Bittersweet

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Graysen wants one thing: for Nelle to confess what is in her heart. The problem is, that girl is spiteful and cruel as all Nine Hells. He tries to convince her to be honest about his feelings... but unfortunately, it ends badly with her striking out and pushing him off the rooftop to the Keep.

This story was contributed by Ava Larksen



Where is he, where is he, where is he...

My bare feet slapped on cold stone as I hurtled down the spiral staircase. Blue flames guttered against the curved adamere walls, the wildfyre stirred by my swift movement as I ran to find him.

I'd spent the day at the top of the tower, unable to do anything but pace, as my mind descended into regretful chaos.

The Crowthers had been tasked by Upper House Novak to annihilate The Widowmakers and end the crime syndicate's rebellion against The Horned Gods. Graysen, his brothers, and their warband had left the estate as buttery sunlight stretched across the sky. But before he'd left, I'd been spiteful and cruel. I might have told him I'd hoped he'd trip and his stupid sword would skewer him right through the heart.

The heart—because I'd been desperate to crush what lingered in mine.

As shadows lengthened across the plush carpet, I'd finally heard the Crowthers return.

I'd stilled, listening to the thunder of engines as the convoy entered the inner courtyard, the creak of metal, rapid heavy footfall, and clashing of urgent shouts.

Where's the goddamned physician?!

I'm fine, Jett, fuck ... I'm okay, I'm okay!

You call Novak—I'm sure as hells not calling this clusterfuck in.

Where's Gray?

A pause. I thought he was with you?

Bone-biting fear had my heartbeat racing. My sharpened senses picked through the reek of gasoline and oil, the stale sting of magic, and the tang of blood.

Blood...

Silence.

Utter silence but for the sheer panic that hollowed out my mind, and something ancient and cunning, hissing at me to—Find him, find him, find him...

I'd lasted five minutes pushing back at the rising terror before I'd bolted from the room.

I knew Graysen was alive but something was wrong. I didn't know exactly where he'd be in the vast, imposing fortress. I let my senses take over and be guided by the filaments of dark magic that vibrated a discordant hum ... where my feet blindly carried me.

My heart stumbled to see the SUVs riddled with bullet holes and cracked windshields. I soared through the Keep, past limping soldiers. Flew down the twists and turns of hallways, and up the corkscrew stairwell that led to the rampart.

Breathless and frightened, I burst onto the roof of the Keep.

The dying sun set the black storm clouds on fire in an eruption of violent crimson and orange. I shivered in the wild wind as my hair snapped across my eyes like strands of silken webbing.

Where is he, where is he, where is he...

I jittered on the spot. The air around me crackled and sparked, nipping at my senses like it always did when he was nearby. I swung my head wide and located him immediately.

Relief leadened my limbs and I blew out a pent-up breath.

Graysen stood on top of the parapet. The unruly locks of black hair were teased by the wind as he stared across the ancient forest that surrounded the Keep. Stormwinds blustered the forest's canopy, ruffling leaves much like a white-capped ocean. He'd unstrapped his wyrmblade and it leaned against the wall. Adamare armor clung to his lower body, the intricate fishscale-cut dusty from wherever the hells he'd come from. I held back the snort, because he couldn't fucking help himself... while the jacket had been discarded it was neatly folded next to his booted feet.

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