The Deans’ mausoleum walls, stark white with gray veins, crowded close as Alexander stood a few feet from the man acting as priest for the proceeding. Lorelei had never been specifically religious, but in this instance, he felt it necessary to make at least a nod in the direction of the thankless god which had taken away the one person who made his life stable. With the priest at his left and Sheridan at his right, he was as close to calm as he could get.
The door of her vault clanged shut and he kept the final image of her face, perfection surrounded by careful curls, in his memory. He buried her in white, her color of choice. Black, even raven’s wing, did not suit her as well.
The priest prayed.
Alexander’s eyes traced the name on the plaque, Lorelei Patricia Lake. He chose a script she would have approved of. After all, she would lie beneath it for eternity.
The Lakes, her parents, were not in attendance. He didn’t blame them; their position was clear. They hated him. They hated her being with him. They thought he killed her. Why would they come to a funeral he paid for even if it was for their beloved daughter? They had other children. Perhaps they clutched them closer now that Lore was gone. Alexander didn’t care. His Lake, his Lore, was gone.
The prayer ended and the priest spoke to him. It was only the squeeze of Sheridan’s hand in his that called back his attention.
“I thought you might like to know this is all there is to the service. I’ll be leaving now and let you pay your respects.”
“Thank you,” Sheridan said before letting Alex go and stepping away with the priest. “I’ll walk you to your car.” From the mausoleum door, she said, “Alex. Your feelings are fine.”
A grim smile touched his lips. His feelings, raw as they were, did not seem fine. Alone in the house of the dead, he considered battering his fists against the walls until his gloves split over broken knuckles. He wanted to howl at the injustice of it all. A maelstrom raged within him shrieking for release. Revenge he tasted when Aliyah took care of Lore’s killer. Now he needed peace. Peace he had only known in those moments when he was sober and alone in Lore’s arms. Peace he could not attain no matter how much he drank or what drugs he took.
Lore was his peace. Lore was dead. Even avenging her brought nothing but a deep distress he had no words for.
When he closed his eyes, he saw her alive. Standing at the edge of the window with the curtain pulled back watching the light of dawn as it crept in. It gave her such a halo. Yet she was no angel.
His breath misted in the air before he turned on heel and stepped out into the winter sunshine. Though he did not see them, he knew Sheridan and the priest were nearby. Sheridan would be watching for him, preparing for what might become an outburst or a problem. In public, he needed to keep his calm.
Dead eyed empty calm untouchable by his turmoil.
Straightening his coat, he moved to his car across the brown grass. Though he was careful not to cross other graves, he did not note their names. Hers burned in his memory exactly as he had commissioned it.
Sheridan joined him as he slid into the driver’s seat of the black BMW. Gloved hands on the steering wheel, he didn’t start the car. The creak of leather on leather filled the silence.
“I’ll drive.” She stepped out of the passenger side. For a moment, Alex considered protesting. Considered. Then he switched seats with her.
“Thank you.” Alexander closed his eyes and pretended to sleep. The ride home would take a little while, maybe he would actually fall asleep. Then he would have her near again. The touch of her hand. The scent of her perfume. The sense of her presence. All things calculated to lull the beast in him to rest.
Of course now, it might never again.