The Brawler

The address that Dom texted me was in Lower Manhattan specifically Tribecca. It was almost as far from my home as I could get. And it was a several hour walk, so I decided to take the train instead. It was dark by the time I stepped off the train and into the night air. There was a faint scent of forest on the air, and the moon was no where to be seen even though the clouds stayed away. The air was cold and I wished for a warm jacket, but I’d forgotten to take one with me when I left the house that morning.

I could swear I heard the howling of wolves in the distance and wondered if it was a trick of my mind or actually the wolves howling into the night. Did werewolves howl? But the people around me didn’t seem to notice so I figured it was a trick of the mind. No howling wolves in the middle of New York City.

The place I went to looked run down, and it looked like one of those things you’d see in the movies with the metal door with a sliding peep hole. I knocked. The metal window slid open in the door and the pair of golden eyes that looked out were more wolf than not. He looked me over and then slide the window closed. 

I heard movement on the other side of the door and it opened seconds later. “Dom was wondering if you were going to flake again.”

“I had a rough night last night – sorry.” I said. It was the truth, I didn’t think I needed to mention the fact that I had forgotten too. It was Saturday night and I was in the middle of a pack of werewolves. I could smell the forest with in, but the only thing I saw was concrete and metal. Even the sheetrock was gone. Only the metal and concrete remained. 

High beams rose from the floor. Some of them bent at awkward angles only to be supported by another beam screwed and welded into place. There was a loud crowd farther in. Their howling and growling reverberated in my bones. I swore I felt the power of something humming through my veins.

I followed the empty corridor to the ring. It wasn’t really a ring, just a crowd of people who circled a pair fighting in the middle. They were both bloodied, one man had claws for hands, and the other’s snout was that of a wolf disfiguring his features but still oddly human.

The crowd parted as I worked my way to the front. No one looked at me, or said anything they just moved – parted like the red sea. A quick glance behind me and the sea had fallen closed as I passed through. I had a clear shot to the man sitting in a chair – the only man sitting in a chair I noticed. Their leader. I stood next to him. “I promised I’d make it this time.”

He didn’t look up. “I expected no less.” The fight continued on, and I watched in near horror as they bit and clawed at each other until one of them fell. A man came out raising the paw of the winner and the other man’s friends helped him off the floor. And still another cleaned up the blood. Dom looked at me, “Still up for a fight?”

I shrugged, “I guess. But I don’t fancy dying.”

“You won’t. We have strict rules.”

“He’s going to be alright?” I asked.

“He’s a werewolf. He’ll heal.” He looked up at me. “You aren’t, so we’ll make it to first blood.”

I only sorta nodded and wondered why I had ever agreed to this. I wasn’t a fighter. And yet I knew that was a lie. I took a deep breathe and put one foot in front of the other and made my way to the ring. Dom stood up when I took the first step. “Tonight, we have a treat. A man who bested three of our own. But he’s not one of us, to first blood. Who will challenge him?”

There was about ten wolves who stepped out of the shadows. All of them bigger than the next, and all three times my size. I looked back at Dom and he smirked. I was so fucked.

“One at a time, let him choose.”

I laughed, “You want me to choose the guy I want to kick the shit out of me?”

Dom smiled, “It’s fair. They all want a shot at you since you hurt their friends.”

“They pushed me down fucking stairs,” I growled.

“And here you are all better.” Dom laughed, “They just want their revenge. You must too.”

I sighed and shook my head and pointed at the biggest of the men. “Let’s get this over with.”

There was no bell, no indication at all that the match had started – only the blur of motion of the werewolf before he was on top of me. His fingers extended into claws and he had me pinned to the ground. 

There was a bell and three men were pulling him off of me. “Jared that is no way to treat our guest. Play right or you’ll find yourself at the end come this full moon.”

I had no idea what that meant as I stood up. No one bothered to help me. “We play by civilized rules, even in an uncivilized manner. But still I didn’t say go.” Dom said looking mostly at me.

That was good to know.

I took up stance and I waited for the word to move. The big man stared back at me, his tan skin made the snarl on his face look meaner. Blood dripped from the corner of his mouth and I knew I was dead. It may be to first blood, but I knew it would go farther than that.

