A Game of Hearts

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Chapter 13- Tonelope lives

"In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain the old pain."

-Mary Manin Morrissey

Thomas pulled back and repeated himself. "Until the end. Even if you choose him, you and I will always be in each other's lives. I'm not saying it wouldn't hurt like hell but a life without you in it is unimaginable."

I smiled. His words put my mind and heart at ease. No matter what happened Thomas would always be a constant in my life. He truly deserved the world. Before I could respond the glass doors to the balcony were flung open.

"She's in labor," Killian shouted frantically.

Thomas's hands fell from my arms. Viktorya waved casually from behind him.

I squealed happily. "What are you doing here? Why aren't you with her?"

"She sent me to find you. She wants you nearby. She won't let me return without you," he pleaded.

"Of course I'll go. Viktorya, will you escort Thomas to see my parents?" I asked as we went inside.

She nodded. I said goodbye to Thomas before moving to leave.

"Wait, before you go, is it true Cane proposed to you?" Viktorya asked.

That definitely got the attention of Killian and Thomas.

I groaned. "How did you know about that?"

"Apparently, Opal told her sister and someone overheard."

Of all the ways for it to have gotten around, Opal wasn't who I expected to be the source of the leak.

"So, is it true?" she asked again.

I sighed, aware of Killian's and Thomas's gaze on me. "Yeah, it is. I'll tell you about it later. Does anyone know he's the King of Terra?"

I let that tidbit of information drop, knowing Thomas and Killian would have questions, but they'd have to be satisfied with knowing I'd fill them in eventually.

"Unfortunately, Yes, but that wasn't Opal's doing. That was all Cane. The Council would like to speak with you."

I rubbed my left temple and shook my head. What game was Cane playing at?

"Very well but later tonight or tomorrow, depending on my Goddaughters arrival into the world."

She nodded and asked for Thomas to follow her.

"Later," I mouthed in his direction.

"Ready?" Killian asked.

"Let's go. Sorry for making you wait."

"Don't worry about it. She's about halfway through labor. The physician says we have time," he reassured me, although I could tell he was anxious to be by her side.

We walked quickly, avoiding the stares of the staff and guests of the palace.

I cleared my throat. "Will your sister be there?"

He slowed down. "She's around but she won't be at the hospital. We had some words last night and it wasn't pretty."

"If you don't mind me asking, what happened?"

He sighed. "Now don't get mad at Opal but she told me what happened between you both last night. Livvie was out of line and I fully support your decision for her to leave the palace if that is what you wish."

I sighed. I'd need to have a word with Opal.

"Opal was only protecting you, Penelope. My sister may seem levelheaded but when it comes to Tobias she tends to go a bit mad. She ruined any chance she had with him and she needs to accept that. I tried to make her see that they were over and that Tobias is completely in love with you but she wasn't having it."

I blushed.

He continued. "If you're not going to send her away then just be on your guard because my sister can manipulate any situation."

I nodded and we let the conversation go. He quickly remembered where we were headed and picked up our walking speed. A minute late he barged into the hospital wing like a man on a mission.

Lady Calliope raised a brow at him as she placed a hand on her hip, holding a bowl and linens with the other. Her kind brown eyes did not hinder the withering look she aimed at us.

"Sorry, Lady Calliope," he said, managing to look contrite and antsy all at once.

He rushed to the room I assumed Georgiana was in. I moved to follow him but Lady Calliope held up her hand. "Only one person at a time, your highness. Forgive me."

"No, of course. I understand."

"You may join the young man in the waiting room," she said before rushing into Georgiana's room as a string of expletives broke the silence of the hospital wing.

I winced. Poor Georgiana. I couldn't imagine the pain of having a child.

I looked around on my way into the waiting room and not much had changed since my last visit here. The walls remained a blinding white with drape free windows. The chairs were wooden with an upholstered cushion to sit on. The cots and curtains were missing since the place was no longer a triage hospital. It was no longer bustling with physicians and the injured.

I peered into the waiting room and there was Tobias. He sat forward, his elbows on his knees. As soon as he saw me he jumped up. "Any news?"

I took in his messy hair and frantic state before responding. "No, nothing. Lady Calliope asked that I wait here with you.

He fell back onto his seat.

"Why are you so worried?"

"I've never been around for a birth. Georgiana seems to be in a lot of pain. Lady Calliope says it's only going to get worse," he said, losing color in his face by the second.

I smiled. "She's fine. It's normal. I think. Lady Calliope would have said otherwise."

He nodded and relaxed a bit before smiling. "I'm looking forward to meeting our Goddaughter."

