The third and final book in the Dark of the Night series.
The rain had continued to upkeep it's perpetual rhythm throughout the entirety of the night. Droplets of water splashed down the windows, creating mini rivulets running alongside one another, as though challenging for a race, competing to see who could reach the windowsill first. The branches outside my window bent and sagged beneath the howling wind, occasionally scratching at the glass. They looked like disfigured arms silhouetted against the inky black sky, curling and stretching.
Beside me, Lukah's steady rise and fall of his chest matched the soft breathing noises he was making in his sleep. I studied his features, illuminated only due to the silver light pouring in the window from the moon outside. He looked much more peaceful when he was unconscious. The slight crease between his eyebrows had smoothed out, revealing perfectly unblemished ivory skin. Jet black hair fell across his forehead, tousled from his sleep. His lips were curved ever so slightly at the edges, as though he was attempting to smile.
I heaved a deep sigh, pulling the duvet away and padded barefoot across the wooden floor, out into the hallway. It had been only two weeks since Lukah had taken my hand and led me away. But it felt like a lifetime. It was strangely exhilarating and incredibly comforting being reunited with Lukah after so many lost years, but I could not put my mind at ease. I couldn't stop thinking about Jester. About how much I had hurt him and how much he may need me.
How much I needed him.
'Ana?' Lukah's voice in the darkness made me jump. 'What are you doing?'
I whirled round, my hand flying to my throat, feeling like I had been caught doing something I shouldn't have been. Did he know I was thinking about Jester? Did he see it in my eyes?
'I was just thirsty,' I responded lamely, trying to calm my heart.
He obviously wasn't convinced. I could see the slight arch of his eyebrow and the purse of his lips. 'Do you miss him?'
'Miss who?' I tried to keep my voice steady.
'You know who I'm talking about Ana,' he sighed. 'Jester. Do you miss Jester?'
'No..I...well it's just...'
He stared at me.
'Yes,' I finally murmured, looking away. 'I miss him.'
The silence that followed was resounding. It said far more than any words could. It seemed to reverberate throughout the entire house, creating an incredibly awkwardness between us both. I fidgeted uncomfortably, unsure what I could say to make things right. I couldn't take my words back, because they had been true. And it somehow felt better to finally admit this, to tell Lukah straight.
He assessed me with wide, dark eyes. His expression had become impassive so it was impossible for me to decipher his thoughts.
Just when I was beginning to go crazy, he exhaled slowly. 'I knew you missed him. I know you far better than you think Ana.'
'I'm sorry,' I pleaded.
'Don't be sorry,' he smiled. 'It isn't your fault, it's mine. I shouldn't have just turned up out of the blue and expected you to come away with me, to fall in love with me all over again. You've created a life for yourself, with your friends. With Jester. I had no right to take you from that.'
I couldn't say anything. My heart felt like it was shattering in my chest. I couldn't go back to Jester without hurting Lukah, and I sure as Hell couldn't be with Lukah without destroying Jester. How had this happened? I briefly wondered if this was what Calla had felt like with Adder and Demrin.
'I'll take you back in the morning,' he spoke softly. 'But before you do go, I thought you may like to see someone.'
'It's a surprise,' he winked at me. 'Just get some rest.'
I didn't get a wink of sleep that night. I spent the next eight hours or so staring at the ceiling, waiting for morning to come. The possibility that I was going to be reunited with Jester made me nervous, excited and giddy. There was no chance I could close my eyes and halt the animated chatter of my mind.
Lukah stirred for the second time beside me, finally waking up. I resisted the urge to leap out of bed and get dressed, to drag him out of the house and demand to show me back to the mansion.
'Didn't you sleep at all?' Lukah murmured beside me, staring up at me through bleary eyes.
I wordlessly shook my head.
'Right well. I suppose you should get ready.'
I didn't need telling twice.
Half an hour later, I was showered, dressed and raring to go. Lukah ran a hand through his hair, the car keys jangling in his hand as he did so. He stifled a yawn and proceeded to lead me outside.
'I'm so sorry for doing this,' I told him. 'I don't want to leave either of you.'
'Don't be sorry Ana, I just want you to be happy. Besides, I'll be just around the corner. Not to cause problems for you and Jester or anything, but I'm currently residing in Paris.'
'You're living here?' I exclaimed. 'I thought you were just renting it out until we could go back to London.'
'Well I was,' he murmured. 'Until someone told me something. Something important.'
'Who? What?' I stared at his cryptic words.
'It's part of the surprise,' he grinned.
Soon, we were tearing away from the house. He drove down the streets that had become familiar to me in the past few months with his eyes fixed straight ahead. Every now and then he'd redirect his gaze to mine and smile slightly. My stomach knotted each time he did that. How could I be leaving him behind?
Pulling up outside the mansion, he opened the car door. I followed him out, confused.
'You're going to come inside?'
'Not exactly,' he tilted his head slightly. 'But there's someone you should see. They rung me actually.'
I pushed open the mansion door. Poked my head inside, ready to call out, when I spotted who was stood in the hallway. They stood staring at me, ready and waiting. I whirled back round to Lukah who was grinning from ear to ear.
'How?' I spluttered.
'Your brother rung me up, noticing something was off about you. He thought maybe you were starting to remember things. About me. I headed round to your flat in London, to see what he was talking about. That fake clone the warlock created didn't do you justice at all Ana. It's a surprise your brother didn't notice it wasn't you sooner. When I told Reuben it wasn't actually you, he started to panic.'
'How did you find me?' I demanded, turning back to face my brother in the hallway.
'Lukah,' he smiled.
'I've known where you are for a while now Ana. It was just a matter of bringing myself to visit you. But when Reuben told me something bad was happening, I wasted no time. You've wound yourself into an intricate, complicated web here Ana. You've got involved with the Evil, and that...well that's not good.'
'How do you know about that?!'
'I've had my fair share of experiences,' he mused. 'But that's not important. I'm here to help you all. It can't hurt to have an extra set of hands, can it?'
'Same here,' Reuben chipped in. 'You should have told me Ana. I'd have been able to help earlier.'
'But...no!' I almost shouted. 'You are not getting involved in this. You're just...a human!'
'When Scott possessed me,' Reuben went on, chuckling slightly at my horrified expression. 'What he wasn't counting on was the powers staying within my body. He assumed that when he let me go, the powers would disappear. Well they haven't.'
'The Sommer siblings have powers,' Lukah laughed. 'Just think yourself lucky that you've got two extra people helping out.'
'Two extra incredibly powerful people,' Reuben corrected.
What the hell was going on?