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       Slumber, p.26

         Part #1 of The Fade series by Samantha Young
 
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  This time I slept in the extra bedroom by myself. Or tried to sleep. I sat huddled on the bed, my brain refusing to shut down as I went over and over Wolfe’s warning.

  What would Haydyn say? I worried my lip.

  I shook my head, snorting out loud. Haydyn was a romantic. I knew exactly what she’d say. She’d tel me to throw off al my concerns. I held one palm out. On the one hand there was the pain I’d experience when I inevitably lost Wolfe. I held my right palm out. On the other, there was the pain I’d experience at having to watch him live his life with another woman; the children he’d have down the years that wouldn’t be mine.

  “This is it, Rogan,” I whispered at myself angrily. “You’ve managed to overcome the fact that he’s the son of the man who kiled your family but you can’t overcome your own fears?” I was a coward. How could I be a coward after al I’d gone through? Yes, I had made mistakes! Yes, there had been moments during this entire rescue mission that I’d fumbled and hated myself for it. But I retrieved the plant! I escaped ruthless gypsies, dirty rookery thugs, a perverted mountain man, and saved L’s life to boot! I’d even brought two star-crossed lovers together. I had faced a great deal in my life. How could I not find the courage to do the simplest thing of al…

  … love Wolfe?

  I loved Wolfe.

  I loved Wolfe…

  … it be as simple as that, I heard L’s smirking, know-it-al voice in my head.

  At the sound of the door handle rattling, I froze. When it rattled again I slid one leg out of the bed, thinking of the hunting knife I stil carried in my pack. Just as my foot touched the cold wooden floor, the door opened and shut quickly, a familiar shadowed figure leaning against it.

  “Wolfe?” I whispered, half relieved, half stunned.

  The floorboards creaked as he tip-toed over to the bed, sliding in next to me without a by your leave.

  “Wolfe!” I tried to act outraged but inside my heart was hammering, my body already tingling with anticipation.

  His eyes sparkled in the light from the moon outside the window and he grinned at me, playfuly yanking me under him. My cry of surprise was swalowed by his mouth.

  Oh wel, I thought. Hadn’t I already decided? I smiled against his lips and kissed him back. When he took a breath, I eased a hand down his face, afraid to stop touching him. “What made you think I’d be amenable to you sneaking into my room?”

  Wolfe shrugged, stil grinning wickedly down at me. “I thought perhaps I’d finaly gotten through to you. And… I don’t know.” He frowned now. “Something told me you wanted me here.”

  My lips parted in shocked realisation. “Your magic? Can you read my mind now?”

  He laughed against my cheek, shaking his head, his words whispering seductively against my ear, “No. Intuition again.” He nibbled my earlobe and I shivered. “I gather, my intuition assumed correct. You want me here?”

  I gasped under him as he deliberately tried to seduce an answer from me. With a growl of indignation I pushed his head back. “What do you think?” I replied sarcasticaly, pushing him onto his back, straddling him. “I’m not throwing you out am I.”

  ***

  Wolfe looked guilty as he leaned over me after our lovemaking. I frowned up at him and reached out to smooth his furrowed brow. “What?” He exhaled slowly. “You might be carrying my child, Rogan. You have to marry me now.” I took more pleasure than I should have at the way he almost closed his eyes, his features wincing, waiting for the coming hysterics. But before Wolfe had even come into my room – intent on seducing me to his wil, the scoundrel! – I had decided I was going to marry him. I wanted a life with him, even at the risk of losing everything we would build together. I wasn’t a coward. I could doubt myself and the choices I had made in this life, but deep down, I had always prided myself on the fact that I wasn’t a weak-wiled society girl. I wasn’t a coward. Not yesterday. Not today. And definitely not tomorrow.

  I nodded sombrely up at Wolfe, teasing him. “I guess it does.”

  His eyes widened. “You mean it?”

  I nodded, chuckling now. “Yes.”

  “You’l marry me?”

  “Yes.”

