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  • Home > Samantha Young > The Tale of Lunarmorte > River Cast (Page 22)     
  • River Cast(The Tale of Lunarmorte #2)(22) by Samantha Young
  • Jae watched it all unfold in shock, waiting for her father’s reaction. Instead of getting angry, however, Dimitri merely placed a placating hand on Ryder’s shoulder. “Christian doesn’t mean any harm. He’s just been worried sick about his sister.”

    “Jaeden’s been through hell. I won’t have her attacked.”

    Her dad quirked an eyebrow. “Oh you won’t, will you? And why is that?”

    Julia sighed impatiently. “Boys. Arrggh.” She turned to her daughter, her eyes bright with love. “I think it’s best someone says the right thing.” Her mother strode towards her and gripped her by the arms. “I’m sorry you felt you had to go through this alone. But you’re not alone. You’re home now and we are going to help you get through this. We love you. Nothing could ever stop us from loving you.”

    Jaeden felt that ache in her chest implode, the remnants spreading out into a tidal wave of relief.

    “Thank you,” she managed.

    Julia nodded, tears glistening in her eyes, and then turned to gaze kindly at Reuben. “Thank you, Reuben, for being there for her when we couldn’t.”

    “It was my pleasure. You have an extraordinary daughter.”

    Jae blushed at the compliment before looking anxiously towards her father.

    “You’re home now, sweetheart. That’s all that matters.”

    “Thank you, daddy.”

    “Jae.” Christian brushed past Ryder, who still looked ready to pounce on anyone that caused her any harm. “I’m sorry,” he grumbled and then pulled her tight for another hug. “But I swear to Artemis if you ever pull anything like that again I will kick your ass.”

    “Like you could.”

    He laughed weakly and pushed her playfully away.

    “So,” her father’s voice brought all eyes back to him, “Now that’s settled, I want to know what on earth is going on between my daughter and you,” his eyes burned into Ryder, who blanched, throwing Jae a helpless look.

    “Dad...”

    “Because if it’s what I’m thinking it is, I am not going to be happy.” He clamped a hard hand on Ryder’s shoulder and tugged him threateningly close. “Either you’ve done something that’s going to get you killed, or you’re about to do something that’s going to get you killed. I just got her back, Ryder. I’d hate to think you’re thinking what I think you’re thinking.”

    Lucia snorted. “Am I the only one confused?”

    She was met by a chorus of ‘no’s’.

    Julia wandered cautiously back to her mate. “Dimitri, would you care to tell me what’s going on?”

    His gaze was firmly locked on Ryder, and Jaeden began to worry for his safety. “Dad, maybe you could let go of Ryder.”

    “Dimitri, tell me.”

    “Dad-”

    “Dimitri-”

    “Ryder here!” her dad yelled, causing Ryder’s eyes to widen and then wince as if waiting for the blow. The only one he felt was the huff of air her father expelled before releasing him completely, sighing heavily and turning to gaze back her.

    He knew.

    How did he always know these things?

    “Ryder here is going to ask our permission to court Jaeden. They think they’re mates.”

    Everyone exploded into conversation, except Reuben, who actually appeared to be watching on as if fascinated. That confused Jae, who would have thought that the reminder that she belonged to someone else would piss him off. However, he didn’t look at all bothered. Merely bemused by the ruckus her family were causing. She didn’t have time to ponder how weird that was, because Julia and Lucia were hugging her tightly, exclaiming happily. Her father and brother on the other hand were glaring at Ryder like they wanted to rip his head off. She couldn’t leave him there to stand alone. It wasn’t right.

    Heaving a sigh of her own, she marched across the space to take hold of Ryder’s hand. He nodded gratefully and squeezed tight. “This isn’t going exactly to plan,” he murmured, even though they could hear with their super sensitive ears.

    Jae chuckled humorlessly. “Nothing ever does.”

    13 - The Proposition

    Strange, how over the last few days she had become something of a favorite at the Center, and with that new found status her loneliness had only intensified.

    One young magik approached Caia on a dare and had been surprised and relieved to find out how friendly she was. From then word had spread that the half-Midnight in their midst wasn’t actually the daemon they’d thought. Gradually others had come forward to talk with her, and now she found herself with a constant cloud of groupies under her feet.

    The silence here was particularly wonderful.

    She sighed, resting her head back against the pew she crouched in front of, hidden behind it and from anyone who decided to enter the altar. Desperate for the possibility to be able to breathe in air that others weren’t sucking out of her immediate vicinity, Caia had remembered Marion telling her about the altars. Maybe she should have paid a visit to Artemis, but she’d found herself entering the quiet marble sanctuary of Gaia instead. This was the goddess who had made her existence possible after all.

    There was no doubt in her mind that in this place of worship Gaia could hear her. But what was there to say? She had only questions that required answers, and being trapped on Mount Olympus kind of cut off Gaia’s vocal chords here on earth. If she wanted something, perhaps then Gaia could see that it was done, but what she wanted even Gaia couldn’t give her.

