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There's a moment in your life where you have to decide who you want to be.

Most times it's so tiny and innocuous that you don't even realize the significance of the decision you just made. You don't know that the rest of your life hinged on that single span of five minutes or thirty seconds.

I knew.

My moment came with one of those subtle, prophetic flashes of knowledge that nothing in my life was going to go back to what it was before. There was only one direction left. If you can't get out, then go deeper.

I think I'm at the bottom now.

I'm alone here.


I'd never felt so alone. I'd always had someone. To talk to. Think shit through with. People who supported me and shared in my accomplishments.

Now I had no one.

And I couldn't understand why.

Yeah, I got Dasan's point. I was being a selfish bitch and rubbing my talents in his face was hardcore ignorant. But he didn't have to shut me down like that. Yeah, I needed some perspective, but he didn't need to be an ass about it.

Sarah was a serious cold shoulder. Despite our years on the road together, Sarah and O had always been closer. It was a bond I had never been jealous of, because I knew O and I had a greater bond. Now, however, that backfired. She'd taken O's view of things and had ignored my phone calls. I didn't dare pull her into a dream to try and sway her to my side. As far as I was concerned, she was a lost cause.

Nothing hurt worse than losing O, though. Orenda was my world. Dawn to my twilight. Mid-day to my midnight. They symmetry between us had always been ever present. Since the day she was born.

Now, she thought I was reckless, careless, and ... who knew what else. I didn't get it. I didn't understand where her worry came from. Her anger and hostility had completely blindsided me, and I was aching all over for it. I missed her.

All things considered, it drove me to dreaming.

Right after D made his grand exit, I swiped my flower off the table and went back to bed. I no longer cared if it fucked up my sleep schedule or if I ended up spending days in bed. What did it matter, anymore? I wouldn't give O the satisfaction of neglecting the house, my body, or my work, but I'd be damned if I let their negativity keep me from pushing myself further than ever before.

Almost as soon as I closed my eyes, I was in the gray place. And a second after I realized that, his arms wrapped around me as he lifted me off my feet. It was the first time I had ever heard him laugh as he spun me around. Soon enough, I found myself laughing with him. Then he dropped me back to my feet, took my face in his hands, and kissed me hard. He let go too soon.

"I can't believe it. I can't fucking believe it," he murmured, a wide grin spreading over his face. "It came back with me, Is. The flower. I woke up and it was in my hand. I haven't let go of it since. I was up half the night just staring at it."

As I met his eyes, I knew that this was exactly the reaction I was looking for. This was what I wanted. What I needed.

"Mine, too. And same," I added with a laugh of my own.

"Yours came through, too?"

I nodded and he pulled me into another bone-crushing hug. When he let his arms drop, he grabbed my hand and started walking. He had too much energy built up to sit still and I found that my excitement grew simply by being in the presence of his.

"I've tried for so long. I can't believe all I needed was to find you. If I'd known that, I'd have hunted you down years ago," he said with a laugh. He sounded ... relieved.

"Why? What have you been trying to bring through for so long?"

His step faltered and his smile faded a little while a shutter seemed to slam over his eyes. Every subtle clue slammed home to me the fact that he had his own secrets. And I was necessary to make his desires a reality.

"You know that, don't you?" I asked, certain he'd read my thoughts. "I've never been able to pull something out without you. With you, it's too easy. Which I'm guessing means you need me, too."

He didn't try to deny it. Instead, he let the smile fade and his pace slow. "Yes, I need you. But you don't want to know why."

I pulled on his hand until he stopped to face me. My eyes searched his, hoping for a glimmer of what lay beneath. Not finding any give in his shield, I sighed.

"You are the keeper of nightmares. For you to want this and attempt it for so long means that you were willing to unleash one. Into someone's reality. To torment them all their life. Now tell me why."

Without me, he had no hope of succeeding. Without him, neither did I. But he wanted this for a reason. I was just curious. My motives meant far less and his results meant far more. Which was why he gave me a shrewd look and nodded once.

"My mom was assaulted three years ago by her boss. She didn't report it. Never told anyone. She never would have told me except that I read it off her on accident.

"I hold back the nightmares, Istas, but I can't keep hers from her. I've tried time and time again, but they won't leave her alone. There's nothing I can do about those."

Understanding dawned and my mouth grew dry. Even so, I murmured, "But you can do something about his nightmares."

He gave a solemn nod. "She won't seek justice for herself, but I can seek it for her. If you let me."

Let him. That's what he was asking of me. My permission as well as my cooperation.

If it were for any other reason, I might have balked. I might have told him to go to hell. I might even have laughed and called him insane.

What reason in the world could he have for wanting to unleash real live nightmares on an unsuspecting person?

This was his reason. And it was a damn good one.

If I let him, he could punish the man responsible for hurting his mother.

If he let me, I could help to ease her pain.

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