Chapter 28

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"How are you, my love?" I wrapped my arms around Elreda's shoulders, taking her by surprise.

"Archer!" She beamed at me as soon as she turns around, bringing our lips together, "I've missed you." Her smooth arms wrap around my neck and I cradled her close to me. 

"I missed you too," I said to her, cupping her soft cheeks in my hands as I studied every little feature on her face. She was breathtaking and I'd never grow tired of looking at her.

"I hope you don't mind JP coming over, he has to run something by me." I looked at Elreda, hoping she'd be fine with it.

"Jace Parker?" She asked, her lips forming an adorable little pout. I simply nod to her question even though all I want to do is kiss her reddish lips.

I know she knows what I'm thinking based on the blush that crawls over her skin and red spreads across her cheeks. I run my thumb over it gently and she lets me. She used to be embarrassed by it but I told her that she'd look beautiful, like a rose and ever since then, she hasn't tried hiding her face from me.

"Why would I mind?" She finally speaks, smiling as she sat on the wooden stool. "Should I prepare something for the both of you?" She asked me, her eyes widening as she waited for me to nod.

"It's all right. I'll cook. You rest." I kissed her rosy cheek right before I entered the kitchen of the cabin.

"Archer!" Elreda's voice pierced through the peaceful atmosphere after a few minutes and I feel a rush of adrenaline wash over me.

I drop everything in my hands, running back out to the dining room. "What's wrong?" I rush over to her.

Her face was painted with worry and her eyes wouldn't meet mine. So, I followed her gaze which landed on a male standing at the door.

"JP!" I yelled the moment he fell to the ground.

"I'm all right." He said, trying to get back up but stumbles. I manage to catch him before he went back down.

"You're hurt." I looked at his bloodstained clothes in shock.

"It's worse out there, the rivals, they've come back." He said as I helped him up.

"I need help out there, Ark. The-the gallery's been ransacked." He glances to Elreda and back at me, eyes filling up with worry. There was more to it, he just didn't want to say it in front of Elreda.

I appreciated him for not wanting to worry her. 

"Love," I turn to Elreda, "I'm so sorry," I said and she rushed towards me, her arms making its way to my waist.

"Please, be careful." She whispered into my chest.

"I will." I pulled away, looking deep into her soul. I could tell how distressed she was just by looking into her eyes.

"Keep the doors locked," I said, walking towards the exit with Jace. "I love you." I let out, my heart sinking as I closed the door.

"The town hall." He paused, shaking his head. "It's chaos," Jace said, limping as he walked.

"You should rest." I looked at his injured form.

"I can't. Lina's missing. I have to find her." He said and that's when I understood the root of his worry.

"I'll help you." And with that, we ran to the town that was filled with rioters.

Alcohol bottles being thrown into houses while bricks were thrown into the glass windows of shops. Blood curdling screams came from each corner as the sound of glass breaking echoed down the streets.

"Are they looting?" I turned to face Jace but he was no longer there.

"Jace!" I yelled out into the commotion. My chest started beating with anxiety as I ran around the chaos, trying to find him.

• • •

"I have to get back to Elreda," I whispered over to Jace as Lina quivered in his arms.

"They're breaking into homes, I need to make sure she's safe." I said, standing up.

He tugged onto my arm, "Be careful." He said as he held onto my arm firmly.

I give a single nod before running back out. There was smoke everywhere and I barely made it out.

I ran over to the cabin but halted the moment I saw people running out.

"Hey!" I yelled out at them and they fled.

"Elreda!" I was screaming hysterically when she didn't answer me. I ran into the room where I saw her body on the ground, a pool of blood around her.

"No." It escaped my lips as I fell to the ground in front of her.

"Please, no." I gather her in my arms, tears dripping down my cheeks.

"Love, I'm here." I shook her form but she remained unresponsive. I press my lips to her forehead. She can't be gone. "Please don't leave me." I plead against her skin but she doesn't respond. 

My head falls back and I yelled out in frustration, darkness settling in my chest. I could feel my soul being sucked out of me, along with every other emotion. Feeling completely lost, my body crumples and every breath I took pierced through my chest. I felt so much excruciating pain to the point I felt nothing.

My gaze drooped back down to her form. Elreda laid limp in my arms. Tears poured down my cheeks as I tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. Slowly, I caress her pale cheek with my finger, hoping with everything I have that it turns that pretty shade of red again and she'll come back to me. 

I pressed my lips against her forehead again, the ache in me intensifying as I pull away to study her features once more. 

She still looked breathtakingly beautiful. I pressed her to my heart, feeling nothing but guilt eat away at me as gut wrenching sobs tore through my chest. I should've never left her.

"I'll find a way to get you back." I whispered into her ears as I held her close to my body.

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