Redemption (The Alexa Montgomery Saga) (17 page)

BOOK: Redemption (The Alexa Montgomery Saga)
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Malcolm shook his head in return.
“We cannot pass through that way. That is the Fae Forest. Restricted territory.
If we tried to pass there, we would find ourselves in a very…unpleasant
situation.”

I cursed under my breath. Then an
idea struck me, and I hopped up from my seat. “What if I could get us safe
passage?” I said. “What if we were given permission? Could we go then?”

Everyone was silent for what
seemed like a long time. Malcolm took his black-rimmed glasses from his face
and began polishing them on his shirt, studying me through squinted eyes. “It’s
never wise to ask a favor from a Fae, Warrior.”

Yeah, and don’t make deals
with Seers or piss off Sorcerers. I think I got it.
“How long would it take
us to reach the Silver City if we cross through the forest?”

Malcolm sighed. “Not even half a
day.”

“Well, that’s a hell of a lot
better than a whole day.”

“Yes, but Warrior, you really
don’t want to—”

 “I don’t want to what,
Searcher?” I snapped, cutting him off. “What the hell difference does it make?
You think I’m going to regret taking a favor from a Fairy sometime in the
future? Tell me, what fucking future would that be?”

I strode over to the door and
nodded at Kayden so that he would follow me into the hall. When we were out of
earshot of the others, I pulled him to me to whisper in his ear. “Stay here
with them, Kayden. Don’t let any of them leave that room. I’ll be right back.”

Kayden nodded. “You’re going to
see Arrol.”

“Yes.”

He kissed my forehead, making
that fluttery feeling in my chest come alive. I smiled. “Okay,” he said. “Be
careful, Alexa.”

I nodded, then turned and headed
down the hall to the glass door that led outside. It was still dark out, but
morning was only hours away. I hoped that after this I could go back to the
room and get some rest, because it seemed very much like I was going to need
it. And I still wanted that damn cheeseburger.

I realized only as I stepped onto
the red path that I had no idea where Arrol lived, or how to find him. After a
moment’s hesitation, I began heading toward the silver lake, figuring that was
as good a place to start as any. As I walked I found that I was really grateful
to be out in the open air, away from that stale war room. The stars overhead
were making me feel very small in a very good way.

I didn’t have to go to the lake.
Arrol found me. He dropped onto the red path in front of me, making me reach
back for my Gladius out of impulse. His black wings flicked once as he set his
bare feet on the ground, and them laid themselves down on the skin of his
shoulders and back and melted back into black tattoos there.

I raised an eyebrow at him, my
hand dropping from my sword and falling to my side. “Didn’t anyone ever tell
you that it’s not good to sneak up on a Sun Warrior?”

Arrol laughed, his silver eyes
twinkling. “I’m just pleased that I
could
sneak up on a Sun Warrior,” he
said. “You in particular.”

I licked my dry lips and glanced
around. “I’m starting to think that you just hang around waiting for me,” I
said. “You seem to appear at very opportune moments.”

The Fae’s head tilted and he
quirked an eyebrow. “You were looking for me, no?”

I nodded. “How did you know
that?”

Arrol’s smile grew sly. “I am a
Fae,” he said. “Fae always know when someone wishes to ask them a favor.”

I pushed my hair out of my face
and rubbed my temple. “Yeah, and in return you want, what, my unborn child?”

Another laugh. Arrol reached up
and stroked the backs of his smooth fingers over my cheeks, a heated look
appearing behind his silver eyes. “Why Sun Warrior,” he said. “I would be
honored.”

While most of time I found that I
enjoyed this banter with the strange Fae man, I just didn’t have time for it
right now. “I need permission for me and my…army to past through the Fae
Forest,” I said.

Arrol’s hand dropped to his side,
and the smile slipped off of his handsome face like melted snow. “I can’t help
you.”

I bit my lip, my heart sinking in
my chest. Before I could stop myself, I reached out and grabbed his hands.
“Please, Arrol,” I said. “There has to be a way. I know you don’t owe me or my
people anything, but there just…
has
be a way.
Please
.”

Arrol was silent for a long time,
and I could see so many things passing behind his eyes. Just when I was about
to give up, he said, “What do I get in return?”

