“A few hours.”
“Do you feel like sparring?”
Tobe bounced up off the bed at the notion. “Do you feel like getting your ass kicked?”
“OK, down Lassie. Just because you saved Timmy from the well that one time doesn’t mean you’re going to again.”
Confused, having no idea who Lassie or Timmy was, Tobe made a face, following Eden out of the room. “Pardon?”
Eden sighed. “Just don’t expect to get another lucky punch in, OK.”
“Lucky?” Tobe scoffed. “That wasn’t lucky. It was awesome. I’m awesome.”
“Yeah, we’ll see how awesome you are when I take you down in five seconds flat.”
“You feel like putting a bet on that?”
“I’ll bet you my limited edition Arcade Fire Cold Wind Vinyl for your Killers t-shirt.”
Eden glowered up at her as they descended the staircase. “No way. Noah gave me that shirt.”
Tobe arched an eyebrow. “Chicken?”
Her cousin’s eyes narrowed in determination. “Oh you got yourself a bet, lady.”
Five minutes later Tobe wheezed, waiting for the air to rush back into her lungs, her back throbbing from hard impact with the mat. Eden stood over her, arms crossed over her chest in triumph.
“I’ll be expecting that vinyl within twenty eight days.”
Lungs finally opening up, Tobe found the strength to flip her off.
Chapter Twenty Four
Somewhere to Remember
“What are we doing out here?” Eden asked, following Cyrus deeper into the woods. It had been a week since… everything. The emotional exhaustion had just begun to leave her after a few wonderful nights of sleeping curled up next to Noah. Romany had left, returned to her Neith. Tobe and Cameron, the Douglas’ and McLeish had returned to Scotland, battered and bruised but together, and full of promises to return. Eden planned to head out to Scotland in December to spend some of the holidays with Tobe. They hadn’t exactly had a normal visit with each other so they were both looking forward to hanging out without any plans for rescue or vengeance on their minds. And of course they were back to emailing affectionate insults back and forth every day. As for Adam Lincoln… he hadn’t gotten away with his crimes against the Ankh. The Neith were furious that he’d used two of his own to further his ‘stupid’ rebellion as the hypocrites were now calling it, and for all the hurt and chaos he’d caused they had decided to hand him over to the Ankh for punishment. The Circle had convened for the first time in months at Cyrus’ home. The place had been buzzing with all that energy and Eden had been half-excited, half-wary of their presence. Some of them were friendly to her, some were just downright standoffish (*cough* Cassandra *cough*), but Noah had assured her they were always like that. Still… she hadn’t minded when they’d left.
She had been a little thrown by why they’d left.
More than a little thrown.
Downright freaked out.
The Circle departed because they came to their decision.
Adam Lincoln was promptly handed over to Darius to do with as he pleased. And in true Darius fashion, swatting whatever bug proved most threatening, he’d meted out a fatal punishment. Eden wasn’t going to lie… his methods frightened her. She understood them – Val had drummed his reasoning into her head again and again – and Eden understood he was protecting the Ankh and the Neith, but it would never sit right with her that a man they had set up in order to prevent a war was killed for a crime he technically didn’t commit. It was then Eden realized that no matter what side she was on, good or bad, in their line of business – war – there was always going to be shady grey areas that would prick at her conscience. It was the politics. And Eden didn’t want anything to do with the politics. She decided to keep her nose (and soul) clean and stick to what she was good at. Hunting monsters. And chasing their ghosts out of her heart.
“We are nearly there,” Cyrus promised.
A few minutes later he followed the footpath in the woods down into a clearing. Eden gazed around wide-eyed.
“What is this?” the small building before her was beautiful. It resembled a small Corinthian style museum with four columns with decorative features top and bottom bracing the doorway, two either side.
Cyrus didn’t reply. Instead he strode inside the small building and she followed, her gaze widening. The whole place was lit up with soft lighting and a beautiful skylight above them flooded the altar-like interior with angelic light. The floors and walls were white marble, broken up into rectangles by thick lines carved into the stone and painted in real gold. In the middle of the rectangles were names, and dates of births and deaths. A strange, peaceful hush filled the air.
“This is where I come to pay my respects to all the people I have lost that meant something to me over the years.” He spun around slowly, eyeing the names. “Warriors, friends…” he strode forward and pressed his palm to the largest stone on the far wall. The name Merrit MacDouglas was carved onto a gold nameplate. “Your mother.”
Eden felt tears prick her eyes as she stepped towards it, her footsteps echoing into the beautiful silence. She pressed her own hand flat against the stone and gazed up at Cyrus.
He nodded past her shoulder. “I thought you might like to come here to remember him.”
Her breath caught as she twisted around to follow his gaze. Two spaces down from her mother, the single name Stellan was scrawled elegantly across a nameplate. Tears spilled over Eden’s lids at the sight.
“It was never that I didn’t understand your grief or love for him, Eden,” Cyrus told her quietly. “I just never wanted that grief to change you.”
She nodded, a lightness suffusing her body at her guardian’s understanding. Her muscles felt loose, warm, and an ache she hadn’t even known existed rolled out of bed and departed from its place where it had slept upon her chest.
His understanding… it was more than she could ever have asked for.
The Life of a Warrior
Leaving Noah snoozing on her bed, worn out from their sleepless but satisfying night, Eden pulled on a sweater and some jeans. She was feeling restless already and it had only been two weeks since Tobe and the Douglas’ had gone home. Cyrus had wanted her to rest up before going on patrol again but Eden could really do with getting back to work. She whistled happily as she took the main staircase, no longer afraid to bump into Alain. OK, so their relationship was still a little strained (she had called him an asshole after all) but they were getting there. She was pretty sure in fifty years’ time they’d be braiding each other’s hair and gossiping together. Eden snorted at the visual and landed in the foyer with a little jump off the fifth stair up.
“Someone’s in a good mood.”
She turned sharply, watching Jack come in from the garage, his hair a little disheveled. Wasn’t that the clothes he’d been wearing the night before?