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(Keeping up that muse. It will be mostly just Caleb from here on out, but obviously his ship stays the same. We will also meet some of his family! Enjoy if you read this :P)
Caleb woke up in a bed that was not his own, despite the blankets being familiar. There was early morning light streaming through the window and he rubbed his eyes. He’d never been a morning person. Not exactly.
In fact, he would very much like to go back to sleep and ignore the happenings of last night. It looked so tempting to cuddle back up to his girlfriend and just let all of his problems slip far away. It was so comfortable here. Not just physically, but mentally. Caleb had made Evermore his haven. In the past year, he had not even considered leaving. That was a new thing for him. Considering staying somewhere.
He’d never been someone who had much of the ability to stay anywhere. In a city, in a family, or in a relationship. There had been so much death. It seemed that it haunted every place in which he walked. This was the first time that he’d found somewhere — and someone — who helped him gaze into it and not back down.
It was a tempting thing. To run. To never look back. To sink into oblivion with everything that he had ever lost. Sinking means surrendering to a dark current that swept him away. He had touched it. Perhaps, he had even played with it. One could even say that this riptide had sometimes become his friend. It had been his only source of relief. A grief that said, “Take me with you.”
Caleb lay back on the mattress staring up at the ceiling fan. He glanced over at the not-so-young blonde whom he’d come to love so dearly. Her body was twisted in the sheets, just as it had been around him only moments ago.
He curled back around her, drawing in a deep breath. His arms were wrapped securely around her waist as he closed his eyes. He didn’t have long so he wanted to appreciate every second.
Caleb gently pressed a kiss on her shoulder. They’d been awake late into the night — not with the tender romance that was so often shared; but with logistics and planning. He’d had to buy a plane ticket and pack a suitcase. The entire thing was nerve wracking, but much less so with her beside him.
“You’ll miss your flight.” Her voice was still tinged with sleepiness, but did not lack its familiar practical wisdom.
Caleb kissed her forehead. “Mm. I don’t think you’ve seen how fast I can run.”
His answer did get a slight chuckle as they turned to face one another. Nose to nose.
He found himself again gazing into the depths of her green eyes which so often rendered him speechless.
Octavia flushed and hid her face in his chest. “Stop. You are staring into my soul. You know what that does to me.”
“I don’t want to leave.” Caleb whispered. He was managing, but there was a bit of emotion just at the end of that sentence. “I —“
“Cal.” Her voice centered him. Her palm on his cheek. “Breathe.”
He took a shaky breath.
“Good.” Her hand traveled down to his chest, over his heart, which was beating rapidly. “Remember why you are doing this. Remember that you are coming home.”
Home. He hadn’t really had one in a very long time, but she was correct. When she had asked many months past what home was to him he had said that it was people, not buildings. Caleb sat up on the bed, reaching for the change of clothes that he always kept sitting by the dresser — neat, folded for the following morning. It was routine. He liked routine.
He pulled his pajama shirt over his head, looking back at her. The way she sat there in her thin tank top and shorts did unnatural things to him. He swallowed, again, taking a deep breath. “Will you come with me? To the taxi? I know you can’t leave the country on such short notice as a guard, but—”
Octavia wrapped her arms around him from behind. He didn’t even have to finish his sentence. “Of course.”
This time, he could not resist being drawn towards her lips. That touch was so warm and satisfying. It soothed the alarms being drawn across his body. Caleb felt her hands drift into his hair as they found their way around one another. He groaned as he forced himself away. “Mmm…You’re right. I’ll miss the plane.”
He quickly changed into his jeans, suppressing so much. He was doing this for his family. For his grandmother. The one who had gotten him to the place he was now. Caleb reached for his backpack and swung it over his right shoulder, using that hand to pull his suitcase. He kept his left open for her hand as they were both dressed now and the taxi was waiting.
His grip on her fingers was firm, but not uncomfortable as he loaded the suitcase into the back seat. With the luggage safely away, the Frenchman swept her up into his arms in a passionate embrace. “I’m coming back. Octavia Ivakov, I swear. I will never run from you.”
She placed her hands against them and they stilled. This time, it was she who met his eyes. It was not like before, though. It was gentle, compassionate. It recognized his fear and the giant step he was taking today. “I know, Caleb.”
Caleb focused on those eyes as he took deep breaths. “I love you. So much.”
“I love you too.” It was such a simple statement, but it worked.
He relished her embrace, closing his eyes, and laying his head atop her own. A slow, steady pulse of bravery came from her shoulders and strengthened his. Caleb opened the door to the cab. “I’ll call you when I land.”
“I’ll be waiting.” She replied.
He closed the door and gave the driver the destination, mentally preparing himself for what was ahead. It was time to face battles — and fight them, alone. There was too many good things ahead to leave the last chapters of his life unfinished.
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