I jerk upright, heart pounding, breathing heavy. It’s been years since I’ve had nightmares about the day my mom disappeared, and never have they been in that much detail. I curl up in a ball on my side and focus on slowing down my breathing. It wasn’t real. It wasn’t real. It wasn’t real, I mentally chant over and over and over, trying to convince myself.
After a few minutes, I’m finally calm enough to sit back up. As I do, I rest my hand on something cold and metallic. I look down. There’s a sword, similar to the one my dad’s soldiers wear, lying next to me. The sheath is simple but pretty, onyx with a silver line curving down the center. I’m about to pull out the sword when I hear footsteps approaching. I lay back down and pretend to be asleep.
“Are you sure about this?” I hear Artemis ask.
“Absolutely. Nikki has no need of me as a guardian anymore and I fear that I have ruined our friendship,” comes Wraith’s reply.
“But why stay here?” Artemis asks. “Why not return to another dimension or the humans? You always wanted to be human.”
I hear Wraith scuff his feet against the pavilion floor. “What reason do I have to return to the humans? Nikki is gone, she will stay here with her father and Ryan. There is nothing left for me there.”
“And what is left for you here?” she asks gently.
“Thou art,” he replies softly.
I open one eye and rearrange the pillows so they can’t see me watching them.
Artemis’ dark skin glows with a sudden blush. “Wraith, why would you abandon her? Give Nikki some time to realize that Ryan will not remember her when she returns, then she will come back to you.”
Wraith shakes his head. “She loves him too much. I know now that Shadow Lord had a specific reason for telling him about all of this and allowing him to transition. I am not meant for her anymore.”
Artemis looks away and Wraith reaches out and gently pulls her chin up to meet his gaze. “Artemis, thou hast loved me for a long time now. I know what it is like to pine for the one that thou loves most.”
“And you are still stuck between Nikki and Angelica. Quit teasing me and go with them!”
Wraith shakes his head and puts a hand on either side of her face. “Artemis, thou art the one that that holds my heart. Angelica is gone from me, and Nikki belongs to another. I know that now, and I know that I wish to remain by thy side.” He pauses and takes a deep breath. “But I will not stay without thy permission.”
She sighs and looks down between her feet. “The answer has always been yes, Wraith. My feelings for you have never changed.” She leans forward on her toes and presses her stone lips against his. A feeling grows inside me as I watch. Not jealousy, like I expected, but longing. For the one boy that I’m still holding hope for.
“You will have to tell her,” Artemis says as she pulls away. “That is all on you.”
Wraith nods. “When she wakes.”