This is a short novella (approximately 25,000 words) and is intended to be read after The Tragedy of Knowledge. It takes place after the events of The Resistance Trilogy.
For Gavin and Camille, the Amaranthian war is over. But they’ve evolved since then, and so has the realm they’ve come to know as home. Now comfortable and happy in their new life, they soon discover that something groundbreaking is brewing, threatening to disrupt the peace they’ve worked so hard to secure. And whether they’re prepared or not, it’s about to be unearthed.
“You,” Gavin breathed, “are trouble, Camille Hart.”
I half panted, half laughed. He only called me by my maiden name when I was indeed trouble. “Well, I hope you learned your lesson. Next time, don’t be so bossy.” Smiling into his neck, I gave him a light bite, sucking gently on his damp skin.
“I think Audrey’s snark finally rubbed off on you.”
“Finally?” I pulled back to look him in the eye, arching my brow. “Have you been living under a rock?”
“I like it,” he said cheerfully. “The new and improved Mrs. Devereaux.”
“And I like you bossy.” I poked him in the shoulder, my grin spreading. “Although I must admit I miss your shy smile. I think you’ve let your head get too big, husband.”
“I can’t help it,” he leaned in and grazed my nose with his, inhaling deeply. “Making love to you makes me bold.”
“As it should.” I pecked the end of his nose. “Now I do believe it’s time for you to feed your wife. She’s starving.”
“Well,” he laughed, sliding off of me to zip up his pants, “fortunately we’re in the right place.”
I stood and straightened out my dress, allowing Gavin to zip me up. We both turned and surveyed our surroundings.
“Uh, yeah…” I cleared my throat, eyeing the restaurant table Gavin had just thrown me on, “about that…” Our poor, poor customers.
“Not like it’s the first time,” Gavin grinned, adjusting his shirt collar.
“True. But we’re probably going straight to hell for it.”
“Hey,” he bent down to pick up all the items we’d tossed from the table, “I built this place and designed it with my own two hands. It’s our place of business, but we practically live here, too. If I want to take my wife on my restaurant table, I’ll take my wife on my restaurant table.”
“Fine, fine.” I smiled and raised my hands in surrender, shaking my head. I had to admit, Gavin was right. Audrey’s Restaurant was our second home. When we weren’t tucked away in our cottage-style abode down the road, we were here. Something also told me that Audrey would be quite proud of the way Gavin and I utilized the kitchen named after her.
Our loyal patrons who came in every evening for a warm, home-cooked meal would probably feel different about the matter.
“Speaking of business, I was thinking of maybe opening the place up for lunch hours again. What do you think?”
“Who will watch Ava? We don’t need the extra money, Gav. We have everything we need.”
“I know, love, but it can’t hurt to put away some extra. Maybe we’ll want to make some upgrades to the house some day. How will we do that without some extra in savings?”
I couldn’t help but smile at his words. Our savings accounts and currency were nothing like what we had back on Earth, but as Amaranthians, we’d found a system that worked for our realm. We’d all voted on a new structure for the villages when Gérard’s reign fell, and maintaining some common traditions—some normalcy—from our lives on Earth was a part of that structure. It was important to us. Still, it wasn’t like we were saving for yearly vacations or college tuition for our children. Our financial goals were much more limited.
“What’s so funny?” Gavin asked, enjoying my amusement.
“Nothing, it’s just…this is so surreal. Even now, after all these years. Doesn’t it ever feel that way to you?”
“Ah,” he nodded in understanding, moving to sweep his arms around me and kiss my forehead. “Of course it does. I guess it’s just been easier for me to adapt. I left my humanity long before you did, remember?” Pulling back to smile down at me, he pinned me with soft, mocha eyes. “You still miss Earth.”
“You don’t?” I gasped. I was genuinely surprised by this. “What about your grandfather’s home? What about our friends—”
“Of course I miss all of those things.” He tilted my chin up, his expression completely earnest now. “And you know how I feel about our friends. I just don’t let my mind linger on what life was like anymore. This is life now.”
“Don’t you ever wish…there were more?” I whispered, feeling ashamed. In truth, our Amaranthian life had been more than I could have ever asked for. I had a beautiful family, a safe, comfortable home, and everything I needed right here in our village. No more Gérard, no more zombie witches or evil guards threatening everyone I loved.
Then there was my life on Earth before all of this. Before I’d ever met Gavin or entered into the world of the frozen souls and the witches.
My life was once littered with toxic relationships, fear, and an unspeakable weight I’d carried around from the burden of my troubled relationship with my mother. Things on Earth didn’t make a whole lot of sense to begin with, so I guess living here, in some strange, distant realm, really was paradise compared to all of that drama.
But some things would always be missing.
“Hey,” Gavin called me softly, as if reading my mind, “I know how hard it is for you. I know how much you miss them.”
I nodded, feeling my face tighten with emotion at the thought of the friends and family we’d lost—the relationships we had to sacrifice in order to destroy Gérard and give them a chance at a happy, free life on Earth. Not a day went by when I didn’t think of them and wonder where they might be, what they were up to, or how they were enjoying their human lives.
“There’s nothing wrong with wishing for more. You don’t think I wonder sometimes? What it would be like to have more here to pursue? I know we’re limited when it comes to life goals. There’s no traveling to Europe, no enrolling Ava in a university, no possibility of taking an RV out on an open road. And I know no one will ever replace the people we lost. But things are changing, Cam.” His thumb drifted across my cheekbone, then down over my bottom lip. “Who knows what Amaranth will be like a year from now, let alone five or ten. Things are only going to get better from here, love. You’ll see.”
“You really think so?”
“I know so.”
Rachael Wade writes edgy New Adult and Adult romance and science fiction. She is the author of the Amazon bestselling PRESERVATION SERIES, THE REPLACEMENT, and LOVE AND RELATIVITY, as well as the paranormal romance series THE RESISTANCE TRILOGY. When she's not writing, she's busy going to concerts, watching too many movies, and learning how to protect animals and the environment. She's an avid Brandi Carlile fan and loves all things Tim Burton.
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