Kade was sat up in the bed, satchel open and spilling its contents onto his lap. He was rolling a vial of serum in his palm, deep in thought. The door to his room opened and he dropped the vial into his satchel as Giv came into the room. Her arm was in a sling, but had healed fast. Kade’s leg was slower going – he was still consigned to bed rest, even after two days, since his power was slowly trickling back and not fully restored yet.
It was still the first time he’d seen Giv.
“Hi,” she said, lingering at the end of his bed.
“Hi,” he replied.
“Has your father visited you yet?”
It wasn’t what he wanted to hear.
He switched his gaze to out the window. His room looked onto the courtyard where he and Giv had played as kids. He was in the medical wing, thankfully on the other side of the house to his old room.
“No. Is he meant to?”
“Of course he is, Kade.” He could hear the frustration in her voice, could easily imagine the furrowed brow. “The nurse is still giving him hourly updates on how you’re going.”
This startled him enough for his gaze to flick back to her.
“Why?” he asked bluntly. “It’s only a stab to the thigh, no major damage was done or arteries pierced.”
“You can’t be serious, Kade.” When he remained stubbornly silent, she huffed in frustration. “Because he loves you! I watched over you to protect you, yes, but also so your father would know exactly how you were. Every year, on the anniversary of your mother’s death when you would lock yourself in your bedroom and get drunk, he would stand vigil and be with you, even though you had no idea he was there. He never abandoned you. He might be stubborn as all hell and have a wicked temper, but he loves you. And if he weren’t as mule-headed as you, you two would’ve made up years ago.”
“I appreciate what you’re trying to do, Giv. I do. But those words are just pretty words coming from you. If they came from him, they would mean something.”
“That sounds as if you’d be willing to listen, if he said something. Would you?”
Kade caught the tone in her voice and looked at her suspiciously. “What are you—”
“Because he’s almost here.”
Kade opened his mouth angrily but was cut off by a brusque knock on the door, then it swinging open to reveal his father.
“Now, what was it you were saying to me earlier?” she directed at his father. Kade was secretly glad he wasn’t the subject of that withering hazel-tinged gaze.
His father had his arms behind his back, chest broad and jaw set.
“I wanted to tell you that I meant what I said two days ago,” he said, the words sounding as if they were being ground out. “Those words I said to you came from anger and grief, not from the truth. I . . . I’d just lost Lavella. I didn’t want to lose you too.”
“You told me it was all or nothing. I’ve heard nothing from you for the past four years. Why should I believe you now?”
“Because this is the truth. I wanted to reach out to you. It didn’t take us long to find you, but we decided that you needed your time. It had to be your own decision, to come back.”
Kade looked at his father, eyes flickering to Giv and back. Remembered hurt welled up, old and bitter and leaving a sour taste in his mouth. His father’s words echoed in his ears, as they had thousands of times since that day.
“And now I’m back, but it wasn’t my decision,” Kade said.
“I know . . . which is why Giv has offered to shift you back to that human city you were living in, Seattle, as soon as you are better. But I won’t let you leave without knowing that you are always welcome back here and that I—I am truly sorry. For my words then.”
Kade was stunned – not once, in his life, had he ever heard his father apologise. His words sounded raw, ripped from some honest place inside of him that Kade had never glimpsed before. His father was normally proud, stiff, an unbending warrior that held honour and virtue above all else. But while he could still see that side of his father before him, he had softened now, become vulnerable with his words.
It made Kade want to believe him. No, it made Kade actually believe him.
Which is why, when he opened his mouth, no words would come out. His father nodded and left the room. Kade’s eyes were locked onto the door as it clicked shut, and his father’s presence disappeared from power around him.
He only remembered Giv’s presence when she stepped up to his bed and put her hand on his.
“Thank you for listening to him,” she said softly.
He turned back to Giv, saw that her eyes were downcast and posture stiff.
“You offered to take me back, huh?” Kade asked, eyes trained on the wisps of blonde hair that fell around her face.
“Yeah . . . when you’re better. Whenever you wanna go, really.”
“I’m kind of glad I had these two days of rest, by myself.”
The sudden change in conversation made Giv look up, sadness vanishing in an instant with an involuntary smile as she said, “Really? I talked to Healer Patrik. He said you’re one of the worst patients he’s ever had. I told him he had to expect that from a doctor.”
“Yeah, well . . . I know for a fact you’re just as bad as me.”
Her lips curved up further.
“I had a lot of time to think. Not much else to do when you’re stuck in bed all hours of the day. And I thought about what happened. And my father. These last four years. And . . . ” The last word was harder to get out, but he managed. “You.”
Her smile died, face becoming guarded.
“Me?” was all she said.
“I missed you,” Kade whispered. “I missed you every second of every day. I wanted you so badly, it hurt, Giv. But I would take that for eternity, if it meant I would cause you no more pain.”
“I’m not a fragile doll, Kade!” Giv cried. “I’m not going to shatter to pieces the next time you go into a temper. I am stronger than you think I am.”
She turned away and Kade grabbed her hand, saying, “No, Giv, I don’t . . . I don’t think that. Not at all. You’re the strongest person I know. I just . . . ” She was still turned away, and the thought that she would turn away from him, forever, walk away and not look back made the words bubble up and spill out of his mouth. “I love you. More than anything else in this world, I love you. If something happened to you . . .”
Giv ripped her hand away, backpedalled a few steps.
“You can’t say that! You can’t say shit like that and then leave in a few days time and disappear from my life again.”
“You do not get to do that! Fuck you, Kade.”
Too late – she was out of the room, door slamming behind her. Kade growled, pushing out of bed. His legs almost collapsed beneath him as he put weight on them – he’d lost too much blood – and he swore. Giv was moving fast, probably running, and there was no way in hell he’d be able to catch up to her on his two feet.
Gathering every strand of power that had come back to him over the past three days, since his last injection, he shifted. It came much easier than he’d thought, his mind flying up and hovering as he jumped Circles. He timed it with a precision come from years of practice, shifting through just the right Circles to place him right in Giv’s path.
She stumbled back when he appeared before her, favouring his bad leg.
“You didn’t listen to me,” he growled. “I love you, Giv. And it’s about damn time I came back here.”
Her mouth opened to a perfect ‘o’, eyes wide with surprise. After a moment, she gathered herself enough to say, “Well, I guess that means I take back what I said. You want to stay? Here? In the Eighth House?”
“That’s what I said, isn’t it?”
She was still for a moment, then her face lit up. In a second, she was jumping into his arms. He stumbled against the wall, hands automatically cupping her thighs and holding her up. With his weight against the wall, he could support them both with his good leg, but he didn’t really give a shit when she was in his arms, face alight with a joy he hadn’t seen in too long.
“You’re staying,” she breathed. Then her mouth descended on his and words fled his mind.
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