Crimson Dahlia will be out tomorrow. Here’s just a quick reminder on where we last left off at the end of Hyacinth…
“Something’s wrong with Lila.” Ramsey burst into Adelaide’s room, barely bothering to knock.
“What?” Adelaide sat up and rubbed her eyes. “Why do you—?”
“I can feel it.”
Adelaide raised her eyebrows. “How—?”
“I don’t know,” Ramsey cut her off again. “But it’s not important right now. I think she’s hurt.”
Adelaide closed her eyes. She remembered back nine months earlier, just days after Ellie and Alex’s wedding. The last time she’d seen her sister face to face…
“Are you sure about this?” Adelaide had asked.
Lila glanced at where her little sister was perched on her bed, knees drawn up with her arms wrapped around them.
“Yes, I’m sure,” Lila answered. She continued packing clothes into the suitcase. Her hands and voice remained steady.
“Is it that hard for you?” Adelaide’s voice trembled. The thought of not having her sister close by was far too painful to imagine.
“Ramsey’s emotions are overwhelming me, Delia. And my own are far too closely tied to him for me to be reasonable. I need…” Lila paused in her packing as she searched for the words.
“An emotional break?” Adelaide supplied for her.
Lila bit her lip. “Yeah.”
“So let me and Nate come with you,” Adelaide insisted.
Lila suppressed a deep sigh and raised a hand to her head. This was an argument the sisters had been having for weeks. Ever since Selene had allowed Adelaide to see that she and Griffin were te’sorthene and had shared that fact with the family. The emotions spilling off Ramsey had been slamming into Lila as if she were hitting a brick wall.
“What if Ramsey needs you?” Adelaide tried a different tack.
Lila lowered her hand and resuming her packing. “His emotions are all over the place right now, and I’m not trying to help him calm down. He can handle it. He doesn’t need me anymore.”
“So you’re going to leave. Just like that?”
“Just like that.”
“What if I told you that the emotions you’re sensing aren’t final in terms of the relationships in the future?”
“What are you saying?”
Adelaide sighed. “I don’t know, honestly. The relationships I see are being clouded by something.”
“Then don’t tell me,” Lila advised. Adelaide felt a pulse of comfort come from her sister, soothing the near panic that was clouding her thinking.
“Listen. I need to go. Selene is so grateful for the Louisiana tribe’s help. They’re going to try to convince any Svatura out there that Maddox and not the Vyusher is the danger. Maybe they can get the other tribes to call off their attacks,” Lila began. “They need one of us to help them. Those tribes will never believe a Vyusher. And Marcus believes that my gift in particular can help. Especially since he has a telepath in his group. I can help.”
“But if you can help, then so can I. And so can Nate,” Adelaide insisted.
Lila moved around the end of the bed to sit beside her sister. “I know. But I really need some time on my own. And helping Marcus, by myself… it’s exactly what I need to get some perspective.” She leaned forward and gave her a hug.
Adelaide gripped her tighter and then gave a shuddering sigh, relenting. “Okay. If it’s what you need, I understand. I’ll miss you. But I guess I get it.”
Lila gave her a squeeze and resumed packing. “I’ll miss you, too. But remember that between Griffin, Ellie, Oren, and Selene, not to mention those newfangled contraptions like cell phones and the Internet, I’ll constantly be in touch.”
Lila placed the last items in her suitcase and took one final look around the room she’d shared with Adelaide. She closed the lid and zipped up the suitcase. “Okay. That’s it.”
The sisters regarded each other for a minute, unspoken support and grief and love and worry passing between them.
“Okay.” Lila nodded as she said, “Time to go then.”
Adelaide opened her eyes, pushing the memory of that day away and focusing on the present. On Ramsey.
“Do you know where she is?” he asked.
“I just talked to her yesterday. She was in Brazil.” Adelaide jumped out of bed and grabbed a robe. Together they headed for Selene’s room.
“She and Marcus were meeting with the Svatura there. Still trying to convince them not to attack the Vyusher.”
“Then something went wrong.” Ramsey’s jaw clenched.
“We don’t know that yet,” Adelaide insisted.
“Meet us in Selene’s room,”Griffin’s voice sounded in both their minds.
“Damn!” Ramsey swore.
Adelaide felt fear clawing at her stomach. Together they burst into Selene’s bedroom just as Charlotte popped in with Hugh and Lucy.
Griffin didn’t waste time. “Something’s happened to Lila.”
“Oh God. What?” Lucy asked.
“We don’t know, yet. The whole damn Louisiana clan is missing. Sheila can’t locate them anywhere.”
“Is she alive?” Adelaide whispered.
“Yes,” Ramsey muttered.
They all turned questioning eyes on him. “How do you know?” Griffin asked.
Ramsey shook his head. “I don’t know. I just feel it. She’s alive.” He looked at Hugh and Lucy. “I’ll find her.”
Lucy left Hugh’s side to stand in front of Ramsey. She looked deep into his eyes. “I don’t know why you think you can, but if you really can feel my little girl, you bring her home. Do you hear me? Bring her home to me.”
Ramsey pulled Lucy into a big hug.
“I promise,” he whispered. “I’ll bring her home.”