After the blow job and shower was over, we got out and dried off. We got in bed, and as it turned out, we weren’t done because we ended up having sex again. Clearly, I can’t get enough of the man. But the sex was different that time. It was slower. Not the crazy sex or frantic fucking we normally did. It was passionate and intense. After we both came, Liam stayed inside me for a really long time, just holding me and kissing me, before he eventually had to move to clean up. When he was finished, he came back to bed and wrapped me up in his strong arms, and that was where I slept all night. But not now, as I’m alone in bed, and the space where Liam was is empty and cold. I open my eyes and look at the clock on the nightstand. Squishy and Ducky are sitting beside it. I smile at the memory of the carnival and the fun we had in the Hook a Duck tent. The clock reads seven fifteen. Too early for me. Part of me wants to put my head under the pillow and go back to sleep, but the bed feels weirdly empty without Liam here, and my head has started buzzing a little. I really hope it’s the aftereffects of the champagne last night, as I really don’t want to deal with a headache right now. I didn’t have one at all yesterday, not even a twinge. So, I worry that I might pay for that today. I should get something to drink, rehydrate, and try my best to ward off a coming headache. But I know all the water in the world won’t fix what causes my head to scream in pain. Getting up, I reach for Liam’s shirt, which he tossed on the floor last night, and pull it on, fastening up some of the buttons. It’s all wrinkled, but it smells of him, and that’s what I like—having Liam’s scent all around me. I use the bathroom and head into the kitchen, as that’s where I usually find him. But the kitchen’s empty. I check the living room, but he’s not there either. Considering the amount of time that I’ve spent in Liam’s apartment, I haven’t checked it all out. I’ve seen the living room, kitchen, guest bathroom, and Liam’s bedroom—multiple times—but that’s it. I pad down the hall, my feet cold against the hardwood floor after leaving the warmth of his plush bedroom carpet. I walk past the guest bedroom and pause at the doorway of the guest bathroom that I used the first night I came here. God, that seems so long ago. In reality though, it was only a handful of days ago. It’s like time has slowed down since I met Liam. I’m thankful for that. If these two weeks with him end up feeling like a lifetime, then I will forever be grateful for that. I just pray the tumor lets me last that long. Truth is, I don’t know how long I have left. Could be months. Weeks. Days… And that’s why I have to make this time, here right now, count. With Liam and completing my list before I go to join my family. I keep walking, and my ears suddenly become alert to the sounds of heavy breathing. What the… I pick up my pace and realize that the heavy breathing is coming from behind a door toward the end of the hallway. I walk toward it, my heart rate picking up a little, until I get close enough to register the telltale sounds of someone exercising. Liam must be working out in there. I open the door to a fully equipped out gym. Fancy. And it’s clearly how he manages to keep that awesome body of his…well, awesome. The opposite wall to me is solid glass. I can see the whole of London from it. Liam is on a treadmill facing the view. Earbuds are in his ears. There’s also a flat screen up on the wall to the right of him, and the business channel is on. But, as he runs, his focus is on the view. I’m stuck on his powerful body as he moves. Sweat is running in rivulets down the nape of his neck and over the muscles on his back. His skin is glistening. I’m starting to sweat from just watching him. Not to be a total pervert and ogle him, I walk over to him, moving around to the side, so as not to come up behind him and startle him. He catches sight of me and smiles. He yanks his earbuds out. Morning, gorgeous. He slows the treadmill down a touch, bringing him to a jog. Morning yourself. I take a seat on what looks like a weight bench. I thought you’d sleep longer since I kept you up so late last night. The glint in his eyes tells me that he’s thinking about everything we did. It sets off a warm shiver down my spine and sends my stomach butterflying. I bite my lower lip. The bed was cold without you. Sorry, babe. I’m an early riser. I sleep six hours, if I’m lucky. And if I stay awake, lying next to you, then I’ll only end up waking you up for more sex. And I totally wouldn’t mind if you did that. The look I get this time is seductive. It sends the butterflies into overdrive. I’ll remember that for next time. Liam picks up a bottle of water from the cup holder on the treadmill, and he takes a drink. The buzz in my head intensifies. The room spins, and a pain shoots across my forehead. Not now. Not in front of Liam again. Hey, you okay? I hear a hint of concern in his voice. I realize my eyes are shut, and my hand is pressed to my forehead. My other hand is curled around the edge of the bench. I blink open my eyes and rub the heel of my hand against my forehead, trying to force the pain away, wanting to downplay it so that he won’t worry. Yeah, I’m fine, I lie with a forced smile. Just all that champagne last night. My head is a little fuzzy.
Why did you let Liam go out? I demanded. He wasn’t even armed.He threw his hands up into the air. They’re freaking Blues! Oh my God, Ruby, you have to—look, never mind, it’s not—
Chubs gave me a narrow look, one I turned right back on him.Okay, look, he said, beginning with a deep breath. However you want to define what’s between you and Lee, that’s none of my business. And, honestly, it’s stressful trying to keep up with the circles you run around each other. It becomes my business when one of my best friends starts treating the other the way you’ve been treating him lately.Holding him at arm’s length. You’re just...here, but not here, you know? he said. Even when you’re with us, you’re not even really present. You zone out, you dodge topics, you hold back. And every once in a while you’ll just...disappear. Is there something else you’re not telling us?
You’ve been so busy picking apart everything I do, but you don’t seem to have any idea what that is. I’m disappearing? I said. Try training, to make sure I don’t make an ass out of myself getting these kids in shape. Try planning, to make sure no one gets hurt or killed. Try dealing with Clancy, because no one else can.My voice had dropped to a furious whisper and the force of it had clearly stunned him. He reached out, taking my shoulder, his expression going soft as mine went hard. I hated the way he was studying me.
I just want you to talk to us, he said. I know it can’t be like before, but I miss it. I miss... Chubs shook his head. I didn’t mean to jump down your throat.
Well, you did, I said with a sigh.Kullen’s cyclone fought him on all sides, even as Merik tried to send winds to grab Vivia. Even as he tried to send himself breaking free.
It was as if Kullen sensed what Merik would do next. It was if he sensed the tiny, pitiful heart of Merik’s true power.He and Kullen were bound. Their souls, their magics, which meant … No magic. Merik could not use his Windwitchery here.
It left his chest aching and his body limp, but Merik did it. He released the wind. He released the magic. He released the fury.Then Merik fell, a nosedive straight down the storm’s heart. A free fall toward the water-bridge. He felt Kullen’s scream blast in his skull. The magic lanced through Merik’s belly, through his limbs. Use me, use me, use me.