Black Fallen (Dark Ink Chronicles #4)

5,479
05.03.2019

Rick Morgan held his younger daughter close. “Is she going to continue to make it?”

The doctor placed a hand on Rick Morgan’s shoulder. “This is a critical time for her, I’m afraid. She’s young and, prior to this, healthy, so her chances are good. She’s stable right now. But given what she’s been through . . .” He squeezed his shoulder. “We’ll see.”

Once the physician left, a nurse dressed in blue trousers and tunic walked up and smiled. “Are you the Morgan family?”

Rick Morgan nodded.

“Two can come back,” she said.

“Just two?” Ellie’s brother, Kyle, said.

“I’m afraid so. ICU regulations.” She glanced around. “Which two? You can follow me.”

Gawan locked eyes with her. Five can come in and stay at all times, even outside of visiting hours, if they wish. Let your coworkers know the physician says it’s all right.

“Okay,” she said, eyes wide. “You can all follow me.”

Rick Morgan looked at Gawan and then silently followed the wide-eyed nurse. As they passed the small nurse’s station in the center of the ward, Gawan willed them each to let them all stay on in Ellie’s room, just for good measure.

Gawan was in no way prepared to see his intended the way he now saw her: tubes, beeping machines, her face pale, and a ventilator doing Ellie’s breathing for her. Aye, he knew the names of such machines, and he hated seeing them strapped to her.

Ellie’s sister cried and held her hand.

Her brothers, flanking Ellie’s sides, just stood there, silent, their hands resting on the covers beside her.

Rick Morgan’s face had blanched, and as big as the man was, Gawan noticed the trembling in his hands as he swiped back a bit of Ellie’s hair. “Christ, girl,” he said, his voice cracking. “Christ.”

Gawan stood back near the foot of the bed and watched Ellie’s chest rise and fall with each horrible click of that machine. He watched for as long as he could stand it before he simply closed his eyes.

And so it went on like that, all day long. The Morgan siblings went in and out, graciously allowing others to replace them. Only Rick Morgan and Gawan remained constantly. The Dreadmoor knights, they took their turns coming to see Ellie, but none of them stayed long. Only Jason, who, by the bloody saints, looked as pale as Ellie, lingered a while, whispered something in her ear, and then left.

Hours passed by, and Gawan never sat. He could do nothing save stand beside Ellie, hold her hand, and pray she’d make it. Once, when Rick Morgan stepped into the garderobe and no one else was about, Gawan whispered into Ellie’s ear, “I mewn hon buchedd a I mewn I ’r ’n gyfnesaf, Adduneda ’m cara atat forever ’n ddarpar.” It was a heartfelt verse in his native tongue, and he prayed that even though she was deep in slumber, she may hear it. He supposed he’d never know.

It was hours later when Nicklesby touched his arm. “Sir, are you aware of the time?”

Gawan glanced at the clock. Nearly six p.m. “Nay, not until just now.”

“You’ve only a few more hours remaining,” he said, his voice quiet. “I know this is passing sorrowful, Sir Gawan.”

“I know what needs to be done, my friend,” Gawan said, grasping Nicklesby’s bony shoulder and giving a thankful squeeze. “Not yet, though.”

“Poor lamb,” he said, casting a glance at Ellie. “I’ll be just outside, if you need me.” Then he left.

By the next hour, everything changed drastically.

He, Rick Morgan, Andi, and Tristan were in Ellie’s room when her body jerked. That blasted intubator began to sound its alarm, and within the next second the monitor indicating her heartbeat let out a long, solid scream. Gawan knew well and good what that meant. He and Rick Morgan yelled “Nurse!” at the same time.

The nurse ran in, took one look at Ellie, pushed past Gawan, and slammed her fist against a round silver button on the wall, sending off an alarm overhead.

A code was called.

He was losing Ellie.

The curtain to Ellie’s room was yanked, and in a matter of seconds was filled with all sorts of hospital staff, squeezing past one another to get to her. A doctor—not the one who performed the surgery—ran in and yelled, “Someone get these people out of here!”

And then what his Ellie would have termed A Fiasco ensued. Again.

Because, by the bloody saints above, Gawan wasn’t going anywhere.

While he didn’t want to interfere with Ellie’s care, Gawan knew he could not leave. Not for one bloody second. He willed the doctor and other staff to ignore everyone else and simply do their jobs, which they did.

Meanwhile, everyone from the waiting lobby poured out to wait by Ellie’s room. Even the Grimm ghosts had shown up.

Gawan paced, glanced over shoulders, and swore. Everything was chaotic, Bailey was crying, Andi was crying, and the men were cursing in various languages.

