Sarah woke the next morning in the biggest, softest bed she had ever come across. Axin was a tall, muscular guy and he needed the space, but she got lost in the soft covers.
The night before, after Axin carried her to bed with their lips locked together, she’d had the best sex of her life. Not that Sarah had sex often, what with a huge cloud of smoke following her around most of her life, but it was different with Axin. He took his time, exploring her body, and making sure he kissed every inch of her.
She smiled, thinking back to how wonderful he made her feel, over and over again, and how he held her so tight before they fell asleep.
After a midnight snack, they sat on the bed, both naked, and laughed and joked about their lives. Sarah explained the meltdown in high school to him. It was all over a boy. She wanted to go to the movies with him, but her grandmother had seen something about him that warned her off. Turned out she was right. Mark Daniels was serving nine years in prison for beating up his wife countless times.
Axin told her about his living years. About what life was like over a thousand years ago. He didn’t have an easy life. Sold into slavery at the age of five by his mother. She was too poor to feed him, and it was the only way he would survive. He never knew his father.
They spoke about how he was found in Purgatory by Nilu. The day he and Raz met. They also spoke about the day of the accident. Sarah expected to feel sad about reliving that day, but having Axin close to her, knowing he was by her side, gave her the strength to recount the details. He filled in a lot of the blanks for her.
Like the fact that he also saved the driver of the truck. The man hadn’t been wearing his seatbelt and flew out of the front window when the crash happened. After he saved Sarah and knew there was nothing he could do for her parents, he healed the truck driver's broken neck but left a few of the outside wounds for the doctors to heal.
They spoke about the crusade. How he banished himself to Purgatory for hundreds of years, tearing himself apart with guilt. Nilu and Raz tried everything to get him back, but he refused. It was only when he heard that Jake was about to be sent to the living world that he returned to fight him. The day the accident happened. It was after that, that Axin chose to return to Nilu’s ranks and fight for the living. Or as Axin said, to fight for her.
They made love again after that, and Sarah fell asleep in his arms, listening to his heart beating in his chest.
A gentle caress on her cheek made her open her eyes to find Axin kneeling next to the bed, a smile on his face.
“Morning, beautiful.” He whispered, raising a hot cup of coffee for her to see.
She moaned, rolling onto her back with a long stretch.
“Morning,” She sat up, reaching for the cup, “You’re up early.”
He took a seat on the edge of the bed. “I had some stuff to do. How did you sleep?”
“Like the dead. This bed is amazing.”
He chuckled, “Nice pun. And I never knew just how great this bed could be until last night.”
She grinned, “Last night was really amazing.”
“Yeah, it was. I want every night to be like that.”
She sipped her drink, perfectly content with her life at that very moment.
Axin rested his hand on her leg, “Jake is here.”
She frowned, “Here?”
“In the shadow world. He’s at the command center talking to Nilu. He came in last night.”
“How is it going?”
Axin sighed. “I don’t know. Raz told me to stay away for fear of upsetting Jake. Nilu wants to speak to him alone, without me getting angry.”
“That’s good though, right? I mean, at least we know he’s keeping his word so far.”
Axin nodded. “Let’s wait and see. Being here is one thing. It’s all about what he tells us. If we can get something useful out of him, then this plan of yours might work.”
“Useful how? What do you need to know?”
Axin’s hand rubbed her leg through the blankets, “Where his mother is. What she plans to do. How to kill her. She has a cloaking spell. I can’t find her in Purgatory. She has her army fighting for her there, but none of them talk. They fear her more than they do me.”
“I think he will tell you. Maybe I could help? Go to him, and talk to him?”
“No. I don’t want you and him in the same room ever again.”
She sighed. “Axin, I’m the one that got through to him in the first place. He trusts me, and if he is going to open up to anyone, it will be me.”
“Let Nilu try first. If all else fails… and I mean all else… then you can talk to him.”
She nodded, taking another sip of her drink.
“I made you some breakfast. Come to the kitchen when you’re ready.” With that, he leaned over her, placing a gentle kiss on her forehead.
“Wait.” She called before he could leave.
He turned to her, “Yeah?”
“I need a shower and I need clean clothes. I need to call Lexi as well. She’ll be panicking that she can’t reach me. If Jake went to talk to her last night, then she will need to dissect it with me.”
