Breaking the Habit | ii

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"What the hell? What is this all about?" Nerina asked. "And why are you here?"

"What I'm going to tell you will be hard to believe at first, but I need you to keep an open mind."

"I'm a vampire, standing in hell's waiting room with a man that can't be killed by anything known to anyone, and a few seconds ago I was talking to another man who suddenly vanishes. I think my mind is open enough. And I have seen enough."

"Then let me start from the beginning." Fionn had gotten through relaying only a fraction of what had happened when Nerina spoke.

"You did what?"

"It was not intentional," Fionn said, holding up his hand in mock surrender.

"I don't give a damn if it was intentional or not." Nerina placed the back of her hand over her mouth the other on her hip as she paced. Worse. Her life as long as she was living was only getting worse. Worse than she could have ever imagined. Worse than apparently, she could even remember.

"Nerina—Nerina, please."

"No. No, Fionn. Leave—me—alone. Every time you come into my life, you manage to make it worse. And for a long time, I never thought that could even be possible. I thought to have a psychopath chasing me around the world was bad, and now you are telling me that you broke me. You broke my—what exactly?"

"I didn't break you."

She blazed. "Well, you sure as hell did something if I can't remember the last what? Six days of my life." Nerina continued to pace, her anger causing tension all over her body. She rotated her neck to try to loosen some of it. "Latvia, you're intended, brought Eve back. After I killed her—again—I thought oh maybe I could have a little peace now.

"You and your talking heads brought me back. We made a deal and nowhere in that deal was it mentioned that there would be side effects." However, Nerina thought, meddling with certain things had repercussions. Death would be one of those things. She ran her fingers through her hair. Knotted in blood her fingers could not run through.

"We didn't know—"

"Oh yes, none of you knew the adverse effect it would have on my chi when you yanked me out of hell ramped up on supernatural power. I wanted to kill those people in the cages," she bit between her teeth. "I felt like I was going mad."

"But you didn't," Fionn argued.

"Not then."

Fionn ran his hand over his face. "If I had known this would have happened I never would have—"

"Brought me back?" she asked, cornering him with her words. "Latvia was a problem and I was the only solution you had, and that was the only reason you brought me back."

"That is not what I'm saying."

"That's all I heard," Nerina said, giving him her back.

Fionn wanted to shake her. "Nerina, listen to me. We didn't know you were fated until after it was done."

She faced him. "Fated for what? Answer me," she said when he did not reply. "Answers are the least you can give me right now. I need to know why I killed those people. I need to know if that was really me." Her voice broke.

"When you killed Eve you inherited her fate."

Nerina stood there staring at him. "Excuse me?"

"What she was fated to become has now fallen on you."

"And what in hell would that be?"

"There are some things," Fionn started, "that you will have to find out on your own."

Nerina was having a hard time grasping everything. "So, me killing Eve actually made my life—worse?" Her head started to feel light as she took two steps back. Her back came up against the bars of her cell.

"Nerina—"

"Fionn, please. Just—leave. I can't..." she shook her head. Too much.

"If you sire someone and you die it will pass on to them. It is a legacy fate. I am sorry I cannot give you more information. I have already said too much. But if you can find the box..."

She looked up at him. "The chest."

"You've seen it?"

"Eve said it would have made her queen."

She saw the twitch in Fionn's jaw. Eve had not been crazy after all. "I don't want to be the queen of anything."

"This is not the time. There are more urgent matters to deal with."

Nerina blinked and Bile was in front of her again.

"Did you hear me?" he asked her.

Nerina felt like she was in a never-ending game of tug of war. "How long are you going to keep me locked up?"

"You made a mess out there. We are trying to clean it up. Steele will let you go when he deems it safe."

"Right," Nerina said, shaking her head. Fionn had told her everything she had done, and her clothes and hair showed evidence of it. The business he had mentioned about her taking on Eve's fate was another matter entirely. One she could not focus on right now. It was all too much.

"Are you all right?" Bile asked.

"All right isn't something I'll ever be again."

***

Giants. The real kind. The big kind that stood more than twenty feet tall. Wherever they stepped they left impressions in the ground deep enough to be swimming holes. Steele was at a loss as to how to stop them. Still wandering around the unnamed realm, it was only a matter of time before they found their way out.

Bile came to join him on the perch where he was hiding.

"How is she?" Steel asked. His guilt was rubbing him raw.

"Confused. She did not seem to have any memories of what she had done. The last thing she remembered was you leaving her."

"Bile—" Steele said, feeling the need to explain.

"I understand," Bile said. "I cannot honestly say that I would not have done the same thing had I been presented with the choice."

"Still—"

Bile rested a hand on Steele's shoulder. "No need brother. What is done is done."

Steele nodded. "They are heading towards the portal."

"We need to get back, warn the others."

"Then what?" Steel asked. "You and I can't take down these giants alone."

Bile smiled. "Doesn't mean we won't try."

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