Sacrifice (The Gryphon Series Book 3)(5)

By: Stacey Rourke

“That was actually quite clever,” Bernard begrudgingly admitted. “Well done.”

“Thank ya,” Caleb stood up and ran his fingers through his sweat-dampened locks. “Did it perhaps earn a free pass for our fated Chosen One?”

Just as quickly as the newfound appreciation came on, it vanished and Bernard’s go-to scowl returned. “Free pass? What does that mean? Allowing her to run the streets like a hooligan?”

Caleb struggled to suppress the grin that tugged at the corners of his heart-shaped lips. “Nothin’ like that, I assure ya. Just an evenin’ off to allow the lovely Celeste a chance to recharge her batteries. Any and all attempts at hooligan runnin’ will be thwarted. Ya have my word.”

This was so completely unexpected and unheard of with Bernard’s strict training regime that I crossed my fingers behind my back at the prospect of him actually agreeing to it.

Bernard shook the last of his berries from the satchel onto his palm and mashed them in his mouth. He’d started to sway, and leaned heavily on his cane to remain upright. “Fine, the night is yours. One night off. That’s it. Tomorrow you train and patrol without complaint.”

“Agreed!” I clapped my hands and bounced on the balls of my feet.

“Hey, does that go for us, too?” Gabe asked. “We don’t have to patrol tonight?”

Bernard waved one hand in the air. “All of you! One night off. But that’s it!” He didn’t bother with any further pleasantries. Two raps of his cane against the ground and he vanished into thin air. No doubt heading off to replenish his berry supply (or abduct a Barbie).

Gabe jumped off the ground in one fluid, cat-like motion. “Don’t have to tell me twice!” He extended his hands to Keni and Alaina, and yanked them both off the cold cement floor. “I’m thinking pizza and watching the game on TV. What do you say, babe?”

Alaina’s moss-green eyes glimmered with excitement. “I’ve got a better idea! I recorded a marathon of A Wedding Story on TLC. We can watch it and take notes on things we like!”

“That is even better.” Gabe’s broad shoulders sagged, but he did his best to feign enthusiasm. “Can we at least order a pizza?”

Kendall raised her hand. “I vote ‘yes’ to pizza. Grams is staying at Dr. Allyn’s again and we have limited food options. It’s pizza or week old Chinese.”

“Pizza it is,” Gabe declared and ushered them both out of the garage. “You guys coming?”

“No.” The way Caleb gazed at me made butterflies dance in my belly. “We’ve got plans.”

“Suit yourselves.” Gabe shrugged one massive shoulder and yanked open the side door. Snow and a bitter cold wind whipped in as the door opened and shut behind them.

“Alone at last.” Caleb grinned.

In a puff of black smoke he appeared in front of me and cupped my face in his hands. His lips found mine in a delicate caress. My hands wandered over his back. I reveled in the feel of his taut muscles under that thin layer of cotton.

Hot breath against my ear sent waves of euphoric bliss coursing through me as he murmured, “Are ya ready tah take a trip tah paradise, lovey?”


I wriggled my toes deeper into the sand and readjusted my sketchpad to get a better angle. Sea gulls screeched their high-pitched call, interrupting the sweet serenade of the gently lapping waves. A small fire crackled in front of me, more for ambiance than necessity. It was a comfortable seventy-five degrees in our tropical paradise. I glanced up from my artwork and gazed at Caleb. He strummed softly on his guitar, his skin aglow thanks to his kinship with the fire. I shook my head and cast the sketchbook aside. It was pointless. In no way could I capture his true beauty or the vitality he drew from the elements.

I leaned back on my elbows and stretched my legs out. “Are you ever going to tell me where this place actually is?”

A glossy lock of hair fell across his forehead as he looked up with the half-grin I adored. “Whar’s the mystery in that, lovey? Isn’t it better tah think it’s just a bit o’ heaven carved out for you and me?”

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