Of Roses and Thunder

All Rights Reserved ©

Untitled chapter

Licking Their Wounds

♦️

Savannah woke up in the middle of the night with what she thought was a nightmare that turned out to be as real as ever. Arawn woke up with a jolt and Savannah looked like she saw a ghost. That seemed more likely than anything, Arawn remembered. She turned to him in a frantic panic, and he was barely awake when she hit him with a serious question.

“Ari, did you kill Conrad?” Savannah asked, her voice shaky. She had used his nickname, and he could immediately tell that she was absolutely rattled. She had jumped out of bed and backed herself up against the wall in a defensive position. She was looking beyond his frame at something he couldn’t see.

“Yes. When I made my way up to you I saw that he tried to grab you and run, but I tackled him down to the ground and, um...” Arawn answered, sparing her the details. “Why do you ask?”

“Arawn, he’s here.” Savannah frantically explained, her face pale and her eyes wide.

“What, he’s here?” Arawn questioned, pulling a knife from a hiding place under the bed. He gripped it tightly, his fist wrapped around the handle.

“Yes, and he’s pissed! I knew this was a bad idea, he gets so god damn jealous-”

“Wait, so you’re saying he’s here and he’s angry because knows about us together?” Arawn asked, begging for clarification on Conrad’s motives.

“Yes, Arawn, he does. And he doesn’t appreciate you bragging about it!”

“Baby, that was hardly bragging.”

“Quit it, Ari! He is fucking hates you and he’s obsessed with me. He’s not going anywhere, and he will hurt us.”

“So, what can I do? How do the spirits usually go away? Is it a salt thing, or what?” Arawn asked.

“I’ve tried every trick in the book. I’ve done salt, sage, exorcisms, Ari, you can’t get rid of him.” Savannah explained. He saw that she had instantly returned to her old self, her shell, her empty, scared self. Now Arawn was pissed, how dare Conrad come back here and take away everything he had built with Savannah. How dare he take away her peace and set back her recovery. He was dead and he has no right to intrude on their lives. Was he so damn greedy that a year of constant torture wasn’t enough for him, and he had to haunt her for more? It pissed off Arawn immensely.

“But it will make me feel better knowing that I’ve tried.” He answered, grabbing the salt from the kitchen and he poured it across the floor, making a barrier between Conrad’s ghost and Savannah.

Arawn didn’t sleep at all that night. Savannah tossed and turned and was talking with Conrad, and even though he couldn’t hear what he was saying, Savannah was in deep distress. He was a spirit, but Arawn carried his knife to defend Savannah against Conrad anyway. The metal glistened in the moonlight, and for once he wished he could see what she saw.

“So, you think you can just forget about me, huh, Sav?” Conrad asked. He looked just as he did when Arawn had killed him, he was wearing a dirtied and bloodied white shirt and he had grown out his beard.

“Yes, Conrad, you were going to kill me,” Savannah answered. “I took every chance I could to forget you.”

“But that was a bad choice, Sav. You should have known better than to assume that I would be gone once I was dead. After all, I spent nearly two years of my life studying you being able to speak to the dead. You should have known this was inevitable.”

“In light of everything you’ve done, if I had known you would have still haunted me and I’d never be able to get away from you, I might have had to take matters into my own hands to get away from you. I was just trying to protect myself because you stripped me from every last bit of sanity I ever had. Who are you to tell me if my choices were right or wrong?”

“I just can’t believe you chose him. This guy?!” Conrad exclaimed in anger, pushing Arawn fairly hard. Arawn felt it, and he went pale. He knew exactly what had happened.

“He’s a better man than you ever were.” Savannah retaliated. She was now pacing the floor with him and following his every move. She wanted to be in the middle of him and Arawn, also so Arawn could tell where Conrad was.

“What can he give you that I never could?”

“Everything,” Savannah said plainly. Conrad was infuriated and he shoved the bedside lamp off of the table, the bulb shattering on the floor.

“Savannah, I gave you every single goddamn thing you ever asked for. I gave you the best years of your life.”

