Web of Memory
Promise Me - Book 15
Sarelle’s return to her loved ones brings a brief measure of solace, even as she mourns all that changed in her absence. Rene’s presence and Sar’s pact with Shaker add as much tension as comfort, as the delicate balance of Sar’s life threatens to collapse under the weight of all she endured as Michael’s prisoner. Determined to reclaim her life, Sar fights back, inadvertently sparking Danial’s memory as an unseen ancient enemy prepares to strike a fatal blow.
I walked through the front door of Hayden the second week of September, a little over twenty-four hours after being liberated from Michael’s fortress. Two seconds later, V grabbed hold of me around my waist, sobbing. I hugged her, dissolving into tears as Elle and T threw their arms around me too. Their love enveloped me, washing away the horror of the last four months of captivity, making it seem like a bad dream. Even my parents were there to hug me, my mom’s eyes bright with unshed tears.
God, it is good to be home.
* * * *
After showering quickly, I went to Lash’s room where Titus had carried his prone body. He had still not responded to the blood infusions Devlin had given him on our trip home. I lay down near him and slept. By morning, he had still not regained consciousness. I squeezed his hand, wanting to shake him but worried I’d somehow make his condition worse.
“Give it time,” Titus rumbled comfortingly as he entered. “His wounds were mortal, Sar. It’s only with luck we saved his life. He’s got a strong will to life, that snake has.”
“And two small incentives,” Devlin added meaningfully from behind him. “He’ll awaken soon.”
He came over to me. “Love, I’ve made you an appointment with Stephen for two days from now to check on your twins. Titus said Lash should wait that long before moving around. I’m betting he’ll want to go with you.”
“Thank you,” I said gratefully.
“I must go over some things with Titus,” Devlin said, giving me a quick kiss. “Please, would you remain here with Lash?”
“Don’t worry,” I said, giving him a weary look. “I’ve no plans to go anywhere without a full platoon with me for quite a while.”
I spent the better part of that day at Lash’s bedside, sometimes dozing, sometimes reading. Everyone stayed away, even my kids. Now they were young adults with their own lives; Elle was just starting a new semester, T had a business to run, and even V had her lessons. That was what I told myself, anyway.
But all this solitude gave me too much time to think on all that had happened. The last five years had been filled with so much heartache along with the happiness of becoming a mother and a partner. Maybe if it hadn’t been multiple times with potential deadly consequences, sigh. My latest disaster, becoming Michael’s prisoner for months as he tried to force me to have his child had been terrible. Almost losing Lash had been horrific, both to his degeneration and then when he had taken a sorcerer’s killing blow meant for me. But I was home now and everything would go back to normal. Or what had passed for normal for me for the last few years: being Oathed⎯read, partnered⎯to Devlin, the blond vampire golden-eyed who Ruled the North American Continent, and also his co-Ruling brother Danial, who was the matching shadow of Devlin, albeit with dark hair and dark eyes. The comatose weresnake in front of me, Lash, was part of that Oath, as vampire law called it. I was pregnant with his twins, something that had made the captivity bearable, and all of our failed attempts at escape. We made it, we’re free. Thanks to Shaker...
At once I heard the demon’s voice in my head. You called mistress? he said in my mind in teasing tones.
Michael and his sorcerer, Cyrus, had foiled all our escape attempts. It had only been my agreeing to become Shaker’s Mistress⎯read, his human anchor in the mortal world, to keep him out of Hell⎯that had let Devlin and his own demon, Titus, find Lash and I in the nick of time. The ramifications of my Hellish pact were sure to cause ripples in my life, something I hadn’t had time to think about until now. But what choice did I have? None.
Mistress, Shaker said again in my mind.
I’m okay, I thought back to him. Just thinking.
If the touch of my hands would help you to ponder the benefits of our alliance...
No! I interrupted, blushing. Leave me.
As you wish.
I breathed a sigh of relief, then told myself not to think about any of it. There would be time enough for that in the days ahead. You dealt with everything you went through so far okay. You can deal with this too, you just have to be strong.
* * * *
Lash finally awakened near dusk. “Sar,” he said weakly, reaching for me. “Are they okay?”
I hugged him. “They’re fine,” I said, patting my stomach. “I didn’t miscarry. I have an appointment with Stephen the day after tomorrow.”
“Come lay next to me,” he said with effort. “I’m feeling like I got the tar beat out of me. But I want to hold you.”
I lay down beside him and held him gently.
“I should’ve given you my gift sooner,” Lash said bitterly, kissing my brow. “But I was worried that it might not work unless you got beyond the perimeter of Cyrus’s magic, and it took me until that last day to finally find a weak spot to slip through. If that fucking Michael hadn’t moved us so many Goddamned times—!”
“You shouldn’t have gotten in front of me. Cyrus meant to kill me. He nearly killed you.”
“Why?” Lash hissed thoughtfully. “Does Dev know why he tried to?”
“No one knows why. He said some stuff about how I was causing trouble between Rulers and vampire hunters. He went crazy and attacked Michael.”
“He was crazy, just like most fucking wizards. And what the hell was I supposed to do, let him hurt you or our babies?” Lash hissed, his eyes going flat as he partially turned to snake in his annoyance. “I’d give my life for them or you, Love. I did the right thing, protecting you. And I’d do it again, even if I didn’t wake up.”
“I’m grateful,” I said quickly, not wanting him to talk any more about dying. “I was just worried for you.”
“I’ll be fine in a few days,” Lash groaned. “Go ahead, leave me here, Love. You’ve spent enough time trapped in a room with me. Go and see everybody. I’m sure they want to see you.”
“Do you need anything?” I said, getting to my feet.
“You’re safe, they’re safe, and I’m going to live,” he hissed with a crooked smile. “I’d say I’d be an idiot to ask for anything more about now.”