I KNELT ON THE edge of the grave, staring into the six-foot hole, and wondered if it would be me in the dirt the next time we faced Orion. We’d wrapped Milly’s body in one of Giselle’s quilts—the one with the blue and yellow triangles that had been on Milly’s bed when she’d lived with Giselle and me. I brushed a hand over the quilt. Years, so many years we’d been friends and sisters . . . and now she was gone.
Taking a handful of dirt, I held it over the grave, and let it sift through my fingers. “Be at peace, Milly. Wait for me on the other side, my friend.”
A hand touched my shoulder and I knew without looking it was Lark. She was the one we’d been fighting to free only hours before. Lark was an elemental tied to the earth and the final key to taking out Orion once and for all.
“Are you ready for me to cover her?” she asked.
I stood, nodded, and stepped back from the edge. Lark held her hands out and waved them across the front of her body in a single smooth motion. The pile of dirt beside the open grave slid into the hole with a sound not unlike rushing water. The cascading patter of pebbles and dirt hitting the quilt, covering Milly, was too much and I stumbled backward. A set of muscular arms caught me.
Liam, or Faris (depending who was in charge of the body they currently shared), held me against his chest. “She truly did love you, Rylee. And she wanted you to succeed against Orion. That is something to hang on to.”
Again, all I could do was nod as tears slipped down my face. But I was not the only one grieving. Beside Milly’s grave was a second hole. One for Frank, the young necromancer, nephew to Agent Valley, and most recently, Pamela’s first love.
Pamela sat beside Frank’s body, touching his hair, smoothing it back as tears wet her face. I sat on the grass beside her.
“Pam, it’s time.”
“I know.” She hiccupped a sob back. “I think I loved him a little. Is it bad to say I didn’t love him a lot?”
I slid an arm around her shoulders and hugged her to my side. “No, it isn’t bad. You were both young. Loving him at all is a blessing, I think.”
Lark crouched on the other side of Pam, her dark brown leather vest and khaki pants blending with the soil piled to the side. “Rylee is right. Love is a blessing.”
“He died because of love,” Pamela spit out, and I felt her anger rising like a living creature inside her.
I tightened my hold on her. “Yes. The same as I would lay down my life for any of you. Love makes you bold in ways you might not ever be otherwise. Like you tackling Orion when he came for me. You saved my life almost at the cost of your own.”
Seconds ticked by, and slowly, she began to lean into me, her body sagging as the anger in her eased. “It hurts so badly, though. He was too young.”
I looked over her to Lark. Like me, Lark’s eyes were not normal in any way, shape, or form. One was gold, the other green. Unblinking, she gave me a tight nod.
The time for grieving was over; we had a world to save and a demon to stop.
“Pamela, it will get better. Right now, though, we have to go. We have three days before Erik gets here with Marcella and Zane. Three days to kill Orion and make him pay for everything he’s done to us.”
Her body tensed. She leaned forward and kissed Frank gently on the lips. “I’m sorry I didn’t love you more, Frank. But thank you for fighting for me. For saving me when you didn’t have to.”
She stood and stepped back, brushing my arm off her shoulders. Holding her hand out, she wove her magic around Frank and lifted him into the air, carefully lowering him into the hole Lark created. “Goodbye, Frank.”
Lark held her hand out, but Pamela beat her to it, shifting the dirt into the hole. The elemental stared at Pam. “You have a lot of our blood running through your veins. After this is done, would you consider training with me?”
Pamela blinked at her. “But I’m a witch.”
Lark laughed softly. “All supernaturals are derived from elementals. Our bloodlines mixed with the humans and we got witches, Trackers, Readers, Harpies.” She waved her hand in the air as if to envelope everything.
I’d suspected something along those lines, but hearing it outright and from an elemental. . . .
And the Blood of the Lost? I wanted her to say. Maybe even needed her to say.
“Spirit Elemental blood is the most formidable in many ways.” Lark let out a sigh before going on. “It boosts the powers already inherent to a bloodline. Whatever the powers are. In your case, Rylee, it made you a Tracker. All Trackers carry Blood of the Lost.”
“Which is just another word for a Spirit Elemental?” Pamela asked.
The three of us walked across the yard toward Giselle’s home, Peta following at Lark’s heels. Looking like an ordinary gray and white housecat, she was Lark’s familiar. She could shift into the form of a snow leopard when needed which was rather handy at times. Since they’d been reunited, Peta hadn’t left Lark’s side.
Lark nodded. “Yes, in a way. The other elemental families wiped out the Spirit Elementals because they were so strong, and able to manipulate things to their will. After they were hunted down, there was a little of their blood here and there, diluted at best. Except in a few cases. Rylee and I are the last of our bloodline.”
My feet froze to the ground. “Our bloodline?”
Lark glanced at me. “Yes. Do you not realize we are related?”