𝐻ours later, everyone met in the dining hall to discuss everything that occurred. All involved made their presence known along with family members they wished to bring for support. Except for Nathan who dealt with his issues and injury.
I sat next to Erik and his father, observing my friends then turned toward Thomas and Anthony who sat a few seats down the long table. As Anthony played with the food on his plate, I attempted to stand but Erik gently reached for my arm.
“Keeps, don’t.” he begged telepathically, “Leave him to find the comfort of a woman elsewhere. You’ve done enough for him, don’t you think?”
I pulled my arm away with a frown then leaned forward muttering bluntly,
“Perhaps not enough!” then I turned away, walking over, quietly sitting next to the Italian. Staring at his plate then studying his handsome profile, I gently laid my left hand on his shoulder, asking softly, “Are you alright?”
He glanced at me with tears in his eyes, replying in a quivering tone,
“No, I’m not. What happened, Yzavela...isn’t something you want to know, much less anything I want to remember or talk about.”
“I didn’t ask.” I muttered solemnly.
“Well, don’t. Please.” he studied the young woman’s face and the warmth in her brown eyes, “But thank you...for your support and kindness.” he reached his hand to his shoulder, squeezing my hand gently then let go as he pushed his plate away, “Now, if you’ll excuse me. I, uh...need time to myself.” he stood walking out; Thomas followed quickly after but paused in the dining hall’s entrance, apologizing to everyone.
Everyone understood, saying nothing as Thomas followed.
I sighed with worry then stood, piling their plates at the end of the table before returning to the other end of the table where my mom and Hiromi noticed the tension between us. Hiromi frowned as he roughly laid his fork on the ledge of his plate. Leaning forward he inquired as he gestured at his son and I,
“What’s going on with the two of you, hmm!? You two are sour…”
“Not now father…and not here!” Erik argued, sipping from his cup.
“And why not!?” my mom added, “Now’s a better time than any.”
“They’re right and you know it!” I glanced at Erik, “I’m tired of this back and forth dance between us so I’m done trying!”
Erik looked into my eyes, seeing no emotion gazing back at him. He nodded as he placed his cup alongside his plate. Wiping his mouth with a napkin he laid on his half empty plate, he stood ready to leave but before he left the table, he muttered loud enough for our parents and I to hear,
“Fine. But I won’t be there when you change your mind. Go and comfort Anthony!””
“Likewise!” I stared into his gray eyes. “Maybe I will!”
Erik backed away feeling guilt hit him and in that very moment,, he knew there was nothing he could say that could make things right. He huffed heavily and before our parents could protest with their words, Erik disappeared in a swirling blue flame; the breeze given off blew his napkin off his plate. I breathed deeply, as did Hiromi who felt ashamed. He remembered Erik’s earlier years before moving to the Isle; there were moments when his attitude grew out of control. He turned to Nikolaas for he was the only Demon he could trust for advice in handling his pureblood temper. Erik wasn’t a troublemaker, he didn’t lack parental attention and didn’t need anything for Hiromi always provided for him. Maybe a little too much. He was spoiled but Hiromi wanted to indulge, getting what he needed or wanted, for he in a way, didn’t have that himself growing up. Hiromi’s well standing didn’t come easy. My mom laid her hand on his shoulder in support with no words to offer. He glanced between the mother and daughter, offering a brief grin before staring at his plate in silence.
Thomas returned to the dining hall, approaching Erik’s father and the mother and daughter; the others had retired for the night. He quietly sat alongside me, speaking sadly in a soft tone,
“I apologize for Anthony’s reaction, but what happened really affected him. Emotionally and psychologically, and I don’t know if he’ll ever get through it. I wasn’t there that’s true, but from what he’s told me, the pictures playing through my mind aren’t pleasant ones.”
“There’s no need to apologize, Thomas.” I reached for his hands, “But if there’s anything I can do…or any of us…” I looked across the table at my mom and Hiromi, “please don’t hesitate to let us know. Anthony’s an honorable, good man and one I can call a friend.” I smiled.
“Grazie…thank you.” Thomas smiled, giving my hands a gentle squeeze.
“He may be a Lycynian, but he’s always been respectful.” Hiromi spoke.
“Agreed.” my mom smiled, “Always such a gentleman.
“That’s my brother. Always the charmer.” Thomas smiled then sighed, feeling the weight of worry hunch his shoulders forward. He placed his face in his hands then combed his hair back; he tapped the table before he stood. Glancing around taking notice the hall was empty except for the four of us his voice rasped, “It’s getting late and now that the threat of the Boar-wolves is over, I have no worries or fears of returning home after dusk. I…” he paused; a beep coming from his pocket and removing his phone, he frowned then continued, “I must go. Goodnight.”
