I was on bed rest for the rest of the weekend but I was at least well enough to go into work on Monday morning. The biggest downside about making an appearance at the paper was that I had to hitch a ride from Randall and couldn’t walk without a pair of crutches. I tried to act like everything was normal in hopes of avoiding the sympathy looks that I was bound to get, but it was a little hard when I couldn’t even walk on my own.
“Dammit, this sucks,” I muttered after the fourth person apologized for my accident during the short trip from the door to my office.
Randall laughed. “That just means that people care.”
I glared at him and smacked him in the butt with one of my crutches. “Don’t be a smartass, butt-brain. I’ve had a hell of a weekend and you’re not helping the situation at all.”
He hopped up onto my desk and started swinging his legs in my face. “Oh, c’mon, Ly. Can’t you have at least a little bit of fun?”
My eyes narrowed dangerously. “Fun? Randall, you can’t be serious. What part of my weekend was even remotely fun?”
“You got to meet Cassiopeia,” he answered happily without missing a beat.
Okay, so that wasn’t too terrible but I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction. I made a disgusted face in his direction and spun my chair away from him. “Fine, so the entire thing didn’t suck. But you do have to admit that I have leniency to act at least a little bitchy for the next few days.”
“Mm-hmm. I’ll give you the next couple of hours but once lunch comes I want all of your bitchiness to be totally gone. I’ve got a special surprise for you.” I didn’t like the sound of that but I had enough work to keep me occupied and not worry about whatever he had planned.
I was working on my latest assignment, one that kept me glued to my desk for the whole day, when Max walked in. She smiled and sat on the extra chair in my office. “Glad to see you’re back on your feet.”
“Define ‘on your feet’,” I joked.
She laughed and patted my knee gently. “Just a few more days and you’ll be as good as new.”
I arched one brow. “You’re a very strange big sister, you know that?”
Max frowned slightly, clearly confused by my accusation. “How so?”
“Well any normal sister would be giving me crap for the stupid accident and for being stuck here. You, on the other hand, are being supportive of me. That’s just weird.”
Her blinding smile was back in an instant. “Sorry to disappoint, Lyra-Rose. I can’t help it if I actually care about my baby sister. You’re the only one I have and I love you.”
Tears sprang into my eyes. How was it possible that one of my sisters could be so sentimental that she made me cry and the other tried to kill me? My life just got more screwed up every day.
Max turned to leave but paused at the threshold. “Oh, hey, I came in here to ask you something. Do you know a girl named Vega?”
My blood ran cold and I felt sick. “V-Vega?”
“Yeah. I ran into her when I was dropping of Mackenzie. She saw me and started asking about you. She said that she was a friend of yours from a long time ago but I don’t remember her.”
“N-no. I don’t have any friends named Vega,” I said honestly.
“Oh, just checking,” she replied over her shoulder as she walked out.
I gnawed nervously at my bottom lip for the next twenty minutes until Randall walked in to kidnap me for lunch. His eyes immediately narrowed on my teeth sinking into my skin and his happy smile fell. “What happened?” he demanded without any preamble.
“Max stopped by earlier,” I answered, my voice as blank as my eyes. “She was worried about me and she started saying that she wanted me to get better and how much she loved me.”
He blinked in confusion. “Wait. That’s a good thing, right?”
I gave him a shaky smile and took a deep breath. “Yeah, it is. I honestly never realized that my sister cared that much about me.”
Randall pulled me into a hug. “Of course she cares about you, Lyra. What’s not to love?”
I threw my arms around his neck and sniffled into his shoulder. “Maxine told me she loves me and that’s why I’m so freaked. Vega knows about her.”
He pulled back and his eyes widened. “What? Lyra, are you sure?”
I nodded, biting my lower lip until it started bleeding. “Positive. Vega talked to her at Mac’s school. My sister told me when she came by. She’s in danger because of what I am, Randall. It’s not just my life at risk anymore.”
He squeezed my shoulder tightly. “It’s going to be okay, Lyra. You’re going to be okay.” He wiped my tear-stained cheeks with the sleeves of his shirt and hugged my petite frame against his toned chest. “C’mon, we’re going to go talk with Cassi and Michael. Stop crying. You don’t want anyone to know that you were crying.”
