Waiting in Darkness

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Fifteen | Syn

I was avoiding Terrin. I had to in order not to give in and invite him to do something with me. I knew the moment I saw him I wouldn't be able to resist, so I simply made sure I wouldn't see him. I had to avoid him, it was necessary to give him space. Heidi's own confrontation with Terrin got me thinking.

It had been months of this and I, like Heidi, needed him to make a decision. Terrin was opening himself to the possibility of us. I knew that I was on par with Heidi where we were at now, but could I pull ahead and cross the finish line before her? I could see the ending nearing, I knew it was coming. But who would Terrin bet on to claim victory? That was something he had to well and truly decide for himself. I didn't want Heidi or I influencing his decision. Terrin needed to be sure. So I backed off, gave him the space he needed, but it seemed I had slowed down only to let Heidi passed me. Terrin clung on to her, while not nearly as tightly as before, he still held on. I needed him to let go, to close his eyes and fall, to let instinct guide his hand to which of us he would grab.

I couldn't help but wonder if I had made the wrong choice. It had been a few weeks and he still hadn't come for me. Did I let him go too early? Did I need to latch back on before Heidi had him completely?

No.

If he chose Heidi at this point, then I would never get him. There was nothing more I could do, nothing more I could show him. He knew what life awaited him with me.

At least that's what Sani told me.

"Wait it out." He kept saying every time I expressed my doubts. This would test how far we had really come. It didn't make the wait any less agonizing though. Sani kept me at it, offering me little insights to keep me motivated. "Guess who was snooping around the castle?" He would tease me. "Hakota told me Terrin asked where you had been sent off to and when Hakota told him you should be around somewhere, Terrin nearly blew a gasket."

My replies had always been to go after him, that I had waited long enough, that it was proof. But Sani and I both knew I was just insecure, that I was afraid to let Terrin make this choice without me hovering close by.

I wanted to go after him but with Sani's philosophy, I had to wait for him to come to me.

So I waited and waited and waited. And now I couldn't take it anymore. "This isn't working." I told Sani, catching him on the way out of his children's bedroom after putting them down for their nap. "It's been weeks and he hasn't made a move," I whined to the male who only crossed his arms and gave me a disapproving look. "I need to find him and–"

"No." Sani cut me off. "You need to let him do this. He needs to move past his denial, and this," he said, "is the only way he's going to do so." I gave him a mournful look. "Stop babying him," he told me flatly, "you can't let him keep playing this game with the three of you forever."

He was right, I knew he was right but I didn't want to let go yet, I wasn't ready, Terrin wasn't ready. "Sani I don't want to lose him, I'm so close! If I just–"

"Exactly. You're this close Syn, but Terrin needs to close the distance."

"But I–"

"You!" a voice behind us boomed. Sani and I both whirled around to see a mightily pissed werewolf storming towards us. "You," he pointed an accusing figure at me, "stay right where you are. I swear to Lune, Syn, if you run or attempt one more goddamn excuse, I'm gonna kill you."

His anger actually terrified me. "W-what are you talking about?" I tried to play dumb, cursing myself for stuttering. I totally sounded guilty.

"You've been avoiding me!" He seethed.

"I-I haven't!" I denied, taking a step backwards with my hands raised to shield myself.

"You skipped a pack dinner!" He called out my lie.

"I was busy!" I fibbed.

"Yeah, try again," Terrin sneered stalking towards me, "I already talked to Hakota to know that's not true."

"I–I..." I looked to Sani for help, but he only winked at me before making some excuse and leaving. I gaped after the traitor.

"You aren't getting out of this Syn. You will not be ignoring me today," he stated. "We are going to a festival in the Lunar Kingdom whether you like it or not."

"The Lunar Kingdom? Wait—Terrin that's–"

"Your excuses aren't going to cut it today, Syn."

I instantly backtracked, I didn't want him to think I didn't want to go with him. "I'm not making excuses, it's just that...isn't that kind of far?"

Terrin scowled at me, crossing his arms, "Exactly, you won't be able to run this time. Let's go, we're wasting time."

"Wait, who else is coming?"

"What do you mean who else?" Terrin snapped, clearly annoyed.

"So...it's just us?" I clarified holding back smile.

"Are you an idiot? Why would anyone else be coming with us–"

"Because this is a date right?" I asked giddily, finally cutting him off instead of the other way around. "You're taking me on a date."

The werewolf's eyes narrowed suspiciously, "Yeah, so? I can't take you out or something?"

