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Tarnished Embers: Epilogue

EMBER

Peace.

My body loosens as we get out of the car at the top of the cliffs, the sparkling sea spread out before and below us, and the sounds of gulls filling the air as a gentle breeze makes the hem of my floral dress tickle my thighs.

The sound of the guys opening and closing the car doors and the boot fills my ears, then powerful arms are encasing me from behind, the smell of spiced rum filling my nose.

“It’s more than she deserves,” Prince murmurs in my ear, Cas coming up beside me with a small box in his hands. I sink back into Prince’s hold, taking a deep breath of salt-tinged air and letting the morning sun warm my face.

“I know, but we need the closure that only forgiveness will bring, Prince.” My words are soft, and he sighs, his breath tickling my neck just as the twins come up on our other side. “And even villains deserve to be set free.”

“You are too kind, Little Sis,” Oct says, and I turn to be captured in his bright blue eyes, shining just like the water below us. Reaching out, I cup his jaw in my hand and he nuzzles into it.

“Let’s get this done so we can go home,” I tell him, knowing that this will be hard for them. They hold so much anger for Odette still, even though she’s been gone for several weeks.

It was my suggestion to spread her ashes here, a place in Dorset I’d visited as a child with my parents and somewhere that always felt like a new beginning. There’s something about being atop a cliff with the sea before you and the wind wrapping around you that feels like a fresh start. Like anything is possible, and it’s all there, waiting for you to grab hold of.

It’s quiet this morning, the sun having only just come up, so we’re alone for the most part. Licking a finger to check the wind is coming from behind us, I step out of Prince’s grip, taking the box from Cas and stepping closer to the edge.

“I forgive you, Odette,” I say quietly, opening the box and tipping the contents out over the side. The wind picks up and takes her ashes out to sea, that sense of calm washing over me once more. Prince comes up next to me, taking my hand in his.

“I forgive you for never loving me enough, Mom,” Prince whispers, his voice thick, and tears sting my eyes. “For making me into a villain too.” He sniffs, and I catch the movement of his hand as he wipes at his eyes. A lump forms in my throat, but I remain silent, knowing that they all need to speak uninterrupted right now.

“I forgive you for killing my dad,” Cas says, taking the box from me and gripping my other hand. “And for all the shit you forced me to do.”

“I forgive you for taking our dad away,” Kit states, taking Prince’s other hand. His jaw is tight, his eyes full of storms as he looks out, but his shoulders lose all their tension as the words leave his mouth.

“I forgive you for forcing us to fuck all those women,” Oct adds, his words a choked rasp as he takes the empty box from Cas before grabbing his now free hand.

We remain silent, holding hands for a long while, the sun high in the sky by the time we make a move to leave. A part of me feels like Odette didn’t deserve forgiveness, that her crimes were too numerous and heinous to ever receive absolution. However, without her scheming, without her unrelenting quest for money, we would never have been brought together. I might never have met these men who own every part of my broken soul and who are slowly mending it. Like so much in life, it’s all shades of grey. There’s so much bad mixed in with all the good, but you can’t have one without the other.

“Thank you, Sugar,” Prince whispers as he walks back to the car while holding my hand. “We all needed to let go.”

“It was time to move on, we’ve got a lot of living to do,” I reply, giving his hand a squeeze and pulling him to a stop. “So tell me, Prince, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

His lips quirk up into a smile that’s so dazzling it takes my breath away, then he leans in, his plush lips hovering just over mine.

“Yours.”


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