Sacrifice (The Gryphon Series Book 3)(96)By: Stacey Rourke
Her hands dropped to her sides. Blue bolts of electricity crackled between her fingers. “I don’t take kindly to that tone, Klaus. But the boy is yours. Do with him what you will.”
“To the brig with him!” the mutinous Captain shouted. Thomas and Crazy Joe rushed toward me.
I bowed my head, concentrating on them just as she instructed me.
The Countess’s hands grasped my shoulders. Her breath warmed my lobe as she whispered, “No. Not yet. Give this a great deal of thought, Rowan. Do not let such a huge decision be made of rash emotions.”
With that she released me into the care of the villainous crew.
Klaus shot a nervous glance over his shoulder. Panic widened his eyes as his ship and the water he longed for faded into the distance behind him. A muffled whimper escaped from his lips; that’s the only sound he would make. My will kept his lips clamped shut.
“No use livin’ in the past, mate.” I gave him a shove to prompt him to keep moving. “Your future lies before you.”
With each tentative step he inched toward his certain doom. Death nipped and pecked at his flesh. Dry scaly patches and sores sprouted on his face and arms. The further he got from the water, the worse it would get until it claimed him completely.
“Rowan,” Terin’s heels clicked against the concrete parking area as she scurried to keep up. “You remember that stupid thing I was here to prevent you from doing? This would be it.”
“If you think this is stupid, ya may want to avert ya’r eyes, doll. Things are about to get wonderfully asinine.”
“It won’t bring your father back!” Desperation raised her voice to a borderline shriek.
“No, but it will make me feel better,” I mused and shoved Klaus again. “He killed my father, stole the ship that was to be mine, and has ruled the seas for far too long. His tyrannous reign ends tonight.”
Abruptly, Terin stopped and turned on me. “Then what?”
The absurdity of such a comment caught me off guard. I granted her the benefit of a pause long enough for me to address her lunacy. “What do you mean ‘then what’? Then I take back my ship and sail off into the horizon.”
With her hands shoved on her hips she cocked her head and narrowed her blazing eyes. “What about Celeste?”
“What about sodding Celeste?! We had a short run of makin’ each other miserable. Now she’ll continue fighting the good fight and saving the world while I head out to sea and don’t look back. End of story.” I turned my back to her to further demonstrate that this conversation was over.
Ole Klausy boy looked a wreck as I prodded him to resume his death march. The skin of his left cheek rotted away to reveal deteriorating gums and black teeth. His yellowing eyes sunk into their sockets.
“So that’s how you want to spend the rest of your days?” she shouted after me. “Letting people you claim to care about risk their lives while you sit back and do nothing?”
Damn that Garrett girl. She was to blame for the guilt that stabbed and twisted in my gut. I cleared my throat and did my best to sound unaffected. “Sounds like a dandy of an existence to me.”
“And if she dies?”
I stared up at the sky, as if expecting it to offer up some explanation as to why I cared whether or not that certain bothersome brunette lived or died. A feeling was growing inside of me, one that was foreign and not easy to recognize. Was this … remorse? What a dreadful and useless emotion. I attempted to shake off this bothersome feeling and walked on. “Then she’ll soon be seeing Klaus here on the other side.”
A rush of heat warmed my back and the night sky brightened to a midday glow. Nice and slow, I turned back around. Terin had embraced her inner Phoenix in a major way. Flames consumed her lean frame. Fiery wings swelled from her arms. The snap and hiss of her blaze even made the decomposing Klaus take notice.
“Well, well, well look who wants to have a go. Don’t be shy, lass. Step on up.” I motioned her to advance. “Let’s make this a real party.”
“I have no intention of fighting you,” she stated. “But I’m not going to stand here and watch you kill him. Celeste needs your help. Why is it so easy for you to betray her and just walk away?”