Sage left to go help Mia, Jace was no where to be seen, “Did you not invite Jace?”
Alex laughed. “He’s around somewhere. I think he realized he fucked up 5 years ago.” Alex quickly changed the subject, “Apparently Sage doesn’t drive?”
“No. He has a fundamental fear with cars in general. The fact he rode in one at all is usually a feat of accomplishment for him.”
“I get why the two of you are so close, but Mia? Doesn’t make sense.”
I chuckled. “Mia liked us because we were off limits at first. She was always a rebel.”
“But neither of you ever hooked up with her for real.”
“Sage can’t touch people, and I like boys. Mia knew before I did that a girl didn’t make me happy. But I was never her gay best friend. Sure she dressed me up, taught me make up. But I also taught her how to throw a punch and to shoot a gun.”
“I never had friends like that,” Alex lamented.
“You had me,” I said. “I know I was a poor substitute for real world friends.”
Alex interrupted, “Shut up, Nox.” He pressed a kiss to my cheek. “You weren’t a poor substitute for anything. I relished the fact you couldn’t remember the things I told you. I hated that you didn’t know I was real, but I told you everything, and never once did you judge me.”
“So why do you think I’ll judge you now if you tell me things?” I said and sat up pulling out of his arms. Alex shifted so that he had a leg on either side of me and wrapped himself around my back. I leaned back into him and he sighed with contentment.
“It’s hard in the real world to get over that fear.”
“So tell me in the dream.”
“I want you to ask,” he said simply.
I shuddered at the fear of another fight and I simply said, “I’ll try.”
We left the touchy conversation alone for now. I was pretty sure I’d never get over the fear, but I’d try. Alex cradled me like I was hurt, and maybe I was. I was never right.
“Nox,” Alex whispered.
And I sighed pulling out of Alex’s arms. “I can’t sit here. I need to do something.”
Alex stood up and offered me his hands and I took them. “Sand first.”
I looked down at my shoes and legs and tried not to panic even as I was already pulling the sand from my body. Alex set an empty box on the decking. “For your trinkets.” He grinned at me and I smiled at him.
“You aren’t allowed in the kitchen. Mingle with your family and friends,” he said. “No cooking.” He pointed at me with the look that said I’d be in for it if he found me cooking. I was on vacation and he meant it. But wasn’t he?
My father and Margo were here. Adrian and Leah too. I mingled with everyone. I was surprised to see Jaxen and Blake chatting with Danny and Rosie. I walked over to the pairs and smiled. Rosie wrapped her arm around my waist and hugged me tightly. “So good to see you happy mijo.”
“Thanks, Mama Rose. Alex is pretty great.” I looked over my shoulder, he was chatting with Benji and Griffin. They looked like a pair of old friends and I fought the urge to be jealous.
Adrian laughed as he wrapped his arm around my shoulder, “Not used to your boy having friends?”
I blinked at him, “I guess not. But he needs them.”
Adrian turned me back towards the others. “Agent Morgan and Lieutenant Mitchell Nox is putting together a meeting with the City officials. He wants you there as people he trusts, Jin will send you the details.”
Danny inclined his head, “Of course.”
Blake on the other hand looked at me and frowned, “You didn’t think to tell me yourself?”
I grinned at him, “I didn’t know I was either. I mean I knew I wanted to, but I didn’t know I had the power to pull the City officials into a meeting.”
“Reginald is helping a little. He has contacts. And he likes you.”
Jaxen laughed, “Who doesn’t like Nox.”
There was a tap on my shoulder and I turned around to see Marco with a wide grin on his face. I gave my friend and teacher a hug and he pulled me off to the side taking me away from that conversation. “We missed you,” Marco said.
He guided me over to Dorian where I shared a hug with him as well. He held on to me tighter than usual. I asked, “What’s wrong?”
Marco rolled his eyes as he put his arm around me and dragged me away from his husband. “First, Congratulations are in order,” he said in a heavy Italian accent. “And second, if Dorian or Kai are caught here they could be exiled.”
“So why are they here?” I asked and turned immediately to look for them. “Because they love you.”
“Thank you for coming Marco I appreciate it I do, but don’t let Dorian lose everything.”
Marco chuckled to himself, “No such sympathy for your father.”
I glanced in my biological father’s direction and sighed. “I don’t want to see him lose everything either but…”
Marco nodded. “It’s alright son, I understand. Dorian wanted to see you. See the children.”
“I will tell him the same thing, but you two need to go as soon as he’s seen the kids.”
Marco frowned. “Nox…”
He sighed. “As serious as your guardian.”
“Thank you,” I said. “Now go say hi to the kids.”
I left my favorite teacher to go find his husband. Dorian stood in the doorway staring out at the beach in a far corner of the house. “I remember the night you almost drowned out there.”
“Me too,” I said.
“You’ve come a long way.”
“So have you,” I added.
He didn’t look at me as I stood next to him. “I was so afraid that day. You’d been happy moments before the water dragged you across the sand. I’m surprised that the crashing of the waves doesn’t scare you.”
I shrugged. “I only remember the sand scratching at my face, my skin as I was pulled out to sea.”
“If you hadn’t been Cesari you wouldn’t be here talking to me about your fear.”
“But I am.” I sighed. “Dorian, you need to go.”
He nodded. “I know. But I had to give you this.”
He turned with a small box in his hand. “It was my mothers. She should have given it to Eli or Sahara, but neither of them cared for the human sentimentalities like she did.”
“That’s why she had you.” I grinned at him.
“I won’t have children to give it to. I won’t bring a child into the Venatori…” he thrust the gift in my hand. “Nox, the Venatori want you dead. Not exiled – dead. The house is yours. It’s been yours since Marco and I decided that we weren’t having children. The Venatori don’t know you have it. Stay here, live a happy life. Don’t come back to New York.” He met my gaze. “Please, don’t come back.” He begged but he walked away after he quickly hugged me.
Dorian was walking out the door. I called out his name, but he didn’t turn, though he did stop. “I love you. Thank you for everything.”
He nodded and walked away. I felt the tears sliding down my cheeks as I opened the box. Etched in the top of the box was the simple words. “Something old. Something blue. Something borrowed.”
Inside was a blue stone heart – the color of Alex’s eyes and I picked it up and felt the cool stone in the palm of my hand. It was attached to a delicate silver chain. I hung it around my neck. It was the last time I’d probably see Dorian. My heart was breaking.