While Edgar led a crew to track down the next target, Mayhem sat on the edge of the bed with Kimi’s love letter printed out, his shaky hands rattling the paper. Poe perched on his thigh, his bill hung to his chest feathers, a deep keening emanating off every feather.
“I’d prefer not to read Mom’s final words, too, buddy, but we owe it to her to forge ahead.”
Poe yelped out a mournful cry, and Mayhem’s eyes bloomed with tears. He lowered his gaze to the letter.
The thought of living without you pains me in ways I didn’t think possible. But I cannot allow the ALS to steal our happiness. It’s taken too much from us already. You deserve a full life, rather than one that revolves around my illness. The Creator blessed me with an incredible, loyal, loving, funny, handsome, caring husband, and I will love you for eternity.
Even in death, I shall never be far. But I also cherish you enough to let you go. Cheyenne, Jude, Poe, and the rest of our beautiful family will need guidance, your guidance, so please do not grieve my passing for too long. Instead, celebrate our amazing life together.
Poe jerked off Mayhem’s thigh, took flight, and flew to the windowsill. When Mayhem twisted around, Edgar was standing on the other side of the glass pane—a window he had to replace due to Ms. Daniels’ blatant disregard for other people’s property.
Bouncing on his talons, Poe urged Mayhem to open the window. He set the letter on the quilt and turned his attention to Edgar. When he slid open the window, the pane waned under duress. “Did you find him?”
Edgar caped his magnificent wings and cawed, and Poe soared through the opening, flying in circles, imploring Mayhem to follow him outside.
“No better time like the present, I suppose.” His gaze flicked toward the letter on the hospital bed and then returned to his loyal murder, now engaged in an outstanding aerial display.
Magnificent beings, crows.
Though Mayhem wavered on whether to leave without notifying Cheyenne about her mother’s sudden demise, he quick-stepped down the hall, the stairs, and into the foyer, where he snatched his fedora off the coat rack.
Mayhem hustled around the side of the brownstone.
In the back parking lot, he scanned the sky. Allan had joined his brothers, three awe-inspiring creatures riding the thermals, their wings soaring, sunlight illuminating stunning black feathers—dark and gleaming. Because the sun hadn’t yet turned in for the night, he set two fingers on his lips and whistled. Poe glided down to the Caddy’s hood, followed by Edgar. Allan took a few moments longer to land.
Three bills tipped upward toward Mayhem’s face—eager stares waiting for the go-ahead.
“Thank you for your promptness. Shall we proceed, then?” As he slipped behind the wheel of his Cadillac CTS, his beloved crow companions leaped off the hood and took flight.
While he followed close behind, Poe glanced over his shoulder every few minutes to ensure Dad kept up the pace. “I realize you would not approve, my darling,” he said to Kimi’s spirit, “but Ms. Daniels must pay for the brutality committed against our family. Against you—the most amazing woman to ever walk this great land. No one will walk away unscathed. Our family certainly didn’t, so why should she? That is not how this game is played.”
Gazing through the window at Poe, leading the others, his hands wrung the leather steering wheel. “I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive a few indiscretions on my part. Make no mistake, my love, Ms. Daniels’ actions unchained this beast inside me. What happens next is on her, I’m afraid.”