Chapter 13: Hugs
Avoiding a repeat of yesterday’s conflict, Unbowed let sleeping birds lay and I was left undisturbed until late morning. After yesterday's early start, my work out training and our late night at Limbo, I was thankful for the sleep in. I bet ‘Al’ was thankful not to have to deal with grumpy early morning me.
Rolling over to check the bedside table’s digital clock, I grumbled as it flashed 10:26am. Too early! Pulling the comforter over my head, I tried to return to the gentle embrace of Princess Sleep. Nope not working.
Memories of last night returned to me, allowing me to relive my night in the spotlight once more. I was so anxious getting up on that makeshift stage, but once I started singing my surrounds melted away and I just existed in the moment. I’ve always enjoyed singing, even when I hated my own voice and of all the changes I got out of the Emergence I think I love my voice the most.
Just speaking, it was a soft mezzo with a singsong cadence, but I had a pitch perfect singing range that reached up to a high soprano, down to low contralto and comfortably transitioning to every pitch between.
It had been my voice that allowed me to comfort Kelly and draw out and heal her shattered psyche with soft lullabies, each time after they torn her apart.
That said I had spent two hours including breaks performing at Limbo, stopping regularly to drink water or milk to reserve my voice. The greatest challenge had been at the start recalling songs I knew the lyrics for and that didn’t require any musical accompaniment.
After about thirty minutes singing on my own, I was approached during my break by a man wearing a domino mask and a leather coat that reached down to just past the pockets of his jeans. He had been a bit on the thin side for a guy who looked to be six foot, but he walked with a self assured air.
“Hey there kid, you want a little piano accompaniment to that beautiful voice you’re rockin’ there?” he’d asked, flashing an easy smile, “Aw shit, where’s my manners. The names Piercer, pleased to meet you.”
His voice’s disarming southern twang had me agreeing before I had even processed what he had said. For the rest of the night he accompanied me on the piano, increasing the repertoire of songs I was able to sing. When the last song ended I’d tried to offer him a share of the tips thrown at our feet, but he only shook his head with a sly smile, flipped his wide brimmed hat up onto his head and wandered out.
The tips had ended up with my little nest egg of earning when I got back, right before I stumbled off to bed.
My stomach growled as it finally woke up and sent hunger pangs my way. No stomach, please don’t growl. I wanna stay in bed where it is warm.
Fine… Emerging from the comforter, I dived into the ensuite and blasted myself with hot water as I showered. When I finally left the steamy bathroom, I was lobster red, overheating and ready to face the cold room while I dressed.
‘Al’ must have known when I hopped into the shower, because my breakfast was waiting when I reached the dining area.
I left my plate in the sink when I was finished and set out to explore the bunker.
I’d described this place before as a windowless luxury penthouse and it lived up to it. I counted six bedrooms with ensuites, a gym, spa and sauna, movie room, lounge parlor, a plunge pool, conference room, an office ‘Al’ was currently using, kitchen, laundry, dining area and a games room.
But it was more than just a penthouse, I had to remind myself. It was a bunker and as such, hidden from view at one end was a series of operational rooms. Storerooms of longlife foods such as dehydrated products, preserves, vacuum packed and frozen meals. Medical stores, a small armory and tool room. Power generation and storage as well as water tanks, filtration and heating, all of which seemed to be linked to the world above but with cut offs.
There was another operational room that's purpose was less obvious and it was only once I flipped through a manual hanging on the wall did I know what it was. A ventilation and air filtration system. Reading the manual I realised that the ventilation system keep air circulating down here and when the filtration system was turned on, it would first feed all that air through a machine to filter out pathogens, hazardous gases, ash and radioactive fallout.
It was a scary reminder of the cold war era.
To finish my exploration, I wandered back down the main hallway until I reached the bunkers large metal blast door. This thing looked airtight, tough and bore an eight digit keypad lock.
As I turned back to return to my room, a brief glimpse of something white drew my eye.
Squatting down I saw it was the reflective white corner of a polaroid from under the hallways teak cabinet, that had caught my attention. Reaching down I carefully picked it up by its edge and gently blew away its thick covering of dust.
A faded picture of a happy family stared back at me, the proud mother and father posing around brown haired baby wrapped in white swaddling. I recognised one of the figures, there in the photo was a younger clean shaven ‘Al’ the sparse speckling of grey hairs and furrowed brow missing. Holy crap! Dadneto is a dad!
