Sam turned to him, fear flickering in her eyes. “You first.” She glanced back at the sheer drop over her shoulder. “That way I can watch how you cross it so I won’t fall.”
Uncertainly flared, as he watched her snag her bottom lip. He tried searching her thoughts, but the connection was too weak. That, or she was shielding herself from him. He leaned closer, tracing the gentle curve of her jaw.
“There’s nothing to fear,” he assured her.
“I’d just feel better knowing you were on the other side to catch me if I stumble.”
Griffin nodded, moving over to the wood. “I could carry you,” he offered, but she shook her head, motioning him forward.
He climbed on, making his way across, landing on the other side in a cloud of dust. He turned back just as a streak of light flashed in his eyes, knocking him to the ground. A sharp hiss filled the air, followed by a loud crack. He squinted through the smoke as the log burst into flames, splitting near the center before plummeting into the empty space and crashing onto the rocks below.
Griffin pushed up, waving his hand to clear the air. Sam was standing on the other side, her blaster palmed in her hand. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Saving your life. You know the hovercraft can’t take all of us, and there’s no way you’ll let me back out, so…”
Her voice faded as she stared at the open space, her eyes glassy. Rainbow colored dots reflected off the tears gathering in her eyes, making her skin sparkle in the light. He fisted his hands, eyeing the drop, when her voice echoed down the rift.
“It’s too far, even for you,” she said, a smile touching the corner of her mouth. “Now go, before the second sun sets.”
“I’m not leaving you here,” he barked, brazing a glare at Sirena. “Get Jonah and Luca, and bring back the rope.”
“Don’t challenge me. Just do as I ask.” He turned back to Sam as Sirena darted down the path, disappearing down a steep slope. “Damn it, Samantha. I swear, once I get my hands on you I’ll—”
He stopped when the tears he’d seen gathering in the light fell silently down her cheek. “Little one—”
“Don’t,” she interrupted, holding her hand up. “I’m not your little one, your mate or anything else.” Her head drooped toward her chest as her voice cracked. “I’m nothing but a link you can’t sever.”
“What are you talking about? You aren’t making any sense.” He huffed as he edged closer to the rift. “Is this because of our coupling? Did I hurt you?”
Her head lifted to meet his gaze. “Coupling? That wasn’t a coupling. It was you scratching an itch!” She shook her head as sobs wrenched from her chest. “I can’t live like this, Griffin. I can’t keep pretending there’s nothing wrong. That we’re the perfect pair.” She grabbed her stomach, bending over as if she were going to throw up. “The pain is killing me. Hell, even Cain could smell that you hadn’t touched in months. I can’t keep lying to everyone…it hurts too much.”
“What do you mean the pain is killing you?” Anger bubbled his blood as she simply shook her head. Damn but she was stubborn.
“I appreciate what you tried to do. But it didn’t work. Now you’re bound to someone you can’t even stand to be in the same room with.” She moved back until she was leaning against the side of the cliff. “It’s better this way. You know it is.”
“Samantha, listen to me.”
She stopped him with a raise of her hand. “There’s nothing left to say.” She motioned to the path behind him. “Go, before it’s too late. I’ll head to the caves, gather as many crystals as I can.” She held up a small device. “I brought a locator beacon. It’s set to go off at sunrise. I’ll try to get as close as I can, but either way, Caleb should be able to track it.”
“Please don’t make this any harder than it is.” She took a shuddering breath, wiping at the tears. “I knew the moment I saw you that I was in trouble.” She flashed him a genuine smile that made his heart clench. “No one had ever looked at me like that. Those first few months… It was the first time since I was a child that I ever felt safe. I’ll always cherish that.”
Griffin growled as she turned and walked up the path, ignoring his frantic calls. He looked at the gorge separating them, knowing he couldn’t jump the distance, but willing to die trying. He looked up, pinned by her pale eyes.
“It’s okay. I’ve made my choice. Just promise me you’ll keep our people safe.”
He nodded despite the numbing feeling constricting his chest, making it impossible to speak, to breathe.
“One last thing… I love you. I think I always have. And I know I always will.” She lifted her hand, waving at him as she bridged the bend. “Goodbye, beastman. Find happiness. You deserve that.”