Redemption (The Alexa Montgomery Saga) (18 page)

BOOK: Redemption (The Alexa Montgomery Saga)
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King William had to stop himself
from throwing his teacup against the wall of the train car in which he was
riding. He couldn’t afford to waste the stuff. “
Four thousand?
” he
growled. “How could they have
four thousand,
Andre?”

Andre didn’t blink. “That is a
very high estimate, your Majesty. I doubt they have that, but even if they do,
the Warriors traveling with us plus the ones waiting in the cities mean that
our numbers double theirs no matter where they plan to attack.”

“You forget that they have a Sun
Warrior on their side, Andre. I made the mistake of underestimating her once,
and that will not happen again.” King William’s jeweled hand came up and
stroked his gray beard. “I think it would be best if some precautions were put
into order, don’t you?”

Andre nodded.

The King sat silently for a long
time, and his Warrior waited without word for him to formulate his plans. The
sounds of the metal train rushing over its tracks in the concrete tunnel were
all that was heard. There was a way to ensure that even if he lost this battle,
he would not lose the war, but it would involve delegating a task that he only
trusted himself with.

Each of the Five Cities had a
Queen that saw over them in his stead, a Searcher he had hand-picked for their
strength of mind. Camillia had been one of the strongest, even when she had
only been a child, and it was a shame that now when he needed her power, it
wasn’t at his disposal. He didn’t fret over this too much. That backstabbing
bitch would get what she deserved right along with the rest of them. But it
really was an awful waste.

It was too bad that he had not
been able to woo the Accursed girl over to his side. Now,
she
would have
been a real asset. But what had the letter said? Oh yes, she was
out of
reach.
That was good. At least if he didn’t have her, the other side didn’t
have her, either. The Sun Warrior’s love for her sister really was her biggest
enemy. He would have never sent such a useful weapon away in the middle of a
war. And that’s exactly why he was going to win, because he had no such
weakness.

And with that, his precautionary
plans clicked into place in his head, and a wide, black-stained smile spread
out across his face. “Andre,” he said, “get word out to the Queens. Tell them
to wait for my order, but to be ready to dam up the rivers of all Five Cities
should they receive my word.”

Andre nodded.

 

 

Not Pissed Off Enough?

The Sorceress flicked her wrist,
and the oak wood double doors to her father’s study flew open like unhinged
shutters in a wind storm. Surah stood there, her eyes drawn as always to the
enormous fireplace, where a stack of wood as wide and tall as a small car sat
ablaze, filling the large room with its flickering red and orange light. Her
father, Syrian, sat in front of it in his wingback red leather chair, his legs
crossed, with the fingers of his right hand wrapped around a snifter of his
favorite brandy.

Syrian’s eyes never left the
fire, but he greeted his daughter as she stood there. “Surah,” he said, putting
the accent on her name that only he could ever accomplish, making it sound more
beautiful that she thought it was. “I am glad you are home.”

Surah stepped into the study and
flicked her wrist again, shutting the doors with a little more force than she
intended.

“Useless application of power,”
Syrian said, still gazing into the blaze of the fireplace as if the secrets to
the universe burned there.

Surah helped herself to a seat
opposite her father, making herself stare at him rather than into the burning
hole in the wall. “So you’ve told me,” she said. “And I won’t be staying long.”

Now Syrian looked at his
daughter. “And where will you be going?”

Surah’s face was as cool as ever,
but her teeth were pressed together a little too tightly. “To kill the man who
murdered my brother,” she said, and the words were much too simply brutal for
the soft sweetness of her voice.

“And what man is that, my
precious Surah?”

“The one who calls himself King
of Vampires and Wolves.”

Syrian brought his snifter to his
lips and swallowed its contents in one gulp. “So,” he said, staring into his
glass, “my only son is dead, then.”

