Drake (Book 1)

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[72]-The Aegean Strain

Hampshire, England

1:00 p.m.

Lyn glimpsed a bed as she peeked through the door. She heard the steady beep of a life-support machine as she entered and laying on the bed was Drake. Sitting by his side, Rain. Rain formed a dubious expression and sat up, fists curled in a ball. Lyn’s body tensed and she prepared for the worst.

“You shouldn’t be here…”

They glared at each other a moment and Lyn broke the standoff when she noticed the Executioner’s Blade resting in the corner by a dresser. Rain took a breath, sat down, and crossed her legs. Her gaze strayed to the half-opened window pouring light in an otherwise dark room.

Rain sighed. “Oh, whatever. I guess it doesn’t matter now-”

“She has a right to be here too,” a man intervened, his words cutting across hers.

They both turned to the door where Godfrey stood, arms crossed behind his back. His face tightened into misery as he saw Drake laying in the bed: broken, unconscious, a sallow face and his once firm muscles atrophying. He hardly recognized his master. Despite this, Godfrey cleared his throat, shrugged, and sauntered to Rain. “It’s nearly done. The reconstruction of Ackner manor. When it’s complete, Miss Valeska and I want him moved there.”

“Ackner manor?”

“Yes,” Godfrey replied. “The original estate was constructed in 1815. Drake named it after his first wife, Anna Ackner. He dedicated the entire garden to her, she loved flowers. I worked from dawn to dusk planting that garden. Until it got burned down…” Godfrey shot a vindictive leer in Lyn’s direction. “As hospitable as this place is, it’s no place for Drake, wouldn’t you say?”

Rain’s nostrils flared. She pondered, gaze going back to the window. Outside, the world was very much alive. Birds sang and bicycle bells rang. A few children laughed and played along the trails outside. For once, the world seemed at peace. Rain stared at these things, oblivious. She couldn’t contemplate such tranquility.

Nonetheless, she kept her blade from the flesh of the innocent. She hadn’t left Drake’s side ever since they’d retrieved him from London. Lyn expected much more resistance from her, but she continued staring absently outside the window.

“Do what you want,” Rain said. “I think there’s been enough fighting…”

Lyn and Godfrey choked. Lyn pulled a chair by Drake’s side. A white cloth covered his eyes along with a respirator over his mouth. Bandages covered him from the neck down, some tarnished with dried blood. His chest rose and fell delicately with his shallow breaths. Transfusions pumped continuous blood to him. She held his hand, both of hers combined barely covering his. She sniffed and rested her cheek against his hand. He felt cold, devoid of the warmth she was accustomed to. Teardrops departed her eyes.

“Drake… I don’t know if you can hear me. But I love you so much. I promise I’ll never leave your side again as long as I live. I’ve never been so wrong my entire life-”

“Lyn... Lyn…”

His grip tightened, and everyone jumped from their seats. Drake muttered broken Arabic in his sleep, then some Greek according to Godfrey. His heart beat sped up and the machine’s beeps intensified.

Rain turned to Godfrey. “What’s he saying?”

Godfrey released an exasperated sigh. “He’s dreaming — about when he was a child, and the past. He’s dying.”

“Irene…” Drake muttered. “You stupid girl. What were you thinking?”

He mumbled a bit, and his heart rate steadied. Lyn stroked his hair and kissed his cheek. She turned to Godfrey, a fierce defiance in her eyes.

“Godfrey, I’m staying by him until he wakes up. For however long it takes…”

9:49 p.m.

Lyn awakened to marching steps that shook the floor and walls. She drew the sidearm attached to her thigh and scanned the room for any threats. Darkness enclosed them save for the moonlight twinkling through the blinds. The steps continued, drawing closer. Rain’s indigo eyes glared, and she remained in her seat.

“Why are you just sitting there?” Lyn asked, gun aimed towards the door.

Rain gave a smug look. “Because there’s nothing to worry about, you fool…”

Lyn gritted, but reminded herself where her attention was needed. The steps stopped just outside the door. As it opened, a bulk of dark mass appeared, before manifesting into a man. Lyn recognized the golden piercings shimmering on his brows, lips, and ears. Abbas.

Abbas gave her a brief glance, and continued towards Rain, peering at his sleeping master as well. In his frying pans sized hands, he held a small sack tied with a string.

“You were gone for a while,” Rain quipped.

Abbas scoffed. “Finding this flower was difficult. The lily blooms at night a few times a year. But Serina’s hint was correct.”

“You have the recipe?”

Abbas nodded.

“What’s so special about this lily?” Lyn inquired, stepping between them.

Rains sighed and shook her head. “You are so obtuse. But if you must know, this might be the only thing that can wake him up…”

Abbas placed the sack on the sink counter and untied it. “We must act now before daybreak and the flower withers away…”

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