“You gave me a false sense of safety, tortured me and left me for dead. I’d never call that the best years of my life.”

“Before I took you, I never once treated you badly. We spent that whole winter caught up in the throes of passion. Don’t you ever tell me I didn’t give you anything.”

“But you couldn’t give me my freedom.”

“Is that what this is all about?! Are you so damn hungry for freedom that you’ve gone so far as to fucking the guy that stole you from me?”

“Yes, this is one thousand fucking percent about my freedom, Conrad. What’s it going to take for you to leave me the fuck alone?!”

“Nothing. Nothing will ever make up for how you betrayed me.”

“Betrayal.” Savannah spat. “That’s rich, Conrad. I don’t know how you can sit there and think I’m the one that betrayed you.”

Arawn didn’t know what to do. It was painful seeing Savannah so distressed and the fact that he couldn’t help her.

“Oh, so now you’re going to be silent?” Savannah asked. “That’s fine, go ahead and just sit there. I spent a year under your torture, I’ve got all fucking night to play these games with you. I’m going to smoke you out, Conrad.” She confidently spoke to him, taunting him, daring him to keep it up.

“I’d like to see you try.”

It had been a week and Conrad still wasn’t gone. Arawn didn’t understand it; how could he make him leave Savannah alone? Just like Savannah, he tried everything, and nothing worked. Savannah hadn’t slept because he continuously taunted her. He was gaining power from being around her, but there was nothing he could do to get rid of him.

Arawn woke up in the middle of the night to find his bedroom window open and the icy winter wind blowing snowflakes onto the floor. The second thing he noticed was that Savannah had vanished entirely from the apartment.

“Oh shit, oh shit,” he swore, grabbing his pants from the floor and buckling them up. He pulled on a tee shirt and a hoodie as he forced his feet harshly into his boots. “FUCK!” He shouted loudly. How could he have let Savannah escape, and so easily? He thought she was okay, but he knew that he’d have to sleep in small increments again because he’d have to watch her. Dike was going to kill him and hang his ass cheeks on the wall over his fireplace as a trophy for letting Savannah get away.

He ran out of the apartment building’s front doors, not knowing which direction to follow. He went with his gut and was searching every street, every block for her.

“Savannah!” Arawn yelled down the empty streets covered in snow. He spotted her at the end of a block, but she wasn’t alone. He saw an NYPD officer accompanying her. She was without a jacket, in one of Arawn’s big shirts that she slept in, and she was barefoot in ankle-deep snow. It was completely out of the ordinary for her to be outside in the snow at three in the morning dressed how she was- it was an invitation for the police to wonder about her.

“Does she belong to you?” The officer asked.

“She doesn’t belong to anybody, but yes, she’s my girlfriend,” Arawn answered. “Here, I even brought her ID.” Arawn offered as proof of her identity and their relationship.

“You’re lucky we caught her; she could have died.” The officer mentioned, and Arawn agreed. Savannah had the officer’s jacket draped over her shoulders, but she couldn’t feel the painful sting of the icy wind. At that moment, she wished she could have felt something. She hated being this numb to everything.

“She kept saying things about seeing someone, how she couldn’t get away, but nobody’s chasing her.” The officer spoke, confused, to Arawn off to the side.

“She was in a rough place for about a year, we’re working through some PTSD together,” Arawn answered.

“I can give you both a ride to New York-Presbyterian Hospital.” The patrol officer offered them.

“Yes, let’s go.” Arawn agreed, knowing a hospital checkup would be good for her. He didn’t want to let frostbite go undetected, especially because she couldn’t feel any pain.

“Savannah, you can’t just run off like that, okay?” He sternly said to her, holding her shoulders.

“Ari, I’m so trapped, I just can’t escape.” She cried, her heart wrenching and her soul in deep pain. “He’s everywhere and I just can’t get away!” She sobbed.