My heart leapt. “Anything.
Whatever you want,” I said quickly.

He quirked an eyebrow, a crooked
grin pulling up one side of his lips. His eyes ran the length of my body.
“Anything?”

I blew out a frustrated breath.
“Anything but that,” I said. “And not because you’re not…appealing, but because
I’m taken.”

A smile. “I’m appealing?”

I nodded. “Very, actually,” I
said, allowing a little hope to bloom in my chest. He looked very much like he
was considering it.

Arrol’s eyes never left mine, and
I suddenly could see through his cool mask and into the pain that he hid there,
and I wondered what in his history could have caused it, but was pretty sure
that was a mystery I would never get to know. It made me feel bad for asking
this of him, as it seemed like I had been asking for a hell of a lot from the
people in my life lately. But what choice did I have? Time was ticking and
ticking.

“As you wish,” he whispered.
“I’ll do my best to secure your passage…but I want a kiss.”

The relief that had jumped up in
me was squashed by his last words. “Arrol, I—”

He put his fingers to my lips.
“Just a small one,” he said, his voice low. His fingers reached up and trailed
through my hair. “You smell so much like her, you know. My Sun Warrior that I
told you about.” He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, and I couldn’t help but
hear my black heart breaking a little for him. “The one that was never truly
mine. You both smell like summer and sunlight and spun sugar. Just one kiss.”

This whole world is filled
with heartache, Warrior.

“Maybe all worlds are filled
with it, Monster.”

I wasn’t sure why, but I really
didn’t want to deny him his simple request. Really, it was such a small thing
to ask for. By the look that had crossed over his face when I had asked for my
favor, I knew that it would probably not only be difficult, but unpleasant for
him to secure our passage. I stood there, trying to convince myself that I
could give him what he wanted, that I should be grateful that he didn’t want
more, and that it would be okay to do it. But I couldn’t. Every time I was
about to agree, Kayden’s face popped into my head, and I found that I could not
betray him in such a way.

I closed my eyes, completely
unable to believe that this is what it came down to. A single kiss. I wished
really bad that Nelly were here to tell me what to do. It was incredible how
much I missed her already.

Something warm and soft pressed
against my lips, and my eyes flew open. Arrol stared back at me with his silver
ones, only inches from my face, and though I kept telling myself to push him
away, the look there keep me from doing so. His hands went around to the small
of my back and pulled me to him, and my hands rested on his bare chest between
us, where I could feel the beating of his heart. His eyes slipped closed and
mine followed suit without my permission. And though I felt nothing at our
contact, no fire in my stomach and lightness in my chest like when I kissed
Kayden, I felt warm and wanted.

I pulled back at last, the sweet
taste of Arrol still on my lips. I could see in the way that he looked at me
that he was not thinking of me, but of the Sun Warrior he had loved so long
ago, and though I felt like the world’s biggest asshole, I also was glad that I
could ease his pain, if only for the smallest of moments. If I’d learned
anything in this crazy world, it was that nothing was ever black and white. I’d
done something wrong, but I’d also done something right. I could just never
win.

“Thank you,” Arrol whispered, his
warm breath stirring my hair.

I nodded, thinking that he really
hadn’t given me much choice in the matter. “You’re welcome, Arrol.”

He stepped back from me. “Okay, I
must go now. But I will be back by sunrise. I will do everything in my power to
secure your safe travel through the Fae Forest. If I were you, I would begin to
prepare my people to get on the move. When the Fae Queen makes an agreement, it
usually has a time limit.”

I stepped forward and pulled him
into a hug before I could stop myself. “Thank you,” I said, and then because my
big mouth always said what it wanted, I added, “What are you going to have to
do, Arrol?” I wasn’t sure I wanted to know the answer.

Arrol patted my head, and I
narrowed my eyes at him. He laughed. “Don’t you worry, little Sun Warrior. I
told you, I have a way with the ladies, and her Majesty is rather…fond of me.”

