But when was her pursuit of the truth ever straightforward?
Pulling a single thread impels a great unraveling. And each revelation will force Scarlett to rethink what she thought she knew about the Ceruleans, the Fallen, her family – herself.
All that came before was a mere prelude to this, the last journey. From London to Twycombe to Hollythwaite to Cerulea, Scarlett will be stalked by the ghosts of what has been, what may have been and what may come to pass. Until she reaches the place where it all began, and it all must end.
But in the final reckoning, none will survive unscathed. And some will not survive at all.
In this explosive conclusione to The Ceruleans series, all must be defined by their actions: sinner, saint… or something more beautiful entirely?
I kissed Luke then. I kissed him. Like I hadn’t kissed him in more than a week – since before London, since before Hollythwaite, since Barcelona: when we’d been just a regular couple on a city break, wrapped up in each other. Through the kiss I heard his sigh, the release of emotion. And then he pulled me to him, onto his lap, and I kissed his lips, his jaw, his collarbone, his shoulder, and he kissed my lips, my earlobe, my neck, my –
My robe had slipped, exposing my back, and I struggled off him and wrestled with the fabric entangled at my waist.
He stood up. Put his hands on my shoulders. Said my name with so much tenderness that I had to stop. Had to look at him. The room was steamy, the glass doors occluded. No one could see. Only him.
‘Trust me’, he said.
Slowly, he turned me. I steeled myself as he took it in, the brand I now wore. Non Serviam. I will not serve. Emblazoned on my back in the form of angry, jagged scar tissue.
When I felt his lips on the nape of my neck, I jerked in shock. But his hands on my hips held me still as he traced the path of the scar, one kiss at a time, from its very top to its termination just above my bikini bottoms.
‘Beautiful,’ he said.
I turned to him. He smiled up at me.
Sinking down so that we were both kneeling, I said, ‘How could you…?’
‘How could I not?’ was his answer. ‘I was there, Scarlett. I saw what you did for your mother. That scar: it’s beautiful.’
‘But it’s a punishment, Luke. Because I sinned. That’s not beautiful. It’s dark. Wrong.’
‘No! Don’t you say that. Trying to save your mother – that could never be wrong. If I’d had the chance, I’d have done it. My mum, my dad, Cara… I’d have saved them all. And you. I would always save you.’
His eyes ere glistening, and I lunged for him and hugged him hard.
‘so stop hiding it from me,’ he finished, his voice muffled in my hair. ‘Please. Because I love that scar on you so goddam much.’
I nodded into his shoulder and he squeezed me.
It was calm in our little haven. Still. Warm. Nothing existed but Luke and me. We held each other for a long time, drifting in the haze.
And then Luke sat back and said, ‘So, you and me. We’re good?’
‘We’re good,’ I told him. Then I frowned and added: ‘For now. You know, Gabe, the Fallen: I have no idea what we\’re getting into.’
‘Me either.’ He reached out a finger and drew, in the condensation on the glass door, a little lightbulb. ‘But whatever lies ahead,’ he said, ‘ it has to be better than living in the dark.’