Arawn’s heart hurt for her. He could feel her pain and he understood exactly where she was coming from. He was trapped as the Winter Soldier for a long time. He didn’t know who he was, he had no concept of self, and he just knew he was a villain. He always felt that The Order of the Black Rose would always be following him, it would always be a part of him. Eventually, he took a pair of bolt cutters that snapped the chain that linked him to The Order of the Black Rose, and he wanted to do the same for Savannah.

They walked as a group of three into the emergency room of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and even at that hour of the night, there were patients in the waiting room. Arawn immediately noticed curious glares at him and Savannah, and he could read their silent judgments- who is she? What’s wrong with this girl that she’s out in just that in this weather? Arawn wanted to protect Savannah from their gaze because they had no idea and would never understand what she had been through.

Savannah’s wet clothes and body dripped into a puddle on the floor. Her bare feet slapped against the floor as she walked, and she didn’t seem concerned at what was on the floor. The snowflakes in her hair melted into her strands of brunette curls and her pale face broadcasted desperation. Savannah was at the lowest she had been since she was rescued, but she refused to hit rock bottom again.

Arawn headed to the window for patient registration, and he took the clipboard back to Savannah and she helped him fill it out. Since they were escorted by the police, the process was a bit quicker and she was taken back to a room.

“How long were you out in the snow?” A nurse asked, gathering information for her records.

“An hour or two,” Savannah responded.

“Without shoes, socks, pants, a hat, gloves or a jacket?”

“Yep,” Savannah confirmed.

“Are you sure? Your vitals are absolutely perfect. You’re not running a fever or showing any signs of hypothermia. The wind chill is nearly negative twenty.”

Arawn stepped out of the room with the nurse and had to explain everything to them. This information was immediately relayed to a doctor, and it was corroborated by extensive files detailing her condition.

“So, it’s great that you came in to get her checked up physically after that experience. She can’t feel pain, so it’s up to other people, like you, to use their judgment and help out. But, I think what I’d suggest is keeping her overnight for a psychological evaluation. I understand that she’s been undergoing treatments and therapy for her trauma, but this is an unstable behavior that could be a clue to an underlying condition.”

“I understand.” Arawn acknowledged, letting the doctors take the reins.

Arawn knew what he had to do next. He hated to leave Savannah alone when she needed him the most, but this was the safest place for him to leave her. He left the hospital quietly and headed back to his apartment. He pulled out the file that was given to him upon Savannah’s rescue and it detailed her previous address- and Conrad’s. He plotted out his trip to Conrad’s apartment, but he didn’t know exactly what he needed to destroy to finally make Savannah free of Conrad’s ghost.

He grabbed his Winter Soldier full face mask, he tied his hair back and filled his backpack with matches, lighter fluid, and other flammables. It was time to burn Conrad’s legacy to the ground. He was tied to the earth through his work and it was time for him to die, once and for all.

Entering the lobby of Savannah’s old apartment building, he approached the landlord.

“Hey, my friend Savannah used to live here about a year ago. Is there any chance I could find her stuff somewhere?”

“Savannah?! She’s back?” The landlord asked Arawn. “Oh my God, it’s a miracle! She was my best tenant, and then it hit the news about a year ago that she went missing and nobody ever found her. She’s alright?”

“She’s right as rain. I’m just looking to gather her stuff, take it off your hands.”

“Absolutely. After she had been missing for a few months we cleared out her apartment and put all of her belongings in a storage locker in the basement. We didn’t know if she would ever return, but we kept her things just in case. Here, let me take you down there.”

When Arawn reached her storage locker in the basement of the building, the landlord let him be.

“If you have any questions, come up and see me. Hey, what was your name again?” He asked.

“Ari,” Arawn answered, not sure how his traditional Celtic name would be received.

Arawn went through her things, her furniture covered in dust, her clothes packed away in boxes. He finally hit a home run when he started seeing clothes that were too big for her, like men’s dress shirts, hoodies, and tee shirts. He packed up all of those in his bag and then moved on to the pictures, taking every single one of Savannah and Conrad together. For a second he paused, for Savannah looked like a different person. She was happy, she was radiant. But that was who she was in the past. Now, she was still healing, but she was becoming someone new. He was falling in love with that girl, and not necessarily the girl he saw in the photos.

