Sweet oblivion (sweet se.., p.70
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       Sweet Oblivion (Sweet Series #1), p.70

           Bailey Ardisone


  I practically ran to Mycah’s hot Italian sports car parked in front of the school. My anxiety reached a new peak with every step I took. I watched as he gracefully stepped out and opened the passenger door for me.

  “Thank you.” I grinned, ecstatic this moment was finally here.

  “My pleasure,” he murmured seductively, his voice smoother than butter.

  When he pulled away from the school, I instructed him to return to the B&B.

  “Is that your surprise? The B&B? Well, I at least hope you’ll be taking me to see the "Duck Room," otherwise I’ll be thoroughly disappointed.” He gave me his sideways smirk.

  “No, I just want to drop your car off there, that’s all,” I explained, blushing at his suggestion of me taking him to my room.

  “Ah, well, maybe I’ll be disappointed then after all,” he continued to tease.

  “You won’t be disappointed, I promise,” I added weakly, wondering if I could actually make that promise. I really didn’t know if taking him to the Willow would be disappointing to him or not. Sure, I loved it with all my heart and felt more like home there than anywhere else, but that didn’t mean Mycah would appreciate it the same way.

  “I’m teasing you. I know wherever this place is, I’ll be the happiest man alive because you’re the one that wanted me to be there.” He glanced at me to gauge my reaction. I didn’t say anything, I just stared at him.

  It was hard for me to believe that what he said could be true. No one had ever relayed such sentiments to me before, which made it difficult to know what a normal reaction would be like. If I thought it were appropriate, I would have already flung myself into Mycah’s lap and hugged my arms around his neck. But I at least knew that would be overdoing it. Instead, I just kept myself silent and perfectly glued to my own seat.

  Thankfully, I didn’t have time to think about it much since we arrived moments later at the B&B. I slowly exhaled, realizing we were getting closer and closer.

  “Now what?” Curiosity was apparent in the way he looked at me and waited for my next instruction.

  “Now we walk.” I jumped out of the car, not waiting for him to open the door for me, and started toward the way that would take us into the forest that housed the beautiful Weeping Willow tree.

  He was by my side in a second, matching my stride. We walked in silence for a while as my brain raced with anticipation at what was about to happen. I was so utterly nervous about opening up to Mycah and telling him how I felt and completely dreading it. I didn’t even want to think about the confrontation I was going to have with Rydan later once he saw me with Mycah.

  As we continued walking, I began to panic as the realization set in that by bringing Mycah to mine and Rydan’s spot, I was probably, or more than probably, going to be making him furious with me. Actually, it was fact. It was definitely going to make him furious.

  I couldn’t stop myself from chewing on my lip, then biting my thumbnail, then back to my lip as the panic washed over me. Mycah must have sensed this, because he glanced at me and then took my hand, gently lacing our fingers together. He was so warm.

  I tried to calm down by taking labored breaths and standing up straighter. This needed to be done. I could do this.

  The way we came from the B&B was different from how I usually came. I led the way through tight clusters of trees until finally, after thirty minutes of walking, we broke through and into the clearing only yards away from the Willow tree.

  Suddenly, Mycah’s hand was yanked from my grasp, and I turned to see he had fallen to his knees, clutching at his heart. His face bore an indefinable expression, and I thought for sure he must have been dying or experiencing some unknown amount of pain.

  “Mycah?!” I screeched, bending down to grab him by the shoulders. Was he having a heart attack? “Are you okay?! What’s wrong?!” I felt stricken with worry, not understanding what was going on at all. He stayed silent, not moving or changing his ghostly expression. Maybe this was a stroke? I was about to reach for my cell phone to call 911 when he stopped me.

  “I’m here. This is it. This is what I’ve been looking for.” He stared wide-eyed at the giant Willow tree, looking completely captured by it like a deer caught in headlights.

  “You have? What do you mean?” My voice trembled, and I felt the hot tears slip down my cheeks. So he wasn't dying? I was so confused.

  “I…don’t know what to say. This is incredible. And you’ve known about this all along?” He stood up unsteadily and grabbed my arms, looking entirely wild and raw.

