Redemption (The Alexa Montgomery Saga) (5 page)

BOOK: Redemption (The Alexa Montgomery Saga)
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Arrol stepped in between us, and
I had to resist the strong urge to shove him out of the way. He held up his
hands. “Is this what we have become?” he asked, addressing the crowd once more.
“A people who will condemn someone based on race alone? Is that not why we all
came here, to escape persecution based on just such prejudice? Are we such
beasts and monsters that we would not even allow the girl to speak on her own
behalf? To explain? If so, we are no better than the humans who kill each other
over such petty differences. We are the monsters they say us to be.”

Silence. Arrol glanced over his
shoulder at me, his silver eyes telling me that now would be the time to plead
my case, because I might not get another chance. I took a deep breath, unsure
of what was going to come out.

With effort, I lowered my sword
to my side as I spoke. “We mean no harm to any of you,” I said, then laughed a
little humorlessly because I couldn’t help it. “Hell, we don’t want to be here
anymore than you want us here. We didn’t ask for any of this.” I gestured to
Nelly. “My sister didn’t ask to be what she is.”

I paused. Something in me
screamed not to tell these people that Nelly was the true Savior. They would no
doubt throw her into the battlefield if they knew that. And that was a
best-case scenario. I swallowed, started again.

“We came here because there are
people suffering under the hand of King William.
I
came here because my
people asked me to help liberate them from this King. I have lost my mother to
this cause…and my best friend. I have agreed to fight against this dictator,
and I think that most of you know how the story will end when I do. I have been
told that I will die in my efforts to bring about a greater peace, and I’ve
accepted this role. But, I will not let you hurt my sister. I will give everything,
but I won’t give you that.”

I looked over at Nelly, took her
hand into mine. “She sent them away,” I said. “Whatever you may be thinking,
she sent the Accursed away. She chose her side. I know there are those of you
here that have an investment in this war that lies ahead of us, and soon you
will have to choose a side. You too have come here because you believe that the
races can live together in harmony, that we can accept each other in our
differences. I will fight with you in this battle for the greater good, but it
must start here. It must start with acceptance and…trust.”

God, I hoped that didn’t sound as
cheesy out loud as it did in my head. At least no one had fired another arrow.

A woman with soft green skin that
shimmered slightly stepped forward then, and her emerald eyes settled on Nelly.
Her face was young, but her voice and those striking eyes spoke of years
unregistered in appearance. She approached Nelly slowly, and I tensed. When she
reached my sister, her green hand came up and lifted Nelly’s chin gently,
searching her face. “What
are
you, child?” she asked.

Nelly swallowed once, but her
voice carried across the silence that had settled. “I am Searcher…and
Accursed.”

I expected more shouts, but only
a soft murmur ran through the crowd. When the green woman turned away from
Nelly, she faced the crowd with squared shoulders. “Let her stay,” she said.

Now people shouted again. Mostly,
they seemed to be disagreeing with the green woman, but the ones who had gone
silent seemed to be considering the idea very strongly. When Soraya stepped
forward and spoke, everyone fell silent once more, prey to that sweet little
voice of hers.

“She saved my life,” she said,
and rolled the sleeves of her little dress up to reveal the black and blue
bruises in the crooks of her arms where her blood had been stolen so many
times. Tears welled in her big brown eyes as she spoke. “That mean man kept me
and my mother in a village where they stole our blood from us. Every day.”
Soraya pointed to her harelip, and now sympathy was strong on most of the faces
in the crowds. It was hard not to love this brave little girl.

She continued on. “Because I’m
not perfect, see? No one is perfect. I am half Searcher and half Brocken,
something I can no more help than Nellianna can help what she is.” Her eyes
swept the crowd, accusing. “How many of you knew that this was happening? That
your beautiful cities were being paid for with the blood of your people? How
many of you have stood by and
known
? All of you. And now you stand here
and throw stones at the two people who have sacrificed everything to right the
wrongs in our world. You should be ashamed of yourselves. If you force them to
leave,” now she held her poor, bruised arms up for all to see, “you force this
fate on all the Vampires and Wolves. And there will be no one to blame but
yourselves. And if the rest of you think King William will stop there, then you
really are fools.”

