54. Blood on Her Hands

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Music: A Life of Regrets by Chester See.  Okay, I DARE you to listen to this one...and not cry.

NOTE: This is the SECOND chapter I've posted today. Read them in order so you don't miss something.

Chapter dedicated to cat_bird77. Thanks for reading and commenting! Lovely username, btw...I picked you because of it, it just caught my eye. LOL. And of course, I wholeheartedly agreed with your comment. It is great when two opposing sides can disagree without personally attacking each other.

Chapter 54—Blood on Her Hands

Everard—Our first chapter in Ever's POV!

Four weeks had gone by since Hycinth had left and as expected, Leander had deteriorated quickly. His righteous anger and fury that Hycinth had chosen her dead parents over her soulmate, knowing their cruelty, had worn off, leaving only abysmal devastation behind. He couldn't think or function past his pain. He didn't want to.

I stood to my feet when Sydney and one of her apprentices, Heidi, entered the study. Crossing the room to them, I asked quietly, "What news do you have?"

Sydney's eyes cut in Leander's direction and then back at me. "Should we talk about this...here?"

I understood her hesitation. I looked over to Leander. He was slouched in an oversized chair, legs apart, head back with his eyes closed. For the moment, his breathing and heart rate was regular, none of the usual hitches and spasms I'd become accustomed to hearing. He was asleep. But even slumbering didn't guarantee a break to his agony. Most nights he woke up roaring, fighting the nightmares in his head. I'd moved into the room next to him at the packhouse so I could be near him when he needed me. Usually, when the night terrors hit, he'd destroyed some part of his room, whether shredding the sheets with his claws or putting his fist through the nightstand before I even break through the door. Only to find him curled in a ball on the floor, sweat covering his naked body, and tears streaming down his face with the realization that his waking existence was so much worse than the nightmares could ever be. Rocking his body, seeking comfort that never came, the same desperate chant muttered incoherently from his lips, "She's gone... She's gone... She's gone..."

It fucking broke my heart.

For so long, Leander had been my rock of support. He'd kept me sane when I was at my lowest with no hope left. He'd stood by my side without exception, holding me from falling apart when I couldn't do it myself.

My, how the tables had turned...

Leander had willingly sacrificed his own mate by making a deal with her for her freedom so that I could have the one thing I'd always wanted most.

And now I had it.

Gwen's small frame was just becoming rounded with our pup.

She hated that I slept here every night and refused to let her join me. But it was just too dangerous. Leander was unstable, a pent-up bomb getting ready to go off at any moment. I wasn't about to let my mate and child suffer the fallout when it happened. Because in my gut, I knew it wasn't a matter of if he snapped completely, but when.

His Wolf was too far gone.

Too lost in the torture of his existence. Leander knew it as well. He'd refused to shift since Hycinth had left. At first, I'd encouraged him to let his Wolf run, thinking it would help ease his heart and mind. A full-bodied shudder had gone through him at my suggestion. His eyes had darkened to his Wolf as he tried to break free and the haunted expression of the animal staring back at me had chilled me to the bone. I'd never mentioned it again.

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