CHAPTER TWENTY TWO
Black spots filled my vision, no sound echoed in my ears. No taste came to my tongue, no feeling racked my body, and no smell surrounded me. These welcoming black dots were calling me to join them in the dark. I wanted to obey and follow but my body wouldn’t move. Something was holding me back, telling me to open my eyes and get away from my welcomers. My body obeyed that thing. My senses returned one by one.
The aroma of blood; soft hands cradling my cheeks; the taste of sweat dancing on my tongue. Agonizing pain welling up in the depths of my body, it hurt more than if a thirty ton meteor crashed down on me. Someone was talking to me.
“Stay with me. You’re going to be okay. Just stay with me. Please.” Rustling beside me; hands disappear form my cheeks. My eyelids flickered, and Jax made a noise that was almost a growl, his panther was on the surface.
“Echo,” he snarled, grabbing both my arms, his claws were light but also harsh on my skin. “I’m not losing you this close to home.” I couldn’t answer, I wanted to tell him that I was okay, that he didn’t need to worry any longer.
Jax rose, pulling me to my feet, I stumbled. His pupils were just mere slits in his green eyes and his skin was beginning to change to fur. Before I could even register what was going on, he pressed his lips to mine. The numbness and pain shattered. My brain was aching from the use of my new powers but having him this close to me, I couldn’t resist lacing my arms around his neck. I kissed him back, feeling his arms around me, the warmth from his skin seeping into my body. When we finally pulled back, I was breathing hard, and his heart raced under my fingers from where my hand laid on his chest. Jax sighed and touched his forehead to mine.
“Thank the Fates, you’re back.” He lifted my hand in his and traced the new shadows that marked my skin. He kissed the bear on the inside of my right wrist, closing his eyes, he sighed. I pulled slightly away from him and looked over at Juni and Sam. They had gathered all of the people we had fought earlier and tied their hands together. Curled into a ball in a corner of the room was Nergal. He had his arms wrapped around hi head and was rocking back and forth. The barrier around us dissipated and suddenly we were back in my old house, the front door burst open and Dr. Holloway, my mother and Mr. Parker stood their. As they took in all of us, standing in the room and the fifteen people tied up, their mouths dropped open.
“What in the world happened?” Dr Holloway asked. Mr. Parker took in everything around him.
“Even though to us it looks like they had been gone not even a minute. It appears that they have won.” He muttered to himself. I looked over at my mother as her eyes found mine. She ran over to me and traced the new shadows marking my skin.
“Echo,” she pet my hair, checking me for cuts, “are you alright?” I smiled at her and grabbed her hand squeezing it.
“I’m alright, mom.” She smiled and put her hands back to her sides.
From one side of the room, where the door to the bathroom usually was, a trend in space opened and my father stepped through. My mother squealed in happiness and ran into his arms. Dr. Holloway was checking each othe fifteen men and womens conditions. Juni and Sam were talking to each other and to the doctor. Another rend opened up inside the room and my three aunts stepped through. Atropos was the first to come through. She spotted my father first. The scream she gave was girly and happy. My father let go of my other and grinned at his youngest sister as she threw herself into his arms. He spun her around as she happily giggled.
My second sunt went over to Nergal and checked on him, nodding when she found he had no response to someone being near him. Clotho stood as the last of her rend began to close. She smiled at me and looked over at her older brother and youngest triplet. She walked over to them. Janus set Atropos down and smiled at his sister. Expecting the same reaction, he put his arms out for a hug. She smiled and walked closer, then slapped him across the face. My dad put a hand to his face, shocked.
“Long time no see to you too, Clotho.”
“Brother,” Clotho breathed, crossing her arms over her chest. “You seem to be doing well.” He chuckled and pulled her in for a hug anyway. She smiled into his shoulder and hugged him back. Atropos was dancing around Sam and Juni, chatting happily and exclaiming over Juni’s butterfly wings. My mom was talking to Lachesis by Nergal. She whispered something and laid her hands on his prone form. Nergal shivered, looked up, his eyes completely blank.
Clotho wandered over to where I sat on the floor with Jax, she held out her hand and I let her help me up. “You kept your promise,” she beamed. I smiled at her. “With his memories gone, the three of us can now form him however we wish. Thank you, nephew.” I looked over at Jax, and grabbed his hand.
“I could never have done it alone.” I whispered. He smiled brightly at me and gripped my hand in his. It was all over. At last, we could truly go home.
I sat in the music room, my hands on the keyboard, waiting for inspiration to come. I sighed and looked out the window. From the third story I could see my mother and father walking arm in arm across the courtyard. I smiled, it was a blessing to actually have parents in your life. I was still getting to know them but I already loved them. On one of the bench seats I could see Ethan’s bright orange hair and Holly’s locks. After they had been taken and began to teach me how to fight, they hand found that they had a lot in common. They were just beginning their own tale of romance.
Across the courtyard, I could see Juni. She could now call her wings whenever she felt like it. Her eyes forever that bright silver color. Sam came running across the grounds and stopped her. She yelled something at him and he put up his hands in his defense. He was laughing and I could see her grin from here. Those two had their own stories to tell, whether they walked them together or not was up to them. The door opened behind me, and Jax walked in. Just seeing him, my heart swelled.
“It doesn’t make sense to be trembling from happiness.” I whispered to him as he sat beside me on the bench seat. I wanted to hate it. When I’m nauseous from suffering so long, the beautiful tone of the notes echoes, catching me so that I can’t tear away. Love and loneliness, the sound, and the entire world; they melt into one, becoming everything and yet nothing at all.
“Hey,” he whispered, taking my right hand into his left. I could feel him invading my soul. He stroked his thumb across the bear on my wrist. “I still haven’t heard you tell me that you love me.” I looked into his green eyes, and found that I could be lost in them forever. He whispered, close to my ear, “Then it’ll all be over.”
“I’m a bit afraid to put it into words, you know.” I whispered back, looking at our linked hands. “When I try to say it, my throat gets blocked up and the words won’t come out.” He ran a finger up my darkness tattoos.
“I’ll catch you.” He promised, the truth flowing from his voice. “No matter where you fall.” He came in close, his eyes watching mine. From our lips it flowed, our song.
“I love you.” I whispered, strength in my voice. On the keyboard, our hands touched, trembled and became a chord. A beautiful sound of life and love, and nothing else mattered. We all had our own secrets within that last resounding sound.