Chapter Twenty Three

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Reaching an End

Returning to the small hut was not her favorite idea, but they needed to rest and to regroup. Victoria volunteered to take the first watch. Dawn would approach in a few hours. Watching the sunrise from the top of the mountain was her favorite part of the day. She was not on top of a mountain and she could not see much of the sky through the trees, but it was a ritual of sorts for her and gave her time to clear her thoughts. It was not long before Evangeline came to join her.

"Can't sleep?" Victoria asked.

Evangeline shook her head, smiled weakly, and sat down on the top step of the porch.

"Feel like talking?" Victoria asked.

Evangeline waited a moment, took a deep breath, and then shook her head again.

"That's okay, silence is good." Victoria commented.

Evangeline laughed a little, "Really? From the way you chatter I would think it makes you uncomfortable."

Sitting down next to her Victoria retorted, "Not at all. Well around people yes, I am never sure what to say so sometimes I ramble. However, when I am in the air with the dragons and phoenix, there is no need for words. Everything is instinctual. Silence is comforting then."

Evangeline seemed as though she liked that thought and rested her arms across her knees before blurting out, "I think he's my father."

Caught off guard, Victoria had to take a moment to process what she was telling her. Ayden, she must have been talking about Ayden. Yikes, she could not imagine coming to that conclusion. Time had really done a number on the gruff man inside, and that was probably the last person she would want for a father.

"It's okay. I know you must think I am crazy. But his eyes Victoria. I've only ever seen one other person, besides myself, with eyes like that and that was my brother Gavin." Evangeline explained.

"I believe you. Are you going to say anything to him?" Victoria asked trying to be supportive.

"I don't know. I mean that man is nothing like the tales told about him. Maybe I should just take some time to get to know him." Evangeline said.

Victoria nodded in agreement and let the silence fill the air once more. When the sun was well over the trees, Ryhan came to relieve her, and she had never been more ready for sleep. The hut was tiny and they had accommodated everyone by moving the table outside. That had not offered much room, they were practically laying on top of one another, but they made due.

Ayden slept in his cot and Lillian and Alex lay on the floor. The spot behind Alex was open and Victoria laid down next to her, wrapping her arm over her waist, gently as not to wake her. Alex took hold of her hand and pulled her closer. Within seconds she was out, and dreaming.

Uneasiness filled her. It wasn't her dream and she could feel that something was not right. She was in a sleeping chamber. Romantic decorations littered the room. Lush blankets and a mountain of pillows lay on the bed. Silky fabrics draped the wall and candles flickered their dim light, casting strange shadows across the ceiling. She walked over to the only door in the room.

Trying to open it was like trying to move a tree. It would not budge. Hearing voices outside, she pressed her back against the wall just as the door swung open. Thankfully, she stayed hidden from view, blocked by the door she had just tried opening, which apparently was not so hard to do.

Reminding herself that it could be charmed, she concentrated on the people conversing.

"He can't keep me here. I have to wake up some time." Alex said frantically.

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