Damsal in Distress

Alex had his hands full and walking down the stairs was lonely. I had walked up with Hunter and had dinner with Alex – for the second time. I enjoyed my time here. It felt nice – but it was time to get back to my world.

Which really wasn’t my world. It was Alex’s world apparently. I don’t know how I got mixed up in all this. How had I come to stand in front of Safe Harbor?

But I didn’t get too far before I heard a commotion down another alley. I started to walk by but then I heard a scream and I turned down the side alley and into the shadows. It was dark and the shadows were thick. “Leave her alone.” I said quietly.

There was a moment where it felt like the wind had stirred and the whole place got brighter, and then it was gone. The three men who had their hands on the women were all looking at me. Their eyes wide with fear and then they bolted, dropping their grasp on the woman and she tumbled to the ground. I raced to her and scooped her up. “You okay?” The sense of familiarity rose in me. The feeling of peace overcame me and the ever present pain I’d been living with.

She smiled up at me. It was like seeing an angel for the first time. I wondered if angels were real. A thought I filed away to ask Alex later.

“My savior.” She beamed.

“I didn’t do anything.” I said as I helped her stand up. “At least I don’t think I did.”

“They must have sensed the strength in you.” She smiled and squeezed my bicep. She stood on her tip toes and tried to kiss me.

I pulled away. “Sorry Duckling, I have a boyfriend.” Which wasn’t really the truth, but it wasn’t really a lie. Alex was something – I was in love with him. Had been in love with him for months. 

She pouted. “Awe.” She held out here hand, “I’m Lucy.”

I shook her hand, “Nox.” 

She giggled, “My name means light, and yours means dark. And you’re named after a goddess.”

“So I’ve been told.” I smiled. For some reason I knew that had been true. Though I didn’t remember who had told me. We didn’t learn about the same myths as human children did. We learned the same people, but they weren’t always the same stories. The goddess of night was not among them. She was a vampire named Nyx. I stopped at the mouth of the alley way and thought to myself how did I know all of that information. 

Lucy was staring at me as I stood in the mouth of the alley just staring off into space to her eye. “Sorry. I just had a strange thought.”

“What was that?” She smiled, “You will walk me home won’t you?”

I nodded, “Yes ma’am I will. It was just a strange thought, how I was named after the goddess of night.” I lied with a smile on my face. Alex would have seen right through it and it had come so easily – that little white lie that wasn’t a lie. it was a half truth. I was good at half truths – saying things that were only partially true so that I was never lying outright.

But yet I felt like I didn’t tell lies. It was a fundamental part of who I am, but as we walked I thought about how that information had just spilled into my head.

Lucy chatted and I listened. It was strange not being the one spilling out words. But she hardly gave me the chance to talk. I wondered if that was how others felt around me. I’d have to make a concsious effort to let others talk. “Anyone ever told you, you talk a lot?” I grinned.

She looked at me stunned. And then the blush that crept over her face made her ears red too. “All the time.”

I laughed, “Me too.”

She relaxed and beamed up at me. “Oh really? You’ve barely said a word the whole walk.”

“I couldn’t get a word in edge wise, even if I wasn’t lost in thought.”

She nodded, “I do that too.” She looked up at the tall building that had had V&M stuck high above for the world to see from everywhere in the City. It wasn’t the tallest building, but it was one of the top ten. “This is me.”

“I didn’t know there were apartments here.”

She smiled, “There aren’t. My dad works here, we are going to lunch. You should meet him sometime.”

“I just met you and already you want me to meet your parents I’m flattered.” 

She laughed, “You are funny.” She reached up on her tip toes and pressed a kiss to my cheek. “I’m serious.” She pulled a card from her purse and tucked it into my hoodie. “Call me, and we’ll make a date of it. You can bring your boyfriend even.”

“You sure you don’t want me to walk you up?”

Lucy shook her head and the blonde strands fell in front her face. She pushed aside the locks with a smile, “No one will hurt me inside here. My Dad is pretty powerful man.”

The way she said powerful I got a shiver and knew she meant something entirely different than what I thought she meant. Though I didn’t know why. I didn’t know why this building gave me the chills too. Something about it…

Lucy waved her good-bye as she opened the door and entered into the lobby of the V&M building. I could follow here, but as I glanced at my watch to catch the time, I didn’t have enough to do that and make the meeting with Dom. I promised and I didn’t intend to be late.

