I crammed some of Kane’s belongings into a suitcase and sighed heavily. Everything in our on-the-surface perfect lives was literally coming apart at the seams. Kane’s troubled past was catching up with him and I had taken a life to preserve my own and it was killing me inside. Regardless of the fact that Sasha, the terminally ill patient whose life I’d taken at the hospital back home had been dying, it still haunted me nightly. I tried fighting it, the Phoenix had won out in the end and I had released her from her pain by breathing her into me. Shortly after, I wanted to die with remorse. I wasn’t sure I’d ever move past taking lives to live. And if we did ever move past it, I believed that would be when the human part of us truly died. Els was right. We are monsters. And to make matters worse, I had gone and prompted my future mate to take the Oath as well. If I’d had to do it over again, I may have screamed for her to run and never look back but a part of me didn’t because I wanted Elora by my side, to help me through my own monstrous lifestyle. My selfishness had obviously gotten the better of me. After being kicked out of my own home by my parents when I went through the change, I had become terrified of being alone. Shortly after Els came into my life, I began to develop feelings for her and they had continued to grow over the past year. The Elite had assigned me to be her advisor and future mate just a few months after my own change and I studied everything about her from afar and came to realize what a wonderful person she was and I had justified wanting her to complete the Oath because I had feelings for her. But I knew deep down inside, I had had the ulterior motive of not wanting to be alone in this mess.
I ran my fingers through my messy locks as I sat on the edge of the bed. A photo on my nightstand beckoned my hands forward. I picked up the black frame and stared at the picture. It was a photo of Elora and me when we first arrived at Marlind Prep. My arms were wrapped tightly around her; I was trying to keep her from shivering in the lightly falling snow as the guard at the main gate snapped the pic. Her dark tresses which had always reminded me of chocolate covered cherries with its streaking of red spilled delicately over her white parka. I traced the picture with the tip of my index finger. Els’s eyes glittered brightly back at me, so full of life, a life that would soon fade if she didn’t make the horrifying choice I had made on my seventeenth birthday. I squelched the tears and succumbed to the burning fear for Elora in my chest, a painful reminder that I would do anything to keep her safe. Even walk away if it came to it. We Phoenixes were after all horrible creatures and I couldn’t imagine anything worse and she was so pure, so in touch with her human counterpart. Yes, I’d definitely walk away if it meant keeping her just the way she was now.