October 8, 2010

Artwork by Denver Robbins

Under different circumstances, meeting her father might have been a happy occasion, but emotions were cheating Anna and confusing the situation and so she ignored them and suppressed them. As she had been telling herself for some time now, it was safer to feel nothing.

"Camille," Argus said softly.

"I'd be happy to," Camille cooed.

It was disturbing how they communicated.

Anna pulled herself free from her father's arms and looked to Argus. It killed her that this monster held the form of the man she loved above all others.

"Yes," Argus said as if remembering something he'd forgotten. "We have time, my friend." Argus said as he put his hand on Dain's shoulder.

Dain nodded.

"You all have much to talk about. Camille will see to your needs," Argus said to the others. "Anna, if you will," he motioned toward the elevator.

She was numb. She was following orders. She started toward the elevator.

"Mother?" Ashe called quietly.

She turned back to him. She put on a smile and brushed her hand across his cheek. "All is well," she assured.

"If you'll all follow me," Camille said.

Eden grimaced at her.

Anna boarded the elevator next to Argus.

"I love you," she mouthed to Ashe as the doors slid shut.

"You must tell me something," Argus said. "Did you surrender Jonas's protection of you to save the life of your son?"

"You know I did," Anna said the hot sting of tears welling in her eyes.

"So you are indeed familiar with my word," he mused.

And there it was, the passive reassurance that she was going to die. That his face, like unknown numbers before her, would be the last thing she ever saw. It did have a beautiful sort of symmetry to it, as over the years she had often thought that being able to see him again would be worth dying for.

"You hate me," he said very matter of fact.

She stared at the seam between the doors, refusing to look at him. "I've always hated you," she said.

"You loved me once," he said.

Anger burned deep within her, swelling into a rage she held tightly just beneath the surface. "You are not the man I loved."

He reached forward and took hold of her hand.

"No!" she yelled, twisting her hand free from his grasp. She drew both guns and aimed them at center mass.

"You're no match for me, Anna," he said flatly.

She nodded slowly. "I can see that now."

Gus was dead. There was nothing left for her. As she tightened her forefingers she knew she was not killing Argus, she was ensuring a quick retaliation, and an end to her suffering that would come through his reprisal.

Both shots hit the center of his chest.

He flinched as the bullets met their target, but did not falter. He stepped forward, and grabbed the guns from her hands. Instinctively she defended herself, but it was of little use. He tossed the guns to the floor. She twisted out of the way as he fell toward her, but he followed her movements, grabbing her blade and moving behind her. He slipped his free hand around her waist and brought the blade to her neck.

"Is it really worth dying for?" Argus breathed.

"Yes," she said, biting her trembling lower lip.

He moved the blade closer to her ear and gripped her head as though he might slit her neck from ear to ear then he dropped the knife and snapped her neck.

She felt nothing. Her fight was over. She caught sight of him as he lowered her gently to the floor and thought it fitting to die in his arms and that his face would be the last thing that she would see.
 

 

Chapter 41 - Left Unsaid

Quite clearly Dain had kept the Line sheltered from immortal realities. Until Iona's journal there had been no mention of other immortals and their cursed angel had been venerated to the point of divinity. As I sat curled up on the end of the couch and Ashe hovered on the armrest, Dain and Jonas talked. Catching up on the last couple hundred years since they had seen each other. Their different jurisdictions, the wars, the people, the conquests and how much the world had changed.

As they neared the twentieth century, I couldn't help but feel nervous about Dain's reaction to the fact that Jonas had taken his place for a time. But there was no jealously or anger, instead there was sadness, questions and regret. 

Ashe ran his hand down the length of my arm and wove his fingers through mine. At first I thought it had been a gesture meant to comfort me, but as soon as I saw his face, I knew something was wrong. I moved down the couch and pulled him onto the seat next to me. "Talk to me," I said.

He watched Dain and Jonas for a moment, as if concerned that they might hear. "All my life," he said quietly. "There was one face I saw as my father. Anna always told me the truth, but it didn't matter. He was the man she loved and lost, and I couldn't help but feel the same way."

"Like the face of an Angel," I whispered.

"I'm sorry if I... for," he stumbled over his words.

"No apologies," I said.

The sudden appearance of Dain next to us made my heart jump. My body followed suit. He was holding a small stack of papers from the Line of Lineage box.

