52. Every Breath You Take

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Venus faded in and out, between consciousness and nightmares. The last thing she knew for certain was that Michael helped her into the Transport. After that, everything was fuzzy. For one thing, it seemed he was insidewith her. Impossible. That had to be a dream. It had to be Zaren holding her, keeping her safe.

His presence comforted and saddened her. Venus hadn’t wanted to leave Michael. He still needed her. Secondly, their connection buoyed her in a way she’d never experienced. When she wasn’t near him, everything felt . . . off. It was the Gods’ fault. They’d bound hers and Michael’s souls together. She’d done her best to accomplish what they’d asked. Michael did love Cheverly—he’d told her so. Yet, for some reason, she and Michael were still connected. 

Venus hoped he’d be all right and that he’d find contentment in his life. 

Breathing was difficult and she struggled to move. Zaren had to have been the one to start the Transport. Warmth encircled her heart—that he’d risk so much.

She worried as well. Their law demanded that all Transports be returned or destroyed (if necessary). To leave one behind was out of the question. Terrible consequences would be taken against those who broke the law. Not that she worried about herself. What more could the Gods do to her? Death was it—the final chapter. The end. But they would punish Zaren. 

Venus had to live to make sure they realized that she was to blame for leaving the Transport behind. She had to live to save Zaren. One good thing had come from her being sent to Earth. It’d given her the chance to experience emotions. And she’d been able to recognize them for what they were. She cared for Zaren. Remembering the way he’d kissed her arm and wrist, the way he always told her the truth, the way he smelled. All of him. Maybe she felt more for him than she realized. Maybe she loved him. 

She’d also had strong emotions for Michael—still did. Venus guessed that had to do with their connection. What more could it be? To have feelings for a human? Or to develop such strong emotions in such a short amount of time wasn’t possible. The only answer had to be the tie (whatever that meant) the Gods had placed between them. Figuring it out wasn’t important. Michael remained on his world, where he belonged. Zaren was in trouble. He was her first priority. Venus snuggled further into Zaren’s chest. So strong. Firm.

Strangely though, on several occasions she thought she heard Zaren speaking with Michael. It had to be her lack of carbon dioxide. Going so long without kelarian air had her hearing things. She’d worry later. Right now she needed rest. Whatever happened when they landed, she had to be prepared. And that meant getting stronger. 

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