Two – 02

[This post is from Phelan’s point of view.]

“A shift,” Jacqueline echoed, watching him almost warily for a moment even as her fingers flexed in his. “I don’t follow. What kind of shift?”

“That’s just it,” Phelan said quietly. “I can’t quite describe it, not adequately. It’s something you feel more than know.”

She studied him for a few more moments, then simply nodded. “I think that I can understand,” she said, squeezing his fingers again before tugging at his hands. “But you don’t know what it all means?”

He shook his head and smiled ruefully. “I don’t, but at the same time, there’s a part of me that likes not knowing.”

She shot him a quizzical look, one that made him smile a little more broadly.

“At least now I have a good excuse for things to not make sense anymore.”

Jacqueline squinted at him for a second, then snorted a laugh. “Oh. Oh, I get it. The stories and the prophecies rattling around inside your head from, what, the past three thousand years?”

“Something like that.” It was longer than that, but he wasn’t going to correct her.

“Have you told anyone?”

He shook his head, drawing her toward him so he could wrap his arms around her waist. She leaned into him, draping her arms around his neck and staring him straight in the eye.

“Why not?”

“Because I’m not ready.”

Her brow quirked. Phelan smiled sheepishly.

“Can you really blame me for not being ready for some kind of interrogation where I don’t have good answers to the questions I’d be facing?”

“Okay, point.” She stood on tip-toes to kiss him gently. “I’m sorry I pressed.”

“I’m glad you did,” he admitted, resting his forehead against hers. “Someone has to and if that’s the case, I don’t think I mind that it’s you.”

“Well, it would either be me or Marin.”

“Or Kel, or Neve.” He smiled briefly, though the smile faded a second later. “Seamus can’t right now.”

Jacqueline winced and looked down. Phelan sighed, wrapping his arms around her shoulders and drawing her tight against his chest.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered into her hair. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

“I know you didn’t,” she said, her voice muffled by his shirt. “It’s okay. I know you’re worried. I’m worried, too. I just—he’s so important to you guys, Phelan. I don’t want to be the one to fail him and neither does J.T.”

“He’ll be fine,” Phelan said. For all he knew, the words might have been a lie, but he needed them to be true for all the reasons that Jacqueline left unspoken. Seamus was his cousin, former heir to a throne that no longer existed, though its people did and now looked to the younger of the two brothers, Teague, for guidance—not that there was much to be found with the shattering of the world. Phelan wasn’t even sure how many of their people had returned from the Tír to Earth before the end, and now—so far as any of them knew—there was no way to get there and no way to come back to Earth, either.

Then again, for all he knew, they might be wrong about that, too.

For all that they thought they knew, all of it could have been wrong.

Maybe that’s why I have the feeling that’s something’s changed. Maybe now, almost a full year later, I’m finally starting to realize that not everything I thought I knew was right. Maybe I was wrong about more of it—maybe we were wrong about more of it.

Or maybe it’s something else entirely.

He just wasn’t sure.

“How do you know?” Jacqueline murmured.

“I just do,” Phelan said, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. “He’s too damned stubborn to die now—especially with everything that’s happened. He has Leinth and his freedom and a second chance. He’ll be fine. He has to be.”

He will be. There’s no other way this ends. That’s just how it has to be.

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