Smiling broadly now, I crossed my arms and lifted my chin. "Say it then," I commanded, "ask me out properly." This was too good, there was no way I was letting this opportunity go.

"I already did," the werewolf said, his cheeks turning red.

I was already shaking my head, "You didn't ask, you told me. You made it sound like I didn't have a choice. I want you to ask me."

"Well I implied it," he muttered.

"Doesn't count," I sang, delighted to see his cheeks flush a deeper shade of crimson. " if it helps, I'm not going to say no," I added teasingly.

Huffing out a bleak, "Fine," Terrin snarled, "Syn, Will you go out with me to the Lunar Festival of Gods?"

I didn't even care it was the most sarcastic proposal I'd ever heard. "Of course!" I beamed at him, astonished Terrin was actually doing this. He had planned a date for us. He had for the first time. Maybe Sani was right, letting Terrin come to me was the way to ensure I could keep my mate forever.

***

It was already nightfall by the time we reached the festival. The streets had been decorated with paper lanterns and different colored jars illuminated by candles. The main festivities took place on the main streets, the cobblestone plaza was packed with werewolves. The fountain was filled with the glass jars, some weighted to sink to the bottom to make the water glow while others floated on the surface.

Glitter and gold was everywhere, most people were dressed up, adorning masks and apparel to represent the gods or make them appear more divine. Music floated from everywhere, a string band stationed in the plaza providing the majority of the music. Soloists were stationed down other streets, far enough away where the music wouldn't overlap and clash.

Terrin led me through the throng of people, he didn't really seem to have a plan but I was content watching him explore. My eyes were always on him. We stopped at food carts and tried what they offered, Terrin took two of everything, making sure I tried the same things.

"Here," he said handing me a small circular bread substance with what I think was a blueberry covered in some red sauce. I hesitated, examining it. Terrin shoved the whole thing in his mouth before turning to me and eyeing the food still in my hand. He rolled his eyes and swallowed, "it's strawberry sauce. It’s basically just a liquid strawberry, trust me."

I stilled eyed it unsure, sniffing at it. It smelled sweet, and like a strawberry, so I hesitantly nibbled on it.

"Oh for Lune's sake," Terrin grumbled and snatched it from my hand, crumbs tumbling off the pastry and some of the jelly smearing on the side of his hand. "It's bite-sized Syn. That means you eat it in one bite." I frowned, about to object that there was nothing wrong with me just trying a little first but he took the opportunity to shove the whole thing in my mouth. I choked on it in surprise, coughing into my closed mouth as I quickly swallowed it down, a bread flake getting lodged in my throat and making it tickle uncomfortably.

Terrin only chuckled and then licked the side of his hand where a little jelly had stained his skin. My eyes followed the movement of his tongue but luckily I looked away in time from Terrin so he didn’t catch me staring.

"Come on, we're underdressed," Terrin beckoned me over to a costume cart full of glittery fabric. Terrin eyed me up and down, taking in my very practical everyday wear of black working boots, form-fitting black slacks and a dull, faded, blue t-shirt. The werewolf selected a silver and black embroidered jacket. It would be form fitting and the stiff fabric at the collar and shoulders would definitely make my angles sharper. The silver coiled like a snake around the jacket, thick and overlapping around the black jacket.

"Terrin–" I started, already knowing it wouldn't fit.

He shushed me, "I know, you're gigantic, just leave it open." He offered the jacket out to me. With a sigh I shrugged it on, it was a littler tight around the shoulders and back and rose a little high up my torso, but it fit better than I'd expected. I looked back at the werewolf whose brows were furrowed in thought. "Take your shirt off," he told me, without even looking up from my torso, more specifically the jacket.

"I...what?"

"Take it off," he repeated flicking his fingers. Slowly I removed the jacket and then my shirt. "Okay, now put the jacket back on."

"Terrin, what? I'm not going to stroll around without clothes on!" I protested.

He looked up at me with an unsympathetic expression. "First off, you would literally just be showing your abs, neck, and a tiny bit of your pectorals, that hardly qualifies as naked. Second, look around, there are a lot more people showing off way more skin." I grudgingly put the jacket back on, the stiff upstanding collar brushing against my neck. "Good," Terrin gave me his approval. He payed the vendor and brought me to another cart.

"Terrin you don't have to spend all this money. We look fine." I didn't like the way he was eyeing the expensive looking merchandise.

