13. “Let her go.”

I knocked once then opened the door, “It’s time,” I announced as I made my way into the bedroom. Pagan had been given a chance to say her goodbyes to Wyatt. A transporter had been alerted of Wyatt’s return. Everything was set in place. Soon, I’d have the eternity I’d always imagined with Pagan.

She pulled on the short length of the black dress Father had supplied for her to wear. It was his way of showing Dankmar just who Pagan belonged to now. I knew she hated the flimsiness of the dress but I’d managed to get Father to agree to so much already I wasn’t about to argue with him on this one.

“Let’s do this,” she replied making her way to the door. Thankful that she wasn’t going to put up a fight I held out my warm to escort her but she backed away and shook her head, “No, it’s not over yet. You get Wyatt safely in a transporter’s hands and out of this place, then I’ll hold up my end of the deal.”

She was stubborn but I wasn’t going to argue. Instead, I nodded my head.

“You lead the way,” she said once we were in the hallway.

“You know that Dankmar will probably be here, Pagan.”

“I figure he would be.”

“You understand the implications if you go to him.”

“Yes Leif, I know you’ll kill off everyone I love and suck their souls down here to live in fornication for all eternity. Got it.”

I loved her so fiercely but she could make me so angry. “Pagan, this isn’t about me. I’ve told you this is my father. It’s how he operates. I can’t control him. You have no idea how much cajoling I had to do in order for him to give Wyatt’s soul back. And to be honest the only reason I think he agreed is because he sees entertainment value in you refusing to go to Dankmar and that he will be the one controlling you.”

I noticed the door across the hall. It opened slightly and two large brown eyes peered out. The wide-eyed expression on Sabine’s face told me she had heard quite a bit of the argument Pagan and I were having. I had to focus on my problem at hand. I’d deal with Sabine and her sister later.

“Now please understand, no pain you have suffered is because I wanted it. I never wanted you to hurt. I always thought you’d want me. That your soul would want me. Hell when I get anywhere near you your eyes look like they’ve caught on fire. You’re supposed to want me. But you don’t. Instead you want him. And you can’t have him, Pagan. It was never meant to be.”

“Okay,” was her simple reply.

“Okay?”

“You heard me, Leif. I said okay. Now let’s go.”

Well, that was easier than I’d expected. With one last glance in Sabine’s nosy direction I turned and made my way to the front entrance.

“Stop it,” I growled at one of the Voodoo spirits as they gawked at Pagan’s body in the dress Father had made her wear.

“May, dat is sumtin to see is it not,” Father called out as he walked into the large foyer.

“Don’t make her uncomfortable, Father,” I pleaded.

“Who me?” he asked in an amused voice. I watched as he lifted his hand and placed two cigarettes in his mouth and then turned his attention to the activities going on outside.

I searched the onlookers for any sight of Sabine’s sister. If I could find her now then once this was over I could help Sabine and her sister escape. Then, it would be time to enjoy my forever with Pagan. That is— if we all survived Death’s fury.

“Please make them stop,” Pagan whispered desperately. Confused I looked down at her then followed her gaze to see two of Father’s harem running their fingers over Wyatt’s crotch. Most teenage guys would enjoy that but I could see that Wyatt was uncomfortable and Pagan was very upset over it. But Wyatt had figured out complaining would only encourage Father.

“If I make a scene Father will then make it much worse. If you don’t want to see one of those two mount Wyatt right here then don’t say a word. Wyatt knows this. That’s why he’s so still.”

Silence fell over the wild streets and people began fleeing. All the laughter and drinking ended as souls felt the presence of Death closing in on them.

“Ah, Death draws near. The fallen ‘ave run to hide,” Father drawled and pulled the two cigarettes from his mouth to exhale small rings of smoke before placing them right back in.

“What does he mean?” Pagan asked.

“Dank is close. The souls of the people in the streets felt him and ran. Unlike you, most humans don’t cling to Death when he’s in his true form. Sure, they like the singer Dank Walker but when he’s truly in Death’s form, they hide.”

Father turned to Wyatt and crooked his finger once. The girls holding onto him released their claim on him as he stepped forward.

