Succubus Revealed Chapter 21

You would think the first moments of my new life, with a soul, would be magical and wonderful.Mostly, they just hurt.


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“Not quite the same without immortal healing, eh, sweetie?”

I squinted into Hugh’s grinning face.He stood in front of a huge window, backlit into blinding radiance.

Turning my head, I slowly assessed the rest of my surroundings, taking in the familiar signs of a hospital room. I was lying on a bed, an IV in my arm, next to some beeping machines with indecipherable readouts.

I glanced back at Hugh. “Can you close the curtains? Or move to the other side of me?”

He shut the curtains partway, still keeping the room lit but no longer to eye-searing levels. “Better?”

“Yeah. Thanks.” I shifted slightly, trying to assess my body’s injuries. There was soreness in my ribs, a feeling of constriction when I breathed. Part of that was from whatever hurt they’d sustained and the rest was from the bandages tightly wrapped around my torso. All the better to keep me from making things worse, I supposed. “How . . . how long have I been in here?”

Recent events were still kind of a blur. In some ways, the trial felt like it had happen seconds ago. Yet it also had the dreamlike quality of something that had occurred last century. It was hard to wrap my mind around.

“Well,” said Hugh, “your body’s been here for about four days. ‘You’ on the other hand . . . oh, you came back to us about two days ago.”

“You could tell?” I said.

His smile grew wry. “You forget what I do for a living. When you were in Hell, you didn’t have a soul.”

“I didn’t have a soul before then,” I pointed out. “I mean, technically it belonged to Hell, right?”

“Yes, but even if you don’t own it, you still possess it. You can’t function or exist without it. Our souls are like . . . oh, I don’t know. It’s like they’re encased in amber. They’re there, and I can see them inside us. They’re just inaccessible, in a way that’s different from humans. When you were gone, you had nothing. Not even a tagged soul. There was just kind of a . . . hollow darkness within you while you lay here.”

I shivered, not liking the image. “And now?”

“And now?” Hugh’s face softened, taking on a look of wonder that I’d never before seen on the usually gruff and snide imp. “Oh, sweetie. When you came back, I was here . . . and it was like . . . fuck, I don’t know. I’m terrible at similes. It was like the sun, after an eclipse. You think that’s bright?” He nodded toward the window. “That’s nothing. You have your soul back, unfettered and unrestrained . . . and it’s amazing. It’s beautiful, so beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Is it . . . is it tainted? I mean, I’ve done things . . .”

“You get it back shiny and new. That’s in clause 13.2.1. It’s a sign of how confident Hell is about never having to give souls back. Don’t worry,” he added. A goofy grin had started to spread over my face. “Even the best people have a few screwups. You’ll break your soul in in no time. It’s like a car. Loses its value when you drive it off the lot.”

“Just hopefully not to the same degree as before,” I muttered. A new, panicked thought came to me. I was pretty confident of the answer, but I had to ask. “And my body? Which one is it?”

“The same Georgina we all know and love. There are also stipulations about that, for succubi freed of their contracts. It would get messy giving you back your original body and figuring out what to do with you as far as location and time. So, you’re simply reinstated with your soul into whatever body and location you were last in.” He paused. “I’m fairly certain it’s never happened to any succubus before.”

“Thank goodness I wasn’t in the kind of body Tawny was when Jerome was summoned,” I remarked. She had been wearing a truly horrendous shape, but since we were all cut from our powers until Jerome’s restoration, she’d been stuck in it. Although, to be honest, if it meant having my own soul, I would’ve taken that body. I would’ve taken my original body. I would’ve taken anything. The physical trappings were nothing.

“Carter gave us a recap,” Hugh said. He shook his head, smiling. “I can’t believe you gambled on both contracts. I would’ve run off with the sure thing.”

“I couldn’t,” I said, thinking back to the events of the courtroom. “Even if he hates me, I couldn’t abandon Seth. I couldn’t have enjoyed the rest of my life, knowing he was damned.”

“He doesn’t hate you.”

“But he – “

“I know, I know.” Hugh wouldn’t let me finish. “I know what he said, but he was still in the throes of grief from that fucked-up hypnosis. That was too much for anyone to handle. Carter talked to him when you got back – explained what happened.”

My heart lurched. Was that a good or bad thing? I was beginning to gain some glimpse of just how invested Carter had been in my situation (and Seth’s), but had the angel really been able to fix everything so easily?

“Did . . . did Carter change Seth’s mind about me or something ?”

Hugh shrugged. “I don’t think he needed to. If things hadn’t panned out like they had that night – with the car – I think you and Seth would’ve had a very interesting conversation. I think he’d started to come around. It’s why he was there.”

“No,” I said, disbelieving.