It was not a question, so Surah did
not answer. She only watched her father as he studied the bottom of his snifter
as though he could find Syris there. She had to bite her tongue a little to
keep from losing her cool. Her father looked so much like her lost brother when
he stared down into an empty glass, long black hair spilling forward and violet
eyes filled with so much pain. It reminded her so much of when they had lost
Syra so many years ago. Her father had the same look in his eyes as they all
had had back then, and Surah would no doubt adopt it herself. After the matter
of killing this King was taken care of. Until that happened, the only thing she
had room inside of her for was revenge.

“I want to take some of the
Hunters with me, father, to help me complete my task,” Surah said.

Syris looked up at her again, and
now fear as well as loss hid behind his eyes. “No,” he said. “No, Surah, you
cannot.”

Surah’s eyebrows shot up, and she
was sure that she had misheard. “What do you mean I
cannot
?”

Syris set his snifter down on the
small table beside him and leaned forward in his chair. “I cannot allow you
take Hunters and go after King William,” he said. “I cannot allow you to go at
all. You are the only child that I have left.”

The Sorceress was on her feet in
one fluid movement. The expression on her face and the tone of her voice
remained as soft and gentle as ever, but her words were enough—as they usually
were—to convey her feelings. “That King is the
reason
that I am the only
child you had left. If not for his relationship with Syra, I would still have a
sister, and you would have your other daughter. If not for his murdering Syris,
I would still have a brother, and you would have a son. You intend to sit here
and do
nothing
? How is it that you can call yourself a King?”

“That’s enough,” Syrian said. “I
will hear no more of it. You will do nothing. That is not a request from your
father, but an
order
from your King. I will not start a war and lose you
along with your sister and brother. You cannot understand such things.
You
are
not a King, and you are not a parent.”

Surah tilted her head back and
breathed out a slow breath. “I will return with his head, father,” she said,
and then she snapped her fingers and vanished into thin air.

 

 

Alexa

Finally, it was time to call it a
day and get some sleep before the festivities tomorrow. I showered and pulled
on a t-shirt and waited for Kayden to return with the food he had promised. I
was starving, but I was not particularly anxious for him to return. I hadn’t
told him yet about the kiss between Arrol and me, and the longer I waited, the
bigger the betrayal grew in my mind, like a cancerous tumor on a fast track. I
absolutely
had
to tell him, but I really didn’t
want
to.

When the door opened and Kayden
came into the room, I licked my dry lips and tried for a smile that hopefully
didn’t look as guilty as it felt. When I looked down and saw the tray that he
was holding in his hands, and the cheeseburger and fries that sat atop it, the
guilt slammed into me deeper. Why did Kayden have to be so damned perfect?

He set the tray down on the table
by the window and raised an eyebrow when I made no move toward it. “Not
hungry?” he asked.

I patted the bed beside me, and
he took a seat by me and waited as quietly as he always did when he knew I had
something to say. I swallowed once and let the words spill out before I lost
the nerve. Looking down at my hands, I said, “I kissed Arrol.”

Silence. It went on so long that
I had to force myself to look up into his golden eyes to see his reaction. His
face was as unreadable as I had ever seen it, but his eyes were burning with
something that I hoped hadn’t been struck by me. I opened my mouth to say I was
sorry, but then shut it again. It seemed like such a weak thing to say.

“I didn’t enjoy it,” I said
instead, because I’ve always had a bad habit of saying the stupidest thing
there was to say in any situation. I should have just gone with the apology. If
I wouldn’t have looked even more stupid doing it, I may have slapped myself in
the forehead.

“I would hope not,” Kayden said.
“So that’s what he wanted in return, a kiss?”

I nodded. “Yes, and I did it. I’m
sorry.”

Kayden’s hand came up and he
rested his rough palm on my cheek. “It’s okay,” he said, his deep voice low and
gentle.

I think my jaw fell open and
landed in my lap. When I realized this, I picked it back up and snapped my
mouth shut. Then I opened it again. Closed it. I didn’t have even the slightest
clue on how to respond to that. Why couldn’t he just be like a normal person
and yell at me, call me a cheater and a liar and ungrateful, or something? I
deserved that. I didn’t deserve to be told that all of my selfish actions were
okay all the time. This response somehow made me feel even worse about what I
had done.

