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Chapter 142 –Another Goodbye – Raine's POV

Our preparations were finalized. Talon, Ileana, Killian and the other two Fae—whose names I now knew were Orian and Scynth—would be traveling along with Felaern, Brialle and me.

Marku would not.

I didn't fault him for declining to join our rescue party. I understood why he had chosen not to. And truthfully, I wasn't sure how he and Cage would react upon seeing each other again. I didn't think I had it in me to watch them go at each other's throat, not after all we had been through.

I sighed heavily.

We were ready to go.

The only task that remained was to say goodbye.

Marku felt Cage stood in his way to being with me, and he did. I loved Cage. That fact was irreversible. But, even if Cage were not in the picture, Marku and I wouldn't have worked simply based on who we were.  He had never hid his lust and overwhelming compulsion to have me. And while I had been shocked and thankful to see another side to him—cracks of softness beneath his feral exterior—my earlier observation had been true, and his silence in the shower confirmed it. He knew he could never be satisfied with the affections of just one woman for any great length of time.

I collected the small duffle bag from the chair. It contained a scant amount of supplies: two spare changes of clothes and some toiletries. I didn't need anything else. Only Cage.

I glanced around the formal suite, taking in the modern and sleek furnishings I would likely never see again. There were memories here. Strong memories I wouldn't soon forget. My gaze fell on the bed, seeing the image that had forever been seared into my heart and mind—the tiny little body of an unrealized future, made in love, but lost in battle.

I flinched. How would Cage take the news? There was no easy way to tell him I had killed his child, unknowingly of course, but I was still responsible. In a moment of weakness, I had succumbed to the excruciating pain of the broken mate-bond, and sought relief in the deadliest of ways to my unborn child. I had mutilated my flesh, carving fine lines in my legs with a silver knife; with the impossible hope that one pain could suffocate the other, if only for a brief moment.

It hadn't worked. Instead, I was left to face the devastating consequences of my actions. Silver was poison to a vampire's system. Killian had used his healing ability to draw it out of my body. Maybe there had just been too much silver to begin with, or maybe he hadn't been able to extract it all. Either way, the outcome was the same—My baby was gone. Tears fell from my eyes. I brushed them away with my fingertips. I sucked in a deep breath and pushed my shoulders back. I had to pull myself back together if I hoped to survive the next few days.

Stepping out into the hall, I made my way to where Marku was waiting, each step harder than the last. He had said he would let me go. Now, we would see if he meant it.

Letting myself quietly through the door of his office, I found him sitting behind his large mahogany desk. His posture was stiff, his expression unreadable. The sculptured muscles in his bare chest flexed as he stood to his feet and met me halfway, his large hands automatically claiming my hips, his grip unmovable. My head tilted up. Pools of swirling iridescent winter—silver eyes so pale, they were almost white—met my gaze. While his eyes may have resembled the color of ice, his countenance was far from cold.

I reached my trembling fingertips to his face, feeling the scruff texture along the hard plane of his unshaven chin. I swallowed, working to speak around the lump in my throat. "I..I don't know how to tell you..." I hesitated, struggling for words. Mere words simply weren't enough to convey the depth of my emotion. "...what you mean to me."

His internal battle—giving me what I needed, verses keeping what he wanted—was evident in his turbulent and piercing gaze. His voice was low and gruff, "Raine—."

I cut him off, placing a finger to his lips. Even if my sentiment was sadly inadequate, I needed to at least try to explain. He deserved that. I continued, "You saved my kept me together when I was cared, even after I lied to you."

His arms tightened, his left hand circling around my waist, while his right slid up my back to the nape of my neck, his fingers tangling in my hair. His mouth opened but then shut again with a silent look of frustration, as though searching for his own words. Finally, rather than speak, his mouth came down to mine. I met him back, our lips moving gently. However, his soft kiss soon turned dominant and fierce. His tongue swept across my lower lip, demanding what he wanted, entrance into my mouth. I gave it to him, feeling his tongue clash against mine. He tasted like mint. I let him explore every spot he wanted to.

The warmth of his desire and lust washed over me. His body was familiar, his touch was familiar. He teased and nipped at my kiss-bruised lips. I pulled his lower lip into my mouth, holding it between my teeth before sucking on it, hard, earning me a growl in return.

He coaxed my tongue into his mouth once more, licking and kissing, drawing out my pleasure. His movements were rough and aggressive,a battle of wills for dominance. His fangs elongated and pricked my tongue, allowing the taste of my blood to flow into both of our mouths. A groan released from his chest; his hold on me grew impossibly tighter. His hard shaft pressed against my belly, making me shudder. I inhaled his scent. It was uniquely him. Spice, woods and cedar. No matter my heart, he knew he could always make my body sing for him.

I didn't know how long I was locked in his embrace. Time stood still as he said everything he had to say; all of his words, his thoughts and emotions, were expressed in this kiss.




I heard them all.

When he finally released me, I was breathing heavily. He seemed satisfied with my response, but at the same time, his hunger was still transparent, simmering right beneath the surface. Releasing his hold, he stepped back and spoke quietly, "When the final arrangements for your child are complete, I will have him transported to you."

I stifled a sob. "Thank you."

We both stared at each other for a long moment. His fists were clenched in restraint.

This was it.

Finally, he nodded, his eyes tight. "Goodbye."

I blinked and whispered, "Goodbye."

He said nothing else, his jaw locked. I turned away and walked out the door. When I reached the hall, I pressed a hand against the wall and drew in a deep breath to steady myself. Walking away from him had been harder than I thought it would be. The same thing had happened when I had to say goodbye to Alaric.

Marku and I had grown much closer than I ever expected. We had been thrust together under such extreme circumstances. I never could have imagined him as my caregiver, the one who wouldn't let me destroy myself in the aftermath of the most devastating of losses, first Cage and then my baby. But no matter the events that led us together, my heart still belonged and would always belong to only one man—Cage.

Letting my lungs refill deeply a few more times, I released my palm from the wall and continued forward. The rest of our group was waiting for me in the south atrium.

It was time...

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