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Archers of Avalon, Book Three
Archers of Avalon, Book Three
Scarlet had her memories back,which meant two things.
She knew where the Fountain ofYouth was.
And she was mad at Tristan.
Still clutching a bloodstainedknife in her hand, she marched through the graveyard and glanced over hershoulder at the green-eyed boy she’d loved for centuries. “By the way, yousuck.”
“Wow,” he said.
“I can’t believe you tried to killyourself.”
“I was trying to keep you alive.”
“Agh. Spare me your sacrificialagenda.” Another memory hit her and she turned to face him, her blood boiling.“And you let me wander around with amnesia for two years before meeting me?”
He opened his mouth, but Scarletcut him off. “And then you let me date Gabriel? What the hell, Tristan?”
A muscle flexed in his jaw. “Firstof all, I was supposed to die. So I didn’t think intervening in your love lifewas any of my business. Gabriel made you feel happy and safe and I wasn’t aboutto screw that up for you. And second,”he raised his voice over the protest on Scarlet’s lips, “the reason I didn’t‘meet’ you for two years was because I didn’t think I’d be able to followthrough with killing myself if you and I were, you know…pals.” His eyes glinted.
She scowled. “Well that was selfish of you.” Turning, she resumed her walk through the darkcemetery.
“You think I was selfish?” Scarlet could almost hear his jaw drop as hefollowed behind her. “You’re the onewho shut everyone out. You’re the onewho kept secrets and stole stuff and ran away—“
“I had to run away,” she snapped.
His voice rumbled in anger. “Didyou have to die too?”
Spinning around to facehim—again—Scarlet met his hard eyes in the darkness. “I wasn’t trying to die.”
“But you did,” he said coldly.
They stared at each other for amoment, heartbreak colliding in the space between them. Because of herconnection to him, Scarlet could feel the hurt and fear pulsing through hisveins as his eyes traced over her in the moonlight.
But she could also feel the loveheating his core as he took her in. And it was the love—that undying fire thatblazed in him and burned through her—that stole her words away as she looked athim.
He was so beautiful. Even standing in a graveyard, covered in dirt and blood, he was striking. His dark hair fell wild around his face and his green eyes shone in the moonlight.
A shiver of desire ran through him--or was it her?--and Scarlet clenched the knife in her hand so she wouldn't do something stupid. Like crush her mouth to his and claw at his clothes until there was nothing between them but heat and skin. But that would, of course, lead to death.
Everything always led to death.
Tristan softened his voice as he scanned her face. “What happened in your last life, Scar? What are you hiding?”
Scarlet's chesttightened at his question.
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Millions of Avalon stars winkedfrom above and reminded her of a time when she and Tristan spent their days inthe trees and everything was fair; everything was simple.
Nothing was simple anymore.
He tilted his head and repeated,"What are you hiding, Scar?"
She could feel his heartbeatechoing inside her soul; powerful and constant, as his emotions swam into her.
Could she tell him the truth aboutthe fountain? The whole truth?
The truth that would undo any hopethey had of a happy ending?
She opened her mouth—
“Holy crap! Did you guys see that?”Nate jogged up to them with a knife in his hand, a grin on his face, and atrickle of blood running down his neck. “I totally kicked Ashman ass overthere! I was all like hi-ya and you wanna piece of me? I was a superslayer! Buffy’s got nothing on me.”
Scarlet shut her mouth and shiftedaway from Tristan’s searching eyes as Nate continued.
“It was life and death out there,guys. Life and death. They just keptcoming at me and I just kept putting them down.” Nate took a moment to catchhis breath. “I mean, sure, I screamed like a girl a few times and accidentlystabbed myself at the beginning, but still. I feel amazing! For the first timein five hundred years I feel alive.”
Moving his gaze away from Scarlet,Tristan eyed Nate's neck. “You’re bleeding.”
Nate touched his wound and drewback bloody fingers. “I’m bleeding.Haha! I have a battle wound. Oh, this is so awesome.” Tucking his knife intohis waistband with a smile, he looked around. “Where’s everyone else?”
Scarlet’s stomach churned asreality whooshed in and slapped her in the face. “Raven kidnapped Heather.”Saying it out loud had emotion crawling up her throat.
Nate’s face fell. “What?”
With a deep breath, Scarlet summedup the evening’s events. “Raven is actually Clare—Heather’s boss at the coffeeshop—not Laura. Laura was working for Raven, but Raven killed her and dumpedher body in a grave—”
Ohmygoodness. Laura was reallydead.
Myguardian is dead.
More emotion wiggled up her throatand she quickly swallowed, trying to keep her focus on the things at hand.
Scarlet cleared her throat. “ThenRaven had an Ashman kick the crap out of me so she could kidnap Heather andhold her ransom for the map to the fountain. And the lifeforce between Tristanand I shifted. So I can still feel his emotions, but he can’t feel mineanymore.”
If Tristan were still able to senseher, he’d know she was freaking out. Not just about Heather or Laura. But aboutthe fountain and what finding it would mean.
A sick feeling swirled inside hergut.
“And because the lifeforce shifted,Scarlet now has her memories back,” Tristan added, sliding his eyes to her.
Nate blinked. “What? I go slaying for ten minutes and I miss everything—wait.” Hiseyes shot to Scarlet. “Does that mean you know where the fountainis?”
It was decision time.
No truth? The whole truth? A vaguetruth?
“Yes,” she said, going with vague.It was always safer to start vague. “But we need to rescue Heather before we doanything else.”
Her heart started to hammer at thethought of her happy friend being held hostage by a vengeful witch with a drugproblem. So many things could go wrong.
So many things already had.
Nate nodded. “Did you see whichdirection Raven took her?”
