Destined Page 73

’’Tam!’’ Laurel yelled, and he threw his arms over both her and Chelsea as they ducked to the ground.

Dull thuds sounded all around Laurel, and after a few seconds she raised her head. Every gate sentry had raised their shield and stepped in front of the limbs, bearing the brunt of the attack. If it was possible, the cheering from the crowd roared even louder as Tamani stood tall, glaring at Marion, her hands still raised, ready to command nature.

After a moment her hands fell to her sides.

But they hadn\ won yet.

’’Can you really get us through without help?’’ Chelsea asked when they reached the ornate golden gate and eyed the blackness within.

Tamani nodded. ’’I believe so.’’

’’Why didn\ you tell us sooner?’’ David asked.

Tamani unflinchingly met David\s eyes. ’’I wanted to see you refuse to destroy the gates - knowing what it would cost you.’’

David swallowed. ’’Did you doubt me?’’

Tamani shook his head. ’’Not for a second. Gather round,’’ he said quietly. ’’I don\ want anyone else to see this part.’’

Laurel, David, and Chelsea made a semicircle around Tamani, who closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a heavy golden key, studded with minuscule diamonds like those at the centre of the flowers adorning the gates. As he extended it towards the glittering golden bars that stood between them and California, the latch shimmered and shifted like a mirage.

And where there had never been a keyhole before, one appeared.

Laurel watched in wonder as Tamani inserted the key and turned it. With hands that were visibly shaking, he pulled on the golden gate.

It swung open and the entire population of the Garden gasped as one.

’’Where did you get that?’’ Laurel breathed.

’’Yuki made it for me,’’ Tamani said simply, pocketing it again and holding the gate open for them all. ’’Come on. Let\s go home.’’

Laurel paused. Then she took David\s hand and wrapped it round Chelsea\s. After a long moment he nodded and led Chelsea through the gateway and out of Avalon. Laurel took one look back before following. She saw Marion, her face the picture of shock;Jamison, his fist raised in triumph, a roar of cheers and applause surrounding him;Yasmine, still standing on the bench, looking every bit the queen Laurel had no doubt she would one day be.

Grinning, she twined her fingers through Tamani\s and together they walked out into the glittering starlight of California. Laurel considered the words Tamani had just spoken. They were technically true;soon they would be in David\s car, headed towards the house where she lived. But she knew the truth now. With Tamani beside her - his hand in hers - she was already home.

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