Light of the Shadow – Chapter 14 – Part 3

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Light of the Shadow – Chapter 14 – Part 3

 

Chapter 14

 

 

“A Last Secret Revealed.
A Test of Faith, Love and Trust.
Intuition, Wisdom and Courage.
The Waxing Moon in the Sky.”

 

 

 

 

- The Prophet of Truth

 

Part 3

Sarah couldn’t stop nervously squeezing her hands together. Her heart kept beating like crazy. The wait was agonizing, to say the least.

Alexis gave her a calm, confident smile. He’d put on one of his leather pants that sinfully outlined his firm legs, and the leather jacket he’d pull over a dark-blue shirt had an extra batch of zippers and metallic applications that had no real functional purpose. His boots made metallic sounds with each step he gave and he’d tied his hair at the base of his nape with a black ribbon. All in all, with his thumbs tucked in his waistband, he was the perfect image of a  veteran member of some biker gang. A too attractive, sexy and sinfully delicious-looking gangster, Sarah had to conceive looking at him from head to toe.

They were both in Alexis’ office on the first floor. It was night outside and Alexis had turned on the tall lamp in the corner, even though his eyes remained unable to capture color or light.

“You don’t have to be so nervous,” he told her for the tenth time and Sarah jumped to her feet, unable to remain sitting. For a moment she’d almost forgotten the reason why they were there, lost in her contemplation.

“That’s easy for you to say,” she retorted ironically. “You know what his thinking.”

Alexis smiled again. No matter what, it felt rather good seeing her in such a pile of nerves, all because of him. It made him feel truly wanted. And that was something completely new and wonderful.

“I don’t know anyone’s thoughts but yours, Sarah,” he told her softly. “And even that is something I can’t really control. However, I do know how he thinks. And that’s exactly why you should believe me when I tell you that everything’s going to be all right.”

Sarah nodded, truly wishing she could believe his words, but her more rational mind kept creating threateningly logical arguments that told her exactly the opposite.

“He is the one responsible for your whole Race, right? And the Law clearly states that you can’t interact with us, right? On top of that, when that Law punishes you, it doesn’t really punish individuals. And he’s already agreed to protect us. Which clearly goes against the Law. How can we ask him to accept … accept …” Sarah hesitated, lacking the words to describe their relationship, and sighed.

Alexis reached out his hand, calling her to his side, and she took it without a second thought, allowing him to wrap her in his warm embrace, which immediately helped her calm down.

“You are my Hridaya, Sarah… And there’s nothing to accept about that. It’s something that goes way beyond anyone’s desires. You are the only one for me in the entire world, the only one able to keep and guard my light. Not even Aaran can deny such a thing.”

“But you said it yourself. I’m like an anomaly in that system of yours. I can very well be a mistake,” she insisted and he squeezed her gently.

“If you are a mistake then so am I. I belong to you, Sarah Wilson. And all you have to do is look at me to see the proof of that showing right here, on my face. Contrary to what normally happens, the Mark that assures it is all too visible, on a place where anyone can see it.” She raised her head to look at him and placed one hand over his tattooed face. “Besides, Aaran has always supported my decisions. He won’t abandon us now.”

“That obviously depends on whether I like, or not, what you two have to say.”

At the sound of that cold voice Sarah immediately jumped away from Alexis’ embrace, turning around, her cheeks burning from embarrassment, as if she’d been caught red-handed doing something illegal.

“Aaran,” Alexis greeted him with a smile but Sarah couldn’t help take a step back.

Aaran was sitting on the chair behind the dark wooden desk with his legs crossed, his long white hair reflecting the yellowish light of the lamp. However, his dark-cerulean eyes burned with a faint red luminescence, and the aura surrounding him was even more ferocious and dangerous than all the other times she’d met him. As if something had angered him deeply, before he got there.

“So, Alex, have you made your mind?” he asked coldly and Alexis nodded.

“I recognize Sarah Wilson as my one and only Hridaya,” he declared confidently and with audible pride, which only made her blush even deeper.

However, as soon as Aaran turned his attention to her, a cold icy feeling reached the bottom of her stomach and her hands trembled in nervous spasms. Discreetly she lowered her mental defenses and tried to capture anything similar to an emotion, something that might give her a hint of what he truly thought about what Alexis had so vehemently declared. But all she found was a dark, empty well of nothingness, as if nothing else inhabited him beside the red flames burning in his eyes.

