1) Two chapters became one 5K chapter so I went with it.
2) Sorry for being MIA. Moving and all, ya know. After this I’m going on a short hiatus (1 month or so) to try and sort out my laggy game, catching up on WP, editing my book, and planning the second half of the gen.
3) The pictures aren’t great. See laggy game. It would take me an evening to take one scene. Painful.
4) There is a sort of trigger warning for this chapter, but going into detail would kinda be a spoiler. If you think you might need to know what it is, you can read about it on my private tumblr post here.
Midday sun saturated the balcony and the flowers turned their heads to worship. The old radio – battered at the corners but still cheerful – belted out the lyrics to Build me up Buttercup which carried across the hills, sitting on a light wind which kept the midges at bay.
In her own world filled with saturated colours and impressionist style landscapes, Echo painted. The soft touch of her brush on canvas had lulled her mind into silence, and she had been floating pleasantly in the present where nothing mattered but the deft moves of her wrist and fingers.
“Another oldie but goodie, that one. Margaret from Blackpool has sent in a request for Summer Nights, and who are we to deny her?” the radio presenter asked, giving a little laugh as the next tune began. Echo felt her lips curl as she remembered dancing to Greece songs with Lukas, and it was with no surprise that she heard his light footsteps approach.
He swept her against his body with a playful air. “I thought I’d let you know that I’ve booked the last of our things for Italy. All set – just have to wait.”
Echo pressed her lips to his cheek, feeling rough stubble and warm skin. “It’ll be here before you know it.”
Lukas nodded and spread his feet, giving himself more room to sway side to side with the rhythm of the song. Echo hooked her chin on his shoulder and looked out at the cornflower blue sky. “I swear there’s nowhere more beautiful than this balcony in the sun.”
“The problem is it’s rarely sunny.”
“I think you’re just being a pessimist.”
Echo scrunched up her fingers in the light material of Lukas’ jacket. After so many years she had finally talked down his definition of casual wear, and this was her favourite outfit for him yet.
“We might just have the house to ourselves tomorrow,” she murmured. “Even Shanna is away until late.”
“What are you thinking?”
“A picnic out in the sun, and then an afternoon with some wine inside?”
“How could I possibly say no to a proposition like that?”
“I should leave you to your painting,” Lukas went on, glancing over his shoulder at the mostly white canvas. She had started with the sky, capturing it in its shimmering brilliance. He marvelled at her talent.
“Stay for the song,” Echo whispered. “Moments like this should never end.”
“Maybe you should paint us.” Lukas led her into a gentle spin and then caught her waist, touching his forehead to hers. “Then in a way it never would.”
“I like that idea,” she agreed. “Doesn’t this song take you back?”
Lukas chuckled. “It does. I still remember some of the moves.” He pressed forward and held the small of her back with his arm, and at the cue Echo fell back into the move which was, even now, muscle memory.
“There’s always the tango classes.” Lukas adopted a mock tone of warning. “Now that Shanna is a little more confident, we could dance up a storm more often.”
“I could never say no to a dance with you,” Echo grinned, straightening up and brushing her lips to his.
“I’ll hold you to that, my love.”
The next day came almost as hot as the last, though a nightly rainstorm now lent the fields a ghostly mist as the sun evaporated off the moisture in the ground. When Isabelle roused herself out of bed it looked like something out of a fantasy novel, but by the time she had pampered herself – and pamper she did – the ground had already dried.
It was the first time since sleeping with Kian that Isabelle had returned to the tree. It had only been a few days, but between one thing and the next she hadn’t had the time. It wasn’t even like she had Kian’s number (did he even have a phone?) but she suspected it wouldn’t occur to him to worry about the fact that she hadn’t shown up.
She had a definite bounce in her step as she walked down the familiar path to the town hall. Her hair was blowing lightly in the wind, which was an irritating change from her usual controlled hairstyle, but she had chosen to keep it down specifically for Kian.
When she reached the tree her heart thumped hard as it dropped. She had expected him to already be there, given the time.
Iz shook the worry off. Kian had never missed a day at the tree, no matter the weather. He would be there soon enough.
So when he didn’t show, even hours after a lunch and coffee break, Isabelle let her book fall onto the parched grass and squeezed her eyes shut in frustration. It was typical that the first time she was really invested in a relationship something like this happened. The only reason Iz could think of for Kian standing her up was that he had got what he wanted. But those words had seemed so genuine! Was she just gullible or was he that good?
