“Well, I was going to ask you the same thing,” Matt brushed the hair back from my shoulder, “But I should have seen it before. You know they used to burn people with hair like that. I’m sure they had a good reason though.”
There was no reply that I had for him besides standing in utter confusion. He smiled lightly and lifted my jaw so that my mouth wasn’t hanging open still. His eyes left mine to study the room. Swiftly he walked over and shut the blackout curtains, and turned back to me, “Are you going to say something or just stand there and look at me dumbfounded for the rest of the night?”
“Matt,” I choked out, “What are you doing here?”
He sat down on the edge of the bed and patted for me to join him, but I shook my head refusing his invite. “I didn’t follow you here if that’s what you think. I mean I did follow you here, but every year I go to…”
“You go to see your dad.” I finished his sentence nearly falling down on the floor as my knees weakened, but the door held me.
Matt looked slightly confused, “How did you?”
“It’s a long story, but why are you here?”
“My dad is here. When I saw the scene escalating at the bar I was bewildered when you were right in the middle of it. Well, to make this easy after you left, I followed.” Matt picked up my medication on the nightstand and studied the label, “Like I asked you, do you know he is still out there watching you?”
I heard him talking, but after the first sentence I didn’t really listen. “Your dad is here?”
For his dad to be here it would only make sense that he was a warlock. Matt got up off the bed and walked over to in front of me pulling me up off the floor. I didn’t even realize that I had slid the whole way down. “That’s why you didn’t freak out at the wedding when you saw me.”
“Ash?” Matt’s voice came along with his hand waving in front of my face. It brought me back from Kate and Josh’s wedding. He could have reacted quite differently, but instead he accepted who I was. “What wedding are you talking about?”
“Nothing. I’m sorry.” My eyes filtered into his. “So you are a, you know?”
“No, not me.” Matt shifted his eyes away from mine back to the window. “But look at you. You’re beautiful.”
“Yeah, that would be nice if it were actually true.” I swallowed hard feeling the acid from my stomach still eating away at my throat. “It would also have been nicer if you were to look at me when you said it.”
Dark chocolate eyes fell into mine. They were so dark that they, instead of chocolate, could be obsidian based. They gleamed so bright in the light, but there was a depth inside of them that was bottomless. I was lost inside of those deep wells that were his eyes. Equally as I dove into his, he had dived right back into mine. They were everything that I had remembered.
There was something inside of them that always pulled me in. They always erased the world around us just allowing me to be free in that moment. I felt a faint smile growing on my face as one grew on his. “I’m sorry. You are very beautiful.”
The blood rushed to my cheeks as I finally pulled my eyes from him and stared at the floor. Matt’s hand fell over my hair and then drew up my jaw line bringing my face closer to his. I closed my eyes as I felt his lips press softly against mine. My hands that clenched the blanket beneath me released only to find his shirt. I brought him closer to my body and he willingly gave in letting himself lean over top of me. I brought my leg up and around his hip making sure that he wasn’t going anywhere besides right here. I wasn’t about to let him leave me in this moment. My arms wound around to his back as his lips fell from mine to find my neck.
His lips found their way to my ear as he whispered, “If you attack me like this for saying that you are beautiful what would I get if I said that the moment our eyes first met that I was yours.”
Dark eyes fell once again into mine as his hands slowly brought Marcus’ jacket from my shoulders. I slipped out of it easily and pushed it off the bed. Pulling Matt back down to me I stopped his lips from touching mine, “You said Friday night that you wanted to change, and feel like a champion. What did you mean by that?”
As he lifted himself off of me the light shined inside of his eyes. The grin that had come over him reminded me of the first time that I had asked him. I knew the answer wouldn’t differ, but I needed to hear it again. “I wanted to feel your lips against mine.”
Matt’s tongue wet his lips as he leaned in once again, “Because I need something to live for. Holding you right now is all I need it seems to feel alive.”
As his lips took me into a world that was a distant memory my hands ran through his hair and down over his back. I pushed him away from me every chance that I had in the future, but now I was going to keep him closer than ever.
I took my time in rediscovering my love for Matt. He seemed to enjoy this as much as I did, but this was his first time ever laying his lips upon my skin. It did remind me slightly of the first time that he had kissed me on his birthday. He said then that it was his favorite present that he had ever received.
My fingers traced the lines on Matt’s chest as we laid there. The dark tan against my white skin seemed so different, but perfectly matched at the same time. He entwined his fingers with mine, “Now that you’ve turned are you going to come back to school?”
