A bitter taste filled Ryan’s mouth. Jagged disappointment unfurled in his chest. Without Simeon he and Joshua would soon fall apart. The prospect of eternity with neither man at his side was—unfathomable.
Ryan closed his eyes.
He couldn’t allow such a terrible thing to come to pass.
Pulling his arm out from underneath Simeon, Ryan brought both hands to frame the smaller man’s face. Simeon’s eyes turned to him, wide and wary, the pupils blown open so far they nearly swallowed all trace of color. Ryan drew upon every angelic power he possessed to infuse his words with an unquestionable stamp of believability.
“Simeon. We—Josh and I? We’ve been waiting for you. You’re the glue that holds us together. I know you may not see time the same way that we do. Elementals are sort of outside time, aren’t you? We haven’t had anyone else, not ever.”
Here his voice broke. Ryan pulled in a sharp breath before continuing. The sound of his words was lower now, tattered and rough.
“Please Simeon. Give us a chance.”
Over Simeon’s shoulder Ryan could see Joshua’s face go slack for an instant before his brows drew together in a fierce frown.
“Stop it Rye. Don’t you ever beg. Not me, not even Simeon. You’re too good to beg anyone for anything. He-you. I. Damn it—”
A buzzing noise interrupted.
Ryan knew that ringtone.
He shuddered, then extended his upper wing again, enfolding Simeon in it.
“Go on Josh. Answer it. He’ll get angry if you ignore him.”
Simeon’s forehead crinkled up, and his eyes squinted slightly. Josh folded the soft velvet of his wing against his back, and Simeon made a barely perceptible noise of distress. Josh exhaled shakily.
“Yeah. About that. Dad heard Simeon volunteer to take my place earlier. And he says if I don’t find the stuff on this crazy list he sent earlier he’s gonna call his marker in. I can’t stop him Rye.”
Joshua’s gold and amber eyes pleaded for understanding. There was no other word for it. Ryan gasped.
“No, Josh. He’d never survive.”
Ryan folded his wing more tightly around Simeon.
“No, Josh. We have to find the things for his list. Show us.”
Josh held his phone out to Ryan. The incubus’s hand trembled just before Ryan grasped the phone. Ryan set the device down and the latched onto Joshua’s hand. He caressed the silky skin at the base of Joshua’s wrist, and then pressed the other eternal’s hand back against Simeon’s hip, placing his own over the top.
“Together, Josh. We’ll keep him safe whatever it takes, and he’ll hold us together. The three of us were destined by the Fates. Nothing can change that. It’ll be okay. I promise.”
Simeon reached up, placing his hand over both of theirs.
“I haven’t got a single clue what either of you is talking about. Could someone kindly let me in on what in the world is going on?”