Isabelle pushed the base of her hands against her eyes, drying tears before they could smudge her eyeliner. Was she overreacting? Would he turn up later with an easy grin to invite her around for dinner? Was this her own insecurity trying to find problems where there were none?
Isabelle took a deep breath and forced her trembling fingers to pick the book up and rediscover where she had left off. She would wait here until the light faded too badly to read – something she knew from experience would happen around eight. By that point her stomach would be begging for more food, but worse was the miserable feeling clotting her chest.
So much for that.
Unaware of Isabelle’s melancholy, Quinn had taken the lunch-time train into Edinburgh for a second rendezvous with Mia. Despite the proximity to the capital city, Quinn had rarely visited the royal burgh; his knowledge went as far as the Natural History museum and stopped there. He’d been to the Christmas market, of course, because it seemed everyone in Scotland had been to the underwhelming event once. Perhaps it was just his typical disdain of identical tat being sold at different stalls, but the only highlight had been the German sausages and churros.
Luckily, the Fringe festival had long since finished and the streets were much less crowded than his past visits. Quinn navigated his way to Frederick street, where Mia had instructed him to wait, and he settled onto a bench baked by the sun to watch shoppers scurry about. A shining bike sat chained underneath a beech tree, its toothed leaves giving dappled shade to the concrete beneath. Quinn sat and tested himself by recalling facts he’d learned from a spectacular book written by a man named Gooley – the leaves of the tree were held at different angles on the North and South sides, just as the author had pointed out.
Mia’s deadpan voice brought Quinn’s head whipping around to the left. “Ow,” he complained, rubbing at his neck.
“You were away with the fairies there. Should I leave you to it?”
“And pass up a lovely date with you?”
“Ew,” Mia said, and Quinn felt himself blushing.
“It’s the sort of thing my dad says to my mum.”
“That makes it worse!” she cackled. “Besides, your dad’s Spanish. Being romantic is in his blood.”
“I thought that was the French?”
“No, dumbass, it’s a romance language.” She arched an eyebrow. “Are we going, then?”
“Where to?” Quinn asked, jumping up. “And are we going past another busker playing Wonderwall?”
“Better than Mr. Red and Sweaty playing the bagpipes near the train station. I get that it’s a money maker from the tourists, but it’s on my bucket list to punt one of them in the balls sometime.”
Quinn spluttered with laughter. “Charming, as always.”
“One of the many reasons I’m a catch.” Mia looked at him with sparkling eyes. “Follow me, then.”
They ended up crossing the street to a bookshop cheerfully titled ‘Muses’. The black store front gleamed in the sunlight, almost blinding Quinn as they approached. He saw the human-sized picture of a Greek muse too late and almost jumped out of his skin. Mia almost fell over laughing at him.
When he eventually convinced her to clutch her sides inside the shop instead of out, they entered into the cool. The shop exuded the same sort of calmness that all sanctuaries with books did, and Quinn found himself smiling.
There were lots of nooks and crannies to get lost in, so Mia left Quinn scanning the assorted titles in the World History section while she went to order them some tea.
“I have my own cup,” Quinn called after her. She froze and turned around to look at him, so he shrugged self-consciously. “Zero waste.”
“A noble cause, but I’m still going to call you weird for it.”
Quinn smirked and turned back to the books. “A tale of swords and gunpowder,” he murmured to himself, brushing his finger down the bent spine. He pulled it off the shelf and was engrossed into it by the time Mia returned, setting out their pot and pulling out a cookbook and some pens.
At Quinn’s questioning look she shrugged. “There’s only ever, on average, three recipes per cookbook that are ever realistic and worth doing. Why buy the whole thing when I can just copy those ones out?”
“Seems dishonest, but alright.”
“Fuck capitalism,” was her short reply.
Some time later Quinn pushed the book back into its rightful place and began to scan the titles again.
“Are you looking forward to the new school year?” Mia asked.
“I don’t really think about it. You?”
“I’ve got Mrs. Peacock for English. Not looking forward to it.”
“Mrs. Peacock? Oh – you mean Sanderson.”
“She looks like she’s from Cluedo, all implications about probably being a murderer included. Plus she always wears that feather in her hair.”
“Ayr calls her a witch,” Quinn added.
