Home > Love's Cruel Redemption (The Ghost Bird #12)(11)

Love's Cruel Redemption (The Ghost Bird #12)(11)
Author: C.L. Stone

I pivoted to join him on the way to the house. “Aren’t you worried about Kota and Nathan?”

“Nope.” He smiled and hung on to me on our way up the steps. He let go to open the door. “But can I ask you something?”


“Remember when we were all playing with water guns in front of your house?”


“Remember when we were all swimming and you were cheating?”

“I remember. What about it?”

“We’ve all been pretty stressed out for a really long time,” he said. “And probably for a good reason, but our main reason was you in your old house.” He closed the door behind us and then whispered to me as we went to the back stairs. “You’re out. This thing with Erica, we would have run into that eventually. Almost happened with me this morning. She ran up the stairs when we were kissing.”

Very true. We were taking a lot of risks. We just realized it too late. “We should have been more prepared.”

“We’ll never be prepared for everything, but the most important part is you’re out. And now you know what my goal is?”

“Find Volto?”

“Besides that.”

“...Mr. Hendricks?”

“Not even worried about that. We’re on to him.”

“Then what?”

He stopped at the top of the first flight of stairs, about where we were to turn for the second set. He looked at me and kept his voice low. “Us, Sang. Help me work on us. I was thinking about those times on the drive here.”

“The pool and the water guns?”

“Don’t you remember? We struggle now but we already worked back then. And I think if we can get back to times like that, without all the stress on all of us, then that’s how we make sure the others know it will work too.”

“You want to have a water gun fight?”

He laughed. “Yes. In a pool.”

“In January...”

“Victor’s is heated. Have you even been in it yet? We can still fill the water guns with ice if you want. I recommend it.”

I couldn’t help giggling at his crazy ideas, and in that moment, I realized maybe he was right. “I can’t believe you’re not worried about Erica.”

“Erica loves us,” he said. “She may freak out about the things we do, but she comes around. But that’s between Kota and Nathan. Well you, too...but...I mean, what if Erica doesn’t approve of this? Do you think we’d give up then?”

“Wouldn’t Kota?”

“Not on you,” he said. “He wouldn’t do that.” He perked up. “So I’m not worried. I’d just like to get back to us. I think if we can get into having good times like that, they’ll all lighten up, see this with a more positive perspective.”

Maybe he was right. We were wound up pretty tight, even after I left my parents’ house. It felt like the times Luke mentioned happened eons ago. “Can we think of something else besides freezing water?”

He laughed and nodded. “I know we still need to figure some things out, but let’s not figure it out like it’s a chore and we’re reluctant. Let’s do what we do together.”

His idea was brilliant. Get back to us. “I want to try,” I said.

He beamed. “Yeah. So next time you’re around the others, try to smile a bit, get them to do fun things. We’ll be a bit more careful, set up some ground rules around families.” He reached out to me, touching my cheek softly. “It’s a happy ending for us, Sang. I promise.”

He made me feel better about it. I was still worried about Kota and Nathan, but I had to trust that even if Erica disapproved, somehow they wouldn’t give up on me. Or us.

The Smooth Chilling Thrill

When we got to Victor’s bedroom, we were both surprised to find Gabriel on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. The king-sized bed was made with a white bedspread and plush with dozens of pillows. The baby grand piano dominated the room in the center. The silver, grays, whites and darks of the floors and walls all made Gabriel’s clothes and even his skin seem to pop in contrast.

Gabriel was lying sideways with his knees bent. His two locks of blond hair fell across his eyes. He kept up the color before, but at the moment, I realized the roots were showing by about an inch, matching the rest of the hair in the back.

His hands were over his stomach. He wore jeans and a yellow tank shirt, and he was barefoot. There were pink crystal studs in his ear, the three black rings and a pink ring added in around the crest.

He slowly turned his head as we approached. The moment he saw it was us, his crystal light eyes widened immensely. “About time,” he said. He sat up swiftly and relief flooded over his expression. “Hey! What are you doing here?” He paused and analyzed my outfit. “What the hell are you wearing?”

“We had to run out the door,” I said.

Luke shut the bedroom door behind us. “What are you doing here?”

“I had Pam drop me off when I was supposed to meet Victor, but I don’t know where he is. He’s off doing something. Probably an Academy call.” He yawned and stretched. “I’ve been waiting for someone to come by.”

“Was someone else going to come over?” I asked.

“I was going to wait for Victor,” Gabriel said. “Mr. Blackbourne was going to come by if no one else did, but something happened. What car did you all bring?”

“None,” Luke said. “Kota dropped us off. We were followed for a bit, so he went back to see if he could find him.”

Gabriel made a face, exposing his teeth. “There’s no car here for us to take. So I guess we’re stuck unless we walk down to the hospital.”

“It’d be a bit of a walk,” Luke said. “And we probably shouldn’t take Dr. Green’s car right now. Not unless it’s an emergency.”

“What’s Mr. Blackbourne doing?” I asked.

“Mr. Blackbourne things,” Gabriel said. “We really need more cars.”

“What happened to your bike?” Luke asked.

“It’s too damn cold to drive that thing right now,” he said.

Luke walked away from me and toward the bathroom. “Then let’s do something fun since we may be here for a bit. Think up something. I’ll be right out.” He closed the door behind himself.

I went over the piano and sat on the bench. Gabriel jumped up and joined me, sitting next to me, placing his phone on top of the piano.

We toyed with the piano, figuring out Marry Had a Little Lamb, and then testing every key.

“Should we be messing with it?” I asked him.

He tapped at the black keys, making his fingers look like little legs jumping from one to the other. “It’s a piano. You’re supposed to mess with it.”

His phone buzzed, and he scooped it up off the top of the piano, checking the message.

“Is it them?” I asked.

“Yeah, it’s Victor. But it looks like it is just us up here for a while.” He moved the piano key cover over until it closed. “So we...probably shouldn’t mess with this.”

“So we don’t make noise while Victor isn’t here? So no one hears us?”

“No,” he said sheepishly and then grinned. “He just knows I like playing with it when he isn’t here, and he just said to stop. He just had it retuned after the last time.”

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