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Chapter 15 - Little Goodbyes
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     “HE DID WHAT?!” Sarca and Night Crawler shout collectively.
     “You said no right?” Night Crawler asks, grabbing me and staring into my eyes.
     SLAP. “Cut that out, you know she said yes.” Sarca runs over and gives me a big hug.
     “Sarca, you… you can let go of me now. Sarca, I can’t breathe.”
     “Oh sorry.” She releases her hold on me as I gasp for air.
     “Congratulations Shaina,” Becca remarks, not sounding the least bit excited.
     “Have you all gone mad? Shaina you can’t marry him!”
     BOOM. I throw him into the bathroom and pin him against the wall. I push myself up against his body and my face is so close that our noses nearly touch. His face is changing to red. Softly, but sternly I say, “Night Crawler, I don’t care what you think. You know, jealousy doesn’t suit and to be honest I really hate it. If you love as much as you say you do then you will let me go. Look I love you and trust you with my life, that’s why it’s so important that you support me on this. I can’t do this without you.”
     His heart is racing and his eyes fixed on the floor. “Princess….” His hands slide up my sides joining together on my back. A first he holds me gently but then it turns firm. “I want you to be happy, nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing a smile on your face; it’s just… I wanted to be the one to do it. Please, don’t marry him. If you must marry then marry me.” He looks into my eyes with that of longing and leans in to kiss me.
     I place my fingers over his lips. “I cannot.” I walk away form him and exit the bathroom. “Anyhow, that’s the news I wanted to give you; just wanted you all to be the first to know.
     “Thanks Sis.”
     “Good night Shaina.”
     “Goodnight you guys,” I say exhausted and exit the room.
     As I walk the halls my mind wanders. I’ve been doing my best not to think about the “what if” factor in this operation. The moonlight is bouncing off the trees, making it appear as dancing lights down the hall.
     WHOOSH. “Princess, Shaina, please…,” Night Crawler cries between breaths, pushing me against the wall. The moonlight dances upon his body.
     Sigh, “Night-” he interrupts me, pressing his lips against mine.
     “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Titus’ voice booms through the hall.
     He releases his lips slowly, staring at me with a look of desperation. I touch his face gently. “It’s ok Titus, it won’t happen again, right?”
     Night Crawler’s eyes begin to tear but he holds them back. He simply pulls me close. “I’m sorry, I just, I had to,” he whispered.
     “I know,” I whisper back. And with that I push him away gently, walking away and taking Titus’ hand. “Good night Nouty,” I say with a smile. It’s my nickname for him.
     “G’ night Shaina and you too Prince.” He morphs to a bird and flies off.
     “What was that about?”
     “Accepting defeat.”
     “I see,” he says, taking my hand and giving it a kiss.
     “You want more of an explanation?”
     “I don’t want to pry,” he says with a smile. We walk down the halls.
     “He fell in love with me, but he had always put his duty first.”
     “That doesn’t explain the kiss.”
     “Well, he doesn’t want to lose me so he’s swallowing his pride. But he just needed to get it out of his system. In that one kiss he bid farewell to the dream of keeping me.”
     “I’m surprised you weren’t upset.”
     “If you saw his face, despite his desperation, I could see in that moment that he truly was happy for me. But most importantly he left me in your hands.”
     “That’s not what I saw.”
     “When you’ve known as long as I have, you see these things.” I glance up at him; his thoughts dwell on what had happened. “I love you,” I say squeezing his hand.
     THUD. He pins me against the wall. Confusion is written all over his face. “Shaina…,” he says under his breath. He kisses me passionately, pushing harder and harder. “I’m sorry,” he says between breaths, resting his forehead against mine.
     “You really have a hard time seeing me with another man.”
     “Yes, I know. I really should be better than this, but I just can’t help it.”
     I smile, “what about with a woman?”      “What?” he exclaims, his face turning three shades of red. “In-including women!”
     I can’t help but to laugh, he doesn’t try to make eye contact. “You’re face is so red, that means that you’ve given it some thought before.”
     “N-no I haven’t. It’s getting late, we should go to bed.” He grabs my hand and lugs me away.
     “Okay,” I say with a grin.

     We lay together in his bed, both in silky pajamas, although as usual he’s shirtless. His arms wrap around me as I rest my head on his chest, listening to the beat of his heart.
     “Are you afraid, Shaina?”
     “Yes… yes I am.”
     “Then promise me something. Promise we’ll get married.”
     My eyes tear up and with a crackle say, “I promise.”
     “Good. You never break your promises.”
     “Titus… please don’t leave me.”
     “I won’t.” He gives me a light kiss on my head.

     The castle is filled with craziness. Titian is making good on his promise to get a communication network setup should the worse happen. Everyone is doing their best to get things done before we set out this evening.
     “We’re almost done Shaina, just a few more things to do.”
     “Thank you.”
     “For what?”
     “Being a good big brother.”
     He grins, “You got it.”

     It’s almost night fall now as we set out for the forest. Silence is the main voice among us as we travel, it’s quite awkward. Mist has come to greet us at the forest’s edge.
     “Thank you Mist. May I present my sister Sarca and my cousin Rebecca.”
     “A pleasure. Now come, I shall show you to your camp site.”
     It wasn’t long before we got there in an open area by a stream. At least we wouldn’t have to worry about fire. Tired, we get set up to sleep. We have a big day ahead.
     “Good night everyone.” Everyone mumbles their good nights. I watch the stars in the evening sky, twinkling and dazzling. My eyes grow heavy and soon I’ll be asleep.

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