He ran the same drill with Conrad’s apartment. Surprisingly, he had fewer items than Savannah, except for his antique book collection. Arawn rifled through every single page just to make sure that he didn’t leave anything in between the pages, but he set those aside to donate them to bookstores. It wasn’t his responsibility to take care of Conrad’s stuff, but he didn’t have any family and Arawn would rest easier knowing that he took care of everything that might still connect Conrad to Savannah.

He drove out on his motorcycle to a remote spot underneath a bridge where he knew he would be alone. He dumped all the things he thought were linking Conrad to Savannah and into an oil drum firepit. He poured lighter fluid all over the items, dropping an entire book of matches into the container. He stood and watched them burn for a long time before he felt comfortable walking away from that mess.

He went back to his apartment and sat out on his fire escape, working through half a pack of cigarettes as he tried to process everything running through his mind. He had already cleaned up the mess that Conrad had made by breaking everything breakable in his apartment, and maybe it was just a placebo effect, but the air felt different. The rooms felt as if a weight had been lifted off of them. Maybe Arawn found out the way that would break Conrad’s bond to Savannah. If not, at least he could say he tried.

When his pack was finished, he grabbed some warm clothes for Savannah to come home in. She had gone into the hospital just wearing one of Arawn’s shirts, and she deserved something more than that coming home. He grabbed his soft red Henley shirt, a pair of her leggings, warm socks and boots for her and he headed back to the hospital.

“You smell like a bonfire had a baby with a pack of Marlboros, Arawn.” Savannah pointed out as she accepted the clothes that he brought for her. He tried to contain his chuckle, for that’s exactly what had happened.

“What have you been up to?” She questioned. Arawn didn’t respond to her, but he shrugged. Savannah couldn’t read his body language.

“I’m terrified to go home, Arawn,” Savannah admitted to him. That snapped him back to reality.

“Oh, well, I don’t think we’ll be having any more problems with Conrad anymore, Savvy.”

“What makes you so confident?”

“Gut feeling.”

And he was right. He took a shot in the dark and tried something that he had no idea if it would work or not, but his efforts weren’t for nothing. Savannah, too, looked as if a weight was lifted off her shoulders the moment she stepped inside his apartment again.

“Arawn, he’s gone. Seriously, what did you do?” She asked, knowing this was on him now.

“I set fire to everything that he owned. Plus, I bought a new lamp.” Arawn chuckled, showing her the new lamp that rested on his bedside table. “Come on, let’s just lay together for a while. It’s been a long week, you should rest.”

And so, it was; they laid together in bed and Arawn ran his hands through her hair and down her back as she rested her head on his chest and felt him breathing. Despite the smell of smoke heavily coating his clothes, Savannah breathed in his scent just so she would never forget it, just to make sure her memory lasted.

Christmas Eve

Savannah and Arawn had settled in for the night. The clock had just struck midnight and it was officially Christmas Eve, and they had celebrated with eggnog under the tiny Christmas tree Arawn had sitting on the windowsill. It was a peaceful night, snow falling gently outside them. The city was surprisingly quiet and so were the two, holding each other until Arawn heard his phone ring on the coffee table. He rolled over to reach his phone, and it was mere seconds before the entire mood shifted for the night.

“Savannah, I’ve gotta go,” Arawn spoke, jumping out of his seat in a hurry.

“Wait, where are you going? Hold up, what’s going on? What just happened?”

“Russia. I got the code red from Dike and William. This is the last The Order of the Black Rose base ever, we took care of their New York branch with you, and now it’s time to take them down once and for all.” Arawn explained.

“So that’s it, you’re just going?”

“Yeah, I’ll be back in a couple of days. If you need anything, call Aunt Malorie.” He rushed, scribbling down her phone number on a pad of paper that was resting on the counter.

“What am I supposed to do?” She asked, following him into their bedroom.

