Chap. One

     “Yes,” Eden replied. “You told me to meet you there. I thought it would be a good place to start.”

     Micah sat up, removing himself from Eden’s grasp. His body tensed like a coiled spring, anger building in his chest. “A girl, you said. What did she look like? Did she give you her name?”

     Eden spoke cautiously, as if afraid his words might further incur Micah’s wrath. “She was petite, small. Short red hair. Green eyes. Winnie, I think, was her name. She was a prostitute.”

     “That bitch,” Micah growled. “She gave you my name? Just like that?”

     Eden straightened, concern now coloring his features. “Well, not just like that. She made me pay for the information. Why? Do you know her?”

     Micah’s hands balled into fists as he released a heavy sigh of frustration. “Yes. She’s August’s sister. Fucking loose-lipped snitch. She should know better than to give away information so easily.”

     “I wouldn’t say it was easy,” Eden replied. “She put me through the wringer. I think she knew, in the end, that I cared about you. That I didn’t intend to hurt you.”

     “What did you give her to get her to spill?” Micah demanded. 

      Eden glanced away, avoiding Micah’s glare as his fingers played with the fraying ends of the cotton blanket strewn about their limbs. “Pieces. And…” he trailed off, idly tugging at a loose string. 

      “And what?”

     “My father’s pocket watch,” Eden said, again meeting Micah’s gaze. Sadness was reflected in the soft blue orbs, a quiet and stoic sorrow that Eden hadn’t shown until this moment.

.    “Your father?” Micah asked and Eden nodded. 

     “It was the only thing I had left of him. He died when I was very young. Bartholomew Arthur Voss. I’ve been told I look like him. But I don’t remember anything about him. Just the pocket watch. It was something of a good luck charm for me.”

     “And you gave it away? To find me?” Micah’s heart clenched.

     “Finding you was more important.” 

     Micah flushed at those words, at the intensity of Eden’s gaze. What had he done to deserve this man? To earn his affections? He could never be worthy of Eden. “Your father,” Micah said, letting his gaze fall to Eden’s fingers where they still toyed with the loosened string. “What happened to him?”

     “He had an accident. His car hit a barricade in the outer regions. He was killed on impact.”

     “How old were you?”

     Eden hesitated. “Only a few months old. My mother married Tovar shortly after.”

     Micah shivered at the mention of that name. Axel. “What was it like, living with him?”

     “It was…different.” 

      “Different?”

       Eden smiled softly. “Yes.”

      “And here I thought you were well-educated.”

      The sound of Eden’s playful laughter filled the air. He smirked at Micah before pausing and shaking his head. “To say I was miserable would be a lie. I wasn’t miserable. I had every manner of privilege and opportunity available to me. I was never hungry. I never wanted for books or education. But I was…” he seemed to struggle to find the word. “Lonely. Tovar resented my presence. I was the stain on the white cloth that was his pristine existence. And he wanted so badly to erase me, to blot me out.”

      “What about your mother?” 

      “I never doubted that my mother loved me. I was fortunate in that. When Tovar sent me to the academy, she had no other choice but to allow it.” Eden sighed, running a hand through his disheveled hair. “She used to read me to sleep every night. There was this one book I remember. About Arnok the Dragon King. It sounds silly but it was my favorite book. Arnok was kind and good, misunderstood. He just wanted to be loved. I felt he understood me in a way no one else could.”

     Micah stilled. “My mother used to read it to me as well.” 

     As Eden’s eyes widened, Micah realized. This was the first time he had mentioned his mother, the first time he had bared that part of himself to Eden. “Your mother?” Eden asked softly. 

     Micah nodded, swallowing down the lump of emotion that settled in his throat. 

     “You never mention her. What was she like?”

Copyright © 2020 – All rights reserved by Hellie Heat

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