Who was the woman in the photo and where was the kid now? Flipping over the photo I checked for a date or perhaps an annotation on the back, but it was blank, unmarked. The style of clothes were maybe two decades old, I couldn’t really tell.
I wanted to ask ‘Al’ about the photo, but I didn’t want him to know I had seen something so personal. Not able to bare returning such a potentially important picture to where I found it under the cabinet, I carefully tucked it into my waistband under my top.
Once back in my room, I wrapped it in tissues and secreted it away in the draw of my bedside table.
Sitting down on my bed, I glanced at the bedside clock. 2:43pm. Ugh over two hours until Limbo opens...
* * *
‘Al’ having must've gotten sick of watching me wear grooves into the floor with my pacing and anxious clock checking, because he closed his copy of the New York Journal with a sigh and rose from the leather armchair where he had been sitting.
“I’ll call ‘Nel’ for a pick up and you can do your pacing at limbo,” he said with mock resignation, before walking out.
As I walked to my room to grab my jacket, I caught my reflection in a hallway mirror. I was smiling. I was smiling! Is the rich dork growing on me?
Well anyway, once I had my jacket and ‘Al’ his face concealing helm, we were good go when Natalie ‘Nel” Gingers arrived to rift us. Unfortunately ‘Al’ wasn’t her only client so she couldn’t stay. I would have liked to have her around to distract me.
Instead I was sitting in the darkest corner of Limbo with a tankard of ice cold milk, staring forlornly at last night’s stage as the evening crowd shuffled in. Ok I had done some pacing before Barb and a few patron’s gave me warning glares, so now I was just staring at the stage reliving last night. Unbowed was again over talking to Barb, they were quite a contrasting pair.
I want to get up on that stage again The lights were invigorating, but I’m not talking about my ability to feed on the energy. The lights made it hard to see the audience, I couldn’t see their eyes on me. I’ve always hated being exposed or watched, instead I could just feel the energy of audience. It wasn’t an energy I could feed on, yet I felt as if their emotions and energy were stimulating me.
The world wasn’t content to let me space out and a girlish squeal of indignant surprise rang out across the bar probably drawing everyone’s attention. There was Redd, gripping a blushing fox girl by the tail.
“Got you you tricky little fox!” Redd declared with an amused smile, like the cat who’d caught the canary. This must be the fox, Kalia.
From behind my ‘dad approved’ beverage, I watched the pair talk until Redd suddenly pointed in my direction and I found them both staring right at me, catching me staring back. Staring back into those green flecked orange eyes, I tried to disappear behind the tankard of milk.
The pair turned back to each other and each exchanged a few more words before Redd released the hostage tail. The fox then bounced out of reach and mockingly barked at her. Redds hand flashed in front of face as she made a gesture to the fox, too fast for me to catch.
Tail free, the fox strode straight towards me, an intimidating look on her face. Help. I’m not ready for this. Before I knew it I had slipped out of my chair and backed myself into the darker shadows of the corner. I knew my instincts would one day betray me.
Cornered, the fox and I awkwardly stood facing each other, trying to work out what to say. Her mouth opened and closed as she nervously gripped her tail. Finally her courage won out, while I was still struggling to work out what to say.
"So you’re Robin?" she asked in a brilliant move that turned the focus back onto me.
"Um, yeah. You’re Kalia? You look like Kelly said you would..." I quietly stuttered, as I stared at her ears and tail trying to predict her mood.
"Yup,” she eloquently replied, ears twitching. Ok I don’t know what that means.
The conversation dried up and we went back to staring awkwardly at each other. I had thought about this moment, about meeting her, even when I was in prison and look at me. I’m as awkward, as I was when I showed up dateless on prom night.
"Can-can I hug you? Like I don’t know if that's like weird but like you went through some shit and even reading about it was like awful. So I um- I wanna hug you,” she blurted out with a stutter, leaving me shellshocked.
Think Robin! What do I do? She wants to hug me! If I say no will she be offended? If I say yes, what then? Yes, that it! I’ll tell her about my spikes.
“Best not… My spikes are really sharp, I don’t want to hurt you…,” I managed to reply.
“Nah I’ll be fine ay,” she smiled. Crap. Abort! Abort! What do I do now!? Ok I’ll play along, make sure it isn’t weird. Shrugging, I uncrossed my arms and let them fall to my sides.
She eagerly stepped forward, glanced at my spikes and then carefully wrapped her arms around me, before constricting and lifting me up slightly from my feet. Help! I tensed up as I had no idea what to do. This is beyond my almost eighteen years of experience. With great effort I relaxed and returned the hug. She was kinda warm and her soft tail was brushing against my legs.
