VII | Snapshots

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The world was frozen. The only sounds were air rushing in and out of lungs and hearts beating steadily, one faster than the other but both quicker than usual.

Kaia didn't know why her words had been so shocking to Kaleb. Mate. The word seemed little to Kaia. It could have so many different meanings, so many different implications. But would it change anything? Kaia didn't know.

He knew something that she didn't. Maybe this was the reason Kaia had found herself acting strange lately. 

"How did..." Kaleb started, but he didn't finish. His hand had closed around Kaia's fingers, eclipsing hers completely; he'd pulled her hand down to his chest so that she could feel his heart beating rapidly. He pulled her barely closer to him, staring at her. What was it that was so fascinating? That made his eyes spark to life like that? "Did you feel it, too?" Kaleb asked, his voice raw like it was coming from the deepest parts of him, the places that hadn't seen the light. Maybe it was no coincidence, then, that his voice was also full of hope.

"Did I feel...what?" Kaia asked, slightly confused. She'd felt a lot of things in the past couple of days, not a lot of which made much sense at all. She should by all means currently be freaking out, right? Kaia was sitting on a bed, holding hands with a gorgeous lycanthrope. She didn't know where she was and her dad and Cole must have been out of their minds with worry. She didn't know if she should even believe anything Kaleb was telling her. Except...something inside of her--the same unnamable something that kept possessing Kaia's body and making her heart beat double time--was telling her to stop, to listen to Kaleb.

She should trust him, should stay close to him, should... "You'd know if you felt it," Kaleb said, his eyes darkening. His shoulders slightly fell. Was he losing his hope? The thought made Kaia's throat close up a bit. So Kaia scanned her blurry, adrenaline-filled memories. Surely there was something she could say, something she'd felt that stood out. She didn't want his hope to disappear; basically, all she knew about Kaleb was that she wanted to see that hope stay alive.

"I should be terrified right now," Kaia said, her voice steady. She met Kaleb's eyes, willing him to understand just what it was that she was trying to impart to him. "You're a stranger. I've been abducted. My rib is broken. And you're telling me that there are werewo...lycanthrope in the woods that want to kill me."

Kaia took a deep breath like she was sucking in bravery from the air around her, letting it fill her up and make her lungs burst. She looked down to where Kaleb was still clutching her hand, his skin surprisingly dark against hers, and wove her fingers together with his. Kaia wanted to cry. It felt like, just maybe, Kaia's fingers were made to fit perfectly between Kaleb's. The sense of completion that washed over her made her entire body warmer. 

Maybe the universe was finally repaying her for everything she'd endured. 

"I should be terrified..." Kaia repeated, looking up at Kaleb's eyes again. He was staring at their joined hands in fascination, intrigued; it was like he'd never held a hand before and such a thing seemed like a gesture from another planet, foreign and magical. "...but I'm the calmest I've ever been. I feel..." Kaia struggled for words. How did she feel? So she decided to use the only one that would come to her. "Right. For the first time in a long time, I'm listening to my heart."

Kaleb's eyes slowly lifted to hers, his eyelashes fluttering slightly for a moment. The beauty of such a small thing caught Kaia off guard, and she smiled a little just seeing it. It was a tiny movement, and yet... "Right," Kaleb echoed quietly before tilting his head towards Kaia, this time, his voice louder, "How did you know that you were my mate?"

Kaia blinked. She wasn't sure how to answer that question, much less what such a label meant. But she summoned her best efforts for Kaleb's sake. "Snapshots," Kaia answered, "They've been...happening. I see them when I touch you. What you see. How you feel. What you're thinking. I didn't trust them at first, but now I'm starting to think they're real."

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