Katie's Hope (Chapter Three, page 1 of 31)

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"So this is where you're hiding out."

Gabriel whipped around at the voice, lowering the weapon that emerged instinctively at the sound of a stranger in his home. Rhyn kept his distance, knowing just how jumpy an assassin could be. Gabriel was at his place in the underworld, a small cottage tucked into Death's realm, in the Everdark forest of Immortal trees whose hissing, fanlike leaves and snake-like branches moved to catch the quiet wind. Gabriel's small cottage was lit by a single candle that cast light on a collection of weapons along one wall and a few books on a bookshelf on another.

"I didn't think you could come here," the assassin said.

"The Code says I shouldn't, not that I can't. Important distinction," Rhyn replied and pulled out a chair from the table on which the candle was placed. He straddled the chair and rested his forearms on its back. "You left without saying good-bye."

Gabriel rubbed his face, and Rhyn saw the shadow of stubble the assassin never allowed to grow. Something was really wrong if Gabriel's thousands-year-old habit changed suddenly.

"I didn't have a choice," Gabriel said with some difficulty. "Death owns me now."

Rhyn understood without asking. Gabriel had always been a free man; now the human- turned Immortal was a slave.

"Welcome to my world," he said with a chuckle. "You'll find making friends is hard when everyone hates you."

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