Chap. One

     “I barely remember her anymore. She’s like a ghost. I feel her sometimes but my memories of her are so hazy. She’s almost like a dream to me. But I know she was kind. Beautiful. I remember her reading to me, singing to me. She taught me to read on her own, actually.”

     “She seems wonderful,” Eden said, his voice soft. 

     “She was. Smart. Talented. Life was never easy for her but she made her way in it.”

     “What do you mean?”

     “She got married to Booker’s father when she was very young. Only sixteen. He was some travelling merchant and when he left for Olympia, she followed him. Got pregnant with Booker only a few months after. Then Booker’s father died and she was left to care for him on her own. Booker told me she became a handmaiden for a time. It’s hard to imagine her serving —she was too strong-willed for that. But it was all before I was born. She never spoke about it. By the time I came into the world, she had relocated us to Geylis and started sewing.” He couldn’t help smiling at her memory, sparse in his mind though it was. 

     “She was a seamstress?” Eden watched him with a curious expression, as if every word that fell from Micah’s lips was spun from gold.

     “People paid well for the garments she sewed. She was well known in Geylis, actually.”

     “She sounds incredibly strong. Like you.”

     “Booker says I look like her. I think he remembers her more than I do. He had…more time with her than I did.”

     Eden watched him, cautious. “What happened to her?”

     “The government killed her. During the Fracturing.” The words spilled from Micah before he could stop them, hard, stoic, unrepentant. Eden shuddered, looking away. 

     “I’m sorry.”

     “It was a long time ago.” Micah didn’t want to feel the weight of her death again, the burden of that pain. It was easier to repress it, to stuff it away. To forget about her. 

     “What about your father?”

     “I never knew him. He left before I was born.”

     “Your mother never mentioned him? Or Booker?”

     Micah shifted. “Why all the sudden interest in my family history?”

     “Does my interest bother you?” Eden cocked a brow, watching him from behind long gold lashes. “I just want to understand. To know more about you. You intrigue me.”

     “What’s your motive?” Micah tensed, waiting for the inevitable. 

     Eden laughed. “Motive?”

     “Everyone has a motive. No one just wants to understand. What do you want to know?”

     Eden sat up, slipping an arm around Micah’s waist and cupping his chin to meet his eyes. “I want to know you, Micah. Can’t you just trust my intentions?”

     “There’s no such thing as pure intentions,” Micah whispered. “No one questions without a motive. No one is that good.”

     Eden’s lips met his, gently parting them. The touch was featherlight, almost hesitant. Micah’s heart stuttered in his chest. Maybe Eden really was that good. He’d given no indication to the contrary. Despite Micah’s raging mind, despite his every inclination towards distrust, his heart screamed out to submit, to fall hard and fast. To give every part of himself without question. 

     “I want to be,” Eden whispered. “That good. I want to be for you. Can you trust me?”

      Those intense, sincere eyes bore into him, begging his compliance. Micah shook his head, chuckling. “God damn that face. Yes. I trust you. Happy now?”

     “Yes.” Eden smiled, pulling Micah back to the mattress, wrapping him in the protection of thick, muscular arms. Eventually, Micah allowed his eyes to close. Finally,  sleep consumed him once again.

***

     He woke while Eden still slumbered peacefully beside him. The soft rising and falling of his chest was peace to Micah. He felt he could watch Eden sleep forever. He wished the rest of their lives could be that simple. But what was to follow, he knew, would be more complicated, more dangerous, than anything proceeding. 

     Slowly and deliberately, he stirred from the mattress, throwing on a pair of discarded pants and a loose long-sleeved cotton shirt. Outside, he could see a small fire burning. Delta was on watch. Micah’s heart began pounding rapidly contemplating speaking to her. He hadn’t, not really. Not since the first night after the rescue. And nothing substantial. But now, Eden’s words lodged in his memory. 

     She took my hand. She felt inside me. Whatever that meant, perhaps Delta was something like him. Perhaps from her, he might be able to glean more information about himself. 

Copyright © 2020 – All rights reserved by Hellie Heat

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