My eyes met his with confusion and a profound sadness knowing that I couldn’t go back. “I won’t turn until April.”
“April? But you look,” Matt’s words were cut off by the sound of knocking at the door. Quickly Matt bolted up from the bed and looked around the room. He gathered his things and started towards the bathroom. He stopped once he noticed the door in pieces, “I’m not supposed to be here.”
I closed my eyes imagining the door as one piece. I hoped that it worked so that he could hide. I didn’t want whoever was at the door to find him here either. Just like his gently tapping the knocking became pounding. I opened my eyes when I heard the bathroom door shut. Slowly I made my way to the door to see who exactly it was.
The pounding seem persistent, but still they didn’t say anything. Looking out the peephole again I saw Blyth standing there with his eyes to the ground just slamming his palm against the door. “What do you want?”
“Look, I’m sorry about what I said earlier.” Blyth looked at me through the tiny hole, “I want you to come back.”
“I’ll be back in the morning.” I answered still not ready to open the door.
Suddenly Blyth’s eyes widened, “They told you that I was going to hurt you, didn’t they?”
“Yes,” I sheepishly answered, but I wanted him to know that wasn’t the reason I wasn’t going back with him tonight, “I don’t believe them though. I’m just taking tonight to think about all of this without the influence of any of you.”
“Can I give you something to make you understand that it’s over? Everything that we have worked for meant nothing.” Blyth held out what seemed to be an envelope, “I sent Marcus to look for you while I searched for the other key. It never got any further than what I was given, just a simple piece of paper that sat on top of the book. Please open the door and let me give it to you. I swear I will leave you to your thoughts if you just take this.”
“Who is it?” Matt’s voice made me turn and look at him with his head peering out of the bathroom.
I shook my head and whispered, “Stay in there.”
“Ash, come on, you said you didn’t believe them.” Blyth pleaded with me. As soon as I made sure that Matt was concealed in the bathroom I opened the door. Blyth smiled and held out the paper for me to take, “Thank you.”
I reached out bracing myself on the doorway nearly afraid I was going to stumble out of the door completely. Instead of my hand landing on the paper that Blyth held out for me my fingers wrapped around his wrist as I began falling. He caught me before I hit the sidewalk, but I knew when I looked up into his eyes what was happening. Blyth was trying to talk to me, but his words fell into the thin air without me being able to hear one of them.
This time as the numbness took over my body I used all of my strength to keep my eyes open so that I would not have to see Marcus behind them. I wasn’t sure if he could still call me in this state of being infected, but I didn’t want to see him. He knew that I was going to turn tonight, and that is why he left Michael there to watch me. It would have been torture for Michael to sit there and watch me turn without being able to take such glorious power for himself or maybe he still could have taken it. After all he didn’t have any power when he took his real father’s all those years ago. Is that what Marcus wanted for Michael to take my power tonight?
I stared up into Blyth’s face full of worry and fear. He obviously didn’t know what was happening, but as the white fingers fell on his shoulders it wouldn’t be long before he found out. There was Marcus standing over us. Blyth still refused to let me go even in this deadening state that I was in.
I fought to keep my eyes open, but my body had other things planned for me. As soon as the world went black I could hear their voices. It was just like before. I couldn’t see or feel anything, but their voices were there. It was Blyth’s that I heard first. He was alarmed by the sound of his voice, “She’s dying. How do I save her?”
Marcus’ voice came and it was calm, “She’s not dying. She turning and will rise as the Phoenix.”
Blyth’s finger touched my neck, “She has no pulse. Marcus, she’s dying.”
When the complete effect of turning hit me I was overwhelmed that Blyth had cared more about me than what I would become. It was odd though my thoughts at this point. Instead of worrying about opening my eyes to an escalating fight like last time I wondered if this is what Blyth felt when he turned. The book said that Blyth felt as though he was dying and it was obvious now that when I am turning was just like dying. I had never thought of it that way until Blyth’s words came through, ‘She has no pulse.’ That would explain the numbness inside my body.
All I had to do now was pass the time for the explosion of blood filling my veins. No wait there it was, floating. I was rising out of Blyth’s arms up into the air. The tingling of my blood finally going through me forced my eyes to open again. I caught myself before falling to the ground. The scene that was before me caught me in awe.
There was no big fight between brothers. Marcus was standing just behind Blyth with a huge smile on his face. He knew exactly what was going to happen. Blyth was still on his knees looking up at me almost awe struck as I was. The one thing that bothered me the most was Matt was standing in the doorway watching me too. All of their eyes stayed with me until I landed. I wasn’t sure of whom to look at first, but my first thought was to cast Marcus away from me.