Maybe hugs are good?
“Thanks, by the way. It sounds like you were a real friend to Kelly when she needed it the most. I wish I was there too,” she murmured into my ear before returning me to the ground, still holding me.
Unbidden memories of that place returned in the form of my interrogators voice, Jakob’s laugh and Kelly’s broken whimpering.
“No. No you wouldn’t... “ I found myself whispering before I could stop myself. Way to show sympathy there Robin.
“Yeah, I don’t think… ugh, just I wish I could have helped, I wish I’d even known,” she sighed sounding guilty or maybe frustrated at her inability to have protected her friend.
Ok how to I fix this? It wasn’t my plan to upset her.
“You can’t have known. You think Kelly ever expected to wake up in a morgue or wind up in that place?” I reassured her, with what I hoped was a comforting tone.
“Yeah I guess you’re right,” she agreed with a grimace, letting me go. Did I fuck up?
“Uh, speaking of Kelly… please tell me she’s with you?” she asked, staring at me with pleading puppy eyes.
She didn’t know about the transfer?
“I first noticed she was gone more than a week ago, after she stopped responding. They wanted to study her. He said they transferred her, mentioned putting her through the scientific method. I uh, came here for help finding her. Kelly seemed to think you could do anything,” venom slipped into my voice as I remembered his voice. He who took both Ms Clark and Kelly from me.
Kelly really did think the world of Kalia, she’d believed Kalia could have walked into the prison and broken us out right under the guards noses. That’s some faith.
Kalia’s face twisted into a grimace, I guess Kelly was a sore spot for her too. Ok that sounded stupid, of course Kelly is. Kalia saw her die and I know some naysayers will claim it couldn’t have meant that much, they only knew each over for days, but I knew how much an encounter like that could mean.
Kelly told me how much that encounter meant to her, for however short a time Kalia was a friend she could be authentically herself with and not someone she had to pretend to not be as bubbly around. For Kalia I imagine Kelly was something similar to what she was for me, a link to normality, a light in the dark, but especially for Kalia a lifeline that enabled her to start building a new life and identity.
“Fuck that is so awful. Aw Kelly… I will tear down those cunts and burn their… nevermind. What I can do is complicated. It depends how much I can trust you and Milk Dad.”
Milk Dad? I get the Dad part, but is she making a stab at my drink or is there some history with Unbowed I don’t know about? But enough about that, can she trust us? What is that about?
I seriously wondered what Kalia could have to hide, given how evasive she was being. Was she some kind of foxy femme fatale spy and If she told us, she’d have to kill us? The only thing more unlikely was...
“What?! You’re not about to tell me that you have a secret identity or something? Something unbelievable, like you’re actually that fox thief , Vulptrix-” I teased, laughing at how preposterous the thought was, until I felt my brain squeal in pain. My eyes snapped shut and I raised my arms to cradle my poor head.
Anyone who has had a bad enough migraine, knows how hard it can be to form words when pain has captured your mind. As I struggled to regain my train of thought and put words to it, my self-appointed father figure protectively stepped between me as my ‘attacker’.
“What have you done to my-, to Wraith!” Oh boy… He really is thinking about me that way...
“That’s a long story Milk Dad, we got somewhere private to talk?” she asked, her posture and tone shifting to something else. Something more serious, that telegraphed she wasn’t someone to mess with.
Barely blinking at her change in attitude, “Al’ whipped out his phone from that compartment in his armor and hit the speed dial. Poor Nel, she put up with a lot in her dealings with Unbowed. I guess the pay and the enjoyment she got teasing him, made it worth her while.
“Nel, I need a pick up ASAP! Limbo to the bunker… Yes, I understand. I’ll pay for you to move your current booking! Quick!” he organised, his business tone showing up.
‘Al’s phone was back in his armor, barely a second after hanging up and he was already protectively wrapping his arm around my shoulders as he herded us into the cloak room.
“Alright then,” I barely heard Kalia murmur from behind as the soft sound of her footfalls followed us.
Nel was already waiting for us inside with a rift ready when we got there. She really had dropped everything and heeded ‘Al’s summons.
Something seemed to come over Kalia when she saw the portal, like she was spellbound or mesmerized by it. Was this what I had looked like when I gazed at that Rift’s edge? Nel and ‘Al’s hadn’t noticed yet, but their small talk halted when they noticed Kalia take several shuffling steps forward.
