I walk away as I feel the jealousy pouring in streams from Malachi. I stare at the wall and run through his words in my mind. I still can’t believe that he thinks I don’t want him – doesn’t he know that I didn’t grow up in his world? And that I don’t care about his, or my, status?! It doesn’t matter to me – what does is that he’s cute, and there’s a kindness in his eyes I’ve never seen before, and that he gives me a zing that I don’t believe has anything to do with some magical bond; to me it’s about the way he makes me feel. It’s about the fact that when I thought he had died, I almost died, and not just because I didn’t know where I was because I did. Know where I was, that is. I turn and stare at him, willing him to look up and see in my eyes that he is the one. I’ve never met my soul mate before, but if this isn’t him then I don’t think I have one.
“Mal,” I say softly, my voice breaking at the end. As I wait for him to look up I prepare myself for potential heartbreak. I mean, if he can’t see that he’s the only one for me then maybe we’re not meant to be. “Please, Mal. Will you please look at me?” He looks up and as I stare into his eyes I’m overcome with familiarity beyond anything I’ve ever felt before. “Mal.” I whisper again, staring into those eyes and trying to imagine what will happen if I proclaim my maybe-love right here, right now. My mouth starts to form the words, but my voice refuses to work.
I take an unconscious step closer to him, and his eyes seem to sparkle with hope. I reach out and entwine my fingers in his hair, marveling as the strands softly slip through my fingers. The connection zings between us, and his thoughts begin to echo through my mind. How am I going to live without touching her like this? If we are to be partners, how am I to watch her everyday with another man and not punch him in the face and whisk her away with me?
“Mal. It’s you.”
“What?” He looks up at me and he’s so close that we’re sharing breaths and I can almost feel his heartbeat in my own chest as we seem to be so close to becoming one.
“You.” When he’s silent, I take the look in his eyes as disbelief and start speaking again, not even thinking about the words spewing out of my mouth. “I promise. Since we met, it’s been like nothing else ever before. When I thought you thought I was horrible and incapable it hurt me so much, and no-one’s words have ever hurt me before. When you collapsed unconscious on the floor, I was about to pull a Juliet and die too, because the thought of living a day without you is worse than not living at all.” I end breathless, yet feeling lighter for having told him. If he says he feels the same, then I’m sure I’ll sprout wings and fly all the way around the world with the power of these emotions building inside of me. Some part of me holds back, tells me I’ve never experienced anything that I could judge this by, but another, stronger, part of me just knows. You can’t fake the breathlessness I feel in my chest, or the way he makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
My whole life I’ve denied the existence of love at first sight. I thought it was a sham, a beautiful myth crafted at the hands of lovers to justify the pursuit of their instant attraction. But right here, in this moment, looking down into the eyes of a man I’ve only just met, I’m not so sure. It isn’t love, because love grows with time and knowledge and affection and shared experiences. But it was something; it was the potential for the Greatest Love Ever. And I would be an imbecile to pass that up.
His breath catches in his throat and I fall into his gaze expectantly, waiting for his reply. “I…I don’t know what to reply to that.” He stutters, looking at the ground and fidgeting with his fingers, I continue watching him, hoping he’ll say more, and he doesn’t disappoint. “Words cannot express the extent of my feelings for you. I never thought it would happen to me – I mean, you hear stories and you see couples and wonder if they’re soul mates of not, but…wow...and for it to happen to me? And with the most gorgeous, wonderful, amazing, beautiful girl? Well, I must be dreaming.” I smile at his words and his eyes look up to meet mine, his hand reaching out to caresses my cheek. “Knowing I put that smile on your face is the most amazing feeling in the world.”
My smile grows a little bit more and I lean into his embrace, wrapping my arms around his waist as my head rests on his chest. His arms come around me and I sigh at the feeling of rightness surrounding this moment. “Mal?” I mumble into his chest.
“Mhmm.” He says, the noise making his chest rumble and I giggle at the sensation.
“What happens now?”