“I talked to him, sweetie. Do you really think all that love could have just been thrown away so easily? And he was here, you know. He was by your bedside until . . . well, yesterday, actually. Then he had to leave for his tour.”

“His tour . . .” I vaguely remembered Andrea mentioning that, how it had become a possibility with her recovery. Speaking of Andrea . . . if my contract was off the table, Hell would have no reason to continue messing with her. She could be left in peace to heal on her own. “He went yesterday?”

“Somewhere on the East Coast,” said Hugh. “I’m sure you can find it on his Web site. You were the one who always encouraged him to update it, after all.”

I smiled at that, thinking of how reluctant Seth had been about the digital age. I gestured vaguely at my prone body. “Probably just as well that he’s gone. I need to heal up. Maybe . . . maybe we’ll talk when he’s back.”

Hugh eyed me, staying silent.

“What?” I demanded.

“He’s going to be gone two weeks,” said Hugh. “That much I know. You sure you want to wait that long?”

“I’ve waited a long time already,” I pointed out dryly.

“Exactly my point. Look, I don’t have any delusions about my soul. I made my choice and am content with fate. But if I were you? If I had my soul and the potential for a new life? Fuck, Georgina. I’d go after Seth, wherever he is, the instant I could hobble out of my bed. You’re mortal now. It’s easy to ‘wait a little longer’ when you’ve got all of eternity on the line. You don’t anymore. You’ve wasted the time you have playing Hell’s games, bickering back and forth with Seth and who he’s been. End it. Go to him, as soon as you can, and fix this.”

“You sound like Roman.” As soon as I said his name, a million memories came crashing down on me. “Oh my God. Roman. I can’t believe what he did.”

“I know,” said Hugh sadly. “Carter told us that too.”

“Why would he do that?” I asked, knowing I’d never have a satisfactory answer. “Oh Lord, Hugh. I left him there. I abandoned him.”

“You did no such thing,” scolded Hugh. “You had no choice in it. And it’s not like he was conned or tricked. He knew for a long time he wanted to do this. After we filed the petition, he grilled me constantly about contract details and Hell’s legal procedures. He wanted to do this. He prepared for it. He was just waiting for the chance.”

I squeezed my eyes shut, afraid I would cry, as I remembered him defending me in Hell. A vague memory came to me, the night before the game. . . . Roman had had something to tell me but had held off. And when I’d floated above my body, just before I’d faded away, Carter had said he had to go get Roman. They’d planned on all of this. Roman had known what was happening and had been ready to depart. Hugh was right. Roman had wanted this.

That didn’t make it any easier.

I opened my eyes. “What do I do?”

Hugh’s face was kind as he regarded me. “Don’t make Roman’s sacrifice be in vain. He wanted you to be happy. So go be happy, sweetie. Go to Seth.”

Any response I might make was interrupted when a nurse came and discovered I was conscious. She scolded Hugh for not getting her and went to summon the doctor. Hugh gave me a sheepish look as she did. It was a carryover from being immortal, when I would’ve healed so fast that we could easily dismiss modern medicine’s assistance. The doctor, a fortysomething woman named Dr. Addison, soon appeared and performed a few preliminary tests on me, as well as giving me the rundown on my condition.

When she was finished, I asked, “How long do you think I’ll be here?”

“If everything progresses like it should?” she mused. “I’d say you can be discharged in three more days. And you’re going to have to take it easy.”

“Three more days,” I repeated mournfully. Being human was going to take some getting used to. As a succubus, I would’ve recovered from this in twenty-four hours. There wouldn’t have even been any taking it easy afterward.

Dr. Addison scoffed at my dismay. “Honestly, after getting hit like you did, a week total here isn’t bad at all. You took some nasty hits, but really, this could’ve been a lot worse.”

When she and the nurse left, I saw Hugh scanning his phone. “What are you looking at?”

“Seth’s schedule. In three days, he’ll be in St. Louis.”

“Hmm,” I said.

“In four, he’ll be in San Francisco.”

“That’s close,” I said. “Relatively.”

“It’d give you an extra day in there to recover,” said Hugh.

“An extra day, huh?” I teased. “What happened to not wasting a single day as a mortal?”

“My point about not wasting time still stands,” said Hugh. He grinned. “But even I can be realistic. Take the extra day. You need it for the logistics of travel, if nothing else. But not a single day more.”

“Get out and live life, huh?”

“If you’re up for it.”

I thought about his words, thought about Seth. I nodded, not caring whether hopping on a plane right after being discharged was crazy. I was human now. Crazy was in the job description.

“I’m up for it,” I said. “Book me a flight to San Francisco.”

Hugh’s attention was on his phone again. “Sweetie, I already am.”

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