The music abruptly stopped, and from across the room, I heard someone shouting numbers. "Ten...nine..."

I looked at a nearby clock. Nearly midnight.


People were getting out noise makers and drinks. Couples were getting close.


Maddie drew close to Seth. He leaned down toward her, looking nervous.


I clutched Carter's arm. I couldn't watch this. I couldn't watch Seth and Maddie kiss. "Get me out of here," I gasped, suddenly having trouble breathing.


"Carter! Get me - "

The world exploded in color around me. Cold night air blasted my face. Disoriented, I staggered and felt Carter catch my arm to steady me. We stood on top of a roof, directly facing the Space Needle. Fireworks burst around it in showers of rainbow sparks. The accompanying noise startled me, and I gasped. Farther away, other fireworks sparkled on the horizon.

"Best view in the city," joked Carter.

I stared around, still confused, until I was finally able to triangulate our position. "We're on top of the bookstore."

He released my arm, and we stood there watching the fireworks for several minutes. We were so close to the Space Needle that I could soon smell the smoke as the wind blew over us. I started to rub my arms, then remembered to shape-shift on a coat.

"A new year has all sorts of possibilities, Georgina," Carter finally said, eyes still on the show.

"Not for me. I've lost all mine. I've lost Seth. I screwed up."

"It's not all your fault. Relationships are symbiotic. Takes two to make them work, two to make them fall apart. Seth's got plenty of blame in this."

I shook my head. "No...the things he did. It was my fault."

"You're missing the big picture, Daughter of Lilith. You're forgetting Niphon's role. What was he trying to do?"

"Ruin my life," I said bitterly. "He had a part, yeah, but he complicated what I'd already messed up."

"Why? Why'd he do it?"

"Because he hates me."

Carter sighed. "You're not getting it."

I turned toward him. "What do you mean? What more is there to get?"

"Only so much I can tell you. Only so much I can interfere." He fell silent as a particularly showy burst of silver sparkles lit the night sky.

The deli conversation with Hugh came back to me. "Did...did he really mess something up with my contract? Is it flawed?"

"That's your side's business. I can't tell you anything about that." He sighed once more. "I can tell you that eternity is an awfully long time to keep accruing and carrying around guilt."

"Why do you care so much?" I demanded. "Why do you care so much about what happens to me and Seth?"

He looked back down at me. "I like happy endings. I like helping make them happen."

"Yeah, well. You kind of f**ked this one up."

His old, cynical smile returned. "You want to go home?"

I turned toward the Space Needle. "I want to finish the show."


"Oh, hey. Wait." I reached into my purse and pulled out a cashmere knit hat. I handed it to him. "Merry Christmas. Sorry I didn't wrap it."

Carter examined his Secret Santa present, then put it on. "Neat."

When he did finally take me home, he used the same angelic teleportation that always made me slightly nauseous. Aubrey greeted my entrance, rubbing against my legs as I fumbled for the lights. Beneath the floor, it sounded like my neighbors were having a party.

I kicked my heels off in the middle of the living room floor and walked toward my bedroom, unbuttoning my dress as I went. I let it fall to the floor, happy to be free of the tight fabric. Opening my closet door, I knelt down and began rummaging through it until I unearthed the old shoe box again.

Reaching up to the spot just above my breastbone, I found Seth's ring on its chain. I unfastened it and held the ring in one hand for a long time, staring at its smooth, shining surface and winking sapphires. I took out the old worn ring from the box and held it in my other hand. For a while, I just sat there, looking back and forth between the two. They were different...and yet so alike. You were destined for heartache. And are going to repeat that forever. You aren't learning. You aren't changing.

With a sigh, I placed both rings into the box, next to a heavy gold cross. I closed the lid and shoved it all back into the closet.

It was over. It was all over.

Still half-naked, I walked back to where I'd dropped my purse and found my cell phone. I dialed a number and waited.


"Dante? This is Georgina."


With a start, I realized I'd never actually told him my name. "The succubus."

"Oh." I had a feeling he'd already recognized my voice. "Happy New Year."

I took a deep breath. "Are you free tonight?"

There was a long, pregnant pause. "What about the man in the dream?" he finally asked. "There is no man in the dream."

Tags: Richelle Mead Georgina Kincaid Fantasy
Articles you may like