Chapter 19

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This one is for Kerrie Salsac because I know how much she loves Dietrich. And because I miss hearing from her--though I know she's very busy! Hugs, Kerrie!

Enjoy the feels, everyone!


I found Thea and Raymond still waiting in the hall. 

They’d been sitting on the floor, but they jumped to their feet when they saw me.

Thea started to run to me, but then she hesitated. “How are you?”

The power I’d felt moments earlier drained away. “Good. I am well. I feel better. Free.” A wave of exhaustion swept through me. I staggered, and Raymond grabbed me. 

He lifted me in his arms. “Are you sure you’re all right?” 

I leaned my head on his shoulder. “Yes. I feel new. I’m just…so tired.”

Thea shouldered her bag and Raymond’s. “And no wonder, with what you’ve been through this evening. Ready to leave?”


I snuggled against Raymond. He carried me all the way to my room, even though boys weren’t supposed to be in that wing. Everyone was asleep, so no one knew. He helped Thea take off my boots because her hand was swollen and bruised from hitting Delphine. Then he kissed my forehead and said he’d see me in the morning. I barely was aware of Thea helping me take off my corset. Somehow, I put on my nightgown and crawled into bed. 

I dreamed, and in my dreams I was fighting Jensen Cornelius with a sword on the Alchemy’s main stage. My rage gave me strength and speed. I disarmed him, sending his sword skittering across the stage. I shoved him to the ground and aimed my blade for his heart.

“Claire!” he pled. “Please.”

But I refused to show mercy. I plunged the sword into his heart. The blood welled up from the wound, soaking his shirt and spilling onto the stage. 

“It…wasn’t me,” he rasped, blood bubbling from his lips.

The voice. It wasn’t Jensen’s. I dropped to my knees beside him and grabbed the skin of his face with both hands. It ripped away like paper. And that’s when I knew.

It had only been a mask.

I tore the rest of it away, strip by strip. 

The face that I uncovered, the eyes that held the shadow of death belonged to Dietrich.

“I’m so sorry,” I cried. “I had to kill the monster.”

“I know,” he whispered. His eyes grew vacant. Empty.

I jolted awake, my heart pounding, my body damp with sweat. Dear god, I’d left Dietrich locked in the lift.

I checked the clock, its face luminescent in the dim light. Three in the morning. I stumbled out of bed and grabbed my dressing gown from the chair along the wall. I glanced at Thea. I must not have made much noise during the dream because she still slept.

I fumbled with my skirt which had been left in an uncharacteristic heap on the floor. I grabbed the padlock key from the pocket and slipped out the door.

The dim hall lights seemed bright to my eyes. But they soon adjusted, and I crept carefully through the deserted halls to the main stage. When I reached the wings on stage right, I hurried to the control panel on the wall and pressed the button to lower the lift.

It jolted and then glided to the floor. Dietrich grunted groggily.

I rushed around the pin rail to the front of the lift and peeked in. Dietrich was just struggling to sit up. He turned his head side to side, seeming disoriented. He’d discarded his waistcoat and looked as if he’d tried to wad it up into a pillow. His shirt was untucked and completely unbuttoned. His eyes looked puffy and bleary, and his hair was a spiky mess. The right side of his face was criss-crossed with red lines where he’d been leaning against the metal mesh of the lift.

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