"I have way too much money Syn. What's the point in having it if I never spend it?" Then to the woman he said, "I'll take the set of silver chains." I groaned as he purchased the item before turning to me holding a set of layers silver chains all of different thickness and style, different links and twist in the metal with two strands of glass beads intermingled with them. Without any warning Terrin grabbed my waistband his warm skin contacting with mine, his knuckles pressed against my hipbones. I inhaled sharply, looking down at the werewolf in shock but he only clipped on the chains to my belt loop by my pocket then across to the back, the chains dangling in a loop against one leg. He stepped back, retracing his hand and I swallowed thickly. "Still missing something," he murmured to himself.

And off we went until Terrin was shirtless, tribal designs painted in thick lines across his bare skin in a metallic gold color in place of a shirt.

He smirked at me when the artist had finished. "There. Now you can't be uncomfortable, I'm showing way more skin than you."

I swallowed, "...right." Was all I could manage.

Was he out of his mind? How in the name of Lune did he think this would make me feel better? I was so uncountable and yet so very, very comfortable. Too comfortable. His chest was literally right there, bare and decorated for my viewing pleasure.

"Oh look!" Terrin exclaimed grabbing my hand and pulling me to a booth selling masks. He laughed trying them on handing some to me.

I could do nothing but watch, adoring him and that smile. His eyes were sparkling and they were glittering for me...because of me.

Because of this.

Because of us.

Terrin's hands stilled, a gold mask resting on his forehead where he had yet to pull it down and ask my opinion. As for me, I had a black and silver mask already pulled down over my eyes, one that Terrin had picked for me to complete my look.

We stared at each other, his laughing grin falling to settle in a soft smile.

"You're beautiful," the words slipped from my mouth before I could stop them. It was just so true. With the glowing warmth of the candles and lanterns bathing his face and the glow of the moon highlighting his edges and hair he truly was a god tonight.

Terrin's smile disappeared completely and my heart shattered.

Too soon.

I opened my mouth and my words ruined it. My words always destroyed everything.

I looked away in shame, only for my chin to be grabbed and brought down to meet soft lips.

Terrin kissed me gently, like a lover. He nipped at my lips and licked at them but even when I granted access he did not push his tongue through. He kept it pure and innocent.

A first kiss, I realized.

This is what our first kiss would have been like. If we had lived in a perfect world where we hadn't meet the way we had, if we hadn't been influenced by society and prejudices.

"Dance with me," he whispered against my lips. His hand laying flat against mine threaded fingers with my own.

I pulled down his mask over his face and led him into the plaza. It had been decades since I had danced. It was an ugly reminder of my past, of what I had been forced to endure.

But here and now with my mate, it was something completely different. His touch was not a lustful one. It didn’t grope at me or burn my skin. I liked his touch, it was warm and heavy, comforting and perfect. It felt like home.

I led him through the dance, the movements and patterns flooding back to me as I danced with my mate. For once I didn’t feel like an object, a body to be bought. Dancing had been a way the brothel had advertised me. My grace and sophistication appealed to the rich and high class.

Here the only eyes on me that mattered were Terrin’s. The gold mask on his face accented his hazel eyes, outlined the sharp lines of his cheeks and jaw. His dusty brown hair brushed against the top of the mask.

Terrin was a quick study and followed me with ease, keeping up even when I began to lead us through a dance that had taken me years to master.

“Where did you learn to dance like this?” Terrin asked me as we slowed down into a simple rocking motion. His hand was pressed against the small of my back, the other up on my shoulder where his cheek was also pressed, his head tucked under my chin.

“From a time I’d rather not remember,” I admitted softly.

“Bad memories?”

“Something like that,” I nuzzled my nose into his hair, inhaling his scent. I needed reassurance that he was real, that this was real and happening to me. I was terrified I’d wake up soon to find this all had been a dream.

Terrin kissed my shoulder, “We’ll make knew ones you want to remember then.”

“I’d like that,” I croaked, my voice catching on the sob in my throat.

This moment was perfect. Everything we had gone through up until now, the fighting, the rejections, the hurtful actions, the betrayals, Heidi, my fear, all of it was worth it for this moment.

My mate in my arms, cradled against my chest because he wanted to be. My mate promising to make memories with me, to replace the bad ones with good ones.

A single tear fell from my eye, shed out of joy.

That one tear of happiness was worth my lifetime of sorrowful ones.

For once Terrin had filled my heart instead of breaking it.

____________

Hey everyone! Hoped you liked the chapter! Double update today so make sure you’ve read the chapters in the right order.

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