I closed my eyes and took a few shallow breaths before the waterworks stopped. I dabbed at my red-rimmed eyes with a tissue and blew my runny nose before I plastered on a happy face as I walked through the third floor offices that housed the paper and the first floor that held the studio. The second we climbed into Randall’s car, I let my face fall and didn’t care about looking like total crap.
I became oblivious to my surroundings the moment we drove away from the office. I stared blankly ahead without seeing anything, lost in my own world of worry for what would happen to my sister and my niece. My imagination ran away with me as I thought of the horrors that Vega would be able to inflict on my completely human family to the point where I felt sick to my stomach.
My eyes slowly came into focus but my brain was still a little slow in processing. All I could see in front of me were dark shapes lost in the haze of my mind.
“Lyra? Lyra! Come on, Lyra-Rose, you have to snap out of it.”
“That’s not going to work. She’s scared shitless and shouting at her won’t help anything.”
“Scared? It’s way more than that, Randall,” a soft female voice argued. Some part of my brain was glad to know I wasn’t surrounded by a bunch of guys in my near comatose state. “She’s on the verge of breaking. If this is what happens with a simple threat then Vega-”
“That is enough, Cassiopeia,” the first voice snapped sounding tense.
Randall? Cassiopeia? The tiny portion of my brain that was still functioning properly recognized the names and that rational part became relieved that I knew the people that were frantically trying to get my attention. And if Randall and Cassiopeia were here then that meant the first person that had spoken was… “Michael?” I murmured, my voice scratchy as sandpaper.
I blinked and my blurry vision slowly cleared. Randall engulfed me in a tight hug, a clear look of relief in his baby blues. Even Cassi looked like she was exuberant that I was back in my own head.
Then there was Michael. The worry was clear on his face and I could literally read his thoughts in his stormy silver eyes as if he was speaking directly into my mind. You scared me, they confessed.
I’m sorry, my own answered back silently.
I thought that Vega had somehow gotten to you.
I choked back a sob. She kinda did.
I know. But it is you that I am worried about.
Sorry, I grimaced again. It was strange to be able to have a full conversation with just one look but it felt natural somehow.
He let out a deep sigh. “You are fine now. That is what is important at the moment.”
I shook my head and a few tears slipped from the corners of my eyes. “No, I’m not. She’s going after my family and I don’t know how to stop her. Why is she doing this to me? I never did anything to her, did I?”
Randall released me from his grip and went to stand by his girlfriend and Michael took his vacant spot in front of me. His palms gently rested on either side of my face and his grey eyes bore solidly into mine, searching for something. “Cassi, show her,” he said finally without taking his gaze from away from me.
She came to my side and gently peeled me away from Michael. I ripped my gaze from him and settled on her chocolate brown eyes. There was a small crease in her forehead as she concentrated on whatever it was that I was meant to see. “Okay, this one’s going to be a little tougher than the last one. You really have to focus on me if you feel like you’re getting lost. And just remember that nothing can hurt you.”
I nodded nervously but I was ready this time. I needed to know why Vega hated me so much. I needed to find a way to protect my family from this lifetime no matter the cost.
The color of Cassi’s eyes began to melt and swirl like chocolate fondue. I got lost in their depths until the dark color was all I could see. I blinked once and when I opened my eyes I saw myself stretched out on the grassy bank of a crystal clear creek. The young girl wore a simple white dress and her red-blonde waves were pinned back with a pair of pink orchids. She stared at the smooth water, blue as her eyes, and absently placed red rose petals on the surface.
“Lyra, let us go. Mother wants you.”
I looked up to see Vega glaring down at the past me near the water. The girl’s gaze flickered upward and she sighed. “Yes, Sister. I am coming.”
Vega rolled her turquoise eyes. “I do not see what is so fascinating about your humans. Why can you not be like the rest of us?”
“Because that is not who I am. I love the humans. Besides, I do not see why you so adore the titans.”
The older girl smirked. “My titans actually come close to being godly. Your humans are pests, sister. They are weak and useless.”