  “Um, yes? Rydan and I come here every day. We love it here.” I worked to comprehend his reaction and his words but came up short.

  “Rydan? You both come here a lot?” he asked with the same level of reverence, confusing me even more.

  “Mycah, what the heck is going on?” I demanded, frustration getting the better of me. I was sick of not knowing anything! Both Mycah and Rydan had a way of getting under my skin when it came to leaving me in the dark.

  “Nariella, what I am about to tell you may come as a shock. A huge shock, actually. So, just bear with me, please. I need you to understand.” He reached up and put his thumb to my cheek, fingers stretching behind my ear, and gently wiped the wet streaks my tears had painted on my face.

  “I’m ready,” I whispered, praying that those words were true. I closed my eyes for a moment and took a steadying breath.

  “I’m not…from around here.” He spoke slowly, hesitantly, gauging my reaction.

  “Alright. That doesn’t seem too bad. I already knew that, didn’t I?” I braced myself for something worse, knowing deep in my bones he was just getting started. “Where are you from?”

  “I’m from an entirely different world.” He pulled me a step closer to him, grasping tightly onto my arms, frightened that I was about to run away at any second. I slightly wondered if I would, too.

  “Like…an alien?” I questioned with disbelief, feeling silly even mentioning it. But even though I knew it sounded insane, I couldn’t stop the dread that erupted in the pit of my stomach.

  “No. Not an alien, love.” He softly caressed my cheek. My brain was reeling, trying to catch up to his half confession.

  “Then what? I don’t understand.” I shook my head and fought the urge to pull away from his hold.

  “I’m…not human.” I saw he struggled with actually saying the words out loud and telling me. It was wholly unnerving. I stayed silent and stared at him, waiting for him to continue. “I’m sorry I’ve had to keep it from you all this time, but please you have to understand I only did it to protect you. But now that I know you’ve been spending so much time here, practically bathing in danger, I am forced to tell you.”

  I stepped back, away from him, not understanding.

  “What does that mean? I’m in danger here? I thought you said you were the reason there was danger? What does that have to do with this spot?” I had never before felt more confused as I did in that very moment. I ignored everything else he said and got stuck on the "bathing in danger" part; feeling frightened for not only myself but for Rydan, and terrified the one spot we fled to for escape was about to get ruined.

  “Nariella, being near me can bring danger, not only by the Black Eagles, but by something far worse. I have been running from evil my entire life. But it wasn’t two different types of evil until several years ago. The Black Eagles you met are human and nothing more than gnats, accomplishing nothing except irritating me once they started hunting me a few years back. The other evil is what you need to be afraid of and is what has me concerned with you being here.”

  “Why? What is this evil?” I felt sick to my stomach at the way he looked frightened.

  “Creatures from my world.” He tensed, waiting for me to crumble. I waited for that, too.

  “Why are they here? What do they want?” I was afraid of the answer, but asked anyway.

  “Me,” he whispered.

  “Why? Tell me, what ex
actly are you?” My stomach dropped, remembering my nightmare of a hideous monster slowly taking Mycah’s life.

  “My people…my species…you would refer to us as…Night Elves.” He stood up straight and clenched his jaw, waiting to go on until I reacted. I wanted to laugh, to full out double over and laugh at the obvious joke he must be playing on me.

  But when I looked into his eyes, I could find no trace of humor in them. The blood drained from my face and my ears were overcome with a loud ringing, drowning out all other sound. My head filled with fuzz and my vision darkened. I sat down on the ground, knowing very well if I didn’t I would pass out, and hung my head down in my hands, trying to regain my composure.

  “Are you alright?” Mycah bent down after me, concerned. I forced myself to swallow and wiped the sweat I felt beading on my forehead despite the cool autumn air.

  “Why are you being hunted?” I grasped at the crazy concept with my mind, desperate to take hold of my sanity.

  “Because. I…am a very important person in my world,” he answered softly; worried I couldn’t handle anymore.

  “Like a god?” I tried understanding.

  “Not a god. I’m the rightful heir to the throne, the rightful King to our Kingdom.” He was solemn. He pointed to the tattoo ingrained in his neck. “Every true king that comes into reign immediately gains this mark. I’m the only one that has it.”