“What?” He says, sounding more cognitively able than me, as I’m still caught in the haze of his embrace and the warmth of these new feelings.
“Not with us, but generally. I don’t know where we are, but I do know that I have to get back to Sel and Em…and that those two guys – Faegan and Dudon? – can’t see or hear me,” I say, returning from my own haze, but not pulling away from the circle of his arms.
“What do you mean, Lay? Selena and Emily are right there,” He points to a corner of the cave currently void of anything.
“Nothings there,” I say, squinting in case that helps my sister and friend magically appear. “But Sel was here before, when I was crying and calling for them,” I shrug, embarrassed.
“Do you reckon you could do it again?” Malachi’s words catch me off guard and I merely stare at him for a few seconds
“Wha…?” I just stare at him for a moment in confusion. “You want me to be so distressed that I’m in tears and yelling for my friends?”
“No, no, no. Of course not! I never want you to be distressed again,” he says and my heart flares at his words. “No, it doesn’t have to be despair, or distress. Just any emotion you want to share with your sisters.” I don’t correct him on calling Emily my sister, and instead think of what I’m feeling at the moment. The warm, fuzzy feeling that I get from being with Malachi rises and I instantly know that I want to tell Selena about this more than ever, and hope that will be enough.
I close my eyes and focus on the feeling, letting it rise up to engulf me in a haze of emotion. I remember Selena and I lying on her bed and discussing how we thought there was no one out there in the world who would be perfect for us, and I grin as I think about how she will react when I Tell her that we were wrong, and that I found him. And that he’s not human. And that neither am I. A gasp brings me out of my reverie and I look up into my sister’s eyes.
“Sel!” I scream at the same time that she screams, “Lay!” I pull away from Malachi and run to her, where she grabs me in a hug. I smile into her shoulder as she cries into mine.
“Why are you smiling?” Selena sobs into my shoulder, wetting my shirt. When I whisper ‘Mal’ into her ear, she lets out a choked sob and squeezes me tighter. “So, you found the one, huh?” When I nod she gives me a squeeze before pulling away and looking around the room until her gaze falls on Malachi.
“So, Malachi, I’ve heard lots about you.” Selena stares down at him as she crosses her arms over her chest. “Are you good enough for my sister, my best friend, my counterpart, my one and only, and the one I will protect until the day I die?” I smother a giggle into my palm at her line of questioning as I feel a red-hot blush creep into my cheeks.
“Yes, Ma’am. I believe so. But feel free to do a background check, I believe I am clean.” He smirks.
“Nice. He has attitude, manners, and an ego, yet his adoration for you is evident. I approve.” I continue to blush furiously as she finishes her tirade. She throws her arms around him, enveloping him in a hug, my heart spikes with jealousy and Malachi’s eyes widen.
“Hey, Fae!” Selena shouts, suddenly pulling away and motioning to one of the boys. “I found them!” When no reply is forthcoming, she approaches and waves a hand in front of his face. When he walks right through her hand she gasps and I groan, walking over to Malachi’s side, as I mumble ‘not again.’ Selena prances around the room, talking to Fae and Du, as she calls them, and asking where Emily is, yelling in their ears as they walk around looking perplexed.
“Sel. Take a seat, we have some stuff to talk about.” I motion to the wall as Malachi and I settle on the floor opposite the wall. I haven’t released my grip on his arm so the connection still rises between us and I know he’s aware of what I’m planning to do.
Emily’s gasp brings me out of my search for Melayna’s magical scent, and I turn around to see what’s wrong and notice the distinct absence of Selena.
“Where’s Sel!” The distressed cry comes from Emily and the tears in her eyes strike a chord within me, a single tear making its way down my cheek as I continue to watch her. Damn that stupid no-touching rule! All I want to do is hug her!
I glance at Faegan quickly and see a similar emotion on his face, even if it’s minimized. Emily pulls her self together, blinking back tears and instead letting rage take over. I watch as she advances towards Faegan, thanking Mali that she’s not advancing towards me, because I’m as useful as a fish out of water when she’s around.
