The house was silent. Neither Calla nor Adder had emerged from their rooms in nearly 24 hours and Demrin was holed up in one of the larger rooms, what he was doing I didn't know. Perhaps he was practising his training, or just simply quietly mourning his lover's rage. Everything had been so tense recently, it seemed like everyone was ready to shatter, or to fall apart. It was as though each of them were standing precariously on the edge, threatening to fall into a sudden rip tide of emotions. Anger. Pain. Jealousy. Confusion. Maybe a fight or two would break out. Maybe more tears would be shed. Someone was going to get hurt though, that was a given.
I sighed. Jester was asleep, but I knew that he, too, was hurting. It was ever since my unexplained flash back from the previous day, when Lukah's name had fallen so naturally from my lips. I still couldn't shake the image of Jester standing there in the hallway, his eyes bereft of any happiness, his mouth twisted in pain. I had hurt him, and I didn't even know why.
Who the hell was this Lukah guy to come uninvited into my life anyway?! What right did he have to suddenly stir and shake everything up? Just when I was starting to really feel safe, when Jester was starting to feel...well, when he was starting to feel full stop. I couldn't imagine what it had been like for him, being kept in the dark for so long, only being able to do what Scott ordered him to.
I was suddenly overcome with the strangest sense of claustrophobia. The walls felt too constricted, the ceiling felt too low. I needed to get out of there. It was raining, but right now the need for escape and fresh air was so intense, I really didn't care. Grabbing my jacket from the end of the bed, I ran out of the house.
_ _ _ _
My eyelashes were matted together from the still pouring rain, my hair hung in wet tendrils down my neck, clinging to my cheeks and soaking my jacket, but I barely noticed. It just felt so good to get out of that house.
There was nobody else around, the rain had created a fine mist that hovered along the pavements, the road was devoid of any vehicle. The only sound audible was the quiet sprinkling of the water hitting the concrete, like thousands of grains of rice shifting together in a metal saucepan.
My eyes flickered ahead, to assess my surroundings. Something stirred in the mist. Something dark. A hooded figure. My heart thumped once, twice, slightly erratically.
Relax, I told myself.
They weren't moving. Were they facing me? My head moved almost imperceptibly, to see if I could cross the road to the other side. Something about the figure ahead made me a little nervous. But that would look too obvious, wouldn't it?
I noticed my feet were planted firmly. I was now stood, gaping at the figure. Embarrassed, I picked up my pace again. There was no need to be obvious about my discomfort. Besides, I was perfectly capable of handling myself.
My legs continued to move, bringing me closer to this hooded stranger. As I approached though, the feeling of discomfort quickly evaporated. And the need to see them, to hear their voice spoken properly became so powerful, so intense, that I knew there was only one person who it could be. No flashbacks. No illusions. Just him.
Before I knew what was happening, I was suddenly in his arms. He was comforting me, whispering my name, stroking my hair. I was hugging him so hard, my arms wrapped around his waist so tightly, afraid he may vanish into thin hair. Again. Then his lips were on mine, kissing me frantically, vigorously. Everything was made clear again. His radiant beacon of light had illuminated all the dark shadows of my life, all the unexplained bizarre events that had ever happened to me. We had been lovers. He had sacrificed everything. He did still love me.
'No,' I whispered, pulling away. 'Why? Why can I remember? Why is everything so clear now?'
'Ana,' his forehead creased, his head ducked slightly so his eyes were level with mine. 'I'll never let you go again. Never.'
'Jester,' I mumbled.
'Jester?' he repeated, confused.
'I have to get back to him,' I frowned, confused. 'What am I doing?'
His grip on me never loosened. 'Who's Jester, Ana?'
'Why did you leave me?'
'I had to Ana. It was for your own safety. You don't know how much it's killed me though. Every night I'd lay awake, see your face in my memories. Your smiling, calm, beautiful face. And I missed you so much. It felt like every breath the wind made, was your name. I heard you everywhere. I saw you everywhere.'
'But you left,' my face crumpled. 'And Jester needs me.'
'Ana,' he pleaded. 'I've lost you once. I'm not prepared to let you go again. Please. I love you.'
'How do I know you're not just another figment of my imagination?' I said flatly.
'Could a figment of your imagination do this?' He pulled me closer to him, stroked the side of my cheek, stared right into my eyes. I felt safe, secure. Then he was kissing me again, his lips soft and sweet against mine. It felt right. Like something I had been searching for for so long had finally been presented to me. Like two halves of a jigsaw piece, compatible only with each other. I nearly collapsed in his grip, sagging against his chest.
When his lips moved to my jawline, I took the opportunity to speak.
'What do you want?' I whispered, all of my willpower slowly crumbling away.
'Come with me,' he murmured against my skin, planting little kisses along my neck, making me shudder and tremble.
'I can't,' I protested weakly. 'I'm needed here.'
'I need you more,' he began moving his hands up my back slowly, expertly.
I couldn't let myself think about Jester. Not now. Not as I let Lukah take me away, through the pouring streets of Paris. As he led me to some destination unknown. As he led me to my own, personal Heaven.