xxxvi. Bringing Brother Back

VI

Never Stray

From The Ruddy Stroll

xxxvi. Bringing Brother Back

Seven and Olin stood straight and tall in the fresh horror that they were now utterly fatherless. They felt it in the bone.

Eva hugged Marietta while she wept.

Aly so tenderly consoled them both.

After a few endless moments, Seven said: “We must move, lest we ruin his legacy. He gave his life for us to live on with his memory—not to get ourselves killed. Let’s go. All of you … Let’s go.”

So then the new quintet carried on up the stairs toward safety. The took the steps two at a time, quickly catching their breaths as they leapt, urging each other.

Half-way to the next level, they heard a scream of utter agony from below—which none of them doubted was Godwin’s final cry—as his life was snuffed.

“Come on,” Seven said evenly, keeping everybody on alert. “We can make it to the top, but we cannot stop.”

Once on the fifth floor, Seven set Tréowlufu down on the long-table that ran across the middle of the long dining room.

“Look!” Eva cried pointing across the floor. Silver water seeped up through the boards. Seven leapt up onto the table—waving Olin up along with him too now.

“Give me a boost,” he barked, adrenaline racing. His fires were lit and he was ready for Her this time with earnest.

Olin jumped up―and lifted Seven enough to unlatch the skylight—allowing his brother to climb up through the hatch.

Eva, Aly and Marietta clambered onto the table now. They were all equally eager to get the hell out of that house.

After Seven got on the roof—he reached down to help Marietta, Eva and Aly up after him—with Olin boosting them.

But just then―as Olin was about to jump up last through the skylight―Faye emerged from Her vortex, suited in thorny black armour, menacing and full of evil.

Ierre stayed sheathed at Her side―with Hete strapped to Her back.

The silver water rose level to the long table. She strode across toward Olin.

‘I came here for You … Olin …’

“Olin,” Seven said. “Let’s go …”

“What … ?” Olin said. “No … No.”

‘I only ever loved You, Olin. Only you,’ She whispered. ‘It was Seven that always stood in Our way. Always him.’

“Olin! What are you doing? Don’t listen to Her,” Aly cried down from above.

“OLIN!” Seven yelled. “Snap out!”

But Olin felt his pulse pause—and he found himself at attention—so lost in Her.

‘Believe Me, Olin. BELIEVE ME …’

“I … I believe you. I do my love.”

Silverskin cackled mischievously.

‘In his arrogance, Seven thinks that I am here for him—but it is you who I have come for. It is you who I desire most … You … Olin. Only you. You …

‘YOU …’ she said in darkest tones.

“But why now, after all this time? I gave up on You, so very long, long ago …”

‘It was Seven … He was too shallow to love Me with all of his heart—yet too jealous to let Me see another … He tried to keep Me to himself, to keep us apart.’

Olin glanced up at Seven distrustful.
“She’s lying, Olin. She doesn’t care about you … Put Her out of your mind,” Seven implored. “Please believe me Olin.”

“OLIN!” Aly yelled. “I am REAL!”

‘He’s just jealous, Olin … And she’s just a stand-in for who you know you truly desire. I am the only woman for you …’

“Take my hand,” Seven implored.

Olin reached up to grab Seven’s hand—but then pulled back, succumbing to doubts. He was so twisted in his mind.

The last thing he wanted was to dash his one true chance with his first love—just because his brother was having a subconscious fit of jealousy about it all.

But he also looked up to Aly, remembering the reunion of passion they had recently shared, further confused by why he was suddenly thrown into throes.

“She’s right, Seven,” Olin said. “Even after you moved away, you never let me even talk about Her. You always hoarded all the women to yourself. If Faye and I loved each other, why couldn’t you let us be together? Why not let us?

“And Aly,” he went on. “Aly, I’m so sorry, but I truly do love Her more. I loved you as well, but not in the same way. You were more there for a time.”

“Olin … please …” Seven said. “She’s using you to get to me, that is all the interest She has in you, believe me …”

“He’s right,” Aly added. “Olin … She has you in Her trance. She’s tricking you into saying these horrible things I swear!”

“Bah!” Olin objected, sensing lies and excuses all around. He could not shake the cloud of Faye’s evil influence.

“I know how She operates …” Seven elaborated. “I wouldn’t lie to you about something like this, I swear to God …!!!”

“Gah!” Olin exclaimed. He closed his good eye, trying hard to shake Her words from his mind. Her grip was iron.

‘There is no use in denying the truth, Olin. Now is your chance. Come embrace Me. I am summoning You.

‘This is our time, not his … Ours.’

“She’s lying, Olin,” Seven barked. “Take my hand! Please … Aly needs you.”

But when Olin opened his eye again―it now brimmed in blood. He had given over to the bloodlust, the lovelust.

‘Come, Olin … Yes … Yes, Olin …’

Olin walked off of the long-table like it were a plank—and when his foot set down on the silver water, the surface held tension, supporting his feet—and he was then able to obediently plod over to Her.

‘That’s right, Olin … See … You will be safe with Me … Come to Me now …’

“Olin!” Seven cried. “Damn it!”

“OLIN!” Aly cried out. “PLEASE!”

Seven turned to Aly, Eva and Marietta. “Meet you at the top,” he said.

“What? No!” Eva objected, flushing.

She grabbed him. He pushed her back. “I owe it to my brother to try, babe,” he said. “I will be back I promise.”

“Please, Seven,” Marietta begged. “Don’t make me lose all my boys tonight. I do not think I could bare it in the least.”

Seven sat into the frame of the skylight, feet dangling down inside. He looked back to them to give reassurance.

“No!” Eva cried, cupping her mouth―stricken by a sharp, stinging terror. Aly consoled her, holding her.

Silver mist now filled the room below—so that Seven could barely see to the long table under his feet. He gulped.

“Don’t leave poor Eva!” Aly said.

“No choice. I will be fine, I swear to God. I will meet you all at the top,” he said―nodding at each of them in turn.

Conjuring up his vampire self―he dropped straight down into the silver mist, landing hard on the long table stabilizing.

His mind was bent on bringing brother back. His instincts were sharpened by all the love he had for Olin.

Eva dropped to her knees at the skylight above, sobbing hysterically into her hands. She was sure this was it.

As a whipping rain rolled over Eva and Aly, Marietta pulled them away. “Too late, young fawns … He’s gone … … …

“They’re gone. Your loves, my sons, my husband … We must save ourselves now. We have no choice but to carry on.”

“Seven …!!!” Eva cried in catharsis.

“Olin,” Aly whispered under breath.

“Godwin,” Marietta mirrored in turn.

Their men were their everything, and now they were alone together. They would have to learn how to live again.

(Author’s Note: If you are enjoying The Silverskin, you can buy the full 400 page Revised & Expanded 10th Anniversary edition paperback here. Forever Yours In French’s Forest, Rian Torr)

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