“An inaccurate and unfair statement. Witches were just women who brewed beer and got their shit done. It’s only when men wanted the power did they accuse them of making potions. Anyway, I’m pretty sure she did it in the billiard room with the candlestick. Do we know anyone who has been murdered recent-fuck.” Mia’s face dropped. “I didn’t even think.”
Quinn glanced over at her in surprise. “Didn’t you hear? Adam came home this morning.”
Mia sat up straighter. “Wait, what?”
Ayr glanced at his phone again, seeing nothing new. His last message was from Quinn to say he was on the train home, but that was almost two hours ago and no one had spoken to him since.
“I need more talkative friends,” Ayr complained aloud, leaning against the World War Two memorial statue. Maybe if he grew lonely enough it would talk back. Gregor was in Aberdeen visiting family and wouldn’t be back until the day before school started, whereas Cara had been quiet since the start of the holidays. It was only Raffe who was around to cure his boredom, and they’d spent the whole day speculating what had happened to Adam before Raffe’s mum had turfed him out. Since then Ayr had been wandering around the town in a weird mood, too restless to return home while there was still some sliver of light.
At least the sunset was pretty. He’d happily watch the stars come out until it was time to wander home for a late dinner. As far as he knew, they were all out until late, and Ayr hadn’t wanted to be the one to interrupt whatever romantic day his parents were having because he was bored.
His phone vibrated angrily in his hand and Ayr blinked down at it, surprised.
“Cara?” he mumbled. Maybe she was phoning him to update on the Adam situation. He considered not answering, but on the last ring brought the phone to his ear. “Uh-”
There was an uptick of fear in Cara’s voice that immediately made Ayr’s hair stand on end.
“What is it?”
“It’s – It’s Adam.”
Ayr glared at the horizon. “What about him?”
“Ayr there’s something – I went to meet up with him, but it’s – he’s not – he’s not right Ayr. He scared me. I don’t want to be alone and my mum is away tonight, please, please come get me, I’m near the cinema, and I think he’s still around here somewhere-”
“I’ll be right there, I promise.”
Ayr had never been much of a runner, but the cinema wasn’t far, and although he stumbled over his feet he managed not to fall.
Cara stood just out of range of the glowing cinema lights, nervously glancing around her and relieved when Ayr skidded to a stop next to her, out of breath. He hooked his hand around her elbow, hoping it would ground her as much as him.
“Alright?” he panted.
Cara’s face drained of colour before she could answer. Ayr followed her gaze and saw Adam at the end of the street, grinning dangerously.
“What’s up, lovebirds?”
Cara stiffened beside Ayr. “I didn’t tell him,” she whispered.
Despite the distance, Adam picked up the words. His eyes – already almost luminous – grew sharp. “Tell me what, Cara? Do you want to spit out the words now?”
Ayr’s eyes narrowed as Adam hit the pool of light spilling from the cinema. On his neck a black mark stood out against pale skin. “That’s the same tattoo my dad has,” Ayr murmured, confused.
“Aw, poor Ayr. You might figure it out, but it’s already too late! The pieces have been moved and you’re not even a pawn!”
“He’s not making any sense,” Cara whispered urgently.
“Actually, Cara, I’m making more sense than your tiny little brain could ever imagine.”
Ayr stared ahead as the niggling feeling at the back of his mind grew. He recalled the conversation overheard between his parents, shrugged off as a weird incident with a rational explanation he just didn’t know.
“Let’s go,” Ayr hissed, tugging Cara’s arm. She was looking at Adam with hurt and horror vying for dominance in her eyes, but eventually Ayr convinced her. They heard Adam’s tumbling, ominous laughter and without a word broke into a sprint.
The human mind doesn’t need all the answers to know when its prey, after all. And then the long buried survival instinct comes rushing to the fore.
TWO HOURS EARLIER: 6 PM
The pain, he knew. He remembered that burning, ripping sensation of teeth digging into his flesh. Of the paralysing nausea as his blood drained. He didn’t die – he never died, after this, they never let him – and he staggered away, hand against his neck. It dried under his hand. Not much more blood left to give.
The smell of everything rolled through him. It was all too overwhelming. Rotten litter. Bird mess. Damp grass. He was searching for something, searching –
He found it. He found it in the sweet, delicious flow of blood. The beating of a heart. Red iron and warmth. His consciousness watched. It was quiet for this horror film. Living was more important than anything in that moment, even becoming a murderer.
