Bitter Cold

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“Melanie,” Augustus’s voice barge into my thoughts as soon as the rumblings stop. “We’re home.”

I do not reply, only keeping me eyes shut. The sight of Mr. Muller’s body still invades my mind, causing me to see it every time I close my eyes. No matter how much I want to open my eyes and stare into Augustus’s dark eyes; I can’t.

It is my fault that Mr. Muller is dead. He was innocent. He did nothing. They killed him because of me.

Lina died because of me.

And I’m next on their list.

The journey back home was silent. Even Augustus did not say anything, at which I appreciate him for respecting my space. Every now and then, he would try to talk to me and make me eat some food. The only piece of food I accept from him is a piece of bread and a bottle of water.

Mary rides my Harley behind us. Augustus didn’t let me ride because he fears for my state of mind. I willingly hand the keys to Mary, but not without a threat.

Augustus told me that the vampires don’t want anything to do with this war so they decide to stay in Jesseltown. They will fight only if they had to. The witches, on the other hand, are also on their way to Meadow Falls. Some of the witches stayed behind for personal reasons, but we are grateful that the rest is helping us.

Now, we’re parked in front of the mansion where Lisbeth and dad are waiting for us.

“Melanie!” Lisbeth sobs, running towards me when I open the door. Tears fall from her swollen eyes, letting me know that she knows about her loss.

“I’m so sorry, Lisbeth,” I say, unable to stop the tears that breaks the barrier. Ever since I see Mr. Muller’s body, I did not cry or even scream. I feel numb, which worried Augustus. The numbness finally goes away when Lisbeth and I hug each other, crying for the loss of a good man. “I’m sorry. I’m very sorry.” I keep repeating my apology. She only shakes her head and hugs me even tighter.

I will keep Lisbeth safe.

I will keep mum safe.

I will keep Nate safe.

I don’t know if I can keep myself safe. The Oracle and Athena did mention that I will die to keep the balance intact. If death is the price to keeping the people I love safe, then I will pay the price with no regrets.

“Come on, we’re having a meeting with the Minotaurs now and we need you inside,” dad gruffly says, helping Lisbeth and I to our feet. I turn to look at Augustus who is unloading our bags.

“Go,” he mouths encouragingly, giving me a small smile. I smile weakly back at him.

Dad leads us into the mansion where I recognize Eleanor, Caleb and Alpha in the living room. The Alpha looks angry whereas Caleb quickly walks over to Lisbeth and holds her hand.

“What seems to be the problem here?” I ask dad and Alpha who are glaring at each other. Lisbeth shrugs, indicating she doesn’t know. Caleb, Eleanor and the other Minotaurs look down at their feet.

“The problem is not shipping the Peacekeeper away from the threat,” Alpha hisses at me. “The threat happens to be upstairs.”

He’s talking about mum.

“You want Lisbeth to stay away from my mother,” I state the obvious. “I understand, but you see, it’s not your choice. It’s Lisbeth’s decision whether she wants to stay or not.”

Alpha turns red with anger. I notice the veins popping out from his neck. He’s close to shifting. “That’s not good enough. No matter how much distance you put in between them, there is no guarantee that the Peacekeeper will be safe. Anyone could have kidnapped Medusa and take her DNA to make more of them. I suggest the only solution which can guarantee the safety of the Peacekeeper.”

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