Gasps turned my attention to the streets in front of me. Dankmar had come and he hadn’t come alone. Death’s eyes searched until they found Pagan, who I had cuddled up against my side. She was mine.

“Well, well, well, Dankmar and pals. To wat do we owe dis honor?” Father asked in his usual jolly tone.

“You know why I’m here, Ghede,” Dankmar replied not taking his eyes off of Pagan. The possessive gleam in his eyes made my skin crawl in fear. Would I be able to stand up to him? Would Father expect me to handle Dankmar all on my own?

“Tsk tsk tsk, I don know whut you mean. You said to let her choose,” Father announced waving his hand in our direction. “She did.”

The blonde transporter started toward us when Dankmar stopped her. Did he not plan on taking her? Would it really be this easy?

“No. You forced her choice. That wasn’t part of the deal,” Dankmar roared. Pagan shivered in my arms and stepped back away from me.

“Here’s the soul you came for,” Father pushed Wyatt toward Death and instantly Wyatt was in the protection of a transporters arms. Then he was gone. Pagan had gotten her wish, her one demand. It had been fulfilled. Now, Death needed to leave.

“Now is dat all you want or would you lak to axe her yorself?” Father turned toward us, “Come here Pagan,” he coaxed.

She was terrified of Father. I gently squeezed her arm in reassurance then nudged her forward. She had to go to him. If she refused him everything could get ugly.

“Axe her Dankmar,” Father cackled as he grabbed Pagan and shoved her toward Death.

I took a step toward her. What was Father thinking? Dankmar could reach out and take her.

“I want—”

“I didn’t ask you anything just yet, Pagan. Hold onto that thought just a moment more,” Dankmar instructed lifting his gaze from Pagan to focus on Father. “You’ve messed with the wrong guy this time Ghede. You like your entertainment but I was never one to entertain.”

The transporters began to move away from Dankmar. Were they all getting ready to leave? Was this finally over? Then the warriors began to descend. I’d never seen one of the Creator’s warriors before. I’d heard of them. Feared them. But never had I seen them. The massive swords that hung on their side would simply wipe out our world with a single swipe. A human’s freewill was the only power we held. The warriors however were given their power from the actual Creator. We had no chance against them.

“You brought de warriors for a gurl?” Father asked in astonishment.

“Yes,” Dankmar replied then took a step forward holding his hand out to Pagan.

“I can’t,” she sobbed.

“Trust me,” he replied. I waited knowing that this was it. If she went to him I would let her go. I would give up. If Pagan chose him one more time then I would let her go.

As if in slow motion, Pagan stepped forward and placed her hand in his. Dankmar pulled her up against his side tightly. The relief on his face was mirrored in her eyes as she gazed up at him. He was where she wanted to be. I couldn’t fight this anymore. All I was doing was making her hate me more every passing day. I’d loved Pagan for the majority of my life but I couldn’t force her to love me. I finally understood that.

“Bad choice leetle gurl,” Father hissed. He hadn’t expected her to go. Deep down, I’d known she would.

“No, Ghede. You’re the only one who made the bad choice. You don’t take what’s mine.” Dankmar challenged. Then he paused and bent down to whisper in Pagan’s ear before handing her to the blonde transporter that had so fiercely protected Pagan before.

“You took a soul that was too young to defend itself. A soul that belonged to the Creator. You changed fate and then decided to play with a world that is not yours. You stepped out of your realm and took another soul not under your rule. Now I give you a choice Ghede. We close this portal today as well as the ones found in Africa and Haiti where the warriors are now standing guard and we seal them for all eternity. Voodoo power will end right here. Right now. You crossed a line.” The gauntlet had been thrown. Dankmar held the power.

“Or you let Pagan’s soul go. Free of any restitution. You stay clear of her and her family for all eternity and remain as you are. But I warn you, if I see your son, you or any of your spirits again remotely close to Pagan I will end this religion. There will be no second chances. It’s your choice.”

Father turned and stared back at me. I could feel his eyes boring into me as I studied Pagan. This was it. I would have to let her go now. It was the only way. She was never meant to be mine. Even though in my heart, she always would be.

“Let her go.” I replied. Then I dropped my eyes from her gaze and turned to walk away. Back into the castle, where my future would never be complete. I’d lost the key to my happiness.

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