The warm sea air whipped Sapphira’s long hair into her face, but she did not notice. What looked like whales played off shore, showing off to try to catch her attention, but she did not see. The white sand found its way into her shoes, but she did not care. The sun beat down with a ferociousness that would suck the moisture out of anything that stood long enough for its rays to burn. It did not matter. As Sapphira stood on a sandbar in the middle of an ocean, nothing penetrated the emptiness that had engulfed her forcing her to find land or drown. Something was wrong, and no matter how hard she tried to figure out what it was nothing came to her. It was almost as if someone had…died.
From the moment she left the alleyway she had felt queasy, light headed, out of sorts. Fallon’s kiss had started a cascade of memories that left her disoriented. Memories of her life before the spell mixing with those of her human lives and of the last few days. Strong emotions assailed her creating chaos in her mind and heart that tried to break her. The spell that had been cast in an attempt to keep her safe was unraveling at a pace that threatened to incapacitate her and there was no way to stop it.
Then a feeling of utter emptiness engulfed her and she almost plummeted into the ocean. It took everything she had to get to this little spit of sand in the middle of nowhere, and she knew the tide would change soon swallowing it up. She needed to find her bearings before that happened or she would drown.
First, she needed to find out what the emptiness meant, what caused it.
Closing her eyes she once again sifted through all the souls that were in her life, careful to skirt those she did not want to find her. Like her biological father. Her human father and brother were fine as was her biological mother, Sachi, if not all worried about her. Damien was also worried, weak, and disoriented like her but alive. As he felt her, he tried to grab on, begging her to come back to him, but she was not ready yet. She needed to sort out her feelings, her memories, before she could go back to the others. Gently she disentangled herself from him, assuring him that she was fine. His panic told her he did not believe her while desperately trying to tell her something important before she severed their tie.
Those who had protected her in her human lives were tired, some injured, but all alive. Fallon was desperately searching for her. Like Damien, when he felt her soul brush against his, he tried to hold on. For some reason Sapphira found it harder to pull away. It was not that she loved Fallon more than her brother; but there was some sort of connection between them that she did not understand that seemed to glue them together. One she would look into later, once she figured out where this feeling of emptiness was coming from.
It took more assuring and strength to pull away from Fallon. He was terrified that someone would find her first, but who? The other fallen angels were lying in a heap in that alleyway out of commission. For now she was safe from them and their master.
Then she reached for Gideon and found….nothing.
Panicking, Sapphira searched again, and again found nothing.
Gideon could not be gone. It was impossible. What had happened when she had gone? Had Drew lead his master to the monastery and now he had Gideon somewhere hidden to draw her out? Maybe that was what Damien had been trying to tell her and she had been too caught up in her own chaotic emotions to listen.
Then, faintly, just on the edge of her consciousness there was something familiar. Something soothing.
“Gideon!” she breathed with relief.
Unlike the others she did not pull back from Gideon. Instead she called to him, tried to wrap her soul around his like she had wanted to for so long. Like she knew he had wanted but could not because of the consequences to them both. When she felt him hesitate, pull away a little, it confused her. Never before had he hesitated when she needed him.
Images flitted through her head and her heart clenched painfully. He had seen the kiss between her and Fallon, and it had destroyed something inside him. The promise he had made that if there was someone else he would let her go flitted through her mind before he could stop it. But it was not what she wanted and she tried to show him that. His conviction flooded her and her heart shattered at his loss.
Staggering back, Sapphira tripped over her own feet and fell hard on her ass. He was going to leave her. That thought turned her so cold her teeth began to chatter in the hot sun. He could not leave her. Not when she needed him so much. When she just was realizing how much she loved him. Everything around her suddenly spun out of control and she felt as if she were falling into a dark abyss with no end in sight.
“I’m here,” Gideon’s voice breathed in her ear as his arms encircled her, holding her tightly to him. “I won’t let you fall.”