  He cried out happily, puling me into arms and I laughed, trying to shush him before he woke the Dena’s and realy created a scandal. “I don’t care.” He kissed me, his hand resting over my chest so my heart thumped against his palm. “You’re mine now. I’m alowed to be here.” Wolfe relaxed into sleep easily, now that I had agreed to marry him. My heart was stil beating so hard, my brain stil buzzing with al the things I now had to explain to Haydyn when she woke, that I watched over him, not able to close my eyes. Before the sun rose, I woke Wolfe and he reluctantly got out of bed and began dressing. He kissed me one more time, and then another time, and another… until eventualy I laughed and pushed him towards the door. Just as he was about to leave I realised I hadn’t told him something.

  “Wolfe,” I caled out quietly.

  He turned back expectantly.

  I smiled, feeling a weight lift off my shoulders. “I love you.”

  At my quietly spoken declaration, Wolfe’s eyes closed, relief softening his features, his whole face growing younger before my very eyes. I suddenly remembered he was only twenty one. A tension, I hadn’t even known was there, visibly melted out of his body. Wolfe opened his eyes again; they were light with deep emotion. “I love you too. Have done ever since you punched Nial Tromskin on the nose for pushing Valena in the courtyard and making her cry.” My jaw dropped at the revelation. “I was fourteen!”

  With one last warm chuckle, Wolfe nodded and quickly left.

  Chapter Thirty Two

  With our love declared and our betrothal decided, Wolfe and I both galoped towards Silvera with renewed determination. There was nothing else worrying us now but the ever growing need to wake Haydyn up. I think Chaeron knew something had happened between me and Wolfe. To be fair I think the entire Guard knew, considering we stared at one another with loopy smiles on our faces.

  Now al I wanted was for Haydyn to be wel. If I saved her, and somehow managed to banish my nightmares of the Mountain Man, everything would be almost perfect.

  I was glad when Wolfe found ways to stay the night with me. He was furious I was stil having nightmares, and I feared at first it would cause a disagreement again, but instead he soothed me back to sleep with his presence. The nightmares didn’t go away. I wasn’t sure they would for a while, but at least when I woke up, I wasn’t alone. Wolfe snuck into my room at Mag’s Inn in Sabith Town, and as he tiptoed in, his eyes so happy and mischievous he looked more boy than man, I wondered if we’d ever grow weary of another. I also wondered about his other women but was too afraid to bring up the subject for fear of what it would do to my self-esteem.

  Wolfe had only ever had liaisons with beautiful women. Then again… he thought I was beautiful, and who was I to argue with that?

  “You know,” Wolfe mused as he pressed kisses over my stomach. “I think I’m starting to miss you arguing with me.” I huffed, grinning. “That can be easily remedied, Captain.”

  I felt him grin against my skin. “Mm. I imagine it could.” He looked up abruptly, frowning. “One thing I keep wondering about…”

  “Mm?”

  “You’ve stopped objecting to being caled Lady Rogan.”

  I nodded, stroking my fingers through his hair as he crawled up my body. He braced himself above me. “Perhaps I came to the conclusion, on this quest, that I am a lady, despite circumstances of birth.”

  “Finaly.” He roled his eyes mockingly.

  I laughed. “Just because you came to this realisation before I did-”

  “That’s not why I insisted on caling you Lady Rogan,” Wolfe interrupted.

  I frowned. “Then why?”

  Instead of answering, he kissed me, his tongue stroking deep into my mouth, tangling with mine, trapping me in whatever spel he had me under. “I insisted on it,” he breathed raggedly. “Because on
e day I knew you were going to be my wife, and I wanted you accustomed to being caled Lady Rogan.”

  “You’re lying,” I replied breathlessly. “How could you possibly know I’d ever come to terms with everything between us?”

  “I didn’t have to know.” Those aquamarine eyes blazed down at me, al masculine arrogance and determination. “I always get what I want, Rogan. Always.”

  “And what about what I want?”

  Wolfe pressed a soft, tender kiss to my lips, the arrogance giving way to deep sincerity. “I’l always give you what you want, Rogan. Always.”

  ***

  We arrived in Silvera with a fierce burst of renewed energy. I galoped by Wolfe’s side, Chaeron and the men at our backs, as we tore through the city, through the marketplace and out past the palace to the cliffs. We ignored the cries of surprise and shock as we forced people from our paths. The Silverians watched in anxiety as we raced past them, their eyes troubled by our haste. The palace servants were even more surprised as Wolfe and I hurtled by them, having instructed Chaeron to stop with the Guard in the Palace Courtyard. We took off down a side entrance to the palace, out onto the rough trail that led us onto the Cliffside. Our horses, sensing our urgency kept their footing and made the half hour journey to the Land’s End Cottage in twenty; both our horses’ coats thick with sweat, our own clothes plastered to our skin.