    Not being able to confide in anyone had brought on a fresh wave of grief over losing Sebastian. If she’d been given the chance to tell Seb she thought Midnights might not be so bad after all... he’d have believed her. No questions asked.

    A flash image of him lying on the truck bed with his stomach torn to pieces, telling her he loved her, burned behind her eyelids and Caia felt her chest tighten around her lungs. She found herself dragging in air just to catch a breath.

    Sebastian.

    She choked on a sob, clapping her hand against her lips to quiet the sound in the peace of the altar. What she wanted was her friend back, the most loyal friend she had ever had, but Gaia couldn’t give her that. And truthfully she didn’t deserve him back. She was failing miserably at whatever it was the prophecy said she was supposed to be doing.

    She’d begun to fail when Sebastian had drawn his last breath.

    Prying her eyes open, Caia slowly lifted her gaze to the marble statue of Gaia that presided over the altar in its center. Her face, though cold to the touch, was lit with a warmth that should have soothed a desperate soul. Instead it only frustrated Caia more. Gaia’s eyes bored into her with a mixture of sympathy and impatience.

    “Tell me what you want from me?”

    “You know, there was once a time the goddess Herself would have answered you.”

    Caia gasped in fright and looked up from her crouched position to see Vanne gazing down at her.

    “You scared me.” She drew in a shuddering breath as she clambered to her feet. Even standing the magik towered above her with almost as much intimidation as Lucien.

    His mouth quirked into a small smile, his eyes soft on her. “I’m sorry.”

    A moment of awkward silence ensued.

    Vanne cleared his throat and glanced from her to the marble statue. “I didn’t mean to disrupt... I like to come in here and gaze at her when things feel...”

    “Overwhelming?”

    He threw her a self-deprecating smile. “Yes. Overwhelming. She has such a soothing presence for a piece of a marble.”

    Caia nodded. “I thought so at first.”

    “Caia.” He suddenly leaned in close, his strong hand gripping her upper arm intently. She flinched back merely from the change in his demeanor, which was usually so light-hearted, as if he didn’t take any of this seriously. Now he was serious. “I think She would tell you the one simple truth that we all like to pass off as cliché.”

    For some reason she found herself leaning closer to him, desperate for any kind of guidance, no matter the source.

    “She would tell you that in the end we only have ourselves, no matter how many friends, allies, or loved ones are in our lives. You have to trust yourself before you can trust anyone else. Trust yourself, Caia. Do what you think is the right thing to do.”

    “And the prophecy?”

    “Why don’t you stop looking so far ahead? Stick with the now and see where that takes you.”

    Vanne was right. Caia had already decided she needed to find the boy, Vilhelm, so she could determine how he felt about Laila; maybe find an ally in him and get him to help her free Laila. The last few days that resolve had withered under paralyzing self-doubt, but surprisingly, and completely out of nowhere, Vanne had helped her.

    Who saw that coming?

    “Ooh, Caia!”

    She turned and pasted a bright smile on her face as she entered the communication hall only to be beset by a couple of her groupies. Desdemona and Ophelia were nineteen year old twins who looked a little like her. They were both small in stature with long blonde hair and green eyes, and had decided that this made them all like sisters.

    Eek.

    Caia wanted to grimace at their puppy dog enthusiasm but managed to control the urge. The girls were Caia’s complete opposite, bubbly, outgoing, perhaps a little annoying… but they were sweet. And they actually thought they had something to learn from Caia, which was just so...

    “Ooh, Caia!” Desi repeated, rushing at her and throwing her arms around her, causing all of her classmates to stop and stare. Once Caia was free from her, Ophelia entrapped her in one of her own girlish hugs.

    “I can’t believe you’ve to come to one of our classes!”

    It was true she had spent all of her time in the advanced classes, such as natural materialization and water element lectures, but after spending the last day and a half strolling through them all, trying not to make it obvious she was looking for someone, she still hadn’t found Vilhelm. It was then it had occurred to her at lunch yesterday, when Ophelia had bemoaned her and her sister’s loser-like place in the Center’s posse system, Caia had only been in the beginners and intermediate classes for communication spells. Apparently at the Center there was an advanced communication spell class and an advanced specialist communication spell class. Desi and Ophelia were advanced specialists, meaning that neither of them had shown much aptitude in natural materialization or glamour. They were extremely adept at utilizing their element, which for them was air, and excellent at communication spells. They were what the Center called Travellers. While most magiks used the communication spell to journey quickly between places they were familiar with in order to relay information, Travellers could journey anywhere for long periods of time whether they had been there before or not. Caia thought it was pretty damn neat, but other magiks were kind of snobby. Because they couldn’t really do much of anything else they were, well, outcasts.

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