“Just stay here for now,” Arawn responded, his mind falling back into tactical mode. He pulled his body armor out of the closet and began to suit up.

“Wait, Arawn, can you hold up for just one second?” Savannah asked, stepping between him and his gear. He paused and looked into her eyes.

“You better come back here alive,” Savannah said in a low and serious tone, grabbing his hand.

“You know I’ll always come back home to you.” He affirmed, bringing her hand to his lips, kissing the palm of her hand and folding her fingers over it to seal the kiss into place. With that, Arawn was ready to head to Russia.

**********

“Ari, I was so worried about you,” Savannah spoke softly as he closed the door behind him. She knew immediately there was something wrong.

Arawn was covered in blood, sweat, and dirt, and he was tired. Savannah gently touched his arm as a form of support, but he wouldn’t look her in the eye.

“Arawn, talk to me, what happened?” Savannah asked in a whisper, prodding further. Arawn couldn’t seem to find the words. It just didn’t seem real.

“I, um... we... we lost someone on the trip.” He explained softly. The words rolled off his tongue hesitantly, for they felt like acid being formed and spoken.

“Oh no. Ari, I-”

“She was on my team. She was my responsibility and I couldn’t keep her safe. It all happened so fast, a window broke, she was pushed out, she fell onto some rebar-”

Arawn felt guilty. There was nothing that Savannah could say to take that away from him. It tore at his soul and he would always carry it around. It didn’t matter if he did the best he could, or if there was nothing he could do to help anyway. It didn’t matter because the accident was on his watch and just like everyone else, he didn’t try and go back for her.

Arawn cried a lot in the weeks that followed. He was licking a wound that he took full responsibility for, but in the process, he cut himself off from everyone he loved. He wouldn’t respond to Dike’s phone calls or any god’s calls for that fact.

“Arawn, you can’t blame yourself for this,” Savannah spoke as they laid in bed together. Arawn was lying face down on the mattress and Savannah was running her hands through his long locks.

“But the thing is, I can.”

“Were you the one that pushed her?”

“No, but-”

“You didn’t kill her.”

“But I didn’t protect her. I didn’t prevent it from happening.”

“How could you possibly have seen that outcome in advance?”

“I’m a god, Savvy. I’m supposed to be smarter and stronger. I should have been able to protect her better. I should have seen it coming, I should have seen that strategy. I’ve been in war for God’s sake.”

“Ari, it’s not your fault. Why won’t you answer any of Dike’s phone calls?”

“Because I can’t possibly imagine what he’s going to say. I can’t listen to his voicemails. If he’s calling to tell me how it’s all my fault, I don’t think I can handle that. Even if he’s trying to say it’s all okay and trying to bring me back into the happy-go-lucky “family”, I can’t pretend it’s all fine when it’s not.”

“Ari. Nobody’s asking you to pretend.” Savannah spoke softly. Arawn didn’t have a response.

“I can listen to the voicemails, Ari. If you can’t, I can. If it will ease your mind knowing what they say, I can listen to them. What are you worried about?”

“I’m worried because I was there when they took Maize into the hospital. They said she wouldn’t make it through the night. William went back to get her, but she was going to die. I’m just afraid that every single message is going to say that she’s dead, that she didn’t make it, that her funeral is going to happen, and I just can’t do that right now. I didn’t help her, I didn’t prevent her death, and I didn’t go back for her. There’s a lot of responsibilities that I didn’t fulfill that will only feel so much worse hearing Dike’s voice telling me she’s dead because of it.”

“Have it your way, Ari. Isolating yourself isn’t the solution here, and you might be missing out on something really important. You’ll never know if you don’t pick up the phone.”

Despite her compelling argument, Arawn didn’t speak to Dike or any of the Gods. He ignored every phone call for six months, and even though they never stopped trying to reach out to Arawn, the frequency of the calls or texts slowed down to a crawl. Dike never lost hope in Arawn, hoping maybe one day he would come around.

