel anything more than guilt mingled with a heavy dose of remorse.

Why did he leave Roseline behind?

He bows his head, ignoring the whistling winds that whip through the tall mountain pines, as he clamps his eyes shut. He should have gone to her, said something, tried to explain…but he didn’t.

Even now, he can’t help but wonder if he made the right choice. Elias’s argument was annoyingly sound back in the courtyard of Bran castle: leave now and save Roseline later. Of course he had to choose this, but if that’s true, why does it feel like he has abandoned her?

Now he is the one who has been abandoned. Elias dropped him off here several hours ago, when the sun was just beginning to rise over the horizon and the cloud cover was sparse. Now the clouds have begun to roll in, thick and heavy with unfallen snow. Seneh is gone too, although Gabriel can’t really remember when he left.

He spent most of the afternoon moping, kicking at buried tree roots and staring blankly at the wild landscape surrounding him. Animals scurries from treetop to treetop, no doubt foraging for food.

Frustration soon melts into boredom as the hours pass. He paces back and forth, muttering to himself under the thick canopy. Dry pine needles jut up from the snow at awkward angles, attacking his calves as he sinks into the snow with each step. He can’t wait to see Elias or Seneh so he can give them a piece of his mind.

It’s not the abandonment that bothers him the most. It’s the lack of answers, the secret looks the two angels share when they don’t think he’s watching. Something is going on. Something that has made both angels flustered enough to leave him here alone, in a strange land, completely unprotected.

Gabriel’s shoulders tense at the sound of a footfall behind him. He drops to a crouch, peering into the woods back over his shoulder. The muffled light of the forest plays tricks with his mind as he searches for any hint of a sound or movement of color. He inhales to check for Seneh’s scent, but it is not an angel creeping up on him now. It is a human.

He turns his face to the side and sniffs the air again, realizing that he can’t even pick up a scent. The forest falls silent around him. His heart beats in his chest as he counts the seconds that pass. Two minutes pass without a single hint as to where the person is located.

Whoever is out there knows how to hide.

His muscles coil as he struggles to decide if he should run or turn and fight. If he runs, his dark robe will easily be seen against the snow. If he fights, he fears how far he will have to take this.

Gabriel has never had to kill before. Although he knows he is capable of it, he doesn’t look forward to the time he is forced to. Hopefully today isn’t that day.

He begins to grow restless as the forest falls into an eerie hush. Even the woodland animals seem to have disappeared. He knows the human must sense his presence too, otherwise they would have come out by now.

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