The green woman, a Fae, if the
black tattooed wings on her arms and back were any indication, nodded. “This is
a decision for the Vampires and Wolves among us, but know that you have my
consent,” she said, and then she turned away and headed off to other matters.

I held my breath, almost unable
to believe that this bullet could be dodged; almost afraid to hope. Slowly, the
other races started to depart, leaving me and my group with the Vampires and
Wolves. Of course, it was the burly Brocken who felt the need to speak for all.
“She should be watched,” he half-growled, half-grumbled.

Again, my temper flared. I didn’t
know who this Vampire was, but he had just earned himself a prime spot on my
shit-list. Luckily for him, Arrol stepped up once more. “She will be,” he said.
“Allow me the honor of doing so, Darvin. I will watch the girl closely, so that
you can sleep soundly in your bed tonight.”

The Brocken, Darvin, I guess his
name was, shot back that he was “not afraid”, but then to my utter
astonishment, he too turned and left.

Slowly, painfully slowly, the
others followed his lead. After what seemed like an eternity, I was left with
just Kayden, Tommy, Nelly and Arrol. By the grace of God, the worst had been
avoided. For now.

“Thank you,” I told Arrol, as he
led us back to Silvia’s cottage, where I had a feeling another whole mess of
trouble was waiting for us.

The Fae smiled at me, his silver
eyes glittering, but watching. Watching. “My pleasure, young Warrior,” he said.
Then he leaned close and whispered. “You just keep that sword handy,
understand?”

I nodded. Yes, I understood.

 

 

Alexa

They will never accept you.

The Lamia’s words to my sister
played over and over in my head. I sat in the chair by the window in my room
back in Silvia’s cottage, staring out at the dark night and running through the
events of the past hour. The clock had ticked onward into a new day, but the
memories of the past one haunted me, hung over me. I wondered how much longer I
would be made to go on like this.

Nelly was sleeping on the large
bed in the middle of the room, and I felt a pang of envy that was so familiar
from my past life. This was how the song went, seemed that this would always be
how it went, as long as I remained in this world. Waiting to be attacked.
Waiting to attack. Running. Fighting. Hurting. In that moment it seemed to me
to be such a pitiful existence; an existence in vain. In that moment, death
seemed more like a warm invitation than a dark tunnel before me. I was so
damned tired, tired of it all.

When a knock sounded on the door,
I expected Kayden, but instead it was Arrol standing there, shirtless, as
always. I leaned against the doorframe and offered him a smile that probably
looked more like a grimace. “Hey,” I said.

The Fae gave a slow grin. “May I
come in?”

I nodded and stepped aside so
that he could enter.

“You look like you need a hug,”
he said.

I laughed at this, surprised that
my vocal cords still remembered how to make the sound. “I’m good, thanks.”

Arrol inclined his head. “Ah,
yes. Many a lady has been afraid to step into my arms for fear that they may
never want to leave them.”

I resumed my seat by the window,
my mouth turned up a fraction. “Yes, that’s it,” I said. “I am no match for
your undeniable charm.”

Arrol winked at me and went to
stand at the foot of the bed where Nelly was sleeping. He spoke staring down at
her. “I’m glad to see that you haven’t lost your sense of humor.”

I snorted and leaned back in the
chair. “Me? I laugh in the face of danger. Ha. Ha. Ha.”

The Fae’s silver eyes flicked to
me, and he tipped his head. “I do wish that you weren’t so…attached to that
Libra of yours. I think you and I would get on quite well.” His eyes went back
to my sister. “You are an exquisite creature, Sun Warrior, and your sister…”

When he didn’t continue, I said,
“Is pretty damn cool, too?”

Arrol laughed silkily, his long
silver hair rippling down his bare back. “Yes, pretty damn cool, as you say.”

I sat up straight now. “And
you’re here to watch her? Because you think she may be
dangerous
, as
well as pretty damn cool?”

He sighed and met my eyes. “This
is a dangerous world we live in, Warrior.”

“No shit? I hadn’t noticed.”

A level stare. “No shit…You sure
you don’t need a hug?”

The door opened then, and Kayden
entered. “I’m sure Alexa is just fine,” he said, not as unkindly as I would
have expected. Arrol had a way about him that made it difficult to be rude to
him.