Arawn and Savannah had gone to Mackie’s Bar on the East Side for their New Year’s Eve celebration. This was the first year that he hadn’t gone to William’s party, but by the recap text that was sent by Dike (despite Arawn still ignoring the Gods, he was in the group chat against his will) detailed that William made them get cleaned up and celebrate. Arawn was maybe a little bit grateful that he didn’t go, for it sounded like everyone had launched full-force into depression and were all zombies.

Savannah put on a pair of jeans matched with an off-the-shoulder gray cardigan layered over a black bodysuit, and strappy heels to polish it off. Arawn found himself in an old tee shirt and jeans again, and it always seemed like Savannah out-dressed him everywhere they went together. He didn’t mind, she always shined, and he wanted the world to know.

As the night went on, Arawn got swept up in conversation and laughter with the other bar regulars they had come to know, but everyone seemed to ignore Savannah. She played a few rounds of pool with some strangers, but it was nearing midnight and Arawn was still distracted and seemed to have no interest in Savannah. She was working on a cherry lollipop as she watched him from across the bar, and as the countdown to the new year descended, she took Arawn by surprise.

Walking over to him, she spun his barstool around, grabbed his tee shirt by the collar and pulled him closer to her as she straddled his legs. He hooked his fingers around her belt loops, and they nearly fell off the barstool in the process. They had kissed through the rest of the countdown and well into the new year, and Arawn didn’t know he needed the taste of cherry on Savannah’s lips. His heart fluttered and his head spun, and he used his hands to pull her even closer to him. They each drank a glass of champagne in celebration, then Savannah popped the lollipop back into her mouth. That set Arawn over the edge.

“Come on, time to go.” He said abruptly.

“Wait, what’s up?” Savannah asked. He leaned down to answer her question in her ear.

“I am currently barely holding onto the last bit of control I have, and if we don’t head home just know I’m ready to start taking clothes off right here and right now.”

That’s all Arawn needed to say to convince her to head home, and they had high-tailed it out of Mackie’s moments after.

After starting the year with a bang, Arawn made his resolution. He would, eventually, come back around to the Gods. He promised himself he would start listening to Dike’s voicemails sooner or later, no matter how long it took him to get through it, he would do it. He had the time to process what had happened in Russia and it wasn’t helping anyone that he was running from his problems instead of running to face them.

He would come back around one day. He promised himself.

Present Day

Arawn and Savannah made their way up to Maize’s room, for they had made the trip out to the compound to check up on her ever since William left for Saint-Tropez. Nobody could seem to get Maize to come around, not since graduation. The news of William not wanting to be her father hit her really hard, and everyone was on high alert. Maybe Arawn and Savannah would be the ones to reach out to her and figure out what was happening.

“Hey, Maize, can we come in?” Arawn asked with a gentle knock to her door. She aggressively answered his question.

“Who the FUCK is it?”

On the other side of the door, Arawn shrugged for that was a typical response for Maize.

“It’s me, Arawn, and I’m with Savvy.”

A few shuffles later, Maize opened the door for them, unamused. She stepped aside and let them into her room.

“Let me guess, you were sent by the others to check up on me because I won’t talk to them.”

“Exactly. We’re all worried about you and want to know how you are.”

With that, Maize basically exploded.

“Oh, my God, suddenly everyone wants to check up on me to see if I’m okay! I swear that the next person who asks me if I’m fine is going to get punched in the fucking face.” Maize responded to Arawn.

“Hamm, but the thing is, I don’t think you’re really okay. Come on, let’s work this out. You don’t have to talk to us, but grab your wraps and come on up to the gym with me.”

“Arawn, what are you doing?” She asked.

“Letting you punch me in the face.” He responded as if it was the most normal thing in the world.

They rekindled the conversation as they were on the sparring mats in the gym. Savannah was sitting to the side and watching Arawn’s process, also trying to understand Maize’s situation. They started off throwing light punches and Arawn blocked her, and as he questioned her the punches got more intense as if it were a symphony rising to a crescendo.

