Chapter Thirteen

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Not one word has been spoken in nearly an hour.

I doubt Jiayi—or even Paris or Damien—have figured out why the oldest and wisest of our group sits soured in the passenger seat, his worldly eyes focused intensely on the exotic landscape surrounding our transport vehicle. Only I'm... lucky enough to be privy to that reason.

Soured myself, I've made things equally uncomfortable, adhering to the silence without explanation to the group. Maybe they believe we're upset about the boat, which has probably been scoured through and searched by now for survivors. My belongings, everything I brought with me is likely sitting at the bottom of the river.

My thumb gratefully strokes the ruby ring on my left hand, the only item it would have killed me to lose. Elijah's mother's ring. I've spent many hours admiring the beauty of it, imagining the centuries it's existed through, carefully preserved by it's owner.

Would she even want this on my hand? Would she want me for her only son?

Understanding her to be a pious woman by Elijah's descriptions, I can only imagine I'm the last person she would dream for her flesh and blood. I close my eyes, trying to push out the confliction we share, whether seated beside each other or worlds away.

Elijah's furious. He's frustrated, jealous, terrified. I feel it all, a constant guilt-trip I cannot escape. Paris slips his hand into mine amidst my worrying, preventing me from fidgeting. Rather than look at him and reveal everything, I rest my head on his shoulder, taking his selfless comfort.

You fed his ego! You gave him exactly what he wanted!

Elijah's anger was blistering, evident in every angle and curve of his flawless face. I saw a sense of betrayal in his disappointment. It's proceeded to eat at me, slowly, despite my uncertainty of accepting whether he was in the wrong or I was... am.

You comforted him! Held him like you hold me!

Hmpf. The brilliant vampire must be blind, or losing his damn senses. Whatever apology I'd thought of until now disappears remembering the accusations. He doesn't understand. He doesn't understand what it's like, to know the devil and understand him, his devious actions. He doesn't know what it's like to feel unlimited power, the power to smite and undermine and conjure and enjoy it.

Elijah spared me from a prison, one I'd never willingly return to.

He saved me from a man who is naturally vicious, who tried to love me, but found it was impossible. Perhaps that is why I humored him... Samael... despite everything he's done. For most of my life, nearly all of it, I struggled to form connections to anything, anyone. I lived alone until I could no longer imagine a life spent with another. Somehow, even after all the eons he's existed, Samael still hopes for that connection.

By all means, his faults are great. He's violent. He's possessive. He's a pathological liar.

But he was devoted. And maybe my mind is a fucked-up mess, making me feel for a monster that trapped me in his bed. But Hell makes you do evil things.

Samael wants a partner. He sacrificed a millennium for one to find out his brother never intended to give him what he wanted. I'm disturbed enough to pity him, but I cannot offer him solace either.

Let him go, Elijah said with every fiber of his being. It was a heartfelt plea, even if spoken in fury.

My problem isn't of letting go of the man. My problem is letting go of divinity.

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