I was about to tell her that I would rip her tiny tits off if she dared lay a hand on him when Alva calmly said, “We aren’t killing him.”

I started. “What?”

She swam back toward me, looking beautiful again. “It’s true it’s not in the contract. We don’t have to kill him.”

“You’re letting him live?” I asked hopefully, not daring to believe it.

She shrugged, drops of oily water rolling off her shoulders. I could almost hear screaming. “I think he’s got a lot of talent. He could do better than that silly band.”

I looked over at Sage, not trusting a word she was saying. Judging from the expression on his face as he pushed himself off the mud, he felt the same way.

“You,” Alva said sweetly, placing razor sharp claws along the edges of the raft and gazing wickedly at me, “aren’t an exception.”

“What?”

“I might get in shit for totally breaking this contract before it even gets off the ground, but you bother me. It must be the groupie thing.”

“I’m not a groupie.” I couldn’t help but protest. My pettiness no longer surprised me.

“Dawn Emerson’s famous last words,” she said with a smile of black shark teeth. “It’s better than ‘funner’s not a word.’”

And then she poked her fingers into the raft.

Sage screamed my name from the shore.

The GTFOs laughed.

The raft popped and hissed and the water began shaking again, waves growing and rising. The raft was deflating fast and I was sinking into a black pool of tortured faces.

Alva smiled and started swimming back to shore just as Sage was launching himself into the lake. He started doing an incredibly fast breaststroke toward me, the thick water barely slowing him down. Alva walked out of the water, stark ass naked, and sat in the red clay with the demon groupies on either side of her like they were whale-watching.

Sage got to me fast but not fast enough. The raft was almost entirely under and I was no longer floating. I could feel hundreds of slimy hands grabbing me everywhere, trying to pull me down, the Damned wanting to claim another companion.

Sage grabbed me by my shoulders and held on tight.

“I’m not letting you go,” he cried frantically. His face was close to mine and I could see the anguish in his clear eyes, the green turned silver by the moon.

“It’s okay,” I said, feeling the raft totally disappear beneath me. My legs began to feel heavy and I was pulled downward. Whether it was by the chains or the screaming souls, I didn’t know. It didn’t matter.

“No!” he screamed at me, trying to stay above water. “Try, Dawn, try swimming so we can make it to shore.”

“And then what?” I asked, meaning the demons who were watching gleefully. “Then what happens?”

“At least you’ve tried,” he said, straining, trying to keep both of us above water. I could tell he was losing strength fast. “This doesn’t have to be your destiny. Neither me nor they have the power to decide that.”

I nodded and tried to kick a bit. I could only move my legs like a mermaid and it was clear it wasn’t getting me anywhere.

“Come on, please, angel.”

“I’m trying,” I cried, but got a mouthful of water. I was growing so tired.

“Try for me. Please, for me. I can’t lose you. I can’t, Dawn, I can’t. You’re my hope.”

He yanked at me, giving all he had, and tried to swim for shore. I gave as much as I could but I was losing the battle. My head went under the water. A child’s voice whispered into my ear, “Play with us.”

Sage pulled me up and I gasped for breath. His face was wet, but I couldn’t tell if it was tears or lake water that streamed down his cheeks. I would have loved to see those dimples again. I would have loved to hear him laugh again. I would have loved for him to be inside me again.

“I love you,” I whispered.

He pulled me close and kissed my forehead.

“You’re my hope. I’m not letting go of that.”

He wrapped his arms around me and we both began to sink under the water.

I opened my eyes and saw only him, his eyes open too, his face glowing from the filtered moon like the statue of an angel lit beneath a ghostly heaven.

I moved in to kiss him, my lips touching his with my last breath. The bubbles around us stilled, the hands stopped, and Lake Shasta welcomed us with open arms, leading us to her silky red floor.

This was it.

My dad, Eric, Mel, my mother, Sage, the band, Jacob, even my horse, they all flashed through my brain, and with the last strength I had, I managed to shed a tear for everything I was going to lose.

All was still. All was black.

A sputtering, low drone filled my head.

A stabbing feeling in my side.

I was rising fast.

My ears popped.

Hands grabbed my shirt and struggled. I was yanked up hard by hands that were under my arms.

I was thrown into something hard and metal. A tinny sound on impact.

There was a pause. A groan.

Something else landed hard next to me. Something heavy smacked me in the face.

My eyes opened and a rush of water came out of my lungs.

I heaved and heaved, getting it all out, trying to get air back in.

“Easy now,” came a familiar voice.

I took in one clear breath and was fully conscious of my surroundings. I was on the floor of a metal boat. Sage was beside me, coughing violently. Jacob was at the helm of the boat, one leg in a cast. He grinned down at us.

“Hope you know you’ve turned me into a criminal,” he said, gunning the boat harder. We bounced hard along the water. “I had to steal some nice old chap’s livelihood. Think how much trout this boat takes in each year.”

