When Adair regained consciousness, he found himself buried in a mound of rubble, grainy clumps of plaster strung together by tufts of horsehair, splintered lath, brick shattered into nuggets. The sunlight stabbed his eyes so painfully that he shut them again quickly to block out the sudden brightness. Once his eyes had adjusted to the light, he looked up through the tangle of what had been the exterior wall of the house and saw the sky, a vast welcome expanse of blue.
The air on his face was like a fresh, cool kiss.
His senses were flooded at once after centuries of deprivation. He could smell plaster dust in his nostrils, taste sweet air on his tongue. Most glorious of all was the light. He’d been isolated in the dark, unable to move or feel anything except the ground under his feet and the bricks in front of his face. . . . It took only the slightest recollection and it was on him again, the smothering darkness and vast loneliness, threatening to overwhelm him. It was only with great effort that he managed to push it away. He was free now and would rejoin the living. He would be around people. He looked forward to conversation, to the sound of another person’s voice in his ear, to jokes and whispered confidences, the humorous and the dour, all of it. He would feel the skin of another person again, sweet and smooth to the touch, damp from excitement or fear. He was free to pursue all the pleasures and peculiarities of the human experience he’d missed for an irretrievable length of time.
And the first thing he wanted to do—had to do—was get his hands on the woman who had taken this all away from him. Lanore.
Fury came over him swiftly and absolutely, decades of frustration finding release at last. He wanted to shout her name, to rattle the heavens with a demand for justice. Bring the treacherous witch to me, he thought, so that she might suffer the special punishment reserved for traitors. He wanted to wrap his hands around her throat—now—and throttle the life out of her. But this was impossible: he could sense that she was not nearby.
Still, the day would come and he would make her pay for her betrayal. He’d given her freedom above any of his other subjects because of his feelings for her, and she’d taken advantage of his generosity. And, more damning still, she’d betrayed him in favor of Jonathan, a man too self-absorbed to return her love. Adair had loved her, truly, but apparently his love had not been enough for her. For such a grave error in judgment, death did not seem an unreasonable punishment, and surely she had anticipated as much when she made her decision. But he wouldn’t end her life immediately. Though the satisfaction he’d derive would be immense, it would be far too brief. He’d get greater satisfaction from extending her punishment, making her every day hellish and giving her plenty of time to regret her foolish decision.