“So, what’s going on?” Arawn asked, very open-ended. Maize explained her story in bits through the punches they were exchanging.

“My mom told William he was my father, William said that I wasn’t Talia, it just wasn’t the same, and that he didn’t want me.” She began, giving Arawn the abbreviated beginning since he was filled in on that part.

“So, he decides to lock himself away from everyone and not own up to his goddamn words.”

Maize’s punches began to get harder.

“He thinks he can just make a reappearance as a new guy, walk out the fucking front doors without saying a word to any of us, without answering any questions, and take his private fucking jet to the French Riviera for a fucking vacation- or so we thought.”

“Is that where he is?”

“He’s in Saint-Tropez, drinking on the beach, I bet. I call his bullshit.”

“What’s his bullshit?” Arawn wondered. Now they were getting some new information.

“He sent me this postcard.” Maize answered, pausing to pull the piece of paper from her pocket. She handed it to Savannah so she and Arawn could continue.

“It says that he’s in France to locate Talia’s biological mother to tell her that Talia died. But I call his bullshit because he’s had a lifetime of his technology to find Talia’s mother and reconnect with her. He told us he didn’t know where she was, and now suddenly she’s living in a beautiful coastal town in France? Bullshit. He told me that I was exactly like my mother, and he mentioned that time I played piano for him and it just seemed like he had an explanation for everything. But it doesn’t make up for the fact that he said that he didn’t want me, and I won’t even excuse the fact that he said it at his daughter’s funeral because his words show how he truly feels, and his actions don’t mean shit to me.”

At the end of Maize’s explanation, she grabbed Arawn’s arm and pinned him down, getting so angry that she accidentally sent a bolt of lightning up his arm and electrocuted him. He went limp and Maize rolled him over on the mat, slapping his cheeks to make him come to.

“Sorry about that.” She apologized. Arawn just groaned.

“Savvy, do you have anything to add?” He asked, letting her steer the conversation so he could recover.

“Well, I think we all lick our wounds in different ways. Ari separated himself for a while after Russia under the presumption you were dead and he was responsible, but he needed distance to heal. Maybe William does, too. William has to deal not only with a death in his family but with his baby mama in France, too, so let him process and work through the stages of grief. Just like Ari did, he’ll come around, I’m sure of it. You’re a gem and it would be a shame if he didn’t see that. If he wants a relationship with you and you want a relationship with him, be willing to work it out. William needs to figure out what he wants, and so do you. So, just like him, take some time away from it all.” Savannah suggested, then turned to Arawn.

“Ari, are you okay?” She asked with a giggle. He nodded and groaned and slowly got up to meet Maize’s eyes.

“And it’s not fair because William hurt my mom, too. It’s not just between me and him, it’s me and Anne against William because he rejected her too. So, in my mind, he can fuck right off.” Maize concluded, unwrapping her hands and shrugging.

Arawn, Savannah, and Maize walked out of the gym together, and Maize didn’t want to admit that she felt better. She was apprehensive at first, but Arawn got through to her and finally got her to talk about what was bothering her. Arawn already knew that it worked, and he didn’t make her say it, so he left her with a tender hug and a kiss on the forehead.

“Call me if you need anything, sweetheart.” He said, dropping her off at her door. She thanked him and took solace in her room, and Arawn and Savannah walked down the hall hand in hand.

Even though their remedies were mostly band-aids for the greater wounds at hand, they were healing anyway. Maize would forever have a scar that William left her with, she would forever be hurt by his words and there was no changing that. But, there would come a point where the wound was closed off and even though there was a permanent reminder of the pain, it wouldn’t hurt anymore. Maize was just waiting for when it would stop hurting. Maize was open and raw and bleeding, and she would have given the whole world for it to just... stop. She was waiting for the day when she could wake up and the pain would just be gone.

Even more than that, she wished that time and karma would finally catch up to William Townsend.

She knew he would get his karma, and he was no stranger to pain, but she wanted this one to hurt the most. She hoped that it hit him the hardest in Saint-Tropez.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.