“Sarah.” He called her name and she couldn’t help shiver. His voice was pure ice, as if he wished he could disintegrate her. “Tell me. What do you see, when you look at him?” he asked, without the slightest trace of emotion, and Sarah was at a loss for words, unable to understand the reason behind that question or what he expected her to answer. “So?” he insisted and she swallowed hard.

“I ..:”

“Do you see a man?” he cut her off. “A Human? An alien? A strange peculiar being? A lover?”

“Aaran!” Alexis reproachable tone made Aaran turn his attention to him, and Sarah felt a knot squeeze her stomach at the fury burning in his dark gaze.

“Be quiet, Alex! I’m talking with Sarah!” he declared authoritatively and Alexis clenched his teeth, clearly unwilling, but still obeyed. “So?” he went back to her and Sarah raised her head, determined to face him.

“I don’t see any of that. Just someone different from me,” she declared, trying hard to maintain her voice clear and firm, and Aaran uncrossed his legs, leaning forward, supporting his chin on his hands.

“Different?!” he repeated with irony, his gaze piercing through her in that silent threat. And yet he felt nothing, and Sarah begun doubting her own perception. Maybe her gift just didn’t work on him … After all Alexis had told her that he was the oldest of their kind. Maybe Aaran somehow knew how to shield himself from her. “Different in what way? Exciting? Dangerous?” he added, lowering his voice, and Sarah frowned, vexed as she realized just how much he was underestimating her.

“I …”

“love Alexis,” he completed, interrupting her once more, leaving her speechless again, and Alexis stepped forward, anger starting to ooze from him in waves that only made her feel even more confused.

“That’s enough, Aaran,” he demanded and Aaran looked back at him.

“What did I tell you, Alex? Be quiet. This talk doesn’t concern you,” he repeated, indifferently, and Alexis frowned.

“Talk? This is no talk? You’re just trying to humiliate her!” he accused him, and Aaran arched an eyebrow, looking surprised.

“Me? You’re wrong,” he countered. “I know all too well what you feel for her. It’s the same we all feel when we’re lucky enough to find our Hridaya. But what about her? Don’t you want to know what she really feels for you?”

“I know how Sarah feels about me!” he declared without the shadow of a doubt and Aaran laughed briefly, a fake laughter that gave Sarah the creeps, as he lazily leaned his head on one hand.

“Oh, you do? Really,” he countered sarcastically and his expression went back to that terrifying threat. “The only thing you know is what she tells you. Mere words. And even if she does feel what she says she feels. She’s nothing but a Human, and you know how fleeting and transient Human emotions can be,” he spat with despise and Alexis grabbed hold of Sarah’s hand, dragging her with him.

“Come. You don’t have to hear this,” he decided with a growl and Sarah felt as if she was about to be swallowed by the ferocity of his emotions as they mixed with her own anxiety.

“Be still, Alexis! I’m not joking!” Aaran threatened in a soft whisper and Alexis turned against him.

“Alexis! It’s okay!” Sarah hurriedly intervened, feeling his anger quickly transform into an irrational fury, and placed a hand on his chest, as if that could stop him from jumping Aaran as he was clearly about to do. “Look at me!” she demanded, since he kept stubbornly looking for a chance to attack, and she pushed him back with all her strength. “It’s okay,” she repeated and almost sighed in relief when she felt him relax a bit.

Sarah turned back to Aaran, determined to face him, and raised her head.

“Why don’t you just go straight to the point? What do you want from me?” she asked and Aaran smiled lightly, seeming amused.

“Didn’t you hear me? I want to verify your feelings for him,” he replied with apparent tranquility and Sarah forced herself to focus on the problem at hand, and to forget just how imposing and frightening the being in front of her really was.

“If words are not enough, what else can I do?” she demanded and the thin trace of fear she felt from Alexis was of little help in boost her courage.

“Sarah …”

She pushed him back another couple of steps and raised her head to face him.

“You said we needed his support. That we need him to understand.”

“Above all you need me to decide against the most obvious and easiest solution, that is to simply destroy the both of you,” Aaran added and Alexis growled angrily.

“He is right, Alexis,” Sarah confirmed making sure that the hand she kept against his chest didn’t tremble. “Just let me hear what he has to say,” she asked and Alexis seemed to give up on the idea of jumping Aaran’s neck. Sarah took a deep breath and turned to face Aaran, who was looking at them as if he were watching a boring soap opera. “So? What can I do to prove to you that I really want to stay by Alexis’ side?”

