I suck in a breath full of cold night air and look at the dead archangel on the ground before me. The entire forest is silent, and I look up, tearing my eyes away from Remiel’s body and meeting Lucas’s gaze. His brows are furrowed and lips parted, too shocked to even say anything.
“What do we do, brother?” Lucifer repeats, face twisted in sadness and fear.
Michael, who’s been standing unmoving, takes a few steps forward and sinks down onto his knees next to Remiel. For a moment I think he’s going to heal him, and for a moment I panic. Remiel knows about me. He knows Michael is my father.
And he’s not going to let it go.
He’s going to turn us both in, come back with an army of warriors who will apprehend my father, and kill me. And Lucifer…I don’t know what they’ll do to him, but for some reason I think sending him back down to Hell would be too merciful.
Michael holds his hand over Remiel, but instead of healing him, he picks up the dagger. Straightening up, his great, white wings disappear, and a small trickle of blood drips down his shoulder.
“I had to protect her,” he says out loud to himself as he stands with Remiel’s weapon in his hand. He closes his fingers around the hilt, and it disappears. “I had to protect you,” he tells me with tears in his eyes. “I promised your mother I would do whatever it took to keep you safe.”
Suddenly trembling, I nod as my own eyes fill with tears. So much happened in the last few moments. I can’t process it. Can’t think about it. Now isn’t the time to break down.
But I also can’t escape it, and in the back of my mind I know I’m in deep shit, deeper than anything I’ve been in before. Bael came to earth with the intention of possessing me and using me to rule Hell. If he knows about me, other demons do, too, and it’s only a matter of time before more come knocking, figuring out the loophole just like Bael. I’m a sitting duck no matter what I do, and as long as I’m alive, I’m going to be in the same constant danger.
My very existence shouldn’t even be, and as much as I don’t want to die—especially now that I’m carrying my own child—I can’t help but think a swift death the moment I was born would have been for the greater good.
How many innocent people have gotten caught up in my mess? How many more will die at the hands of demons in their desperate attempt to get to me? I know it’s not my fault. I know I can’t blame myself. Demons will kill, just like they always have, and I need to remind myself I’ve saved far more people from the hands of demons than demons have killed trying to get to me.
I blink, and tears roll down my cheeks. Michael crosses the yard and comes to me, wrapping me in his arms. “I will continue to do whatever it takes to protect you,” he whispers and kisses the top of my head. “You are my daughter.”
Still too stunned to move, I stand rooted to the spot, heart hammering away in my chest. I close my eyes and open my mouth to say something, but Michael spreads his wings and holds me tight before I even get the chance, flying me out of Thorne Hill.
The world spins around me, but the side effects of being flown to the other side of the world last only a second this time. I’m getting used to it, just like Julian said I would. Blindingly bright sunlight shines down upon us, and I close my eyes. I don’t have to look around to know where I am, though. I can hear the gentle crashing of waves on the shore and can tell I’m standing in sand.
This is the beach Michael took me to when he told me the truth about who I am. It’s where I learned I wasn’t a Martin and where he confirmed what I’d been thinking for a while…that the blue-eyed man was indeed my father.
“What are we doing here?” I ask, stepping away from Michael as I squint my eyes open. Next time he flies me to a beach, I’m requesting sunglasses. There are people on the shore, talking, laughing, and playing in the water. Like last time, they didn’t seem to notice us suddenly appearing or the fact that Michael’s wings are stretched out behind him.
“I wanted to get you away,” Michael says as his wings fold and disappear from sight. He looks out at the ocean, and the clear blue sky matches his eyes.
“Why? Was I in danger? Lucas and Kristy are still—”
“They will be fine,” Michael says in a voice so calm I almost believe him. “My brother is still with them.”
“Lucifer,” I shoot back. “You mean Lucifer is still with them.” I pull my arms in around myself, swallowing hard. “You…you trust him?”
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