The world around Sapphira snapped into focus and just as quickly overwhelmed her. The barrage of emotions and images. All her confusion, fear, hopelessness of who she was, what she was. The constant hiding only to be found, and those she cared about hurt because someone stronger wanted to control her. She was so tired of fighting for every moment of her existence all because of some stupid prophecy she did not even understand. All the pain and suffering her father put her through and he never told her why. Only that it was important.
One of the things she did know for certain, as her sobs were lost in the sound of the waves, was that she could not lose the man holding her.
“I felt such despair and I did not know why,” Sapphira said once she settled down enough to think semi-coherently. “It felt as if someone had died and when I couldn’t feel you….” Her breath caught in her throat and her body shuddered at the memory. “I can’t lose you,” she whispered. “Ever.”
Gideon’s stopped breathing at Sapphira’s words because he could feel the desperation that only someone in love would feel at the thought of losing their lover.
When he asked Lucinda to remove Sapphira from his guardianship, at the time he thought it was for the best. Until he felt the absence of her soul as keenly as a missing limb or his heart. But it was too late to take his decision born from the pain of seeing her kissing Fallon back. Besides, whether she knew it or not, she was not his to claim. As she clung to him as if he was a lifeline if let go she would drown, he started to think maybe what he saw was not the entire story.
Either way he was here and she was in his arms, and he was not going to let her go anytime soon.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he said his lips in her hair. “We’ll figure this out, together.”
“Promise?” she whispered moving so she could tilt her head to look up at him.
“Promise,” he answered smiling down at her.
“To bad she is not yours to make those types of promises to,” a soft voice said.
Sapphira and Gideon looked to see Fallon standing a short distance away, his eyes and expression trying to be neutral, his body shaking with rage. The feelings inside of Sapphira were suddenly jumbled again. Part of her wanted to go to Fallen, knowing that he loved her above all else and would keep her safe. Another part of her wanted to stay in Gideon’s arms where she also felt safe and loved, yet it was different. But how?
“Fallon,” Gideon said stiffly.
“It’s been a long time, brother,” Fallon said softly his anger slipping away as something else filled his eyes. A haunting that broke through Gideon’s jealousy. Out of the two of them, Fallon had suffered the most at the hands of Lucifer. If anything, Gideon should be apologizing to him. Fallon seemed to sense what he was about to say and shook his head slightly. “No, Gideon,” he said walking up to them. “We knew the consequences if we refused to tell them what they wanted. I’m sure it was not easy living among the perfect while labeled a traitor. It definitely was no picnic wearing it in hell.”
“I heard stories,” Gideon said his eyes telling Fallon that whatever he heard had shaken him badly.
“Probably all true,” Fallon smiled sadly as he knelt down next to them. His eyes found Sapphira’s who watched him with a mixture of wariness and love. “There were a few bright spots,” he said reaching up to touch her cheek with the back of his hand.
The moment he did, Sapphira’s eyes rolled back into her head and her body began to shake with seizure.
“What did you do?” Gideon snapped trying to hold her.
“It’s the spell. It’s unraveling. We need to get her to her brother before it’s too late,” Fallon said urgently pulling Sapphira from Gideon’s arms before he could protest.
“Before what is too late? What brother? How do you know what is happening to her?” Gideon demanded standing, his hand on Fallon’s arm keeping him from launching into the air.
Fallon hesitated only for a moment before he said, “In order to protect her, a spell was cast to turn her mortal and hide her from those who would use her. That spell tore her away from her brother, her twin. Damien.” Gideon’s eyes widened in shock. That was why she was so insistent they helped the demon. “Unless they are together as it unravels the shock could kill them both.”
Gideon stared down at Sapphira who was now still in Fallon’s arms. Kill her? That could not happen. He reached out to brush the hair from her sweat soaked face. “How do you know all this?”
“Because I helped weave the spell,” Fallon said quietly. He hesitated then said with a sadness that pulled at something in Gideon’s heart. A sadness that spoke of a great loss. “And because Damien is not the only one who had his soul ripped in half,” Fallon said quietly.
Then he was airborne, quickly disappearing into the clear sky, leaving Gideon in the sand gaping after him.
Copyright © 2018 Heidi Barnes