The other Lyra stood on bare feet and danced away from the pond. Cassiopeia and I followed her and Vega as they made their way through an intricate maze of every plant imaginable. The two stopped in the center of the maze where an older woman with darker red hair, lilac eyes, and a tall, thin physique sat on what looked like a marble throne.
“You wanted me, Mother?”
“Lyra, your sister tells me that you have been at the window again.”
She paled noticeably. “Yes, I have. I do enjoy watching the humans.”
The girls’ mother narrowed her eyes. “You are a goddess, Daughter, and it is time that you act like one. You have responsibilities here. You will become the leader of the Council and I do not want you to have anything to do with the humans. Leave them to their own devices until they die out.”
“I will not,” she said stubbornly. “Please, Mother, do not do this. I do not want to lead your pretentious group of dignitaries.”
The older woman pursed her lips for a moment and glanced between her two daughters. “Hmm, I think I will allow you one chance to keep the humans, Lyra. If they can prove to be more beneficial than Vega’s titans, I will let you keep them. Vega, if your sister succeeds, you will be the one to charge of the Council.”
Vega’s jaw snapped shut. “But, Mother, then I will have to abandon the titans. Let me keep my pets.”
“Only one of you may keep your… creations and the other must join the Council. I will make the decision.”
The pair of sisters nodded and slowly made their way back through the maze. Vega stopped at the entrance and turned, cutting of her younger sister’s escape. “How dare you, Lyra? You just could not leave well enough alone? My titans will crush your humans.”
“I will not let them,” she replied back. I was amazed that this other me was so confident, so fearless against Vega; I guess it kind of helped that she actually had some godly power though.
“It is war then, little sister.”
“So be it.”
I stared in shock for several long seconds before the scene began to shift again. We were back at the creek only this time Michael was there with the other Lyra. He sat on the bank throwing pebbles into the water and watching as she walked back and forth over the river rocks. “Your sister is not very happy with you.”
“I do not care. I refuse to give up on the humans.”
Michael shrugged. He looked younger sitting by that creek, almost carefree. “Are you sure that it is a good idea to compete with Vega?”
She smiled wryly. “I am not afraid of my sister. She likes you, you know.”
He shrugged. “Vega is not my type of girl. And I do not want to see you get hurt by your sister.”
“Oh? Then who is your type? Is she a goddess? Another immortal? Dare I say one of my humans?”
He laughed. “Go back to watching your humans, Lyra.”
Her sapphire eyes sparkled with excitement and she smiled widely. “If you so insist,” she said easily turning back to gaze into the clear water at her feet. “However, I know you and I will discover who it is that you harbor feelings for,” she tossed over her shoulder at him.
Everything faded for a moment and then I was looking into the brown pools of Cassi’s eyes. I blinked and slowly relinquished the hold I had on her hands. I let out a deep sigh and turned to the others. “So who won?”
“What?” Randall asked.
My gaze focused on Michael. “The contest about which sister wouldn’t have to be on the Council. Who won?”
“Ah, that,” he said carefully. “You watched Earth pretty carefully after Thesis made that announcement to make sure that your humans won. It was then that you decided that you wanted to become one of them. You ran away shortly after and that is what started your different lives.”
“So…?” That wasn’t exactly an answer.
“It never ended. When you left, you mother sent out soldiers to get you back. After a few decades, she decided to let Vega try her hand.”
“That’s why she hates me so much. She thought I was standing in her way from leading her titans.”
Michael nodded. “Yes, that was part of it. She was also jealous of you.”
“Of me?” I asked in shock. “Why would she be jealous of me?”
“She thought that you were Thesis’ favorite. You saw that Thesis considered making Vega the Council leader the second your past life objected. Your sister is the jealous type, obviously.”
“So what am I supposed to do? Just let her get away with whatever she’s planning? I am so not the same girl that I was before I became human. If Vega really wants me dead, it’s probably not going to be all that hard.”
He grabbed my shoulders to stop my little rant. “Do not think like that, Lyra-Rose. I will not let anything happen to you.”
I glanced up at him through my pale lashes. “And what about my sister? Or my parents? Are you going to protect them, too?”
“I will not let you get hurt in any way,” he answered, although I noticed that it wasn’t exactly what I was asking.