I can’t get any of it back. Killing him won’t bring them back.

They’re lost to me forever.

And it hurts. It hurts so fucking bad I can barely breathe.

Pain slices through my chest, tears push at my eyes, and hatred boils up inside me. A hatred as thick, black, and endless as the emptiness in his fucking gaze.

He’s hurt me… he’s hurt me more than I can bear, more than I can fucking process right now. Hurt me so bad, he almost broke me.

But I’m not his only victim.

There are countless others out there. Countless other lives he’s ruined and destroyed without care, with pure malice in his heart, and I’m not only doing this for myself.

I’m doing it for them.

Flipping open the lighter, I spin the wheel that lights the wick.

“Meghan, baby…” Gabriel calls out behind me, and I almost ignore him for trying to ruin my moment.

I want…

No, I need to watch this motherfucker burn for his sins.

“If you’re going to light that fucker on fire now, come back here and do it.”

I feel a tug on my sleeve.

“Here, let me escort you,” Lucifer says.

As my feet carry me backward, my focus remains locked on Alexei. I keep staring in his eyes, hoping to see… something.

Anything.

It’s not until I reach the safety of the doorway that he tries to work his mangled jaw. A garbled word comes out of him. A word that sounds Russian.

A word he used against me.

Then his mouth mangles name as he reaches a hand out to me. “Meghan.”

“You should be safe now,” I hear Lucifer say beside me.

And that’s all the push I need.

Tossing the zippo forward, I hold my breath as it moves through the air.

When it lands, it catches the trail of liquid that Gabriel left on fire.

A line of flames blazes up to Alexei.

Giving up on standing, he falls to his hands just as the flames reach him.

The heat and pain must not register at first. As the flames climb up him, he begins to crawl forward.

Then he suddenly stops and rears back, screaming.

His agony is a beautiful lullaby, soothing the dark, vengeful monster that’s awakened inside me.

I watch, mesmerized, as the flames lick, flicker, and dance across his body.

His suffering, his screams, cleansing me.

His desperate attempts to put the fire out, and failing, filling me with a sick joy.

I hope to god, he’s experiencing the worst pain a person can feel right now. I hope it’s a taste of what he’ll feel in the bowels of hell.

I don’t know how long I watch him, my eyes literally burning from the light and smoke, before someone finally speaks.

“Damn, I almost forgot what a burning body smells like,” Andrew grumbles.

“Pussy,” Gabriel chuckles.

But now that Andrew has mentioned it, I’m starting to smell it too…

Searing the image of Alexei thrashing around, trying to put his flames out, one last time into my brain for those long nights when I’m missing my parents, I turn my back on him.

“Damn, I knew you would do it right,” Johnathan grins at Gabriel, walking up to us from the end of the hallway. “I can’t wait to tell Beth.”

Chest puffing up with pride, Gabriel jerks his chin toward me. “Wasn’t me.”

Johnathan’s eyes cut to me and then fill up with appreciation.

“I don’t mean to rush things along,” Lucifer says apologetically, “but Simon has just informed me that we’re about to go outside our window. Shall we be on our way, gentlemen?”

“You ready to go?” Gabriel asks me, and once again I feel all eyes on me.

Voice raw, I nod my head and say, “Yeah, it’s starting to get a little smoky in here.”

Gabriel chuckles and wraps his arm around me. I lean into his side as we walk down the hall.

“I can’t fucking wait to get home,” he says as we step outside, and takes a deep breath of fresh air.

“Don’t even think about it, asshole, “Andrew says, coming through the doorway. “You still need to get stapled up.”

Gabriel mutters, “Fuck.”

Andrew nods his head. “Yeah.” Then he looks at me, staring at my head like it’s somehow personally offended him. “That’s a nasty looking knot you’ve got on your forehead…”

I reach up and wince when my fingers find the knot on my forehead.

Gabriel snarls. “Alexei cracked her with a gun.”

“Yeah, I can tell,” Andrew says. “And I don’t like those bruises around your neck…. You’ll both need a thorough look over.”

Funny, I didn’t notice any pain until Andrew pointed out the knot to me, but now I’m aware of nearly every little ache in my body.

I hurt all fucking over.

“We can do it at the compound,” Lucifer says, coming up to join us. He smiles at me. “Lily has been worried sick about you, Meghan. And I have it on good authority that Evelyn and Abigail have been baking up a storm, preparing for your return.”

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