Ravyn's Nights - Book 2

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Chapter 27

As Sean literally had nothing to do but think over the next few evenings, his memories of that night slowly made their way back into his consciousness. His memories were that of being so broken by believing he had lost the only real reason he had left to endure eternity that he just didn’t care about anything anymore. All he felt was pain, loss, hopelessness and a lack of the very will to live at that point, let alone any will he had left to refuse anything that could numb that pain. And in this case, that numbness was offered by Awsha, in the only way she could offer it. Feeling like he had no reason to even go on, Sean didn’t fight her. And even once he let her have his body, he couldn’t feel it. He couldn’t feel anything at that point. There was nothing left for him to feel in a world without his heart and soul; in a world without Claire’s love. So, he gave in, as nothing else mattered to him anymore.

Once all of those memories returned to him, so too did all the feelings that came with them. Though at this point he barely had tears left to shed, as all he could think about is what would be left of him and Claire’s love when Haven finally saw fit to bring her back to the conscious world once more.

When he finally mustered any strength at all to even leave his empty bed that night, it was already nearing eleven. He somberly moved through their home and even more somberly down the beach toward Haven’s. He couldn’t speak to Claire, but perhaps he could at least try to make someone else understand why he had let what happened happen.

Several minutes later he found himself outside Awsha’s bedroom door, trying his hardest to gather any strength at all to face her once more. He slowly rapped on her door as he bit back even more emotion before having to see her open that door to him.

“Sean?” Awsha greeted him with as much surprise as happiness to see him there at her door once again.

“I suppose this is a conversation we have to have” he stated as he slowly moved past her, his voice barely audible, his eyes glued to the floor.

Awsha looked at him warily as she let the door shut behind him as he took a seat in the chair at the corner of her bedroom with a heavy sigh.

“So, I guess you now do remember?” she asked cautiously as she took a seat on her bed to face where he sat a good five feet or so away.

“I think I was in shock that night, if a thing like that is even possible for us” he added in the same near whisper, eyes still on the floor.

“Are you going to accuse me of using my powers on you again Sean? Because I can’t even---“

“No” he interrupted her quietly.

“Ok…” she replied, a little caught by that.

“I was completely broken. You were just you” he confessed with a combination of defeat and shame “I couldn’t take what I was feeling anymore and you offered me something else to feel. I was too weak and destroyed to fight any possible escape from that feeling; including the one you were offering me” he finished in an even raspier whisper.

“So, you are actually admitting that you gave in to me on your own?” Awsha swallowed, a little caught by his aura which screamed at her a despair so deep she had never witnessed anything like it before.

“Do you honestly love me, Awsha? Not just want me, but honestly and truly love me?” he said, finally turning pleading eyes to her “and please, think long and hard before you answer me, because I need to know.”

Awsha was silent a moment before finding her own voice in the face of what honestly was a completely broken soul pleading with her at that moment “Yes, Sean” she managed in her own whisper.

He allowed another broken sigh as he tried to find his voice again “then I beg you, please do not ever let Claire find out about this, ever” he stressed “if she did know that I was so broken that…” he forced back more emotion “it would destroy anything that’s left of her, if there even is anything left” he added “and if you do that, you’ll be destroying me too. Without her love, I cannot and will not be able to go on. So if you love me like you say you do then please, don’t destroy her like that. Please” he finished desperately before his emotions forced him back to his feet and away from her, hoping upon hope that she did still have enough compassion and humanity left to heed his pleas.

Another week of Claire’s hopefully rehabilitative torpor passed before Sean found himself in his little sister’s presence once more since he had plead for her secrecy and her mercy, if she indeed had such traits. Sean was sitting out on the beach, staring at the waves sullenly, trying to imagine what state Claire could possibly be in when Haven returned her to him.

Awsha allowed a sad smile as she approached Sean and took a quiet seat on the warm sand next to him, laying her head upon his shoulder “Awsha” he managed to greet her, though his tension at her touch was obvious.

“You’ve been somewhat scarce this week” she returned, her own voice seeming sad as well.

“I doubt I’m very good company right now” he responded, his eyes still staying on the expanse of ocean reflecting the starry sky that night.

Awsha just sighed slightly as if attempting to muster her own courage to speak to him then “I’ve been Kindred for fifty-two years now; and I think I’ve had some sort of epiphany” she began.

Sean tried not to scoff as he replied “Better late than never, I suppose.”

Awsha allowed a small smile as she pressed her cheek closer to his shoulder “I realize now that thing that made you and even Haven, and Erica, all of you… the thing that made you all hate me was because of how badly I hurt someone you all loved. Someone who honestly didn’t deserve it. And hurting her is the main reason you could never love me” she confessed quietly.

Sean was silenced for only a moment “that’s pretty much common knowledge I’d think, rather than an actual epiphany” he informed with what force he could muster.

“I suppose so” she admitted “but it was knowledge that I flat out refused to accept as truth…for over half a century” she added.

“And now you do?” he returned, not able to keep the doubt from his voice.

“Better late than never” she repeated his earlier words.

“Is this your way of saying that you’re actually agreeing to not tell her the thing that would hurt her even more?” he asked, traces of hope finally touching his tone.

“I don’t want you to hate me anymore, Sean. I don’t want anyone to hate me anymore. I just want the chance to hopefully have you and Haven actually care about me the way I care about you. And hopefully maybe even Claire someday, though I admit, that last one’s a pretty high expectation. But maybe by proving you can trust me on this one truly important thing, then you’ll know you actually can trust me again after all” she finished quietly, squeezing his arm slightly below where she still leaned upon his shoulder.