It was as soon as kalia reached for the portal, that everyone present knew something was wrong. Nel gave a started yelp as she spotted the fox girl’s glazed eyes, barely half a moment before Kalia grabbed the portal by its razor edge.
We all watched in horror as both the fox girl and portal, began to strobe with white incandescent light. But, before even the ginger rifter could reach her, I grabbed Kalia’s shoulder to pull her free.
Vision clearing, I found myself standing in a vast city square amidst the to and fro of a great battle. It was not any city that I recognised, the buildings were multistory blocky constructions of white stone with marble colonnades and towers of crystal scraping the heavens. The architecture was if the distant past and future had been melted together. Directly above us in an alien green sky, a red sun hung as if watching the conflict below.
Two great armies clashed around me. On one side from behind a line of bipedal wolfen tech-constructs, robed humans threw mustered a beleaguered defence, as they rained down blasts of light and fire into an apocalyptic gathering of beings from legend. The second army was something both wild and primal to behold. A breathtaking host of beings wielding the primal forces of creation, brushed shoulders with animalistic entities and creatures from myth, as they pressed onwards gaining ground.
Looking behind me, I could tell I was standing amongst the legendary host’s vanguard, where they had pushed ahead into the heart of the magi.
A helmed man with the thrust of his trident sent a wave of water crashing into the ranks of the humans, sending them sprawling. With a joyous laugh as she leapt past me, an antlered woman with a bow of spun moonlight loosed a trio of blinding arrows into the ranks of the robed humans. As if chasing after her, a man almost her twin bearing a bow of flaring sunfire, cheered as he joined the rout.
One of the host, a shadowy woman garbed in the night, turned to me and shouted my name, beckoning me to join their charge.
As if recognising them, my heart cried out with joy as they pressed their advantage and cleaved through the broken ranks of the magi.
Even as their forces were scattered into pockets of defenders making their final stands as they forced out to the fringes of the square, they refused to surrender. Regrouping, the most fanatical robed magi made a last ditch defence on the steps of a colossal palace, boxed in all sides by their awe-inspiring foes.
A lone crowned figure, robed in cloth of resplendent whites and purples, who was as awe inspiring as any of the great host opposing him, emerged from the palace. With just the overwhelming strength of his oppressive presence, the battlefield went quiet. The silence was quickly broken by the roar of the magi as rallied under the figures gaze. ‘ATLAS!’ they chanted.
From within his robe’s billowing sleeves, the figure Atlas drew out a metallic orb made of a million ever shifting and twisting fractal pieces. Imperiously raising his hand, he looked down on the legendary host with contempt and held out the orb before him. A torrent of icy light burst forth, lancing towards the attackers.
Wherever that dread beam touched, empty space was found, whomever it touched, blazed like shattered rainbow and then vanished as if they had never existed. Some began to flee, while others attempted to break through the magi’s final defence and end their despotic leader.
One of the host, a bearded exemplar of a being, unleashed a jagged spear of lighting even as the beam of unmaking struck him. A triumphant grin adorned his face even as he ceased to exist.
All eyes turned to the orb. Moments earlier it had been cutting through the ranks of its master’s enemies like a hot knife through butter. Now growing cracks radiated out from where the lightning had struck it. As it’s metallic casing shattered the orb screamed, it’s voice causing the reality around it to distort with a haze of geometric and fractal patterns.
Then with the ear splitting noise of metal tearing under strain like a peal of thunder, an explosive flash of light erupted forth. Reds, blues, greens, yellows, oranges, purples and every colour imaginable seared into my earballs as the light slowly engulfed the battle like a billowing explosion.
As it reached me I heard someone call out my name. It was a different name this time I thought, as the colours washed over me and I felt as if my very soul was being shredded, torn fragments carried off on the explosion’s shockwaves.
As if thrown back into my body, I found myself again in the cloak room and extremely dizzy.
Almost stumbling backwards, I held onto Kalia’s shoulder for support. Turning around, she faced me and again our eyes met. She looked as shocked and confused as I felt. To borrow an expression, she looked like she had seen a ghost.
Had she seen what I saw? What even had I seen? That host had felt so familiar, I swear I knew them, recognised them and felt like I should know their names. What names had they called me? Erebus? Aether? But that definitely wasn’t America and I’d bet it wasn’t Earth either, that sun had been too large and too red and don’t get me started on the colour of the sky.
