Destined to Crave(4)

By: Setta Jay

“So the answer would be no.”

He raised a hand in entreaty. “Don’t worry so much. As soon as we’re mated, you’ll be free to go there, too. So what if you get to enjoy them a little sooner?”

Eventually, they would share everything. They’d become two halves of a whole, stronger than they’d ever been before.

“We need to talk, Rykr.” She subconsciously brought the vines to her chest as she turned toward her favorite seat by the lake. It was no more than a rock with a flat spot on the top, but it was her sacred thinking spot.

She sat on the stone surface, reverently settling the flowers at her side.

His wings were still unfurled, so he stood a few feet in front of her, his hands planted on narrow, denim-clad hips. His chest was bare, showing the lean muscle of a teenager.

After a second, he groaned. “You really need to stop overthinking this, Lucy. There’s no reason we can’t see each other until I turn twenty. It doesn’t make any sense.”

“That’s not happening,” she stated. Already there were issues she wasn’t sure would play out well when she turned twenty, the biggest being that, technically, she and Rykr had already touched. She’d held him as a baby, and he’d taken her flying when he was eight, all before either of them had any clue why they’d always felt so connected.

As children of the twelve powerful Guardians of Earth, they’d all been raised together, secreted from the world. There wasn’t a Guardian parent who wasn’t rabid about keeping their young safe. As the oldest of all the kids, she’d spent most of her young life helping watch over the rest. They all looked up to her, so it hadn’t seemed odd that she and Rykr were attached at the hip for years.

Once she figured it out—or more accurately, one of the Guardian healers, Sirena, had figured it out—several years ago, their DNA had been checked to confirm they were, indeed, mates.

Lucy ignored his argument as she tried to get her thoughts together. She pinched the bridge of her nose. There was no telling how messed up things were about to get. Already something was wrong with her powers. It was as if she were being punished for finding him too soon.

Rykr’s wings trailed in the tall grass at his feet as he paced. “Lucy—”

“No. We can’t see each other after this. I’ve already lost one power, and nobody knows why.” Her light was gone. The pure white magic wouldn’t flicker to life inside her anymore, no matter how hard she tried, and it felt like a hole was torn in her soul because of it. The healers didn’t know what to do. No Immortal had ever lost an ability before. It wasn’t supposed to happen, especially when she was reaching the point of her maximum personal potential. A part of her thought it might come back on her birthday, but that could have been wishful thinking. All she knew was that losing her greatest ability cut her deeply, and she didn’t want to see him in that kind of pain.

“I don’t think it’s gone because of our connection. The healers are just guessing,” Rykr said emphatically. “It makes more sense that you used the power in the way it was meant to be used. I’m sorry it’s gone because I know it hurts you not to have it. I hate that, but you’ve used more power than any full Immortal had access to over the last few years. Your light freed thousands of beasts from the evil that enslaved them and created balance in Hell Realm. There isn’t any more tainted blood to get rid of.”

This wasn’t the first time he’d shared that particular theory, and it had validity. But it didn’t feel right for the power to just be gone. Yes, she’d freed the creatures of Hell from the blood magic used by the vile beings who’d thankfully died during the end of the world. It wasn’t lost on her or anyone else that her light had been what had righted the wrong in a Realm known for being dark. But Hell beasts weren’t inherently evil. They couldn’t be blamed for what they were compelled to do while enslaved.

She’d restored order over the years, nearly burning out many times. It had felt right, no matter how relentlessly she’d worried her parents with her compulsion to heal the creatures. She was proud of her accomplishment, proud that she’d done something good for their world. The beasts now served the purpose they were born to—feeding on the malevolence of the damned souls sent there. Even now, souls sent to Hell were finally being purged of darkness so that they could break into a thousand pieces for rebirth on Earth.

She shook off those thoughts and focused on what she needed to do. Rykr was staring at her, smiling, and she hated that she’d be the one to wipe that expression away.