The two menstood across from him, staring. Malachi refused to sit down after being introduced to Max’s twin, Leo. He felt restless. He wanted to do something. Go somewhere. Sitting around a library made his skin itch. Rhys had left, along with Evren. The two men with him claimed to be his friends, but he had no memory of them.
Leo leaned over to Max and asked, “What happened to them?”
Max shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“He died and came back to life, Leo. Who knows what happened to them.”
“Will they come back?”
Malachi suppressed the urge to punch them both. “What are you talking about?”
Leo rolled up his sleeves to reveal intricate tattoos all over his arms. “Your talesm. Your spells. Tattoos. You used to be covered with them like us. More than us, because you’re quite a bit older.”
Of course. That was why his arms felt wrong. He’d sensed a lack of… something since he woke. He rubbed his hands over his forearms, wishing he could rub away the unwanted attention. “I don’t know what happened. And you don’t look much younger than me, so how old am I?”
Leo said, “You used to be around four hundred. But do we start over now?” He grinned. “Am I not the youngest anymore?”
Max tapped Leo on the back of the head. “Stop. He’s obviously still Malachi. He’s just different. You’re still the youngest in the house.”
Malachi looked toward the door. “Where did all the others go?”
Leo said, “Evren sent the scribes in the house searching the archives to see if there are any records of Irin coming back to life after death. Rhys went to search Damien’s phone and credit card records to see if he’s still traceable. I’m guessing he won’t be, but we can hope.”
“And Damien is with…”
“Yes, Ava.” His woman. His mate.
“It must have been her.” For the first time, Max’s eyes softened as he watched him. “Somehow… We thought we’d lost you, Malachi. I watched you die. Saw the dust rise to heaven when he killed you.”
Leo put his arm around his brother. “There was no question. She felt your loss.”
“Ava was… torn in two when you died,” Max said. “I’ve never seen—I don’t remember the Rending, so I’ve never seen grief like that before.”
Malachi swallowed a groan. She was out there, grieving his loss, and he was unable to comfort her. Even though he couldn’t remember her, Malachi bristled in awareness of her grief. “I need to find her. Why did this man take her from here?”
Rhys opened the door, face grim. “Damien took her away because her power was unpredictable and growing stronger every day.” He glanced at Malachi. “Obviously.”
“You’re saying she didn’t mean to bring me back. This was some kind of mistake?”
“Not a mistake,” Rhys said, his voice breaking. “Never a mistake, brother.”
“No trained Irina would have done it. They have rules. Boundaries. As we do. Set in place thousands of years ago by the Forgiven when they gave us the gift of magic. To do something like this—to tear a soul from heaven—is… not done. I didn’t even know it was possible.”
“There probably isn’t even a spell for it,” Leo added. “But Ava grew up among humans. She has power, a lot of it—especially since the mating ritual between you two—but she has no idea how to use it.”
“Whatever happened to bring you back was instinctive,” Rhys said. “She’s probably unaware she worked magic at all.”
His heart thudded. “So she doesn’t know I’m alive.”
“I very much doubt it.”
Max asked, “Did you find Damien? Is there any way—”
“Damien and Ava dropped out of sight a few days ago. There’s no telling where they are now. The last point of contact was a car he picked up from the scribe house in Berlin. He didn’t say when he’d be returning it, though he asked the watcher of the house for something with all-wheel drive. There was GPS in the car, but it was disabled outside Hamburg. They haven’t used credit cards, and Ava left her old mobile phone here. The ones they have now are burners. Damien made sure of it.”
Max crossed his arms. “So he’s gone to Sari.”
“It appears so. We knew that was probably where they were going.” Rhys sat on the edge of the sofa, which seemed to give all the men permission to follow his lead. Malachi joined them as they sat.
Leo said, “Which means he’s in Scandinavia somewhere.”
“Wasn’t Sari raised at a retreat near Gothenburg?” Max asked.
“Yes, but her family isn’t from there,” Rhys said. “Her mother was a dissenter and only brought Sari there when she was ready for school.”
Malachi asked, “A dissenter? And who is Sari?”
“Sari is Damien’s mate. Ava will be safe with her.”
Rhys sighed. “This is so strange. You really don’t remember any of this?”
Malachi crossed his arms and shrugged. “Bits and pieces.”
“I just… don’t understand.”
Of course you don’t. You haven’t lost every bloody memory that matters. Malachi pushed back his own annoyance and tried to explain. “Sometimes it’s like being reminded of something. Some of the things you’ve said, I remember immediately. As if I had always known them. Like my talesm.” He leaned forward with his elbows on his knees. “Almost as soon as Leo mentioned them, I knew what he was talking about.”
“That’s so strange,” Leo said.