“That was a pretty fuckin’ dumb idea miss. Coulda’ lost a finger or somethin’ you don’t seem to use, like your mind,” Nel’s voice rang out as she chastised Kalia, grounding me back in the moment.
“Lang- ,” ‘Al’ began before deciding better, maybe he’s finally learning to read the moment.
“Nevermind… Please, just carry on. Ladies first,” he directed, frustrations slipping into his voice.
Looking back, I could tell Kalia wasn’t entirely comfortable going through the portal, her long fur covered ears were swiveling left and right and her tail was all fuzzed out. I can’t say I was comfortable going through anymore, despite my previous safe rifts, after what we’d just experienced. So I could only imagine her hesitation, or maybe I was reading the situation wrong and she was just uncomfortable going into what could potentially be a trap.
Flashing her what I hoped was a comforting smile, I need to check this in the mirror later, I led the way, stepping through the rift. I really hope I didn’t look creepy or like I was about to eat her.
Moments later Kalia was behind me followed by ‘Al’ and finally Nel who lets the tear in reality snap shut behind her. ‘Home sweet home?’, I questioned as we stepped into the bunker's hallway, where I'd first arrived nights before.
I really hope Unbowed isn’t going to do anything to spook Kalia, because I could already see her looking for exits, no less on alert than she had been before coming through the rift. That tail was almost fanning the air with every anxious swish.
“If you will…” Unbowed gestured for us to follow him with a slight bow and a sweep of his arm. Nel was wandering off in the other direction, my bet was on lounge room and ‘Al’s liquor cabinet. I guess this was apart of how ‘Al’ had paid her to cancel the rest of her night’s bookings.
Following ‘Al’ into his bunker’s office, we stood in front of his desk declining the option to sit. It wasn’t my first time in here and I could tell that despite his efforts to furnish the room, it was mainly for show. There was little trace of how he might be under the mask, nothing to identify him or anything to suggest a personal touch.
“This office is just for entertaining guests of your nature, I don’t keep anything overly important in here. Anyway you wished to speak in private, let’s continue. You have one minute to explain why you were harming someone under my protection,” he calmly threaten, letting his overprotective dad side to the fore.
If Kalia’s tail was already fuzzed out, it now angrily bristled with indignation at his accusations.
“Well, like, for starters... I wasn’t really hurting her. At least not intentionally. It’s part of how I protect my identity. Robin, you joked about me being Vulptrix? Well, here goes!” she said in no a bullshit tone.
Reaching into a concealed pocket in the pleats of her skirt, she pulled out a silver diamond shaped pendant and slipped it around her neck.
I almost fell over over the chair beside me as I stepped back in surprised as Vulptrix appeared where Kalia had been standing.
“Ta daaa!” she said winking mischievously at us, I no longer had doubts about who she was.
“My necklace is rather protective, but now that I’ve show you who I am, you don’t have to worry about the head pains anymore,” her tone not quite apologetic.
Talk about protective, that think was down right vicious in how it worked. I had to wonder how many victims it had already claimed.
“Couldn’t you have done this before I felt psychic nails digging into my mind?” I grumbled, in my almost trademark dramatic way.
“Miss Vulptrix, there are far easier ways of concealing one’s identity than messing with supernatural technology beyond your understanding,” ‘Al’ said with a disapproving huff, unable to resist making his parental opinions heard.
“Yeah but like, none of them let me do this!” she said grinning as she wiggled her ears, obviously proud of them.
“I like being able to be my foxy self no matter what alter ego I’m using at the time. For real though, I didn’t realise how bad it was until fairly recently. Which is not to say I’m going to stop using it, because a few headaches for intrusive and inquisitive people is better than doing things the way other villains do it. Not many ways to disguise I’m a fox girl. Fancy armour won’t work.”
‘Al’ was not ready to drop it, was he taking what happened to me personally?
“Though, for a thief as prolific and successful as yourself, it would be advisable that you pay Tinker Tailor at Custom Fine Tailors a visit. I’m sure you can afford it with your spoils. I guarantee they can find you a more refined and protective look, than a simple old hoodie. Even their more deceptively casual styles pack in a considerable amount of protection. I’m sure we would all rest easier if you had that,” lecturing her.
I was glad it was someone else on the receiving end for once. It was nice that he cared, but after eighteen years of neglect and looking after myself, this was almost stifling.
