[Chapter Twenty Four]
Olivia breathed in Rykal’s scent that seemed to constantly drift through her nose. She couldn’t help but love how oddly nice he smelled of firewood and burnt marshmallows. It was a weird concept together, but nethertheless, Olivia sighed calmly. Snow fell around them, Olivia cupped her hands, allowing small delicate snowflakes to fall into her burned palms.
“Olivia put your hands in the water,” Rykal murmured.
Olivia obeyed and shifted out of Rykal’s lap. She reached out her hands, they trembled and Olivia sucked in her breath feeling the icy water consumed the heat. It soothed her and Olivia didn’t suppress the delightful hum leaving her lips. Her burns tingled and twitched with irritation but Olivia ignored it as best as she could. Beside her, Rykal laid down, keeping his wings folded behind him. Though they looked awkward and the more she looked the more uncomfortable she became and looked away.
Although Rykal couldn’t see, somehow she envisioned his steady gaze looking at the sky, closing his eyes whenever a snowflake settled on his face. It wasn’t exactly how he was ‘looking’ as he sat up. Olivia gently rubbed her hands, washing away the droplets of blood oozing through her burnt flesh.
“We’re leaving,” Rykal announced.
Olivia looked at him hard, finding it difficult to read his expression. His voice seemed cold and distance and she didn’t understand why.
“What do you mean we’re leaving?” Olivia asked and slowly took her hands from the cold river and stood.
Rykal twitched slightly and crossed his arms. “I said we’re leaving,”
An iciness laced his tone and seemed too dark for her liking. Olivia got a chill sinking down her spine and frowned. “Why are we leaving?”
“It’s better if we do. Go get your things,” Rykal muttered.
“But, Rykal, how are we going to leave when you can’t see?”
Rykal clenched his jaw and a growl vibrated from the back of his throat. “Curse the demons, Olivia, quit asking me nonsense questions and grab your stuff so we can leave!”
She didn’t know why, but his abrupt harshness made her want to sink into the shallow river and drown in the iciness of it. Swallowing hard, the girl didn’t answer him and decided to leave. Anger flashed in her and she suddenly didn’t want anything to do with the dragon shifter for an hour. Bitter thoughts than through her mind and she glared at Rykal. He stood up and stepped forward. She stepped back.
“Well?” he demanded, crossing his arms impatiently.
“Well, go to hell,” she spat and stomped off into the forest.
Tears prickled her eyes as sobs ruined her angry mood. Rykal growled and called out for her but Olivia ignored him and surrounded herself by cold bare trees. The sound of his voice brought her anger rolling through her in waves and she gritted her teeth. Her heart ached with pain as the small part of her that grew each day yearned to turn around go back to Rykal and apologize. The girl only shoved the thoughts down and clenched her teeth; she wouldn’t apologize for something she never did. Whatever Rykal’s problem was, he could go take it and lash out on something else.
Her cycle may be coming to an end but her emotions were still as sensitive as his nose. A flash of remembrance widened her eyes and Olivia looked behind her. Sure enough, through the many trees she’d passed, Rykal was at the very beginning, trying to maneuver past the first lot. She scoffed and changed her direction though she didn’t want to lose sight of the white clearing and decided to circle around to the other side of the forest. It would give Rykal a difficult time reaching her through all the trees and she hoped it would.
The dragon shifter continued to shout out her name in anger and Olivia rolled her eyes, Yes, Rykal, get angrier and I’ll get a better walk in the forest,
Olivia continued walking around the forest to the other side, picking up snow and holding it to soothe her hands. Rykal roared in frustration and clawed at the tree in front of him, traces of ice and bark flying in different directions. Olivia silently ducked her head underneath a tree branch, small icicles froze underneath it. She picked up another pile of snow, playing with it, and stopped near a fallen tree. She sat down and listened to anything but Rykal’s cries for her. Though there was nothing else to listen to with Rykal’s booming voice and Olivia fumed.
“Rykal, god damn it, just leave me alone!” Olivia snapped.
Rykal spun around so quickly Olivia flinched. Although he couldn’t see, she could feel his eyes piercing through her. His nose twitched, but instead of running toward the sound of her voice, he sat down, head low in what Olivia guessed shame. The girl raised an eyebrow at him and remained silent, wondering what he was doing. He didn’t speak, didn’t move, and Olivia frowned. Her temper slowly disappeared the more she looked at him. Her hands stilled, holding the snow rather than playing with it.
Olivia debated whether or not she would walk over to him, though she didn’t exactly want to be smitten and kind after he was a jerk to her for no reason. Olivia turned up her nose and turned around, her back facing Rykal. She didn’t understand why he had to lash out at her as if she had done something wrong. All she did was ask the obvious questions, like how were they going to leave if he couldn’t see? Use her as his eyes? She couldn’t navigate to save her life!
A thought crossed her mind, Does he bottle up his feelings?
Olivia looked over her shoulder and frowned. The dragon shifter hadn’t moved an inch as it appeared. The girl cast her gaze low and turned back. She suddenly felt guilty for not understanding sooner. He was very angry with her, but he didn’t show it through more than a glare and growl. Even if they had a few good moments it didn’t change the fact that he was still affected by the incident in Grimfore, his physical wounds proved it.
