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Book: Ablaze by Dahlia Rose Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dahlia Rose
“You’re right of course.”
    He instantly felt bad and grabbed her hand. “I didn’t say it to hurt you.”
    “The truth hurts nonetheless,” she said softly.
    Penn had no clue how she felt because in the years that went by in hell there was nothing but betrayal and lies. Where treachery was like breathing, there was no one to count on but yourself.
    Picking each footstep carefully they made it down to the cavern floor. They took a small dirt track that headed east, and no one spoke. A large boulder seemed to block their path, but when Penn navigated a way around it, they found the tree. It was lush, with leaves that were wide and green, and there was no water or even a thin trickling stream that passed close by. Penn watched Hailey reach up to caress the leaves before turning with a huge smile on her face.
    “This is the place,” she said and laughed a little.
    “You should call the ageless one. I don’t think he would answer a demon,” Penn said to Hailey.
    “Boy, you would be surprised who I answer.” The humorous voice came from behind them, and they are turned in surprise.
    “I’m certainly not a boy,” Penn said tightly.
    The old man laughed. “Fifteen hundred years is a drop in the bucket, boy.”
    He said the word again deliberately, and Sam laughed. “You don’t like when people do it to you, Penn.”
    “Shut up,” Penn growled.
    He studied the old, weathered face of the man who stood in front of them. His face carried the features of an American Indian and Caucasian heritage. His skin looked worn and browned by the sun like old leather. Still his dark eyes sparked with humor, and his movements were not as stiff as one would expect from someone that old. His clothes were more modern, a plaid shirt and faded jeans along with a multicolored blanket poncho over his shoulders. His hair was long and so white it captured the sunlight, and he wore it pulled into a ponytail at his nape.
    “You’re the son of Gabriel.” The old man nodded.
    “What should we call you, ageless one?” Hailey asked softly.
    “Well you’re a sight, angel; you chose the love of a boy over eternity in heaven. There is more honor in your choice than you will ever know. You can call me Ray.” He cast a glance in Penn’s direction. “It seems you love this one as well.”
    “She cannot be held responsible for anything; I take all the blame,” Penn said automatically and grabbed her hand. He didn’t know why he said it. All of a sudden the urge to defend her and take all the blame filled him.
    “How would I punish her? You don’t have to defend here, Pennemuel,” Ray replied. “I’m a neutral, the same thing you could be if you wanted.”
    “Is that your real name?” Sam questioned.
    Ray smiled at Sam. “I’ve had many names over the years, but this is my favorite.”
    “What do you mean I can become a neutral?” Penn interrupted briskly. One couldn’t let information like that slip away without asking. His future was at stake.
    Ray shook his head and waved them forward. “Not here. You are welcome in my home. There I will tell you all things you need to know, and if Sam so chooses mark him from sight.”
    “Oh, I chose already,” Sam muttered.
    “Don’t be hasty; there is always a price for such things.” Ray threw the comment over his shoulder as they walked.
    Another cryptic sentence , Penn thought irritably. He took Hailey’s hand while they walked with the old man, and the feeling of her soft skin against his gave him comfort. Ray’s home turned out to be a cave in the canyon wall. When they stepped inside there was a stone hearth carved out of the rock with a fire and a large pot hanging over it. His bedding was in one corner on a ledge that jutted out of the rock wall, and the simple furnishing of a small table and chair stood off in a corner. In the center of the rock floor was another hollowed pit with the remnants of charred wood inside it. Ray moved past them and picked up wood from a

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