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Revelle: Chapter 35


“No!” Roger shouted, grabbing the gun from my hand.

Dewey’s eyes remained shut. The red hole in his temple was a neat, symmetrical wound, so different from Trevor’s.

But he was dead.

I’d shot him. I’d never even gone hunting for a bunny, or deer, or whatever it was men hunted for, but I had just killed a human.

A wild, ravenous applause drowned out the music.

“I’m sorry.” A strange giggle bubbled deep in my throat. Apologizing yet again.

Roger stared at me like I was the devil himself. “Trys! You forgot about Trys!”


On the floor beside Trevor. Lifeless. And I’d just killed the time traveler who could have saved both of them.

I fell to my knees, taking her limp wrist in my hand, searching for a pulse.

No, no, no.

Wordlessly, Luxe slumped to the ground beside me.

“Take the bodies. Fast!” someone thundered. Wolffe. He must have heard the gunshots.

More Revelles streamed out from where they’d been hiding. Luxe’s aunts grabbed Trevor, and I forced myself to look away. Two of Luxe’s uncles picked up Dewey, carrying him deeper into the backstage maze. Nana followed, wiping away the trail of blood with a bar towel.

They reached for Trys, but I held her tighter.

Roger glared at them from her other side. “Not until she sees Dr. Strattori.”

“She’s gone.” Wolffe laid a gentle hand on his son’s shoulder.

“Are you a doctor?” Roger snapped. “No one touches her! Not until every Strattori on Charmant tells me she’s gone. Not until they swear it in front of the Edwardians. Not until God himself descends from the heavens and declares it so.” He pushed back her hair and set his jaw in a firm line. “Not even then.”

Wolffe studied the devastation written all over Roger’s face before crouching beside him. “You heard my son. You, get Dr. Strattori. You, stand guard over there. No one else moves! If anyone so much as thinks about this too loudly, we’re as good as dead.”

All it would take was one Edwardian to read one of our thoughts, and the Chronoses would know. Two of their kin, shot backstage at the Revelle show.

If I turned myself in and begged for them to bring her back, maybe she’d live.

Roger leaned against his father, looking younger than I’d ever seen him as he fought back tears. All around us, the Revelles sprang to action, casting wary glances my way. Because they thought I set the fire—or because I’d killed a man?

As Aunt Caroline furiously scrubbed the stained floor, Colette skipped backstage, her brow shining with sweat. “They need you out there, Pops. Time to announce the results.”

Wolffe moved to stop her, but it was too late.

There was blood everywhere. Mostly Dewey’s, but also Trys’s. Luxe had even managed to get blood on her face.

“Luxe!” Colette shrieked. “Are you okay?”

“It’s not mine,” Luxe replied quietly. I felt her gaze on me, but I couldn’t bear to see her look at me like Roger did. Like I’d shot Trys and Trevor myself.

When Colette saw Trys, she let out a raw, broken cry.

I squeezed my eyes shut. This couldn’t be happening.

A small, cold hand slid into mine. “I understand why you did it,” Luxe whispered to me, but her face was pale.

“You yelled no,” I rasped.

She gave my hand a weak squeeze. Dark shadows framed her eyes. She was so tired, so drained from it all.

Dewey was gone. She’d never have to charm him again.

But Trys . . .

Roger’s hands pressed the wound in her chest. Please, God, not her heart. If there was any chance God worked on some sort of points system, I needed to cash in on my twelve years in a religious orphanage. I’d killed a man, and if God took Trys as punishment . . .

“What happened?” Colette cried, searching Trys’s dark, bloodied clothes for the wound.

“Not now,” Luxe murmured. I squeezed her hand again, but she didn’t squeeze back.

Helen Strattori rushed to us, pushing me out of the way. Trys’s hand fell from mine, and Dr. Strattori let out a disapproving noise as she took in the bullet wound. As if it were Trys’s fault that she’d been shot.

By her brother.

Who I’d killed.

Wolffe squeezed Roger’s shoulder. “The audience is expecting me to announce the winner. I need to get back out there.”

“But he’s dead!” someone shouted.

“You think I don’t know that?” Wolffe snapped. “Everyone go take a nice, long bow to give me a minute to figure out how the hell to buy us some time. Maybe give ’em an encore.”

Colette held out her bloodstained hands. “You can’t be serious.”

“If the audience realizes anything is amiss, we’re as good as dead. Go, sweetheart. You can’t help her now.”