Looking around the cemetery,Scarlet shook her head and let out a groan of frustration as guilt swamped hersoul. “This is all my fault. I should have stayed by Heather’s side. I shouldhave protected her.”
Tristan scanned the premises. Hiscoat was sliced open in several places and dark splotches of blood slowlyseeped through the shredded fabric of the black T-shirt he wore beneath.
His immortal body wasn’t healinglike it should, which meant his wounds had been inflicted with Bluestoneweapons.
“Dude.” Nate caught sight ofTristan’s injuries. “Are you okay?”
Tristan looked down at his stainedclothes and shrugged as if the slashes in his skin were more of a nuisance thananything else. “I’m fine. The cuts are shallow. Where’s Gabriel?”
Scarlet furrowed her brow. “He camewith me to the coffee shop, but he was gone when I came out. He wasn’t with youguys?”
They shook their heads and worrycrept through Scarlet’s veins.
“I’m sure he’s around heresomewhere.” Tristan looked calm as he glanced around, but Scarlet could feelconcern coiling inside his chest. “Why don’t you two go look for him at TheMillhouse and I’ll search the rest of the graveyard.”
Split up. Find Gabriel. RescueHeather.
And stay away from the fountain.
Okay, that last part might bedifficult since Amnesia Scarlet spilled the beans about the freaking map, butwhatever. She could still throw them off. She could lie.
She’d been lying for years.
As Scarlet and Nate headed out ofthe cemetery, Tristan walked deeper into its shadowy depths. Distant music fromthe ongoing Avalon carnival drifted through the night air, making the windsound eerily happy as it wrapped around headstones and swept through Scarlet’shair.
Putting her knife away, she rubbedher head where it still throbbed from the blow Raven had dealt her with thebusiness end of a crossbow.
One more reason to hate the crazywitch.
Everything was so screwed up—
A sharp pain darted up Scarlet’sbody and twisted around her insides with liquid fire until she doubled over.Sinking to the ground, Scarlet clutched her chest and stomach, afraid her skinmight split open and empty her insides all over the grass. She tried to suck inair, but her lungs wouldn’t work.
Nate dropped down beside her withterror in his eyes. “What’s wrong?”
The fire turned to ice and wrappedaround her organs and bones, squeezing without mercy. Scarlet couldn’t help butcry out loud.
“Tristan!” Nate called, checkingher pulse before pulling at the skin beneath her eyes to check their color.
Usually when Scarlet felt pain ofany sort it was because her heart was failing. And when her heart started tofail, her eyes would glow and her nose would bleed. But this didn’t feel likeheart failure.
This felt like something elseentirely.
She squeezed her eyes shut andgrimaced until the agony started to subside. Her muscles loosened, her lungsstarted to expand, and soon Scarlet wasn’t hurting anymore.
Out of pain, but still veryconfused, she opened her eyes to find Tristan crouched beside her.
His green eyes were glowing intothe night as panic oozed from his pores. “What just happened?” He searched herface.
Scarlet rubbed her chest to makesure all her insides were where they were supposed to be. Yep. Still in onepiece.
“She just collapsed in pain.” Nateturned his eyes from Scarlet to Tristan. “Dude. You need to calm down. Youreyes are super green.”
Tristan rubbed a hand over hismouth, still looking at Scarlet. “It must be the transition. Maybe when thecurse shifted we switched places, putting Scarlet in pain without me, just likeI used to be in pain when I was without her.”
That would suck.
“I guess that would make sense.”Nate scratched the back of his head. “Especially since her pain went away whenyou walked back over to us.”
Scarlet stood from the ground andbrushed the cemetery grass off her pants as Tristan and Nate rose to standbeside her.
A surge of guilt rolled throughTristan and Scarlet hurried to reassure him. “I’m fine now—”
“You’re not fine,” he snapped. “You fell to the ground in pain when I wasonly thirty feet away from you.”
That was weird.
Nate pressed a finger to his lips.“If the lifeforce reversed your roles—”
“Oh no.” Scarlet’s eyes widened asthe possibility sank in. “If our roles have been reversed, does that mean mytouch can make Tristan sick? My touch can kill him?”
She took a step away from Tristanand felt his pounding heartbeat soften. Stepping back up to him, the poundingresumed. “Oh no. No, no—”
“Okay. Don’t freak out.” Nate helda hand up.
“His heart responds to mynearness.” Scarlet shook her head as her chest tightened in despair. “No, no,no.”
This couldn’t be happening.
“So it appears the curse hasshifted,” Nate said calmly. “We can handle this.” He held up a calm hand tomatch his calm face and calm eyes as he looked at her. “All we need to do ismake sure you two stay within close range of one another so you don’t writhe inpain, but far enough away so Tristan doesn’t, you know, die.” He shrugged.“Easy. We’ll just reenact the ten-foot rule between you guys.”
Nate stared at them. Waiting.
“What?” Tristan said.
Nate rolled his eyes and thrust hishands in between Scarlet and Tristan, pushing their bodies away from oneanother. “Ten feet. There you go. Now let’s go find Gabriel so we can get ourHeather rescue on. Then we can finally find the Fountain of Youth and cureeveryone of this God-forsaken and completely obnoxious curse.” Turning, heheaded down the street toward the Millhouse.
Scarlet and Tristan slowly followedafter him in stunned silence.
She was killing Tristan with hervery presence.
Glancing at him under the yellowglow of the streetlamps, Scarlet ran her eyes along his profile as he staredforward with a clenched jaw. He was fierce. He was patient. He was everythingshe loved.
And he was dying.
Divulging the truth about theFountain of Youth was no longer an option. Tristan’s life was at stake.
To hell with happily ever after.
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Grab the first two books in the Archers of Avalon series!