SNEAK PEEK OF WEB OF MEMORY!
The rest of that week passed quickly, and soon it was Friday night.
After a long successful day of working outdoors in Hayden’s gardens, I was looking forward to a long soak in Lash’s tub. Venus was at Samuel’s estate in Europe, visiting Sharon, with Titus as escort. Kyle was on the mend, though Leri had said it would be some time before he was up and around again.
I took off my clothes, started running the bathwater, and then heard a hard knock at the bedroom door.
Who could that be? Devlin and Lash were out riding on their motorcycles. They’d asked me several times to come, saying they would drop me off before they went “cruising.” I’d told them no way in hell. My memories of crashing over a year ago with Devlin while riding on his motorcycle were still too strong, so what that I hadn’t broken any bones?
I pulled on my bathrobe, and went to the door. By the time I reached it, I had a sinking idea of who it could be. Sure enough, I opened it to find Danial.
“Is something wrong?” I said coolly.
“No, Lady,” Danial replied neutrally. “Devlin said you would be here alone for a few hours, and I wanted to let you know that I would be in my room. My cell will be on. I’m working on a new drawing, but feel free to call if you need something.”
For Danial to be “on call” was a usual thing now on the nights Dev and Lash went off to do male bonding. As much as they liked to hellraise together, they worried about leaving me, and told Danial to leave his cell on, as a backup for Titus and for Kyle. Since Danial rarely went anywhere, he always agreed. But Danial had never come to my room before to speak to me. It must be because Kyle is hurt, and Titus is off with V…
I gritted my teeth as the rest of Danial’s words sank in. The “new” drawing was likely of Emma, who’d come to Danial last night for more than triple the total time Devlin took with his normal three donors. Slut.
“Sounds fine, Danial,” I said, giving him a frosty smile. “I’ll be here in Lash’s room—”
Shit! I forgot Frank! I ran quickly to the bathroom, shut off the tub, and began looking into the water for any dark specks. Ah ha! I finally saw the black speck at the far side of the tub, the rapidly drowning spider that Lash and I had nicknamed Frank. I fished him out, put him to the side, and he crawled off stalwartly to hide under the lip of the tub, dragging his waterlogged back legs and body with his front four legs.
“You never learn,” I said tenderly, watching him crawl off to hide. “One of these days I’m not going to remember in time, and you’re going to drown, Frank—”
“What are you doing?” Danial said curiously from the doorway. “Who are you talking to?”
“Saving a spider,” I explained, blushing. “He’s in there most times because we don’t use this tub too often anymore, and he’ll die if I don’t scoop him out—”
Danial had become still as a statue, watching me. “Why did you save him, Lady?” he said raggedly. “Why?”
It suddenly hit me: he remembered that other night with me years ago. The spider in my old house whom I’d saved in front of him, the night Danial had asked me to give him my Oath. Oh shit. “Because I can’t watch him struggle to live without helping him,” I said, tense as a coiled spring.
“Why not just move him somewhere else?” Danial whispered. “He would be safe, if you moved him.”
His old but still familiar words made my heart race. I took a deep breath and tried to slow it. “He might not be able to survive where I put him. Outside right now, it’s too cold. Winter is coming—”
“Why do you bother to save him, knowing you will only have to save him again?” Every one of his words echoing down from years past was raw agony, tortured.
I took another deep breath and faced him. “Because I can’t let him die, not when I know I can save him.”
Danial came to me hesitantly. He almost reached out for me, but then he drew his hand back. I held his gaze with my eyes, but didn’t reach out for him.
My reason said to break the moment, to stop what was happening with a few cruel words. But I felt the same for him as I had that long ago night I’d first saved him. I just couldn’t leave him in his grief, because it was so much easier for me to let him think I was dead, not if there was a chance that he would remember me. He’d done so much for me, to save me, to make me happy, and he was the father of my firstborn child, and my Oathed One. Even if he didn’t remember that any more, I did.
I owed him this. And God damn it, whatever else I was, I always paid my debts.
“I remember a night, years ago,” Danial said hoarsely, his expression fearful and also hopeful. “A night I never told anyone about, not Theo, not my brother, no one. I remember another place, another woman, and another bathtub that held a drowning spider.”
I thought frantically. What did I say to him that night? I needed the exact words. What were they?
“She saved its life in front of my eyes, even though she was embarrassed after. I told her that she wasn’t crazy for saving a spider. I compared it to her saving me, when an attacker was trying to kill me.”
Danial had said that and more, the night he’d asked me for my Oath.
“She said to me a single phrase,” he whispered. “But it was enough for me to know that she was the one I wanted. I asked her to promise herself to me that very night.”
There was so much hope in his voice, so much pain and fear that he might be wrong, that I wouldn’t know the words, or even what he was talking about. Reliving the memory, my words of that long ago night suddenly came back to me. “I told you I couldn’t let you die, not if I could save you.”
Tears spilled out of Danial’s eyes as he reached for me, embracing me as if he would never let me go. “You are her,” he rasped, shaking with joy and realized hope. “You are my Sar.”
Sarelle’s return to her loved ones brings a brief measure of solace, even as she mourns all that changed in her absence. Rene’s presence and Sar’s pact with Shaker add as much tension as comfort, as the delicate balance of Sar’s life threatens to collapse under the weight of all she endured as Michael’s prisoner. Determined to reclaim her life, Sar fights back, inadvertently sparking Danial’s memory as an unseen ancient enemy prepares to strike a fatal blow.