Chap. One

     He stepped outside to see a mass of thick red curls shimmering in the low firelight. Delta was huddled close to the low burning fire, staring deeply into the flames. She looked up as he approached, her large green eyes narrowing in suspicion. Other than Eden, Delta seemed suspicious of everyone, unwilling to trust, like a feral cat, but much more dangerous. 

     “Can I sit?” he asked, and she nodded silently. As he sat down beside her, her shoulders tensed, drawing in on herself. “Quiet night?” he asked. 

     She nodded again. “We can’t stay here much longer,” she finally said. “The EPs have been patrolling heavily.”

     “Should you have that lit?” Micah asked, brow raised. 

     “I scouted the area earlier. We should be fine for now. Besides, I’ll hear them before they see the fire.”

     Disquiet settled in Micah’s stomach like a thick pit. “Do you ever sleep?”

     A small smile played over Delta’s thin lips. “Sometimes,” she said. “Do you?”

     Heat rushed to Micah’s cheeks and Delta laughed, a high and vibrant sound, almost musical in quality. “There is no shame in loving someone and in expressing that love. This country is so archaic. Love should not be banned. It should be embraced.”

     Love. Micah swallowed. Love was a strong word. One he had never said out loud, except for maybe in the stillness of his childhood bedroom, when his mother had cradled him close. He wasn’t sure if he even believed in love anymore. But whatever it was he shared with Eden, he didn’t want it to end. “I don’t know much about love,” he said and Delta turned to look back into the dying flames. 

     “No. No one in Elysian really does. That right has been taken away from them. But still, Eden Voss is so filled with love. He’s an anomaly.”

     Eden Voss must be protected. “Delta, why did you choose to help Eden? In the arena. And after. You wouldn’t fight against him. You defended him. Why?” Micah studied her, watching the soft glow of the embers bounce off her deep red curls, flickering over the frames of her spectacles. 

     She didn’t speak at first. Just continued to stare, her face a blank mask of emotions. Then, she reached out, holding out her hand to Micah, turning her eyes to his. Hesitantly, he laid his palm in hers. As Delta’s fingers closed around his, Micah felt a strange warmth flutter through his palm, radiating outwards as if connecting them, binding them together. “You can feel it,” she said. “You’re touched by it too.”

     Micah’s heart began to pick up its pace as he watched her, entranced. “What is it?”

     “When I was a little girl, my father called it Dunamis. It’s the life force that resides in all things. But for some, it’s stronger, more potent. And for those of us who can harness it, it can be a gift. Or a curse.”

     The vibrations subsided as Delta pulled her hand away from his, shoving it back into the depths of her cloak. Micah felt suddenly very cold. “How long have you had it? Your power?”

      “As long as I can remember,” Delta replied. “It’s the same for you?”

     Micah nodded. “I’ve never met another person who could do what I do.”

     “There are others. But they’re not from here.”

      Micah’s breath caught in his throat. “Then where? Where are you —”

     “About time you left that shack.” Booker’s voice killed Micah’s words on his lips. He stood behind them, tall in the fire’s dying light with his long black hair woven in a plait over his shoulder. Silver eyes gleamed with a haughty tension that stated his obvious disdain. “I was worried you’d never crawl off that mattress.”

     Micah felt a flood of rage rush through him as he assessed his brother. “Watch it, Book.”

     Booker chuckled, his face pulling into a sardonic sneer. “Or what, Micah? You’re gonna act like some noble’s whore, I’m gonna treat you like one.”

     Micah’s hands balled into fists as he shot to his feet. A flicker of amusement played across Booker’s face at Micah’s approach. “Well since you’re up, might as well go for a walk with me, hmm? Been needing to talk to you.” Booker’s grin was like arsenic, dangerous and deadly. Micah rolled his eyes in frustration, shrugging and making to move past Booker into the darkened alleyways of the warehouse district. 

     He heard Booker’s treading footsteps following behind. As the darkness descended on them, Micah whirled around to face his brother, his hands shaking in anger. “What do you want, Booker?”

Copyright © 2020 – All rights reserved by Hellie Heat

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