Here's the epilogue. I hope you enjoy it. This is now in the end of FTCM's ebook, and I'm working on putting it into the paperback, but if you have a copy of the original, just know you have a limited edition. :)
Thanks guys for your patience as I'm learning and growing as a writer. I do this for you.
I don’t actually feel bad that Giara got what was coming to her. I mean, she killed someone in order to keep me hidden and keep herself in power. She ignored, terrorized, and tricked me. To see her locked away makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, if I’m being honest.
But in order to do it, I had to give her my memories. I wanted her to understand why I had to save Joe. I wanted her to have some sympathy, and understanding of who I am, and why I made the choices I did. So I did a rune I didn’t know enough about, and there were consequences I didn’t expect.
So now, there’s a girl who looks like me, who thinks she’s me, and who loves my boyfriend. And she’s hurting. She’s in pain.
I don’t know exactly how I feel about that.
Leaving Giara in the hospital was harder than it should have been. I hated to see her in pain like that, hated to see her looking so much like me, clinging to my memories as if they were her own. But as the hours went by, and I prepared to leave, all of Giara’s actions came to life. There were others she had killed. Other people she had fooled. Innocents, witches. My family.
Perhaps it’s better for her, and for the world, that she thinks she is me. She wanted to be the one who won so badly that she refused to see reality. The transformation spell had worn off, and now she’s her real self. Giara is a plain looking woman now. If I saw her on the street, I wouldn’t ever recognize her. She looks nothing like the mask she always wore, and with her hands missing, she’s truly a frightening sight. I’m glad I don’t have to watch her. That job was placed on the person she had hurt the most. Shizuka watches her now through the cameras in the hospital. Giara refuses to look in mirrors, refuses to see reality…she truly is crazy. A mental hospital is the best place for her. I don’t know why that is so hard for me to accept.
When we left Paris, we brought a couple people home with us. Kaylie came with me, and Ana. The Grandmothers wanted to make sure I stayed in contact with them, that I didn’t just disappear into Joe’s arms and never come back. I wouldn’t though. I really want to be the kind of witch my mom always wanted me to be. Maybe if I help enough people, then in a way, my mom’s dream will live on. I love that idea.
There was a lot of noise and chaos getting home. Getting settled. Ana and Kaylie drove Ryan’s van back home to them. Joe and I drove a rental. I kept reaching for Joe’s hand, wanting to hold him, wanting to touch him. He kept his distance, and kept looking away from me, his eyes far to the distance, staring to the horizon.
Ms. P. waited on my front porch. She stood when we pulled in, and crushed Joe in a hug once he stepped out of the car. She was so happy to see him, so mad and grateful at the same time. He was grounded for leaving for a few days, and she took him home with a glare in my direction. I didn’t respond; I just watched them leave my driveway with trepidation. A sad moment was on its way for Ms. P. I could feel that moment as if it followed them like a storm cloud. I was going to miss Ash, and I didn’t love him. He wasn’t my family.
I walked into my house, my fingers running over the protection rune above the front door. Ana was looking through the books on the bookshelf, a few in her hands already while her bags sat unpacked. I walked into my kitchen, and that pizza box still sat on the table, the pizza inside starting to smell. Ick. I planned to crash in my bed, but first things first. My OCD had to be answered. I quickly tossed the box in the garbage outside. My shoes crunched in the snow as I walked back inside.
The back door slammed behind me. I walked through the TV room, the kitchen, the front room and then up the stairs. Kaylie was in Fee’s room, blasting One Direction through her radio as she unpacked her things into Fee’s drawers. I waved at her and took one last look at Fee’s room the way it was before. I had seen it empty enough times that I didn’t regret the intrusion.
I closed the door to my own room and made my way to my bed. Resting made my heart feel better, made everything happen in order, made my whole world make sense again. Ana and Kaylie were making so much noise in the house, but it felt good to not be alone. It felt like the house was full again, that it was alive. I put Carol King’s Tapestry on my iPod and closed my eyes. The most beautiful music in the history of forever reached through the cobwebs and made me feel whole, made me feel alive. Made me feel like me.
When Joe came over a few hours later, the house was quiet. Light from streetlamp outside my window let streaks of light that arched across the walls of the room. Joe walked through my closed bedroom door, his Chuck Taylors silent against the carpet. I put my hand up and invited him to join me in my bed, but he stayed back by the door. I pulled the head phones from my ears and sat up.
“You okay?” I asked.
In the shadow by my door, his shoulders were arched, and his hair fell loose over his eyes.
“Joe?” My feet slid to the floor. “Are you okay?”
His voice was strained, and frightened. “How do I know…” he said, as he combed his hair up toward my ceiling. “How do I know you are who you say you are? How do I know that the wrong Larissa isn’t hidden away with her hands cut off? How do I know?”
“Joe,” I whispered, silencing him kindly. I drew the rune for stay in the air, and threw it at him from my bed. I could see him try to move, and even Joe couldn’t pull himself through my stay rune.
“No one can do that. No one but me. How do you not know me? I’m a freak.” I stood up, the blanket sliding over my legs and onto the floor. I walked to him and took his fingers in mine. Then I wiped the rune away, and Joe could move again.
As soon as he could move, his hands went around my chin, and he pulled me to him.
“Riz,” he whispered between kisses.
I’m so grateful he knew me. That he called me by my real name, because now, and forever, I am his Riz. I’m Riz Alvarez.
I’m a witch. I’m a freak.
And I’m home.