Authors: Jenny Allen
It occurred to her in that very moment that no matter what crimes he’d committed, no matter what death and chaos had started through his own actions, he was still her father. Chance was right all along. None of his past mattered, only the man he’d become, the father he’d been for her, mattered.
He was still the man that held her on his shoulders when she was three and told her to reach for the moon. He was still the man she confided every secret to. The one that made her hot cocoa with extra marshmallows on cold, wintery nights. He was still her world and she wasn’t ready to live in one without him. She just stared at her father with teary apologies in her eyes as he stared back at her with pain and regret. Chance held her close, softly running his fingers through her curls as he leaned his head against hers. She knew he could feel everything and somehow that made it easier, knowing that she wasn’t alone in her pain.
“Get them out of here. I need to consult with the others.” Farren’s booming voice knocked her completely out of her thoughts breaking the private moment with her father.
“Wait! What about my father?!” Lilith struggled against Chance. She couldn’t just leave him behind. A guard tried to grab at her arms, but she kept twisting away, putting Chance between her and the guard.
“Lilith, no.” Gregor shook his head with tears still streaking his bloody cheeks. “Chance, get her out of here. I love you, Lily. I’ll be ok.”
“Please! He needs medical attention!” Farren just kept walking slowly toward the door in the back of the room. “Please, will you at least have someone patch him up? You said you’d keep him alive.” Farren’s slow, casual gait didn’t waver and Lilith’s desperation felt like a rope strangling the life from her. “Farren! Please, I’ll do whatever you want, just please, please answer me!” She couldn’t let things end like this. She had to know that her father would be okay.
Farren stopped dead in his tracks in the middle of the room with his back to Lilith and Chance. She stopped fighting, hoping and praying that he would give the order to release Gregor to them. He was badly injured and he needed their help. Lilith could see the tension in the “old” man’s back, but she couldn’t feel anything coming from him. Her heart just pounded as her breath seized in her chest.
In one swift motion, Farren raised his hand and a shot rang out, echoing through the room like thunder.
ilith watched in horror as Gregor’s head whipped back, blood and brains splattering across the wall. His lifeless body hit the wall, sliding down at an unnatural angle until he was face first on the carpet, blood pooling around him.
“There is your answer.” Farren grabbed Peisinoe’s arm and casually walked over Gregor’s body, careful not to step in any of the pooling blood. The two left the room before Lilith could even register what had happened. The moment was frozen in her mind. Then, like everything was in fast forward, reality hit her like a sixty-foot tidal wave.
Lilith screamed until her voice broke while tears flooded down her cheeks. Chance gripped her painfully tight, his own shouts echoing hers. The guards rushed on them, trying to shove them out of the room. Chance tossed one of the guards against the wall with bone crushing force while Lilith punched and kicked at another wildly. She broke free and ran to Gregor with everything she had. Distantly, she could hear Chance struggling with the guards, but right now all her focus was on her father.
Lilith skidded to her knees and grabbed for her father, pulling his bloody body into her lap in desperation. Her fangs clicked into place immediately and she tore at her wrist. This had to work. It had worked on Chance. She couldn’t lose her father, not now. She’d wasted the past few days being angry at him. She had to tell him how much she loved him. It couldn’t end like this.
Cohen grabbed her wrist violently and tugged it away from Gregor. “What the fuck are you doing??”
Lilith pulled away and snarled in his face. “Get away from me!” Her voice was choked with tears and rage, white hot rage.
“Lilith, you cannot do this!! Even if it worked, you’d be killing us all!” He grabbed at her again and she screamed with everything she had left. Her arms and fists flew wildly, blindly attacking him everywhere she could reach.
“Fuck you, Cohen. He’s my
!” Her screams of anger broke into overwhelming tears as she fought to keep him away from Gregor.
“He’s already dead!” Cohen finally got past her tear-blind attacks and slapped her hard on the cheek. Her skin lit up like fire, but it was enough to distract her. “I’m sorry, Lilith.” Cohen grabbed her shoulders and shook her roughly. “Look at me.” Her olive eyes looked into his dark ones with all the hate and contempt she had in her. “You can’t bring him back. It won’t work. He’s dead. The only thing you can do is not join him.”
Lilith pushed Cohen away and stared down at her father, lifeless on the floor, sky grey eyes staring sightlessly at the ceiling. Lilith collapsed to the floor as tears wracked her whole body and caressed a palm down his bruised cheek. He was dead. Her father was dead.
Everything she went through to save him and it was all for nothing. She would never see that proud smile on his face again or hear his soothing voice. She could never take back all the horrible things she’d said to him. She could never apologize for all the times she refused to answer the phone.
