By Annie Bergin Page 76
behind me, realizing too late that the courtyard was a dead end; as there was a faint
ahead of me, so there were three more shimmering columns of light in the courtyard behind me and threemore
as more soldiers appeared.
Kagan, I need you
I cried silently, pushing my plea as faras it would reach into the darkness. But when there was only silence in return, I took a deepbreath and blew it out hard, watching and waiting as Commander Adair approached, hopingagainst hope that the ugly look on his face was for something other than what brought him herenow.
“What do you think you’re doing?” he demanded, his dark eyes burning right thorough
me. Though his tone was unnaturally even, everything else about him looked as though he
wanted to pound me into a ball and kick me across town. “Have you any idea how
I’m sorry,” I stammered, trying to tear myself away from the penetrating stare that wasturning my insides into quivering mush. “I –” but nothing would come. Clutching the cufflink
tight in my fist, I tried desperately to think of another place, somewhere else to disappear to, butmy mind was totally blank with fear. And if I vanished now, I realized, there would be evenworse to come later. With crushing defeat that ripped right through my heart, I opened my palm,showing him the cufflink,
but not daring to meet his eyes. “I’m really sorry,” I said again as he
took it from me.
“Take her back inside,” he instructed. One of the soldiers stepped forward, his face asserious as the commander’s. I backed away a half
-step, trying desperately to think of anything Icould to escape this place.
“Come on,” he said, his face neutral but his manner cold. As he reached to touch me, an
icy chill shuddered through the air and we gasped in surprise as a column of light appeared in themiddle of us, pushing its way between the soldier and me. The twinkling lights were so close Icould see them spinning like little balls of white fire, their mesmerizing beauty so hypnoticallystriking that I wanted to touch them. Before I could move, they vanished with a
and a flashof metal slashed through the air.
“Leave her alone!”
“What the –?”“Kagan?” I could only stare at him, his sword raised, his body braced defensively
between me and the soldiers. He was so close I could hear his ragged breathing and smell theheady muskiness of his skin.
“Rey?” asked the commander, just as surprised.
“Commander?” came Kagan’s bewildered reply.
“How –?” I asked, but the words wouldn’t form.
Kagan stared between the soldiers on one side and his boss on the other. He lowered his
sword a fraction and asked me, “Are you all right?” I nodded numbly, unable and unwilling totake my eyes off him. “What’s going on here?” Nobody moved; we were all too stunned.
“Officer Rey,” growled the commander eventually, his bushy eyebrows nar
into a knot, “kindly lower your weapon.”
Kagan hesitated a moment, his expression as confused as each of ours. Then he very
carefully lowered his sword before put it back in its sheath on his hip. “Sorry Commander,” he
said, watching the soldier whose face flickered between thoughtful amusement and imposingauthority. The other soldiers to my right, of which I only recognized one, each were tuckingaway their own swords, every one of their faces saying the same as mine.
“What are you doing here?”