RISKING ETERNITY, Chapter 9


When Hayden finally woke she had no sense of how much time had passed. Valentin’s back was to her and he slept deeply, the sleep of the undead. She leaned her head against his rippled back and remained that way for several minutes. At last, she raised herself off the bed and stretched.

Already she could feel her kinship with the night. She felt awake, more awake than she had ever been when she had been alive. She crossed toward the windows and pulled one of the curtains open. Outside, new fallen snow covered the grounds and the trees. In the moonlight, the world seemed reborn. Everything was gorgeous—magical and filled with hidden possibilities.

The stuff of fairytales, she thought. Tying the curtain back so that moonlight filled the room, she walked silently over to Valentin’s side of the bed and stood over him, watching him sleep. In that ghostly light he was the most beautiful being she had ever seen.

She’d never felt as close to anyone as she felt to Valentin. That they were in fact soul mates, she had little doubt. But did that mean she loved him—or that he loved her?

Were vampires even capable of love?

She wasn’t sure. Unfortunately, she wasn’t going to have the chance to find out either.

She stooped to retrieve her clothes—her real clothes, not the costume she’d donned to trap Henry. Already her body felt sleeker, lighter, more graceful. As her hand closed around her Glock, memories of her old life flashed across her mind and she had to let it go to make them stop.

Cop. All her life that had been her dream. Her only real goal. When she graduated from the Police Academy in New Orleans she’d been more than elated. For the first time in her life she felt like she mattered. She felt like one of the good guys.

Was she still one of the good guys? She had no idea. Could she find a way to survive without killing? She wanted to believe she could. If not . . .well, she’d deal with that possibility when she had to. But not just yet.

She finished dressing and stood up, certain that what she was about to do was for the best. Because she couldn’t go back. Her life as a cop was over.

Carefully, she set the gun onto Valentin’s dresser. She tried to ignore the way her heart seemed to contract.

She could still be one of the good guys. Maybe.

Pulling on her leather coat, she crossed back to the open curtain and untied it, letting it fall back into place. It was time to go. To move forward into the future. She fought the impulse to return one last time to Valentin—to kiss him goodbye. But she wasn’t sure she could bring herself to leave him, if she got that close again. And there was a chance he would pick up on her sorrow and wake.

The connection between them had been powerful before, but now it felt nearly unbreakable. Which, she supposed, was why she felt she could summon the strength to leave him. Nothing could truly separate them, especially not something as inconsequential as distance.

When she reached the doorway, she stood gazing into the blackness. One more step and she would be alone again. One step and her past would become her future. Because before she could move forward, she needed to go back. She needed to find her mother.

Hayden felt Valentin’s heart beating dreams of their life together. Turning her back on the darkness, she stepped into the hallway.

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