Muse by Rebecca Lim

Book: Muse by Rebecca Lim Read Free Book Online
Authors: Rebecca Lim
look back. And don’t try to leave Milan before the six get here, because I’ll find you.’
    Then he turns and moves swiftly away down the street, towards the distant outline of the Duomo, head down, his hands buried deep in the pockets of his worn-in blue jeans. And it may be a trick of the light, but as I watch, he seems to grow smaller, to somehow scale down to mortal size, so that from the back he might actually be what he appears to be — a pitch-perfect human boy in nondescript clothing.
    Without warning, the giant storm front breaks.
    And though I can see in the dark like a cat, can see for miles, through sunshine or moonlight, rain or fog, though I rake Via Victor Hugo with my desperate eyes, the one who watches over me is suddenly no longer there, vanished like smoke. And there’s only the torrential, blinding rain.

    I scream into the icy, driving rain, rain like needles, like nails, ‘K’el! K’el! I’m so sorry!’
    Sorry that I didn’t love you enough; could never love you the way you wanted me to love you.
    But there’s no answer; only thunder like rolling war drums in the sky. Rain fills my mouth, and, though I was not formed to cry tears, I can feel them, hot and stinging, as they run down Irina’s cheeks. They mingle with the water streaming down her face.
    Time has recommenced again and the whole world around me, and I am drenched through in seconds, barely able to lift my head or open my eyes against the fearsome onslaught of the unnatural, keening wind, the vicious rain. The thunder is so loudnow, it sounds like cannon fire. Lightning suddenly splits the skyline, briefly illuminating the now empty rooftop on which K’el had first appeared.
    Luc is coming. He’s on his way , that small voice whispers inside me, my inner demon.
    This is only the beginning.
    I can almost feel Luc’s anger in the air all around. And there’s that sense — as there always was when Luc was near — of terrible anticipation, excitement, at what he might do. Luc, who never toed any line, who questioned every received wisdom and, for better or worse, taught me to be that way, too. Luc, who blazed brighter than any of us. Rules had neither impressed nor bound him. I’d loved that about him — that he was different; that he recognised no bounds; that he was a risk taker.
    And though I love Luc as much as I love the idea of freedom, all I am feeling now is fear . I want to stay, but I want to run, too. Because those of the Eight that remain won’t simply let Luc take me. Someone I know, someone I love, or might once have loved, is going to get hurt. It’s a certainty.
    From behind me, a man bawls, ‘What are you doing ?’
    I turn with difficulty, so disorientated that I can barely remember who I’m supposed to be today, how I got out here in the rain.
    ‘Irina!’ the man roars again from the opposite side of the street, and runs at me, soaked and scowling. He grabs me by the arm, and in the time it takes for him to drag me across the road towards a gleaming black limo with one back door open, I remember that his name is Vladimir, he’s part of my security detail, and today? I’m supposed to be one of the most beautiful and desirable women on the planet.
    I’m still laughing hysterically as we reach the waiting car. Vladimir forces my head down and shoves me inside, nothing courteous or gentlemanly about him now. ‘Drive!’ he snarls into Felipe’s astonished face, before slamming the door on us and ducking through the pelting rain towards his own limo.
    Immediately, my laughter dies. And I don’t feel cold, but I can’t stop shaking. Felipe hands me a snowy-white hand towel across the front seats, then releases the handbrake and accelerates into the road.
    The rain pounding down on the closed fibreglass sunroof of the car sounds like falling gravel. As I fumble out of the heavy wet overcoat and take off the cloche hat, rubbing at Irina’s wet face and hair withthe hopelessly inadequate towel,

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