Raven II

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2. Burst Bubble

JAKKO-

I followed Aria after she abruptly got up from her chair, giving Thijs an apologetic look while thanking him quietly. I didn't know how she was going to react to the news, but I certainly didn't think she would just leave the table and hide out in her room.

After I had found her, so broken, I knew that I had to do everything in my power to get her back home. Back to the one person she wanted to be with. I ached to know that it wasn't me. I had hurt her, I had added to the pain that had broken her and led her to the state she was in when I found her.

If I had to quietly love her, then so be it. It is the least I can do to make up for the shit I did. When my eyes landed on her, saw her bones stick out against her skin, saw the brokenness in her eyes and how she held on to me desperately, I knew then that I had fucked up. I would treat her like the queen she is, protect her for the rest of my life.

There was a part of me that let my hope run wild when she expressed that she wanted to stay near me and live in the same house as me. Not just the same house, but the same room. It helps with her nightmares when we share a bed, though I wish I could take them from her and let her sleep in peace, without me. My body is in constant pain and my heart threatens to rip itself out of my chest. I want her. I want her to love me. To choose me. I lost that chance long ago. And now, the guilt of moving on without Dastan plagues her. It haunts her and makes itself visible through her eyes. She's not letting herself forget him, though her body is already losing the memories.

The least I can do is get her back before she forgets him completely. After that, I doubt my life would have much meaning.

"Aria?" I close the door behind me and approach her. Her back is toward me as she faces the window. I stop and stand a few feet behind her, just enough so she knows I'm near, but far enough to give her the space she needs.

She turns around slowly and I catch her eyes as they twitch from the heaviness of her tears, "Home?" She signs with her delicate fingers.

I nod.

"Dastan?" A pain jolts through my chest.

I nod.

Her shoulders shake and she runs to me, digging her face into my chest. I swallow the hard lump in my throat before I finally wrap my arms around her slight figure. She constantly drowns herself in large and heavy pieces of clothing, making me swallow my self-hatred as I remember the clothes I would make her wear.

I push us apart and caress her cheeks, wiping the tears with my thumb, "It's not going to be easy." She nods, "But I will be there with you, the entire way." She smiles softly and nods again, leaning into my hand. "You want to do this then?" I bring my hands down to her arms.

She nods.

I lean in to kiss the top of her head and sigh, "We have to leave tomorrow morning."

She looks shocked, “Tomorrow?” She signs.

“Well, yes. What would we be waiting for? We want to get home, don't we?” I was confused, wondering why she almost looked hesitant. She scanned the room slowly before her eyes landed on me again. I could tell she was having an inner battle and her finger twisted together as she fumbled them.

"It's so soon." She signed, I couldn't help but frown at her.

"Aria. It's dangerous, for everyone involved. I know we just created this home, this space for us to be comfortable in, but we can't sit on this news forever." I grabbed her hand and brought her knuckles up to my lips, savoring in a kiss I would have to stop placing on her as soon as we passed back through the portal. She nodded and slipped her hand out of my grasp. "I'll be with Thijs, coming up with a plan, the portal is miles away. It'll be a long journey, you should pack essentials."

She turned away from me, not even acknowledging me with a nod and slipped into the closet. I sighed, knowing that this perfect, well almost perfect, bubble I had created was now ready to burst. I shook my head, wondering if we were emotionally healthy to mourn another loss and face the journey ahead.

"Thijs?" I called out when I didn't find him sitting at the table. I walked around and came into the foyer, where Thijs stood in front of the open front door. He turned to face me when he heard my footsteps and his face was one of panic.

I walked up to him and took the door from his hand, opening it wider and coming face to face with Zenon and Adelaide. I scowled and growled, "Well. That's a nice welcome." Zenon grumbled. He took a step forward trying to walk inside, but I stood squarely on the doorway. There was no space for him to walk through.

"It's been two years." Adelaide whispered, I could see the pain in her eyes.

"Two fucking years." Zenon growled near my ear.

"Eternity itself would not be long enough for Aria." I growled back. Zenon straightened his body and I could see the tension that increased in his chest and arms, he wanted to hit me. I smirked, knowing that I could take the hit and it would only work to increase the distance between him and Aria.

"She should tell us that herself. We will leave her alone after that." Adelaide looked angrily at her husband before turning to me.

"The fuck we won't." Zenon turned angrily to his wife, his stubbornness creeping out.

"You left her alone once before, I'm sure you won't find it so hard a second time." Zenon growled before he threw his elbow back and landed a cracking punch right to my nose. I grunted as I took in the pain and took a step back, covering my face.

A gasp came from behind me and we all turned wide-eyed to a very angry and surprised Aria.

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