“But why don’t you understand? I have to do this, it’s my only option.”
Martin shakes his head. “No, it’s not. There are other ways for you to do this. You don’t have to go.”
I sigh and take his hand. “Yes, I do. I can’t stay here any longer. This is why I told you not to get close to me, I can never stay in one place for too long. It doesn’t work out.”
“So you’re willing to leave me because you can’t stay in one place too long? You told me not to get close to you, but you also should’ve told yourself not to get close to me,” he says, his voice starting to get that familiar edge to it.
“I have to. I don’t want to…”
“Then don’t. Heather, don’t go. You say you have to, but we both know you don’t want to.”
I look down and try to take my hand away from his, but his grip is too strong. “Whether or not I want to isn’t the point. I don’t have a choice.”
“Then do one last thing for me,” he says gently. “Tell me what you really are.”
I look up, startled. “What do you mean?”
Martin smiles. “You’re a little easier to read than you think you are, Heather. I know that you’re not human, or at least not completely. Before you go, tell me what you really are.”
“However you figured it out, you’re right. I’m not human, and that’s why I have to go. I can’t have people know what I am without being hunted down.”
“Then I’ll protect you. I’ve done it before, I can do it again.”
I smile and shake my head. “It only worked before because you didn’t know that I’m a dryad. But it’s too dangerous for me to stay any longer, I’ve already put you in enough danger as is.” I reach up and take off my heather and birch necklace, the sign of my tribe, and press it into his hand. “Here, take this. It will always remind you of who I am. Whenever you’re missing me, just look into it and you’ll be able to see me.”
Martin takes the necklace and wraps one arm around my waist, pulling me closer. “I’m really going to miss you, Heather.”
I look down. “I know, I’m going to miss you, too. But the Council is calling me, I have to go back.”
Martin leans down to kiss me when I feel the Council’s call again. No matter how hard I try to hold on to Martin, I fade away and vanish, leaving him alone.
“You resisted the call long enough, Heather. The Council has need of you here,” says Willow, the eastern head of the Council.
I sink down to my knees and cry as the Council fades away, leaving me alone inside my home to grieve. This was not supposed to happen. I was not supposed to go there. And above all, I was not supposed to fall in love with a human.