Requiem Page 1

Author: Jamie McGuire

Series: Providence #2

Genres: Fantasy , Romance

Chapter One


I was back. Surrounded by darkness, two blurry forms crouched before an open safe, hidden behind a large, hinged bookcase. They breathed heavy, working at a feverish pace to find what they had searched for the past months. One of the men froze, and al movement stopped. He leaned further into the safe, using both hands to pul out a thick, leather bound book.

“That’s it. Dear God, that’s it,” Jack whispered.

Every corner of the room held a warning. Lit only by the moonlight filtering through the blinds of a single window, antique swords and axes hung on the wal s, bordering hand-painted landscapes of war and death. The air was stale, lacking human lungs to circulate it.

I had been there many times before, but my hands stil trembled, knowing the panic would begin soon. It was coming, but I couldn’t stop it. It would play over and over like I was stuck in time, in a bad dream—or in Hel .

Jack’s fingers ran over the branded seal in the center, and looked to his friend.

“Are you sure you want to do this, Jack?”

“Are you sure it’s her, Gabe?” Jack replied. Gabe nodded slowly, and then Jack continued with a sigh, “Then you know the answer.”

Hearing what Jack’s human ears couldn’t, Gabe’s head jerked to the side. “It’s too late,” he said, his eyes twitching back and forth as he listened.

“They’re here.”

They shoved the documents, artifacts and jewels back into the safe, and the fair-haired man effortlessly pressed the heavy bookcase flat against the wal in an attempt to conceal any evidence of their presence.

“Don’t worry about that now, Gabe! Let’s go!” Jack growled.

“I’m trying to buy us some time!”

Their shadows glided over the wooden floor as the men fled the room, and I stepped aside, watching them in silence, knowing their fate.

Gabe ran ahead, gun in hand, accustomed to Jack fal ing behind. He waited at the end of the hal for his friend, calculating a way out.

“The roof,” I whispered in his ear. “You always use the roof.”

A large, warm hand reached out, and Jack was pushed against the wal .

“What are you…?” Jack began.

Gabe lifted his finger to his mouth, and then pointed to the upper floor. Jack nodded quickly, pushing his tired body from the wal . They bolted down a corridor, tightly rounded a corner, and then launched themselves up the stairs. Both men took two steps at a time, their hands gripping the banister to pul themselves along with each leap.

“The roof!” Gabe call ed as many voices echoed below them, none of them human.

Jack’s eyes widened when a terrifying shriek came from below. His stride grew longer as he streaked through another door, climbing a second stairway. He heaved a breath of relief. The narrow wal s of crumbling concrete meant the roof was just a few steps away.

Already at the top of the stairway, Gabe shouldered through an outer door, and ran across the roof to the edge. He looked down, four stories to the road below, and then at his friend. “We’ve stil got two minutes, Jack. Are you sure?”

“Do I look ambivalent to you?” he shouted, tightly grasping the book to his chest. “I have to find a way to stop it!”

I frowned. In the past, I had begged my father to leave the book behind. Dozens of trips to this place taught me that Jack and Gabe’s plight would replay exactly the same. Each time I attempted to change the outcome, it just made the end harder to watch.

Gabe sighed in submission, and then jerked his head to the north, gauging the distance of their escape. “Then it begins.”

The shrieking grew louder, and Jack closed his eyes. “I have to save her,” he said in a low, grieved voice.

Jack’s body jerked forward. His tie slapped against his neck, and the wind howled past his ears as he flew through the night sky. It seemed as if the second he had taken flight, he had landed on another roof, four building away. Jack lurched forward with the sudden stop, bending at the waist, making a loud grunting noise as the air was forced from him with the sudden impact. Gabe released him, then.

“I’ll never get used to that,” Jack smiled, smoothing out his jacket and tie.

“I could have let you take the fire escape, Brother, but with those beasts on your tail, only parts of you would have made it to the street,” Gabe said with a smirk. His grin quickly faded when he looked up. “They are drawn to it. We need more distance.”