Dinner With Alex

We sat down at a glass table and some wire chairs with bright cushions on them. It was rather comfortable. “That’s his kitchen isn’t it?” I asked.

Alex nodded with a frown, “Yeah. But you liked it didn’t you?”

I nodded, “Who wouldn’t?”

He smiled but he didn’t say anything more. We ate in silence until I chuckled. Alex cocked an eyebrow at me, “Hunter told me I’d be staying for dinner.”

“You weren’t planning on it?” Alex asked.

I shook my head, “No. I can’t do this with you.”

“Why?” He asked.

“Because you want someone else.”

Alex sighed, “I do, but I want you too.”

“I won’t make you feel guilty for loving me Alex. I can’t do it.”

Alex smirked, “Getting ahead of yourself aren’t you?”

I shook my head, “No. I’ve been in love with you for eleven weeks. From the first moment you came into my dreams. You are the first thing I remember when I try to think about how my life has been. The first thing. You are the only consistent thing in my life. I can’t be just a fuck Alex. As good as it is, I can’t do it.”

He nodded but he was looking off into the City skyline, “I don’t want just a fuck.”

“Did you help Hunter escape?”

Alex smirked, “Not intentionally, but I heard him as he left and I did nothing. I knew where he was going. And I knew you would bring him home.”

“So a game?” I growled.

Alex shook his head, “No. You saw the picture. And the more I think about it, the more his theory makes sense.”

“What’s his theory?”

“That we knew each other. You don’t remember who you are right? We are missing someone – all of us – this whole fucking city is missing someone and we all feel it but we can’t figure it out. We don’t remember. And here you are this nothing person with no memory, no family, no friends, who woke up eleven weeks ago with nothing to tell him who he was. Hunter says you are family. Rider feels pack in you. Abby too. Jo obviously did she won’t go with Rider or Dom. You do magic without knowing it. I swear to fucking god if we had a picture of you at Hunter’s age you’d look exactly alike. And I’m drawn to you, I was drawn to him too. So maybe – just maybe you are him.”

Before I could say anything Alex added, “I have no proof. I only have a feeling. I have the words of a five year old who has never ever told me a lie. He says you are family I can’t keep denying it.”

“So what do you want me to do? Just believe it. Come be part of all this.”

“Fuck no!” Alex said, “This life is shit. If you got away then maybe you did it for a reason.”

“Why the fuck would I leave this Alex. Why would I leave you, Hunter, and the rest of the kids? Why?”

“I don’t know. Because you knew something. I don’t know Nox. I don’t fucking know. All I know is I can’t get you out of my fucking head.” He whispered, “And I don’t want to either.”

“But yet, all you want is to fuck.” I growled.

Alex sighed, “I… I’m sorry. I can’t help but push you away.”

I didn’t know what to think. I couldn’t really say much more so I ate my food. Alex’s eyes never left me, I could feel them like giant pokers sticking right threw me.

“You really are very loud.”

“I’m not saying anything.” I grumbled.

“You think too much. Your head is like this turbulent chaotic storm and I’m not even digging deep.”

“I can’t stop thinking.”

“It’s not a bad thing.” Alex said. He was smiling when I looked up to meet his gaze. “I can’t imagine what it’s like for you.”

“Apparently, you don’t have to you have all access pass to my head.” I knew I was angry. I didn’t need to take it out on him, but every time he was in my head he used my thoughts against me.

The smile slide from Alex’s face, “You’re right, that’s not fair is it? I can’t help it. It’s part of who I am.”

“It’s one think to know what I’m thinking, but completely another to get pissed off because I’m thinking it.”

“Can I tell you something?”

I rolled my eyes, “You are going to tell me anyway.”

Alex smirked, “You’re a real ass sometimes.”

“Whatever.” I said sitting back in the chair with my glass of water.

Alex didn’t get a chance to explain because the door burst open. “Alex, they won’t leave me alone.” His daughter, who had just called him Alex, whined.

Cass growled, “I just want to help!” She argued.

Drake was there too he was holding on to Cass’ hand, “We just want to help Quinn.”