“WHERE IS MY FRIEND?” Emily explodes, and I wince at the tone of her voice. That voice can produce some of the most beautiful sounds on the planet, and yet the harsh timbre of this yell is full of desperation and raw pain as opposed to musicality and beauty.
“I – I – I don’t know!” Faegan stutters, retreating from Emily’s form. His blank expression may hide his fear and confusion from Emily, but I’ve known him for too long for it to work on me. I grimace at him, and see the glint in his eyes that lets me know that he’s having trouble holding back. I squint my eyes closed and get ready to intervene.
“I can work this out.” My eyes are still scrunched tight, and I’m almost worried that my statement was too quiet to hear. I feel the room still and hear the scraping of shoes against the rock floor. “They’re probably still here.” I murmur, more to myself than anyone else in the room, but that doesn’t stop Emily hearing.
“Who is? How do you know that?” I hear her take a step towards me and I squeeze my eyes shut, preventing me from turning into a useless puddle of gloop at her feet.
“Melayna, Selena and our partner, Malachi.” I answer the first part, stalling the second question so I can think of an answer in which I can evade mentioning magic and all things supernatural.
“How?” The question comes again, this time with more anger.
“Um…”I trail off, trying to let her know that it’s something I cant eally mention, hoping she’ll let it go.
“Oh, come on! If it’s something magical or unnatural but you don’t want to tell me because you think I don’t know, then let me tell you something. I’m not stupid, I’ve worked out that everything’s not as it seems. So now tell me where my friends are before I’m forced to do something dramatic!” Her voice got louder as did her footsteps and I turn around, keeping my eyes shut.
I hear a gasp and quickly open my eyes, finding Emily less than a meter away from me. Her eyes seem to stare into my soul, and my hand itches to reach out and touch her. “Em,” forms in a whisper and is released from my mouth at the same time that she releases ‘Du’ from hers. A gasp is brought forth from both of us, as we stare into each other’s souls and whisper each other’s names in synch. Something is in the air, something I’ve never felt before.
“OH, MY GOD THAT’S SO COOL!” Selena squeals, grabbing my hands. “We’re not human? So we have, like, super powers and are magic sisters? Oh my god, we need to have a cool name, or something! Like, the epic threesome! OR maybe we need to be a four. Awesome foursome!” She winks at me as I snuggle into Malachi’s side, laughing at her reaction to the whole concept.
“You’re taking it very differently to how your sister did.” He teases, ticking me a bit and making me slap away his hand. “She started questioning me on relationships and arranged marriages and partnerships and then almost gave me a heart attack.” He laughs into my hand as I cover his mouth with it, preventing him from continuing. He tries to pry my hand off but I’m sitting on his hands, making it hard for him to move. I glance at Selena and mouth a ‘tell you later’ before Malachi licks my hand and I pull away.
“Eww!” I exclaim, wiping my hand on his shirt. He laughs and licks my hand again. As I try to pull away he traps me in his arms and starts licking up my arms. I squeal and laugh as I try to wiggle out of his hold. As he gets higher up my arm I start to get out of breath, until we are face to face and I’m barely breathing. His tongue is hanging out and he’s breathing heavily, looking a lot like a dog. I grin as a thought occurs to me and I lean in slowly, kissing his cheek and staying there for a couple seconds before pulling back and hiding behind the curtain of my hair.
“Wow,” Selena mutters, making Malachi stop whatever retaliation he had planned. “Is it getting hot in here, or what?!” She grins at me, letting me know she’s teasing rather than wanting us to stop. And thank god for that, because I don’t know if I could ever stop touching Malachi in some way now that I’ve started.
“So, what are these powers we have?” Selena says, sitting back down and setting into serious mode. I lean back and let Malachi explain, knowing that as much as I might think I know, I don’t know anything yet.
