Cracked Open: book 3

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Three

Ciro

Sitting on a low branch, I watched as the sun rose, and the rays fingered their way through the trees. I could feel the remaining cold of the morning ooze away slowly as the sun climbed high enough to warm the earth.

I sat there, my legs hanging feet above the ground, thinking. It was no surprise I was thinking about the early morning with that woman. I couldn’t stop thinking about her eyes. The way they opened when she didn’t think she would get caught. The way she hid her emotions. She was almost mechanical in the way she had sex with me. There were only moments where I could pull her out. And she was beautiful. I couldn’t quite find the right words to explain it. Maybe it was just her soul. It wanted out, and the woman was hiding it. Why? Was it fear? Maybe from the past. Or did she just find it easier to hide away and feel cold like that?

Climbing higher into my tree, I squatted on one of the topmost branches...looking out at the world. As I touched my tree, the blood inside of me glowed. Inside, I knew I was actually trying to look for her, even though that would be impossible. I do plan to find her though. There was just something about her that felt like I needed to open up and discover. Maybe that’s what attracted me. I wanted to uncover the mask that she wore, and pull away the layers of ice she held around her soul. I wanted access to her true beauty.

I stood there on that branch, determined to find her. Soon.


Kaia

“Kaia!”

My name was gasped loudly in surprise as I quickly knocked on the door. I was still unsure about whether my presence was accepted or not.

“Hi, may I come in?” I asked Camira, and then glanced behind her shoulder to see Dagon studying me.

“Oh, yes. Come in.” She swept her hand through the air and sidestepped as I inched through the door.

I wasn’t sure what to do next as I stood there, watching Camira, trying not to stare back at Dagon. I recognized him and he, me.

Camira walked away, towards the kitchen. “Would you like a drink?”

“Oh, uh, yes. Coffee?”

Camira looked at me. Trying to figure something out. I raised a single eyebrow.

She sighed and Dagon followed her into the kitchen to make my coffee and her hot chocolate. Camira invited me to sit at the bar, and I watched them bump hips and move around each other like they’ve lived together for a while. They have of course, because it’s been a year now.

As I watched them, I felt that feeling of longing that has recently started to creep up on me more than once. I sighed and Camira placed the bitter coffee in front of me. I wrapped my hands around the mug.

“Milk? Sugar?”

I shook my head.

My response made Camira stare at me for a while; in the process Dagon placed a mug of warm chocolate in her hands. She deftly wrapped her hands around the mug.

Leaning against the counter now, with Dagon behind her to the left, Camira spoke. “You look refreshed.”

I nodded.

Camira blew the top foamy layer of her hot chocolate, and Dagon continued to study me.

I became irritated by his steady gaze and made eye contact. Dagon simply gave me a tight-lipped smile. I rolled my eyes and gave my attention back to my sister.

“So, how have you been?”

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Dagon’s eyebrow rise. I ignored him.

“Great.”

It was a simple response, but she was trying to keep it in. I understood why, too. I wasn’t easy to talk with; I knew that. I sighed and reached for her hand, grasping her warm fingers.

“How are you, Camira, seriously?”

Camira flinched backwards at my response to her simple answer. Dagon reached forward slightly, and I just simply looked at him. He froze.

I started to apologize. “Camira I -”

She pulled out of my grasp, and shook her head, stopping me. Moving to the sink, she placed her mug upside down. She placed her hands on the edge of the sink and hunched over there for a minute. She was debating on telling me. Dagon leaned towards her and placed a kiss on her hairline. Silently telling her something I couldn’t comprehend. She relaxed and turned with determination in her eyes. Dagon wordlessly wrapped his fingers around hers for support before she could say anything. She exhaled almost in relief.

“I’ve been having dreams, nightmares, panic attacks. You name it; I’ve had it. Every night it seems.” Her breath came out shaky, like she couldn’t breathe. Dagon moved to comfort her, and she shook her head. I knew why. It was one of those moments when she wanted to be strong in front of a sister. I knew her too well, even if we weren’t that close.

I nodded slowly, reading Camira’s eyes. “About Zane. About what happened. What could have happened...” I stated all of this, and at one point nodded towards Dagon.

Camira’s eyes widened, but soon she accepted that I knew all of this. I was told of course.

With a quick change of topic she indicated at me. “So, you look better. What happened?”

“Kallan gave me the talk,” I responded, smirking.

Camira smiled knowingly, almost mirroring my smirk. She’s had the talk before. Then she frowned.

“Did she tell you to come visit?”

As I waited a few seconds to answer, I saw she wanted my answer to be ‘no’, but she knew it would be a ‘yes’.

I nodded slowly, and as swiftly as I responded she took my mug and dumped the remains of the coffee in the sink. I wasn’t even done yet.

“Camira -” I tried to explain.

“No,” she spoke sharply. “It’s fine. I understand -”

This time I cut her off. “Stop. Just stop.” I stood then, and I saw the betrayed look she wore.

Instead I practically made a beeline for her and gave her an unnaturally warm hug. It was tense though, like I couldn’t remember how. It was not like me, but she needed it.

“I’m sorry. I haven’t been...myself for a long time. I’m sorry.” Camira shuddered in my arms like she was holding back a wave of tears.

I pulled back quickly, and Camira wiped under her eyes like she expected tears to fall. None had, but her eyes looked glassy. I heard a quick mumble that she wanted me to take care of myself. Dagon kept his distance, giving us much needed time, but I knew he felt what Camira was trying to hold back. I could tell by the way he held himself.

Uncomfortable, I flipped my braid over my shoulder and let out a tight breath. Camira responded shyly. I smiled, but it was a hard one. No warmth seeping out. That was normal of course.

For a while, we placed ourselves in the warm living room and talked about everything and nothing at the same time.

The last thing we did talk about was the cold weather that was drifting in. We mentioned the luck that Kenna had the opportunity to move away only because she needed the sun. Soon it was quiet and I realized I should probably leave. It was still not quite comfortable when we just sat together.

I left, promising I would come back. I had no idea when, but I would.

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