Check

By: Mimi Jean Pamfiloff


“So you’re committing suicide because a woman left you.”

I snapped my head in his direction, feeling my neck bones crackle with age. I looked and felt the equivalent of eighty years old now, my hair completely white. “How dare you. I have lived two hundred and thirty years. How can dying at my age be suicide?”

Luke’s hazel eyes narrowed. “You’re giving up when you have the option not to. Isn’t that the same thing?”

I looked away, back toward the window and my peaceful clouds—anything to keep my mind off Stephanie or avoid this ridiculous conversation.

“You think I’m just being selfish, don’t you?” Luke grumbled.

I didn’t see the point of answering, so I didn’t.

“Fine, but I couldn’t care less about myself. I’ve lived ninety-five years. I’ve loved. I’ve discovered. I’ve led a mostly happy life all thanks to you and this island. I couldn’t and wouldn’t ask for more, but there are people out in this world—good people, people you handpicked to live so they’d have a chance to change things for the better. Now you’re robbing them of the opportunity to make their lives mean something more.”

“Opportunity,” I spat. Fuck opportunity. Fuck this life. Fuck everyone. I’d spent the last two centuries believing that my “opportunity” meant something, that it was worth the price because ultimately I was helping women connect with their hearts and souls. For an exclusive few who’d lived worthy lives, I’d chosen them to live longer. “A constant drip of water on a stone is more powerful than a single flood.” That was what Father Rook used to tell me when I was a boy. He believed that he and his small group of monks, living in obscurity on a remote island, could influence the entire world. Love would prosper, equality would be the norm, and suffering would be the exception.

A damned pipe dream wiped out by a ship full of savage men who cared for nothing and no one. Father Rook was a fool, but I was a bigger one. I’d picked up where he left off, believing that anything objectionable I did would be forgiven because the miracle of the lagoon was proof; we were doing God’s work.

But we weren’t, and Stephanie showed me the truth. Not all sins could be washed away with a whip or prayer.

“Go, Luke. I want to be left in peace.”

“I can leave, but peace is something you’ll never have until you do right by those who put their faith in you.” Luke headed for the door. “See you in the morning.”

“I hope to be dead by then.”

“With the rate you’re aging, you just might get your wish.”

He slammed the door behind him, and if I said my miserable soul wasn’t troubled by the pain I was causing him, it would be a lie.

But what did he expect of me? Humanity couldn’t be saved. We were slaves to money, lust, power, and greed. I was no better or different. I had served Stephanie lie after lie, simply because I wanted her for myself. That was greed not love.

I closed my eyes and began drifting off, focusing on the comfort of darkness awaiting me. I was so close to dying, I could taste it.

“James,” said a male voice I scrambled to place.

My eyes flew open to find a tall figure lurking in the shadowy corner. He wore a tattered brown robe with a hood that obscured his face.

“I wondered when you might show up.” I dropped my head back down on the pillow.

He raised his hand, gesturing for me to follow. I knew exactly where he wanted me to go and what he wanted me to do.

“I’m not going to the lagoon. I’ve made up my mind and will tell you what I told Luke: Make peace with your demons.”

His form faded just as quickly as it had appeared, but I knew Father Rook would not be so easily deterred from his mission, one that should’ve died with him two hundred and twenty years ago when I was just ten. But was this truly the legacy he’d hoped for with his dying breath? Generation after generation paying for the sins of their forefathers? The monks here founded this island after fleeing persecution for preaching radical ideas such as equality, an end to all slavery, and showing love to your fellow man. They believed that one day, all of humanity would be judged as one, our evils weighed against our goodness. Father Rook and his brothers prophesied that it would all come down to one act, one heart, one person’s selfless love to tip the scales and save us all.

Dreamers. Love couldn’t save anyone any more than I could save the world by being a monk and running a resort for women.



Stephanie

Racking my brain, I limped in circles over the cement floor of the tiny room Warner had put me in several days ago. Given the bloodstains on the walls and the foul toilet that had never been cleaned, I knew this was a place no one walked out of. I had four days left before Warner would kill me.

Such a difference from where I was a few weeks ago. My first week on the island, I’d been posing as a guest while really searching for Cici, who’d won an all-expenses-paid trip in the back of one of those magazines. Now that I thought about it, why would Rook even do a giveaway? The island was a secret, and their only advertising happened through word of mouth, though guests had to sign a nondisclosure. I supposed Rook figured people would still talk but be more careful. But a giveaway?

▶ Also By Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

▶ Hot Read

▶ Last Updated

▶ Recommend

Top Books