Jack nodded. A door identical to the one they had escaped from was a few yards away. He yanked open the door, and then Gabe fol owed him down the stairs. After three flights, Jack slowed his pace, and his chest heaved.

“Come on!” Gabe growled.

“I’m coming!” Jack snapped, taking another deep breath before descending the last two flights.

Just as their exit came into view, the shrieking and snarling grew louder. Jack looked over his shoulder and saw that Gabe had stayed behind, his firearm held closely to his face.

“We’re not going to make it. They’re too close.” Gabe breathed.

“GABRIEL!” An animalistic hiss cried above them. It was one voice, but it was also many.

Gabe cocked his gun and narrowed his eyes. “Go, Jack. I’ll hold them off.”


“If you want to save your daughter, then go!” Gabe yel ed.

Jack clutched the book to his chest and made his way outside. He burst from the door, and then grasped his knees, unable to catch his breath.

He leaned against the door and lifted his face to the heavens, closing his eyes.

“God help me,” he whispered.

The shrieking stopped momentarily before piercing the air again.

For the first time, Jack looked into my eyes. He was afraid, something I'd never seen before. It felt strange at first, as though he shouldn’t have been able to see me. I watched a familiar look of resolve paint his face. “I’m going to save you, Nina.”

As if he’d never spoken to me, Jack's eyes darted in every direction to determine the best route of escape.

Just as he had made his decision to flee, the wood splintered behind him, and dozens of long, clawed hands exploded through the door. Jack’s eyes widened in terror as demons grabbed at his chest, his legs, his neck, and face. The sharp nails shredded his shirt, and sunk into his skin; blood spil ing from his open wounds.

“Nina!” he screamed. His flesh ripped under the pressure of the long talons grating across it.

His arms and legs were thrust forward, and then his body bent in half and disappeared, sucked into the hel that awaited him inside.

“Daddy!” I screamed into the darkness.

Hands held my outreached arms and I slapped them away. “No! NO! Daddy!” I wailed, trying to get away. I wasn’t strong enough.

“Nina, stop! It’s me!”

As reality sank in, I stopped fighting. Jared sat next to me in our bed, holding my wrists against his chest.

“Nina?” he said, leaning over to flip on the lamp.

My eyes squeezed shut, rejecting the light. Sweat soaked my cotton gown, and damp hair matted against my forehead. With trembling fingers, I wiped the wet strands from my face. It always took a few moments to calm myself, but it wasn’t fear this time. I was angry.

“They’re getting worse,” Jared said, concerned.

I had to clear my throat. “They’re so real,” I whispered. I could stil smell my father’s cologne, and the screeching stil rang in my ears. Returning to the same place almost every night to watch my father die felt like torture. Resentment replaced the fear, and that was a good thing; I felt better equipped to handle anger then the overwhelming helplessness that normal y woke me.


I licked the salt from my lips. “I’m okay.”

“That’s the third one this week. I don’t think you’re okay,” Jared said, his face tense. “Same one?”

Reluctant, I nodded. Jared worried obsessively each time he had to wake me from a nightmare. He was tormented by the screaming, the trembling, and the inability to stop it. He watched me for a moment before pul ing me onto his lap.

“Maybe you should talk to someone.”

“I don’t need a shrink, Jared. They’re just dreams,” I said, more to myself than to him.

He pul ed me with him, resting his back against the headboard. I worked to relax. My days without him the previous spring had been good practice when I didn’t want to bother him with my ridiculous human fears and feelings. But I struggled after the nightmares, even after months of perfecting my talent.

I tried to think of anything but the terrifying image of my father being torn to shreds, so that I could settle down and fal asleep. Jared’s feverish chest against my cheek was comforting, and I breathed in his amazing scent. Any other time I would have instantly felt at ease, but after the three- peat of the worst nightmare I’d ever had, it didn’t work.

“I’m going to take a shower,” I said, abruptly peeling off the blankets tucked around me.

“It’s three o’clock in the morning, Nina. You have to get up in three hours anyway for work. Why don’t you just try to sleep?”

