The Dark Divine Page 67

My gaze followed a smear of blood across the stone floor. Jude--human, naked--stood trembling behind the altar in the shadows of the sanctuary.

"Don't just stand there," I shouted at him. "Go for help." But he didn't move. He stood like a pillar of salt in the dark.

I couldn't leave Daniel. I told him I'd he there when he died. I slid down on the floor and lay next to his furry body.

Why didn't he turn human? Did I fail? Did I hesitate too long? Was I too late to save his soul before ... ? Did I trade myself for nothing?

A cold wind blew over me. Snowflakes encircled us. One landed on the wolf's nose and melted. When did it start to snow? I thought as I laid my head on Daniel's bloodstained chest. I listened to a solitary heartbeat grow softer and softer until it was nothing, and waited for my wolf to come--to take me over for what I'd done.

Chapter Twenty-eight Redemption


I heard a yelp from somewhere beside me. I looked up and saw April quavering in her pink dress in the open chapel doors. The snow blew in from behind her. "What hap--?"

"Don't ask questions." I sat up. "Please, just go call an ambulance." I looked at the Daniel wolf. It lay too still, lifeless. The silver knife protruded from his chest. Maybe I didn't ram it in hard enough? Maybe I didn't pierce his heart? Or maybe I needed to take it out. The book had said silver was poison.

I tentatively wrapped my hand around the hilt. It didn't burn my skin.

"What on earth are you doing?" April asked, still in the doorway.

"Go. Please get help."

I gripped the knife tighter, and pulled with all my might. The blade slid out with a sickening sucking sound. Blood spurted from the wound, spreading across his chest, staining the white patch of his fur. But then, instead of flowing out, the blood stopped. It curled, rolling back into the wound. The puncture matted over in scabs, then healed into white flesh. White skin that matched the rest of his body--his human body. Daniel was with me now, not some furry beast. He lay on his side in a fetal huddle like he'd just been reborn. His naked body was ripped and bloody in several places, including his neck. But he was human, mortal. I'd saved his soul before he died. And that's all I thought mattered . . , until he coughed.

"Grace," he rasped.

I slid my hand down his arm and entwined my fingers with his. "I'm here," I said. "I'm here."

"Um..." April said with more than a hint of shock. "I think I'll go for help now." Moonlight spilled in from the doorway when she moved, casting its ghostly paleness onto Daniel. His hair looked almost white.

"Daniel, I'm so sorry." I cupped his face in my hands. "But you better the hell not die on me!" His wry smile slid across his face. He opened his eyes. They were dark as mud pies and more familiar than ever. "Bossy as ever," he said. He coughed and closed his eyes again.

"I'll love you always," I whispered. I kissed him on his cold lips and held his hand until I heard the sirens, and someone pulled me away from him.


It snowed for seven days straight. After the first day, the police released Jude and me into my parents' custody. They couldn't find any witnesses who could ID us as the ones who ran from the school. And since none of us seemed to "remember" what exactly had happened, all they could determine within any sort of reason was that we had been attacked by a pack of wild dogs--the same elusive pack they were blaming for what happened to Maryanne and Jessica--and had run into the parish for safety.

Daniel's wounds were consistent with a wolf attack--no one could explain the no-clothing part, though--but Jude and I looked untouched by the next morning. My bruises were gone, and the bite mark in my arm had healed over into a pink, crescent-shaped scar. Jude was just as unharmed physically. But the doctor reported that he was suffering from some sort of posttraumatic stress or something, and prescribed a heavy sedative after Jude had a violent episode when Dad finally got to the station from the airport early in the morning. I realized now that the only thing that probably kept Daniel from coming after my family when he first became a werewolf was all the drugs he was using.

My feigned amnesia faltered only with the details of what happened in the alley. Strategically, I remembered how Pete had attacked me, and how Don had saved me. Pete was the one who went to the police after he stumbled from the alley--leaving me behind--but the police decided to hold him, and his thirteen stitches, for further questioning. I'd forgiven him for what he'd done to me, but that didn't mean there shouldn't be consequences for his actions. The second and third day I spent in the hospital, pacing up and down the corridor outside Daniel's ICU room until the nurses told me I had to leave. "Go home," they said. "Get some rest, child. We'll call if there's any change."

On the fourth day, my father's phone calls finally paid off, and we found out what had happened to Don Mooney. He was discovered on a park bench near a bus station in Manhattan. The police said his heart had just stopped beating. He had no money or ID, and from the way he looked, they decided he was homeless. So Don had been buried in a trench, three pine boxes deep, in a place called Potter's Field, two days before Christmas.

The fifth day, I went back to the hospital. I spent all of Christmas Eve standing outside the glass window, praying. Dad came to collect me late that evening. "The storm's getting worse," he said.

"Your mother doesn't want you to get stranded here."

The sixth day was Christmas. Nobody was in the mood to be festive except for Baby James, who played merrily with bubble wrap and curling ribbons. My parents gave me a cell phone. Dad gave Jude a gold ring inlaid with a large black stone.

"It just came last night," Dad said. "I'm sorry. I tried to get it before ..." Dad balled up the wrapping paper. "I thought I had to wait until I had it... I'm sorry."

"What is it?" Charity asked.

"A graduation ring," I said.

Jude's eyes were like glass, sedated. He didn't speak. He hadn't said a thing in almost a week. Later that evening, the phone rang. I listened for a minute until the nurse's voice on the other line said, "He's gone. There was nothing we could do to stop him from leaving. ..." I dropped the phone, left it dangling in midair, and ran to my room.

Early in the morning of the seventh day, I awoke at my desk with a paintbrush stuck to my arm. There had been another note in the box Daniel left in my room. He'd written out instructions on how to use linseed oil and varnish with my oil paints. I'd fallen asleep at my desk while finishing my portfolio piece of Jude fishing at Kramer's pond.

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