The sun was beginning to set as I pulled up to the cemetery. The worn iron gates hung open; blooming ivy vines entwined themselves around it and the lions who guarded their entrance. The place was surrounded by a forest except in the back corner where a peaceful lake lies. That was where I was headed, to the grave nearest it.
There were no roads through the numerous gravestones that had been laid haphazardly in the graveyard, so I parked my jeep outside. I sighed. I was tired and missed my brand-new Lexus. The one we had picked out together. The one she only got to drive once before they came for us. I had thought I was out. That I was finally safe from the madness. Karina didn't ask questions when I begged her to run with me, even when I asked her to leave everything. Maybe she had something to hide from too. It didn't matter; all I wanted was to be rid of him, so I could be with her. We ran as far as we could. Changed our names, our careers, anything we could think of in the hope Viktor wouldn't find us. Evidently, it wasn't far enough or we weren't stealthy enough. He found us using his extensive connections within a year.
He broke in, dramatic as ever. We had no warning, no clue. We tried to fight back, of course, we tried, but Viktor was so angry. He beat us bloody. Then, I watched in horror as he murdered the love of my life. My Karina. He didn't do it quickly either. He tortured her, taking a sick pleasure in it. I knew he was vicious; I never knew how much. He'd always treated me well, maybe because he loved me. Well, it wasn't really love. A monster like him could never love, but whatever it had been had kept me safe those 10 years I'd been locked in his mansion. As I watched the life slowly drain out of Karina I knew then, I would never be free of Viktor until he was dead. I vowed I would be the one to do it.
I get out and enter the graveyard. A chill passes through me and I tighten the belt on my trench coat, tighten my scarf. I knew it was a bad idea to come to the cemetery so late. But I had to. I had to say goodbye to the only person who ever knew all of me. The only person I ever truly loved. I should have done it sooner, but I couldn't'. I couldn't face her, not until the time was right. I took a deep breath and moved. I walked along the stone wall toward the tree line, with one purpose on my mind. Karina. I hear a whisper and stop. The tall grass rubs on the headstones making a hissing noise. I shake my head. 'Don't freak yourself out. I know you hate cemeteries but you owe her this. It's your fault she's dead.' I remind myself, swallowing the lump developing in my throat. I continue onward, following the wall as it curves a corner and moves closer to the lake. Not even the lumpy path and my heeled boots deter me. As I get closer, the ground evens out. More care has been taken in this part because newer acquisitions have been placed. I find it. Her gravestone. Karina McAdams. Only her birth and death appear along with some angels holding flowers. I made sure they were lilies, her favorite. I couldn't find words. An anonymous donation, courtesy of me, allowed her to have a proper marker.
I haven't allowed myself to cry. For 3 months I haven't shed a tear, my entire focus on figuring out how to rid the world of Viktor Magnus, evil crime lord. And I'd done it. The body was growing cold in the back of the jeep as we speak. It was only after he was dead that I knew I could come to her final resting place and face her. I remove the black gloves I hadn't realized are covered with his dried blood and lovingly caress the cool, smooth stone. "I did it, Karina. I stopped him." I say. I hear the hissing once more. The lake ripples and the trees on the far side sway. I finally let the tears come. Sweet relief after so long as it slides down my face. I lie on top of her grave and cry until the twilight starts to cast creepy shadows all around me and I have nothing left in me.
There's the sound again. A whisper on the wind as it rustles the leaves of the trees nearest me. I wasn't hearing things. It spoke my name so seductively, so warm and inviting. Even though that was the last thing I was feeling right now lying on her cold grave. "Arrrriiiiiii." It whispered. "Come with me. It is time, my love."
I sit up and she's there, by the lake. A glowing figure. "Karina?" Tumbles out softly and I get up as quickly as I can. She's still there and nods. I rush over finding myself stopping short. I know it's only a dream, she's not really here.
"Ari, come here." She whispers and reaches out. I close my eyes and more tears come. Her warm hand grabs mine and she pulls me into an embrace. My eyes shoot open to stare into her green ones. Her warm breath mingles with mine.
"You're real," I whisper and she kisses me. It's then I see her magnificent wings.
"I knew you could do it, Ariana." She beams with pride. "But now, it's time to come home." She turns to a quickly growing portal behind her and pulls me gently towards it.
Her wing caresses my face, soft as silk. I surrender myself. "Whatever you wish," I say with a laugh and a smile. I follow her.