“Ah, the Libra has arrived. I
don’t believe we’ve met properly. I am Arrol.” He extended a hand. “Pleasure to
meet you.”

Kayden’s golden eyes studied the
Fae for a moment before reaching out and shaking his hand. “Kayden.”

“Tell me Kayden, how does one win
the heart of a Sun Warrior?” Arrol’s silver eyes flashed me a smile. “They are
such difficult creatures to hang on to.”

I held up a hand. “Uh, I’m right
here. Don’t talk about me like I’m not in the room. Is there something I can
help you with Arrol? It’s been a long night, and I’m grateful for all your
help, but…”

Arrol waved a pale hand. “But get
on with it, right? I’m sure you two have some…frustrations to work out, so I
will. I’m here to offer you a plan B, in case this plan A should fall through,
and the people here should decide that they will not have an Accursed living
among them.”

I stood from my chair without
thinking. “What plan B?”

“The Seer has offered your sister
a reprieve in the White World for the time being, until you all can…sort this
mess out.”

Kayden spoke before I had the
chance to even digest this. “Absolutely not.”

I looked over at him to see that
Kayden’s jaw was set. “Wait a minute,” I said. “Why would the Seer offer that?”

Arrol shrugged. “I am but a
messenger, Warrior. It is my expense for a deal I made long ago. The Seer has
given his word that your sister will be safe in White World.”

I narrowed my eyes. “And why
should I believe that? I’m already in this Seer’s debt, and I don’t even know
exactly what I owe him yet. What’s in it for him?”

Arrol’s smile seemed a little
forced now. “An investment, I suppose. And that’s not even the best part.”

I sighed heavily, not sure I
wanted to hear this. “What’s the best part?”

“The Seer swears that if anything
should happen to your sister while she is in the White World, he will give both
of you back the ownerships of your souls.”

Beside me, I saw Kayden’s
shoulders tense. My brow furrowed. “What do you mean ‘both of you?’ I’m the
only one—”

A terrible thought struck me
then. I sucked in air and turned on Kayden. “Oh God, Kayden. What did you do?”

I knew the answer to this
question just by the look in his golden eyes, and suddenly I wished that I
hadn’t asked. I didn’t want to hear him say the words. What Kayden said was,
“The same thing you did. Where you go, Warrior, I go. In this world and
beyond.”

Arrol cleared his throat and
spoke before I had time to respond to this revelation. “And how romantic that
was, Libra, but I must urge you both to consider this offer carefully. There may
come a time soon that you have no other choice.” He went to the door and opened
it, but turned around once more before he left. “Don’t be too hard on him, Sun
Warrior. His actions were out of love.” Then he shut the door behind him.

I grabbed Kayden by his
shirtfront as soon as Arrol was gone. “Tell me you didn’t sell your soul to the
Seer, Kayden. Please tell me this is your idea of a really nasty, sick, not
funny at all joke.”

Kayden said nothing, only stared
down at me with those sunrise eyes. I released my hold on him for fear that I
might punch him in the face for his foolishness. I paced back and forth, unsure
what to do, how to react to this information. That was when Nelly sat up in
bed, rubbing her eyes. “Is everything okay?” she asked.

I went to sit beside her, jumping
on a task that I could handle. “Yes,” I said. “Everything is just fine. Go back
to sleep, Nell.”

Nelly looked from me to Kayden
and back again. Then she swung her feet over the side of the bed and stood. “I
think I’ll just give you two a minute,” she said.

My hand struck out like a snake
and seized her wrist. I loosened my hold when Nelly winced. “Sorry,” I said.
“But you can’t go, Nell. It’s not safe out there for you.”

Nelly surprised me by gently
removing my hold on her. Her chin tilted up a fraction as she looked at me.
“I’m not helpless, Lex. Can’t you see that?... Don’t you
know
that?”

For some reason, though her voice
was as gentle as a feather on skin, these words hurt me. If I no longer had to
protect Nelly, what purpose did I have in this world? I had always defined my
life with that one simple thing. Somehow, losing that was worse than losing my
mother, worse than losing Jackson. Worse than anything.

BOOK: Redemption (The Alexa Montgomery Saga)
6.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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