“If you trust me, sweetheart, then you need to do exactly as I say.”
I trusted him. But I was scared. Couldn’t he understand that what he was asking—-
Mr. Darkness was saying goodbye on the phone—-
“Do it NOW.”
The others realized what I was doing as I rolled my body for the fifth time, not knowing where I was heading. All I knew was that I had to roll my way till the end.
Mr. Darkness cursed. The others shouted. And then they started shooting.
Bang. Bang. Bang!
But I didn’t stop rolling, not even when one of the bullets wheezed into my side. Pain exploded. Blood gushed. But I kept rolling.
I fell into the water.
Ragged edges of wooden planks making up the boardwalk came into contact with the bindings that held me as I fell. They cut through the rope and slashed my arms as my body dropped into the water.
My arms broke free from the ropes and I swam underwater, the same time a sailboat’s flashing lights beamed over me, its captain making sure it was about to dock at the right place. The lights fell on Mr. Darkness, and the others hid their guns.
“Swim faster. A fisherman will rescue you, but he won’t be in the water for long.”
I swam. I swam and swam and just when my lungs were about to burst, I bumped into something hard, which later I’d learn was the fisherman’s oar.
I surfaced, gasping for breath. “Help!”
“God almighty!” The fisherman, strong despite his years, hurriedly hauled me into his boat, and I landed in an awkward tangle of arms and legs onto the floor.
As he helped me to a sitting position, he gasped, and I knew he had seen my eyes. “You’re blind!”
I wanted to thank him for saving me, but all I could do was weep.
Mom. Dad. Mr. Darkness.
There seemed to be no end to the tears.
The fisherman gave me his old coat, placing it over my shoulders. It smelled of fish, but it was warm and safe and I couldn’t remember feeling anything as beautiful against my skin. I wanted to thank him, but I couldn’t. The only thing I could do was cry.
“You’re safe now, milady. You’re safe now.”
Was I really? Was I? Mr. Darkness would hunt me down. Of that I was sure. If he found me, he would kill me.
“Trust me, sweetheart. I will keep you safe.”
Prince Julian walked towards me in my mind. He kissed me on the forehead. I could have sworn I felt it, his lips touching my skin, even though common sense told me it was just the wind teasing my senses.
I looked up at him. What do I do now?
“Wait for me.”
Where? What if Mr. Darkness finds me first?
“Ask the fisherman to take you to the island of St. Roch. You will be safe there.
You promise you’ll come for me?
“I will not be able to rest if I don’t. So wait for me.”
My eyelids started to droop in exhaustion. Prince Julian started to waver in my mind, and I mentally cried out. No. Don’t leave me.
“Trust me. I will always be with you in your dreams. Do not be afraid. Wait for me.”
Please, please don’t leave me—-
“Wait for me in St. Roch, Cass. I will come for you.”
“What do you mean there’s no way for me to leave the island?”
Garth pulled on the collar of his white polo shirt, which was feeling a little too tight. Normally, he loved working on the field as one of St. Roch’s official customer service reps. It was a dream job, being paid to hang out at the beach all day long. He could even dine in any of the island’s restaurants or take advantage of any of the services offered in St. Roch and have everything paid for by management.
One of its few downsides, however, was having to deal with irate guests like the one before him: a six-foot-plus European prince whose icy rage had Garth bathed in cold sweat despite the island’s sweltering heat.
“What the fuck do you mean I’m unable to leave the island?”
Garth cleared his throat. “I am very sorry, sir – I mean, Your Highness. There is truly no way to book an unscheduled ferry ride from St. Roch, and air travel has been indefinitely suspended due to weather forecasts.”
The prince didn’t say a word, but his blazing hazel eyes spoke volumes. If St. Roch had been under the jurisdiction of Ethereal, the kingdom which Prince Julian Rivera came from, Garth was fairly certain his head would have been on a platter by now.
More seconds trickled by, and Garth pulled on his collar again.
The prince was still gazing at him, dangerously quiet. He was one of the most ridiculously good-looking men Garth had ever seen, and he had seen his fair share with the world’s rich and famous constantly flocking to the island. But Prince Julian was in a league of his own. Shiny black hair, a perfectly chiseled face, a bronze tan, and a powerful body that made him look like he had been trained to wield a sword rather than a scepter.