Aaran changed the hand supporting his head and watched them disinterestedly for an instant, as if he were pondering about the best way for her to prove herself.

“Did he tell you the meaning of the Mark on his face?” he finally asked, clearly deciding to ignore Alexis’ presence, and Sarah nodded. “It should mean that he found the only being in the entire world able to save him from eternal darkness. He tells me that that being is you. What do you think, Sarah? Are you?”

Sarah felt the blood freeze in her veins. She couldn’t shake the feeling that that was the key question of an exam she had to pass, no matter what. But what was the right answer? The wave of warmth that emanated from Alexis gave her courage to face her inquisitor. Alexis believed in her, and right then that was the only thing that really mattered.

“If Alexis says that that’s who I am, then that’s who I am,” she declared without a shadow of a doubt, and the happiness that took over Alexis left a small smile of satisfaction on her lips.

“And yet that’s not the only meaning of the silver Mark,” Aaran went on without giving a single clue of what he’d thought of her answer. “The Mark also means the union of two lives. Of two existences. And, by accepting you as his Hridaya, Alexis chose to unite his life with yours, Sarah.”

Sarah felt her heart jump anxiously at the implications of those words and was almost too late in holding Alexis back, pulling him by his arm with all her strength.

“That’s enough, Aaran!” he roared and Sarah shuddered at the overload of emotions that were starting to give her a headache. Anger, fury, despair …

Tears fell from her eyes and she hurriedly hid her face against his arm, not wanting him to notice them.

He’d chosen to unite his life with hers … a mere Human. A Human that, in the best of cases, wouldn’t live past eighty, maybe ninety years of age.

“Enough, Alexis … please …” she pleaded with him, and although her voice could hardly be heard, he seemed to calm down and his attention turned towards her, towards the frail woman holding on to his arm as if her life depended on it.

“Sarah … I’m so sorry …” he whispered, feeling how she trembled.

Only now did he realize his mistake. He should never have allowed her to be present when he talked with Aaran. He should’ve protected her, guarded her better …

She took a deep breath, forcing herself to calm down, and dried her tears before raising her head to face his uncertain gaze that seemed to incessantly look for her.

“Does this mean … you’ll die when I die?” she asked in a low, fearful voice, and he held her hand, kissing it softly.

“That’s how things work, my Hridaya. And I’d never want it any other way,” he declared with a confident smile that told her he’d already thought things through.

Sarah lowered her head, for an instant, at a loss for words, and when she raised it again there was an absolute resolve in her tearful eyes.

“Just revert this! Take it back! There has to be a way, right?” she demanded firmly, turning towards Aaran, and forced herself to ignore the painful shock that shook Alexis.

“So, you choose to leave him so he won’t die with you?” he asked with feigned interest and she faced him unwavering.

“Yes.”

“See, Alex? How uncertain she is?” Aaran pointed out and Alexis’ pain almost stole her breath away. “In two years max she’ll wake up one day and ask herself what she’s doing, staying beside a being that, in addition to not growing old like her, will never be able to accompany her in the most basic of activities. Like taking a walk on a park, or going out for lunch. She’ll miss a Human companion, able to give her a human family, and will just leave you behind. She obviously doesn’t want to live with the guilt of knowing you gave up your life for someone who’ll end up leaving you,” he declared and Sarah felt her blood boil in a wave of anger that was rightfully hers.

“I’m not uncertain at all!” She raised her voice. “I just don’t want him to cut his life short for some mere Human, like you said! Human lives are short and frail. And without me he’ll be able to live a lot longer!” she declared and Aaran sighed, as if the subject was starting to bore him.

“In anyway, now that Alexis has made his choice, it’s impossible to revert it, and his life will end with yours, no matter if you stay at his side or leave,” he declared and Sarah felt a heavy weight crush her chest. So there was nothing she could do, and that notion left a terrible bitter taste in her mouth. “My question is, are you willing to do the same for him?” he asked, showing her a small golden dagger that she was sure hadn’t been there a moment ago, and nonchalantly threw it at her feet.

“Aaran!!”

