I could hear him behind me as I sat there, and then... “Kenna.”
“What? Are you gonna tell me to have hope? Like you’ve done for the past two months.” I was sitting on the edge of a bolder looking out across the river and through the dense empty woods.
The woods have been empty for far too long. There has been no breeze whatsoever. No whispers through the trees, making you think it could be Camira. Believe it or not, but the animals have gone silent as well.
“No, I -” Calder tried to say differently but I could see. I could see through the light shake in his voice that he would have said otherwise.
“Yes, Calder. You were about to say it.” I replied with a very tired, soft tone. Soothing, very unlike me.
I kept my back to him, but I could feel Calder’s cool presence as he came closer. I stared out past the trees, through the imaginary Paxton in my head, and tried to envision what my baby sister could be going through.
Ever since Calder and I have officially accepted that we were mates, he has been by my side the whole time. He’s been giving me that push I needed in order to not be an empty shell inside. With Camira gone I feel like Iíve lost a piece of my heart. All of us do: Kallan, Kaia, and me. Calder has given me hope of finding Camira for so long that it is hard now to think there is really any hope at all.
Calder sensed my thoughts and put a tender, firm hand on my shoulder. “Don’t think like that.”
“Why not?” I could hear myself through the fog I was currently in, and I sounded distant. Heck! I felt distant.
“Because she’s still out there. You would feel it if she wasn’t.” Then just as I expected, his two-word signature line came out. “Have hope.”
I couldn’t get angry. I was too worn out, emotionally. Instead I slowly turned and brought my legs with me, so that I faced Calder. He looked down, searching my face for something I knew he wouldn’t find.
“What if there is none?”
“No hope!” I responded exasperatedly.
“Oh no babe,” Calder said, crouching down on his heels too look me directly in the eyes. He looked at me as if I were an upset child needing to understand. “There is always hope.” Then Calder saw that I wasn’t quite seeing him and said, “look at me. There is always hope. For everyone.”
“Well, I don’t have it.” I spoke up matter-of-factly, looking away almost shamefully.
“Yes you do. You just have to find it within you.”
Through my haze, I gave him a weak look, hearing how cheesy a comment that was. “I can’t find it Calder, I’m too broken right now.” I finished with a squeak from my voice box, an image of Camira coming to mind.
Putting his hands against my always-heated cheeks, Calder countered, “then I will find it and keep it for the both of us.”
Taking in a breath through my nose and letting it slowly out my mouth, I finally looked Calder directly in the eye. Leaning in I lightly kissed him on the lips. In between our meshed lips I spoke. “Love you.”
Pulling away from the sweet kiss, Calder looked at me again, and cracked a smile. That was the first time I’ve said something so deeply endearing in three days. Something that doesn’t sit well in my stomach. “Love you too.”
Breaking eye contact again, I started to feel bad. Feeling bad that I’ve been closed off for so long. Feeling horrible because I haven’t said anything worthy of remembering in a long time. It’s like I had become my hard callused old self again.
“What is it?”
I shook my head. “I’m sorry.”
Calder shook his head in return and said, “Don’t be. I love you.” And then the one thing I needed to hear came out of his mouth. “I know, okay?” raising his eyebrows in emphasis he finished, “I know Kenna.”
I nodded and quickly pushed that ugly feeling away. Calder knew what I was going through, and knew I still loved him. I hastily gave him a peck on the cheek and bounced to my feet.
“Where to?” Calder asked with interest in his eyes.
Looking on with a spark of hope – mostly because Calder supported me – and determination I answered, “Paxton.”
Walking into Paxton my hope slowly drained, like it did every other time we’ve come here to find an absent Camira. But today I couldn’t take it any more. I was literally braking, and all my remaining sisters could feel it as they absent-mindedly walked further into the city.
Calder stayed by my side, and I was thankful. If he walked away, my mate...I don’t know what I’d do. He didn’t have to touch me. All Calder had to do was give off this vibe. A calming, reassuring vibe. Sadly though, it could only do so much at this point, and the boiling inside my chest only slightly receded.
As we went deeper into a filled Paxton, it was only empty to me. My sister was not there, and it was making me grow hot.
