Cracked Open: book 3

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Eighteen

Kaia

They needed to leave. There was nothing to be done. I knew this would happen ñ Ciro dying. But I had refused to accept it for so long. Now the time had come, and I watched as Ciro became weaker. He was very still and unresponsive, and my heart couldn’t calm down, it fluttered at the thought of him leaving me. My eyes would burn with heat and tears would try to soothe them.

As of now, I curled back into Ciro’s side, indirectly dismissing everyone who was intruding on our last moments together.

Camira spoke at a whisper, her voice cracking. I no longer had the tenacity to tell her to get out. “Kaia we could help. We can go find a healer like Kallan.”

I sighed heavily and my throat constricted as I ran my fingertips down Ciro’s cheek. “No, Camira. There is nothing to be done.” And with the last of my strength I firmly commanded, “Please leave us.”

I heard Camira protest, and then Dagon pulling her out with promises that wouldn’t come true. “Baby, your sister needs this time. She’ll be fine. Kaia’s strong, she’ll get through this.”

And as they walked away, a piece of my soul seemed to leave with them. It was like I hadn’t wanted them to leave. I wasn’t strong without my mate. He was the other half that taught me how to live again. He was my strength. I had none.

I heard bits and pieces as they walked down the hall. Kenna, I knew, followed then with Calder by her side. “We’ll...there for her when...needs us...We’ll comfort her...you have to...strong for her.”

When their voices left, I sagged against my mate and cried. Everything was held in for those long minutes and it spilled out. The mountain shook with my emotion. I tried to hold it all back, but that just made it worse. The mountain vibrated in waves just like the waves of my grief.

“Ciro,” I mumbled his name through sobs, and reached out towards him. “Ciro. I just...just want you to stay.” I turned my sobs into his skin, maybe hoping he would feel my distress. “Please, baby. I’m here. Please...just wake up. I need you. You taught me everything about love. You opened me up. Y-you are everything I’ve ever needed. You’re my safe place, my home, and my other half. Please...your blossom wants you to wake up.” I was running out of breath from crying so wretchedly. I was so tired and my throat was sore. The last part was forced out through all the pain that crippled my shaking body. “Just...stay with me p-please.”

The mountain shook in answer.

I rested my head on his chest, and inhaled his distinct warm tree-sap smell ñ the first real breath I took after minutes of pleading with anyone who could hear me. I placed my hand over his heart, and felt the warmth of his skin through his shirt. I felt the slow calming beat of his heart. It still beat strongly...I wanted to believe it was for me.

Calming down wasn’t easy, the mountain continued to tremble with aftershock, but because I was wrapped up in so much warmth, I fell asleep immediately. All my muscles relaxed. I was where I belonged, even if it was for the last time.

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