Chapter 23

"The Grave"

The necklace dangling against his chest kept him warm, despite the crisp air that surrounded him as he stood outside, staring down at the small tombstone before him. Tears pricked his eyes, but he tried desperately to shove them away. Tinker hugged his arms, shivering, not from the cold, but from the guilt that filled him.

It was his fault. That's what he kept telling himself. His fault. If he wouldn't have been so selfish, none of this would have happened. Then again, if the necklace never came to him then he never would have known.

But still…

He hadn't been able to force himself to go to the funeral. How could he after what he had done? There hadn't been enough evidence, the man who did this was going to get off free. He never would worry about it again.

Tinker knelt down beside the grave, touching the cool stone lightly as the tears overflowed down his cheeks. Guilt burned in his chest. His fault.

No.

It was the necklace's fault. She tried to touch it. The necklace didn't like being touched, he felt like he had been protecting it…but he had been protecting the wrong one. He should have kept her; he shouldn't have given her to CPS…should have protected her…

Tinker grabbed onto the chain and undid the clasp, a sudden gush of cold overcoming him. He studied the gem. "It's your fault," he whispered. "Not mine, yours." He got ready to throw it, but stopped himself.

It was so cold. Cold without it. And he suddenly felt…lonely. The memory of Kat abandoning him returned, the thoughts of all the pain and suffering he had seen filled him…. No, it wasn't the necklace's fault. It was the father's.

Slowly he put the chain back around his neck and closed the clasp. He wouldn't dispose of the necklace if it wasn't at fault. He would have to dispose of the girl's father. Dispose of the man who had done this to her.

Tinker brushed his fingers against the gem, making up his mind. He would get rid of the despicable excuse for a human. And in doing so would avenge the poor girl's death.

He tucked the necklace back into his shirt, stuffing his hands into his pockets, his breath coming out white in the crisp autumn air. Pushing himself to his feet, Tinker began to walk away. As he neared the gate, he tossed one last look over his shoulder at the grave.

Lani Ann Spalding. 1999-2003.

Author's Note: We know it's short and we thought about taking it out. But we figured you all might wanna know what happened to the little girl. Sorry for those of you who liked Lani!