He grinned. “Shower is in there,” He pointed to a door in the bedroom, “Clothes and phone I will go get from your apartment. Anything else?”
She smiled, “No. Just that, for now.”
He left the room and shut the door behind him.
Sarah finished her coffee and climbed out of bed. In the bathroom, she found a luxurious glass shower with stone-lined walls and a wooden bench to sit on. A cast iron bath stood in the corner and two matching sinks along the wall. She went in and turned the water on, waiting for it to get warm.
After her shower, she went back to the bedroom. On the bed, that was now made up, lay a black duffle bag. She frowned and went to it. When she opened it, a wide smile spread over her lips at the sight of various items of her own clothing. Ranging from jeans to dresses and even bra’s and underwear.
Next to it lay her phone and charger, laptop and handbag.
He’s such a sweet man.
She rummaged in the bag and pulled out a pair of black skinny jeans, a tank top, and her hoodie. She found socks and underwear with a matching bra.
Once she was dressed, Sarah grabbed her phone and checked her messages. As suspected, Lexi had tried to call her a number of times.
I wonder if I can call her from here? I’d hate to think of the roaming charges.
Lexi answered after the first ring. “Sarah! Where the fuck have you been?”
“Hey, Lex. I’m so sorry. I… left my phone on silent and it was in my bag. I just got lost with work. You know how I get sometimes.”
“I was at your place. You weren’t there.”
“I was at Mr. Takamori’s estate. We had a lot to go over.”
“Yeah. He’s already in Japan, so I crashed over there to avoid cab fare twice.”
She waited, biting her lip in hopes that Lexi would buy that story.
“Jake came back.”
She let out the breath she was holding.
“Did he? What happened?”
“He wants me back. He told me that he had made a huge mistake and that he never meant to hurt me. He cried, Sarah. Actual tears. He said he was lost, and unsure of what his life held for him, but all he wanted was me at his side. I don’t know what to do.”
“Did you take him back?”
“I told him that I love him, but that what he did hurt me. I said I need time, and he told me he would give me a few days while he’s out of town. When he gets back we can talk more.”
“Do you want him back?”
Lexi sighed. “I do. I love that asshole so much, Sarah. I know he broke my heart, but I hate being apart from him.”
Sarah remembered what Axin said last night. About telling her everything and letting her make the choice.
“Hey, Lex. Wanna do lunch with me today?”
“Yeah, I’d love to. We can talk about all this Jake stuff face to face.”
“Sounds great. I’ll meet you at the coffee house at around one?”
“Perfect. Are you sure you’re okay?”
Sarah smiled wide, “I’m more than okay. I will tell you all about it later.”
“Ooh, sounds promising. See you then.”
She hung up the phone and tossed it on her bag. It only took her a few minutes to get dressed. She made her way to the kitchen, guided by the smell of bacon and fresh coffee.
Axin stood in the kitchen, leaning against the counter with a phone in his hands. She paused for a moment to admire him.
“It’s getting cold,” He said without looking away from his phone.
“I had to call Lexi.”
He looked up at her. “How is she doing?”
“Good. I made plans to see her for lunch. I want to tell her everything, Axin. Let her make the choice.”
“Don’t you think it’s a bit too soon? We don’t know how things will end with Jake.”
“I know. But she is my best friend, and I want to tell her about you. I can’t do that without her knowing the truth.”
“Telling her all that in the living world is not a good idea, Sarah. It could end badly.”
She went into the kitchen and slid her arms around his waist. He wrapped his arms around her and smiled down at her.
“I know how it could end. She could never want to see me again. But I need to talk to her. Stopping Fasia is too important.”
He nodded, giving her a sweet, gentle kiss. “Ok. I’ll take you back to the living world, and you can go see her. I have to go see Nilu anyway. Raz just texted me. Jake is willing to tell all, but he has a few demands first. Raz didn’t say what they were, just that I should get to command when I have some free time.”
She smiled, leaning closer to him. “Maybe after lunch we can come back here. Have a little repeat of last night.”
He smiled wide, winking at her, “I think that’s a brilliant idea. Or, if you’re up for it, I could show you more of the shadow world. There’s a special spot I want to take you to.”
“Sounds good. I’ve never minded long drives.”
The smile he gave her made her heart fall.
“Who said anything about driving?”