Calder could sense it as well, and knew I needed to go back. “Kenna, I think that’s enough for today.” Then I became all of the sudden aware of his breathing. A bad sign, knowing when detail starts to show all around me that I was getting close. “Camira’s not here.”
Instantly a torch hanging on the side of a building had just enough hot ash to come alive. The fire on the torch that soon grew bigger reflected in my eyes; Calder could see it the way he looked at me.
I heard Calder behind me and felt his breath against my cheek, as my eyes darted everywhere. Distantly I knew this wasn’t going to end well. I also understood that I had no more control over my feelings, and watched as the torch grew and started to eat at the wood of the building.
Turning every so often, I watched as every detail of the city came into view. It also went up into flames from some sort of burned out hot candle or torch from last night. Still the fire that made a meal out of the city reflected in my eyes, as confusion and hot anger burned through my veins. It was over, I could no longer rein in my emotions and I needed help before the whole city went up in flames.
Watching an army of Horned Ones come in my direction, I called to Calder. “Calder, you need to get me out of here.” Hot tears soon joined my raging fear and confusion, and instead of cooling me off they made me hotter.
“I’m working on it!” I heard Calder yell feet down the street.
As another building caught fire and my feet stayed glued to the grimy stone, everything spiked. The detail, my emotions...everything that came with the monster raging inside of me.
“Calder!” I couldn’t think of anything else to say. Everyone had run from me, and I only had my mate left to save me. Calder was the only one at this point who could come near me.
“I’m right here, come on!” Calder yelled above the roaring fires.
I pealed my eyes away from the destruction I’m still in the process of making, and saw Calder on the back of a stallion. I reached up and he grabbed my forearm to heave me onto his ride.
When the horse felt the heat come in contact with his back, he reared up and took off. Calder immediately took hold of the reins and all he could do was hold on. I clamped my arms around his waist, and slowly felt his cool skin through the furious heat that blanketed my skin. When I did so Calder took in a hissing sigh, and I’m not sure if he was uncomfortable or if it felt pleasurable.
As the chestnut colored steed galloped out of Paxton, through the south entrance, I knew it was trying to run from the heat on its back. I could feel myself cooling off as I hid my face in Calder’s back with my eyes closed tight. I didn’t want to chance looking back at all the destruction I’d created within ten minutes of time.
Then something unusually familiar twisted my stomach. “Wait Calder.”
“What?” He responded, worry laced his voice as he half halted the horse to a rocking canter.
“Stop the horse. Stop him!” I finished, feeling panicked, and not wanting to miss anything as I looked beyond the trees.
Calder pulled up and back on the reins making the horse’s head rear up, and he slid to a stop. I hopped off immediately, and walked deeper through the trees. When the sensation in my stomach weakened I walked in another direction. Soon enough it came on strong again.
I heard Calder jump off the stallion he had found behind me. “Kenna,” he warned through his deep scratchy tone.
Ignoring his warning, I spoke almost like
I was coming out of a dream. “I can sense her. She’s close.”
There was a pause.
“Kenna, you can’t do this alone, and your sisters are probably already back at Kaia’s mountain.” Then I could feel his presence closer this time, but my mind was somewhere deep in the woods.
“Kenna, please,” Calder finished, grasping my hand in a way that made me pay attention to him rather than my sister.
I turned around and met Calder’s eyes. “She feels weak. Something’s wrong. Camira needs our help, and you won’t let me go after her.” The last feeling that entered my heart was frustration. Frustration pointed at Calder for probably the first time. “But she needs us, Calder,” I pleaded.
“No, Camira needs you and your sisters. Not me.”
It was the truth and I hated the thought of walking away. But Calder was right, though I hated to admit it, and my two sisters were not here.
I turned to Calder then and gave him a nod. He pulled himself back on the horse, and then pulled me up behind him. Leaving I could feel a deep sadness fill my heart, and I felt like I had just let Camira down. It was one of those moments where you were so close but yet so far away.
“We’re coming for you,” I whispered, one of the last things I said before we cantered off. Calder of course thought I was speaking to him and asked, but I responded, “nothing,” and we rode back to Kaia’s mountain.