“Shh. It is okay. I have her,” someone whispered close to my head. My eyes fluttered slightly but everything was super blurry so I could only see shadows.
There was movement around me like I was on a boat or something. I was gently lowered to the soft mattress and the movement stopped. I moaned in my semi-awake stage of sleep and leaned into something rock hard and irresistibly warm. My arms wrapped around whatever I was leaning into and I sighed in content.
“Lyra. You are home. Get some sleep.”
A pair of hands gently tried to pry me away from the warm thing I was holding but I gripped tighter. “No. Don’t go,” I mumbled somewhat incoherently.
“It is okay, Lyra. I will be back later.”
My eyes opened into slits and I saw that I was hanging onto Michael for dear life. I groaned and forced myself to let go. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to do that.”
He smiled warmly at me. “It is no problem at all, Lyra-Rose. I am just glad that you are okay.”
“Will you lay with me until I go to sleep? I’m kinda scared that she’ll come back and it’ll ease my mind to know that you’re around.”
I barely caught the startled expression on his face through my heavy eyes. “Uh, yes,” he answered uncertainly. “I will stay as long as you need me to.”
I smiled and fought my drooping eyelids so I could see him crawl into bed next to me. I rested my head against his warm shoulder and breathed in his sunny scent. “Tell me something. Tell me something about my past,” I insisted.
“You were a young goddess when I first met you and I was a soldier in your mother’s army,” he started, his chest rumbling against my ear as he spoke. “You had this crazy idea for a new creation that you called humans. You wanted them to be sort of like you with the ability to make their own choices and live without the burdens that come with immortality. Your mother Thesis agreed because she believed that you would relinquish the idea once you became bored with your humans. I will always remember how excited you were when you made the first pair.”
I giggled. “Like Adam and Eve?”
“Yes. You gave them paradise but you got bored as did they so you let them free of that perfect cage they had been in. As time went on they developed something called love. You had never experienced anything like that up in the City so you started watching and adding more people to your world. I think it fascinated you how much they could grow and feel during their short lives.”
I yawned widely and snuggled closer to Michael. “What happened next?” I asked even though comprehending the simplest things, let alone the complexity of my past, was becoming difficult.
His voice darkened slightly but it was enough for me to notice. “Thesis wanted you to marry one of her generals, my commanding officer. You had already seen what love was like and you did not want to be forced into anything like a marriage. Then she also told you about the competition and you ran.”
I frowned slightly but was too drowsy to do much of anything else. “Why…” I trailed off not able to control my own sentences. My eyelids glued shut and my breathing became steadier. My world soon fell into darkness.
I dreamed that night about what Michael had told me. I dreamed about a gorgeous city in the sky that was a mix of Arcadia, Cloud City from Star Wars, and Mount Olympus in the Disney version of Hercules. A younger version of me that seemed about fifteen was running around the entire place like she couldn’t sit still for very long. She wore a bright pink tunic dress sort of like the one I’d seen in the vision Cassi had shown me. Her hair fell into perfect waves and the random portion of my brain wanted to know where she got her shampoo.
Vega was there as well and while she wasn’t outwardly horrible to the other me she still wasn’t the kind of person I’d ever want to piss off. She had on what looked like fighting gear which went perfectly with the don’t-mess-with-me air that she carried around with her. She watched her sister with slight disdain.
Then a slightly younger Michael showed up at the grand castle that seemed to be the girls’ home. Vega saw him first, her eyes immediately widening as she quickly scanned over him. She smirked in what I could only guess was approval before walking off like she owned the place, which I guess she kinda did.
Lyra was passing through the grand entrance of the castle for the millionth time when she spotted him. She stopped in her tracks and her head cocked to the side. Her blue eyes narrowed at him slightly and she looked a little confused. “Who are you?” she asked bluntly.
“I am Michael. And you would be?”
“Lyra. It was nice to meet you, Michael but I am afraid that I have a prior engagement.”
“You are the princess, are you not?” he asked as she turned to leave.
She froze for a moment and cleared her throat. “I am one of them.” Her sapphire eyes quickly raked over him. Her tone was clinical as she spoke to him, as if discussing the weather or another trivial topic. “You are not too bad looking and you have quite the physique. To top it, you have warrior wings. You must be here in regards to my mother’s army.”
He blushed a little but nodded. “Yes.”
She smirked mischievously and had the same twinkle in her eyes that I got whenever Randall and I were going to do something that would piss off my mom at one of her parties. “Has no one told you that you will make a fine warrior?”
“I have heard that.”
Her smirk widened into a grin. “Well they were lying. I do not think that you would even be able to defeat me in battle.”
He smiled at her. “We may have to test that theory, Princess.”
The smile dropped and she glowered at him. “I am bored and anyone that calls me by such a title does not deserve my time. You, Michael, are obsequious and I do not associate with that type.”
“Wait. You are different than the others, are you not? I do not believe I have met royalty such as yourself.”
“I have been told that I am too impulsive but I like to think of it as creative. What do you think?” I could tell she was testing him. That was the exact same attitude I got whenever I met someone new and wanted to know how much I would get along with them.
“I think that you are perfect,” he said boldly. Her eyes widened and her jaw dropped at the compliment. Her pale cheeks were bright pink as she scampered away from the warrior.
My eyes snapped open and bright sunlight streamed in through the open window. I wasn’t tired anymore after a long night of sleep but I wasn’t very well rested either because of that dream. I quickly got up and went to my vanity set. My own cheeks were slightly flushed and my eyes were bright with embarrassment.