The snow slowly melted through her blistering fingers and Olivia sighed. Getting up, she marched her way over to the dragon shifter. He perked his head up and Olivia could see his nose twitching as she stood in front of him. He was curious about what she was doing and Olivia honestly didn’t know what she was going to do. A few moments went by and Rykal sunk his head down again. Olivia’s heart panged with more guilt. Steadily, she sat down on her knees. Rykal lifted his head a little and Olivia chewed on her lip, not knowing what to say.
“You’re still angry about what happened in Grimfore,” she began.
Rykal perked his head up, somewhat to her face and opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. Olivia took it as her answer. Flashbacks of the night started invading her head and Olivia looked down in shame.
“It’s okay. I know you don’t trust me and I know you don’t forgive me either,”
Rykal raked his hands through his hair and he pulled at the roots. But still, he didn’t speak.
Olivia sighed. “Rykal —”
“Don’t,” Rykal muttered.
Olivia reached out her hand for his head but she snatched it back to her chest faster than she could blink. White snowflakes had settled in his hair, making him seem much older than he actually looked. Olivia wanted to brush the snow from his hair but thought against it. Instead, she stood up and went to the waterfall, wanting to soothe her hands some more.
“You’re still afraid of me,” Rykal said.
Olivia looked at him, confused. “You think I’m scared of you?”
“I know you are,”
“What makes you think I’m scared of you?”
“Your heartbeat always speeds up whenever I get close to you,”
Olivia arched her brow at him. “Do you think it’s fear or nervousness?”
“Fear,” he only answered.
Olivia decided to change the topic. “You’re still angry since Grimfore,”
“Olivia,” Rykal warned.
“No, Rykal, you are, aren’t you? You’ve masked it pretty well if I haven’t been able to notice it before now. I knew you were angry with the growling and glaring but I thought you were a little better with the moments of your carefree mood. Why can’t you just open up to me and admit that you’re angry at me,”
Rykal remained silent.
Olivia scoffed. “That’s what I thought,”
Finally taking her hands away from the cold water the girl grabbed the bandages from her pocket. She slowly tried to wrap them but it didn’t work as her hands kept trembling with pain and she could barely hold the bandage without dropping it. Olivia gritted her teeth and growled under her breath, her frustration starting to get the better of her. Whenever she tried to bend her fingers or stretch her palms, a painful sting would strike her nerves, warning her it was a bad idea. Tears prickled her eyes and Olivia shouted in anger. She threw the bandages away from her and dropped her head low. Quiet sobs left her lips as she buried her hands in the snow, her frustration levels high above her.
“Olivia,” Rykal called.
The girl ignored the dragon shifter, not in the mood for him.
“Olivia,” Rykal tried again.
The girl clenched her jaw and shook her head, ignoring him again with difficulty.
Furrowing her brows in anger, Olivia glared at Rykal. “What! What do you want, Rykal! I’m not in the mood for your pettiness!”
Rykal quirked his head in her direction. “I’m not giving you pity, Olivia,”
“Then what the hell do you want?” she snapped.
Rykal shook his head and ran a hand through his snowy hair. “I was going to ask if you wanted help with wrapping the bandages,”
Olivia’s mood changed from anger to confusion as she glanced at the bandages she cast away. “How did you know I wanted to wrap my hands?”
“Olivia. . .” Rykal stood up and walked over to her, somehow managing to pick up the bandages in the process. “I’m a dragon shifter with advanced senses. Even if I don’t see, I can hear and smell,”
He stood in front of her and she cranked her neck up to look at him. She was left speechless as Rykal sat in front of her again, holding out his hand. Olivia glanced at his offer and carefully put her hand in his. Rykal grasped it gently and slowly began wrapping her hands, one at a time. Olivia was astonished he could wrap her hand with little struggle.
Rykal sensed her thoughts. “There were times when I had to wrap my injuries in the dark or behind me. A little skill I picked up,”
Olivia nodded. “Oh,”
The girl watched Rykal wrap the other hand and tied the loose ends together. “Are they wrapped okay?”
“Yes. You did a good job,” Olivia whispered.
It got a little too cold for her liking and Olivia looked up to the sky, seeing little specks of white fall from the dark night. She heard Rykal yawn and Olivia glanced at him as he stretched his arms above him. Olivia couldn’t help but yawn afterward and groan tiredly. Without a second thought, she stood up and walked to the cave, Rykal suddenly following behind her. She glanced at him as he stood next to her, feeling the edge in front of them before he climbed up inside. Olivia faced the rocky edge and hesitated. She tried not to use her hands as much by leaning her body against the edge and used her elbows to steady herself as she slowly stepped up to each ledge she could find. Finally, she rolled inside the cave and laid on her back, relieved she was inside.
“Olivia,” Rykal called.
“I still stand by what I said,”
“We are leaving. But when I can see,”
Olivia hummed in response and carefully stood up. She walked near the wall and decided it was warm and laid down. She wondered where Rykal planned on going once he could see again, if he could see again. Rykal not being able to see again daunted Olivia. Many what if’s clouded her mind and before she knew it, she closed her eyes and fell asleep, silencing her mind.