Rider was following them out, “Sorry.” He rounded the girls up and shoved them back through the door they’d come, “I was trying to settle down some vampires that decided because I was Alpha I could do anything. The fucking pack is restless and I can’t do shit cause of Dom.”

Rider looked at me and frowned, “Sorry, I forgot you had company. We’ll talk later. Ant says to hurry the fuck up too. He won’t wait all day.”

Alex shook his head, “And you want in on this life?” Alex sighed , “I’ll finish what I was going to say but I need to go.” He smiled at me but it didn’t reach his eyes. He wasn’t angry with me, but he was pretty upset. “Anyway… You pretty much say whatever is on your mind, except when your mind is racing and then I can’t even follow it. You’ve never contradicted yourself between thought and what you say – that never happens.”

I shrugged, “There is no need to lie.”

“There is always need to lie, you just find none.”

I sighed, “I feel there is more to the lying but I can’t remember why.”

Alex sat forward and took my hands from my lap. “We can find out what happened if you want. I have resources. First we can see Doc and see if there is any trauma in your past.”

“You have a personal doctor?”

Alex shook his head, “Not personal, he works for Ant’s mom. She has a personal doctor. And lawyer, and accountant. And hacker.”

My eyes grew wide with that, “She’s a vampire?”

“She is.”

“I didn’t know vampires had families. Or is that some strange relationship?”

Alex laughed, “It’s complicated, but Ant was born a vampire, his mother was made a vampire. It’s all a magical mess. And too much to explain over dinner. But you should go”

“I need to go, anyway. I have to meet Dom. I flaked last night.”

Alex frowned, “You can stop by anytime. I’ll send Doc a message, and tell him you’ll stop by sometime.”

Alex shook his head, “Tell me you’ll come here on Halloween like you were invited. It’s my birthday, it’ll be your gift to me. Hunter and the kids would love it if you did. You can be whatever you want, it’s a costume party.”

I sighed, “Fine.” I made it sound like a chore, but it wasn’t. “I’ll see you around?”

Alex nodded, “Your job still waits.”

I shook my head, “No, I can’t. Replace me.”

“Rider will be disappointed.”

I shrugged, “I just can’t. But if you want stop by and I’ll make you dinner sometime. We can talk more.”

Alex laughed, “Is that all?”

I smirked, “Yeah. That’s all. More and I’ll be a broken mess. So it’s talk or nothing, okay?”

Alex nodded, “You lie.”

“Maybe, but you know how I’m feeling so please.”

Alex nodded again. “Not really a lie, but you’d like more. I can live with that.” Alex stood up with me and he closed the small space and placed a gentle kiss on my lips. “Slow it is.”

“Thank you.” I said and kissed his cheek. “I’ll see you later.”

Alex’s Home

The first thing I did when I got out of the shower was check the message Alex had sent.

A shower sounds good. Sure you don’t want to take one here.

I was sure. Though it could be tempting. The sex had been good, but I was in love with him, and I knew it. Having sex with him again would only land me further down that rabbit hole. And I was pretty sure I was never climbing out of it again.

After dressing and making sure my eyeliner looked good – covered up the fact that I had been having a rough day – or days. It was thicker than usual, and there was some eye shadow applied to help hide the bags under a light swath of color that matched the green shirt I was wearing. I wished I had time to treat my hair to the same color, but I didn’t have any green wax to apply over the blue that was currently dying my hair.

Hunter was sitting on the couch when I went upstairs to get him. He was still flipping through the same magazine. “Are you actually reading it?” I asked him.

He looked up and smiled brightly at me, “Not really. There is a puzzle in it I’m working on.”

“And the answers are in the magazine?” I asked.

He shook his head, “No, you are the puzzle. I’m trying to figure you out.”

“And I’m in the magazine?”

Hunter giggled, “No, silly. I was trying to figure out why you liked this magazine.”

He held up the cover of some hunting mag that Abby had left figuring I was a guy I liked guns and ammo. “Abby supplies all the magazines. I don’t think I’ve read a single one.”

Hunter grinned, “But you read this.” He held up my current book – the last and final book of a series I had read a billion times over. I’d read it while Alex made me food. 

“Yes, several times.”

“Do you think any of that magic is real?”