“Kayden,” I said. “Just yell at
me or something. If I were you, I would be out with my Gladius right now going
to cut the head off of the girl who’d kissed you. Then I would probably come
back and cut your head off, too.”

Kayden smiled now, just the
slightest lift to his lips. I could not at all see what was smile-worthy here,
and I had to force down anger that he should have been feeling for me. Kayden
brushed my hair off of my forehead. “No, Warrior,” he said.

My brow furrowed. “No, what?”

“That’s not a crazy thing to say
at all.”

The laugh bubbled up in my throat
and fell out of my mouth before I could stop it, but tears welled in my eyes as
I looked at him. “So that’s it, then?” I said. “That’s all you have to say?
That it’s
okay
? You’re not mad?”

Kayden sighed, then placed a soft
kiss on my forehead, and the smell of him drowned out completely the smell of
the food he had brought me, and now the need in my stomach was something else
entirely. I saw the same need reflected in his golden eyes. He kissed my lips,
slowly, slower than I could ever remember him doing, as if he were afraid of
breaking me, as if it were the last time he’d ever get to. And when he pulled
back, I was left breathless with the loss of his touch.

“Oh, Warrior,” he sighed, his
slight Scottish accent caressing the word and making more heat spiral in my
stomach. “I will not spend my time with you being mad. It would be the most
terrible waste I could imagine.”

I gripped his shirt and lay back
on the bed, and he settled himself on top of me gently, so gently. The weight
of his body pressed all of the worries out of me, calmed the fire that burned
in me, and silenced the darkness that always spoke in my head. Kayden pulled my
shirt over my head, and I had his off only a second after. When there was
nothing between us, nothing at all, I stared into his sunrise eyes and let my
fingers explore the hard planes of his body. His calloused fingers ran the
length of the silver on my arm, and I knew then that I would not trade these
moments with him for anything. Not for anything in the world. Everything that I
had been through in the past month and a half had been worth it; every scar,
every tear, every loss. For just this moment in time, everything made perfect,
wonderful sense.

And when we finally found sleep,
wrapped tightly in each other’s arms, the food on the tray long cold and the
troubles of the world long forgotten, I knew that whatever happened tomorrow, I
was ready for it.

I was ready.

 

 

Alexa

“How many do we have?”

Malcolm stared out into the group
of Brockens and Wolves that had assembled before us, the people who were
willing and capable to fight and stand against the King. “More are still
trickling in as we speak,” he said, “but I think it’s safe to say that we
number around twenty-five hundred.”

I nodded, looking out over all
the faces. It seemed like there were a hell of a lot more people here than
that, but still nowhere near enough for me to feel comfortable putting them up
against the King’s army. I recognized many of them–people I had simply crossed
paths with on this insane journey, and others still that I had grown to care
about. I avoided their eyes, looking only at the ones I didn’t know, which was
most of them. It made it easier to pretend that these people were just plastic
toy shoulders awaiting orders on a paper map. It was a calloused, inhuman way
to look at things, but I had to do what I had to do.

I was relieved they all seemed to
had either brought weapons with them, or gotten them from someone. Some of them
held bows and arrows, and others had axes and swords and huge knives. They were
talking amongst themselves, no doubt whispering about the wisdom of the plan
they had been made aware of. Most of them looked more than uneasy about passing
through the Fae Forest, but a few had looks on their faces that said such a
journey was an adventure they never thought they’d get to have.

Indeed they do, Warrior, and
for some of them, this will be the
last
adventure they ever get to have.

“Have I told you lately how
very much I enjoy your input?”

Hmm, no, you haven’t. But I
always like to hear it. It’s good to know you’re appreciated.

BOOK: Redemption (The Alexa Montgomery Saga)
3.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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