I readied myself to send him flying across the parking lot as my eyes rose from the pavement to him. When my eyes found their way to his he was no longer staring at me, but passed me. I looked at Blyth who stared right passed me as well. Each of their eyes held blank expressions. Even Marcus who I was sure nothing would ever surprise him.
I turned to find Matt gone from the doorway that he was just standing in. Quickly I looked around for him and there he was racing down the parking lot disappearing into the night. Marcus was just starting to follow him when I stopped him as fast as I could.
“You won’t touch him.” I declared refusing to let him go any further.
Slowly Blyth’s voice rose from him a little unsure and even more confused, “You know him?”
I never took my eyes from Marcus even as he slowly turned around to face us, “He’s her boyfriend.”
A low growl that even scared me came from my throat, “And you won’t hurt him again.”
“You love him?” Blyth questioned.
Now that I was sure that my barrier would contain Marcus if he turned to run after him again I looked down at Blyth who looked troubled in more ways than I could even describe, “Only in a future that I will never have.”
“Did Marcus hurt him in that future?” Blyth began picking himself up off the ground.
“No, he already has.” I turned my attention back to Marcus making sure that he was still there. He was but he was beginning to back away slowly raising his hands to in front of him. “Over the summer he made him wreck his car.”
“If I didn’t she would have never loved him.” Marcus tried to argue his case, but for whatever Matt meant to Blyth it didn’t matter.
The paper that Blyth held slowly ripped in two pieces and I stopped them before they landed on the ground. I watched as Blyth took off after Marcus. Marcus had nowhere to run to get away from him because of my barrier. I watched as Blyth lowered himself landing right in Marcus’ midsection. Shaking my head I turned my attention from Blyth attacking Marcus to the pieces of paper floating just a foot over the ground. Slowly they began piecing themselves together.
I sat down on the curb and unfolded the papers. It wasn’t just a piece of paper holding the other key. It was actually several different papers, but the one on top was the other key. It looked as though it had been through Hell already, but I’m sure that it might have been with him for nearly three hundred years now. Before I unfolded it the last time to reveal exactly what information it would hold I looked one last time at Blyth still beating on Marcus.
I opened it nearly afraid now of what it would reveal, but if Blyth couldn’t find it then it just meant I wasn’t the true Phoenix. As I gazed over the name my heart dropped just as I’m sure Blyth’s had when he first opened it as well. I understood his defeat in searching for him. It was one name that I had never expected, but just like he knew I knew it was only meant as that person, Matthew Bradford.
My mind wondered uneasily to back to Michael and Blyth’s conversation after I had woken up. They were both certain that the dead could not come back. It wasn’t Matthew that he was searching for. It was a way to bring him back. I’m sure that in over two hundred years that if he couldn’t find a way it was impossible.
Carefully I refolded it and moved it behind the other papers that he had intended to give me. These were not as old or as damaged as the one that held Matthew’s name. As I looked over them in the dim light a shiver went through me, and I pulled Michael’s jacket from the motel room. It landed perfectly over my shoulders as I looked back at Blyth still hitting Marcus. It seemed that he had given up on defending himself and just let Blyth continue to strike him. I wasn’t about to stop it in anyway. In my own thoughts he deserved every piece of force that Blyth was putting behind his blows.
My attention went back to the letter in my hand.
To The Goddess That Has Stolen My Very Essence;
I’ve done enough terrible things in my lifetime, but I am beginning to fear that the worst was bringing you here to this point in yours. In the beginning you were just a key, a force to use, but now I see you are just as fragile as a glass heart with more than one crack to heal. It disturbs me greatly knowing that I was the actual cause for those cracks no matter how insignificant my role was in creating them. I was the one who sent him to you. Right now I feel as though my heart is dying only to fix yours. I would do whatever it needs to repair those lines that I have punctured inside of you. Please allow me to try.
Tonight I thought that the pain inside of my heart was from several different places in my life, but as I ran my fingers through someone else’s hair it struck me. This pain inside of my body was not caused from anything other than you.
I told you that I have a very addictive personality, and you are my drug now. I don’t want you to hurt you any longer or force you to end my life. I just want you in my life even if it is to remind me every day of the pain that I’ve caused you. Seeing your face would ease my suffering. To touch your skin would drag me from Hell to Heaven. If ever given a chance to feel your lips upon mine would stop my heart forever.
This is not a letter to ask you to love me, but forgive me.
