CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT: IN MY TIME OF NEED

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My eyes flew open, and I sucked in a breath.

Darkness crumpled into pieces. It gave way to the creamy white walls that were coated in pictures of familiar faces—faces that fortunately had eyes instead of black, bottomless holes. They stared back at me, each one challenging me to think of the times when floating dragons, explosions, unknown living rooms, creatures, and prophecies were not an issue.

The time when I didn't find myself delving into deeply personal memories that did not belong to me.

Everything looked blurred around the edges, except for the vibrant red spot right in front of me. Air got stuck in my throat, and I yanked my hand back the moment my mind processed what happened. The edge of the banister kept me from falling to the ground, but some of the books and body lotions left on it fell ungracefully to the floor.

I divided a glance between my hand and his birthmark, where the outline of my fingers laid perfectly detailed. "I-I'm sorry."

Hunter turned around, a dazed look on his face. "What for?"

"Your back..."

He craned his neck to get a good look of himself in the mirror behind me, and a sense of awareness pulled his features back into a normal expression. "I didn't even feel that."

"What did you feel?"

"I don't know. It was weird," he admitted, shaking his head. "Forget about that—did you see anything?"

His question took me off guard. "You mean you didn't choose to show me that?"

"That's not how it works. It will only show you whatever memories of mine are somehow linked to you," he explained, reaching for his shirt. Finding myself oddly disappointed at the arrow and dragon disappearing behind the soft layer of cotton, I fixed my gaze somewhere else. "Whatever you saw should be connected to the prophecy, since it's the one thing we share."

"That's...odd."

"What did you see, Olivia?" he asked again, but this time his words were measured, his eyes sharp.

My throat was tight and dry with the sudden memory of Hunter's mother lying on the floor. "I was in a big room—it looked like a ballroom," I managed, squeezing Lorraine's face into a far corner of my mind. "There were two dragons facing each other on the ceiling, floating above a table."

"The Hall of Meetings," he said. "You saw the day Alastair told my parents about the prophecy."

"He said something about Saturn's true son and a Guardian... What does that even mean?"

"We don't know much about it. The bits and pieces we've figured out have only crafted a small, basic theory."

I picked the lotions from the floor, sitting on the edge of the banister to get a better look at him. His face remained unshifting. "Do tell."

"Our birth planet is Saturn, which is why we're all connected to each other in a deeper way. But only I was born with the powers that line up with the God Saturn—the gift of time."

"Your father could do the same things you do..." I resolved. "And your mom, she could see the future, couldn't she?"

My words lingered mid-air. This time, his demeanor shifted to a less friendly one—like he'd gotten a sour taste in the back of his throat. "The Hall of Meetings was not the only memory you saw, was it?"

I kept quiet.

He stepped closer. For a second, I swore I saw the same innocence of the kid from his memories. Soft edges pulled at the corners of his eyes, and the all-too-familiar glint of false hope any child has when they think the world is a happy place flashed through his gaze.

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