Tristan didn’t fight it. The whip came down on his bare back again and again as ribbons of blood slipped out of the scars and flowed onto the floor around him. He cried out in pain from the beating and from his broken heart. The chances of ever seeing her again were growing slimmer by the second.
“Tell me where she is,” his keeper snarled.
Tristan spat blood. “You’ll never find her. Not as long as I’m alive.”
“Is that true? She won’t leave you here to die. You see, I would know.”
Tristan winced at the memory. He’d been young and uncontrollable, unable to resist the temptation of someone’s soul. Being branded as a killer had trained him to behave a certain way. But contrary to popular belief, he didn’t kill. His kind only drained someone’s soul, leaving the body cold and motionless yet still breathing. Mortals believed the bodies were dead and went through the process of discovering a dead loved one. Mourning, funerals, therapy.
The enemy’s mate had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Tristan remembered how beautiful she was, with her perfect features and voice like an angel. He’d wanted one of his own, someone to love and someone to love him. His envy had been too much and he’d lost control. The warden couldn’t save her and was forced to see his love turn into a lifeless shell of herself, like an oyster missing its pearl.
“Eventually, she’ll make her way here to make a futile attempt to save you. And then, the girl dies.” The keeper walked away, finally getting his revenge. When the room had been cleared, it was only then that Tristan allowed himself to cry. The immortal’s tears mixed with his sweat and blood, the salt water stinging in his wounds. As he wept, he felt someone wiping away his tears but didn’t look up. It felt so much like her touch and he just imagined that she was here with him.
“Tristan,” a familiar voice murmured. He looked up into her soft brown eyes, shining with tears. His mouth dropped open.
“It’s me,” she smiled. He sighed, thanking the gods for her safety. His next thought, however, was that she’d put herself in far too much danger coming here. Her life was at too high a risk.
“Ari, love, you have to leave. It’s not safe for you here,” he told her.
“It’s not safe for you either. How can I get you out?”
“That doesn’t matter. You have to leave,” Tristan repeated, now frantic. “He will kill you if he finds you here.” And then he had a plan, a way for both of them to survive. He whispered it to her, save the risks, and she readily agreed. He kissed her forehead three times, forming a triangle from left to right and she did the same to him. They were ready. Now all they had to do was wait for the enemy to come back.