“I told Marc that if he kept it up that he would kill him by the end of the day, and he said he would like to see him try. Looks like he is trying fairly well, if you ask me.” Michael’s voice drove through the words that were running through my mind. I had to force my eyes from the letter just to look at him. “So what did he do to provoke this?”
I shook my head, “I’m not really sure, but I’m not stopping it. He deserves worse in my eyes.”
“Well, I understand what it meant for you to rise now. You, I must say are a beauty since you’ve turned.” Michael brushed the hair away from my face, “But what are you still doing here? I figured you would have run once you had the chance.”
“I’m trying to read.” I nodded to the letter in my hand.
“Oh, to the goddess that has stolen my very ess,” Michael started reading it, and I pushed him away from me. A goofy grin came over him, “Looks like I might have some competition on finding my way back into your heart.”
“Not really.” I assured him, but pushed him further away from him as my eyes landed on Blyth now contently standing over Marcus. “I think he might need you more than I do at the moment.”
I got up from the cold pavement and disappeared into the warm motel room. Relaxing on the bed my eyes went back to the letter.
This is not a letter to ask you to love me, but forgive me. Forgive all the pain that Marcus has caused you knowing that it was me that had sent him to you. Never once had I asked him to bring you pain. I just wanted him to find you, but if I hadn’t of asked him to, your heart would be a perfect one. I’m sure, one that would never knew such pain. I would give up knowing you just so that your heart would never know the pain that he caused you. However, I can’t turn back time, or I would have a hundred years ago when I first asked him.
If you can find it in your heart to forgive me I thank you, but if you can’t I ask you to find some way to end my suffering. Spare my son’s behavior and place all the blame on me. It was I who sent him, and it was I that raised him. Therefore this and everything is my fault.
Please come back to me if you can forgive all of my offenses. If not, tonight I believe you will turn, leave and allow me to be tortured as you have. I deserve nothing less than that because seeing you again would just cause my heart to flutter once more giving me hope. Never to see you again would send me through Hell’s gates. I would drown myself in alcohol and be lost in a cloud of smoke until the end of the world came to finally end my suffering of hurting you.
I wish I could say that I want you to hate me and to never come back because of what I’ve done to you. I wish I could, but it wouldn’t be the truth. I want to hold you and wash away all the pain with the happiness that we could create together. I want nothing more that to see your smile and to see you truly blissful. So I hope that in whatever choice that you make you will be happy. Goodbye for now or forever. The choice is yours just as my heart is.
With Deepest Regrets,
Cesare da Ternio
I lowered his letter from my eyes down to my heart. He was seeking forgiveness for something that I never really held him accountable for. What he was asking for was so much more than I was willing to give right now. I understood in a way what he meant by being tortured by never seeing each other again. I would no doubt feel pain being away from him now. It wasn’t that I loved him, but I wasn’t ready to say goodbye just yet.
I was lost in my own feelings as the pounding came once again on the door, “Ash, are you in there?”
Continuing to hold the letter to my heart I walked over to open the door wide for Blyth. His eyes fell over me noticing the letter held against me. He lowered his to the floor and gently pushed passed me. “I just need to use the bathroom, and then I’ll be gone.”
I followed him silently to the bathroom. I wanted to say something to him, but I wasn’t sure of the right words. I turned on the water for him in the sink noticing that he was trying not to get Marcus’ blood all over everything. He mumbled a thank you as his eyes rose to the letter that I was still clutching closely to my heart. Before he ran his hands under the water he reached out and grabbed it from me.
I watched as he ripped the paper into tiny pieces and threw it into the toilet. Then he carefully let the water run over his hands. The blood mixed with the water and was lost down the drain with all my hopes of what he had felt for me. It was apparent that he no longer held what his words said, but I couldn’t imagine why. My mind followed the blood in the sink until the water ran clear. When it stopped my world floated into the darkness.
It wasn’t until I heard him flushing the letter that I was brought back. He watched as it was lost to the sewers, “You don’t need that anymore.”
Blyth grabbed my shoulders pushing me out of the bathroom. He had me backed against the wall, and I was hoping that he would explain the pain that was held inside of his eyes. Instead he turned towards the door trying to leave. I stopped him just as I had stopped Marcus, “Why don’t I need that anymore?”
Blyth rested his hand on the invisible barrier containing him. Lowering his head in defeat he turned and stepped closer to me. His hands ran down my shoulders, over my arms and into my palms. He lifted each one to his lips and then his brown eyes dove into mine, “Tonight I watched an angel die in my arms only to be reborn. You rose from my arms to Heaven. The light that surrounded you nearly killed me with beauty alone. As you fell though the world ended, and my suffering grew a thousand times more.
