“Stay. Just…. Stay.” The second I said it I felt awful. What was I asking? I knew he couldn’t stay, that he needed to return to his world to stay alive in mind.
Since the night of the dance we’d carefully stayed away from discussing our little predicament. We were still at a standoff. He couldn’t live in my world without magical aids to keep him alive, because of the toxic nature of our polluted air, and I couldn’t go back to his world, because of a bunch of angry beings trying to kill me. That left us here. He would have to return to his world and refuel, to come back to mine. How long the potions lasted depended upon how much stress he was under. Physical exertion, extreme emotions all used up the reserve more quickly. Then there was the issue of his still being tied to Venus, the daughter of the ice witch I killed. A curse had caused his forced fealty to her. Killing the witch was not only supposed to save Mythlandria from her destructive wrath, it was also supposed to free Adrius of the curse that bound him to the ice witch’s commands. Who knew there was a daughter who would take over the bonds, and that she was also his ex-girlfriend.
Now she wants me dead in payment for killing her mother, and as a bonus, I’d be out of the way so she could get Adrius back in her life. That he could come here at all means the curse is weakening. I want his freedom, but at which price? Was I willing to kill for it? I’d have to end her life as well if I was going to destroy the bonds. And I wasn’t a killer. Even Octăhvia’s death was more of an accident than intended. I had no idea what awakening the magic would do, or how to wield it. This arrangement seemed like our only option, for now. And while I hated to see him leave, there was something comforting in being able to pretend that my life was normal again. As normal as it ever was. I could enjoy being back home with friends and back at school which surprisingly enough, I’d missed. It’s amazing how coming to the edge of your life multiple times will make even the most mundane routines a welcomed change.
“Think about what you’re asking me,” he said. “You know why I have to leave.”
He watched me suck in a breath of regret, as I wished I could take back my self-serving plea.
Pain creased his eyes. “Sleep soundly, Lorelei,” was all he said. He kissed the top of my head and turned to go.
The tense set of his jaw revealed the effort it took to leave. I watched him walk away, biting down on my lower lip until he reached the driveway.
“How am I supposed to sleep?” My voice was almost too quiet to be heard over the howling wind. But his hearing surpassed most mortal’s.
“Warm milk with honey works well,” he answered my whisper, his back still facing me. “It helps with the night terrors too,” he added.
“You know that’s not what I meant.” I moved closer, descending one step at a time until my bare feet hit the cold of the pavement.
Adrius froze. Electric pulses crackled between us.
“I was talking about sleeping without you. Here.”
“You’ve managed to do it before,” he said cautiously, the strain of his resolve vibrating in his voice.
“I know. But—“
This was wrong. It was selfish. How could I ask him to stay, when I know that leaving is what would keep him alive to return to me?
“I’m sorry. I’m being silly. It’s just I can’t—“
With whipcrack intensity, his resolve burned away and he rushed toward me and pulled me into his arms. His touch burned though my shirt as his hands splayed against my back, pressing us closer. He kissed me, hungrily at first, then it quickly deepened to ravenous. Matching his fervor, I tangled my fingers in his hair. Every inch of me was on fire. He gasped, his lips slowing against mine. By the time we separated, we were both breathless. He leaned his forehead against mine for a few rapid heartbeats, then pulled back. Our eyes remained locked in a palpitating stretch of silence that spoke volumes. My head swirled, and all I wanted was more of where we’d left off.
But he read my intentions. The corners of his lips quirked and he shook his head. Warm hands slid down my arms with one last caress, before he disappeared. Gone so quickly I didn’t actually see him leave. Swallowed by the darkness of the night and the forest that held the secret doorway into Mythlandria.
Links to buy BITTERSWEET
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