Gawan lurked in the physician’s mind.

She’s gone.

“Nay!” Gawan yelled at the doctor. “Stay your course. Do you hear? Keep to your bloody task!” Fury rolled inside him like a great North Sea wave, his insides burned with it, and as he watched the lifeless body of his beloved laying there, unresponsive, Gawan let out a battle cry he’d not released in centuries.

And as all eyes turned to him, everything, everyone in Ellie’s room grew completely silent. No beeping machines, no curses, no commands from the doctor, no weeping. Silence.

With his eyes locked on Ellie’s face, he released something else. An ancient Welsh verse. Rather, a plea. A barter.

His life force for Ellie’s.

And just that fast, without hesitation, it was done.

A white light boomed into the room, and, silently, everyone squinted against its brightness. The stillness was deafening.

Like a bolt of lightning, the memories Gawan had shared with Ellie of Aquitaine flashed through his mind at top speed, yet he saw each one with perfect clarity. And just at that last second, that last breath of a heartbeat, just before Gawan of Conwyk vanished into thin air in front of the entire ICU, Ellie opened her eyes and their gazes locked.

And then Gawan disappeared.

I blink, and the whole scene washes away, and I’m eye to eye with Gawan of Conwyk, back in the Crescent’s courtyard. I cock my head at the ancient Pict warrior.

“You gave your life force to save Ellie’s,” I say. “Impressive.”

Gawan merely smiles at me, those chocolate brown eyes turning liquid in the courtyard’s lamplight. “I had no choice.”

We both share a smile, and Gawan nods at Eli and strides across the courtyard to the Rover. I know now that I want to know lots more about Dreadmoor and Grimm. Hopefully, I’ll get the chance.

With the team behind me, we watch the two big warriors, along with a somewhat smaller warrior, climb into the Rover and pull out of the wynd.

“Nice to see chivalry isn’t dead after all,” Ginger says beside me.

Eli’s arm snakes around my waist, and I lean against him.

“Yeah,” I answer. “Nice.”

As we all stand there in the light of the Crescent, me clutching my new scathe, I glance around at the souls who will have my back and whose back I’ll have. I don’t really know them, yet I fully and wholeheartedly trust them. I know that the hell about to break loose in Edinburgh within the next few hours will be unimaginable.

I know we’ll all fight together to end it.

The one thing that bothers me, though, and it’s something I just can’t seem to shake. I hate it. I wish like hell the thought didn’t exist, but it does.

One of us won’t make it out alive.

Despite my DNA, I’m still the most vulnerable. It may very well be me.

I don’t want to hear you think that again. Ever. This from Victorian. Moving my gaze to his, I stare. The furrowed dark brows, the narrowed eyes, and pursed lips all express fierce anger. Even a little fear. Nothing will happen to you. Do you understand me?

I give a slight grin. Whoa, step back, my crazy Romanian bodyguard. I’m just being realistic. Keeps me on my toes. I frown. And get out of my head. You promised.

To my surprise, instead of a smart-ass remark, or, more Vic’s speed, a dirty remark, he stares. Scowls. Then turns away.

Silence.

I mentally shake my head and sigh. Without thinking, I scan the Crescent, up the aged stone of the former school until my vision rests on a window. My window.

The little white-faced girl stares back at me.

Although my initial reaction is anxiety, it’s over in an instant. I’m not scared of her. I don’t know why, but I’m not. Something about her intrigues me, and I have a strong feeling she’s probably the same creepy kid who scared the life out of that professor so long ago. I wonder what she wants. I have to remember to ask Gabriel about her later. There has to be a reason why she is seeking me out over all the others.

I hold her gaze for a moment more. I think we might be having a staring contest, and since I’ve had several with not only my baby brother but also with my dog, Chaz, and won them all, I’ll see how I hold up with a naughty, creepy Victorian kid spirit.

Several moments later, she disappears.

Riley, one. Creepy little dead girl, zip.

The creaking of the Crescent’s gates draws my attention, and I notice they’re closing. Peter is hurrying to a side door and quickly disappears inside. As a group, the WUP team begins to move toward the front entrance. I glance up at the dark sky. Clouds shift, stretching across the half-moon, and a few stars shine through. A coldness drifts across the courtyard and whisks in through the doorway behind us.

And with it, that thing I’m starting to recognize more clearly. It’s actually becoming a nuisance.

Dread.

And that’s when I hear it. Softly, at first—so barely there I almost think I imagined it. Then I hear it again. It sounds like it’s coming from the street. By Bene’s, maybe? Close. It’s a kid’s voice. A boy. Teenager. He’s whimpering. Without a thought, I stand, listening.