Killian was serious about carrying me. After settling into the cradle of his arms, I had fallen asleep.
In my dream, there was only him and me. We shared a small, enclosed space that only had enough room for two. Despite the fact that there was still a little room to move around, he had decided to pin me in a corner so that I couldn’t move. It had felt so real. The undeniable heat of his body, the brush of his fingertips as he touched my face, the firmness of his grip when he grabbed my arms, and the air around us was so heated that—
I woke with a start, nearly falling out of his arms. He re-situated me without much effort but gave me a concerned look. I sighed and let my head hang again, hoping that he wouldn’t ask what was wrong.
“You mumble in your sleep,” he murmured.
“What did I say?” I asked miserably.
He smirked. “My name.”
I felt my heart flutter inside my chest.
“That’s weird,” I muttered. “I don’t recall dreaming about you.”
The lie stung my mouth like Na-Na’s homemade medicine. The short silence that followed after made the situation even more awkward. I was grateful when he finally spoke up.
“I am truly sorry for what I did to you earlier,” he said. “If it’s any consolation, I will try harder next time to keep my hands to myself.”
I was shocked. Killian was apologizing to me? I almost wanted to laugh. After all the things he did, and all the things he said…
The scene played over and over inside my head a thousand times before I even realized how much time I allowed to pass. Even when I knew I should have at least assured him that everything was okay, I couldn’t. Not when I was staring at a spaceship that looked identical to the one Killian had shown me outside Jev City.
“Killian,” I said, sliding out of his arms, ignoring the ache in my rear end. “Look.”
He stopped in his tracks as I pointed at it. I glanced at him only to see that his entire mood had changed. His face was dark, sullen, and absolutely terrifying to look at. I followed him as he strode towards the ship with determination. My heart pounded inside my chest as a spike of adrenaline shot through me. I prepared myself for anything as we approached it. Killian eyed it carefully, circling it before he came to a stop. He seemed to be staring at something. Once I caught up, I went over to where he stood to see what he was looking at. There was a strange emblem painted on the glossy black finish of the ship. I wasn’t sure what it meant, but I had a pretty good idea.
“Exogène,” he finished for me.
“Are they here?” I asked, frantically looking around us for any sign of them.
“They would have come out by now,” he answered nonchalantly. “They do like to make a grand entrance.”
“What do we do now?”
He looked up at the sky. “How much farther?”
“Uh, maybe a couple of days,” I said. “Why?”
He didn’t answer. For a while, he stood there, thinking. Before long, he set into motion. I watched as he climbed on top of it and opened up a compartment in the back, stuffing all of our things, including the large bag of weaponry, inside. Then, he closed it, turning to me with an outstretched hand.
I did as he said and he lifted me all the way up to the top so that I was standing beside him. He opened another compartment that was hardly big enough to fit—
I felt my stomach drop. It was like the dream I had had only a few minutes prior to stumbling across this monstrosity. Killian climbed in, settling into the pilot’s seat comfortably as if he had done this a million times. There was hardly any room left. Only one, small space, and it was on the floor in between his legs. I shook my head at him when he offered his hand.
“No,” I said, crossing my arms over my chest. “There’s no way.”
“Would you rather walk?” he said.
“I have no problem with flying around in this thing, but I’m not sitting down there.”
“What, so you want me to let you fly it?”
“No, I just don’t want to sit so close to…” I trailed off.
He smirked. “Would it be better if you sat in my lap?”
“Honestly? I don’t know which is worse.”
I was pulled down anyway, and ended up on the floor of the compartment, sighing frustratedly. So much for having my way. To make things even more awkward, he pulled my head down so that it rested literally right in between his thighs. My jaw clenched as he grinned down at me. I glared at him.
“You ass,” I growled.
I snorted. “Whatever that means.”
He chuckled as he flipped a switch. The ship revved to life and there were flashing lights blinking on the dash above me. I couldn’t tell what he was doing to them, but eventually I felt us lift off the ground. From my point of view looking straight up, I could see the branches of the forest’s trees give way to the surface of the ship as we elevated into the sky. For a moment, I felt sick from the thought of flying. I had never flown before, and frankly, I didn’t know anyone who had, either. I closed my eyes, my head still leaned back in Killian’s lap, and focused on my breathing. Estimating how long the ride might be, I came to the conclusion that I would have to endure this for approximately two hours. That is, if the ship was as fast as I wanted it to be.
To preoccupy my thoughts, rather than think about how we were most likely several hundred feet up in the air, I called upon the events that led up to this very moment within the course of over a month. It felt like an eternity, as if the only thing I had ever known was adventures like this. In a way, it was a little difficult to remember the life I led before Killian showed up. I hardly remembered anything about being a master thief. Every instinct I had ever had was now slightly faded away. That, of course, was a little upsetting. I knew I couldn’t be completely dependent on my current situation. I knew that he and I would have to separate eventually. After all, he still had a family to save and I had a past to discover.
At this sudden realization, my heart sank. Sure, I would have my mother, but other than that, what was left for me? Would I continue the criminal path of life after all of this is said and done? I turned so that my forehead was pressed into his inner thigh and sighed as the ship lurched forward. Yes, my life would be excruciatingly dull once he leaves. What was there to do, though? It’s not as if I could go with him. Surely, I would be a burden, and that’s not something he needed while trying to save the people he loves most.
