“It’s just that you are the last person who plans anything.”
I grinned, because he had a point. “But I like these kinds of plans.”
“Okay.” He moved his thumb along the inside of my palm. “I’ve been thinking about the future—our future.”
I loved the sound of that—“our future.” When Aiden said it, it seemed possible. “What did you come up with?”
“It’s more like something I’ve decided.” He pulled his hand free and smoothed back my hair. “Let’s say everything blows over with the compulsion thing, okay?”
Not likely, but I nodded.
“I don’t want to stay in our world.”
I caught his hand, lowering it to where my heart pounded as I twisted around in his embrace. “What? What do you mean?”
Thick lashes shielded his eyes. “If we stayed in this world, the Hematoi world, we couldn’t be together. There will be some who don’t care, but… it’s too much of a risk, even if we did manage to get assigned to the same area.”
Air left my lungs as I stared at him. “But if you left you couldn’t be a Sentinel anymore, and you need that.”
He looked up, meeting my eyes. “I do need that. Being a Sentinel is important to me, but it’s not my world, my life, or my heart. You are. And I want you in my life, really in my life. It’s the only way.”
I suddenly wanted to cry. Again. I couldn’t even form a coherent word, and I knew he could feel my heart slamming itself against his palm, but I didn’t care.
Aiden leaned in, brushing his lips over mine. “I love you, Alex. I’d give it all up for you, and I know you’ve been thinking about it, too, but that’s up to you.”
Could I give it up… this almost inherent need to become a Sentinel? Could I let go of the desire driven by years of having duty ingrained in me, and the need to somehow make up for what’d happened to my mother? Leaving this world would require assimilating back into the mortal world, something I had totally sucked at for three years. Old fears rose in that moment as years of never fitting in, of always being the freak, flashed before me. Mortals, for the most part, were naturally uncomfortable and drawn to us in the same breath. It was hard being around them, always pretending.
But I had been thinking about a future that didn’t include the Covenant or being a Sentinel. I just never thought it could be possible, but when I looked into Aiden’s eyes and saw only love—love for me—I knew I could do it. We could do it. Aiden was worth it. Our love was. Living like a mortal had choked me before, but now it could provide the type of freedom I yearned for. And together, anything seemed possible.
Tipping my head up, I met his silvery gaze. I could always tell what Aiden was feeling by the color of his eyes and right now, he was laying everything out there and still giving me the choice.
“Yes. I could do it,” I whispered. “I would do it.”
A shudder rocked Aiden’s body. “I was almost afraid you’d say no.”
Misty-eyed, I cupped his cheek. Day-old stubble grazed my palm. “I could never tell you no, Aiden. Not that I would ever want to. But… but what about Deacon and Marcus? How can we do it?”
“I think they could know. We could trust them.”
There were so many “what ifs” with this plan. How could we escape the Covenant and the society that probably would be very unwilling to let either of us go? We needed a plan, a good one if we even had a chance to make it work, but right now, the idea itself flooded me with warmth and so much hope. And hope, it was a fragile thing, but it kept me going.
Aiden lowered his head, bringing his mouth to mine. He made a sound in the back of his throat as the kiss deepened. The tentative touch gave way to something infinitely more. When he rolled his body, fitting it against mine like a warm blanket, my heart thundered. I was feeling so much and not enough—never enough. There was a yearning, devastating and raw, that would never go away. I lost track of Aiden’s hands and how many times we kissed as our bodies moved, and in those moments, we finally found a way to make time stop.
NOTHING… AMAZING HAPPENED ON MY BIRTHDAY
All morning, everyone watched me as if they expected me to sprout a second head or start floating to the rafters. And I didn’t feel any different from last night. No additional marks of the Apollyon popped up. The existing ones didn’t tingle. I tried to levitate a chair in the kitchen—it didn’t happen and I just felt stupid afterward. By the afternoon, the whole Awakening thing seemed very anticlimactic.
“Hey.” Aiden popped his head into the bedroom. “You busy, birthday girl?”
I looked up from the magazine Luke had brought back from the store. “No. I’m just sort of hiding.”
Aiden closed the door behind him quietly and smiled. “Why are you hiding?”
Shrugging, I closed the magazine and tossed it to the floor. “I kind of feel like an Apollyon failure.”
“Why?” He sat beside me, eyes a soft heather gray.
“Everyone keeps watching me, waiting for something to happen. Earlier, Marcus stared at me so long his eyes crossed. And while Solos was making lunch, he asked if I could heat up the soup with the fire element.”
Aiden looked like he was trying not to laugh.
I smacked him on the arm. “It’s not funny.”
“I know.” He drew in a deep breath, but his eyes danced with mirth. “Okay. It is kind of funny.”
My eyes narrowed on him. “I can take you, you know?”
He leaned over, lips curving into a wolfish smile. “You can’t take what you already have.”
A heady feeling came from knowing that, but I socked him on the shoulder anyway. “Stop trying to sweet-talk me.”
“I have something I wanted to show you.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small box. “And then you have to come downstairs and stop hiding.”