“I don’t know. Maybe. Who’s to say now. I mean vampires and werewolves are real. Dragons are real. Telepaths are real. Whatever you are – you are real.”

Hunter grinned, “You are real.” He stood up and took my hand, “I’m ready to go home.”

“Okay, kid. You hungry?”

Hunter smiled, “We can stop at Bonnie’s on the way home. She’ll know what to make.”

“How about we call them, so it’s ready when we get there.”

Hunter agreed and I let the boy make that order. I added my own order to the menu in a separate to go bag so that I could take it after dropping Hunter off. Hunter just shook his head and muttered, “You’ll stay for dinner.”

He hadn’t thought I heard, “Is that a prophecy?”

Hunter looked at me wide eyed and shook his head, “Da, will talk you into it.”

I didn’t like that fact. He was right, if Alex asked I’d probably stay. 

Hunter held my hand the whole way to Bonnie’s. His small hand fit nicely in mine and we chatted about things. I couldn’t tell you what they were as they were just little things. But they were relavent at the time. He was a smart kid. And he didn’t seem to want to overwhelm the conversation like most kids did, he listened when I rambled on about something. It was a dance of sorts. Like we’d done it thousands of times, but we’d never done it.

There was a odd sense of familiarity as we walked up the stairs to the fourth floor where Hunter said the common spaces were. Which I had no idea what that meant. I mean I understood the need for common spaces, but in a house, they weren’t usually called that. 

The kitchen was the first place we walked into and I was flabergasted by the sheer size of the space. It was like walking into a restaurant kitchen but with so much more space. Everything was impressive and I wanted to run my fingers over the stainless steel benches. If it wasn’t the silver of stainless it was a beautiful marbled white and gray tile. 

“This is Da’s favorite room.”

“I can see why.”

Hunter grinned. “That’s not why.” He tugged me through the kitchen area into a seated lounge where everyone was gathered on cell phones.

Isabel, the dark haired woman from the park, ran over to Hunter and pulled him into a hug. “There you are. Where have you been? Why did you run away?” She threw more questions at him but I was looking at Alex who was watching me.

“You didn’t tell them?” I asked him from across the room.

He shrugged. “Hunter wanted you to bring him home. Who am I to ease their fears when the boy has a plan.”

“I brought food.” I said. “Hunter made the order at Bonnie’s.”

I said the name of the diner and all heads perked up and Rider’s twin brother was grabbing a bag from my hand, and so was the eldest girl of the bunch. She looked like Alex, had his eyes, she had to be his real kid. Made me wonder how many of them were his here.

“Just me.” She said, “I’m Quinn.”

“You can read minds too.”

“Yes, but I’m not trying to,” she looked to her dad guilty, “He just leaks so much.”

Alex laughed, “I know. He doesn’t know any better.”

Alex grabbed a styrofoam box and the bag I still carried with me, “Come on, let’s go someplace a little more quieter.”

I frowned but I followed him out the door to a patio outside. He shut the door and there was silence. Or rather less talking noise, and only the drone of the city to keep us company.

Runaway

I went for a run. I ran for about two hours. My dream was rolling through my head. The day before was coursing through my veins. I couldn’t get Alex out of my head. It wasn’t even the sex. That had been great, it was just him. Things he said too – they stayed with me.

I was doubting myself. Could I bend fire? Or Earth? what about water and air? And even though I knew better I felt a kinship to it all. Like this life was not strange. Nothing shattered my illusions of humanity. Nothing was making any sense either.

When I finally made it back to my apartment I was exhausted and sweaty even though the weather was cooling down dramatically. The leaves were off the trees and it could snow any day now. But this close to the water the air was still warm. And the sun was out. It was a nice day.

I jumped down the small flight of stairs to my apartment and stopped dead in my tracks as a small figure huddled in the corner of my apartment doorway. “Hunter?”

He looked up. His face broke into a beaming smile and I frowned, “What are you doing here?”

He stood up. “I got lost.”

“Lost? and you came here?”

His gaze dropped to the ground, “I might have ran away.”

“Why did you run away?” I asked. My key slid into the slot with ease and I turned it kicking the bottom of the door to get it open. It stuck a little. I waved for Hunter to come inside.

“Isabel wouldn’t let me come see you.”

“I wasn’t in the park today.” I said.

