Chapter 30

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Terra woke up in the middle of the night. The previous day seemed like a dream, but Will's sleeping presence beside her confirmed the reality of it all. Thoughts swirled in her mind.

I have never felt so content. So blissful. But can this really last?

She snuggled up closer, her back to him, and felt his warmth. He stirred briefly and pulled his arm tighter around her. Her emotions boiled up and the feelings in her heart reached her lips.

She whispered softly. "I love you."

At once part of her regretted the utterance.

Why did I say that! He could not want someone like me. It only makes the inevitable breakup that much more painful.

A tear traced her cheek as self-doubt cast a shadow across her heart. She gently lifted his arm and slipped out of bed, being careful not to wake the man who shared it with her. She grabbed a blanket from the couch, quietly opened the door, and stepped out on to the porch to a cold clear night.  She wrapped the blanket tightly around herself.

She stepped off the porch and peered at the sky, for a moment her mind lost itself among the countless stars, each one a distant act of defiance to a cold dark universe. A meteor streaked across the sky, a fleeting blaze of light traced its path.

So beautiful. But will love be only like a falling star, disappearing as quickly as it appeared?

What am I to do?

She closed her eyes while still looking up. With mind stilled, she listened carefully with her heart. An unexpected soothing calmness came over her as the anxiety fled into the night. She reopened her eyes to a new resolve.

What happened today I will forever cherish. What happens tomorrow I will accept with grace.

I will not regret love.

Terra turned as she heard the door open behind her. There stood Will.

"Are you alright?"

She smiled at him, climbed the steps, and kissed him deeply.

"Yes. Very much. So much happened today, a lot to take in."

Terra shivered as Will pulled her into an embrace.

"Brrr. You're cold. Come back to bed and let me warm you back up."

"I would like that."

"One thing I must ask of you, though."

Terra's eyes widened as she looked up at him, still in his arms. "What's that?"

"Please don't touch me with your cold feet."

Terra honored his request and slept soundly through the remainder of the night until something pleasant woke her.

What smells so good? Something is cooking. Bacon, definitely bacon.

She rose from the bed and stretched. The sun was already up. A fire in the stove warmed the cabin.

Will peeked around the partition. "Good morning. You missed another sunrise, Terra Lorr."

"Life is full of disappointments." She walked over and hugged him from behind. "What are you cooking?"

He turned over the sizzling bacon strips in the skillet with a fork, one by one. "Bacon and pancakes."

"Pancakes? For me?"

He turned and caught her eyes. "Especially for you."

Terra sat down, still naked from the night before. Will wore a t-shirt and jeans. He placed two plates with the pancakes and bacon on the table.

She pouted as she tugged on his shirt. "I'm disappointed. I was hoping you would still be naked too."

Will smiled. "One of the clearest lessons I learned in my life is to never cook bacon naked."

Terra laughed as she poured a sweet syrup on her cakes and began to eat. The pancakes satisfied her hunger, but she also found an emotional fulfillment in what they represented. Once finished, she picked up the plates and placed them in the sink. She then put on some clothes and returned to sit down across from Will. She caught his eyes but immediately looked away.

Now was the time. She took a cleansing breath. "Will, you said you had something to tell me?"

He stammered and appeared nervous. "Yes. I should have told you sooner. I just didn't know how."

The words he wanted did not come to him. Instead he rose and returned with a small wooden box from the bottom of the closet. He placed it before Terra, opened it slowly, and pulled out a necklace and pendant.

"I think you should have this."

Terra recognized it immediately. The pendant, a mirror image to the one she wore, a gold and silver heart, once belonged to Anna.

Her eyes darted up. "How did..."

Her eyes widened as the realization grew within her.

Of course! That is how he knew so much about me: Anna told him. How Anna survived so long after the Finders tagged her: she was hidden by Will. It all fit now. Anna and Ell were the same woman!

Will nodded solemnly. "We both loved her."

Tears began to form in Terra's eyes as she clutched the necklace.

"Terra, I am so sorry I did not tell you earlier."

Terra bowed her head. "With all that happened, I think I understand."

Will reached again into the box and pulled out some hard copy photos showing Ell and him. Terra recognized Anna in the images, although her blonde hair was cut shorter. Will reached in again and removed Anna's old viewer.

"Ell... Anna left this for you. She said you would know how to open it."

Terra recognized it. A specific voice password would activate it. Terra switched on the device and spoke the words "friends forever".

Anna's face came into view on the small screen. She spoke. "Terra, my dear friend, if you are seeing this it means I am gone. I asked Will to find you and give this recording to you after my passing. By now you may know that Will is, was, my husband and I love him more than I thought possible. We both knew my time was short when we married. What I did not know then was that just by being with him that my life would be extended. I was so blessed to find him.

"You may already know his special abilities, how he can darken the aura and suppress Talent. I believe he is the key to ending this perpetual war and opening a better future for humanity, but he will need your help. I have come to understand that the Blue Uprising is not as honorable as we thought. Consider an organization called the Library, they have a better vision for the future.

"Please look after Will if you can. Together you can accomplish wonderful things. I love you."

Anna/Ell wiped a tear from her eye and continued the recorded message. "Will, if you are seeing this, hear me again say that I love you and I carry your love with me. Every moment I spent with you was a treasure. You must carry on. I believe you have a great destiny. Take care of Terra and let her help you."

Terra looked up from the viewer to Will's tear streaked face. She stood and they embraced. After several minutes Will pulled a bandana from his pocket and dried the tears from both his and Terra's face. "I have one more thing to show you."

At his request, Terra put on her boots and a jacket. They walked a distance to a hill that overlooked the cabin. There stood a grave marker scribed with the name 'Ell Sall'. Also inscribed was a message: 'She loved and was loved in return'. Terra knelt down before it.

Will explained. "After she was murdered, Necros had her body displayed like a sick trophy. I could not let that be, that's when I triggered the Day of Darkness. I brought her body back here, a place she loved."

Will knelt down beside Terra and they remained there in silence, the only sound came from the rustling of leaves in the mid-morning breeze. After a period of time, they walked back to the cabin with their arms around each other. The rest of the day stories of Anna and Ell were shared with both laughter and tears.

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