Chapter 105

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It felt so real, even though, as Leithan would later realize, it made no sense.

He was in Tremes' bedroom, on the fourth floor of the temple. Dim lights, red wine bottle and glasses on the nightstand, and he could smell the perfume Tremes sometimes wore. A mix of sweet and spicy that Leithan probably wouldn't have hated nearly as much if it hadn't been him wearing it.

Tremes moved closer on the vast, expensive bed, until he loomed over Leithan. Dread filled him, consumed him, and Leith wanted to slip away. But his body wouldn't listen, as if paralyzed. Panic flared inside him, as Tremes ran his hands up his legs, and Leithan wanted so badly to fight back, to do anything, but something, some force, was pushing down against him.

Then, he was flipped over. Tremes' doing, as if Leithan was feather-light. It made no sense. Sure, the elder was a strong man for his age but not that strong.

Why is this happening?

He knew, at the back of his mind, that it shouldn't be.

So, Leithan tried something else. He tried to scream. But no sound came out. Maybe a choked whisper, but he wasn't even sure, and it just hurt when he tried again. Nothing worked.

Tremes hit him with his fists, as he sometimes did on his moodier nights. Because slaps would've been too loud. Someone could've heard.

Leithan knew what would come next, shuddered with the knowledge.

This shouldn't be happening, not anymore. I swore to myself . . .

Somehow, that hurt, more than anything else. The realization that he'd failed to uphold that important promise to himself.

He tried to scream in protest again. To . . . fucking . . . move. To push through whatever this was.

And then—

A soft, cool hand on his bare shoulder. The feel of the night wind in his hair.

He opened his eyes with a small gasp and jerk of his head. He sat up, one hand on the blanket, one hand in the coarse sand, and assessed where he was. Remembered.

Fucking dream.

Leithan supposed it wouldn't be that easy to get over it completely. He needed to be patient with himself.

And to forgive himself, too. He sighed.

Teshin was still asleep beside him. The person who'd woken him up was Koral.

"Hey," she said gently.

She sat beside him in the sand, in her sleeveless dress. Her slender, bare legs stretched out before her, crossed at the ankle. Priyon snaked elegantly across her skin.

"I didn't want to wake you," she said. "But it looked like you were having a nightmare."

"You'd call it that, yeah," Leithan said in a low voice. "Thank you."

She just smiled. The angles of her face, an appealing mix of soft and sharp, were outlined in moonlight. Her eyes looked dark in the night.

Leithan adjusted the blanket over Teshin, who seemed deep in sleep. Then, Leith shifted a bit closer to Koral, so they could talk without waking him up.

"Where's the other twin?" Leithan asked.

Koral gazed toward the ocean, its waves black and mysterious under the veil of night. The sounds of their gushing and foaming, steady and peaceful, helped Leithan forget about the dream. Stretching out before them and on either side, the pale sand shimmered faintly, reflecting the reddish glow of the moon.

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