***PLEASE READ THE AUTHORS NOTE AT THE END!!! IT'S VERY IMPORTANT AND I DON'T LIKE HAVING TO REPEAT MYSELF OVER AND OVER AGAIN :)***

Chapter twenty-six

Dear Brad,

You have no idea how difficult it was for me to write this. I’ve re-written this letter over and over again and yet here I sit still unsure on how to phrase how I feel about what you asked of me last night.

Let me start with how I feel...

Scared. Anxious. Terrified of what everyone will think... but the feeling that stands out above everything is love. You have no idea how the world seemed to have stopped when you said those three little words to me last night. I can assure you that if I wrote everything it would take up all the paper I own!

Last night you asked for an answer to the question I never thought I’d be asked. I asked for time to think about it. I asked for space. But I think I already knew the answer as soon as you asked me...

So to put it simply, my dear Brad, my answer is yes!

Yes, I will run away with you to one of the Stinger hideouts. I don’t care which one and I don’t care how far, there are plenty to choose from and we have all the time in the world together. My mother and father would never understand the feelings we share and as much as I would miss them, I would miss you more.

You have my heart, Brad.

I will meet you outside the Stinger lounge at midnight tonight. You told me once that you were the only one who used it and it was beneath a large portrait of a man with a thick moustache. If I’m wrong... well, I’ll be waiting there for you anyway.

All my love,
Karissa

I jerked awake and realised I was still clutching my mom’s love letter to my chest. I’d re-read the letter over and over, so many times, that even in my sleep the words would play in my head. There was a bittersweetness to reading the letter. I didn’t know much of my parent’s lives while they were studying in university, except that dad and all the other Stingers were shunned and mom was a ‘study-holic’ according to Serena.

But to know that they were so desperately in love that they ran away together filled me with happiness. It also explained why my father’s notebooks were on the table and the letter still in between the pages. I kissed both my parents’ names and continued to trace over my mom’s handwriting. My finger paused over a particular paragraph that didn’t really make sense to me.

Yes, I will run away with you to one of the Stinger hideouts. I don’t care which one and I don’t care how far, there are plenty to choose from and we have all the time in the world together.

Stinger hideouts?

Suddenly I had a moment of clarity and it all made sense!

I scrambled off my bed and ran into the lounge, unsurprised to see that no one was around. It was pitch black outside as the dark clouds hid the moon and I had no idea what time it was at the moment. I rushed over to the maps that were still lying on the table and stared at the burn marks.

Yes, I will run away with you to one of the Stinger hideouts.

I don’t care how far.

There are plenty to choose from.

It was all here...!

My eyes darted from the enlarged map to the larger map and realised every single burn was indicating a Stinger hide out! “Oh crap” I whispered.

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