I melted.

"Me too," I said taking a seat next to him.

Leaning on his elbows again, he turned his head to face me. A soft smile appeared. My smile. "Hi," he grinned.

"Hi," I laughed breathily.

"I feel like I haven't seen you in days."

"You haven't," I answered, not mentioning the small glimpse of him when I was with Thomas.

"I've missed you."

"I've missed you too," I replied honestly.

His blue eyes brightened.

A cough interrupted us. Viktorya stood at the door and asked to speak with me.

"What is it?" I asked, not leaving the room.

Tobias sat back in the chair and closed his eyes, allowing his head to rest against the wall behind him.

Viktorya glanced at him for a second before continuing. "I just wanted to check in with you. I've been hearing some things."

"Yes?"

"You cut Rowan from the game?"

Tobias's eyes snapped open. He was clearly listening.

I cleared my throat. "Yes."

"But not Thomas," she stated. "Why?"

It felt hot all of sudden and I needed air. I left the room, Viktorya on my heels. Once in the hall, I opened a window and blissfully basked in the cold breeze before I looked back at her.

"Because I care for him."

"I thought he was your best friend."

"He is. What is it that you're trying to get at?" I asked, quickly becoming annoyed with her questioning.

She blushed slightly. "Just trying to keep up with the state of the game and its participants. I am your right after all," she answered.

"Okay," I replied, confused by her reaction. "Viktorya, do you," I began but she interrupted.

"I should get back to the council and relay your earlier response. Also, your parents were ecstatic to see Thomas. I must go now," she said rapidly.

She rushed out of the hall, not giving me a second look.

Did Viktorya have feelings for Thomas? I mentally shook my head, wanting to fling the thought out of my head. I walked back into the waiting room and took my seat by Tobias.

Killian followed a few seconds later. "She's nearly here," he smiled excitedly. "I wanted to update you. Someone will come for you when you can see her." He turned to leave but stopped at the door. "Thanks for being here. We owe you both so much and we can't imagine anyone else as her Godparents."

"Of course," Tobias and I said.

Killian left, leaving us alone again.

"So," Tobias started. "You cut Rowan?"

Well, that was quick.

"I did," I said nodding.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

His question surprised me. I hadn't expected it from him.

As if reading my thoughts he said, "I care about you."

I took hold of his hand and squeezed before letting go again.

"I'm okay. I cared for Rowan, a lot, but I think I was confusing love for something else." I ran my fingers in an eight motion over the side of my thigh. "I may have been close but it wasn't love. I think what broke my heart most of all was that he was supposed to be my friend above all else and he lied. He lied and accepted something that I shouldn't have shared with him."

I looked over at Tobias who was staring at his shoes. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't discuss this with you."

"It's okay," he answered. "I've made my peace with the feelings you had for him. He will always hold a part of you and you will always have a piece of him. I can't change the past no matter how much I'd like to, no matter how much I'd like to go back to that day when you went to my room and asked me to pick you. If I could, I would pick you in an instant. It was stupid of me to want something from a man who was ashamed to claim me as his own. Nothing else should have mattered more than you." he sighed. "Thank you for giving me another chance, Penelope."

His blue eyes were pools of steady water, calm and transparent.

I smiled at the man sitting across from me. He had grown so much from the day he first spoke to me. 'Move', he had said in the rudest way possible. I laughed.

He tilted his head in a questioning manner.

"It's nothing. I'm just thinking about how far we've come since we first met."

He chuckled. "I was an ass."

"You won't hear me disagree," I smiled.

He shoved my shoulder with his.

A moment of silence passed between us.

"Tobias."

He watched me quizzically.

"I didn't just keep Thomas around because he's my best friend," I started.

"You have feelings for him."

I had told Thomas everything. Tobias deserved the same.

"I do."

He nodded and remained quiet, deep in thought.

I rubbed my nose, trying to chase away the sterile smell that I associated with hospitals.

He turned to face me, eyes shining. "I'm okay with that."

"You are?"

"Yes. I get that you need to figure out what's going on with you and Thomas and I accept that because in the end I know we're supposed to be together. It's you and me. I have faith in The Great Mother," he said as he ran a finger across my cheek.

A sharp ache pierced my chest and ran the length of my arms and settled into a tingling sensation in my fingers.

He cupped my cheek in his hand and smiled my smile. I leaned into him and enjoyed the warmth.

A soft cough interrupted our quiet moment. Our heads turned as one. Lady Calliope smiled. "Would you like to meet your Goddaughter?"

We stood and as we passed the physician I swore I heard her murmur, 'Tonelope lives.'


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