I won’t compete with him for your love. If you love him, I ask that you go to him now and forget about all of us. I swear that Marcus will never interfere with your life again. Go to him and take him back to wherever home is. Love him as only you could and never break his heart. Please do that for me. Please just love him as you said you loved him before.”
I looked down on Blyth who was now kneeling before me holding each one of my hands in his. His head fell on our hands as he continued speaking in a low tone. I lowered myself down to his level and nudged him slightly to bring his eyes to mine. The tears inside of them fell out as he looked at me. My heart leapt for his in that moment. “Who is he to you?’
“For that boy I would suffer the loss of his mother’s and your love a thousand times over just so I won’t ever have to see the fear that I saw in his eyes tonight. God, what have I done to have my son fear me so?” Blyth raised himself up off the floor and backed away from me, “Please just tell him, just tell him. Ash, just love him please.”
I was lost for words as I watched Blyth rush away from me. Before I knew it he was out the door and gone. I tried to pull my heart out of my stomach as I lifted myself off the floor. No matter how powerful I was at this moment it wasn’t enough. I stumbled to the door and opened it revealing an empty parking lot. Everyone was gone.
I closed my eyes and thought about going to Matt just as Blyth had asked. I wasn’t ready to face him after finding out. I wasn’t sure if I ever could now. What would I say to him? What exactly was he? He came across as any normal teenager. I knew that he wasn’t under the spell with Michael and Marcus. I could see it clearly lying upon their skin, but not on his. Was Blyth actually able to bring him back in his searching and never realized it? The biggest question that ran through my mind was the same one Blyth was asking himself. Why would his own son fear him?
Michael had his reasons to hate Blyth and fear him. Now Marcus did, but I don’t think that with the way Blyth acted that he would ever harm his own son in such a way. He tried to end Michael’s life only to keep him next to him. Even if he didn’t mean for Michael to live through it, he was trying to take his life for his son’s. Maybe at the time he feared for his own life knowing that it was foreseen that Michael would kill him.
There were so many unknowns at this point right now that compelled me to go after Matt. I wrapped Marcus’ coat tighter around me as I shut the door and headed off in the direction that Matt ran. I found it quite ironic that no less than two weeks ago it was Matt chasing me through the dark, and now here I was going after him.
I had walked several blocks in the direction that Matt had gone, but there was no sign of him or his car anywhere. I had never tried to just appear where someone was. It was always just a place that I would envision, but never a person. I wondered if it would work as I stopped and closed my eyes trying for the first time.
The only image of Matt that came to mind was tonight when he first bent forward to kiss me. It must have worked but I was afraid to open my eyes when I heard him cry out, “Jesus!”
I opened my eyes as I saw him quickly wrap a towel around his waist. His eyes went straight to the door as I heard his mother questioning him through it, “Everything okay in there?”
“Yeah, I’m good.” Matt gaze landed back on me, but my eyes were exploring his body. “Ash, what are you doing here?”
“I, um, I” I copied his low tone, but I my mind went completely blank. It seemed that I had just come here to gawk at the glorious wonder of him. The steam was still rising from his body from the hot water that had been cascading down over him.
I backed up against the sink as Matt stepped towards me, “Meet me in my bedroom.”
“Yep,” I tried to take my eyes of him as I backed away to the bathroom door. His hand reached out and grabbed my wrist before my hand reached the doorknob.
A small smile came and his eyes lit up, “No, Ash. Use your powers.”
My words mumbled the words that were flashing through my mind, “Powers, bedroom, you, towel. Bedroom, yep.”
Matt almost started laughing as he lowered himself so that I was staring right into his eyes, “Ash, concentrate.”
“Hi, Ash. Meet me in my bedroom.”
“Where’s your bedroom?” I had just realized that I never seen his bedroom before. His mom never approved of any girls in his room at all.
Matt kept the beautiful smile on his face. “My room is right on the other side of this wall. Do you think you can get there?”
Now reality finally struck me, “I’ve never done that before. Actually I’ve never went straight to someone like this either.”
Matt’s eyes gave me hope though. “Alright stay in here and when I knock come to me. Can you do that?”
“I hope so.” I nodded.
Maybe seeing his bedroom would be enough to understand what he truly was. I positioned myself carefully behind the bathroom door so that I wouldn’t be seen when he opened it. I closed my eyes trying hard not to go to him right then. My eyes flew open when I heard his mom commenting on his heart rate. That was something new.