“I’m tired of it all too, Awsha. I’ve got so many other things that I’m terrified of right now, I just don’t have the strength to constantly have to second guess your every move as well. I’m at my limits of what I can actually endure, and I need to be as strong as possible once she wakes up. And I can’t do that if I constantly have to look over my shoulder to see what you might be doing” he paused a moment as he finally looked down at her “please take this seriously. I really am so far beyond my breaking point, Awsha. And if you hurt her again, I will break. And you know what that means for you then” he promised her.

Awsha swallowed hard at the clear threat but forced herself to respond “I won’t break your trust again, Sean. I promise” and with that she placed a gentle kiss over his lips and moved to let him be alone with all those other worries once again.

When those two weeks had passed at last, Claire awoke with a gasp at the feel of that sharp wooden shaft being removed from her heart. Her eyes darted around trying to get any kind of bearing at all. She was now laying atop some empty crates in the cargo hold of one of Haven’s many ships. Haven stood near her, bloody stake in his hand as he looked down at her with a combination of several emotions, wariness and regret being the two most prevalent.

“I was staked…again?” she gasped hoarsely, looking to him for any explanation at all.

“How much do you remember?” he offered as his only response, still holding the stake that dripped red with her blood.

“I don’t even…” Claire just shook her head in confusion “was it Awsha again?”

“No” Haven replied as calmly as possible “it was me” he confessed, bracing himself for her reaction.

You staked me?” Claire returned in shock, her voice shaking as she looked up at him with widened emerald eyes.

“It was the only way to be sure to get all of the drug out of your system once and for all” he told her quietly, not once releasing her from his watchful gaze as she pushed herself up onto her hands, still looking at him with shock and hurt.

“You staked me?” she repeated again in the same stammer ‘just to get a drug out of my system? For how long?” she asked as she tossed another look around the hold of the ship.

“You mean how long were you staked? Or how long were you not even you anymore?” he added sadly.

“What?” she swallowed hard, her eyes coming back to him.

“I staked you two weeks ago. But you left us an entire decade ago, Claire” he added in a near whisper.

“What?” she choked on her response, moving to brush away tears “and you thought staking me was the only option?” Claire returned with even further disbelief.

“You were so far gone, Claire. It got to the point where you were completely unrecognizable, and completely out of control” Haven told her, forcing his own emotions to stay in check.

“I was numb. Just numb. How is that out of control?” she asked, angrily wiping away another tear.

“You really don’t remember the last night you were awake?” he asked, immediately adjusting his eyes to judge whether or not she truly had any memory of the night she had gone too far at last.

“I remember talking to Sean on the docks, and then I found more…and… and that’s all” she added quietly, searching her brain for any memory after that point.

“Ten years was too much for your mortal. Avan was so far gone, so damaged by the constant cycle of highs and withdrawals that he didn’t have any strength left to survive that last Kiss you gave him” Haven relayed her crime to her. He then had to watch her crumble at the realization, collapsing into even more sobs as she was forced to come to terms with what she had done, just for the sake of escaping her own pain; pain which would now be an even greater burden for her to endure. Haven waited several long moments for Claire’s tears to finally run dry. Then he spoke again “and now you know why this” he tossed the stake to the floor “was our only option.”

“Our?” was the only reply she could manage. Though she knew that he had meant Sean. Sean, who she had said such cruel things to during the last moments she could even recollect “it’s really been ten years since…. Since Erica…?” she added with another shake of her head.

“How long did it feel like to you?” he asked.

“That’s just it. I don’t know. It didn’t feel like anything. I didn’t feel anything” she added with another sniffle “Like you said; I wasn’t here at all, was I? I left Sean behind to deal with all that grief alone… for ten years apparently” she choked out that additional realization.

“Do you think you can bear to stay here this time, Claire?” Haven asked as he finally allowed himself to gently touch her shoulder.

“I don’t know if I can bear anything ever again, Haven” she added with another sob.

“If you really don’t know, then I may as well put the stake back in your heart… and then I’ll have to go tell Sean he’ll never have you back again, after all” he offered that harsh barb to hopefully shake her into having the strength to choose to come back to her life, by reminding her of the one thing that had always been her strength.

Claire closed her eyes tightly against his words “I don’t want to leave him alone again, like I already did” another sniffle “but how can I ever be what I used to be again? How can I ever be the girl he loved again? How can he ever forgive me, after all I’ve done?” she added as her mind returned once again to her greatest sin, as it always did when she was at her lowest.

“All you can do, Claire, is try to return to being that girl again. If you don’t even try, he really has lost you, and then he’ll be utterly destroyed. Do you want to see that happen to him? Because you know it will if you don’t at least try again.”

As Haven led a still very distraught looking Claire from the ship, over the dock, and in the direction of her and Sean’s new home, dark eyes regarded them from the upstairs hallway window of Haven’s home. Awsha watched them with a ragged sigh as another drop of red slid down her own cheek. Now would be the true test for her. Could she truly keep from using the one piece of ammunition that could very well place a permanent wedge between Claire and Sean? As much as she did truly wish to have Sean for her own, she couldn’t help remembering his words. It was not only the threat of his promise to end her if she spilled that secret; it was his threat to end himself. And that’s the one that tore at her even more; the one that would be the only thing strong enough to force her to continue to love him from afar. As it seemed likely to be the only way she ever would be able to love him at all, at least for as long as Claire remained some part of their world.

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