Deliosa pressed her body against Sammy’s and held him tight. Worry about tomorrow still resided within her. Yet, the feel of him in her arms and the feel of her in his arms made everything feel perfect.
There were no poachers. Nothing to fear. Nothing to ever regret. The sun was never too hot nor the winds too cold.
Because he held her.
And she felt safe.
“Can we just stay like this, Samer? Can we tell your elder that we’ll see her some other day?”
“I don’t think she’d take that well.” He released her. “We will be okay, Lee. I know it.” He smiled and the tulips’ color brightened. “She will love you as I do.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” He brushed some errant blue strands off her face. “I am sure.”
She gazed into his eyes and she believed him. “Samer? Do we have to go anywhere else right now?”
“It’s up to you. I will go wherever you lead me.”
She sat on the ground and held her hands up to him.
He took her hands.
She gently tugged him down. “Let’s stay here for now. Just you. Just me. Just—”
He leaned forward and kissed her.
The tulips crystallized and prismed in the sun’s light.
A breeze clonked the tulips’ heads together, causing them to ding like delicate windchimes. It played with and teased Sammy’s and Deliosa’s hair.
It threw strands of her hair against his face and over his head.
It rattled the trees behind them and set the leaves whispering and shushing.
But Sammy and Deliosa stayed there, happy in each other’s arms. Both were happy to know that no matter what the future held in store for them, they had this memory to either hold alone or to share together.
And the sun shined warm and bright in the blue sky.
There wasn’t a single cloud in sight.
The sky looked like a professionally vacuumed carpet. Not a single strand of cloud on all of that blue.
Sarah knew all about professional cleaners. The Institute had one come 2-3 times a week to vacuum, mop, sweep, and dispose of broken elementals. She wasn’t sure what they did with the bodies. She could only assume they burned them or buried them somewhere.
No one had ever told her. Not even MLO. And she could never find the right way to ask the question. Now that The Institute was gone, it was just one more unanswerable question.
Sarah frowned. She didn’t want to think about it.
She shifted her position on the front porch step and carefully spread out the skirt of her bridesmaid dress. It was a little wrinkled from sleeping in it, but it was still so pretty. And none of those lovely rosettes around her waist or along her cap sleeves had fallen off. She was very relieved about that.
Sarah picked up her Phantom of the Opera book and opened it again. It took her a few minutes to find where she had left off. Her finger tracked over the words
Soon enough, Christine Da’ae had a fit of intense curiosity about the strange man wearing the mask. Maybe this time around he would be handsome. Maybe this time he’d be someone kind. But no. It never worked that way for Christine. The Phantom was always ugly. The Phantom was always a riotous mess of anger and bitterness.
Sarah loved it all the same.
So much delicious drama. It was like whipped cream on top of a decadent chocolate cake. She just wanted to eat it all up.
She reached the end of the sentence. It was one small paragraph away from the Phantom’s epic freak out. She stopped. It would be wonderful to hear either Ambrose or Jeff read it. Especially Ambrose. His take on the Phantom going into rage mode would give her goosebumps and chills. She had no doubts about it.
Ah! But what if they both read it? Maybe they could take turns reading it.
Sarah put the book down and clapped her hands at the idea. She would have to talk to them as soon as Ambrose came back.
She hoped that Ambrose wouldn’t be gone for a long time. She really hoped that he wouldn’t forget to come back.
The front door behind her opened. “Ah.” John said with a smile in his voice. “Found you.”
Sarah picked up her book and stood quickly. She smiled at him. His voice wasn’t as musical as Jeff’s and didn’t have that warm sound like Ambrose’s. But his voice matched his face. It was good and kind.
“Supper’s ready. Are you hungry?”
She rolled her eyes at the question. She’d never understand why anyone would ask such a question. Especially when the answer was obvious.
Sarah walked up to him and took his hand. She tugged it as if his whole arm were a dog leash.
He laughed. “I guess that means yes.”
She nodded emphatically.