“The hoodie is special to me… it’s the only piece of my past life I still have. I like to rock it when I’m out thieving because it keeps me calm. M-maybe you’re right though, I don’t want to lose it after all. How do I find this Custom Fine Tailors? No no, you can tell me later actually, can we please get to the real reason why we’re here? I’m worried about Kelly,” Kalia replied frowning, futilely struggling against accepting his guidance.
There was one thing since the big reveal that had me hopelessly confused. Kelly was still missing.
Why wasn’t Kelly free? This was Vulptrix the master thief, with those files couldn't she have already stolen Kelly out from under the noses of her captors? Was there some big plan I didn’t know about?
“Alright, so you’re Vulptrix. No wonder Nightbinder knew where to find you, Redd also knew all along too didn’t she? You have Ms Clark’s case files, you have some great rescue heist planned out? Don’t you?” I asked trying to keep the desperation out of my voice.
“You’re the famous Vulptrix, the thief who can break into anywhere. You run heroes around in circles. I’ve only been out a couple days and I’m aware of your reputation.”
My words seemed to weigh down on her. All of a sudden she looked exhausted, as she sighed and slumped into a chair. Her face wore a troubled expression and she seemed so vulnerable, nothing like the pictures and video of Vulptrix I had seen online.
Glancing over at ‘Al’, I could see him tense up, as if resisting the urge to reach across the desk and pull her up into a hug.
“I’m not all that. I’m sorry. I… tried you know? That factory hit? That was my reaction to finding out what happened to you and Kelly in that prison. I realise now that it wasn’t constructive, but I just needed to hurt the people responsible! Honestly I’m lost about what to do.”
Ears flopping, Kalia sounded as lost as I felt. I had to wonder what she had been through since Kelly died in front of her.
Unbowed sighed, I knew that sigh! I watched as any wariness he had towards Kalia melt away as the last of the tension left him.
“This is far too heavy to have been left on you girl’s shoulders… I figure it was Redd who retrieved the case files for you. I just wish she had given them to me,” regret coloured his words.
“I had been tracking Yelmorn’s activities since the first Emergence and was aware of their connections with the Taskforce and the prison. I lost a lead when the OMR caseworker was stabbed, I was only able to ascertain the location of her client Miss Wraith in the prison, prior to my break in. Her office at the OMR was ransacked and I only learnt of her home office, after it was burgled by Miss Redd,” Unbowed explained to us. Well probably more for Kalia, as I had been told most of this in bits and pieces over the last few days.
I watched as Kalia seemed ready to argue the point, only to deflate again and nod.
“Yeah I can get those case files to you. I actually have your papers Robin. The ones that prove your new identity and stuff, I assume you want those too?”
Yup that’s me, officially Robin Wraith, F, born 14th of March, 2001 and all it is now is a way for the the police to identify me...
“She had my documentation? I knew she had put in the paperwork to sort it out... I guess I should take it, but it’s funny. She went through all that effort to preserve my identity and now I can’t use any of it… I don’t think she had this in mind when she promised to get me out,” I let out a bitter laugh and lapsed into silence.
“Yes given my research and resources, those case files may allow me to work out where she is and who is responsible,” Unbowed requested as he turned and gave me a caring look. Of course, Dad to the rescue.
“Let my handle your documentation, I might be able to do something with it and maybe once we finish this, we can get you exonerated.”
I guess money can be considered a superpower in its own right, I can just about imagine him directing an army of suited lawyers like a general.
“Alright, sure. Should I bring the papers around tomorrow?” Kalia asked. Was she trying to change the subject, having sensed the mood?
Interlacing his fingers, a thoughtful expression appeared on ‘Al’s face, before moments later, he nodded.
“If you are free in daylight hours, there is someone I want to arrange for you to both to visit. If you give me a contact number, I’ll arrange for Nel to call you to arrange pick up when it is time.”
Wasn’t he joining us and who were we visiting? His habit of not saying everything was something I’d have to break.
Kalia blushed at some unspoken thought.
“I’ll try get there as early as possible… but recently the time I get up has depended on Nightbinder,” she almost whispered as her blush deepened. I guess the shipping dynamics speculation online were right.
I was pretty overwhelmed by the time a somewhat tipsy Nel stumbled back, opened a rift for Kalia to leave and fell asleep on one of Al’s couches. I wasn’t far behind her in returning to my nest.
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Ashlyn (she/her) , Author from Oz, most of my writing is on itch.io.
Aside from my finished stories on Itch.io I have one series I am working on with another author, on another site and I have decided to follow her here, as an act of mercy for the readers.