“Who is it?” I called, knowing full well who was on the other side of my door.
“Elijah, please,” her genuine concern permeated through to my ears.
I sighed, breaking the flow of Essence that surrounded me. “Come in,” I requested without opening my eyes.
Solana stepped in with small, careful strides. It was comforting to see her this way, but I couldn’t express it because I was so wrapped up in my anger.
“Is it time to train?” I asked, my eyes closed, and my head not turning to her.
“No. It’s not.”
“Then why are you here?”
Solana sat beside me. Her blonde hair brushed against my shoulder like a feather. “You know that I want to help you find your parents. So, yes. You were right. I purposely left you plenty of time to eavesdrop on Celeste. I really didn’t think you’d look the other way at it, either. You’ve become so much more in-tune with Essence, and I just want to say that I’m proud of you.”
“That makes one of us.”
Solana staggered at my response, “What do you mean?”
I took another sigh, “I haven’t changed Solana. I haven’t changed one bit. I’m still that crybaby who has been begging the world for something that was taken from me years ago. No matter what, at the front of my mind is that drive to search. Coming to the Castle was a mistake. Everything I have done up to this point was stupid. I should’ve stayed in Old Tenebris.”
I didn’t have to look at Solana to feel her fist clenching. Her Essence was simmering with aggravation. Her skin seemed to boil at my words.
“Don’t ever say that again.”
“What? That joining the Order was a mistake?”
“That everything you have done was stupid.”
Shocked, I opened an eye and looked her way. Solana’s eyes were trained on the side of my face earnestly.
“If you never came to this Castle, you would never have found out all of this information regarding your missing parents. Before you came here, you had no leads, and now look,” she pointed to the metal case on my counter. “You would’ve never found that without joining the Order. And...you would never find out what I’m about to tell you.”
“So you were keeping something from me.”
“Not because of my own choice. These aren’t my words. They’re Celeste’s, which is why I had you spy on her. She should have been the one to tell you this, not me. It’s something that eats away at her, and it involves you too. You deserve to know what’s going on.”
“You’re only doing this because I saw right through your lie,” I said bitterly.
“No, I’m not. I tried getting Celeste to open up to you about this, but it’s been consuming her ever since she returned from New Perfi. It was ever since she saw your face and heard your name. When you two first met and Celeste ran away, I chased her, looking for an explanation. She told me everything. And now, I’m going to tell you. So you better pay attention.”
Solana took a deep inhale. However, before she could begin speaking, I held my finger over her lips. Both of my eyes opened, and I turned my head directly at her.
“Don’t,” I told her.
“What? But it’s information you need to—”
“That doesn’t matter,” I turned back to the mirror that stood across the room. “It doesn’t matter if it means I’m going to end up hurting someone again. I can’t keep going if finding what I’m looking for brings pain to those around me, the people that I am lucky to call my friends.” I began to choke up, “You could offer me my parents back, but if it puts you, or Celeste, or Wyatt in danger, I would refuse.”
“I understand,” Solana smiled, watching her reflection in the mirror as well. “You value your friends now above anything. You cherish the family that is here more than the one that might not have been drawn into the picture just yet. That’s a great philosophy to live by.”
“Yeah, it really is.”
Our heads turned towards the door to my room to see a brunette standing in the doorway. I didn’t even notice that Solana left it open. Perhaps I was so entranced by our conversation that I failed to pay attention to everything around me. She looked upon me with a solemn, blank gaze, and she leaned against the door hinges.
How much of that did Celeste hear? Solana nearly exposed all of her secrets, and her she was, eavesdropping. Funny, because Celeste was just in the same predicament only moments ago. But still, why was she here, in my room, of all places?