  I dismounted so fast I nearly fel, ignoring Wolfe caling out to me, as I thrust the door to the cottage open, startling Rowan, who stood in the halway, a tray of sandwiches in her hands.

  “Lady Rogan!” she gasped, her eyes alight with relief. “You’ve returned.”

  “Where is she?” I demanded, not giving to pleasantries.

  “Upstairs.” Rowan jerked the tray towards the narrow stairwel. “Valena is with-”

  “Rogan!” Raj appeared in the doorway to the sitting room just as Wolfe appeared at my back. The healer hurried towards me. “You have it?” I held up the pack. “I have it.”

  My heart was pounding hard as we hurried up the stairwel to the large bedroom Haydyn loved. It was the view. She loved a view. The wide window looked out over the Silver Sea, like a master painting created by nature. I hugged Valena as she threw herself at me, my hands stroking her hair affectionately, while my eyes drank in the sight of Haydyn.

  I felt a raw choking burn in my throat at how pale and slight she looked lying on the bed, her moon-coloured hair spread out on the pilow. “Oh haven,” I choked.

  “She looks-”

  “You’re in time, Lady Rogan,” Raj reassured me, removing the blue plant from the pack. He breathed a sigh of relief and then turned to us al. “I hate to ask it of you but I need time alone with the Princezna to do this. I’l require Valena’s help of course.” I didn’t want to leave. I felt that old stubbornness take hold of my legs, gluing them to the ground. It was only when Wolfe’s arm came around me and was joined by another man’s hand on my lower back that I realised Matai was there. I hadn’t even seen him. I let them lead me out.

  “Matai,” I mumbled as I was taken downstairs in a daze. I was exhausted, like my body could just float up into the air and drift away on the wind.

  In the sitting room, Matai enveloped me in a tight hug. “Thank you, Rogan,” he whispered in my ear, hoarsely, grief and worry and heartache soaking every word.

  “Thank you so much.”

  I gave him a watery smile and let Wolfe draw me into his arms. My head rested on his shoulder as we waited.

  “We’re betrothed.” I heard Wolfe tel Matai. Clearly Matai was shocked by how intimate Wolfe and I were with one another.

  “What?” Matai choked. “Dear haven, has the world gone topsy turvy?”

  “Actualy, yes,” I replied, turning my head on Wolfe’s chest to stare at Matai beligerently. “You should see it out there, Lord Matai. What a mess.”

  “It’s not that bad,” Wolfe insisted, rubbing his hand up and down my back.

  I sniffed. “It’s not that good, either.”

  Matai lowered himself into a chair. He looked exhausted. “Tel me al that happened.”

  And so that’s what we did, to pass the horribly anxious wait we had while Raj hurried to save Haydyn’s life.

  ***

  I put it down to Haydyn’s love for the dramatic that instead of Raj coming down to tel us she was cured, that a tousled blonde head peeped around the doorframe of the sitting room, folowed by a stunning face suddenly blooming with colour.

  “HAYDYN!” I screeched like a little girl, puling from Wolfe’s embrace and rushing to meet my best friend, who squealed and crossed the room to meet me. As we shook in each other’s arms, tears and snot mingling in our hysteria, no one would have guessed that the Princezna of Phaedra had only hours before been moments from death.

  I puled back, barely able to see her through my tears. “Look at you! Should you be out of bed?!”

  “Not realy,” Raj opined from the doorway, his eyebrows drawn together in consternation.

  Haydyn shrugged, grinning widely. “I don’t care. My body hurts from not being used but I feel so awake! I’ve been sleeping forever, Rogan, don’t make me go back to bed.”

  I laughed and puled her tight, afraid to ever let go of her again. “Don’t ever do anything like that to me again.” She huffed against my shoulder. “It’s not like I could help it! Oh, Rogan.” She puled back now, her eyes brimming with love. “How can I ever thank you for what you did for me? Raj explained everything. How you went al the way to Alvernia, into the mountains, for the cure! Rogan…” I shrugged back at her. “You would have done it for me.”