Colette didn’t budge. Helen Strattori ripped open Trys’s shirt and held her hands above the wound.

Roger held Trys close. “Transfer it to me.”

“You know I can’t,” Dr. Strattori replied calmly, not looking up from Trys. Her magic could sense the damage, but without Trys’s consent, she could only treat her using regular medicine. “Go, Colette. I’ve got it from here.”

Colette’s face twisted. She wiped her hands on a towel, then lifted it to Luxe’s red lips. “You coming?”

“Soon.” Luxe’s voice was barely audible. I’d never seen her so exhausted.

I pushed her hair off her face. Her skin was as cold as ice. Shock, perhaps. “Do you want me to get you some water?”

A groan sounded from beneath the Strattori’s hands.

“Trys!” Roger yelped.

Sweet, sweet relief flooded me. I grabbed Trys’s hand, and Colette squeezed her eyes shut, tears of relief streaming down her cheeks.

Trys blinked open her eyes, taking in Roger, Colette, and me. She groaned again. “What happened?”

Roger shook his head slightly. Not in front of the Strattori.

“The bullet missed your heart, but it’s close to your lung,” Dr. Strattori said. “I need to bring you to my surgery.”

I squeezed Trys’s hand, tears blurring my view of her as she squeezed it back.

“So she’s going to be okay?” Colette asked.

Dr. Strattori took a long sip from her flask. “Whoever shot her either had terrible aim or very, very good aim.”

Trys’s face crumpled, her hands burying her face as Roger and his aunts helped Dr. Strattori load her onto a stretcher.

“She’s going to be okay,” I repeated to myself. To Luxe. “Did you hear that?”

Trys was going to make it. Luxe was free of Dewey. We all were.

The nightmare was finally over.

Wolffe reappeared and shooed Colette away. His scowl deepened when he saw Luxe’s and my intertwined hands. “We could use you out there, Luxe.”

She remained silent, her eyes closed.

I pulled her damp curls from her eyes. “Can’t you do it without her?”

“The audience is expecting their new mayor and his bride. We need her to buy us time.” He crouched beside us. “Are you drained, Luxe?”

He was speaking in code. He didn’t know how much she’d told me.

Luxe’s legs shifted, but she couldn’t stand. Her whole body trembled.

I pulled her closer to me, blanketing her in my warmth. “She’s been through a lot, sir.”

Wolffe folded his arms but left without her. Anyone with eyes could see she was on the verge of passing out.

“I’ve got you,” I murmured against her hair. “It’s all over, and you’re all right, okay?”

“I’m sorry,” she breathed.

“You don’t have to apologize for anything.” Despite the blood that still marred her hands, her face, despite all the blood that had been shed, I found it in me to smile. “You’re free now.”

“He turned back time.” Her eyes fluttered closed, her expression distant and dreamy. “Over and over.”

“I know, love. And no matter what he did, we still found each other.”

Her voice was so small, her face so peaceful. “I’ll always find you.”

As I caressed her cheek, her lips relaxed into a soft smile. No more pain, no masks of bravery or indifference. Her job was done.

And now her life could begin.

Beyond the curtain, Wolffe’s voice boomed, “How about one more song for our candidate?”

The crowd roared to life.

“Luxe?” Nana appeared in the wings, her voice uncertain. “Can you get out there?”

I gave her an encouraging squeeze. Whatever she wanted to do, I’d make Nana accept it.

Luxe didn’t move.

“Luxe?” I pushed her relentless curls away from her face. But the Radiant Ruby of Revelle was gray.

Gray like ash. Like death.

I gave her shoulders a gentle shake. “Luxe?”

She didn’t stir.

“Get Dr. Strattori back here!” I yelled.

Nana took one look at her and stumbled backward.


Finally, she hurried away.

The impatient crowd began chanting Dewey’s name. “Dew-ey! Dew-ey!”

“Someone help!” We were alone. In the center of the most decadent party of the summer, we were utterly alone. “Something’s wrong with Luxe!”

The applause for the Revelles reached its crescendo, the chant louder and louder. Dust motes floated in the bands of light peeking through the curtains. Little flecks swirled through the air over us, coming to rest upon Luxe’s lips. Her rush of breath should have sent them spinning away.

Seconds passed. The dust settled, embedding itself in her cherry lipstick.

“She’s not breathing.” Panic eroded the strength from my voice. When had she stopped breathing? “Where is the fucking doctor?”