I touched Sage on the shoulder to let him know I was okay and sat up, poking my head over the side of the boat. We were just about to ram into the shore where Alva, Sonja, Terri, and Sparky were scrambling to their feet.

Jacob killed the throttle to neutral and we coasted along gently.

“Good evening, ladies,” he called out. “How are you?”

“You asshole,” Alva screamed, blood flying from her mouth.

He shrugged. “You kidnapped my client, you cunt. As if I’d let that pass.”

“You’re supposed to be in hell!”

He gave her a dry look. “Did you really think a mere semi-truck smashing into a tour bus would kill me? Ladies, I toured four cities with Led Zeppelin and I survived that.”

Alva glared at him. “You’re getting off on a technicality here.”

“And you’re losing on a technicality. You want to try and test the code again, I’m going to be in your face. And if it’s not me, it’s another Jacob, or another Jacob. There are just as many of us managers as there are demons.”

“Enjoy it while it lasts then,” Alva sniped. Her silky eyes rested on me and I felt a vague burning in the back of my head. I hoped it was a concussion.

“Thanks, ladies. Remember to buy Sage Knightly’s solo album when it comes out, it’s sure to be a real hit.”

Jacob gunned the engine to a roar and we sped away from the muddy banks. But it wasn’t loud enough to drown out Alva’s final cry.

“Be careful what you wished for, Dawn!”

I looked at the guys for confirmation but Jacob was grinning like a madman, piloting the small fishing boat at breakneck speed and Sage was coughing into his arm, his muscles tense.

I sat back and closed my eyes, not daring to fall asleep. Soon though, the lull of the waves and drone of the engine made the world fade to a gentle velvet black.

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

I don’t remember much about what happened next. I remember being carried out of the boat and into a car. The next thing I knew I was being lowered into a hard bed with scratchy sheets. My eyes opened briefly and I saw Sage peering down at me, his lips curled into a hint of a smile.

Then I woke up. I sat up in a strange bed and looked around a strange room. It was wood-paneled, but real wood, like the room was made out of logs. There was a chair and a table and the bed I was lying in, completely naked. My chest and forehead were bandaged up, as were a few places on my legs.

Beside me, lit by the sun that was streaming in through the single window, was Sage. He was sleeping on his back, his head tilted to the side. He was naked too, at least from the waist up, and his firm, thick chest and rigid abs were bandaged. His face looked peaceful, his lips almost smiling in his sleep.

I thought back to the night before. Jacob. He came and got us out. Where was he? I looked around the room for a sign then spotted a letter on the table.

I got up and tried to walk over but ended up limping. I’d done something to my ankle during the bus accident, or maybe it happened when Graham and the GTFOs bashed me on the head and I woke up on the raft. It didn’t matter. It hurt.

I made a mental note to try and find painkillers somewhere and snatched the letter up.

The cover said Dawn and Sage and had a heart drawn around it. It felt thick in my hands.

I ripped it open and wasn’t surprised to pull out a letter from Jacob. I peered into the remainder of the envelope. There was a small wad of folded bills.

Like the enigmatic manager himself, it was short and to the point.

Dawn and Sage,

I hope this finds you well. I did the best I could with your injuries, but my skills only go as far as bandaging up Robbie after he’s passed out on the bathroom floor. Speaking of Robbie, he’s fine. He’s in a hospital in Tucson with some minor injuries. Noelle is doing better too..

Hybrid is over, as you both know. That was one of the things that had to be taken away from you. But that’s now in the past and you’re probably better off for it. Sage you’re twenty-eight. You’re free now. Your life starts today. I suggest, if you know what’s good for you, to start working again right away. And on music. I’ll take care of you financially. I’ve included a bunch of money I took from the band over the years. Don’t worry, I knew I’d be giving it back to you one day, I just hoped I’d still have a job. No matter though, I’ll find work and so will you. If you struggle, look me up. I love having assistants.

As for you, Dawn, you’re a trooper through and through. Sorry you got dragged into this whole deal with the devil bit, but the truth is, even though you are Sage’s hope and his biggest fan, you’re just a better writer than that arsekisser at Rolling Stone. My wish for you is to enjoy your young life while you can and to love the ones you’re with. Don’t be like the rest of the youth who piss away their time with false promises of tomorrow. You know better now. Use your time wisely.

Take care, both of you.

I’ll be seeing you soon.

Jacob.

I fished out the wad of bills from the envelope. Instead of a bunch of ones and tens like I’d assume his cockney ass would leave, it was a wad of hundreds. Sage was well-taken care of.

“What’s that?” Sage asked wearily. “And who are you, a naked angel?”

I shot him a smile, overjoyed to see him alive and well.

“It’s from Jacob,” I said, climbing into bed with him. I handed him the letter.

***

***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com

***