Arabella stepped out of the doorway and saw my face. “What happened?”

“He’s leaving.”

“What? He can’t leave! You fed him the pepper! You joked. You were happy!” She spun toward the fire station. “I’ll make him stay. I’ll bring him back here . . .”

I held up my hand. “No. I don’t want anyone to force him. It’s for the best.”

“Catalina!”

“It’s for the best,” I repeated, my voice wooden.

She hugged me and we walked into the house together.

Epilogue

He sat on the roof and watched her through the window. She was trying to cook with a hot plate and utensils she’d salvaged from her ruined kitchen. That was just like her. Instead of buying a new pan and knife set, she had dug in the rubble and fished them out. They meant something to her. She never left things she cared about behind. Or people, no matter what it cost her.

The look on her face when he said he was leaving nearly broke him. He thought of walking away from it right then and there. He’d almost kissed her, but if he had, he couldn’t have torn himself away. But he didn’t leave things unfinished and he’d sunk too much of his life into this hunt to abandon it now.

A soft chime sounded in his headset.

“Go ahead,” he murmured in Italian.

“I looked through the files you got from Diatheke,” a familiar feminine voice said. “You’re right. He was last seen in Montreal.”

“Then Montreal it is.”

“Did you get to see her?”

“I did.”

In the window she was chopping vegetables. He wondered if it was one of those hell peppers.

“And? Was she everything you expected?”

“She was nothing like I expected. You’d love her.”

“You could stay with her. I know you want to.”

“It’s not about what I want.”

She huffed into the headset. “You’ve done enough. Eventually, it has to be about what you want. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

Right now he didn’t need the extra doubt. “Did the wire clear?”

“Of course, it did. I can’t do this for too much longer. I can’t sleep at night. I have nightmares, I wake up thinking you died. You are my only brother. Walk away, Alessandro. Please.”

“I will after I kill him.”

He pushed the button on the headset and ended the call before she said anything else.

The ticket was already booked. He looked one last time at his angel and jumped off the roof.


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