Millie and Colette emerged from the curtain together. They froze when they saw Luxe.

“Help her!” I pleaded. Why wasn’t anyone doing anything?

They were beside us a moment later. Millie pressed her head to Luxe’s chest, listening for a pulse.

Her panicky eyes found mine. She shook her head.

Impossible. She wasn’t doing it right.

I wrapped my fingers around Luxe’s wrist and waited for life to thrum through her veins.

“What’s going on?” Roger was here, too, hands stained red from Trys’s blood. “Did she faint again?”

I squeezed her limp wrist harder.

Millie laid a hand on Luxe’s cheek. Once she felt the iciness of Luxe’s skin, her eyes slid to mine again, tears overflowing.

“No,” I found myself saying.

Millie turned to Colette, her cheeks shining under the too-bright lights. “She’s gone,” she rasped.

“Gone?” Roger repeated. “As in she overexerted herself again?”

A sob escaped Colette, echoing backstage as she folded inward.

No. This couldn’t be happening. We’d only just gotten free, only just begun . . .

I cradled Luxe to my chest. If only I could make her warm, then she’d be okay. And we could leave. Or we could stay. Dewey was gone, and she could finally live . . .

“Jamison? Do you hear what I’m saying?”

“You’re wrong.” I could hardly hear my own voice over the crowd screaming for Dewey. Wolffe reappeared, barking orders to the dancers. He skidded to a halt when he saw Luxe.

Finally, finally, Dr. Strattori returned with Nana.

“She collapsed,” I explained. “I think she’s just exhausted from the show. There was a bit of excitement back here, and—”

Silencing me with a stern look, Dr. Strattori pressed a gentle hand to Luxe’s face.

Revelles filed in around us. I couldn’t escape their questions, their soft cries. They filled my head, distracting me from what needed to be done, which was finding a way to help Luxe.

Dr. Strattori let out a small gasp. “What a strange, magical wound. I’ve never felt anything like it.”

“Can you help her?” Wolffe asked quietly.

A single shake of her head. “I’m sorry.”

“She’s just tired.” We needed to stay calm. Luxe wasn’t going to appreciate the fuss when she awakened.

With a gentle finger, I wiped the dust from her lips. Dr. Strattori looked at me, her stern face full of pity.

“No,” I announced, and for the briefest of seconds I felt relief. Dr. Strattori was wrong, and that was that.

The fainting, the weight loss, the nosebleeds . . .

No,” I repeated, this time more forcefully.

God might have spared Trys, but I’d killed a man. One who couldn’t fight back.

There was always a cost.

Dr. Strattori pressed her head to Luxe’s chest and listened. Sitting up, she sighed. “I’m sorry, I really am. The most you can do now is be here for her, so she can pass on surrounded by those who love her.”

Colette clung to Luxe’s limp hand and shook her head furiously.

Millie placed her hand over Colette’s, her words swallowed by her efforts to hold back her sobs. Tears streamed down her face. Nana’s face, too, as she did the sign of the cross on Luxe’s forehead. “My sweet, sweet girl,” she whispered, her voice breaking. “Your mother’s waiting for you.”

This was her home. Charmant. Her family. Her cousins. She had so much to live for, so much life left in her . . .

I grabbed Dr. Strattori’s arm. “Transfer it to me.”

“I can’t,” she snapped, pulling her arm away. “And even if I could, it’s a fatal wound, rife with dark magic.”

“Try it.”

She watched me suspiciously. “It would kill you.”

“But would she live?”

She hesitated.

That was all I needed. “Transfer it to me.”

“Jamison, you can’t.” Roger pulled at my shoulder.

“I have to! She can’t die!”

His rough hands gripped me. “I know, Jame-o. But you literally can’t.”

“He’s right,” Dr. Strattori said. “Without Luxe’s explicit permission, I can’t access my magic. Even if I wanted to.”

It was the most kindness I’d ever received from the stern doctor, but still, I wanted to wring her neck.

Luxe needed to wake up. Needed someone to wake her up.

I grabbed Roger’s arm. “Use your revenge stash.”

“And let you sacrifice yourself?”

“It’ll give her a chance, even a small one, to fight back!”

“Jamison, please, she won’t let you do that—”

“I don’t care!” My voice echoed backstage, and Wolffe’s warning died in his throat. We were supposed to be acting normal, but there was no normal without her. There was nothing without her.