“I know.” He smiled and followed me up stairs. “But I know where you live.”

“How?” I asked.

He puffed out his chest and smiled, “I found it on Da’s phone.”

“He has my address listed?”

“And your number.” Hunter added with pride.

“Why did you want to see me?” I asked. “Do you want some milk?”

He nodded. “Please.”

I headed up stairs to the fridge and poured a glass of milk for Hunter and grabbed a bottle of water for myself. Hunter took a long gulp of his milk – drinking half the glass in one swallow.

With a milk mustache he grinned at me, “I wanted to give you something.” I didn’t have to ask what as Hunter was setting his glass down and pulling out a cardboard tube that looked suspiciously like a paper towel tube. “It’s inside.”

I looked inside the open end and found there was paper rolled up inside. He was using it like an art tube. Ingenious!

I pulled the papers out and rolled them flat on the table. There were drawings. Three of them to be exact. “The last one is mine. That one is Drake’s.”

“The one with the orange eyes.”

Hunter grinned and nodded emphatically. “He said it’s a picture of his dragon.”

“Drake has a dragon?” I asked dumbfounded. “Dragon’s are real.” As soon as I said it I knew the answer – Drake was a dragon. “That explains his eyes and his hair.”

Hunter giggled, “Drake says that’s the dragon he’ll turn into when he grows up.”

I nodded with understanding now. I set the picture off to the side and looked at the next one. It was a crude drawing of a room. “Cass says that’s her bedroom. I don’t see it. Other than all the purple.”

“Her favorite color is purple?”

Hunter giggled, “Yeah, and she likes unicorns even though she knows they aren’t real.”

The last picture wasn’t perfectly drawn but I could tell it was me. And there was Alex and Rider, and almost everyone in Alex’s family standing there. But so was I. “I drew my family.”

“I’m not part of your family.”

He smiled, “You are and you aren’t. I don’t know how to explain it. But you are and you aren’t.”

“Some sort of prophecy?”

Hunter shook his head. “No, not prophecy – reality. It’s colliding worlds.” Hunter shoved his hands through his hair and bit his bottom lip at the same time. He was clearly frustrated with explaining the complexity of his visions to me. “I …”

I laughed, “It’s okay Hunter, you don’t have to explain it’s a lot.”

He nodded and picked up his milk and finished it off.

“I need to call your parents.”

Hunter shook his head, “No, just take me home. They won’t even notice I’m missing.”

“Sure. I’m sure that’s how it’s happening.”

“I’m going to take a shower then, and you can sit here and read a magazine okay?”

Hunter nodded and hopped on over to the couch and grabbed a magazine and pretended to read. 

I took my phone with me. There was a message from an unknown number.

You missed the fight club – another tonight ~Dom

Fuck! I frowned. The day had been so busy I had completely forgotten that. But I had other things to worry about at the moment but I sent him a quick reply.

I’ll try to make it to night – promise.

And with a resigned sigh I sent a text to Alex.

Hunter found his way to my place. I’ll bring him home after my shower. 

There was an immediate reply

Thank the fuck he’s okay. Iz has been worried sick when she couldn’t find him.

Alex sent another right after that.

I can pick him up if you want.

I sent him a reply after I turned on the hot water.

No. I told him I’d take him home. He doesn’t think he’ll be missed.

There was another quick reply.

Of course he does. Why would he think we’d miss him. :rolling eyes:

My final response was sent and then I jumped into the shower.

Grabbing a shower and then I’ll bring him home.

My phone went off one more time but it would have to wait till I got out of the shower.

Unexpected Visitors

The shower went cold before I got out. My apartment was dark. I could feel Jo upstairs sleeping. The thought of why never crossing my mind, though it should have. But I was mentally drained as I collapsed in my bed to sleep.

I didn’t prepare myself for dreaming and woke to my lone tree and the starry landscape just at sunrise. And I wasn’t alone.

Alex smiled when he saw me, “I didn’t expect to see you here.”

“I’ve been avoiding you.” I said.

“I know,” he smirked, “I noticed.”

I turned to walk away. But Alex was in front of me and I nearly ran into him. He was frowning, “Come on Pretty Boy.”

“You can’t even come here as yourself.” I growled and stepped around him.

