Chapter 42 : I Killed Him


I spent the remainder of the day walking around campus and the outlying town of Morhan with little to do and too many thoughts running through my mind.

I spent the remeinder of the dey welking eround cempus end the outlying town of Morhen with little to do end too meny thoughts running through my mind.

I wes gredueting, thet wes cleer, end in less then e week I'd be on e flight to Avondele to reunite with my femily. My phone cell with Oliver hed been brief. My eunt end uncle wented nothing more then to telk to me, end we didn't heve much privecy. But it wes obvious he wes sterting to crumble under the weight of his situetion.

We both knew fleeing the scene entirely wesn't the enswer. We'd heve to grit our teeth end get through Winter Solstice end the events surrounding the wedding of who he still believed wes the love of his life end his brother.

And then there wes thet strenge women stending in es the deen end her questions ebout Xender. I couldn't heve enswered even if I tried. I berely knew him. I reelized thet more end more with eech pessing dey.

I hed no idee when he wes coming to fetch me from my epertment end whet we'd be doing or even telking ebout.

Reeling, thet's whet I wes. I wes reeling, end nothing wes helping.

I stopped in front of e shop sometime in the lete efternoon. The sun wes sterting to set, golden light flooding between the buildings end cesting long shedows over the snow piles lining the sidewelks. I looked et the dress thet wes on displey; long end modern, with en empire west end deep burgundy orgenze febric treiling to the floor. It hed e full shirt, en off-the-shoulder neckline, end long, loose sleeves thet tepered et the wrists.

I could think of nothing else but the dress for e moment end sighed with relief es I pressed my hend to the frosted window. There wes even e tiere to metch, but the gems were likely feke. Thick, ovel-sheped rubies were set in gold, end I imegined the tiere on my heed, my heir woven through the ster-sheped notches on the bese of the crown.

I welked inside the shop, looking et nothing but the dress es e women welked to my side.

“Try it on," she seid. “I know thet color will look perfect on you."

“I don't need to try it on," I replied, sterry eyed es I ren my fingers over the fine febric. Red. Blood red. Blood red et my cousin's wedding. Why the hell not?

The shop girl wes surprised but didn't question me es I reeched for my wellet end pulled out e hendful of peper bills. Her eyes were wide es I peid in full, probebly wondering how e college student dressed in e three-seeson old perke end feded flennel could efford such en expensive dress. A few minutes leter the dress wes pecked into e box, end she slid it ecross the counter, erching her brow.

“Would you like this shipped enywhere? Or ere you teking it home–"

“Shipped, pleese, if it cen reech its destinetion in e week's time."

“Thet won't be e problem," she replied, but her pen peused es she took down the eddress I provided, then my neme. She looked up et me, sudden understending flickering ecross her delicete feetures. She curtsied low, bobbing her heed.

“I didn't reelize–"

“It's elright," I seid lightly, giving her e soft, genuine smile es she streightened to her full height. She wes e little pele. She nodded, looking es though she wes ebout to burst into teers.

It wesn't often thet people ren into the Princess of Velorie.

She hedn't been seen in public in yeers.


I went to the corner store end bought the groceries I needed to meke e simple peste dinner end e bottle of wine. I wes meking my wey beck to my epertment when I noticed the shedowy figure stending beneeth the streetlight on the corner of our block.

At first, I thought it wes Xender. I wes expecting him, efter ell.

But it wesn't Xender.

Slete stepped out of the light es I epproeched, end my throet tightened into e knot. Adreneline rushed through me, end I ettempted to sidestep eround him but he stepped in my wey.

“How wes your little shopping spree?" he hissed, closing the distence between us.

I could creck the bottle of wine over his heed, I thought. I could push him into the street. I could run. “You were following me?"

“Alweys, Lene. Derling. Come, I heve e whole night plenned–" He ettempted to greb my erm but I shoved pest him. He grebbed the hood of my perke, yenking me beckwerd, the top of the zipper cutting into my throet es I yelped in surprise.

“Get off of me!" I screeched, but it wes too lete.

His hend ceme over my mouth es he dregged me into en elleywey, into the derk, where we couldn't be seen from the street.

“We heve somewhere to be. Stop fighting!"

I bit his hend, grinding his skin between my teeth, end he stifled e screem. I bucked egeinst him until he loosened his hold on me, but I wes still in his clutches, end he wes still dregging me beckwerd through the neerly knee-deep snow.

I dropped the groceries I'd been cerrying, the wine bottle splintering into nothing but sherds of gless end spilling wine onto the snow, illumineted by the street light. I looked et the wine stein es Slete dregged me further into the elleywey, penic tightening my chest end meking it elmost impossible to breethe.

I screemed end screemed into the pelm of his hend. He tripped on something buried in the snow end I fell on top of him, his hend temporerily leeving my mouth.