.” Lilith looked up at the sound of Chance’s voice laden with tears. His handsome face was full of the same guilt and horror she felt. It was almost like looking into an emotional mirror and she found some small measure of comfort in that. She wasn’t alone. Someone else cared about Gregor as much as she did.
He bent down in front of her, caressing his hand softly over her cheek. “We have to leave now. Quietly. I’m so sorry, Lily.” His voice dissolved into tears as he reached out and pulled her into his arms. His lips caressed her cheek as she wept against his shoulder. She couldn’t find the strength to even move anymore. She had nothing left. Her whole body collapsed against him as if it was filled with lead.
“Chance is correct. We have to leave.” Cohen’s voice seemed odd but Lilith just didn’t care. She couldn’t think about anything else, she didn’t care about anything else.
Chance slid his arm under her legs and lifted her up as if she weighed nothing. “I’m sorry, Lily.” He just kept whispering it to her over and over as he carried her away from her true nightmare. She looked over his shoulder, her olive eyes staring at the bullet wound just above Gregor’s left eye. It wasn’t even bleeding anymore. Her father was dead and her life would never be the same.
Somewhere deep down, she was distantly aware of Cohen and the guards leading them back to the elevator. No one spoke, no one said where they were going or what was happening, and Lilith really didn’t care. Her head was full of white noise, blocking out nearly everything as her eyes just stared over Chance’s shoulder at the receding hall.
Her mind replayed the fatal shot over and over again. The loud pop of the gun echoing off the walls. The momentum of the bullet snapping her father’s head back. The cracking sound of shattering bone. The fine red mist before the sickening wet sound of brain tissue smacking against the wall. It all happened in a split second but her mind fixated on every single detail. Her whole universe had been narrowed down to that one defining moment that would forever haunt her.
She was too far in shock to even cry anymore. She simply felt dead and empty, hollow. That one bullet, that tiny piece of metal, felt like it had killed part of her soul. Since her mother was murdered, Gregor was all she’d known. He was everything to her, her entire world. It was hard enough to leave him when she attended LSU on the other side of the country. Now she had to leave him forever, a tortured, lifeless body on the floor of Farren’s courtroom. Lilith squeezed her swollen eyes shut as her throat tightened around a lump of guilt.
Lilith opened her eyes to see the heavy doors of the elevator close on the nightmarish hallway. She felt Chance’s stubbly cheek caress against hers, still wet with his own tears, but her she simply stared unresponsively at the stainless steel doors. Somewhere in the distance Lilith felt the strain of the awkward silence filling the tiny space but she couldn’t have cared if she tried.
When the doors opened with a chime, the henchmen guided them forward. Lilith’s eyes caught on the elegant hall decorated in reds and golds and immediately flinched. It reminded her so much of the hotel in Knoxville that her eyes teared up again. The night her father bared his soul to them flashed behind her eyes. Gregor sharing his pain, his guilt, his shame, his own emotional horrors. That night had changed everything and now she’d never have the opportunity to fix things.
Lilith rested her head against Chance’s shoulder as the fresh memory of her father’s brains on the conference room wall washed over her yet again. It was like an infinite loop of horror. She couldn’t escape it, couldn’t out run it. Even other memories eventually gave way to its dominance over her mind. The only thing she could do was keep her eyes open and try to continually focus on something else.
Another faceless guard stepped in front of the group and swung a door open, signaling them all inside. Chance carried her into the room first, her eyes passively taking in a large living room with modest hotel furniture in various neutral shades.
“Your luggage is on its way up. You’ll remain here until the Council reaches a decision.” The voice was clipped and matter-of-fact. Lilith could feel a faint undercurrent of awkward impatience emanating from the man, like he couldn’t wait to get away from them because he had no clue what to say. ‘Sorry my boss just killed your father’ probably wouldn’t be the wisest choice of words. Of course, Lilith hadn’t reached the anger step yet.
With the click of a lock, all the guards were gone. Suddenly Lilith was painfully aware that she was alone with Chance and Cohen. Cohen. A sudden surge of anger flooded through her veins so intense it burned everything else away. Chance’s arms tightened around her as his voice whispered against her skin. “Lily, don’t.”
“Lilith…” Cohen’s voice sounded hollow which only made her more furious, but Chance spoke up before she could say anything.
“Cohen, just fucking save it. We need a moment.” There was a clear warning in his low voice. Chance carried her off toward one of the closed doors and kicked it open. Somewhere in the back of her shock-addled brain she wondered how he was still carrying her so effortlessly. Vampires were strong and she didn’t weigh over 130, but he’d been carrying her for quite a while. She should have at least felt a muscle twinge or something.