I studied Thomas, admiring his strength and kindness and in that moment, I really took in his appearance. His features were rugged but handsome; brown eyes that easily expressed his emotions. His brown styled collar-length hair appeared damp but drying in some places. His casual yet elegant steampunk attire hugged his hefty frame in a fitted manner. And why wouldn’t they? He and his wife Louisa run the Giovanni tailor shop in the village.
“Goodnight…” our voices fare-welled.
He nodded then turned, exiting the hall; footsteps echoing in elegant strides.
“Well, since the hall is empty, let’s call it a night.” I stood with a yawn, “I’m exhausted.”
My mom and Hiromi nodded in agreement then we returned our plates to the kitchen; staff working late to prepare the ingredients for the morning rush. I excused them of their duty, instructing them to head home and be with their families. They smiled, offering their appreciation as they scampered around, gathering their belongings and coats before rushing home.
The Saxon home was quiet before Lucy’s screams kept her parents awake. She sat in her bed; covering herself with her blankets hoping that would provide comfort, but it didn’t. she cried for her mother who ran into her room; arms stretched out. Lucy jumped from her bed in one leap, crying in her mother’s arms. Sitting on the ledge of her bed, Susan whispered while stroking her daughter’s red hair,
“Hush, baby girl…hush…it’s alright, it’s alright…Mama’s here…shh…”
“Mommy…” Lucy’s quivering voice whispered, “where’s Johnny!? I want Johnny!”
“He’s in his room at the Wraith dwelling, my darling…” Jonathan Sr. approached the bed, “you know that…”
“I want Johnny!”
“Alright…” Jonathan Sr. smiled then stood, dialing his son’s phone and no sooner after ending the call, Jon appeared in the hallway; dressed in his pj’s with bare feet. He hugged his father before rushing into Lucy’s room.
“Johnny…” Lucy’s voice anxiously cried; arms reaching for him.
“Hey, there button…what happened!?” he answered.
“I heard a noise and then the shadows…over there…” she pointed toward the wall near her window; shadows cast from her curtains, “they were coming, Johnny…they were coming…” she cried.
“They’re not going to hurt you…not anymore, watch…come here…” he muttered carrying her toward the window, showing her there was no threat, “see? There’s nothing there. You’re safe now, button. They’re all gone now.”
“I’m scared, Johnny.” Lucy wrapped her arms around his neck.
“I’ll tell you a secret…” he whispered, adjusting her weight in his arms, “I’m scared too.”
“Yeah. Everyday, there could be something waiting around the corner…something or…someone that could hurt you, Mama or Papa…and that scares me.” Jon revealed comfortably, “So, you know how I deal with my fear?” he walked back toward her bed.
“How?” she sniffled.
“I repeat the words IT’S NOT REAL over and over until the fear is gone. Now, do you want me to stay with you until you fall asleep?” Jon questioned, looking in his sister’s big blue eyes, “And maybe…read you a story?” he watched as Lucy nodded with a big smile, “Okay. Get under the covers…” he tucked her in then laid beside her; back leaning against her small headboard.
Tears stung Susan and Jonathan Sr’s eyes, watching the tender moment between their children, and relished in the fact that they truly had a very close and loved family. They leaned against the door frame for a moment, then turned away.
Jon reached for Lucy’s favorite book of fairytales laid on the table next to her bed then began reading to her; his soft Australian voice making her eyes feel heavy. He barely made it through the first story when he noticed she laid sound asleep holding onto her favorite stuffed white bunny. He quietly laid the book on the table then turned off the lamp; nightlight left on along the wall near her door for faint illumination. Jon glanced toward the window, noticing the shadows were indeed, unsettling. He sighed, leaning his head against Lucy’s headboard.
All through the night, Lucy woke in terrifying screams and even though Jon laid with her and whispered soft words, the comfort didn’t prove effective. Her parents once more rushed to her room, observing Jon holding onto her curled bundle, cradled in his arms. He glanced at his parents with tears in his eyes for this innocent child would forever be afraid of the dark. They hoped she wouldn’t suffer too much trauma, but no one knew at this point what she went through in the cave, so only time will tell.
Since the Boar-wolf cave, Nathan hadn’t been seen around the Isle for he admitted himself to the hospital; developing a severe infection from the inflicted scratch on his arm. He refused visits from his sister and uncle, not wanting their pity but they continued their support until Beth gave the all clear for his release.
For the first time in centuries, a peace and deafening silence swept over the Isle.