The Rise

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Chapter Twenty-Eight

“A star.” I gazed down at the symbol Luca had made for me in the dirt while we were scoping out that woman’s house. My fingers ran through the dirt around it. “I wish he’d try to make these hints a bit more specific.”

Valerio pushed himself off of the Great Oak and grabbed my hands, pulling me to my feet. “At least he’s leaving something.”

After quickly warning the other Protectors, I sighed. “I’m surprised that she’s so lenient with him still. She literally woke up when him and I were talking in the meadow.”

“You think she knows?”

I paused. She might not, but her behavior had been very sporadic lately. Some part of her was onto us. “Definitely. Her last draining felt like it was rushed.” And, she had taken the precaution to kill the jumper, so I wouldn’t be able to talk to her. She knew that I was somehow getting information. With a bit of Luca’s human soul remaining in his body, she was probably correctly blaming him for it.

Valerio pushed some stray branches that had fallen from the fierce fall winds out of the pathway. “What happens if we catch him?”

The trees shook wildly above us. “Then, we catch her,” I said slowly. Yes, we would catch her, but what would exactly happen when we caught her? What would I have to do? How would I have to do it?

Since the night at the meadow, when I saw just how much control she had over him, I knew there was only one solution. Everyone was thinking it, but nobody wanted to say it.

I didn’t. Valerio didn’t. Aaisha didn’t. Samuel even didn’t.

But, at some point, I needed to come to terms with it.

Kill Luca.

The sooner I came to terms with eliminating Luca from the situation, the sooner the killings would stop. At least, for now they would stop. Maybe we could buy my wolves some time. Stop Luca, stop the killings, stop the drainings.

I took a deep breath. The first time he died, a part of me died. He died for me, but he was back. Could I voluntarily kill him again? He had been killing the pups, but it was really her who was doing it. A good part of him was still left in there. Could I eliminate that from this world forever?

On the other hand, she had tortured his poor soul for long enough. She had made him kill and drain over and over again. Killing Luca was a temporary solution, but it would reap great rewards.

She’d be back though, in another body, torturing another poor soul for her own desires. I shook my head. I couldn’t let that happen.

“Killing him will do us no good,” I said, walking closer to Valerio too greedily absorb his body heat. “We need to kill her soul.”

Valerio’s hand grazed against mine by accident. “How do we do that?”

I pushed my hair behind my ear, nearly laughing. I didn’t know. It was something else we would have to figure out. “We find a way.”

We continued down the path, each of us lost in our own thoughts. My thoughts were all over the place - figuring out how to kill a Divine soul, pondering if I’d be able to save Luca, wondering why my fingers continued to graze against Valerio’s and why I had not dared to pull them away.

They were oddly warm in the chilly fall breeze.

A strange feeling sat in the pit of my stomach. Hell, since the moment I learned he was my protector, the same feeling had lingered in my stomach. I couldn’t quite place it.

It wasn’t like the feelings I had for Damon or the feelings I had for Luca. This was something else.

I shook my head. What was I thinking? Why was I thinking about this? Valerio was my Protector… nothing more. And even if I wanted it to be something more, he wouldn’t make the first move.

He respected Damon enough to not act on any feelings he had toward me. I took a deep breath. And if there was a chance that Damon could live again in another body, then Valerio definitely wouldn’t act.

But I wanted to be closer to him, even if he was just going to stay as a friend. Damon could live again, but I didn’t know when. It was cliche, but the future wasn’t certain. All I knew for sure was Valerio was here, and he had been with me time and time again, protecting me because he believed in me, not because he thought that I couldn’t protect myself like Damon and Luca had. He valued me for me, not for who I was or who I could be to him.

A friend or a possible partner, it didn’t matter at the moment. I grabbed his hand. It was chilly after all.

A/N Read up to chapter 67 on Patreon today! Click "Support Me" in my bio to read!


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