Blake felt his heartbeat slow to what seemed like almost nothing for the first time in years as he wished he was anywhere but here. His horrified gaze would not move from his granddaughter's face forcing him to watch her every reaction. Sonora's soft voice seemed to beat against his ears. She was so surprised, so shocked. Blake's stomach twisted, and he tasted metal. This is what he'd hoped and prayed would never happen.
How do I tell my granddaughter that she is not who she thinks she is? That she is something the people she lives among would fear and revile? How do I tell her it was me? That my actions lead to this? Oh, I regret the day I rose from the sea with vengeance in my heart and betrayal in my hands. That day was the day I put my family in danger. Before I even knew them.
He reached out to her. "Sunny," he said, a question on his lips. He asked for her forgiveness before she knew what she forgave him for. Sonora gave it willingly and flew to his arms. Blake tightly wrapped her in his, holding her soft, small body as if it could help ward off the memories that flooded back to him.
Argos. The name spun through Blake's mind. The minute he had heard the name, it had taken him back. Back to the silken sea flowing over him, back to the family and friends left behind, back to her.
After all this time, it was better not to think of her name, let alone say it. The emotions still ran through him like a crack deep in his soul, and he worried it was just as dark.
Sixty years. Sixty. He'd been so full of life and vigor then. So young. And so sure—of everything.
Twenty-one. He'd been young to join with his Intended. Though some knew their Intended almost from birth, marriage was usually held off until the late thirties or even forties. Most found their beloved, as he did, exploring the cities of the sea. He'd been almost a child as he had toured along with his older brother. Not the mature man he should have been. It was his undoing, and hers as well.
The day he met his Intended, his life changed in ways he never imagined possible regardless of the stories he'd heard. It was as if he had lived in the darkest cavern, groping almost blindly through life, then he had seen her, and the light of a thousand blazing rays of sun had struck him.
It had been blinding, beyond blinding. All the more intense because of the deeply emotional state of a young Atlantian. Unable to endure the thought of separation, to the displeasure of both families and their councils, they married.
Once together, they never left each other's side. They ate, worked and slept within yards of one another. If they were out of one another's site for more then a few moments, panic would set in, and they would rush to find one another.
Older Atlantians shook their heads. They knew such an excessive attachment could only lead to trouble. He ignored the old sharks. What did they know? But they were right.
The day came. An air quality alert had required Argos' expert help. He banged against the lines, adding yet another filter to keep out the ever-increasing filth from the humans. His Intended had sat prettily beside him, handing him each needed tool as she chatted away. He could still remember her light perfume. Her coral-colored dress showed her warm brown skin to perfection. Half of her tiny, black braids were pulled back into a knot on the back of her head while the rest cascaded down her back.
"I want to check on our garden when we get done here," she'd said.
"Umm." He'd been focused on his work and had hardly heard her.
She took the tool from his hands and gave a bolt a couple of turns of her own just to remind him that she had more uses than just looking pretty. Then she arched an eyebrow at him. "Have you been listening to me?
"Yes, of course. Every melodic syllable."
Her dark eyes flashed at him revealing her love. "I love it when you flatter me overmuch."
He had finished tightening a bolt and chuckled. She'd been right; he didn't know a word of what she'd been saying since he started. He put his hand to her face and kissed her softly at first and then soundly as she sputtered about his dirty hands.
It was in the middle of his second laugh that his father had contacted him. Blake had touched his communicator and immediately known something was wrong. His father was breathless, and he spoke only with him, leaving her out of the conversation.
"Son, her father—we have been sent word that he has been gravely injured. Her family is asking for her."
"Yes, father. I will be finished here tomorrow then we will leave."
"They say they cannot wait that long. They need her now. I have arranged for her travel."
It was urgent then, Blake thought. Travel would take a few days. "I will go too."
"Argos, you are the only one with the knowledge of that inductor. You need to finish it. Follow when you can. You will probably catch up with her."
"No, Father." First, his voice begged almost like the little boy, then he firmed it. "It is not for you to order me in this matter. It is my wife and my job."
"Your job that no one else can do. If you do not complete it, the south section will not have the oxygen they need."
"They will adjust."
His father's disappointment woke him from his panic. The city was already in a frenzy over the shortage of air. He had offered to do this job, had, in fact, insisted on the training to do it. It was his obligation to finish it. The separation was for a small time, he told himself. It had been three years since their marriage, maybe it was time. Maybe it would be as the old ones said. Maybe it would be good for them.
When he'd told her, he held his breath, hoping she would say she would wait for him. Her wide eyes filled with tears, but she told him she must go. He nodded, he knew she did. There was nothing else to be done.
Resolved, they made the final arrangement for her travel. Blake obsessed over every detail until she made him stop. That night dinner was a quiet affair as they slowly ate a meal he could no longer remember. They went to bed immediately after.
Argos held her in his arms. "I will hurry to be done. It will not take me long, I swear. I will be right behind you."
She nodded against his chest. "I know. I know you will do your best."
"I will catch up to you."
A teardrop fell from her eyes and splashed onto him, then another and another. Her arms tightened around him, her hands clenching him. His fingers felt cold as he ran his hand up and down her back soothing her as best he could only to find tears in his own eyes. Their sleep was restless that night as they clung to each other wishing the next day would never come, wishing they never had to leave this room.
If they would have known what was going to happen, they never would have.
A/N: Grandpa Blake's backstory begins. Sorry this is late! Thanks for your patience. I hope it was worth the wait. :)
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Sea Bound (A Sanctuary's Aggression Novel)Science Fiction
#159 on Scifi Hot List. A Golden Pen, Pen and Ink, and Rose Award Winner. In this sci-fi fantasy, Sonora yearns for more than life has given her until the day a shadow becomes a guide to a world she could never have imagined. A new world that offers...