Sarah felt a heavy wind blow her hair, as if something had just passed by her at supersonic speed, and Alexis threatening voice was swallowed by the darkness that, for a split second, devoured everything, including the yellowish light of the lamp. His pain flooded her brain, making her hold her head as if that could stop it from exploding, and when light returned to the room Alexis was lying on the ground, folded over himself, gasping and fighting to breathe.

“What did you do to him?” she asked angrily, running to him, trying to understand where he’d been hurt, and her hands touched his forehead, feeling it cold and moist.

“I warned him one too many times,” Aaran replied and Sarah faced him with a fierce accusation.

“You’re hurting him!”

“Don’t worry. He’ll survive. At least now we can go on with our talk without any further interference.”

Sarah felt herself shake in anger but she knew all too well that there was nothing she could do or say to force Aaran to release him, except … Her gaze fell on the small golden dagger, the red gem encrusted on the handle sparkling defiantly and, caressing Alexis face, now distorted into a mask of pain, she got up and turned to face him once again.

“What do I have to do?”

Alexis’ fear mixed with her own. However now there was nothing he could do to protect her and, faced with the inevitable, Sarah chose to confront her fate standing tall.

“That dagger is not a common blade. Its name is Shi-Zaku. It literally means that-which-splits-the-Soul,” Aaran went on with his undisturbed calm, completely ignoring Alexis’ ragged breathing that left her shaking inside. “When we accept the destiny dictated by the silver Mark our essence is split in two; one part stays within us, the other is offered to our partner. The same happens with our Hridaya, since they too have a silver Mark. So, as I’m sure you can guess, he gave you half of his own being, but you, you haven’t given anything in return. Which means he is eternally bound to you, but you can just stay or leave at your heart’s desire.” He declared and Sarah looked down at Alexis, still on the ground, unable to move, much less stand. And her resolve became even firmer.

“What do I have to do?”

“That dagger has the ability to split a Human Soul, the equivalent to our essence. And, if you’re really his Hridaya, that fragment will replace what he’s given you, inside of him,” Aaran explained, observing her closely as if anxiously awaiting her reaction, and Sarah looked at the dagger, stepping forward to pick it up without a trace of hesitation.

She immediately felt Alexis’ agitation. He didn’t want her to do this. He feared for her safety. Above all he wished he could protect her.

If I’m to stay by your side I refuse to be a dead weight. And you can’t hope to protect me every single time, she told him in thoughts, not knowing if he’d be able to capture them, and faced Aaran squeezing the dagger in her hand until her fingers hurt. The weapon was cold, and, somehow, surprisingly heavy for its small size. The blade looked new, clearly sharp, and the red gem on the handle reminded her of a large drop of blood.

“What am I suppose to do with this?” she forced herself to ask and Aaran raised a lazy hand, pointing directly at her.

“Stab yourself, in the middle of your chest.”

Sarah felt her body turn to ice and only realized how much she was shaking when the dagger almost fell from her hands.

“And I won’t just die …?” she wanted to make sure, doubting, and Aaran gave her a cold smile, as if he’d been waiting for that question.

“Not now, anyway. But after you’ve done it your life will be intertwined with his, and as it is for him, you too will die when he does. However I should warn you. From what I’ve been told the sensation of fragmenting one’s Soul is excruciating, worse than death itself, so I suppose it won’t be a pleasant experience.”

Sarah nodded, understanding, looking down at the dagger in her hands. No matter how much she looked at it she couldn’t see anything but an extremely sharp blade. One that her rational mind kept assuring her that would most certainly kill her, if she did as he said. And yet … Without Aaran’s support neither Alexis nor her could hope to live for long, anyway. Aaran was just too strong, she thought looking at Alexis as he fought for every breath. Sure the only rational option was to drop that dagger and leave that place, putting all that madness behind her. Which would mean leaving Alexis … Which would be one hundred times worse than having to stab herself with that blade.

Once more she tried to read Aaran, who kept watching her uninterested, his bright gaze reminding her of a wild animal about to attack. All he did was for Alexis’ sake, of that much she was sure. If he really wanted to take the easiest path he would just have killed them both a long time ago and be done with that. Whether he was able to feel emotions or not, the truth was that he loved Alexis. And, although the only thing she could see past that blazing gaze was a sea of darkness, Sarah forced herself to find courage in that certainty. Aaran didn’t want to destroy Alexis. So, if Alexis’ life was eternally intertwined with hers, he’d never give her that dagger if it meant that it would kill her. Even if, in truth, he did wish she could die, for all the trouble her existence had brought the both of them.

