A young butler brings in clothes. I take a bath and put on an elegant cream-colored two-piece suit and glossy high heels that he provides. My hair finds structure in a wound golden tail, but the make-up fails me. Last night took its toll, and no matter what I do, the eerie effect of the golden eyes reflecting in the mirror won’t lessen.
Zed and Joyous escort me to the curb, the latter holding the door as I get in the back of the car by Kieran’s side. He looks fresh in his suit, his marble face flawless and his smile dashing, his attitude very different from the man’s who used to drive icy fear into my bones with a mere glance. The knowledge that he still has that power, that he can hypnotize me into obedience or dread anytime, unsettles me.
“Is everything all right?” He takes my hand his. I look down at it, my heart beating in the rhythm of my crush.
“I’m still wary of you, Kieran.”
“Please, don’t. I’ll never hurt you again, I’ll die before I do.” He squeezes my hand, and I look up into his black eyes that show pain.
“Maybe you won’t hurt me by doing what you did before, but how can I be sure that you’ll never use your hypnotic powers on me again?”
“I promise that I’ll never influence you. Not anymore, not like that.”
I narrow my eyes. “What do you mean ‘not like that’?”
His gaze catches a shade of wisdom. I realize just how old he actually is. “I hope you’ll still allow me to try and convince you, just like any other person.”
“You’re not ‘Any Other Person.’ It’s unfair to demand Any Other Person’s privileges.”
“I’ve said it before, and I can’t resist saying it again – you’re a very special woman, Saphira.”
I’m not so sure, but I’m flattered nonetheless. I nestle at his chest, breathing in his bittersweet scent that stirs me in my crush. I try to get a grip on my feelings and keep a cool head.
“Kieran –” I lick my lips, searching for the right words to put this. “You say you’ll never hurt me again. But you came to Northville with the iron purpose of hurting my father. You planned an ‘epic revenge.’ Is that still your plan?”
Kieran holds my chin up and looks me in the face.
“Would you consider that I hurt you if I took revenge on your father? Even though I’d keep you very far from that revenge?”
I gulp down the knot in my throat. “I don’t know. How far can I be kept from it, considering that he’s my father.”
“He raped and killed women, Saphira. He tortured Catherine.”
My skin creases. “What do you intend to do with him?”
“First answer me this: Don’t you believe your father should pay for what he’s done?”
“I believe that’s better left in Providence’s hands. No evil deed has ever gone unpunished one or way or another.”
“Well, it’s been decades since Catherine, and your Providence hasn’t yet seen fit to punish your father.”
“No, not yet. But are you sure you want his blood on your hands? Blood is heavy, Kieran, no matter if it belongs to the just or the evil.”
He laughs a bad laugh, and it seems the dangerous Marquis is back. “Who are you telling about it? I have so much of that weight on my hands, Saphira, it should’ve pulled me to the core of the Earth until now. You know this.”
“I do. And it’s the very reason I’m worried and unsure. You and I, our connection . . . It’s happening fast, it’s relentless, and I want it badly, but I can’t live with the idea that you take lives.”
His gaze freezes on mine, and for a moment I fear this last point brought us to a dead end.
“You’re asking me to relinquish revenge on your father in exchange or for the sake of this closeness?”
“For the sake of it, of course. Listen, Kieran.” I squeeze his hand in both of mine and hold his gaze. “My father and his group committed terrible crimes, not only against Catherine for sure. We have the opportunity to unmask these monsters. You’re rich and powerful, I’m sure your means can beat theirs if they try to corrupt the press and the police. We can bring it all to light and nail them the right way.”
“Saphira, I survived being engineered into a monster and used as a killer only for the sake of this revenge. It’s what kept me going. You’re asking me to throw away my reason for breath.”
I caress his cheek. “I want to be your reason for breath. But I’m realistic, and I know such fantasies are childish. But I’m asking you to relinquish revenge is because I believe you and I can have a fresh start. The past is the past, but we cannot be together if the poison of vengeance seeps into our present, continuing to shed blood and tears. I want to live out my love for you freely, smoothly, without hacks and hatches. I want to lose my head for you, and feel good about it too.”
Kieran stares at me as if I’m turning into gold with every word. When he kisses me, he’s thirsty and deep and passionate. I’m dizzy when he breaks the kiss and joins his forehead to mine, both his hands on my face.
“For this favour, dear Saphira, I’ll not only consider dropping revenge, but I’ll turn that childish fantasy into reality. I’ll make you my reason for breath.”
My heart jumps, but I don’t want to be stupid. “I’m not asking –”
“No, you’re not,” he interrupts. “Because you’re wild and idealistic, but also mature and reasonable, and I love that about you. But fantasy, Saphira, is not only for children. Fantasy wouldn’t be imaginable if it weren’t possible.”
I smile and stroke the back of his hands. “And you’re the living proof.”
Trailer Next Episode:
The car stops, interrupting the magic moment Kieran and I share. Zed Stone Mask opens the door to the sight of the lunatic asylum, a grey desolate castle guarded by a black gate made of black wrought iron. Its spires rise high and seem to pierce the leaden clouds, thunder adding the final touch to a creepy landscape. After only a few steps my high heels slump into a puddle of mud, and Kieran catches me before I sprawl full-body onto the ground.
Enjoyed this? Please let me know your thoughts in a comment, I’m always ecstatic to read from you. Stay tuned for a new episode on Tuesday and check out the prequel, Saphira, in available here: ) Enjoy!