I was too scared to look. I kept staring straight ahead. Not glancing down at all. I blinked back the tears. The others started moving around the room. I heard them cutting my brother free, but I still couldn’t look.
“Cloud?” Raphael grasped my hand. “You can look at me now.”
I blinked a few more times before looking down. My legs collapsed as I started crying again. I rested my head on the edge of the bed, and Raphael’s arms came around me. “I thought you were going to die. I thought that was it. It was like losing a piece of my soul. We’re twins. You’re me and I’m you. You can’t die.”
“I’m not going to die. I’m okay.”
I wiped my face and looked at him. And then hit him. “Don’t ever scare me like that again. I swear. I don’t… You can’t… Just. No.”
He smiled. “I’ll do my best.”
I stood up and leaned over him, giving him a hug. I held on to him a little too long and Raphael laughed. “Hey, Cloud?”
“What?” I mumbled against his chest.
I started laughing. Hard. It felt good. I’d been so panicked. Ever since z-Daniel bit him, I hadn’t relaxed.
When I caught my breath, I sat back down on the ground, exhausted.
Shane cleared his throat. “You bonded with this wolf?”
“Lucas…” Oh shit. I’d never learned his last name. I’d just mated to a guy whose last name I didn’t even know. What was wrong with me?
“Reyes,” he said for me.
“You paid for my hotel room?”
He raised a brow. “Yes. I’m the pack Alpha.”
I shook my head. It made sense. I just never put it together.
Shane cleared his throat again. “That means you broke your oath with Luciana.”
Oh God. I’d practically forgotten about that. I wasn’t tied to her anymore. My magic was my own again. “Yeah.” A grin spread across my face. “Yeah, I did.”
“So Beth, Raphael, and the others can take an oath to you. You’re stronger than her. I know you are.”
No. Nope. No way. “I don’t want to be a coven leader. I don’t want to be part of a coven at all. I’ve had enough of that for one lifetime.”
“It could be temporary,” Beth said. “Just until this is over and we join a new coven.”
“I don’t know…” Even temporarily, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. I hadn’t even tasted freedom yet, and now I was tying myself down.
I’d already tied myself to Lucas, but Mr. July was worth it. But anything more…
“Do it,” Raphael said. “Then she can’t use us to get back at you anymore.”
“You’ll still have your freedom,” Lucas said. “I’ll make sure you travel and take all the courses they offer at whatever college you choose. I won’t let you give up your dreams.”
“Please,” Beth said. “I don’t want to be tied to her anymore.”
I clenched my fists at my side. Every part of me rebelled against this. “But not a blood oath. Just the normal one.”
Beth gave me a sharp nod. “Fine.”
“By Claudia de Santos before whom this sanctuary is holy,” Beth, Raphael, and Shane said the words as one. “I will be true and faithful, and love all which she loves and shun all which she shuns, according to the laws of God, magic, and the order of the world. Nor will I ever with will or action, through word or deed, do anything which is unpleasing to her, on the condition that she will hold to me as I shall deserve it, and that she will perform everything as it was in our agreement when I submitted myself to her and chose her will.”
As they finished, I felt the oath tighten like a noose around my neck, binding me to them and them to me. It wasn’t that I couldn’t bear it—I just didn’t want it. I didn’t want the responsibility that came with it.
The magic snapped into place, and if I’d been bone tired before, now I felt half-dead.
The phone rang, and Adrian left to answer.
I made my escape to the bathroom. I needed to wash my face. To take a breath.
When I came out, Adrian was waiting for me. “St. Ailbe’s has been attacked again. We’ve got to get there. Can you get us back like you got here?”
I shook my head. “Not without making another bargain with a fey. I think one—”
“You made a bargain with a fey!” Raphael yelled from his bed. “You bonded with a wolf and made a bargain with a fey? What were you thinking? Why would you do this?”