I had not even realized how much time had passed as I blindly followed my father back to the palace. My mind was a disaster as I tried to figure out why in the world I would have even thought about the-
I shuddered, unable to even complete the thought. I tried to think about Zane and how I could even think I would love him. I had only known him for maybe a day. But, knowing he was the one who I had saved when I was sixteen shook my heart. A storm was raging and I had no idea how to calm it.
When I was sixteen and I met Zane in his other form, had he known who I was? Had he found me because of my father? Wait…my father said something about how he had sent someone out to find me and that they had told him I was doing well but that my powers were fluctuating between stable and unstable. This must have been Zane. He had been the one to find me. Did this mean that they really had known where I was this entire time? I didn’t know how I felt about that.
For the last four years, I had imagined the man from the cherry tree. I had thought that he would eventually come back to help me to save me from my mother and my powers. However, I had waited four long years for him to appear. But he never had.
Within those four years, somehow he had become my ideal. Someone I wanted to be able to see in the future. Someone I longed to see once again and ask a myriad of questions to. To find out that this person was Zane, almost destroyed my dreams. I was happy that I finally knew who he was and what his name was. However, I felt cheated that Zane had never seeked me out again.
My dream still lingered. It crept in the corner of my mind and that was when I had realized that for the last four years, I had more than idealized Zane, I had unconsciously fallen in love with who I thought he was. Then, finding out who he was, I had fallen in love with more than just that. I had fallen in love with his take-no-shit personality. This, was what really made me tremble. I had fallen in love with a man.
I wasn’t against the idea of a man loving another man, but I had never thought that I would be the one that it would happen to. Trying not to think on it any longer, I snapped myself out of my thoughts. We were inside the Palace now, we had made it into a room I had not been in before. It was large enough to fit approximately thirty people, and along the walls there was nothing but bookshelves filled with books. One entire wall was a large window with french doors. Even though the sun was just beginning to rise, orange rays of light began to light up the room. My father was sitting in a chair, his hands folded beneath his chin, he looked extremely tired all of a sudden.
The other guys under Zane’s command were not even in the room, the only other person was Zane. It was just the three of us in the room, I sat in one of the vacant chairs and curled my feet beneath me, glancing every once in awhile at Zane. He was leaning against one of the couches, his arms crossed over his chest and a brooding expression on his face.
There was a long moment of silence before my father looked over at Zane and they shared a look. This look held more words than I could imagine. Eventually my father sighed and then leaned back in his chair, his hands dropping to his lap and his face tilted toward the ceiling. Zane also dropped his arms to his side before he walked over to me and sat across from me. The look in his eyes was fierce and I could see nothing in those voids except my reflection.
I looked tired, as if I had no energy left. As if my entire world had just fallen around me and was laying at my feet. Running a hand through my hair, I turned away from those eyes and looked at one of the bookshelves beside me. In the pit of my stomach, I had felt a sensation that made me uncomfortable. I knew that in books they called this sensation ‘butterflies’, but it was nothing like that. It was like a hurricane, a storm nothing could control. It was so fierce, in fact, that I felt my pulse speed up and my body heat. There was nothing I could do but keep my gaze away from his.
The clearing of a throat brought my gaze back to him. His head was tilted slightly, watching my every movement. Like a wolf stalking it’s prey. Before I could avoid that gaze once more, he began to speak. “What do you remember from when you were nine?”
Confused, I felt my eyebrows scrunch together as I searched my memory. Nine was the age that I had first found out about my powers. That was when I had hurt my friend and when I had run away because I was so terrified.
I had run until I collapsed in the dark. I remember destroying a wall and remember losing myself in the power. I thought back to that night and when my eyes met Zane’s, I was still confused.
“I only remember losing the human side of me.” I answered, rubbing a hand up and down my arm, pinpricks of cold shooting through my skin at the memory. “I only remember waking up in my bed with no one around me.”
My father sighed from his chair, when I glanced over at him, his eyes were closed tightly, a scowl on his face. Across from me, Zane had almost the same expression, but he moved a hand out and lightly tapped my knee with a long finger.
“Nothing else?” His voice was soothing as it reached me. The morning sun was coming in through the large windows now. It lit up Zane’s face with deep red and gold hues, sparkling like diamonds within his eyes. His brown hair seemed to be streaked with more silver than it had this morning. Those streaks were also aglow with orange, creating an illusion before me. Zane looked as though he had just stepped out from the folds of the sun. He was bright and exuded more warmth than I had ever felt from anyone.
I closed my eyes, thinking back to that dreadful day until I remembered a little part that I had locked away. Slowly opening my eyes, I trembled. My hands shook as I looked down at them, seeing the vision as clear as if it had just happened.
“Blood was still under my nails.” I whispered, hands shaking like leaves within an autumn wind.
