Home > Eden (Providence #3)(8)

Eden (Providence #3)(8)
Author: Jamie McGuire

We all looked to one another, wondering who was left.

“My apologies,” a warm voice spoke. It was a voice I hadn’t heard in a long time. A voice from my childhood.

Jared’s hand was stil in mine, and the moment the voice could be heard, his hand went limp. “Dad?” he said.

I turned, seeing Gabe Ryel at the top of the chapel’s rock steps. He looked exactly as I remembered him: tal , his blond hair and piercing, ice-blue eyes glowing even from several feet away. A flash broke from the crowd and up the steps, and in the next moment, Claire was in her father’s arms, sobbing uncontrol ably. She pressed her cheek against his chest, whispering something I couldn’t understand. Gabe bowed his head, spoke something back, and then he kissed his daughter’s forehead. They descended the stairs together, and approached Bex.

Gabe offered a smal smile to his youngest son, who fel against him with a clap.

My mouth fel open, and I immediately searched Jared’s face for a reaction. There was none.

Gabe’s expression turned remorseful. “I’m sorry for your son, Michael. You and I are in unique positions…to know love for a child. You and I agree that if we could change the outcome, we would make it so.”

Eli reached out to Gabe. “It’s important to remember that it is in the height of adversary that we must come together. Michael, you’ve lost your son. Your widow has now lost her husband and her son. It is unfortunate.”

Michael bowed his head.

Gabe approached Michael, pulling him into his arms. “We need you on our side, Brother.”

Michael shrugged out of his grasp.

“Eli?” Michael pleaded.

Eli offered a smal , comforting smile. “You already know the answer.”

Michael shot an accusing glare at Jared.

Jared’s brows pul ed in. “I didn’t want Isaac to die, Michael. I swear to you, I wish it hadn’t happened.

“Very wel , then.” He gestured to the cloaked angels, and they all disappeared into the darkness.

Eli clapped his hands together, lacing his fingers together. “Impeccable timing, as always, Gabriel.”

Gabe nodded. His eyes paused on me for a moment before fixing on Jared. “This isn’t your fault, Jared.”

Jared didn’t speak. His face tense, his dark eyes meeting the eyes of his father, he was paralyzed. The scene brought back memories of the moment I saw my father for the last time, and I ached for Jared. He would have to say goodbye a second time.

“Jared,” Gabe began, “it’s not your fault. You’ve done everything right.”

Jared’s head dipped slightly as he attempted a nod.

“Son….” Gabe cupped both of his hands on Jared’s shoulders. “I’m proud of you.”

Jared choked, and his body gave way, all owing him to fal against his father. I covered my mouth, unaccustomed to seeing Jared relinquish control of his emotions. They embraced, and Jared’s knuckles turned white as he held Gabe in his arms. When Gabe released him, Jared used his thumb and index finger to make a quick swipe of his wet eyes.

“It’s good to see you again, Dad,” Jared said with a weak smile.

Gabe beamed. “You’ve done wel , Son. You’ve done wel .”

“I’ve tried,” Jared said, relieved at his father’s words. He took my hand, then. “You remember Nina.”

Gabe leaned down and kissed my hairline. “Of course.”

Eli walked up the steps, watching with amusement as Claire and Bex crowded their father. “Gabriel….”

“I know,” he said, seeming a bit sad. “One more thing,” he said. He wrapped his arms around Bex and Claire again, and then fol owed Eli through the double wooden doors, down the aisle of the chapel. Lil ian was stil frozen. The same sweet, smal smile on her face hadn’t moved a centimeter.

Gabriel kneeled before her. He noticed her folded hands in her lap, and tenderly covered hers with his. “She is as beautiful as the day I first saw her,” he smiled. With two fingers, he brushed her cheekbone, and then leaned in to kiss her lips. His mouth lingered on hers for a few moments, and he closed his eyes, taking in his last moment with his wife.

Claire wiped a stray tear from her cheek, but her cheeks were glistening with preceding tears. “Eli…”

“I’m sorry, no,” Eli said.

“We’re already pushing the rules all owing Nina to be animated, not to mention all owing me to be here at all ,” Gabriel said. His eyes didn’t stray from Lil ian’s delicate face.

“Not unlike hacking into dreams to get your point across….” Eli said, looking away in dramatic fashion.

“The dreams,” I said. The moment I spoke, I wished I hadn’t. Bothering Gabe while he spent his last moments with his wife was ridiculously selfish. Regardless, Gabe touched Lil ian’s lips to his once more, and then stood to face me.

“Yes, the dreams,” Gabe sighed.

I hesitated, and then decided to ask, anyway. “Why did you come to me in the dream if there was nothing in the book to help us?”

Gabe looked to the floor, and then to Jared. “At first, we were hoping you wouldn’t go right along with the prophecy and get pregnant the first chance that presented itself.”

A flush of red lit my cheeks, and Jared cleared his throat. “That’s not exactly how it happened, Dad.”

Gabe gave a quick nod. “You have the book?”

“Yes,” Jared said.

“Now that you have it, it’s safe to say that it would behoove you to help the Pol ocks replace it. One less thing to worry about, wouldn’t you agree?”

Jared frowned. “But…if it puts us in danger, why did you take it from the Pol ocks to begin with?”

“Answers. Jack knew the moment she was born she was in danger of being the woman in the prophecy. When you fel in love with her, Son, we knew it was a matter of when, not if. We were fighting time and fate…an impossible task. Stil , Jack loved his daughter, and he wanted to do everything in his power to try to keep her from that path. We knew there was a chance the book could help us find a loophole, so we took it.”

In frustration, Jared shifted his weight. “But…by the time you came to Nina in the dreams, you knew there was no loophole. Why did you put her through that? Why the theatrics? Do you have any idea what she’s been through? What I went through?”

“To get your attention. We were desperate to find a way to stop you from commencing the prophecy.”

“By then it was too late,” Bex inserted.

“Obviously,” Claire grumbled.

Gabe shook his head. “Not quite. She stil had time.”

I looked around the room. “Where is Samuel?”

Claire shoved her hands into her jacket pockets. She wore sweats, her gathered gray pants pushed up to just below her knees, and a matching hooded jacket over a ratty white tank top. She had been summoned unexpectedly. “Babysitting Ryan until I get back. Now that the trial is over, he’s vulnerable.”

“Is he okay?” I asked.

She nodded. “Kim goes home tomorrow. Father Francis is in stable condition, but he wil be in traction for a while.”

Bex frowned. “That should have never happened. Clergy should have more protection than that.”

“Father Francis’ guardian is an Arch, Bex. His hands were tied when Donovan attacked him,” Claire explained.

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