"Forgive me," he said. "I didn't mean to startle you."

"It's okay," I said. "You just have a very intimidating presence."

"I know," Dain said.

"You all do," I added so quietly I was sure no one had heard me.

"I intimidate you?" Ashe and Jonas said in unison.

"You're girlfriends intimidate me more than you do," I said to Ashe. I could feel the stupidity overtake me as I looked at Jonas brought on by his ridiculous good looks. "You're just... Yes." I looked away. "It's different, but yes." I felt hot, and was pretty sure Ashe could sense the increase in my pheromones. I was really beginning to hate being around immortals.  

"You're mother was right to have tried to burn these," Dain scowled as he set the writings back down in their box. He shook his head and picked up Grace's Journal.

"Careful with that one," I said. "It's pretty grim near the end."

"Yes it was," he said, his voice low. "Regret became her essence and she tried to drown it with alcohol."

"Did you know about Iona?" I asked.

He set down Graces journal and picked up Iona's. "Did I know what?"

"That Iona was a lesbian?" I asked.

"Yes," he said. "We loved the same woman," he almost smiled, but it was a sad smile. "It was difficult not to love Elizabeth. I'm very fortunate that she ever felt something for me in return."

"She always loved you my friend." Jonas said. "Our world was simply too much for her. Fraught with too many perils, to many harsh laws and she knew very well that she was breaking them. She never believed my protection, or even yours was enough. She believed her days were numbered, that her daughter's days were numbered. She always feared that she would live long enough to know their punishment, and was horrified by the idea that they would." He shook his head as he glanced toward the door. Clearly his thoughts were with Anna.

Dain let Iona's journal open on its own in his hands. It opened to the page where an envelope and letter had been nestled; Elizabeth's suicide note. He read it through several times then handed it to Jonas.

"These are not her words," Jonas said.

"Kale," Dain said and in unison the two of them turned toward Camille.

"I can't help you," she said. "I have my orders too."
 

 

Meline had always had her secrets. This was fair to Galen as he had his as well. The biggest one being that he knew hers.

He'd been suspicious of her from the moment they had met. He'd put his most trusted men on the case and had uncovered the impossible.

He found it odd that Dain, who had had children before he was turned and still watched over his descendants, had abandoned them. It was no wonder that Jonas had stepped in and cared for them but that he had abandoned them as well could only point to one man, Argus.

It was when he'd learned that she - and her twin sister whom she never mentioned - had been the reason Jonas had altered his symbol that he had decided to investigate the situation.

As he found himself falling in love with her he offered her his own protection and vowed that he would never abandon her. His protection was symbolized in a ring. An Ouroborus whose tail encircled a ruby, cut into the shape of an apple. She wore it on the ring finger of her right hand.

He'd become even more committed to her after he had been called away for three years during the Vietnam War. She was a different person when he came back and would not talk about the time when he was away. All she would ever say, about these times was that she was lost or away.

He hated that there were things she would never say, but this was something they had in common and so he could only fault her as much as he faulted himself.

He didn't question that he had been summoned. But the idea of bringing Meline with him was not sitting right with him. He couldn't know what Argus knew, but it didn't matter. He had already given her his word and his protection and he would keep her safe no matter the cost.

It was late as they boarded their private plane headed for California, on orders from Argus, and Meline had become unusually quiet.

She wrote it off as simply being tired, and curled up on the benched seat and went to sleep. Galen sat in the chair opposite and watched her. He was just beginning to drift off himself, when Meline bolted upright, clutching at her neck, and gasping for air.

"Mel," Galen was at her side in a single step.

Silent tears rolled down her cheeks as she stared wide-eyed, open mouthed and not breathing.

"Mel, what's wrong? What is it?" Galen demanded, not without a sense of panic. "Mel? Breath."

She took a breath as she met his eyes then she threw her arms around his neck and silently cried.

He picked her up and held her in his arms. "I'm here, Meli," he soothed. "It's okay, I'm here."

"I'm lost," she whispered softly.

"Mel, what is it? What happened?"

She took a breath and shook her head.

Experience told him she would not answer. Though he would have sworn she had said "Anna," as she breathed out.
 

 

(c) copyright 2010-2016 Lauren T. Hart