She picked it up and held it against her chest as she used her other arm to help pull herself up and back onto the bed. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she closed her eyes and tightened her grip around the letter, wishing that she’d been able to say more, to make things right for Christofer, but there was no time.
If what she’d heard coming from the vent was true, then everything had just changed for Christofer. He had a chance now, a chance to live, to have someone of his own who could make him happy and she refused to take that away from him. He’d sacrificed enough for her.
Opening her eyes, she released a shaky breath, laid back on the bed and placed the letter on the bed by the drawing. Sending up one last prayer for Christofer and Cloe, she closed her eyes for the last time.
“Look, I’ve gotta get going before the sun…….” Seth’s words trailed off. He shot Christofer a questioning look just as a rather sweet and enticing aroma teased Christofer’s senses, making his stomach growl.
“What is that?” Christofer asked even as he opened his senses. What he heard had him taking a step towards the stairs. The instinct to protect his sister was so well ingrained that he found himself heading towards the stairs, but for the first time in his life, he hesitated. He looked over his shoulder at the pale, defenseless woman that needed him and growled out a vicious curse.
He couldn’t leave her.
“Pull the tube out,” he ordered Seth as he quickly moved back to the bed to scoop Cloe up in his arms, but before he could pick her up there was a knock at his door.
“Oh, this can’t be good,” Seth grumbled, sounding drained as he plopped down on the edge of the bed and dropped his head in his hands.
“What the hell is going on?” Christofer demanded, not really sure how he should be reacting.
Seth just sat there, looking tired and a little annoyed as the knocking continued. There wasn’t a hint of fear or anger coming off him to alert Christofer to any impending danger. He just looked…….
“Sentinels,” Seth said, seconds before he tilted his head to the side, scented the air, frowned, shook his head and cursed softly before adding, “and a shifter and humans.”
Before Christofer could react to the knowledge that a shifter was at his door, Seth added, “I wouldn’t worry about the shifter though since he’s with Sentinels.”
He started to nod in the process of absorbing that information before a thought occurred to him. “What the hell is a Sentinel?”
Pursing his lips up in thought, Seth asked, “I didn’t tell you about Sentinels?”
“No,” he bit out, his patience wearing thin.
“Oh,” Seth said, sighing as he lazily gestured towards the back door when the pounding started. “Those are Sentinels.”
“That’s really f**king helpful!” he snapped, putting himself between the door and Cloe.
He welcomed the shift in his eyesight and the tingle of his fangs sliding down. His gaze constantly shifted between the door and the stairway. This was wrong, his brain screamed, demanding that he go to Marta and protect her, but the rest of him….
The rest of him demanded that he keep his ass right where it was and protect what was his. Cloe was defenseless and needed him. The idea of leaving her like this, even with Seth to watch over her, felt wrong. His gaze shifted back towards the stairs and he felt his body jerk in that direction, the instinct to go to his sister, to protect her so well ingrained that he couldn’t simply ignore it. Marta was his sister, his responsibility and he knew that she would always come first. He’d made a promise to his father and he planned on keeping it.
“Protect her!” he snapped, ignoring the panic and terror that shot through him at the idea of turning his back on Cloe, but for his sister he did it.
Ignoring Seth’s long-suffering sigh, he took the stairs two at time as he opened up his senses. Before he made it hallway up the stairs he knew three things, there were three people in his house, they weren’t human and he couldn’t hear Marta’s heartbeat.
“Wake up, sweetheart,” Ephraim said, giving the frail hand in his a small squeeze, already knowing that it was too late. He carefully pushed back a strand of gray hair away from the face that held the unmistakable expression of peace that he knew too well.
She was gone.
“Cancer,” Caine suddenly announced, confirming his suspicions.
“Can you tell what kind?” Ephraim asked, unable to pinpoint exactly where the scent was coming from. He could smell hints of the deadly growth all over her body, which surprised him since it wasn’t normally something that he could detect until it hit the skin. Then again, he’d been living with a woman who was doomed to die for eternity from the horrible disease so perhaps his senses were sharpened because of Danni.
“Brain, heart, bone, stomach, uterus and kidneys,” Danni listed hollowly by his side.
“How bad was the growth?” Ephraim asked as his gaze moved away from the frail old woman to settle on the note and drawing on the bed beside her.
He didn’t need to open it to know what it was. It also confirmed his belief that the male downstairs had no idea that this woman was dead. If he had, that note wouldn’t be crisply folded by her side and placed neatly on the pillow still. His gaze moved over to the nightstand that was covered in prescription bottles, the five bottles by the edge were empty with their covers placed by their sides.
“We need to warn him,” Ephraim said, giving the quickly cooling hand another small squeeze as he said a quick prayer for her soul, hoping that she’d found some peace.
“He already knows,” Caine mumbled softly as he slowly backed up and moved away from the door, pausing only long enough to grab Danni’s hand and pull her back with him.
With a small nod, Ephraim stood and stepped back away from the bed, wishing that they’d broken into the house sooner so that this woman hadn’t been all alone when she’d taken her last breath. Being with his brother Marc as he’d drawn his last breath had been the only thing that had made his death somewhat tolerable. He hadn’t been able to save Marc from the fever, but at least he’d been there to give his brother some comfort in his last moments. It was something that the Pyte they were here for was going to regret not being able to do for his sister for the rest of his unnatural life.
“Marta?” the man they were here for said, his tone laced with desperation and dread. He stumbled into the room, no doubt already knowing what to expect, but still fighting it with every fiber of his being, not that Ephraim could blame him.