15. Electric Blue

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Kelarians can tell the difference between a dream and reality. A part of their minds always remained alert. For this reason Venus knew she’d pierced someone’s consciousness. What she didn’t know was whose. They weren’t hers. The images she witnessed guaranteed that, but this hadn’t happened before. Like a child hiding in a corner, she tried to stay out of the way. She had no doubt getting involved in a dream or a memory could be detrimental.

She watched.

A little boy with a shuck of black hair sat on the floor playing with cars. He looked like he was three. The dark wood floor felt cold against his bare feet and he wriggled his long toes against the tingling numbness. He wore a yellow t-shirt and khaki shorts. Venus could hear yelling in the background and felt the boy’s mind fill with fear. He was scared of the angry voices—of his parents. He didn’t think they loved him. That he was bad and was to blame for their constant fighting. Suddenly, the voices got quiet and then the man called for him.

“Son. Come here.” A command. Venus watched the boy stand and followed him into a bedroom. Smoky haze and the smell of cigarettes overpowered his senses. A man sat in a stuffed orange and white flowered chair. Black hair, like the boy’s, covered his head. Gray peppered the edges, near his ears. He was clean shaven. Handsome even. Across from him, a woman sat on the edge of a bed, rocking back and forth, her eyes red and puffy. “Sit on the floor.” The man pointed to the ground. The boy obeyed, head lowered. Afraid. And the man knew it. He looked away, like he had to gather himself. Venus watched the man’s eyes. They were the eyes of a devil.

Fear for the boy slashed at her heart. He was like a lamb to the slaughter.

“Let me see your feet.” The words dripped with malice. 

“Why?” the boy asked. Innocent.

“Don’t question me, stupid.” He grabbed a foot and lifted it with one hand. In the other he held what looked like a thick piece of glass. “Catherine, this is your fault. Yours and this boy’s. You two make me do this.” Then he cut the boy’s foot.” Blood poured onto the floor—a red river.

Venus turned away, unable to watch the boy’s suffering. She could still hear him scream. Sorrow filled her for the tortured boy. How she hurt for him—with him.

The memories continued. And so did the abuse. She witnessed, experienced every cut and bruise, externally and internally. Years and years of his suffering strangled her, like rope on a noose. She struggled to breathe. He’d been right. His father blamed him for everything.

By the age of seven his father left and Venus felt a momentary relief. He’d be safe. But, no. The mother, Catherine, continued with the abuse. 

In spite of his parents, he managed to stay kind. He began playing football so he could feel like a winner in some area of his life. It’d worked. People flocked to him. A born leader. He escaped the pain by reading. Developed a love of poetry:  William Blake, Emily Dickinson. He devoured books. All of Shakespeare, War and Peace, Frankenstein, anything by Hemingway, Faulkner, Mark Twain. He also held a secret hope that his mother, in her way, still loved him.

Venus watched him grow, felt his losses, experienced his crushes on girls. He decided early that they used him. Many of his decisions were a product of his mother’s hurtful words, which taught him to never let himself get too close. Still he’d fallen for a beautiful girl. Cheverly! These were Michael’s dreams. Michael’s memories. Deep down, she’d known. She watched the two of them together. He seemed to love her and she loved him. Venus also witnessed the day he’d seen Cheverly with Dervinias. The pain he’d experienced. And though hate seethed within, she felt his underlying love for the girl.

She also saw the way his mother treated him and felt the intense rage he harbored. Like a ship in a storm, he’d been pummeled and beaten at every turn in his life. With every relationship he dared have. He was growing weary. Ready to sink and disappear into the churning waves . . .   

Unexpectedly everything in his mind went dark. His heart began to beat fast, like a frightened rabbit. Excitement? Fear? She didn’t know. Maybe both. It was as though a blindfold had been placed over her eyes. Venus couldn’t comprehend, nor see what happened.

Only felt his confusing emotions.

Then his soul soared with an unexplained pleasure. And when she finally understood why, she was devastated.  He wanted to die. It saddened her to realize he considered death as a means of relief. She tried to dig deeper, see if there was a specific reason, but he wouldn’t let her in any further. Frustrated, she pushed, trying to advance further into the recesses of his mind, but she wasn’t sure how and didn’t want to hurt him or herself. 

She’d almost given up, but like a light bulb, his mind flipped back on. She heard birds singing, a fast moving stream, smelled the Larkspur and the Sunflowers. He was remembering that day on the mountain. The day the two of them met. Venus stayed on the fringes, now familiar with the sounds. And then she saw herself, moving toward Michael.

It was strange, seeing herself as he did:  long blond hair flowing behind her as she ran. The sun hitting the strands made him think of a glowing halo. Ethereal was the word he used. His heart quickened as he watched who he believed was the Angel of Death.

Michael believed she’d come to kill him. Take him from his pain. Save him. 

When he first saw her, he’d thought she ran naked toward the stream. The sunlight had blurred her skin and her cream-colored unisa together. All he noticed were her Kelvieri’s Boots. Her skin shone, radiant. And the way the light hit her eyes, he kept thinking of a song—Electric Blue—by some group called Icehouse.

As she drew nearer, his heart softened. But, almost as quickly he cursed himself for having any sort of feeling. Once they’d started talking, he hungered for an emotional and physical bond. Craved it worse than the alcohol he’d been drinking. So tormented.

He longed to be taken from his forsaken life. It caused him pain to realize she hadn’t brought relief. Hatred. Agony ripped through his body. She watched him pull out the gun, tap it against his forehead. Venus wanted to reach out and take it from him. Then she heard the word he’d heard:  coward. It’d saved him, but where did it come from?

She was drowning with him in his sorrows. So much about their first meeting made more sense.

And then she saw him again at that diner, where he noticed her. Desire coursed through him whenever he pondered their kiss. Apple cider. But Venus shook her head. That didn’t matter. What was of the upmost importance, he’d gone to the party with Cheverly. They’d talked. He’d allowed his feelings for her to bubble to the surface, though he hadn’t wanted them too. He had so much pain, yet he still cared.   

How Venus hurt for him. The more she learned, the more her soul connected with his. He needed her help. He needed love more than anyone she’d ever known. And, Venus wanted to help him.

She had no idea how or where to begin. Love was an emotion foreign to her, at least the true, everlasting love that could exist between two people . . . 

She woke abruptly, covered in sweat. Entering Michael’s mind had been exhausting. She felt damaged, having suffered his every cut and each emotional cruelty, as he had. Venus felt the inklings of understanding ripple inside her mind. There was a reason the Gods, Ith and Aetha, had linked her to this boy. It wasn’t merely a punishment. It was much more.

A whispered confirmation enveloped her. “Yes.” 

The Gods hadn’t sent her here, but they would allow her to learn from the experience. This had become part of her immortal’s journey—part of her quest toward becoming kelvieri. If immortality were to be hers, if she wanted to return home and find the truth behind what’d happened to her family, her irrihunter, and, if she wanted to someday rule Alayeah, Venus needed to do this.

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