It’s time for the penultimate chapter, friends! 😉
If you’re new to this series or if you’re not caught up, I recommend you catch up first:
All that I Can Be is a continuous series and should be read in order.
Elena’s heart never beat harder than when she went to see the devil the following night.
She figured that, since the devil was real, perhaps god was, too–she prayed her small loophole really was a loophole and not just a desperate attempt to free herself from her self-imposed chains.
She hadn’t brought the spell book. Either she succeeded and the devil would magic it away just as he’d conjured it under her pillow that first night, or she’d fail. She had a feeling it wouldn’t matter if she failed.
She hadn’t brought moral support, either. Ralu had offered to come, but Elena needed to end this the same way she’d started it–just her and the devil talking by the lake at midnight.
He was already there when she reached the lake’s shore, and opened his arms like he was welcoming an old friend.
“Elena Baciu. Tell me, what progress have you made?”
She gulped. This was even harder than she’d imagined, and her imagination hadn’t been kind.
His smile turned dangerous. “And why not?”
Her hands were clammy with nerves, and she wiped them on her skirt. She hoped her grandmama was watching out for her from whatever came after death.
“Because I’m leaving.” Her mouth was dry. The words tumbled out in a stutter. “I’m not under your contract anymore.”
The devil laughed. “Whatever gave you that idea?”
“Can I see the contract I signed?”
“You’re not the first mortal to try getting out of an agreement by tearing it in half, Elena Baciu. Your words, your promise, bind you to me.”
She struggled. It was hard to stay calm under his amused gaze. “I know. I won’t tear it.”
He raised an eyebrow. “It won’t do you any good, but if it means you stop fussing I can comply.”
The contract appeared in his hand, smelling vaguely of sulphur. Elena skimmed it, skipped right to the only part she was interested in:
I, Elena Baciu, pledge my immortal soul to you in exchange for magic to accomplish the things I cannot.
Her heart beat faster. She’d remembered correctly.
The devil grinned. “Found what you hoped for?”
She nodded, and his grin vanished. “Yes. I am free of you.”
Elena took a step away from him to make her point.
The devil glowered at her, and his eyes darkened. “Oh? Why would you think that?”
“It says I pledge my soul to you in exchange for magic that helps me achieve the things I can’t do on my own. Like Ralu. Like my paintings. They were the reason for this contract. But I did do them myself. You gave me nothing I didn’t already have; the contract is void.”
She swallowed, if only to bring new moisture to her lips.
The air around the devil seemed to crackle with power and something she’d only glimpsed before. Something dark. His true nature. Burning and so very full of rage.
“You couldn’t possibly–”
“But I can. I didn’t think I could have love, confidence, or success without magic, but I can. Ralu and I are friends. She says she likes me, and people buy my paintings.” She trembled; he didn’t need to know she’d only sold one. “I even interrupted you just now. All without magic.”
In her hands, the contract caught fire and burnt to ash. She dropped it before it could blister her hands.
Her heart skipped. It had actually worked.
The devil’s disguise crumbled away, piece by piece, as he glowered the full smouldering extent of his fury at her.
“You will regret this, Elena Baciu. No one walks away from me.”
“I don’t think so. I won’t be signing anything from you again.”
“We’ll see. As you know, I carry many disguises.”
She turned around and walked away.
His threat was a concern for a another day; although, really it all came down to one thing: she’d be careful, and trust her gut.
Right now, she was free.
End of Chapter 15
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