Home > Second Debt (Indebted #3)(8)

Second Debt (Indebted #3)(8)
Author: Pepper Winters

“This—it can’t be real. No one could be this diabolical.”

You’re wrong. The Hawks can.

I pinched the bridge of my nose. “Quiet.” Looking back up, I demanded, “Say goodbye. We’re leaving, and I doubt you’ll be allowed back up here.”

Her mouth twisted with black amazement. “You…I don’t have any words for what I think about you. How sick you make me.”

“Good. I don’t want words. I want to leave.” Storming forward, I grabbed her elbow, yanking her away from the cemetery.

“No!” she screamed, scratching my hand and backpedalling. A huge wave of anguish buffeted me. Everything she felt poured from her like a tsunami. I stood, unable to move as it drowned me.

Apart from knocking her unconscious and carrying her back to the Hall, I had no way of making her leave. I couldn’t handle carrying her kicking and screaming.

I’d break.

She rattled with the pieces of her broken heart, and just once, I wanted to give in to the benevolence that others enjoyed.

But I couldn’t.

I couldn’t stand there while she grieved.

It just wasn’t possible.

Not for a man like me.

Sighing, I said, “Fine. Stay. Pay your respects and worship the dead, but you’ll do it alone.”

You’ll do it alone, so I don’t lose the rest of my soul.

This wasn’t a good place for a Hawk, but in a way, it was home to a Weaver. She might find whatever she was missing by conversing with her past.

“I’ll—I’ll leave you alone.”

Nila balled her hands, looking as if she wanted to strike me. “Disappear, Mr. Hawk. Run like you always do. Good fucking riddance. Leave. Get the hell away from me and don’t come back!”

I paused for a fraction. I should do something about her outburst—teach her that I wouldn’t permit her to raise her voice, but I was done here.

Taking another step away, I said, “I’ll see you back at the Hall.”

She didn’t reply.

With a black-laced heart and thundering headache, I backed away, faster and faster. Her arms wrapped around her body and her hair danced in the turbulent breeze. She looked like a witch placing a curse upon my house. Then she collapsed at the base of her mother’s tombstone, bowing in the dirt. I left her with only ghosts for company, kneeling on the grave of her ancestors.

Shuddering once, I turned and didn’t look back.

I GOT MY wish.

My wish to become as cold and as merciless as Jethro came true as I huddled on my mother’s grave. My sweaty skin turned to ice with renewed hatred for the Hawks. I struggled with rage so damn strong I was sure the earth would crack beneath me and swallow me whole.

How could he?

How could they?

How could devils live so blatantly amongst us?

My teeth ached from clenching; my eyes bruised with unshed tears.

I breathed revenge. I ate vengeance. All I saw was hate.

I felt invincible with rage, as if I controlled the tectonic plates and had the power to summon a catastrophic earthquake to devour this disease-riddled place forever.

How could any goodness live inside me when all I wanted was four graves—one for each of the Hawk men? How could I believe in right and wrong when all I wanted was their blackened hearts bleeding at my feet?

Morning turned to noon.

Afternoon turned to dusk.

Twilight turned to midnight.

I stayed vigil, moving slowly between the six graves. My bloodless lips whispered as I read aloud their horrific epitaphs.

Farewell to Mary Weaver

Long ye may rest in solitude and reap the havoc in which you sowed

My heart broke at the thought of my grandmother and great-great-grandmother enduring such a life.

Herein rests the soul of Bess Weaver

Her only redemption was paying her debts

The oldest looking tombstone had the simplest carving but the one with the worst desecration of a dead soul.

The corpse of the Wicked Weaver who started it all

Wife to a traitor, mother to a whore

I couldn’t forgive. I couldn’t forget. I couldn’t even comprehend how I could ever set eyes upon the Hawks again without wanting to slaughter them with my bare hands. My rage fed me better than any material sustenance.

I wished I had magic; a potion to strike them all dead.

Every murmur that escaped me, every incantation and promise, worked like a spell.

My whispers wrapped around me like a cocoon—turning my tenderhearted naivety into a chrysalis where I rapidly evolved into a monster as bad as them.

I threw myself into darkness. I traded any goodness I had left for the power to destroy them. And with each chant, I chained myself deeper to my fate—cementing me forever to my task.

I didn’t want food or water or shelter.

I didn’t need love or understanding or connection.

I wanted retribution.

I wanted justice.

No one came to get me. If they cared I was missing, no Hawk came to corral me back to my prison.

In a way, I wished they would come. Because then my removal from my dead family would’ve been a justified struggle. I would’ve screamed and cursed and fought so hard, I would’ve drawn their blood.

But they never came.

So, I had to swallow my bitter resentment and plod back to purgatory on my own accord. I couldn’t fight. I couldn’t scream.

I had to deliver myself willingly back into the devil’s clutches.

By the time I entered my quarters, I shook so hard I was sure my teeth were chipped from chattering so badly—from cold and from horror.

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