[This post is from Kailey Astoris’s point of view.]
She stared at the village for what felt like a long time, trying to wrestle her stomach back into behaving, trying to breathe, trying not to cry. It was as if something large and heavy had come crashing down on her all at once, something she had no hope of shoving away or stopping.
Swallowing the bile that crept higher, she turned away again, staring off into the ravine and at the bridge, at the play of afternoon sun and shadows on the old pavement. This place was her whole world—she’d never been anywhere else, never further from it than maybe ten miles. While her friends might have dreamed of leaving someday, that just wasn’t her.
This was home, and no matter how exciting what she read about it books might have been, this was where she belonged. She was sure of it.
She flinched at the sound of her cousin’s voice, squeezing her eyes shut against the tears that threatened anew. Kailey shook her head hard, not daring to meet Lin’s gaze—not yet. “It’s fine,” she bit out. “It’s nothing.”
“It’s not nothing,” Lin said as he stopped to stand alongside her. “We both know that.”
“It’s fine,” she repeated.
“But it’s not.”
She wanted to be angry, wanted to yell at him, to scream at him, to lie again and say that everything was fine, that he didn’t need to worry. The words died like ashes on her tongue.
Kailey bowed her head. “When did you figure it out? How?”
“I had a dream,” he murmured. “That’s all.”
“It’s never just a dream with you,” she whispered.
“No,” he agreed softly. “I guess not.”