The wall of flames was rising higher, so high that he couldn't see over the tops of them any longer. Their intense heat was scorching his face; his eyeballs felt like they were melting into his sockets. The searing agony was beginning to make it clear that escape was not in his future; what little future he had left. He wanted to give up, to go back to the cold, damp cell he came from. It would be better than the heat. Anything would be better than the flames licking at his shoes and singeing his fingertips, even the death he’d fought against, shied away from, hidden from. He would welcome a quick death now, if only it was offered to him.
It wasn't supposed to end this way. He’d made every effort to ensure it wouldn't go so horribly wrong, but he’d waited too long to make the right decisions for the both of them. Because of his cowardice, he hadn't been able to save Isabella, and now he was going to perish as well. Futilely, he wished he could turn back time and take her up on her first offer. It might have had painful consequences, but he didn't believe it could have been any worse than the situation he was currently finding himself in. He couldn't know that at the time, of course, but she had tried so hard to warn him, and he hadn’t listened.
As the burning consumed him, he mentally cried out for her. She would hear him; she'd heard everything and tried to explain. He regretted his ignorance. He regretted a lot of things just then, but most especially his willful ignorance. Fear and confusion had caused him to deny the pleas of the gorgeous woman. She’d been mysterious and too beautiful to be human. She’d told him tales of her life that made no sense. She’d frightened him, he could admit it. She was terrifying in her bloodthirstiness, in her need for him above all other things. Nothing affected her quite the way he did, she’d said. She’d tried to be gentle, according to her, but it wasn't in her nature. Death and destruction were all she knew. Those attributes had been the downfall of them all, and even a monster could admit that.
He hadn't had the strength to go against the others, and now he was paying the ultimate price. There was nothing else to do for it but give up. If he closed his eyes, he could see Isabella one last time; her sable hair swirling over her shoulders, seeming to move even while she was still. Her skin was porcelain, a luminescent ivory that lacked the offset of blue veins. In his vision, her eyes were focused on him, steady and strong.