The skin smelled familiar, and not familiar. Kian wrapped his arms around the body and sank down into the glorious fountain –
And oh, it was exactly what his body craved, what his body needed to heal its own damage wrought by the vampire.
The boy struggled, but Kian, in this moment, was strong. He was iron himself. Steel, even. And struggling was futile. Slowly, the boy quietened in his arms.
The strength faded from Kian as he crawled back from death. His body sated and tired. He smelled the skin and recoiled away.
His consciousness woke up. He was in the horror film. He was the villain.
The boy was empty-pale. Worse than anaemic. Kian whined; pure distress. He hadn’t meant to – he hadn’t wanted to –
He had to fix this. He knew who could fix this.
The boy bundled into his arms; a doll. Limp. His victim.
Kian choked back a sob and ran.
PRESENT TIME: 8PM
Isabelle turned around with surprise at the sound of two sets of footsteps roaring towards her. The tattoo of sound conveyed the panic even if their faces hadn’t. Iz’s mouth dropped open.
“What are you doing?”
Ayr skidded to a stop beside her, doubling over and leaning on his knees. Sweat dripped from his brow.
Feeling foolish, Ayr tried to find the words to explain the feeling he’d had facing Adam. The certainty that he was so outmatched that to have stayed would have been akin to a mouse staring down a lion. The wrenching intuition that something was wrong with his old competitor, and he had become intoxicated with his power.
“Can we just go inside,” Cara pleaded, clutching at Iz’s arm. She made a face at the damp palms but nodded and shepherded them towards the house. She didn’t say anything, but the stark fear of her brother and friend had shaken her.
“What happened?” she asked again.
Cara and Ayr shared a glance. “We need to talk to mum and dad. Now.”
They came inside to darkness. Ayr flicked the light on in the porch and didn’t bother shucking off his shoes. He’d apologise for the dirt later.
There was a sound of snuffling from the kitchen and Ayr’s heart sunk. Shanna had been away all day at a meet and greet with her new class, but he knew the sound of those tears anywhere. He hoped it hadn’t gone badly for her, but didn’t have much faith that that was the case.
However, he would have to deal with it later.
“Mum! Dad?” He shouldered open the door and saw Shanna with her back to one of the counters, seeing nothing. “Why are you in the dark?” he asked, exasperated. “Mum?”
“They’re not here,” she mumbled robotically.
“What?” Isabelle asked, eyeing her sister. “I’ll call them.”
“No,” she gulped. “My nightmares came true.”
Ayr forgot about fumbling for the light switch and came towards her in the half-dark. In her hand she clutched at a letter. Ayr recognised his mother’s handwriting. “Which ones, Shanna?”
She stared at him blankly. “All of them.”
Ayr frowned and coaxed her away from the counter, placing his arm around her back. Isabelle approached much slower, coming around the side and tilting her head to look at the letter Ayr was trying to pry from Shanna’s grip.
“What do you mean they came true?” Isabelle asked.
Ayr tried to read the letter through Shanna’s fingers. Somehow he understood before he read further than the opening words – perhaps it was the tone, or Adam’s haunting warning – and his eyes misted before he could go on. In his chest his heart thumped painfully with the fear that preluded understanding.
“My darlings,” Isabelle murmured, trying with difficulty to read what had now caused Ayr to slump against the counter. “Shanna, move your fingers, I can’t – why do we need to call Law? What’s he going to explain?”
“They’re gone,” Shanna whimpered. “I knew I would come home and they’d be gone. I knew it.”
“What do you mean ‘they’re gone’?” Isabelle snapped. She only succeeded in causing Shanna to bury further into Ayr’s side. Finally her fingers went slack, and Ayr could slide the paper towards Isabelle.
With a wail, Shanna clutched at Ayr. He wrapped his arms around her and blinked away tears to see Isabelle fall to her knees. Blindly her hand reached out for his, the letter drifting to the tiles below.
“Oh my God,” she whispered. “Oh my God. What do we do?”
“Call Law,” Ayr said, with a shaking voice. “Wait – Quinn should have been home an hour ago.” He felt Shanna shake her head and remembered another of her reoccurring nightmares. The dawning horror almost made him vomit. Shanna would always worry she would come home one day and their parents wouldn’t be there, but on some nights she was haunted by the dreams of not being able to find Quinn.
Isabelle read the answer from Ayr’s expression.
“I don’t understand,” Isabelle said, her hand slipping from Ayr’s as she pulled her knees to her chest. Ayr watched as Iz buried her head, taking refuge in shock, so he did what he was always best at.
