Salome’s eyes were distant as she answered. “I can’t live in fear anymore. It’s been like a slow cancer in my heart. We’ll find our spot, and then we are done running forever.”
“Where will you go?” asked Truman.
“I’m not sure yet.” Something in her tone had told him she knew exactly where she was going. He suspected he and Mercy would never be told, but he wished the best for her and her daughter. The past was buried; Truman’s original memory of Salome had been replaced by the one of her fight for Mercy.
Salome and Morrigan would simply disappear one day, starting fresh with new identities. No doubt Christian would know where she found a home. Truman believed the two of them had a bond that would never be broken.
The current look on Mercy’s face made him wonder if she wanted to leave and start fresh.
“Do you want to sell the land?” he asked.
Her head jerked toward him. “No!”
Finally. A spark.
“Do you still want to buy a house together?”
She sighed. “I can’t now. The deductible on the insurance for this property will take everything I’ve saved for a down payment.”
Another option popped in his head. “What about living here? How about building something a little bigger—”
At her skeptical look, he quickly clarified. “We wouldn’t build too big a home. We’d keep it to a manageable size in case we lost power.” He waited, hoping she would accept his help.
Mercy mulled over Truman’s suggestion. She’d planned to eventually live in the cabin. Why not now?
Because it takes forever to drive to work. Because the closest grocery store is far away.
The cabin was perfect for an imperfect future.
But not perfect for her current life.
“I don’t think so,” she said slowly. “I like the idea, but it’s not very practical right now.” She looked at the gray-and-black pile of destruction. “I feel beaten down at the moment. I don’t know if I can start from scratch.”
Truman pointed at the barn. “Isn’t two-thirds of the important stuff in there?”
“Then all you need is the cabin. I know you had a lot of special systems, but frankly, I’d rather rebuild a house than try to replace what’s stored in the barn.” He took her hands, making her look at him. “You did this alone the first time. You won’t be alone to rebuild.”
How did I end up with such a good man?
“Thank you,” she whispered, her voice watery. “You don’t know what that means to me.”
“You mean everything to me,” Truman stated, his brown eyes deadly serious. “I’m not going to let a little fire and a hole in your leg disrupt your future.”
She choked, making a wet snorting noise. “Little?”
“Every night in my dreams, I see Gabriel shoot you,” he admitted. “Christian’s shot is too late. I’m too late, and so is Salome. Compared to that reality, yeah . . . this fire and your wound are little.” He swallowed hard. “We can rebuild everything you had. Make it better. What do you think of that?”
Mercy held his gaze, unable to speak, remembering a private conversation she’d had with Salome during her recovery in the hospital.
“You’ll end up together,” Salome had suddenly said in the middle of a discussion about hospital food.
Mercy had squirmed, uncomfortable with the personal observation from someone she barely knew. “Probably.”
Salome’s perfect brows rose. “Probably? Like you have any say in it?”
“Of course I have a say in it.” Mercy scowled. “It’s my life.”
The woman had chuckled. “Oh yes, but your fate is already laid out. You just think you’re leading the way.”
But then Salome had tipped her head, studying her with dark eyes. “It’s rare for me to see it. My mother was better at it. But you have . . . nearly invisible threads that stream between you and Truman.”
Salome shrugged. “More like a spider’s silk. Barely there. It’s hard to explain, but twice I saw them glimmer. They can’t be broken.”
Mercy stared at her.
Salome had sat back in her chair. “Don’t listen to me.” She brushed aside the topic with a hand. “I mutter on about weird things sometimes. It’s nothing.” She pointed at Mercy’s tray. “But seriously, that doesn’t look anything like chicken. I don’t know what that is.”
Mercy had continued the discussion about chicken as if nothing had happened.
But the conversation stuck with her. Because in the forest, when she’d turned her head away from Gabriel and spotted Truman, thin silver and blue lines had glinted in her vision. Lines from her to Truman.
It was the light reflecting off the snow.
I was losing blood and nearly unconscious. Of course I would see things.
She didn’t know what to think of Salome’s words. But it was a lovely concept. Fanciful and storybook.
“Mercy?” Truman asked. “Are you uncomfortable with me helping you rebuild?” His eyes feared her answer.
“No! Not at all. I was just thinking about how we’d get started.” She smiled, pleased to see his apprehension immediately retreat. “I’d love to do this with you, and I know Kaylie will approve.”
Delight filled his face. “Thank God. I was terrified that you would be being willing to walk away from all this. That’s not the woman I know.” He pulled her to him and then took her face in his hands, his eyes dancing. “I can’t wait to work together on it.” He kissed her long and deep.
Mercy sank into the kiss, imagining multicolored threads spinning around them, catching his anticipation about their future.
One they’d build together.
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