Kira watched the sky, black and heavy with storm clouds, and clutched her sweater tighter around herself. The wind whipped her hair back from her face as she watched lightning lick through the sky, far enough away that she couldn’t hear its thunder. She shivered, lips thinning.
No one for a dozen miles and more. Us. The horses, the chickens, and the wild. And we’re the lucky ones? She looked back over her shoulder, toward the cabin’s big front window. She couldn’t see any movement inside; the lamps were still dark. He was still in bed. That was best, in any case.
Turning back to the woods and sky, she exhaled a quiet breath. I hope they’re all right at the university. Maybe I shouldn’t have let him talk me into coming here instead. Maybe we should have gone to them. She suppressed a smile. Of course, then I’d have had to find a way to explain everything to Thom. That wouldn’t have gone over well. Probably not, anyway. Not after I sent that letter.
The letter. She hoped it had made it to him in time. The opportunity to call him, the one that she’d hoped for, had never come.
I’m sure he’s worried, if he got the letter. I hope Phelan made it there, was able to explain. Knowing Phelan, he’d probably made a grand mess of things. But that was all right—it was Phelan. He’d get himself into trouble, and he’d get himself back out again, too. That was his modus operandi, how he functioned. All would be well.
The cabin door opened quietly. She didn’t turn, just reached a hand back toward Teague, whose fingers slid into hers as he shuffled up beside her.
“How long have you been out here?” he asked quietly, squeezing her hand.
“I’m not sure. Time is relative now, anyhow. A little while. Didn’t want to disturb you.”
Teague nodded slightly and followed her gaze toward the storm. “Another nasty one,” he murmured. “I didn’t see this coming.”
Her fingers tightened. “You didn’t see what coming?”
“The storms,” he said, lips barely moving, his strange eyes darkening slightly, troubled. “So many storms. And the quakes.”
She tensed for a moment. The quakes had stopped after the first few weeks, but she’d thought he hadn’t felt most of them. She stared at him for a moment, saw a faint smile tug at the corner of his mouth for a moment.
“I wasn’t sleeping that whole time, a chuisle mo chroí. Sometimes I was just resting my eyes.” His expression smoothed out again as he took a few steps away from her, down onto the stone path that led from the gravel drive up to the cabin. He leaned back against the corner of the railing, wincing slightly as he crossed his arms. “He made it there,” he said quietly.
Kira joined him on the pathway, putting her arm around his shoulders. “Who are you talking about?”
“My cousin,” Teague murmured. “He made it there. Took him long enough, the bastard.” His nose wrinkled slightly and he shivered. “I should have mentioned that sooner.”
“Are you telling me that he wasn’t there when everything…when this…” She clammed up, waving a hand at the sky, at the world. “He wasn’t there? When it all came down, he wasn’t there?” How long were they alone? Did they even make it out? Goddammit all, he was supposed to warn them what was coming. He was supposed to prepare them, to help them be ready. Pounding rose behind her eyes and she almost snarled, fingers digging into the flesh of her husband’s shoulder. So help me god, if he was late and Thom died because he was fragging late, I’ll march myself a thousand miles just to ram my foot up his ass—and then do worse.
Teague winced. “A little more vehemence, a chuisle, and you’d be able to do that from here. I’m sure they’re fine.” He stared toward the lake for a moment, invisible beyond the tree line, then through the trees toward the roadway a few miles from the patch they’d claimed as their own. “Though it will be a long, long while before we hear from them.”
Kira swallowed hard. “What have you seen?”
“A lot of things,” he whispered softly, reaching up to touch her hand before he took a step forward, into the waning light. “Most of which I can only just barely remember, thanks to the Dirae. Bloody poison burns more memory than flesh.” He sighed quietly, hand drifting toward the mostly-healed wound. The poultices he’d shown her how to make had finally done the trick on it, at least.
Her arms closed around his shoulders from behind and she rested her chin against his shoulder. “They can’t find us here, right?”
He shook his head. “No,” he whispered. “Not yet, anyway, but others can.” He kissed one of her hands, then stared at the sky. Grumblings of thunder were closer now; they could hear them. The storm would be here soon.
“Light the lamps,” Teague said quietly. “And write a letter to your cousin. Someone will come to carry it soon.”
She stiffened in surprise and looked at him. He smiled faintly and leaned back to whisper in her ear.
He turned and walked back into the cabin, leaving her there, if only for a moment, alone.
The beginning. She looked back over her shoulder again. But the beginning of what, my love? The beginning of what?
Want to help support Awakenings?
Want to chip in to support Awakenings? Buy Erin a coffee through ko-fi and fuel her creativity with a little caffeine.
Want to help support all of Erin’s writing endeavors?
Thank you to my supporters!
Thank you to all of my supporters at Patreon, especially Karen L. Klitzke and Brandon!
Where we’re listed