  “That doesn’t make sense. Please, just explain everything.” I was getting impatient and irritated that I had to keep asking questions when he should just be the one to spill the details.

  “My jealous uncle, who murdered my father, stole the Kingdom and tried to murder my brother and me.” He spoke quietly but earnestly, locking his eyes with mine. “As soon as my father took his last breath, this mark disappeared from his flesh and appeared onto mine. I was very young at the time.” He looked down toward the ground, giving a silent pause for his fallen father.

  “Why would your uncle want to murder you?” Did I actually believe this? I wasn’t sure…

  “Because after he killed my father, we would be the only things stopping him from gaining the throne. It would have been passed down to me first and then to my brother if I died. He had to kill us first, and then there would have been nothing anyone could do. But my mother hid us away before he could get to us. He has been hunting us ever since.” I saw the sadness in his eyes with the mention of his mother.

  “Mycah, this is crazy. Are you really expecting me to believe all that?” I shook my head and tried to pull away from his grasp.

  “I’m telling you the truth, Nariella. I’ve wanted to tell you since the very first moment I got lost in your enchanting violet eyes. I’m sorry I’ve kept it from you for so long. Please, love, you have to believe me.” He spoke with such strong emotion; I noticed he had tears in his eyes.

  “Why? Why me?” I didn’t know what to think, this was too much.

  “Don’t you know already?” he breathed with surprise.

  I shook my head.

  “Because, Nariella, I love you. Most ardently I love you, with every atom I have in my body, my soul is forever yours.” He moved closer to me and snaked his hand through my hair, holding the nape of my neck. I was completely hypnotized by the passion shown in his blue eyes.

  His words slowly seeped into my brain and down to my heart. I didn’t know how to respond or how to react. I gradually stood up and took long, full breaths to calm my electrified nerves.

  I knew Mycah was different. I mean, how could I not know? Everything about him pointed to something straight out of Imagination Land. But this...this I did not expect.

  If this were actually true...which seemed impossible to believe right now, but...if it really were true, then...I was not like him. I was just plain old human—nothing special. And, seriously? He couldn’t just be from a different species. No, no of course not. He had to be a king from that different species. A king over an entirely different species than I was.

  Oh crap. How could he love someone insignificant like me? Didn’t that make me just a...peasant? I almost laughed at the absurdity. But then if this really wasn’t a joke...was it even possible for us to be together? I had been ready to pour my heart out to him, but now…now it was pointless. We were literally from two different worlds. This could never work. I could feel myself panicking again.

  No…no no no no. This couldn’t be real. Wake up. Wake up, Nari!

  “Nari! What the—! What is he doing here?!” Rydan yelled from somewhere nearby. I turned away from Mycah and looked for him. I found him standing fifty feet behind me, glaring at Mycah with a look that was sure to kill if it could. He was fuming, with not just anger, but also feeling the effects from my second act of betrayal. I could see it in his mercury eyes, brewing a violent dark storm. But then he moved his eyes to mine.

  As soon as he saw my face, he dropped his angry pretense and ran to me.

  “What’s wrong? What did you do?” He jabbed a finger in Mycah’s direction, growling the accusation like a knife hot and ready to be used. His anger was back in full force, multiplied by his concern for me.

  If I had thought Rydan knowing I had been kissing Mycah the other night was humiliating, then I didn’t even know what to call this new feeling that swept over me at the idea of explaining why I must look like I had just met one of Santa’s Elves. He would certainly insist I went to see a therapist, or maybe just drop me off at the loony bin himself.

  “Don’t touch her,” Mycah snarled once Rydan stepped between us.

  “No, it’s you that won’t be touching her ever again,” Rydan seethed back, pushing me further away from Mycah.

  “I warned you,” Mycah grabbed Rydan by his shoulders and threw him away from me.

  “Mycah! Don’t!” I begged, knowing this was about to get ugly.

  Rydan jumped up and lunged into Mycah’s torso, knocking him to the ground. They wrestled with each other back and forth. Rydan took a swing at Mycah’s face a few times, but Mycah always blocked him.

