6 minutes

I dropped the veil and the wall separating us and Alex was there in a heartbeat lifting my arm to his face to look at the brand.  “What the fuck!”

I shrugged, “You wanted me to be normal.  This is how I do it.”  I said snatching my arm away from him.  “I’m going for a walk.”  And I didn’t wait for a response as I walked past Alex towards the street.  I could walk the beach but I didn’t want to.

I walked until I was lost.  I knew I had a tail.  But he never made himself known.  He let me think I was alone.  That I had managed to sneak off.  He didn’t realize I knew where he was every moment. 

I sat down at an out door cafe and ordered a coffee when the waiter came.  I felt those eyes on me as the waiter left, “You can come sit with me Griffin.  I don’t bite, and I know you are there.”  My voice sounded distant and cold and I felt nothing.  Funny how the magic knew what I needed.

Griffin sat down, “Why do you need a body guard?”

“You can ask my bodyguards.  I don’t.  But they think I do.”

“You and Alex fight often?”  He asked.

I shrugged, “Often enough.”

Griffin chuckled, “You know that’s a sign right?  At least for Alex.”

“A sign of what?  That it’s not meant to be.”

“Opposite actually.  Alex cares enough to fight.  If he didn’t care he’d let you do what you wanted.”

I sighed, “Yeah.  But we are always going to fight over the same things.”

“I think he just wants you to be safe.”

“He hired body guards to keep me safe.  It’s not my safety he wants to change.  Look Griffin, I’ve been abused my whole life by people who were supposed to care for me.  I trust Alex with my life, with my heart, with my body.  I want to give him everything.  I can’t be the person he wants without help.”

Griffin put his hand on top of the brand, “And this helps?”

“It keeps me from panic attacks.  Keeps the magic from hurting me.  It’s the only way my issues aren’t going to bother Alex.”

“Except this is an issue too?”

I shrugged, “I hate it.  It makes me feel like a different person.”

Griffin laughed, “And Alex hates that too.”

I nodded.  “There is no winning.  I’m a billion times better with Alex.  But he has these grand notions of the fake me.  It’s my fault that I never was truly honest with him in the dream, but then he saw me at my worst too so I don’t know.  Right now, I don’t know…”

“Running away dosen’t help.”

“I’m not running away.  I’m thinking.  And I can’t do that with everyone elses thoughts all around me all the time.”

“So what have you come up with?”

“Nothing.”  I said.  “Nothing is going to help, except acceptance that we both have pasts and none of it matters.  Only what the future holds matters.  Me and him.  Together.”

“So tell him that.”

I sighed.  “Maybe.  But right now I need to be alone.”

“How is that working for you?”

“Not much better.”I sighed,”Let’s go back.”

Griffin smiled as he took his own coffee and I grabbed mine.  We walked back to the beach house.  I didn’t go inside, instead I went through the pool gate and on to the patio. 

I saw an unexpected sight. Alex and Ryan sparring in the sand. It wasn’t quite boxing but it wasn’t Ryan’s normal style either.  He was adapting to Alex.  I sat down in a lounge chair on the edge and watched as they moved through what had to be preordered moves like a kata.  Ryan was teaching Alex.

It was beautiful watching Alex move from form to form with Ryan.  I wondered how long they had been working on it.  Surely not just today.

I sat mesmerized by my love and one of my best friends.  Griffin sat in another chair watching as well.  When they finished Ryan grinned at me and went inside.  Griffin got up from the chair and moved out of sight.  He was good at that.

Alex walked up the stairs to the patio.  I gave him a small smile, his gaze was level, “Running away is my thing.”

“Sparring is mine.”

He smirked, “Ryan had a point if I can keep up with you I can help you more.”

“You help me fine.  I just need you.”

Alex sighed, “I’m not enough.”

“You are everything.  None of the rest of it is worth living if I don’t have you.”

“Doesn’t that scare you?”


“It terrifies me.”

“Being my everything scares you?”

“I can’t live up to that.”

“You don’t have to. You do every day and more. I just need you.” I sighed, “I only need you. I could live without Ant and Ryan’s help but I can’t live with out you.” I dropped my gaze, “I’m sorry that scares you.”

Alex sighed, “Why do you do things like this to your self?” He grabbed my arm and shared me the brand.

“I’m impulsive.  I needed you to understand the length I would go for you.  What I’m willing to sacrifice for you.”

“If this keeps the submissive tendencies away. If it doesn’t hurt you.  If **I** don’t hurt you. Then it’s worth it.”

“It’s not nox.  Hurting yourself at my expense is not worth it. Not ever.  No one should hurt you. Least of all you.  And especially not because of me.”

“So what you are going to leave?” I said that without a crack in my voice. The pain, the depression and anxiety that it induced rolled off my emotions like it was nothing, but it carried the weight of the world with it. But I didn’t feel it.

“Is that what you want?”

My eyes meet his, “Not ever.”

“I wish you hadn’t dont that.” He ran his fingers over the brand on my arm.

I always did things wrong. I would never make Alex happy. I pulled on my power and I pressed my hand into my arm. Fire and earth and heat burned into my skin before Alex could jump up and swat my hand away the damage was done. The brand was gone, and everything was a runs of emotions including the pain of it all. I hurt physically, mentally and emotionally. The pain overwhelmed me and I passed out hearing Alex shouting, “What the fuck, Nox!”

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