Page 25

Once I was satisfied that the room was in a fit state for Magnus to wake up in, I approached the bed again and walked around it, stopping directly behind his head. I flattened my palms against his forehead, brushing back his dark hair and placing a kiss on his skin.

I moved my lips down the bridge of his nose, then reached his lips. My whole body shivered as I relished the feel of them. It was the first time that I had kissed him since the night I’d told him I could no longer be his. Although many things about my past blurred in my memory now, I would never forget that final meeting. The expression on his face, his anguish, and my helplessness to do anything about it still remained etched in my mind.

I kissed him harder.

I hadn’t had any choice then.

But tonight… Tonight would be different.

It would be my last night with Magnus, but in many ways also my first. The first night of my existence when I would not feel guilt for loving him. Because after the ritual, I would be no more anyway.

I placed my hands on his broad shoulders and ran them beneath his pale cotton shirt. The feel of his chest beneath my fingers made my body ache for him.

It’s time to wake up, my love.

Finally, it’s time to wake.

I dipped down again to kiss his lips and this time, I brought him to consciousness. His eyelids quivered, then shot wide open. My heart pounded as I stared down at him, deep into his blue eyes that I had not beheld for centuries. They had the same effect on me now as they’d had the first day I’d met him.

“Lilith?” He stared at me in shock.

My name coming from his lips was nectar to my ears.

“Yes,” I breathed. “It’s me.”

“Where am I?” he whispered.

“In a dream.”

Gripping his head, he sat up in bed. I walked around to the foot of the mattress, content with just watching him.

“A dream,” he muttered, still gazing at me as though he expected me to vanish at any moment. “This doesn’t feel like a dream.”

I bit my lip, wondering whether to tell him the truth. If he believed that it was a dream all along, once I was finished saying goodbye to him I would put him to sleep and take him away to someplace safe, and he would wake up believing that it had indeed been a dream. But if I told him the truth, it would make parting all the more painful.

I decided not to respond to his comment and let him believe what he would.

“We don’t have long,” I said softly. “There’s something that I would like to tell you… something I never got a chance to say before.”

He frowned, then, swinging his legs off the bed, stood up and walked over to me. His eyes blazed down into mine.

“What?”

I detected hurt in his gaze as he asked the question. I was sure that he too was remembering the last time we had seen each other.

“I love you,” I said before my voice could choke up. “I always have.”

His frown deepened, his voice hoarse as he replied: “Then why did you leave me?”

His words were like a dagger through my heart.

“I-I told you. I had no choice.”

“You could have run away with me,” he said. “We could have escaped, traveled far away and started our lives over. Nobody would’ve had to find out about us.”

My shoulders sagged. Magnus didn’t understand. He never did. Perhaps if I had belonged to a lesser family I could have escaped. But I couldn’t have gotten away with it with my family.

“You didn’t love me enough,” he concluded from my silence.

You don’t know how much I love you. You never will know, was what I wanted to say.

“Perhaps… Perhaps I did not love you enough,” I managed. “But now it’s different. Tonight… I’m free.”

I swallowed back the lump in my throat as he reached up to my face, his thumb brushing against my cheek as he scrutinized every part of my face.

“I just wonder,” I said in a voice barely louder than a whisper. “Do you still love me?”

His eyes narrowed. My stomach clenched as he broke eye contact for the first time since he had woken up. His gaze settled on a spot on the floor. But it was only for a moment. When he raised his eyes to me again, fire had ignited behind them.

He answered my question by backing me up against the bedpost and claiming my lips. He kneaded his against mine as his hands began to roam freely along my body. My heart felt so light, I barely knew how to handle such joy. I kissed him back with as much passion as my black soul could muster, hoping that it would be enough to satisfy him. When I began to unbutton his shirt, the action triggered a spiral that soon found me lying flat on my back against the mattress. Magnus crouched down over me, kissing me with more hunger than I knew how to respond to.

It felt as though every touch we exchanged, every kiss, every embrace, only added to the bonfire that now blazed between us. All the pain, the guilt, the frustration that I had harbored within me for so long melted away and all that was left was an all-consuming heat. Magnus’ strong body brushed against mine. Our bare forms were entwined as close to each other as we could possibly be. And for once, it felt like he held my heart too—not just a part of it… but all of it. My heart beat only with love for him.

“Magnus,” I panted through his kisses, “you’re the reason I’m still alive.”

He raised his face to look at me, his lips flushed with the little blood he had in his veins.

“What do you mean?”

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