  Mycah punched Rydan over and over, making him bleed. I screamed in horror and covered my eyes, not able to stand the sight of Rydan getting hurt. Rydan growled in frustration just as Mycah pushed off him and stood up.

  Rydan was even angrier than before and tried hitting Mycah again with a swing that looked to contain all of his strength, but Mycah dodged out of the way.

  Mycah grabbed Rydan by the throat and pushed him back against a tree. I cried and yelled for them to stop, but they weren’t listening. I ran to Mycah and pulled on him, begging him to listen to me, but he was like stone. He tightened his grip around Rydan’s throat, and I watched as his silver eyes started to dim. I was hysterical at this point, and panic started to overtake me.

  “Do it,” Rydan choked out through gritted teeth. “DO IT!”

  Mycah didn’t move; he stayed glaring into Rydan’s eyes and completely ignored my attempts at stopping them.

  “NO! NO NO NO!” I screamed, pulling on my own hair, feeling like I was about to lose grip on reality, because there was nothing I could do to save my best friend.

  “Come on, coward! Do it already!” Rydan taunted Mycah, and it drove me crazy. I didn’t understand why he was doing it.

  Mycah all of a sudden released his vice grip on Rydan’s neck and briskly turned around while raking a hand through his messy hair. I ran to Rydan, grasping at him for dear life, like he was about to disappear into thin air at any moment.

  “If you want to kill me so bad, then why don’t you?! Why didn’t you just do it?!” Rydan ignored me and demanded Mycah’s attention as he violently coughed and tried to breathe normally again. Mycah spun around and stared into Rydan’s eyes.

  “Because you’re my bloody brother, for heaven’s sake!” Mycah roared, tears brimming in his eyes. I stared at Mycah, feeling like I just got punched in the stomach.

  “What did you just say?” I asked, believing I must've heard wrong. That would mean Rydan was like Mycah. That they were fro
m the same world. No...no, there’s no way Rydan was the same as Mycah.

  “You’re lying.” Rydan clenched his jaw and his fists as he pushed off the tree. I stumbled backward, noticing the similar gesture Mycah did when he was frustrated. Actually, I had felt the similarity between them prior to this, and now that I observed the two of them standing in front of me, I didn’t know how I didn’t figure the relation out before.

  They looked extremely alike. They were practically the same height, maybe only an inch difference, and both had the same black hair, only Rydan’s had a tint of red in the sunlight while Mycah’s tinted blue. Their faces were slightly different but still had similar angular features and matching masculine full lips.

  “I’m not. And you know it,” Mycah seethed, clenching his own jaw and fists. And although he wasn’t speaking to me, I did know it. Right then and there, I felt the truth of his words to my very core. I thought a deep part of my subconscious always knew Mycah wasn’t human, but I just never could let myself dwell on it or focus on the distant thought. Like I couldn’t let myself believe it could possibly be true. But it was. Mycah was a Night Elf. And so was Rydan. Whatever the heck that meant...

  “Your parents are Darren and Anna O’Malley?” Rydan asked skeptically. He wasn’t known for being gullible.

  “No. They are not. And neither are they yours.” Mycah walked closer to us, but still kept his distance.

  “I don’t believe you,” Rydan snarled, stepping back.

  “I know what you keep tucked under your shirt.” Mycah pointed to Rydan’s silver necklace he always wore. Rydan looked down at his chest and then back up to Mycah with his eyebrows pulled together. “You see brother, I know, because I have one too.” Mycah pulled a silver skeleton key from his pocket and held it up in the air for Rydan to see.

  I recognized it immediately. A long time ago Rydan showed me what he kept on his silver chain but usually stayed hidden under his shirt. It was a small antique-looking key made of silver, and inscribed on it was just his name—Rydan Cael. It was beautiful. He never said where he got it or what it meant to him. But, I also never asked.

  Now I stared at the exact same key, only it wasn't on Rydan’s chain, it was sitting precariously between Mycah’s fingers.

  Rydan quickly pulled the chain out from under his shirt and squeezed the small key. He still had his, and Mycah had one. I walked over to Mycah so I could get a better look.