Malachi leans back against the wall and smiles as he puts his arms around me and pulls me into his side. He looks at Selena and I think he can tell she’s happy for us.
You’re very close with Selena, aren’t you? He thinks to me. I don’t look up at him, not yet ready for Selena to know about this part of our connection yet.
Of course – she’s my sister! But I’m close with Em as well. My tone is indignant, even within my mind.
Yes, but you’re closer with Sel. After a few minutes of back and forth, with breaks in between where he tells the story of The Seven, the beings who created the supernatural world, I give in.
Sel and I had it rough, we weren’t always so close. But there are some people who are designed to be the perfect piece to your puzzle, and Selena is mine. I guess you’re one as well.
“So, whom are we descended from? I’m guessing Mali.” Selena interrupts unknowingly, leaning back and looking at Malachi in a way that almost challenges him to prove her wrong. I tune back in at this point, not having heard much about this before.
How did she know that? I hear Malachi wonder to himself.
“You are correct; Mali is the person whom our powers came from,” he confirms.
“But, wait,” I say, staring at Malachi in thought. “You said that our powers aren’t hereditary, but circumstantial.” I say, my head tilted in thought.
“When did he say that?” Selena questions, but neither Malachi nor I respond to that, not wanting to rehash everything that happened before she arrived.
“I did say that,” He answers cautiously
“Well, in the story you said that Mali fell in love, and then chose the human path and had children, who vowed to continue her quest to defeat her siblings, except for Layla and Davey who continued to bring balance to the world. And I’m assuming that when the woman who told me the story told me that she was Layla, she meant she was the actual Layla, like from the story.” A train of thought pops into my head, and before I’m even thinking about what I’m saying, thoughts pour out of my mouth. “Anyway, so Mali’s children vowed to not abuse her skills and stuff for their own good, right? I’m guessing Mali wasn’t an idiot. So, what happened? Did her kids, or grandkids to be exact, decide they didn’t want to continue her quest and ceased to fight, sending the world into darkness?” Mal stares at me with an open shock, internally wondering how I knew, before he realizes something. The thought flits through his mind and registers before I can even understand what he’s thinking.
“Shit!” He proclaims loudly. Standing up and moving out of my grip, trying to shut his mind off from me. I stare after him in shock, listening to his monologue and knowing that he doesn’t know I can still hear his thoughts. Damn! Now she’s never going to get any peace, we’ll be in constant war, and she’ll most likely die before the week is up! At least, that’s what happened to the last one. His thoughts are cynical and bitter, and I can’t hold my tongue any longer.
“What last one?” Anger rings out through my body and my voice as I stand up, glaring at him with barely restrained horror and confusion. “Don’t make me say it again, Malachi. What. Last. One.” I advance towards him and he stumbles back, his gaze never leaving mine. “So help me, Mal, I don’t care how good you look, if you won’t tell me…” The glint in my eye must be really powerful, because he doesn’t stop his retreat.
“How – how did you know -?” He doesn’t finish the thought; instead, his jaw drops open. I continue to advance towards him.
“It doesn’t matter how I know at this point, all that matters is that you tell me!” He stops when he reaches the wall but I keep going. I walk until he’s only a single step away from me. “Damn it!” I yell, punching the wall and watching it crumble slightly in satisfaction. Malachi’s eyes grow wide and he slowly lifts his hands in a sign of surrender.
“Alright, alright. I’ll tell you.” He sighs and sinks to the floor, but I walk back to where Selena is still sitting, confusion marring her face. She stands up and envelops me in a hug, rubbing my back in a soothing gesture and whispering words in my ear to calm me down. I turn around and face Malachi, much calmer than I was before. I don’t miss the thankful glance he flashes at Selena, or her responding glare.
“Look, I’m sorry for over-reacting, but when I hear that I may die before the week is up, you know, it’s a slight cause for concern.” I cock my hip to the side and cross my arms over my chest. I hear Selena splutter behind me and close my eyes, suddenly wishing she wasn’t there so I could hash this out without having to explain everything to her.