Chapter 19

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Was everything falling apart, or falling together? I couldn't even tell. And it killed me in small, excruciating increments every time I thought about it.

Adora was curled on the couch, intent on the small tablet she held in one hand, her cheek pillowed on her other fist. Lucas sat beside her, polishing a dagger, her dainty feet in his lap. Once in a while, he'd rub a hand over her feet, just a quick stroke over her arches and a soft squeeze of her toes.

I couldn't help but smile. He was making sure her feet were warm. Lucas was possibly the sweetest out of all of us, belying his stoic manner. If it was me, I wasn't above letting her feet get a little cold, just for the pleasure of feeling her toes burrowing against my cock when she unconsciously started seeking warmth.

Jace sat on the floor in front of them with his laptop, the tip of his tongue tucked into the corner of his mouth as he focused on whatever new riddle he'd set himself. Living on the medusa had been a torment for him. We had tech, but that wasn't enough for him, not when he knew of the internet and its wonders. Always being behind the slang and having culture shock every time we swung by Earth had ultimately propelled his decision to leave the medusa.

And we, we couldn't help but follow.

I could write anywhere and Lucas' work was in enough demand that it didn't matter if he had to relocate. Stars, the other Flights might have opened some chirili wine to celebrate not having to chase our medusa all over known space just for one of his swords.

Jace though, he was our hummingbird. Quicksilver and loyal, but incapable of pausing anywhere for too long and in need of many sources of nourishment.

Fenrir was harder to pin down.

I caught my tongue between my teeth, thinking.

Physically as well as mentally. Lord Black had been playing least in sight since our mate had announced her intent to try and harness the Magic Eaters' ability for dragon use. There had been panic as well as horror in those fine dark eyes before he'd shuttered down, and it made me wonder what exactly the Lord Black knew and was hiding from us. Frustration welled up and I batted it away, dismissing it as unhelpful for the moment.

Although Fenrir had agreed to share more, I could tell that he was still stuck on a lot of his old habits. What surprised me was that Adora hadn't been calling him out on it more. She struck me as the independent sort, probably due to being raised as the heir to a kingdom, yet it didn't seem like she even tried to rein in his more autocratic fits and starts.

"Why do you let Fenrir get away with what he does?" The question slipped out before I could call it back and then it was out there and I wanted to know the answer more than I wanted to keep the peace.

Maybe if I got the answer, I could start to decide if we were falling together or falling apart.

The cynic in me whispered 'definitely apart', because wasn't Fenrir nowhere in sight again?

Adora lifted her face and blinked. Amusement crossed her face.

"What do you think he's getting away with?"

Her retort stunned me for a moment.

What wasn't he getting away with? As far as I knew, the man was hiding again, using his duties to avoid us. His mode of operation seemed to be showing up when we least expected it, telling us whatever news he deigned fit for our consumption, laying down the law, and then disappearing again. I'd thought that we'd reached an understanding after the sparring session, but apparently not.

"Fenrir isn't going to make our choices for us," our mate murmured, amber eyes knowing. "He might want to and he might very well do so if we allow it, but only if we allow it. You're not here on his sufferance and you have your own lives to be responsible for. He can't give that to you, but neither can he take it away."

I stared at her, unwilling laughter bubbling up.

"You're telling me that if he tells you something you don't like, you're just going to ignore him?"

"Yes." She blinked. "Why wouldn't I? He might be older, with more experience and more knowledge of certain things, but that doesn't mean he gets to be king. I've gone along with his suggestions because I wanted to, because they made sense, and because there was no sense in refusing things just because of fear and inertia. All of it was ultimately my choice."

I sat back in my chair. All of it was her choice?

Her mouth twisted in a wry moue. "Is that so hard to believe?"

Discomfort had me fidgeting, the muscles at my nape tensing. "I don't like being kept in the dark," I admitted.

"You all have things to do outside of us. It might ease you some if you focused on that instead."

Lucas' hands paused. A taut moment passed before his soothing strokes resumed.

"Instead of what?" I scoffed. "Instead of making sure our mate remains alive and well?" For that matter, why wasn't Lucas saying anything? Jace was oblivious in the face of what he was doing, as usual, but I'd thought Lucas would have had something to say.

"There's only so much sex we can have every day," she shot back, her voice dry as space. "Look," her tone softened, "there's no way we can know what's going on for certain, not before the healers come and probably not even then. If this is all I think about, I'll go mad, and I don't believe you're any different. We do the best we can, we do what we must, and further than that, all I can do is live as much as I want to while I can."

The sensible part of me understood, knew that she was taking the only sane approach, but I couldn't listen to it just then. This was our mate, our chance at happiness, and she was so tangled up in the threads of Fate that it was a wonder she hadn't strangled herself yet.

Shooting to my feet, I scrubbed a hand through my hair. "I can't." I broke off, struggling for composure. "I'm going to go talk to Fenrir."

Jace looked up from his screen and blinked. "What's going on? Why —"

I shook my head, incapable of getting into it further.

Lucas nodded once, his eyes serious.

The knot in my chest loosened some. Not enough, but just enough.

He wasn't worried, at least not enough to distress our mate, but he understood and he knew why I had to push.

"I'm just going to go find Fenrir."

That clear sea-blue gaze met mine, sharpening, but he only nodded.


The tightness in my chest eased further. More than acknowledgment, Jace approved of my pushing.

Resignation twisted Adora's smile, but it was still sweet. Perhaps sweeter than we ever deserved.

"When you find him, tell him that he's not exempt from the rule of mealtimes together. I haven't seen him all day either."

Definitely sweeter than we ever deserved. 

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