He sighed, “Can I explain.”

“Not really.”

Alex growled, “You are a stubborn asshole sometimes.”

“You seemed to enjoy my asshole earlier.” I couldn’t help the small smile that crept to my lips but I kept walking.

“I’m a dream walker. I can walk into anyone’s dream I want. I was taught to hide who I was so that the Venatori wouldn’t find me.”

I stopped walking but I didn’t turn around. But Alex took that as a signal I would listen, “It’s a habit, and one I can’t change. I’m at least a guy you find attractive. And not some dip shit that won’t make me jealous because I can’t tell if you like him or me.”

“Sure he’s cute.” I said, “But it was always you I wanted.” I turned around to look at not-Alex. Though I felt my anger rise and turned back around. “I can’t do this.”

“I know.” Alex said. “Do you want to know why this bothers me so much?”

I didn’t say anything jus shrugged.

“I loved a man who did great things. I lost him. I still love him. But there’s a reason I’m drawn to you here in the dream. Why you call to me every night we are apart. There is a reason we keep fighting to not join together. And why once we are together that we can’t stay apart. Even if we fight. I’ve been lying to myself because I thought I had found my true love – my soul mate. Turns out it was all a lie. And I knew it from the moment I first stepped foot in this dream.” Alex paused. I wanted to turn around but I couldn’t, I couldn’t see that face with that voice and those eyes. I couldn’t do it anymore. I felt the tears streaming down my face again. Fuck! I thought I’d cried it all out.

“You are my soul mate, Nox. And every time I deny it, it hurts just a little bit more.” Alex sighed, “I’m sorry I’m an ass. And I’m sorry that I loved someone before you.”

“We all have a past Alex, but you aren’t over him. I’ll make it easy for you and stay away.” I said, “Have a good life Alex.”

I woke myself up and continued to cry.

I didn’t sleep the rest of the night. But the tears stopped halfway through and I was just numb to it all.

I must have drifted off to sleep because I woke to the smell of bacon and coffee. My eyes felt dry and scratchy. My body ached. I really needed to sleep better, but I crawled out of bed and made my way upstairs. Jo was standing in front of the stove. “I thought I’d make you breakfast.”

“You didn’t have to.” I said but I took the offered up of coffee and sat down at the table.

“I know, but I wanted to say thanks, and you had a rough night last night.” she giggled.

I rolled my eyes, “We were that loud.”

“We all have really good hearing I’m told.”

“It won’t happen again.” I said.

Jo set a plate of bacon and eggs in front of me, “Why? Alex seems like a good guy.”

“He’s great. He’s fostering a bunch of kids that aren’t his. He makes jobs for people, he takes care of his family, but he’s hung up on a guy I’ll never match. He’s the heroic do gooder type.”

Jo laughed, “You have that covered if you ask me.”

“I’m nothing.” I said.

Someone stomped up my stairs, it could only be one person. “Nox!” Abby shouted.

“What?” I shouted back though Abby was already at the top of the stairs with a goofy smile on her face.

“Hey Jo.” Abby said. “It’s nice to see someone else taking care of him. I’m Abby. Rider asked me to come check in on you, make sure Nox was treating you alright.”

“He’s great.” Jo said.

“I know. Rider was joking. He wanted me to offer you the spare bedroom at my place. It’s just upstairs. This way you can have a home, and be close to Nox.”

“I don’t know.”

“Abby’s great, and she won’t boss you around too much.”

Both women grinned. “And you’ll have your own space.” I said.

“If you think I should.”

Abby laughed, “We do. Rider says I have some explaining to do for you. And Nox needs to go see Rider and Alex anyway.”

“Why?” I growled.

“Rider wants to explain some things, and Alex just wants to check on you – like I said Jo said, you had a rough night. You aren’t even wearing eyeliner.”

“I just woke up.”

Abby stared at me wide eyed. “Really?”

“He cried for several hours.”

“What did Alex do?”

I shook my head, “Nothing. It’s over.”

Abby laughed, “It’s not Nox. Alex is as stubborn as you are.”

“He doesn’t even want me.”

“Really?” Jo laughed. “He sounded like he wanted you yesterday.”

I growled. “I’m going for a run.” I said and left the two women alone in my apartment.