Roger grimaced. I’d put him in an impossible situation, but I had to help her, no matter the cost.

“What about me?” Millie pressed a hand on Luxe’s arm. “Dr. Strattori, if we wake her up, could you transfer it to me instead?”

Nana’s face blanched. “What? No!”

“It would kill you, too,” Dr. Strattori said. “Even with magic in your blood, it’s too much for someone to bear.”

Luxe bore it. She bore it for months without ever complaining. Alone.

Alone. I grabbed Millie’s arm. “What if we both did it?”

Dr. Strattori looked at me as though I’d grown two more heads.

“What if we did it together?” I couldn’t get the words out fast enough. We had no time; she could slip away at any moment. “If we split the wound between us—does that increase the odds of survival?”

Her brows pressed together at the center of her forehead. “I’ve never done anything like that before.”

“But is it possible?”

“Any other Strattori would tell you no,” she said carefully, “and that you could both die in the process. But . . . maybe.”

Millie’s eyes met mine. “Let’s do it.”

I whipped toward Roger again. “Wake her up. Use your revenge stash.”

His jaw clenched and unclenched as he considered our options. Finally, he fished the velvet sack from his pocket. Jewels spilled over the floor.


Luxe was too cold, too gray, and her chest no longer rose and fell . . .

He held a ruby in the palm of his hand. “Found it.”

Millie and I laced our fingers together. She gave me a firm nod.

“Wake up, cousin,” he murmured. “You’re very awake right now. You’re feeling completely alert.”

Red dust rained off the ruby, like dried flecks of blood.

“Come on, Luxie girl. You’re feeling loved by your family—and you want to open your eyes to see us.”

She was still cold, so cold—

“You want to kiss Jamison,” he tried. Millie cracked a brief smile.

And Luxe’s lashes fluttered.

My heart leaped into my throat as I squeezed her hand.

The Strattori bent over to her. “Luxe Revelle, with your permission, I will transfer your fatal wound to Mildred Revelle and . . . this young man right here.”

I glared at Dr. Strattori. “Fatal” was not helping our cause.

Luxe didn’t respond, but her face pinched ever so slightly.

“And me,” Roger announced. “If we go down, we go down together.”

Gratitude flooded me as he rested his hand on top of mine and Millie’s.

Still Luxe didn’t move.

“It’s okay, Luxe.” I let my free hand rest on her cheek. “Let us help, okay?”

“No.” The word was faint but clear. “No more . . . suffering.”

“We can all survive this if you share the burden.”

Roger leaned over Luxe. “Don’t be a martyr. Isn’t that what you used to tell me?”

Luxe tried to lift her head, but a coughing fit seized her, rattling her entire body. The coughs kept going and going, not even letting her inhale between spasms.

I shot Roger a look, but he shook his head. There was nothing more he could do.

Her brow was ice-cold as I pressed my lips to it. “I told you we’d find a solution together. This is it. Just let us help.”

A tear slid down her cheek as she shook her head.

That Revelle stubborn streak wouldn’t budge.

“For once, just say yes,” I pleaded. “Please. If not for you, then for me.”

Her eyes squeezed shut.

“Damnit, Luxe!” Colette grabbed her face. “You promised we’d share everything now. So don’t you die on me. We’re in this together. You hear me?”

Her eyes fluttered open once more. They found me. They found Colette.

And she finally nodded.

“Do it,” I urged Dr. Strattori, pressing my palm more firmly against Luxe.

Dr. Strattori hesitated. “Still, with you not having magic, there may be consequences—”

Do it!” Millie hollered.

The pain was immediate, like icicles wedged into my head, my chest, all my vital organs. I had to bite my tongue to keep from yelling out—

No. I was yelling out. I opened my eyes, despite the blinding pain, to see if Luxe was okay—

My God. This was what she had dealt with for all those months. Years.

I squeezed her hand tighter and tighter. If she blamed herself for this, if it killed me but spared her . . .

“Let me help, too!” Colette sounded far away.

“She won’t give me permission.” Helen Strattori’s voice was still cold and clinical. “You only have it for these three.”

“Luxe, don’t be stubborn! Let me help!”

“Transfer it to me!” Aunt Caroline called.

“And me!”

Her aunts rushed forward in their cancan dresses. Wolffe, too, and the rest of her uncles. Nana. Cousins. Second cousins. Every Revelle backstage placed their hands on Millie, on me, on Roger, on Luxe herself.