Realization struck me as I saw the same expression on my face that my past self had worn at the end of her meeting with Michael. I’d seen that face only a handful of times in my reflection but they were enough to know what it meant.
“She loved him,” I muttered to myself.
But then, what did that mean for me in this life?
Sunday was only good for two reasons: sleeping and watching football with my dad. Since Dad was gone then sleeping all day it was! I curled up tighter in my bed and threw a spare pillow over my head to block the light streaming through my window. My iPod played in the background as I let myself relax after a long couple of weeks.
And then the knocking started. I tossed my head back onto my fluffy pillow and groaned. “Crap,” I hissed under my breath.
It took me a while before I pushed myself from the bed and shuffled downstairs to the door. “I’m coming,” I snapped loudly to shut up whoever was banging on my door. I yanked it open with way more force than necessary and glared daggers at the person on the other side. Michael looked totally relaxed in his jeans and simple black T-shirt. He smirked down at my pink tank and green plaid boxers.
“Sorry. Did I wake you?”
My jaw snapped shut. “What do you think, dumbass.” I was cranky from being woken up and Michael was honestly the last person I wanted to see after my dream. “Why are you coming over here when it’s only… Okay, so I don’t know what time it is but I know that it’s early.”
He let out a laugh but tried to stifle it when he saw my no-nonsense look. “Lyra-Rose, it is nearly noon. Do you usually sleep this late on Sundays?”
I glowered at him. “Yes,” I bit back. “Plus with the night I just had I think that I deserve to sleep until the day I die.”
Michael looked confused for an instant before he started laughing. “You do realize what you just said, right?”
“No shit, dipstick,” I said but I couldn’t quite keep the smile from pulling up one side of my mouth. I let out a little giggle and couldn’t quite keep the pissed off look glued on my face. I let out a little whining noise and rubbed at my sleepy eyes. “Do you want to come in? I’ll make some coffee and hopefully that’ll make it so I’m not a living zombie.”
Michael nodded. “I would love to come in, thank you.”
He followed me into the kitchen and took a seat on one of the counter chairs while I started on the coffee. I felt his eyes on my back as he watched me but I tried to ignore it. “So what brings you around?” I asked somewhat awkwardly. Why did that stupid dream have to get me so riled up?
“I came to check on you, actually. I wanted to make sure that you were well after everything that happened last night.”
I absently touched the spot on my arm where Draco’s claws had cut the deepest. The huge gash looked disgusting with some seriously discolored bruising going on around the edges. “I’m fine,” I half lied. “I’m just glad that Mac is okay.”
Michael frowned slightly but I couldn’t quite make out the emotion in his eyes. Interest, maybe? “That is good. I am glad that Vega was not able to hurt your niece.”
I smiled slightly and poured two mugs of coffee before I leaned against the counter across from him. “Yeah, but I guess I’m kind of an idiot. Randall told me not to go with her but I didn’t want to listen. What would have happened if that dragon had actually killed me?”
Michael sighed. “I do not know for certain. You do not want to die now and I honestly do not want to see that happen to you again.”
My face heated and turned bright red. I let out a puff of air and blew my hair from my face. “So how the hell are we going to make sure that that doesn’t happen to me?”
He smirked playfully at me. “Well for one, you are going to have to learn to fight. You were actually quite good when I first met you.”
The dream from the night before came rushing back and I blushed like crazy. “Well I can be pretty scrappy when I get pissed but Vega scares me. It’s like I totally freeze whenever she’s around and the only thing I can do is run.”
He frowned again and stared at me intently. “Well we will have to fix that,” he promised after a moment’s hesitation that I noticed. It seriously bugged me that there was something that he so obviously wasn’t telling me but if he could teach me to ward off Vega then I guess I could save that discussion for later.
I stood up a little straighter against the granite countertop and carefully set my drink down so that it didn’t distract me. “Okay, so what do I have to do?”
His answering smirk was devious and I didn’t trust it one bit. “I get to train you. Come on, get up. We have a lot of work to do, Lyra-Rose.”
I scoffed indignantly. “Now? Last night was craptastic and you’re going to make me start training now? Are you completely nutso?”
“No, I am a warrior. Let us go, Lyra. We do not have all day.”
I scowled. This was already starting to suck. “Fine. Give me a minute to go get ready.”
“Hurry,” he called after my retreating figure as I ran up the carpeted stairs.
I looked through my closet and drawers and couldn’t find a single thing that I would consider training clothes. My wardrobe ideas would have been greatly helped if I even knew what the heck I was looking for. I frowned and started yanking things from theirs spots, scattering clothes all over the floor. I finally settled for a pair of yoga pants and a loose T-shirt. I slipped into some Nikes that I’d worm maybe once and then pulled my hair back into a messy ponytail.
“So what’s the plan?” I asked as I skipped back down the stairs. “Are we gonna be doing like karate or something?”
Michael rose from the couch and laughed. “No, we will not be doing any martial arts. We will start with a more traditional type of defense.”
My nose wrinkled. I didn’t like the sound of that one bit. I eyed him cautiously but it was pretty clear from his expression that I wasn’t getting any clues as to where we were going. I grabbed my phone and keys and reluctantly followed him out to his green ’60s Camaro. I bit nervously at my bottom lip as he started the car and barreled down the street. What the hell was I getting myself into?