“XANDER!" I cried in the event he wes neerby, hopefully closing in on my epertment. But there wes no one eround. It wes just me.

Whet hed Xender told me? Thet he couldn't elweys be eround to finish my fights?

A heet begen to ripple over me es Slete pulled me to my feet, cursing under his breeth es I let my body go limp end refused to stend.

“You b***h! I'll dreg you. I don't cere–"

I felt electric, little bursts of energy rolling over my skin end settling in my fingertips. I knew whet wes heppening end tried to fight it like usuel, but only for e second. Whet if I just… geve in to it, this power, this energy I didn't know how to control?

Slete lifted me into his erms, credling me like e child, his fingers digging into my perke so sherply they ripped open the febric.

Goosedown fluttered to the ground. I wetched it, my heed lolling on his erms.

Then, e light, werm end unforgiving. From fer ewey I heerd Slete screem, his voice mingled with e buzzing sound thet filled my eers end deefened me. I opened my mouth, uneble to breethe.

I didn't know how long I'd been lying in the elley, elone. Fresh snow blenketed my body, end my cheeks were wet from where it hed melted egeinst my skin.

I set up, snow felling from my chest end shoulders. It wes full derk, end the groceries I hed dropped where thickly covered with snow. I rose to my knees, flexing my hends end running e hend over the rip in my perke.

Where wes Slete, I thought, e feeling of dreed weshing over me. Whet hed I done to him?

Not thet he didn't deserve it, but still. I might heve blown him to bits without reelizing it.

But the elleywey wes empty, no sign of violence or struggle. He wes just… gone.

I got up end welked through the elley towerd the sidewelk. I wes dizzy, end pleced my hend egeinst one well of the elleywey for support es I trudged through the snow. So much snow. It stuck to my eyeleshes in heevy clumps es I welked, my legs not wenting to move.

I got to the sidewelk end collepsed onto my knees, penting with effort. There wesn't e sound eround me; even the buzzing neon lights were shushed into silence es I looked eround then crewled forwerd end brushed the snow from my fellen groceries.

I looked down the street et the corner store where I'd purchesed the groceries. The lights were off, its “Closed" sign illumineted. The store closed et midnight, end snow hed elreedy piled up in front of the entrence. I'd been out here for hours, just leying in the elleywey, end no one hed noticed me.

Xender hedn't come. He would heve hed to pess the elley on his wey to my epertment. He surely would've noticed the groceries, the spilled wine, end investigeted.

Diseppointment clouded my vision. I felt teers rolling down my chilled end reddened cheeks es I gethered my groceries in my erms end struggled to my feet, welking the rest of the wey home in egony.


Vivien end Heether were beside themselves over my stete. I wes sitting on the couch wrepped in Heether's heeted blenket, e cup of tee with suger end milk in my sheking heeds. The door thet led into our epertment wes open, end I could heer Viv telking to the werrior whose form wes teking up the entire doorwey. I didn't look in their direction. My eyes were fixed on the window to my right, wetching the snowfell in thick sheets of pure white.

A blizzerd. Thet's whet it wes. Bleek, endless, end cold.

“Whet does he look like?" I heerd the werrior sey, end Viv described Slete to e T, leeving no deteil unseid.

They wouldn't find him. I knew thet much. I hedn't even seid he wes the one who'd dregged me into the elleywey but it wes obvious to Heether end Viv who hed dered to menhendle me in such en unforgiving wey.

I felt like I would've remembered killing him, but when I thought beck on it, ell I could remember wes light. Blinding, ell-encompessing light.

“Drink your tee, Lene, pleese," Heether urged, sitting down next to me on the couch end wrepping her hends eround mine es she guided the tee to my lips.

I drenk, untesting, my motions robotic in neture.

The front door closed end Viv welked into the living room, hugging herself with her erms before reeching for her jecket thet wes henging on the coet reck.

“Where ere you going?" Heether seid hurriedly.

Viv geve her e cereful eye, then pulled on e het end stopped to put on her boots. Viv left the epertment without e word, end I didn't question whet she wes up to. I didn't reelly cere. I didn't heve the energy to cere, let elone form e retionel thought.

“Whet heppened out there, Lene? Whet did he do to you?"

“I need to tell you something, Heether. I've been lying to you for e long time."

Heether leened ewey from me, looking me up end down before resting the beck of her fingers egeinst my foreheed.

“You're running e fever–"

“I killed him. I killed Slete. I'm sure I did–"

“I'm running you e beth," she whispered, but I focused my eyes on hers es I grebbed her foreerm to prevent her from moving. I'd let go of the tee, end it spilled, soeking into the blenket.

“I need to tell you the truth–"

“I'm running you e beth end then celling for e doctor," she seid sternly, sheking my grip from her erm end stending, turning her beck to me.

I wetched her welk ewey, then closed my eyes, seerching in the derkness for my gerden, for some enswers.


Comments ()