I scooted to the edge of the bed, and planted my feet on the floor with my back to Jared. “Have you slept?” I asked him.

After a short pause, he let out an exasperated sigh. “Yes.”

“Then there’s no reason for me to go back to sleep. I don’t want to sleep, anyway. It’s the same thing every time I close my eyes.” I waited a moment, and when Jared failed to argue, I pushed myself off the bed and walked into the bathroom.

The pipes whined when I turned the shower knobs, and I stood in front of the sink waiting for the water to warm. The visions from my dream burst in short, loud scenes. The screeching, the sound of my father’s shoes running up the stairs; it wouldn’t stop. Closing my eyes, trying to focus, I rubbed my hands with my face and then looked in the mirror. My features had changed from when Jared and I first met. Spending much of the summer indoors while my leg healed had left my skin pale and lifeless, and I was sporting a matching pair of purple circles under my eyes.

Our near-death experience in the restaurant seemed like a lifetime away. Aside from the occasional news story about the police department’s finest meeting untimely ends in bizarre and unrelated accidents, our days went by as if Grahm, and Shax, and the book had never existed.

I let my nightgown drop to the floor, and then stepped into the shower, sighing as the stream of water poured over my face.

Jared walked in, and leaned against the sink, crossing his arms across his chest.

“Everything okay?” I asked.

Jared shifted uncomfortably. “It’s you I’m worried about.”

“The fal semester is getting ready to start. I have extra classes, and with my internship, it’s probably just stress.”

“I don’t understand it,” Jared said. “It’s been months since any of… them have come around. This is the least I’ve seen of them in my entire life, and yet you’re…,” Jared rubbed his neck. “It doesn’t make sense for you to be having these dreams now.”

“Jared, people have nightmares al the time without demons present. It doesn’t mean anything,” I said, scrubbing shampoo into my hair.

“That’s what you think.”

I rol ed my eyes. “Oh, c’mon. You’re blowing this out of proportion. If I promise to quit having the dreams, wil you promise to quit freaking out about them?”

“You’l promise to quit having the dreams,” Jared repeated, his voice thick with sarcasm.

I poked my soapy head from the shower curtain, lather dripping down my face. “Okay, I can’t promise, but you’re giving me a complex. Unless you know something I don’t, they’re just dreams.”

Jared smiled, and wiped the line of soap from my forehead, promptly kissing my lips. “Okay. They’re just dreams.”

I nodded in approval, and then closed the curtain. “I have to stop by the office today, do you mind?” I asked, knowing he would.

“You mean more than any other day?”

Escorting me to Titan Mercantile was just another day at work for Jared, but as often as I asked him to come in, it had become an inside joke between us. Every day I asked, and every day he politely declined. For years the hal s of Titan Mercantile were walked by Jared’s father Gabe.

Jared didn’t talk about it, but I assumed his refusal to go in had to do with unresolved feelings concerning his father.

The hours before dawn crept by slowly, and after my shower, Jared and I spent the remaining moments of twilight at the breakfast table. When the morning sun final y poked through the blinds, I smiled at the glowing light painting rectangles against the wal s. I had spent hours staring at those wal s, waiting for my leg to heal. Beth visited infrequently, busy decorating her new apartment, Kim had taken her summer vacation on the road, and Claire was relentlessly eliminating any threat to us. Jared spent much of his time warding off loneliness, and keeping me entertained. We had grown closer, and life had been more normal than ever. The only reminder of the night I almost died was the scar on my thigh.

Jared working busily in the kitchen caught my eye, and I listened to the pan pop and sizzle with our breakfast. He placed omelets on the table along with a smal stack of mail.

“Anything interesting?” I asked as he thumbed through the envelopes.

Jared paused, eyes narrowing as he read over the handwritten address.


“It’s for you,” he said, sliding it toward me.

The top left corner explained Jared’s expression. It was from Ryan.

By Jared’s expression, I knew it wasn’t good news. “You already know, don’t you?” I said, pul ing out a single sheet of notebook paper.

“I have an idea.”

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