This brief scene, from Rafe’s POV, was originally placed right before the epilogue. While I loved having a window into Rafe’s struggles with his fears and insecurities, my readers and I were worried that this scene would detract from the closure of Sable/Sura’s story. Hence, the decision to remove it.
Rafe Grenfeld lay in the massive Monarian-style bed, circular and covered with a multitude of plump, squishy cushions and hard bolsters. Overhead, the ceiling fan turned, stirring the sluggish air. Its mechanism squeaked and from the other side of the wall, Rafe heard the gush and splash of water that powered it.
Exhilaration had drained away from him, leaving him limp and wrung out. All that steadied him was that cool, silver presence he felt at the other end of his kyra bond.
It’s all right, he told it. I’ll be fine. You can leave me now.
There was a slight pause, a moment of indecision. Then the presence withdrew.
She was gone.
Now, thought Rafe. Now. Now I can—
The tremors came.
Horror flooded through him as he faced, for the first time, the enormity of what had been laid upon him. At what would’ve happened if he’d failed. At the deaths that would’ve hung upon his conscience, at the pain in his body as ka coursed through it.
Sweat broke out on his forehead and dripped down his temples into his hair. His hands shook; he tried to clench them, to make them stop. His fingers were nerveless and beyond the reach of his mind.
How many more times? he wondered. How many more times must I do this?
He asked the question into the stuffy darkness, lightly scented with incense and spice. He asked it in the place where the ka dwelled in glistening strands of color. He asked it of himself and Selene and Ironheart’s Hidden God and the universe itself.
They had no answer for him.