The sound of him sucking in a breath startled Cara, who had been trying to read the letter upside down. She watched him grit his teeth and disentangle himself from his hysterical sister, passing her over to Isabelle who gave no indication of noticing the sudden octopus of limbs around her. With trembling hands he found his phone.
Cara reached out and slid the letter toward her as tinny ringing sounded in the distance. She pressed her hand to her mouth as she read.
NINE HOURS EARLIER: 11 AM
My Darlings. I can’t begin to explain the full story of how this has happened – we don’t have the time. Call your uncle immediately. He knows it all and will explain it to you.
It will have to be enough to say that there are bad people in this world. And that they are not people like you and I. Your father was once one of them, and has feared them since. Unfortunately they found us.
They came home to find a predator in their kitchen. The bag of shopping for their picnic fell from Lukas’ hand, eggs spilling onto the carpet. Echo clutched at his arm. She didn’t need to ask who this was; from his reaction alone she knew it was a vampire.
“Good morning,” the man smiled. He fidgeted on their counter top a little. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything.”
Neither of them spoke – too scared, too surprised, too desperate to hope this was a nightmare.
“Alright, no need to bother offering me tea. You know why I’m here, then?”
Still nothing. Lukas swallowed the fear in his throat. The vampire rolled his eyes.
“You owe us a debt. Quite a debt, in fact, considering the damage you did to the research and the compound the night you left. Did you really think we’d ever lost you, Lukas? A man of your brain should be smarter than that, no? I suppose you wanted to lie to yourself. You were always good at that.”
Your father owes them a debt, and they don’t like to leave them outstanding. I’ll leave it at that for now. They believe the debt can be passed down to family, and we would never leave you at their mercy. You won’t understand this until Law arrives, but we had to make the choice we did.
It was Echo who found her voice first. “You need to leave.”
“And I will, when I get what is owed to us.” He wetted his lips. “Which is a transaction to be done between Lukas and I, so take after your mythological counterpart and kindly shut the fuck up.”
“I’m not interested in any transaction with you.” Lukas’ voice shook.
“Quite frankly, you don’t have a choice. What you can choose is if it is you who pays what you owe, or your children.”
Echo’s hand tightened around Lukas’ arm. “Don’t you dare touch them,” she snarled.
“That’s really up to your husband.”
“I’m human,” Lukas reminded the vampire, whose eyes sparkled.
“Less so than you think, but true. But are your children going to stay human for long? That’s up to you.”
“What are you saying?” Echo demanded to know.
The vampire didn’t look away from Lukas as he spoke. “We’re far better at pulling the strings on our puppets than you could ever imagine. If we want one, or more, of your children to become vampires and therefore be beholden to our will, then we will do just that. However, if you’d rather come with us and replicate your old experiments, we will leave them alone.”
Your father has had a past he carries with him every second of the day. He is a good man – never doubt that – but the people he worked for were better manipulators. Regardless, we can’t pass on this hurt to anyone. We met a compromise with them. By giving up our own lives to nullify this debt, you will all have a clean slate and never need to fear. Do not get into trouble. Do not owe anyone anything. Lead good lives and you will never have to protect your own children the way we had to.
“I – I can’t,” Lukas choked out. “I can’t experiment on people. Not again. No.”
“Then your children-”
“Let’s make a deal,” Echo said coolly. “There must be another compromise you can make. Your – employers wouldn’t seriously think we would do either of those options.”
The vampire’s lips thinned and he checked his watch. “Our price is high.”
“We won’t pay what you’re asking. Find something else.”
His eyes glinted. “Very well. Your lives. If not in service to us, then as compensation. Since Lukas won’t work for us, this is the jacked up price you must pay. Both of you.”
“And that will wipe the debt? Our children will be safe?”
“Yes, Lukas’ debt will be cleared.”
Echo gave her husband a gentle shake. “Can we trust them?”
“Usually, no,” he said, struggling to keep his voice firm. “But when it comes to debts, they’re bound by warlock magic. This will truly wipe my debt. They’ll have no reason to go after the kids. But-” His eyes pleaded with her. “I’m sorry I brought this upon us.”
“You did no such thing.” Echo squeezed his arm and wiped away her own tears. “I want to write them a letter before anything happens.”
Again the vampire checked his watch. “Very well. You have ten minutes.”