That, of course, assuming she was really who Alexis believed she was. And maybe Alexis was wrong… And maybe Aaran had known it all a long, and by killing her he just wanted to show him just how wrong he’d been. After all, hadn’t he asked her if she thought she was the one who would save Alexis from his darkness? Her own answer came back to her. If Alexis says that that’s who I am, then that’s who I am. If that was so, what was she doubting now? And even if they were both wrong, what meaning could her life possibly have without him? Because he’d called her, because he’d asked her for parts of herself she could never replace or retrieve again, and she’d willingly given them to him. Without him she’d be forever incomplete, forever broken. Because she’d wanted to save him. Because although she knew beforehand just how deeply his need really ran, she still had wished to help him. Even knowing that, afterwards, there would never be a way to go back to just being her old self. And so there was no more space for doubts or questions. She believed in him because he was the one that she, herself, had chosen.

Sarah smiled, happy with her own conclusion and, strangely enough, felt suddenly relaxed and confident. If the only thing that Aaran wanted as proof of her feelings was a piece of her Soul, then she didn’t mind giving it at all. In truth, everything she was already belonged to Alexis, even from before they’d both enter that room; from the moment she’d decided to stay, after he’d told her the truth about his Mark. For the second time in her life she’d completely committed herself to another, and this time around she’d gone way beyond herself. Now that she thought about it, what was really there to choose from?

Sarah held her right hand with her left to get a firmer grip, pointing the blade to her chest, and in a single movement raised it and flung it against her own chest. The air escaped her lungs immediately. The pain was brief. And the heat hit her like a drowning wave.

As if time had stretched over itself, she saw Aaran jump to his feet, his face a perfect expression of incredibility and disbelief, and she found herself thinking that she’d been right, and that it wasn’t as if he couldn’t feel anything. The room spun and turned until she realized that in fact she was the one falling. And then two warm arms caught her, holding her gently, preventing her from hitting the floor.

“Sarah!”

Alexis voice broken by pain made her want to smile just to reassure him, but the heat spreading through her chest was burning her lungs, making it impossible for her to breathe. And then Aaran was also there, kneeling beside her, and without a word placed a hand on her chest, and it was as if the invisible chains binding her lungs had suddenly been cut, and she could breathe again.

“Take it easy. Breathe slowly,” Alexis told her, holding her against his chest, and she tried to obey and not to cough as much, which only made things even harder. With a shaky hand she touched her own chest, looking for the wound she was certain she would find, but even her sweatshirt was unscathed, and there was no dagger to be seen anywhere.

Alexis placed a long kiss on her forehead and sighed heavily.

“What am I going to do with you …”

Sarah looked up at him, feeling confused, and then at Aaran, kneeling on her other side.

“What happened? Did I fail …?” she asked in a ragged voice and he forced another of his fake smiles. His eyes had lost that threatening look, and although he was still terribly intimidating, the murderous aura that had surrounded him had disappeared.

“That depends on what you mean. If you’re talking about splitting your Soul in two then yes, you failed. If you’re referring to convincing me of the truth of your feelings, then the answer is no.”

“What do you mean …?” She still couldn’t understand, and Alexis held her closer, as if he were afraid she might simply disappear.

“That wasn’t the real Shi-Zaku,” he told her and Aaran nodded in confirmation.

“It wasn’t? Then … this was all a test? All a lie?” she asked, unable to avoid feeling cheated, and Aaran faced her with a serious expression.

“Nothing of what I’ve told you is a lie,” he declared. “And it is important that you understand this, and even so, be willing to stay by Alex’s side. Because it won’t be easy, Sarah. And no matter how much I’m willing to make use of my influence to shield you two, the Lex Regis doesn’t know words like mercy or exception.”

Sarah nodded lightly, understanding.

“Still, Aaran! Right now I just hate you so much I could kill you!” Alexis growled at him and Aaran gave him another of those fake, creepy smiles.

“It’s okay, Alex. At least now you know the real value of the partner fate has sent you,” he replied, standing up, his movements always smooth and elegant. “I’ll leave you now. I’m sure you have a lot to discuss,” he simply stated, and without another word, walked out the door and left.

For a while Alexis just sat there, holding her against his chest, as if she were something very precious he’d thought he’d lost, and Sarah allowed him to hold her, feeling his warmth surround her, the rhythmic strength of his heartbeat against her ear.

