“Are you all right?”
Teague twisted slightly toward the sound of Kira’s voice and smiled a faint, vague smile as she pressed a mug of something steaming into his hands. “Well enough,” he murmured before turning his eyes back to the sky. She slid her arms around his shoulders and hung on.
“What are you staring at?”
“Everything,” he said. “Nothing.” He smiled wryly at her and wrapped one hand around her forearm, squeezing gently. “Is he sleeping?”
“Finally,” Kira said with a faint smile. “Full tummy and clean bottom. You need to do the wash tomorrow.”
Teague’s nose wrinkled, but he nodded. “Of course. Nothing better to get my head out of the clouds than washing diapers.” His fingers tightened again, then loosened as he stared off into space again. “Something happened today,” he murmured. “Something happened to them.”
“To who? To your sister and Phelan?”
He nodded slowly. “To Phelan, I think.”
Kira squeezed him gently. “I’m sure he’s fine, Teague,” she whispered, breath tickling his ear. “I’m sure everything will be fine.”
Teague made a soft noise in his throat and nodded. “Of course. You’re right.” It’s too early for them to go. Too early for all of that. He glanced back toward Kira and smiled faintly. “Why are you right all the time?”
“I’m not right all of the time,” she said, smiling back at him. “Only about three quarters of the time.” She kissed his ear and rested her cheek against his. “What’s really eating at you?”
“Dreams,” he finally said after a long, silent moment. “When I took that nap earlier, I had dreams.”
“Bad ones?” She ran her hand gently up and down his arm, resting her chin on his shoulder.
“Strange ones,” he said, staring at the sky again. Another storm was coming, gathering on the horizon. The bare tendrils of the wind that stirred their hair, worried their clothing, promised bitter cold coming. He sighed softly.
“In a long-ago yesterday, tonight my sister would sing the dead home to their rest,” he said quietly. “The fires would be blazing in the halls and my father would be laughing. Seamus and I would tease Neve and Aoife and the women of my father’s court with sweets and little trinkets when we were younger.”
“Were you dreaming of long ago?” Kira asked, her fingers lacing through his hair, now. “Sometimes when I close my eyes, I can see those long-ago days,” she said softly. “Not often, but sometimes.” She smiled. “I remember one Yule eve. I remember your smile and Neve insisting that I dance with her and Aoife to celebrate the solstice.”
“I remember that night,” he said, wrapping his hands around the mug she’d brought him, letting the ceramic warm his chilled fingers. I remember better what happened after. Blankets in the hayloft, the smell of her hair and sweet straw. The feel of her against me… His eyes slid shut for a moment and he sighed softly. “It was a good night,” he murmured.
“There were other good nights,” Kira said softly.
Teague nodded slowly. “There were.” There’ll be more, now. His brow creased as he turned to her, lips brushing against hers tentatively at first, then more hungrily as he twisted toward her. He set the mug on the porch rail and slid his arms around her, tugging her close to him.
Then her arms were around his neck and she was pressed against him, eyes closed as she kissed him back with all the hunger of thousands of years of separation, as if they hadn’t been together almost every waking moment for the past year. He wanted to scream, to cry, to melt into her arms and never emerge.
They came up for air a moment later, foreheads resting against each other’s. Kira reached up and held his face between her palms.
“Whatever it is,” she whispered, “whatever has you tied in knots, you don’t have to face it alone. Never again. I’m never leaving you again.”
“You’ve said that before,” Teague whispered.
“Yeah, well, this time there’s no one to stop me by standing between us.” Her thumbs brushed his cheeks, caught the single tear that he couldn’t withhold. “Forever, Teague. I made the promise and I meant it.”
“Forever,” he echoed.
Then, he smiled.