End Of The Beginning
“Beck? It’s Grace. Let me in, please.”
Beck sighed, burying his head under his pillows. Grace had been trying to see him for the past week now, but he refused to see her. He couldn’t bear to look at her, not when he knew that he had caused her to suffer. His mom must have let Grace inside, probably wanting her to break him out of the dark hole he had buried himself in.
He heard a muffled curse, then Grace said, “I’m coming in.”
Light flooded through the room, decorating the edge of the pillow. He heard Grace’s light footsteps, and then she was throwing back the blanket covering him. He grabbed the edges of his pillow, but she gripped it and yanked it from his grip. After lightly whacking him with the pillow, she tossed it aside and sat on the edge of his bed. Beck sighed, then sat up and looked at her.
Grace looked as exhausted as he felt. She was paler than usual, with dark bags under her eyes. Her fiery hair was tied back into a messy ponytail, and she wore sneakers, sweats, and a hoodie, even though it was warm outside. Beck looked out his window and frowned. At least, he had thought it was nice out. Rain clouds covered the sky, casting a dark, depressing blanket over Wolf Valley.
“What is it?” Beck murmured, refusing to meet her gaze.
“We need to talk,” she said.
Beck shrugged, moving his gaze to stare at her knee. “What is there to talk about?” he asked in a dead voice. Malcolm had tried to break him from this dark state of mind, but he wasn’t able to. Beck couldn’t shake the image of Grace in pain out of his mind. How she looked so small and weak, knowing that he was the one to bring her down.
“Beck,” Grace said in an urgent tone. He refused to look at her, and after cursing she gripped his chin, lifting his face to look at her.
“I don’t blame you,” she said. “You didn’t know.”
He gulped, fighting back the tears that burned the edges of his eyes. He failed, though, and as tears streamed down his cheeks he said, “I should have had better control. I should have, I just… I was terrified.”
“Why?” Grace asked, her hand falling away.
Beck sighed. “Because that was exactly what I saw in my nightmares. Diana coming to you with a knife, ready to kill you. I panicked, and I lost control.”
She laughed softly, though it was without humor. “Dude,” she said. “You acted out in defense, and you’re blaming yourself? You have no one to blame for this. No one, except for Diana.”
“But I hurt you,” Beck said, frowning. He began wringing his hands together in his lap. He had expected Grace to be angry with him, to want nothing more to do with him. He expected as much from Basil and Malcolm as well.
Grace leaned forward, taking his hands in hers. She waited until he was looking into her eyes, and then said, “Honestly, I would take the pain again. If I had a choice, and the only way for me to survive was because of you causing some pain, I would gladly go through it again.”
“Why?” he asked.
She smiled. “Because pain means you’re alive, and though that experience sucked, I knew Diana didn’t kill me.”
He stared at her for a moment longer. She looked exhausted, but she was here. Alive. That had to count for something, right?
“So… you’re not mad?” he asked nervously.
She laughed. “Of course I’m not mad, you dummy. In fact…”
She trailed off, biting her lip nervously. She waited a moment more, seemingly to gather her thoughts. Finally, she said, “I want you to come with me.”
“To the Mage’s Court,” she said. “After graduation, I’m going. Malcolm said it’s in London. I want you to come with me.”
He blinked. Move with her? To London? For as long as he could remember, Beck knew he wanted to travel. What better time to start than right after high school?
“Sure,” he said. “I’ll go to London with you. Will Malcolm be there?”
She smiled. “Yes, he will. He’s still got to train me, after all.” she stared at him a moment, pursing her lips. “You two make an adorable pair, just so you know.”
He laughed, and then Grace was throwing her arms around him. He sighed and melted into her, hugging her back. For a moment, everything felt peaceful, and he knew that as long as he had his friends by his side, he could do anything.
“Sit,” Breccan growled. “Stay.”
Regan snarled, longing for nothing more than to sink her teeth in the polar bear’s throat. Sybil narrowed her eyes at the wolf, and then walking away to join Breccan. Douglas stayed beside Regan, keeping his yellow eyes fixed on her.
When Regan awoke, her hands and feet were bound, and she was tossed over Breccan’s shoulder. They were in the woods somewhere, and from what she heard listening to the hunter’s conversation, they were on their way to a rendezvous, where they would meet with other hunters and their fugitives.
Regan glared at Douglas, and then faced forward, off into the distance. Her hands and arms tingled, just like back at the Hudson. Regan frowned. How had she done that? How had she been able to use lightning? As far as she knew, revenants didn’t have special abilities like mages or witches. They were faster, stronger, and had heightened senses. Some, like Regan, gained Tracking abilities. But otherwise, no magic.
She knew she was a mage, back when she was still alive. When Duncan killed her, though, she should have lost those abilities. She shouldn’t be able to use magic.
Behind her, the bushes began to rustle. Regan snapped her head around, watching as four Mejhan entered the clearing. Two of them had their hands bound, while a weapon was pressed against their back. The two Mejhan with weapons had German shepherd spirits, while one of the bound Mejhan had an Irish setter. The fourth Mejhan, and the only other female of the group, was a wolf with russet brown fur.
The two new hunters shoved their prisoners to the ground beside Regan, and then moved to stand in a circle with Breccan and Sybil. Regan watched them a moment, then turned her head when the russet wolf spoke.
“What’d they get you for?” she asked.
Regan laughed. “For trusting a Kuren,” she said.
The wolf raised her eyebrow. “Rough,” she said. “I got caught for leading a rebellion. Seamus here was captured for trying to assassinate one of the higher ups.”
Regan blinked. The wolf smiled at her, then said, “Name’s Rose, by the way.”
Rose nodded, then smiled and said, “Welcome to your new life as a prisoner. That is, until you’re executed.”
“Quiet,” Douglas snapped.
Rose grinned. She winked, and then turned her gaze away.
Regan fought the wave of fear and frustration that rose up within her. She glanced around again, staring at each hunter. She needed to escape. If they managed to take her all the way to the Council to stand trial, Regan knew she would be killed. Permanently.
She shivered. If she could find a way, she could use the lightning again. She could feel it, just under the surface of her skin, begging to be released. Once she learned how to unlock it, she could make her escape. Then she could continue on her quest to find Duncan, and kill him. Once she was finished with him, she’d find Caíl. then she’d make him suffer, for killing her and for lying to her.
Soon, she thought. It was only a matter of time. Then, she could have her revenge.
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