  “In a heartbeat.”

  “Wel it took a little longer than that but-”

  “Can I perhaps…?” Matai suddenly appeared at our side, his eyes fixed to Haydyn as if he couldn’t believe she was real.

  Reluctantly I stood back and let the two lovers embrace. I raised an eyebrow at Wolfe when they kissed in front of Raj. Raj, for one didn’t look surprised by the kiss.

  “Ah… happily ever after,” Valena sighed dreamily from the doorway.

  Chapter Thirty Three

  If I could have wished for anything in this life, then I would have wished for Valena’s words that day to be true. But unfortunately, life just doesn’t always work out that way.

  Haydyn and I had much to catch up on once we got back to the palace. The sight of Haydyn put pay to al the rumours and gossip that had spread across Sabithia and even into the neighbouring provinces. Calm swam through the provinces like the tide flowing in at night. With the evocation stronger than ever, word began to reach the palace that Markiz Solom Rada had begun working on ridding Vasterya of the rookery as wel as his little army he’d been building. It was too late, however. The Guard had been sent out to arrest the Markiz. He would be tried before the court of the Rada for treachery. Jarvis was furious, and left little doubt in my mind that the Markiz would be dismissed from the Rada and imprisoned.

  I received a letter from Kir, asking after me, confirming the rumours in Vasterya, the worry in Pharya over the Markiz’ arrest. He promised to keep me informed, my own little spy, while we dealt with the Markiz. As we wrote back and forward, I was glad for his friendship again. He was unsurprised to learn of my betrothal to Wolfe, having discerned Wolfe’s feelings for me during our time in the rookery. I grimaced at that. I realy had been blind.

  The Iavi were surprised, now that they were caught in the trap of the evocation, to find themselves agreeing to settle in a few acres of land on the northern border of Javinia. As for Tiger, Bird, Vrik and a few others, they were imprisoned in the palace jail for murder, theft and kidnapping. No one questioned it, now that the Dyzvati reigned supreme again.

  For her part, Haydyn was so busy over the next few weeks that we never found a moment to realy talk. She was mostly in discussions with Ava and Jarvis.

  Although I hadn’t gone into the details, I’d told Haydyn enough of what occurred on my quest for her to have questions and w
ant answers. Moreover, I knew Jarvis was interested in conducting some kind of census to discover just how many mage were being born every year. The thought of magic truly returning to our world was sweeping Silvera with excitement.

  In al that excitement it was easy for Haydyn and I to keep missing opportunities to realy talk. Wolfe kept pushing me to just grab her and make her sit and listen to me, since my worrying was making him worry.

  Finaly, I took hold of my moment, leaving Jarek (who was surprised at my betrothal to Wolfe; a little sceptical even, but nonetheless happy for me, proving I was right when I suspected I was nothing but a mere flirtation to him) in the stables and hurrying to catch Haydyn as she left a meeting with Ava and Jarvis. I urged Haydyn to postpone a meeting with a dignitary from Alvernia to discuss the Autumn bal and ‘close’ relations with the Markiz Andrei and the Princezna. Seeing how troubled I was, Haydyn agreed and we headed to her suite, my palms sweating and my heart racing with al I had to discuss.

  Once we were seated, Haydyn took my hand in hers, her eyes bright with remorse. “I haven’t spent nearly enough time with you, Rogan, and after al you’ve done-”

  “Haydyn, don’t-”

  “We haven’t even had time to discuss your betrothal to Captain Wolfe. Wolfe, Rogan! You’ve barely given me any answers to how that realy came about. And none of that fluff about realising how you felt about one another.” She grinned, her eyes bright. “I want the luscious details.” So I told her. But not just about Wolfe. I told her everything that had happened to me. She already knew some of it. About the Iavi and the rookery. But this time I didn’t leave out any details. I told her about Alvernia. About the good people of Hil o’ Hope. About the Mountain Man. About L and the Moss family.

  When I drew quiet, Haydyn promptly burst into tears. Guilt crashed through me at having assailed her with such heavy information al at once. I reached for her hand but she drew away. “Don’t. How can you even touch me after al you’ve been through because of me? That man, Rogan… what he did to you…” She shook her head, her eyes so ful of anguish.

 
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