“Daemon?” I exclaim. “You want us to travel with Daemon?”
Dad shrugs and hands me the reigns to his horse. “I understand why you’re upset about this, Wraith, but your brother has changed. I’ve made sure of that. And besides, he knows Gahenna better than anyone else that I could send with you.”
A vein bulges in Wraith’s neck as he clenches his jaw tightly. A few more tense seconds pass before Wraith finally lowers his arm and sets Daemon back on the ground. Daemon rolls his head around his neck.
“It is nice to see thee again, Nikki. Thou was very young the past few times we met,” he says with a bow.
“Is this really what you want, dad?” I ask, ignoring the bowing Eidolon in front of me.
He nods. “And there’s no way you’re talking your way out of this one, Nikki.”
“Is there anything else you want?” I ask, slightly sarcastically.
“The other Shadows are going back to the Shadow District,” he replies. “The only Shadow that’s going with you is Henki.”
The remaining guard nudges his horse forward and starts pushing the Shadows back toward the portal.
“Wait!” one exclaims, raising a hand high above the mass.
Dad turns and waits for the Shadow to come forward.
“Shadow Lord, I want to stay here and become a ghost,” he says.
My heart sinks again. Ryan is not going to give this up.
Dad glances at me before turning back to Ryan. “Why? What is here that you can’t have in the Shadow District?”
Ryan looks at me and I turn away, unable to look into his empty face. “Nikki said that only those that are born ghosts can still feel emotion. But you were killed, and you still feel emotion for Nikki and her mom.”
“Ryan, that’s an exception. Those in power are exempt from that,” I say, trying to dissuade him.
He shakes his head. “I want to try. After the transition, if I don’t feel anything for you anymore, then I’ll leave you alone and I’ll go to another dimension. But I want to try to work something out. Don’t you still love me, Nikki?”
I bite my lip and look down at the ground. Henki and Daemon watch with interested expressions, while Wraith’s face remains impassive, but there’s a tension in his eyes.
“Mr. Pierce, please. You would give anything to be with your wife again. Please give me this chance,” Ryan pleads, emotion raw in his voice.
Dad nods. “Okay. Ryan, you can stay here in the castle with me. The transition can be rough, but we’ll help you through anyway we can.”
Ryan nods with grim determination. I close my eyes and turn away. Even breathing suddenly hurts again.