Home > Day Zero (The Arcana Chronicles #3.5)(9)

Day Zero (The Arcana Chronicles #3.5)(9)
Author: Kresley Cole

“You can’t deny the lobster-red hotness of my skin. No, seriously. My skin is literally hot.”

I tsked. “And you’ll be bright red for all our photos tomorrow.”

“We can always hope I’ll be peeling by then.” Ned sighed. “How you put up with me is a mystery.”

A voice in my head murmured, Mysteries from the deep. The nightmares. Shake it off, Circe.

“You’re brave to want kids with me, luv. Three no less.”

I’d told him I wanted to get started once I’d earned my degree. He’d saluted me, replying, “I shall enthusiastically contribute to this endeavor. You will know what the word commitment means.”

Now he asked, “What if they turn out to be nerds who get seasick?”

“Then you’ll know you’re the father.”

He laughed. “You give as good as you get. God, I’m ready to get this wedding business sorted, so we can get back to us.”

“I know. I feel as if I haven’t seen you in weeks.”

“I don’t like sleeping in different beds. Custom or not, if you have another nightmare, you need to come get me.”

“I will,” I lied. I’d had several each night since that package’s arrival. Yet those nightmares had felt more like . . . memories. Maybe I was losing my mind. “You know how much I love you, right?”

“Ah, but the merest fraction of how much I love you.”

“I’m serious, Ned.” I could all but hear him frowning. I glanced at my arm. For an instant, my skin appeared to glitter. Like a fish’s scales. “I knew the night we met that you would be mine.” I’d been giving a campus lecture on the Bermuda Triangle and Atlantean folklore, presenting pictures of Circe’s Abyss, the deepest spot in the Triangle.

The abyss I’d been named after.

A deep-water oceanography team had recently completed the imaging of it. Those images had captured an underground aquifer—below the abyss.

And inside the aquifer was a rock formation so exact that it had to be man-made.

If the formation was a structure from a sunken city—such as Atlantis—how had it gotten into an aquifer?

Like a ship in a bottle. . . .

Though Ned, a brilliant computer programmer, was devoted to hard science, for some reason he’d attended my lecture. He’d grasped anything I could throw his way, asking observant questions. He hadn’t scoffed when I’d told him of my Wiccan leanings.

Afterward, coffee had turned to drinks. Drinks to dinner. Since then, we’d never separated a single night. Until now. “I thought you were adorable,” I said. “Your cheeks flushed whenever I looked at you.”

“Because I kept saying to myself, I think I’m bloody in love with her. I didn’t know how it could be possible, but there it was.”

I murmured, “There it was.” I imagined his palm pressed against the door, opposite mine.

Strange how the wood burl beneath my hand looked like a whirlpool. I shivered. Clearing my throat, I asked, “Will you finally admit why you came to my lecture?” He’d teased me with different reasons: Because he’d ducked in out of the rain (it’d been clear that day). To sample the free lukewarm coffee. To kill time until his superhero gig started.

“The truth? What would you say if I told you a mate made me a wager?”

I made my tone scandalized. “A wager? What were the terms?”

“He bet me a hundred quid that the woman hosting this Atlantean lecture would be the most beautiful creature on earth.” He exhaled. “Best hundred I ever lost.”

I squeezed my eyes closed. “Everyone calls you a comedian, but I think you’re really a romantic.”

“God, I’m going to enjoy teasing and romancing you for the next eighty or so years of our lives.”

“Do you really think we’ll live that long?” That wood burl on the door appeared to spin.

“Of course. Laughter and love keep a body young.”


I inhaled a deep breath. My big day had finally come. I can do this.

I’d sent everyone in the bridal party away, needing time to compose myself before the sunset ceremony. In the few hours I’d dozed after talking to Ned, the nightmares/memories had come on full-bore. All morning and afternoon, I’d battled anxiety. Again, I sensed a countdown ticking.

Toward what?

I shook my head hard. I just needed to get down the aisle and reach Ned. He would make me feel better. His eyes would light up when he saw me in this gorgeous strapless dress. I would muffle a laugh when I saw the tips of his ears and his nose peeling.

Bouquet in hand, I took a step.

In the wrong direction. Left was toward the chapel ceremony; right would take me to the beach. Another step to the right.

I strained every muscle to get to Ned, but my feet wouldn’t obey me. I’m losing my mind, losing my mind! My eyes went wide when I opened the door and headed outside—away from the chapel—from the man I loved.

I wanted to call for him; no sounds would pass my lips. When I reached the pink-sand beach, the sunset gleamed over the placid water. My arms fell limp by my sides, my bouquet dropping soundlessly in the sand.

Tears of frustration welled. What force had taken me over? Would Ned think I’d run away? That I didn’t want to marry him?

I struggled to scream, “I love you!” Yet couldn’t speak at all.

The sea had always called to me, but now . . . now its siren song was undeniable. Suddenly, I knew where I was going. Toward that abyss.

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