We love you so, so much. We’re so proud of you. You’ve grown into such wonderful, thoughtful, kind people. I don’t doubt you’ll continue to make your corner of the world great places. Don’t be scared for us. We know exactly what we’re agreeing to and for your happiness and safety the price is small. Every moment we have spent with you has been a gift and, if there’s any way for it, we will continue to be with you.
Find strength in each other. Support Shanna and be patient with her. You have an incredible bond and I hope the grief does not weaken it. Find your dreams and go after them because I know you can do whatever it is you put your minds to.
Echo wrote in her flowing script as quickly as she could. Beside her, Lukas stared down at the counter and wept silently. As soon as she signed the letter she turned to him.
“None of this is your fault. I’m so happy you came into my life and I would trade it for nothing. I need you to know that, even if you won’t believe it.” In front of them, the vampire scoffed.
“You shouldn’t have to pay for my mistakes,” he whispered, stroking the inside of her wrist, where her skin was so absurdly soft. He didn’t suggest he work for them instead, because he knew he could never face that again. He would be physically unable to carry out the sorts of things he had once been blind to.
Echo pushed the letter towards him and handed him the pencil. “I love you,” she promised him. “No matter what.”
There are no words to express how I feel. I hope that, if you blame me – rightly so – you will one day forgive me. You have been the lights of my life and I treasured you deeply. Be and do good, and you will be people I am forever proud of.
All my love.
They left the house with the vampire urging them on. A car waited not far away; hand in hand they sat inside and watched through tinted windows as the countryside disappeared behind them.
“Will it hurt?” Echo murmured.
“They’ll probably drain our blood. It’s unpleasant, but it won’t be long before we lose consciousness.”
Echo nodded and curled up next to him as the car pulled into a lay-by.
Lukas clasped onto Echo’s hand tightly, pretending he gave her strength when it was truly the other way around. The vampires took their free wrists and pierced the skin. Eventually, Lukas’ grip on Echo’s hand lessened, and together their bodies went limp.
PRESENT TIME: 11PM
When Quinn awoke, he barely had the strength to open his eyes. His body ached and trembled like he had the flu, and when he recalled the pain as razor sharp teeth had cut into his neck, he shuddered more.
Where was he? It didn’t smell like home. With rising panic, Quinn forced himself to sit up. The room wobbled around him until he forced his wooziness down. He was in a house he didn’t recognise, and there was a man standing over the kitchen sink with rigid shoulders.
Could he be quiet enough to get to the door without the man turning around? Quinn wasn’t sure he could trust his muscles, but he knew something here was wrong. He had to get home.
“I know you’re awake,” the man said, his voice soft. He steeled himself and turned around, a casual grin pinned in place. “How are you feeling?”
“I – “ Quinn swallowed. How was he feeling? His head buzzed. It surprised him to realise he could hear the low murmur of a TV next door. “I want to go home.”
The man clicked his tongue and came to crouch in front of him. “Not the best idea right now. You need to rest here while you acclimatise, and while I figure out what the hell to do about this mess.”
Quinn glared up at the man. There was a dark depth to his eyes he didn’t like. “You’re going to let me leave.” He tried to say it with conviction.
“I can’t,” the man said. “Not yet. You’re going to have to trust me on this one, kid.”
“I don’t even know you,” Quinn snapped back.
A humourless half-smile twitched onto the man’s lips. “I’m less of a stranger than you think.” He quirked an eyebrow. “After all, your father did name you after me.”
Quinn’s mouth dropped open. “But you’re-”
“Back from the dead like a bad telenovela, yeah. Look, this is going to get as confusing for you as emojis are for me, so let’s make things a little simpler than both of us using the same name. You can call me Uncle Q from here on in.”
PRESENT DAY: PROLOGUE CONTINUATION
Q pushes the notebooks away with a pained gulp of air. He crumples into himself. He wonders how he could have held it together like that in front of his nephew. The heart-wrenching pain is crippling even now.
He sobs into his arms and finally his wife – alive at the cost of his brother and sister-in-law – settles next to him. She cradles him like a child for hours. There is no need for words. There is nothing they can do.
;_; man this uhhhhh,,,, wasn’t as difficult the first time around when people weren’t as attached to Echo and Lukas. But on the bright side I no longer have to be quiet about the identity of the mystery man… forgive me?
I’m also super sorry for being behind on WP. Moving and new jobs and bills, you know how it is. But it’s top of my priorities now ❤