Tulip laughed as she danced with Lilly, Rose and Violet in the center of the magnificent reception hall. They were the only four dancing, but she didn’t care. For a while, she was sure Lilly would manage to convince Freyna, Bor’s sister, to dance with them, but she had finally refused.
Thanks to the external hard drive she had grabbed when the Spinners attacked Earth, they had thousands of songs, movies and books to remind them of home.
All around her, happy, curious faces watched them as they swayed around the open space they used as a dance floor, laughing and smiling with each other.
Tulip’s life felt perfect in that moment. Lilly was happily married to Bor, she was the queen of this incredible planet they called home, and she mentioned earlier that they were going to try to have a baby soon.
Rose seemed to be getting back on her feet as well. With her tall, thin frame, she wasn’t much different in build to the Torian females. After getting a ton of advice from Bor’s mother, Rose had decided to continue with her modeling career. Her first photo shoot was scheduled in a week’s time.
Violet would be starting school after the celebrations. Even though her baby sister complained about having to be the only one to go back to school, Tulip saw the excitement in her unusual eyes.
Every day, Violet asked about Spot, wanting to make sure her beloved pet was safe and well, and nagging Korom about when he was planning to talk to Bor.
Tulip had to smile at the thought of how Violet had unofficially declared herself Korom’s annoying little sister. She never once let his glares or barked demands get to her. She would simply roll her eyes, mumble a snarky comment under her breath, then run away screaming when Korom playfully chased her with his mist.
As for Tulip, she could barely contain her love for the man. She hadn’t said the words to him yet, but she felt it all the way down to her bones. They’d only had one small argument in the last two weeks. Korom had come home one evening very late. He’d smiled like an idiot as he swayed in the doorway, his eyes glazed as he tried to focus on her.
It turned out, Bor had challenged him to some stupid bet, and Korom had lost. As the loser, he had to sit and drink with Bor and Paru half the night.
Even then, her love for the man grew. He’s been so sweet, letting her put him to bed and take care of him. The next day he’d called Bor and told him to forget he existed for the next two days and spent every second with her. He’d sat in her lab with her, helping her understand some of the tech she’d taken apart. He’d taken her to the city to walk around the stores and buy far more than she needed. They went for dinner in a stunning floating restaurant that hovered over the tiny islands off the coast.
All in all, her life felt perfect.
Lilly smiled wide, gesturing behind Tulip with a waggle of her brows.
“Looks like someone couldn’t stay away,” Rose said, stepping aside as thick rivers of dark black mist curled around Tulips legs, cocooning her as it rose up her body. The moment the mist touched bare skin on her back, she knew something was wrong. It wasn’t Korom. His mist always felt warm… safe. This mist was cold with a dark, menacing feel to it.
“Lilly! This isn’t-” Before she could finish her cry for help, the mist covered her face and head, leaving her trapped in darkness. She faintly heard Violet’s shout mixed with the panicked voices of everyone else in the hall.
She pushed at the mist, hating how afraid she felt. Her entire body trembled as her mind flashed with images of what a Miasm’s mist was capable of.
Before she could think another thought, her body went weightless, her mind going hazy as she felt herself moving at an intense speed. She couldn’t see anything, only the boiling black cloud around her.
After a moment, the movement stopped and the mist began to recede.
As it left her body, Tulip stumbled a little as she tried to get her queasy stomach to calm.
Looking around, she found herself standing on the bridge of a strange ship. It was empty, only the faint glow of the screens illuminating the large open space.
She spun, trying to find who had taken her. Was this Kurmar? Had he come for her? Why? Why didn’t he just join the party and tell her what he needed to like a normal person.
No, this isn’t Kurmar. His mist didn’t feel so… scary. This is something else. Someone else.
“Hello, Tulip.” A deep, husky voice said from one of the seats behind her. She spun, almost tripping on her high heels. In a seat to the side, by a large array of screens sat a large, dark haired man. His face was cast in shadows, the light of the screen behind him making it hard to see his face.
“Who are you? Where am I? Why did you bring me here?”
“Easy,” He cooed, rising to his full, impressive and at the same time, terrifying height. This man was as tall as Korom, if not a few inches taller. His wide, solid looking body moved with easy grace. The two daggers at his sides made Tulip step away from him, her mind screaming for her to run.
“What do you want from me?” Her voice broke, her fear too much to hide.
“I believe I have something of yours.”
He raised a hand in front of him, a small puff of dark mist shooting out of his hand and racing towards her. Tulip stumbled back, tripping over her long dress and falling back hard onto her butt. Her palms hit the metal flooring, pain shooting up her right wrist.
She cried out, raising a hand to protect her face but it was no use. The mist darted around her arm and fluttered in warm, soothing caresses at the back of her neck.
“Wisp?” She breathed.
The tiny wisp flew around her neck in an excited motion, running up her cheeks, before it settled in her hair once more.
Tulips eyes rose to the man stalking towards her. She scrambled back, agony flaring in her wrist, but she pushed it aside.
His long, powerful legs ate up the space between them, reaching her in seconds. When Tulip’s back hit something hard, she stopped and shut her eyes, a terrified sob escaping her lips.
“Easy, female. You are hurt. Let me see.”
It took a moment for the gentleness in the man’s voice to register in Tulip’s mind. When it did, she frowned and peered up at him.
She gasped when she saw familiar eyes looking back at her with concern.
“Oh my God,” she breathed, her pain and fear forgotten for a moment.
“Let me see, little female. I never intended for you to be hurt.”
Tulip stared wide eyed at the male kneeling next to her. Her body moved on its own, her injured arm reaching out to the man.
He held it gently in his large palm, studying it with an intense look in his deep, dark brown eyes. Finally, he looked up at her, a gentle smile on his face.
“It is not broken. It will heal in a few days.”
He nodded. “Yes.”
One dark brow rose above his eye.
“Do you need me to explain the mechanics of how it works?”
At that she rolled her eyes, “No.”
He chuckled, the sound so familiar to her.
The man rose to his feet, holding out a hand to her. She stared at it for a moment, then eased her uninjured hand into his, and let him pull her up. Once she was on her feet, he lifted her hand to his lips and placed a soft kiss onto her knuckles.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Tulip. My name is Lorzarian.”