Somehow I knew that this was only
a half truth, and that Arrol was making a bigger sacrifice than he was willing
to tell me. Just by the way he said
her Majesty
I knew that the Fae
Queen was not someone he was excited to go see. But that was just one trouble
too many, and before I could allow myself to dwell on it, Arrol’s wings sprung
back into the air and he flew off like a fallen angel on a mission of revenge.
I watched him for a minute, amazed at how graceful he could look in flight.
When he was out of sight, I sighed and headed back down the red path the way
I’d come. I walked a little slower than I probably should have, not really
wanting to go back into the sitting room where Malcolm and the rest of them
were waiting for me. More so, I didn’t want to go back and face Kayden, knowing
that I had just completely betrayed him.

Just tell him what you did,
Warrior. Lies never make anything better. And, really, he deserves to have the
truth from you.

“I will…”

But?

“But if he hates me for it,
I’m not sure I’ll be able to take it. After Nelly, Kayden is all I have left.”

Maybe that’s not such a bad
thing.

Yeah, maybe. I reached Silvia’s
cottage and pushed open the glass door. Tommy was waiting for me in the
hallway. I glanced around, hoping that he was the only one whom Kayden had let
leave the room.

“What did he say?” Tommy asked,
taking a deep breath. I hated seeing him so wound up.

I gave him what I hoped was a
hopeful smile. “He thinks he can get us safe passage through the Fae Forest. We
should be able to leave by midday.”

Tommy’s shoulders relaxed a
fraction and he blinked slowly. Then he pulled me into a hug so unexpectedly
that I had to keep myself from jumping in surprise. “Thank you, Alexa,” he
said. “Thank you so much.”

I pulled back a little and gave
him a half smile. Reaching up, I brushed some of his messy blond hair out of
his face. Again, I felt like crying, and couldn’t really understand why such a
small thing as Tommy thanking me would warrant tears. Of course, they could not
be allowed to make it past my eyes. The time for crying about all of this had
long since passed. Action was the only thing I needed right now.

“You’re welcome,” I said, glad
that my voice came out strong, unwavering.

I led Tommy back into the sitting
room, where everyone was just as I had left them. I clenched my hands into
fists behind my back as I told them the news, and I could not tell by their
faces whether or not they thought that it was good news or not, but no one
argued. They would follow me. I wasn’t sure if this was a good thing, either.

Silence settled for a moment, and
the unacknowledged coward in me was hoping that one of them would have an
objection, a reason that we could not go through with this plan. I hated to
admit it, but now that the time was pulling near, I was scared. I was really,
really scared.

Malcolm rose slowly from his seat
and nodded once, and like that, the matter was decided. “All right, Warrior,”
he said. “I will prepare the others. Today we will leave for the Fae Forest.”

I swallowed, returned his nod. No
one said anything as they rose to exit the room, but Gavin gave me a pat on the
shoulder as he passed by, and most of the others nodded their approval as well.
Soon, it was just Tommy, Kayden and me in the room. Tommy glanced between the
two of us and ran a hand through his hair. “Uh, I’ll just go sharpen my battle
axe or something,” he said, giving me a sympathetic look as before leaving.
Alarm rose in me for a second, wondering if Tommy had witnessed the kiss
between Arrol and me, but then it vanished as I realized that it didn’t matter.
I would tell Kayden what I had done. I had to.

Something else took the place of
the panic, though. Something worse. I had to force more tears back as I
realized that I was even more scared of telling Kayden what I had done than I was
of going into battle against the King’s entire army. Fucked up world, ain’t it?

“That’s what I’m here for,
Warrior. I am not afraid. In fact, it’s all very…exciting.”

Yup. Fucked up world.

 

 

Precautions

“How many Warriors do we have in
Silver City at the moment, Andre?”

“There are a thousand there
awaiting our arrival, your Majesty. Just as you ordered. And a thousand at each
of the other cities, as well.”

King William nodded, sipping a
cup of black liquid as he rode along through the tunnels. “Very good. And the
Sun Warrior? How many does she have?”

Had Andre been a more fearful
man, he would have swallowed hard, but his face and soul were made of the same
stone. “We can’t be sure, my King. If we assume that everyone who was not
accounted for at Running Rivers has joined her, and that others have escaped
the other cities as well, the number could be anywhere from one thousand to
three or four thousand.”

BOOK: Redemption (The Alexa Montgomery Saga)
4.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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