The slightest movement of his hips pulled me out of my daze, bringing me back to the conscious thought of being up in the air, but I tried to ignore it. I wondered what exactly I was going to discover upon finding my mother. Is my past as horrible as I thought it was? What happened on the day I lost my memory? Was it just a freak accident? Did I somehow lose track of her in the streets and fall? I should think I would have been found and taken to hospital if I was in the middle of the street. Maybe I’m wrong, though. Then a thought hit me. Would we even find her there? No, no, of course we’ll find her, I assured myself. The truth is that we had to find her. I wouldn’t know what to do if she had suddenly dropped off the face of Acadia.
Killian’s hips moved again slightly. I looked up at him and glared. “What seems to be the problem?”
He glanced down at me briefly and said, “Nothing.”
I felt him scoot back in his seat. That was when I understood. “You know, you’re the one that put my head down here.”
He didn’t reply. I snorted, amused by his reaction, and then rested my cheek on his leg as I resumed my thoughts from before.
“Killian?” I asked. “Say that I don’t find my mother, for whatever reason. Would you mind if I came with you to Earth?”
He inhaled deeply and sighed.
“How did I know this would come up?” he said, mostly to himself.
I sat up abruptly to face him.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I snapped.
“Admit it.” He smiled. “You can’t stand the thought of living without me.”
“Don’t push it,” I muttered. “And wipe that stupid grin off your face.”
That only made him smile more.
“Killian, I’m serious.”
“I’m sure you are,” he said, keeping his eyes ahead as he steered.
“Would you just answer the question?”
My eyes narrowed as my jaw set in a hard line.
“You don’t think I’m capable of punishing you?”
His eyes grew timid and his body went rigid. Now it was my turn to grin.
“Whatever you’re thinking, I would advise you not to do it,” he said in a dangerously low voice.
“Like I said before, you interrogate me all the time. It’s only fair.”
I turned my body completely and ducked my head so that it was in between his legs again. Before I had the chance to bite at the front of his pants, he slammed a hand down on the dash, and before I knew it, he had me pulled up on his lap, his hands wandering all over my body. Every touch left me breathless and grinding relentlessly against him. He groaned, shifting underneath me as his lips captured mine. I immediately pushed away from him, panting as if I had just finished running a mile.
“You are so close,” he breathed as he combed his fingers through my hair.
“No,” I laughed, swallowing hard. “That was just to prove how much of a tease I can be.”
He sighed, letting his head fall back against the headrest.
“Shouldn’t you be paying attention to the sky or something?” I asked.
“Autopilot,” he replied. “It drives for me.”
I smirked. “Alright, then.”
I leaned in, but instead of kissing his lips, I nipped at his neck. He inhaled sharply through his nose.
“You really have come out of your shell,” he said, placing his hands on my hips. “I wouldn’t happen to be the reason for this, am I?”
“Not at all,” I said in his ear. “I’m fed up with you, and when desperate times call for desperate measures, I tend to go all-out. Now answer me, or this will only get worse for you.”
“If I am correct, this is just as torturous for you as it is for me.”
“Nope. You’re wrong. I could do this all day if I wanted.”
“Well, unfortunately for you, I have had centuries of practice when it comes to enduring torture. Do whatever you want to me.”
“Oh, you’d really like that, wouldn’t you?” I laughed. “In all seriousness, though, if I can’t find my mother, can I come with you?”
He blinked at me a few times before he replied. “I will find your mother.”
“You don’t know that.”
“You doubt my abilities?”
“No. But we both know Exogène will be there. Who knows how much time you’ll have before you make your escape? You probably won’t have time to look for her.”
“So, what are you suggesting?” he asked, giving me a quizzical look.
“I’m saying I should be the one looking for her while you hide somewhere in the city.”
He fell silent.
“What?” I said. “You will do it, won’t you?”
“Jianna…” He trailed off, and for the first time ever, he struggled for words. “You and I…we…were never meant to meet. In fact, I should have left a long time ago. So to answer your question, no, I will not allow you to come with me.”
“Why?” I shouted. “I mean, I’m no good down here, so what’s the point in staying when—”
“Because you still have your parents in Twixton,” he interrupted. “Why is that so hard for you to see?”
“You wouldn’t understand, okay? In truth, I hardly know them.”
“They raised you.”
“They found me. I was a fucking charity project for them!”
“How can you say that?” he spat.
“Because it’s true, dammit, are you even listening to me? They found me in the streets of Nou Vil—what else are they going to do? Leave me there?”
“Really, Jianna, who would leave a child, alone and abandoned, on the street?”
“Exactly!” I cried. “They did it out of moral conduct. They didn’t really care about me.”
“Of course they did it out of moral conduct; honestly, don’t be so daft. You would have done the same.”
Damn him, I thought. Still, I felt as if I had to say something. Something that would end the conversation but not the argument.
“We’ll talk about this later,” I said, sliding out of his lap to sit on the floor once more.
After a moment of silence, he pressed a button on the dash, and began steering the ship manually as he had done before. For the rest of the trip, I dreaded our arrival, terrified of what he would do once we found a secret hiding spot in the city to finish our conversation. I could only hope it was just another punishment.