“Daniel gave it to me because I wasn’t sleeping, and I don’t know what I did with it.” She looks at the coffee table as if she left it there, but there’s nothing there.
“It gave me nightmares. The lullaby stuff.”
“That’s a shame,” she says with true pity. “I slept so well with it. And today has been…” she doesn’t finish, she only shakes her head. I can only imagine how she’s feeling. I know she wants to go back to Daniel. I could see it in her eyes and hear it in her voice when she told me all about last night at breakfast. I know she loves him. And I think she could forgive him if he wouldn’t keep secrets from her anymore once this war has ended.
He’s kind to her. He wants her. And I know she wants him too. The only thing that stands in the way are the names the reporter keeps talking about on the television and the fact that Addison now knows Daniel has a hand in that tragedy.
“I was having nightmares before, so maybe that’s why?” I surmise and then shrug, pretending like the vision of my mother didn’t just take over my mind this second. I glance at Eli, still standing there a few feet away, looking straight ahead and waiting for me. Focusing on him and not on where my thoughts were going.
“Nightmares?” she asks, and I only nod as I swallow down the memory.
“I’m sorry,” Addie says, and I wish she didn’t. I don’t need more sympathy. Sympathy doesn’t do shit.
“It’s been a while since I’ve had them.” I know I have Carter to thank for that. “Anyway, there’s a vial that was in my bag in the drawer of my nightstand. If you want it,” I offer her, and she gives me a small smile.
“Thanks,” she tells me in a way that I know she’s truly grateful as she yawns and then stands graciously.
“Sleep well, Fiery Priestess,” I tell her with a small smile and watch as she picks up the cards off the floor and puts them on the coffee table.
“You too, Ria,” she tells me and uses the nickname only two other people have used for me all my life. She doesn’t see how my face blanches, but I’m able to fix it in time before she looks up at me with a sweet smile. “Ria, the card reader,” she adds to the nickname and smiles.
I leave without saying goodbye, but it doesn’t escape me that Eli keeps looking at me curiously because he saw how I reacted. Eli sees everything.
Tonight feels darker than the night before. Maybe because there aren’t any stars out, or maybe it’s just my perception. Either way, it’s pitch fucking black.
It’s colder too and as I huddle into the jacket, I find myself walking faster to get to the corner store that I saw a few shops down last night.
“You’re quiet,” Eli comments as the wind blows and my hair whips around my face. His faint accent comes through more now than I’ve heard before. I almost ask him about it, but my mind is spinning over the king of wands and who it could be. I always look too much into my cards… and that reading wasn’t even mine.
“I’m always quiet,” I answer him and when he gives me this charming, perfect smile, I nearly smile too. I watch him as he looks up to a house in the middle of the street and I know to wait when he does that, just like last night, so I do. Shoving my hands in my pockets, I breathe out and let the cool air flow over me, calming my anxiety.
“I had a girlfriend once who liked those cards. The reading ones.”
“Tarot cards,” I tell him as he rocks on his heels, still waiting at the edge of the street.
“Yeah, she liked to read mine, one a day, and tell me how my day was going to go.”
A simper pulls at my lips. “Was she right?” I ask him, and he huffs a laugh while shaking his head.
“She was so wrong that I could almost guarantee the opposite of whatever she said was actually going to happen.”
“They’re really just to get you thinking,” I tell him and ask, “Are you still together?”
He shakes his head and says, “She was fucking crazy.” A genuine laugh bubbles in my chest at the expression on his face, and for the first time today, I feel warmth flow through me. I feel real for a moment… until the reality of everything going on hits me hard in the center of my chest.
“You’re good at distractions,” I say while pulling my hair to the side as another breeze comes by. As I do, the sound of a car driving a street or two down catches my attention. “Thank you for that,” I add with as much sincerity as I can.