“I’m so sorry, Sarah …” he finally muttered and his regret led her to raise her head to face him. His sad, constricted expression made her caress his face, as if that could dissolve his dark emotions, and a sigh escaped her lips.

“Why didn’t you tell me, Alexis?” she whispered and he lowered his head to dive his nose in her soft, sweet scented hair.

“I didn’t want you to worry. In any case, what does it matter? I knew you’d just needlessly blame yourself.”

“Still. You should have told me,” she insisted and he took a deep breath.

“So you could kill your head looking for ways to nullify my decision, like you suggested?” he asked again and as she didn’t answer he kissed her hair, and held her face so that she would look him in the eye. “I’d already decided to end my existence, long before you stepped into my life. It was because of you that I postponed my decision. Because I told myself that you needed me, that you needed my protection and that I had an obligation to keep you safe after everything you risked to help me. I had decided to end my existence once you could return to your everyday life. But now that I have you by my side I just can’t help want to keep on living! No matter if it’s right or wrong, if I’m insane or not. But only because you’re beside me. Do you understand? Without you I’m just … a shadow.”

She felt a knot tie around her throat but still raised her arms, wrapping them around his neck.

“I understand, Alexis,” she whispered near his mouth and kissed him softly. How could she not?

Alexis held her against his chest and ended up burying his nose on her shoulder.

“So don’t ever do something like that again!” he demanded, squeezing her, and Sarah softly caressed his hair.

“I wouldn’t have minded giving you part of my Soul,” she told him and he kissed her neck, his fingers softly stroking her face as if he wanted to see her through those light touches.

“It’s not that simple. If that had been the real Shi-Zaku you could have really died. Because the Shi-Zaku doesn’t fragment just the Soul. It fragments the whole being,” he said bleakly and she smiled with conviction.

“Aaran would have never allowed that. You know that too, right?” Alexis averted his gaze as if he didn’t want to talk about that, and Sarah held one of his hands, still against her face. “You know that too, right?” she insisted a bit more vehemently and he pulled away from her touch, standing up.

“If he weren’t who he is, I’d have shredded him to pieces!” he declared angrily and Sarah stood up slowly, feeling a bit dizzy.

“You can’t mean that.”

“I really don’t want to talk about this!”

Her expression of incredibility at such a high degree of arrogance didn’t last more than a few seconds before it was replaced by a much more severe one.

“Ah! I’d almost forgotten that side of you!” she declared, her hands flying to her waist. “And I may as well tell you right now that you will have to learn to control that!” she went on, severely, and Alexis frowned, unable to understand what she meant and disliking even more the way she was talking to him.

“What are you talking about?”

“You’re too prideful! Too stubborn! And too bossy!”

“Ah!!” he exclaimed outraged but she didn’t allow him to speak.

“Of course I also didn’t like what Aaran did! In fact! If anyone has the right to complain then that person is me! I didn’t see you stab yourself in the chest, did I?” she countered and Alexis opened his mouth to argue but she immediately shut him up, poking him in the chest. “All he did, he did so for your sake! You pigheaded man!”

“That doesn’t concern me at all!” he replied dryly and Sarah poked him again.

“And there you are, all prideful again! He worries about you, Alexis!”

“Aaran is unable to feel anything!” he criticized severely and she sighed.

“You know better than I do that that’s not true.” He was silent for an instant and the frown marking his forehead became even deeper.

“Even if you’re right. Nothing gives him the right to do what he did!”

“Do you know what’s really angrying you?” she asked, folding her arms over her chest. “It’s not what Aaran did. It’s what you were unable to do. Because somewhere in that all male, all masculine head of yours, you think you failed some stupid duty to protect me! And that just has to stop, Alexis. Because no matter how hard you try, or how hard you want to, you’ll never be able to protect me all the time, or from the entire world. And I’m not some frail, defenseless child!” He took a step back, more appalled with her words now than he’d been when she’d called him stubborn and bossy. “I’m not something you have to take care of,” she went on in a softer tone. “That’s not the part I want to play in your life.”

He lowered his head, looking disturbed, and averted his gaze as if he’d heard someone call his name.

“We’ll talk later, Sarah. It’s already late and there are still some things I have to look into,” he declared, and faced with the pain emanating from him, Sarah merely sighed and didn’t even try to stop him when he simply disappeared.

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