  “If I’m not mistaken, yours reads Rydan Cael on the side.” Mycah turned his key horizontally. “Mine reads Remycah Avel.”

  “Where did you get that?” Rydan inquired with a small voice.

  “My guardian Ender gave it to me. You and I were separated when you were just a baby, but that was left with you, like it rightly should have been. These keys belong to something extremely important to both you and me.”

  Rydan didn’t make any attempts to move from the spot he planted his feet and stayed silent. He couldn’t take his eyes off that key Mycah held in his fingers.

  “Rydan, brother, we have to go back. Now that I’ve found the way, we have to go home. They’ve been calling for us,” Mycah entreated, his clipped English accent enunciating each syllable. I felt dizzy and put a hand to my head in an effort to stop the spinning. I had to sit down again, worried that at any minute I would be sick and spiral out of control.

  I couldn’t even imagine losing either of them, and especially not both of them. Go home? No…please…I felt the words in my mouth but was unable to speak.

  And before anything else could be said or done, a whooshing sound shot through the air, and stuck in Mycah’s chest was a wooden arrow dripping with blood.

  I grabbed the sides of my head and let out a tortured scream that I didn’t even recognize as my own and watched with horror as Mycah dropped to his knees.

  “Rydan, kill him,” he beseeched his brother through choked breaths and a barely audible voice but with such intensity that Rydan immediately worked to obey.

  Mycah fell over completely, grabbing at the arrow. It looked like it punctured exactly where his heart should be, and as I shook violently, I knew this was the end. Thoughts of my mother’s mangled body and me utterly helpless to do anything about it to take away her suffering flashed before my eyes.

  Not again...No, please, not again.

  Rydan ripped the arrow out from behind Mycah’s back, and it took all my strength not to pass out from the sickening sound of ripping flesh and the rusty smell of blood that wafted up my nose. He ran to the bow I didn’t notice he dropped before and shot at some spot in the forest I wasn’t able to see. And quite frankly, I couldn’t bring myself to care. I turned back to Mycah, wholly stricken with shock and anguish.

  I fell over on top of his chest and clung to him with every ounce of strength I conjured up and sobbed uncontrollably. I didn’t care that he was a different species than me. I didn’t care that he was what I once thought was only a fictional character in only the wildest imaginations. He was Mycah. And I loved him.

  His hot blood soaked my clothes and body. I could hear his heartbeat slowing down and fading away, fueling my utter sorrow. I never got to tell him how I felt about him. I never got to say how much my soul needed him, how much it was connected to him or how much he meant to me and completed me. How much my love for him consumed me.

  I pulled him to my body, desperate to get close, as my streaming tears fell into his chest. I kissed his face, his neck, his hands, his eyes, and every spot in my immediate reach.

  The words and intimate feelings I had desperately wanted to share with him only moments before now burned in my heart and back of my throat, never finding their release. Mycah would never hear me say those three little words.

  After a second, I could no longer hear his heart beating or feel him breathing and immediately fell into a new wave of hysteria. He was gone.

  “No, no, no,” I cried over and over, wailing in his chest and rocking back and forth with him held tightly against my body. Why was I so worthless? Why did I have to keep sitting idly by while my loved ones suffered right in front of me? The first love of my life, and now he was dead. I could never, ever feel love like this again.

  “Nari, he’s dead,” I faintly heard Rydan’s voice, and as he tried to pull me away from Mycah’s lifeless body, I squeezed harder, refusing to let go. I wouldn’t leave him. I couldn’t leave him.

  “Nari, look!” Rydan inhaled sharply, but I didn’t care. “What is that?!”

  I had no interest in anything else and continued to ignore him. I didn’t care if it was an alien ship landing, ready to annihilate the planet. I welcomed death now, knowing life would never be the same for me anyway.

  At the sound of a strong heart coming to life and beating wildly beneath me, I sucked in air and stopped breathing to listen. I slowly lifted my head off Mycah’s blood-soaked chest and was stunned by the glowing light that emanated from both Mycah’s body and my own.

  And then my heart plunged into my stomach as I watched him slowly open his colorful blue eyes and stare back into mine.

  Chapter Forty-Seven

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