The Worry Curse, Part Twenty-Five

Candlelight gilded Arden’s scarred cheek and drove the shadows over his shoulder as he bent over her.

“Laina, do you …” His voice washed over her in mumble-squelched waves. “… and submit your life to Jesus Christ?”

Her breath croaked and clenched. She forced her chin to dip in a slight nod. Her lashes fluttered against a rancid gust. The light vanished.

Skittering enveloped the walls. Arden shouted for a name. Wolvish howls and bellowing muffled his demands.

Laina seized and quaked. Her skull and limbs rattled against the linoleum.

His yell rose above the din. “Be gone!”

Roars echoed around them. A stampede of hooves thundered across the floor. Shattering glass erupted from the next room. The dense, odorous pressure lifted and Laina’s body fell still.

Warmth radiated from Arden’s grip on her hand. Her jaw unclenched and she coughed. He scooped his hand behind her head and lifted her from the floor. His sandalwood cologne filled her senses and eased her breath.

“Is it over?” Legs trembling, she grasped at a chair back to steady her balance.

“Yes.” A flash highlighted Arden’s silhouette as he squatted over the candle. He rose and lifted the pillar. Firelight wrestled against shadows licking his face as he turned to face her. “And no.”


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