For their star, they would hurt. For their niece, their granddaughter, their cousin and friend. For all she’d given for them, they’d endure this for her.

“No!” Luxe cried, but pink bloomed on her cheeks like spring washing out the dullness of winter.

I pressed my palm against her warm face. “Let them help you.”

A tear slid down her cheek. “No more sacrifices for me.”

“They’re your family, and they love you.” I lowered my mouth to her ear. “Let them.”

“I can’t!”

“Let them in,” I whispered. More and more hands touched us. Ninety-six Revelles. “No more carrying this alone.”

I felt, rather than saw, the moment she gave her consent. The pain diminished like water down the drain. My vision cleared; my lungs sucked in the cool air greedily.

A coughing fit took Luxe again, but her cough was dry now. And when she removed her hand, no blood stained her fingers.

She was alive.

With surprisingly steady hands, I pulled her to her feet.

Her face was wet with tears, but as she wiped them, she smiled. Not her kaleidoscope smile, but an authentic, relieved, million-carat Luxe Revelle grin. She was alive. Golden flecks sparkled in her brown eyes, her skin tan enough to showcase a smattering of freckles. It was as if she’d been a faded version of herself all summer, and now she stood before me with resplendent beauty.

Luxe smiled as her family closed in around us, squeezing us. She let them in, let herself be surrounded by their love.

The pain was a pinch in my chest, fading by the second. When it was divided among so many people, it wasn’t any worse than heartburn.

“I can never thank you enough,” she tried to say.

“Don’t thank us.” Nana took Luxe’s face between her palms. “You need to leave, child.”

Luxe blinked at her. “Leave?”

“Not just leave.” Wolffe’s smile faded. “Run.

Luxe whirled toward me, her eyes wide. “If anyone finds out . . .”

That I killed the new mayor. A Chronos. “I know.”

Wolffe pressed a hand on each of our shoulders. “Leave Charmant, both of you. And don’t let anyone see you. We’ll send word once it’s safe.”

“But if they find out—” I protested.

When they find out,” Wolffe replied evenly, “we’ll deal with it. The longer it takes for them to realize he’s dead or missing, the more it’ll cost them to bring him back.”

“Dew-ey! Dew-ey!” the crowd chanted. They were growing restless, eager for confirmation that their candidate had won.

“We’ll go together?” Luxe searched my face. As if I’d ever say no to her.

“Of course.” I pulled her close and kissed her forehead. Over the top of her head, I found Roger. “What about Trys?”

Trys had been shot protecting me. Trys needed surgery because I’d killed her brother.

“I’ll take care of her,” Roger promised. “Go.”

Luxe was hugging her cousins now. This was really happening.

I turned back to Roger. “As soon as Trys is back on her feet, you’ll find us, right?”

His face was unusually solemn. “I, ah, think I’m going to stay to help. Maybe I’ll take Luxe’s part in the show.”

I’ll take Luxe’s part,” Colette corrected him.

Roger smiled at his sister. “Still, I should stay.”

No, I longed to say, but his mind was made up. His family needed him.

He gripped my shoulders. “When it’s safe, I’ll send a letter to a place special to us both, okay?”

He was speaking in code, in case an Edwardian one day heard some memory of this conversation and tracked us down.

“We’ll come back,” I promised. “Once it’s safe.”

“This isn’t goodbye. Two months is sixteen years for the Chronoses. Four months is well over thirty. Just . . . be hard to find for a while.”

Even now Roger was thinking ahead. He was always looking out for everyone else. For me. “And then you’ll find us?”

“Of course.” He hugged me tightly. “Don’t waste a drop,” he whispered in my ear. “I expect lots of stories when we meet again, okay?”

I couldn’t wrap my head around saying goodbye to him. “And tell Trys—”

Roger released me. “I’ll tell her. Now go.”

Luxe reluctantly untangled herself from her family’s embrace. Her face was wet, but when Colette whispered something in her ear, she smiled her real smile. No more hiding.

“Cancan dancers, get back out there!” Wolffe barked. “Buy us some time.”

“Where’s Trevor?” Millie asked, glancing around.

Luxe’s smile shattered.

“I’ve got this,” Roger murmured. “Go.”


“Dewey’s guards are heading backstage,” Wolffe interrupted. “You’re out of time.”

As she watched Millie, her face torn, I touched her arm. “It’s now or never.”

She slipped her hand into mine.

Hand in hand, we fled the theater.


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