Albion’s Circle: The Deepest Cut – Excerpt #2
This life was no different than the others. She was absolutely beautiful. My Annwyl. Anna, I reminded myself. She was Anna now. I ached to go to her but held myself back. I had to be careful. I wasn’t going to make the same mistakes I’d made before. I wouldn’t lose her. Not again.
“Why are we just sitting here?”
I glanced at Galahad but said nothing. Nothing I said would shut him up anyway. It had only taken one lifetime to learn that about the guy.
“It’s been weeks, Merlin. Weeks. If your goal is to be a stalker, mission accomplished.” He ran a hand through his hair, causing the dark brown locks to stick up all over the place. “I thought the whole point was to bring her home, complete the Circle, defeat evil, live happily ever after. What the fuck are we doing sitting in a dark club watching her… Ah shit, I’m pretty sure she just took something. I’m going out on a limb here, and saying it’s not Tylenol. And…you’re not surprised. Not even a little.” He sighed.
“No,” I responded simply. It didn’t surprise me she would turn to that. It wouldn’t be the first time one of us used a crutch to deal with what we remembered and lived with. Of course, understanding that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt. It sure as hell didn’t ease the guilt I felt. It surrounded me, as it always did. I wished I had found her sooner, that I’d been able to shoulder some of the pain Annwyl…Anna experienced.
Galahad’s voice penetrated my thoughts, and I turned toward him again.
“What are we waiting for?”
“She’s… She might not be ready.”
“Ready for what?” he asked, eyes wide and disbelieving. “How is leaving her to deal with everything on her own helping her, or any of us?”
“She’s always been so fragile,” I murmured, almost to myself. “The fact that we found her this time, before she—” I could hardly swallow around the lump that appeared in my throat, let alone speak.
I’d never gotten to her in time. Every life, every fucking one, I’d been too late. Sometimes, by mere minutes. Her body still warm, as if she were simply sleeping and she’d open her eyes and see me. But that had only been an illusion, a desperate hope. It never happened that way. No, soon, even the hint of life leached out, and I was left with the empty shell, a glaring reminder of how I’d failed her yet again.
“Merlin.” Galahad laid a hand on my knee and leaned close. “You found her this time. The other times… Stop thinking of them. It doesn’t matter now.”
But it did matter, I wanted to scream. Of course it mattered. Because she would remember all of it. Know how I had been unable to save her time after time. The shame and guilt—my constant companions—wouldn’t be erased by kind words, even if they came from a well-meaning friend.
I turned my attention back to her, just in time to see the glass slip from her grasp and crash to the floor. It was clear, even from across the bar, that she was pretty well flying high. The bartender, the one who’d put her in that state in the first place, seemed to be checking to make sure she was okay. So, maybe he wasn’t a complete douchebag. Though, my magic flared, skittered along my body, just under the skin, wanting to knock him on his ass for daring to touch Anna. Then, it nearly exploded as they kissed.
“Throttle back,” Galahad said under his breath, and I realized the glasses on the low table in front of us were shaking, dancing on the shiny surface.
I cursed and reined it in, but fuck, it was hard.