Home > Eden (Providence #3)(17)

Eden (Providence #3)(17)
Author: Jamie McGuire

“Did you forget what it means that he loves her? They are meant to be together; not him and me. Best of all ? You would’ve had to deal with Ryan either way, but because he loves Claire, it isn’t because you’re watching him annoy the crap out of me—it’s because he’s annoying Claire.” I al owed a proud, wide smile to stretch across my face, even though Claire looked as if she wanted to shove her fist into the wal . Through my face.

Jared’s face relaxed, and he chuckled. “Al true,” he said, leaning down to kiss me. “It could be worse. Much worse.” He looked to Claire. “Sorry.

Good luck.”

She glared at both of us as we departed down the hal .

“Er…hey, Nina?” Claire cal ed.

I turned, noticing again how tiny she was. Her skintight blue leggings and oversized, off-the-shoulder T-shirt made her seem even smal er. Her ankle-high boots scooted across the hospital floor as she approached.


She laced her fingers on top of her head, clearly exasperated. “You real y think I’m just being stubborn? You think that’s why he’s my Taleh? Because we’re meant for each other?”

“Yes,” I said. “You care about him, don’t you?”

“I don’t know,” she shrugged. She let one hand fal to her side; the other to her mouth. “I guess so.”.

I looked to Jared and gestured with my eyes to Claire. Jared frowned, but when I persistently jerked my head in Claire’s direction, he spoke up.

“It’s okay, Claire. I can’t say I like the guy, but I don’t see another purpose for it to happen the way it did. Do you? Because if you do, I’d love to hear — mmph,” he puffed, jerking when I elbowed him in the ribs. I didn’t hurt him, of course, but I stil enjoyed his reaction.

“No,” Claire whispered. “I don’t see another purpose.” She walked slowly to Ryan’s door, deep in thought. She turned the knob, and then shook her head. “Doesn’t mean I should muddy the waters.”

We fol owed her in, noticing her pulling her chair farther away from Ryan’s bed. She ate her burger quietly, and Ryan watched her for a moment, and then looked down when he realized he wouldn’t get the reaction he’d hoped for.

I felt bad for him. I knew all too wel how awful it felt to love someone who insisted on keeping a distance. “So you’re feeling better? When do you report back for duty?”

“They gave me a week off. Too bad I wasn’t on duty when this happened. Could have saved me a chunk of change.”

“Don’t worry about the bil , Ryan,” I said. “It’s taken care of.”

Ryan opened his mouth to argue, but he knew it was futile. He had no way to pay for what the little insurance he had wouldn’t cover. He managed a humble nod. “This is my last time. Next time it’s someone else’s turn. I’m not playin’ around. I mean it.”

Claire’s frown softened, the corners of her mouth turned up an infinitesimal amount. Her expression reminded me of the way Jared used to try to hide his emotions when he was fighting tooth and nail to stay away from me. Claire definitely had an uphil battle. Ryan was far more persistent than me.

We enjoyed our late-night dinner, teasing one another about our last few days together before Jared and I left for Little Corn. Ryan recounted his recovery, and Claire halfheartedly complained about being his nursemaid. Mentions of demons, Shax, and Isaac sprung in and out of our conversation. Discussing the paranormal elements of my life outside of the Ryels felt both a relief and strange. But, there we were: sitting around a room, discussing the sickening odor of the hundreds of misshapen creatures scaling the wal s of St. Ann’s.

“Have you heard about Father Francis?” I asked.

Claire nodded. “He’s home. The first night was touch and go, and then he came right out of it. His doctors were amazed.”

Jared touched my hand. Ryan’s eyes zeroed in on the movement.

“So,” Ryan said. “I hear you two skipped town for a while. You’re…tanner.”

“Yes,” I said, nodding once. “We went to Little Corn.”

“Again?” Ryan said.

Claire’s eyes didn’t leave Ryan’s face. She watched warily for an expression she didn’t want to see.

Jared squeezed my hand. “We decided to get married in the chapel there.”

Ryan nodded. It was obvious an inner monologue was monopolizing his thoughts. Claire didn’t move. She waited silently, but I couldn’t decide what she was waiting for.

“What’s the rush?” Ryan said.

“Didn’t you hear her say that she’s pregnant?” Claire said with disgust.

Ryan’s head jerked in her direction. “Yeah? So?”

I shrugged. “We were engaged, anyway, Ryan. It didn’t make sense to wait.”

“You’re married. To Jared.” Ryan’s eyes were wide with shock, his eyebrows as high as he could push them. Claire’s body was tense, her eyes fixed on Ryan. In the next moment, a wide grin plastered across his face.

“Congratulations, Nigh! That’s wicked awesome!”

Claire’s blank stare melted away, and she took a deep breath. She managed a smal smile, and then looked to me. Had I not seen the same pleading expression on Jared’s face the year before, I might have missed it. She was worried that Ryan was stil in love with me.

“Thanks,” I said, looking down.

Thinking back on the past year, the dynamic between the four of us couldn’t have been more different. Even so, it seemed every word uttered, every decision each of us made, led us to this very moment. Ryan looked at Claire with nothing less than adoration, and Jared reached over, resting his palm on my stomach.

A knock on the door abruptly disturbed our sweet little moment.

“Kim!” Ryan said.

Her clothes were dirty, hair a mess. A smal brown satchel hung from her shoulder, secured under her arm. I assumed it was the book. She was forced to keep it with her at all times. Kim was the only one that could keep the Naissance de Demoniac safe from Shax and his demons.

She didn’t look like herself at all . “You!” She pointed to Jared. “You made me a promise, Half Breed, and you’re going to keep it.”

Chapter Seven

Broken Promise(s)

Kim breathed hard; her arm outstretched with a pointed finger just shy of Jared’s nose. The air in the room was immediately heavy, the hairs on my neck stood on end. The Others were fol owing her more closely, now, just waiting for her to make a mistake. Shax was back in Hel where he belonged, but his failure only made him more determined to have his property returned to him before Kim and Jared hand it over to the safety of the Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem.

The constant presence of the enemy had taken a tol on Kim. The skin under her eyes was a deep shade of purple. Kim’s typical y flippant and impervious nature had slowly slipped away over the last two years. Her possession as a teenager had left her with the ability to take power from demons that Hel didn’t understand, making her the perfect guardian of the book—until it could be returned to the one place Shax couldn’t reach.

She was just as desperate to free her family from the Naissance de Demoniac as Shax was to take it from them.

A nurse walked in, momentarily taking notice of Kim’s curious body language, but quickly dismissed it when she began taking Ryan’s vitals.

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