Chance forcefully kicked the door closed, crossed the small room and gently set her down on the edge of a bed before kneeling down in front of her. Her olive eyes stared into his hazel ones and she could feel his sorrow as real as her own. It was too powerful for her shock-addled brain to handle. Lilith closed her eyes as a single tear trailed down her cheek. There was a black hole in her chest, consuming pieces of her even her rage. If she couldn’t stop it, there would be nothing left.
“I’m sorry, Lily.” Lilith felt the tender, hesitant touch of Chance’s palm caressing over her cheek before softly sinking into her hair. His soft touch tore apart the thin skin that was holding everything back, leaving her exposed. An avalanche of emotions exploded from the black hole in her chest and Lilith collapsed into tears.
She still couldn’t believe it. Over six hundred years of life, all the pain he’d lived through, all the guilt he’d survived, it was all snuffed out by one vicious man’s bullet. 124 grams of metal ended everything. He was gone. He was really gone.
“I should have kept my mouth shut!” Lilith screamed the words as her soul burned in fiery tears. “Why did I have to push him?!”
“Oh god no, Lily.” Chance’s voice was filled with tears, but there was a quiet strength lurking behind his words. “
, listen to me.” His hand caressed over her cheek again as he angled his head, trying to look her in the eye.
Lilith pulled away and wiped angrily at her cheeks. “No. Don’t try and tell me it’s not my fault. If I hadn’t pushed Farren, if I’d kept my fucking mouth shut, my father might still be...” She choked on her words, unable to finish as the tears continued to stream down her cheeks. Her mind lit into a whirlwind of anger and most of it was directed at herself. How could she have been so stupid?
Chance moved too fast for her to pull away again. He gently wrapped his strong hand around the back of her neck and pulled her closer to the edge of the bed. “No!” There was a gentle strength in his voice as his hands tenderly held her cheeks. His face was inches from hers and all she could see was his deep, hazel eyes. There was sorrow and pain in them, but there was also concern and something deeper.
“If you hadn’t said anything, if you hadn’t pushed Farren, he would have killed Gregor anyway. You heard him. They already sentenced him to death,
. There’s nothing you could have said or done to change that.”
“Chance, don’t.” She grabbed his arms and part of her wanted to shove him away, but she just couldn’t. She didn’t have the strength left in her. “I can’t do this.” Lilith choked down her tears, trying to keep them at bay. “He said he was going to keep him alive for now. We could have rescued him or made a bargain for him, something…”
Chance’s lips tightened as his brow furrowed. “Lilith,” His tone said it all. It was the sound of ‘get real.’ “There’s no way the two of us could break into this place and bust him out, even if we managed to escape. There is zero chance that Farren would bargain for anything, much less a person who is a self-admitted killer. If he kept Gregor alive, it would just be to torture him more before doing the same damn thing.”
Lilith’s shoulders hunched inwards and she stared down at her palms resting on her knees. He was right, but it didn’t make her feel any less guilty. “What am I supposed to do, Chance? I…” The tears still stung her eyes and every time she closed them, she just saw her father’s lifeless face. She screamed in agony. It felt like her mind was twisted and tormented with a million different emotions.
“I don’t know what to do anymore? Alvarez is dead, Gloria won’t even speak to me, and now my father is… my whole family is…Malachi, Miriah, Duncan, my mom…my dad… they’re all…” She just couldn’t say it this time. It felt like if she said it out loud right now it would somehow make it too real.
Lilith closed her eyes for just a moment, trying to see anything but her father’s bloody face. A single tear streaked down her cheek and she opened her eyes to stare down at Chance’s face. “You should just run while you still can. I’m an angel of death.” Her whole body started to shake as the flood of tears overcame her again.
Chance’s face was an ever-changing myriad of emotions. It was like staring into the rippling waters, the reflection constantly morphing into something else. He was devastated, angry, heartbroken, worried, concerned, vengeful and terrified, but one thing was definitely clear. He was surprised by her words.
Chance’s mouth set in a firm line and he pulled her off the bed to nestle into his lap. His hands gently cradled her face, making sure her eyes met his. “I will
run away from you. No matter what happens, I will fight to the last breath to make sure you are safe. You don’t get to just send me away because you’re scared. You got really pissed at me for inferring that you should do the same thing. Remember, you don’t get to be the only one that fights for what they care about.”
“Chance. Please… I almost lost you once. I can’t…I just can’t…I can’t lose…” Tears stole her voice as she leaned her forehead against his. She struggled with every breath as she fought back the storm of grief. She hadn’t cried like this since her mother was murdered and part of her felt weak for falling apart so completely.