"White Rock," I repeated flatly.


No, no. It could not be that obvious. Balancing the phone with one hand, I opened the atlas with the other and flipped to the section on British Columbia. There it was, on the coast, just barely north of the American border.

White Rock.

"Son of a bitch," I said.


Once I'd assured Evan I wasn't calling him a son of a bitch, I got off the phone and turned to Roman.

"The vessel's not anywhere around here. It's up in BC."

Roman's eyes had followed my finger to White Rock on the map. "Okay, you get points for the compelling name, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything."

"Yes! It means everything. The Army's been a distraction from the beginning, when the seal was created, when Ephraim talked to Cedric...and when Jerome was summoned. They staged their event on the Space Needle- here , but they didn't actually do anything until Jerome was taken. As soon as he was, they acted out to draw Cedric's attention here, away from his own territory."

Realization lit Roman's features. Sociopath or not, he'd always been smart. "Because Grace then hid the vessel in Cedric's territory."

I nodded. "That's where it's at. She needed Cedric gone, in case he noticed its presence before it was hidden. I think he's down here for the thing with Ephraim, but if I call now and tell him-"

"No," said Roman quickly. "We can't tell anyone."

"What is up with you?" I exclaimed, standing up. "The clock's ticking. We may not have time for a leisurely drive before the stasis ends."

"Chance we've gotta take, love." He rose as well. "Grab your keys. Let's go."

I started heading toward my bedroom, then hesitated. "Damn. I told Seth I'd consider taking him with me. Too late now."

Roman considered. "No, do it."

"Why?" I asked in surprise.

"I'll go invisibly. I don't know if anyone'll notice you leaving, but if they're tracking you, better they think you're on a romantic getaway. Even masked, I don't want anyone in power seeing my face yet."

That put me in a weird situation. Roman's entire reasoning throughout all of this was increasingly bizarre. There was also the debate I'd had last night, about whether I should let the balcony date shine on us as my last beautiful moment with Seth or if I should eke out a few more seconds. Letting it end at last night would have been the poetic thing to do...but I was made of baser stuff. I called him as soon as I was on the road and picked him up shortly thereafter.

He rode in the front with me while Roman lounged invisibly in the back, which was creepy, to say the least. Fortunately, none of my talk with Seth was sappy or romantic. He sensed the urgency crackling around me and asked questions about my reasoning for the trip. I answered as thoroughly as I could, all the while trying to drive the speed limit. I couldn't risk the delay of a ticket-or count on supernatural charms to get me off.

It took a little less than two hours to get there. We'd accidentally left the atlas at home but had all but memorized the directions anyway, which were straightforward. When we'd almost reach the park where the aforementioned rock was, I had the sense to call Peter and tell him not to go outside.

"You think I'm stupid?" he asked. "I know as well as you the stasis is about to end."

"Yeah," I agreed. "But it might not end like you're thinking." We disconnected.

"This is it, isn't it?" asked Seth. A sign directed us to the beach's parking lot, and I turned toward it.

"Yeah, I think so." I could feel myself starting to panic. "God, I'm afraid...I don't know what'll happen..." Seth reached over and patted my shoulder.

"Easy, Thetis. This'll end the way it's supposed to. Do what you have to do, and we'll manage the best we can."

I parked the car and looked over at him. So much burned between us, it was a wonder it didn't suffocate Roman. Seth was right. This was the end, and we would face it and do what needed to be done, no matter how hard. That was one of the wonderful things about Seth. He knew what the right thing was. We got out of the car.

Seth and I headed off down the beach, hand in hand. It was low tide, and the receding waters had revealed a landscape that had almost as much gravel as sand. Once you moved farther inland, though, the terrain turned green and grassy-probably the result of park maintenance crews. Semiahmoo Bay itself stretched off into a dark, choppy vastness that would have probably been blue and beautiful on a nicer day. Heavy gray clouds obscured most of the land surrounding the far sides of the bay, and I thought I heard a rumble of thunder, something that wasn't so common in the mild Pacific Northwest. I hoped we'd find what we needed soon because it looked like a storm was about to break out. Ah, metaphor.

Seth interrupted my ponderings. "That," he said, "is a white rock."

I came to a halt, turning my attention from the larger panorama to the path in front of me. There, about eighty feed ahead of us, was a white rock-a huge, white rock. And from the looks of it, Evan hadn't been exaggerating when he'd said it was about five hundred tons.

"I kind of feel stupid wasting my time with scraps of white gravel," I mused, brushing hair out of my eyes. The wind promptly whipped it back.

"It was so obvious...and yet not. Shall we?"

I nodded, and we approached the rock, our steps filled with both eagerness and apprehension. After all this time and all the failed efforts, it didn't seem possible that we'd really done it. Something was going to happen. Something had to happen.

"Whoa," I breathed, staring up at the rock's top when we reached it. It was so massive that it covered us in shadows. "I can see why people thought this came from the gods."

Seth was looking down. "Unfortunately, we've got to direct our attention to less lofty places. How are we supposed to find this? Just dig at random?"

If Seth and I were alone, that would have been the method. Now, I was hoping Roman would reveal some insight about where the vessel was-if it was even here. A small part of me panicked that us ending up here might have been the biggest misdirection of all.

I scanned the ground around the rock, but there was nothing indicative of a recent digging. On a beach like this, all of the ground was uneven. "Something like that," I said, needing Roman to pick up on his cue.

Seth had let go of my hand when we reached the rock, but now he caught hold of it again and pulled me to him. "Georgina..."

I dragged my eyes from the ground and met his. My adrenaline was up, ready for the conclusion to this adventure...and yet, my heart was heavy, knowing what the consequences of this would be. I squeezed Seth's hands and stepped closer, resting my head against his chest. His heart beat heavy within. No doubt his emotions were tangled up as well.

"I know," I said softly. "I feel the same way."

He held me tight and kissed my forehead. "When we find Jerome...when you free him...it'll go quickly, won't it?"

"Yeah. I don't know how long it'll take, but...well, I think it'll be pretty fast. That's how it was when he was taken."

"And that's it."

"I guess."

We stood there, both of us hurting and confused. I didn't think anything could be worse than when Seth had forcibly ended things back in December. I understood now that he'd done it because he thought it would be for the greater good, but it still smarted. And this...this was a pain of a different type. When Seth and I first kissed back at my apartment, I thought this could all be a vacation for me, just as it was for the vampires. Seth would be my sunshine, something I could have a brief fling with before returning to my dreary immortality. I could take the memories with me, and that would be enough.

Only now, standing with him, I realized it wouldn't be enough. It would only hurt more now, knowing exactly what I could never have again. I would never make love with Seth again, never have these intimate moments of comfort and rapport. He wasn't mine anymore. He never could be again.

"I don't know what to do," Seth said, kissing my forehead.

"What do you mean? We don't have a choice."

"We always have a choice, Thetis. After this, even when you're a succubus again...I don't know. I wanted so badly to protect you from all the world's hurts. I still do. But after being with you this last week, I'm starting to wonder if-"

"You have got to be f**king kidding me."

Tags: Richelle Mead Georgina Kincaid Fantasy
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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