Beneath the surface, I could feel the memories I had locked away trying to escape. They had been chained in the farthest parts of me for so long that the chains that wrapped around them creaked and groaned, but they still did not escape. I still did not know how I had gotten that blood beneath my nails.
A soft knock at the door startled me. My father and Zane didn’t even glance over at the door, my father just sighed saying, “What is it?”
“Her highness has arrived.” Came the voice of the dog looking butler.
My father swore harshly in French, “Merde, la vieille.”
Zane just watched my father amusedly as he shot up out of his seat and stomped around the room. I glanced between the two of them unsure of what I should do. My father was still swearing as he rampaged around the room. He stopped beside me and heaved a sigh so large, it could have extinguished the morning sun.
“Do not do anything stupid!” He warned me in a no nonsense voice. Automatically I sat upright, my feet on the floor and almost saluted him. I resisted the urge, but still replied with a ‘Yes, sir.’ He grumbled under his breath, his long white hair shrinking at a considerably rapid pace before it was cropped shortly to his head and had changed to an almost golden color. Surprised, I just stared at him. He looked a good forty years younger without the white hair. To be honest, when I first met him, I had thought he was the one who I had healed four years ago. But his soul did not feel the same.
My father nodded, breathed in deeply and exhaled. Glancing back at Zane, he moved his eyes slightly, this was enough to make Zane stand up and sit beside me, his thigh almost touching mine. I could feel the heat of him reaching out to me, touching me softly as if it was alive. It took me a moment to realize that I had stopped breathing and had moved slightly closer to Zane. Scowling to myself, I shuffled closer to the edge of my seat, trying to run away from that warmth. Just as I was in the process of moving, the door to the library was suddenly flung open. It hit the wall with a bang and rattled all the book on the shelves.
My father seemed to shrink in on himself as a rather shorter woman stepped across the threshold. She was ageless and was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life. Astonished, I felt my jaw drop. Long black hair cascaded down her shoulders, hitting the base of her back with each step. Fierce grey eyes with gold ringing the pupils glared over the entire room. Her face was not angular but not round, it was somewhere in between that could catch the eyes of all man. Hiding behind her hair, the tips of her ears were pointed and peaking through.
“Where is this grandson of mine!?” This sentence was said with a normal voice, but it echoed through the room violently, shaking everything on the walls with it’s power. As it reached my ears, I felt my heart shake and my soul tremble. Beside me, Zane’s knee bumped into my thigh lightly. This contact zapped me back to myself and I glanced at him gratefully. Remembering my father’s warning, I did not respond and instead waited to see what he wanted to do.
“Mother,” my father began, giving her a low bow. “Keiran is over on the couch by Zane.” My grandmother’s eyes swept the room and froze me to my seat as they landed on me. She harrumphed and then she was directly before me, her hand beneath my chin tilting my head whichever way she pleased as if I was an animal for sale. She tsked loudly, obviously displeased.
“He may have your eyes,” came her soft, musical voice as she examined me. “But he does not have any feature of our race.” She hit the side of my head, close to my ears. “Where are his ears?” Opened my mouth wide, whacking my front teeth. “His teeth?” She knocked a fist into my chest, stealing my breath. “He’s even missing the presence of an incubus! This halfling is a failure! I have no use for failures.”
She glared into my eyes, hers turning a more golden brilliance as her fury rose. She snarled and whipped around, pointing an accusing finger at my father. “Raidon! How could you have birthed such a despicable creature! There is no way I will accept this being in to my family!”
My blood boiled beneath my skin, even the feel of Zane’s knee beside me could not stop what I did next. Not even the feel of his hand, trailing lightly across my back as I stood up stopped me. I found myself off of my seat and my hand on my grandmother’s collar as I lifted her up into the air. My tattoos rippled, spreading across every inch of my skin, I could even feel my eyes change to black. By the time I noticed the silence in the room, my wings had already spread wide, covering almost the entire length of the room with their span.
My grandmother’s vibrant eyes glared into mine, no one else in the room dared to breathe. She did not even resist and my hand trembled near her neck. Glancing up, her eyes locked onto my wings, and then narrowed, glinting with something I couldn’t name.
“Let me go, boy.” She hissed. I didn’t move, my hand still there and my eyes never blinking. She lifted up a small hand and wrapped it around mine. It was an odd contrast, my pitch black skin against her fair white. I couldn’t feel the pressure she exerted, even as I heard the bones breaking in my hand, I did not let go. I could not feel anything at all.
“Keiran,” my father whispered from behind my grandmother, his voice pleading. I ignored him.
“Kei,” The voice was soft in my ear, warmth where nothing else could reach me. I knew it was Zane even before he spoke. It was almost like I could tell where he was in the room without him even speaking. Zane-dar? Haha. Zane continued, his heat transferring into my skin as his hand lightly touched mine “Let your grandmother go.”