Featured Review on this writing by hullabaloo22

Orion’s Heart (story 2)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic


Octaria Orion, youngest queen in the history of Verona, returns in a star-crossed romance that may lead to her doom.

Submitted: July 28, 2018

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Submitted: July 28, 2018

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Never imagined making love like this.

Floating on a Martian cloud — his breath skating my sweaty neck, his hands laced in my hair — his body meets mine in time with dozens of drones virring below us while the two moons, Phobos and Deimos, hang like giant glowing saucers greeting the twinkling constellations as thunder cracks across the orange-hued sky and the soft scents of violets weaved round my freckled wrists enter my nose, filling me same as he does. A bit painful? Yeah. A lot pleasurable? Heavens yeah. A wedding night our Nephilim kinsmen have literally waited eons for Oberon and I to savor. And yet my mind couldn’t be further away. I keep hearing those haunting words.

“Thy sins shall be punished Octaria, daughter of Gadreel.”

That name. Gadreel. Something about it sounds so familiar. So ethereal. So difficult to focus when Oberon’s caressing me in ways that make me squeak. Involuntarily. I swear. Sounds like an accordion’s squeezing my lungs.

I rake my nails across his shoulder blades. “Say they can’t hear me.”

“Relax. It’s just you, me and these friendly constellations.” He chuckles, his mouth grazing my ear.

I shiver. Hot shivers. Whole-body shivers. A flame, blazing thick within me, unites us in a bed-less dance. We bounce. Beneath the full moons, stars flicker faster than fireflies high above the city of Verona. Sleeping. Shimmering. Shielding those towering pyramids rebuilt by my fingers. Oberon’s fingers. His fantastical fingers.

Oh my! Ten million hummingbirds, thrumming in my belly, burst through my pulsing flesh. Rain follows. Pattering atop us, heavy drops blur the moon beams splayed over his rigid torso. Glistening, his long braids damp on his biceps. I skim his muscles tensing under my palms.

His blonde bangs, brushing his wet brow, suddenly reminds me of August; Oberon’s clone quite different from him. Quieter than him. Quirkier than him. Brainier than him. August. My sweet August. I miss his dry jokes. The afternoons we chillaxed on his New York balcony, taking in the view of the Empire State Building and chatting ‘bout anything just to lessen my loneliness after the demise of my adoptive mother, Shelia. Or the hours we sat in that hipster cafe researching Martian Red Death aka MRD over guacamole injected black-bean-burgers while August analyzed virus strands in his handheld magnascope and dribbled ketchup from his square-shaped jaw.

I’d lean over and wipe his chin with my napkin; one of the many awkwardly silent moments we shared before that intimate encounter in my starship quarters. On our voyage to Mars, I kissed him. Removed my bra. Almost tripped on my toes when he kissed my boobs. Would’ve lost my virginity that evening to him if Regana hadn’t interrupted us. If August hadn’t begun barfing. If only I’d clued into evil Regana earlier, I might’ve prevented August from perishing. Instead he’s gone. And I’m here three months later experiencing my first smash with another guy — the guy I thought I loved. Thought I promised my heart to. Now all I am is confused. Frustrated. Distressed.

I hop off Oberon. My pulse spasming inside me, I stand suspended in mid-air.

“Bae?” His forehead creases, his thighs as stiff as two extra-large rafts twitching on the sea. “Ye not like something?”

“I...” Course it was euphoric. A screamtastic bungee-jump into a river-gorge before you realize you should’ve stayed on the bridge. “This be a mistake.”

“Mistake? Nah.” Oberon clasps my wrist. “Let me fix it”

“Ain’t no magic fix.” I pull from his grip, the rain pounding down my bare spine.

He clenches his jaw. “Toss me a clue.”

“Not that easy.” Despite your awful opinion of me, I’m no be-atch. You gotta understand the predicament I’m facing. What everyone has dubbed my destiny. Destiny? More like a Nephillim baby-popping sentence baked up by our elected elders who’ve repeated more times than I can count that I’m the youngest half-angel female still capable of producing heirs to repopulate our kind. Sure, babies may be cute. Cute doesn’t feed them or diaper them or care for them. That’s a job in itself; one I’m definitely not ready to start. Besides I haven’t even decided if I want kids. A little too late for that sentiment I guess. I stupidly got sucked into the princessy wedding. The marriage contract. The whirlwind fairytale between Oberon and I distracted me from the one thing I’ve always valued. My free-will.

I glide the other way.

“Wait.”

I glance over my shoulder, my heart fisting at Oberon’s crumpled expression.

It’s me. Not you. I try to say. My words drown in my throat, my feelings for Oberon too complicated. Too muddled. Too difficult to express. Not to mention my memories of us. Of myself. Of my childhood. They remain spotty and unrecovered. Partial amnesia, that’s what Othello dubs what I have. And time is the only thing that will heal my brain and help me figure out what I really want. So explain this to Oberon. A girl’s got a right to change her mind. My body. My choice. My life.

I whip around.

“Octaria. Octaria…” Oberon’s shouts fade in the thunder clapping in tandem with the lightning.

I careen forward between spider-webbed spikes zig-zagging between lines of drones that zip in and out of the graying clouds. Billowing, they empty their hefty loads under the re-terraformed E-dome encasing this Tharsis region of Mars; a planet of monsoons now replacing the once volcanic wasteland. Below, propped inside those six grassy plateaus, Verona lies lit by hundreds of Chinese lanterns. Fastened to the pyramidic roofs, in honor of our coronation wedding, they symbolize luck and power. Prosperity we require as we ring in a new era of half-angel and human existing in harmony. Least that’s the alliance we forged with Earth once they sent a thousand human settlers.

As a token of friendship, we built them the lavish apartments my kinsmen are also housed in probably snoring after the week-long festivities. Probably what I’d be doing too if not for my duty. Screw duty. Regardless that it yields an unmatchable passion I would’ve straddled til sunrise if lust was enough. It’s not. My entire heart’s gotta beat for Oberon alone or I can’t commit my entire future to him.

I levitate past a shard of lightning. It strikes lanterns, sending a ton to the sky. Wind dices them apart. Rain dumps, dousing my expanding arms that morph into dragon wings. I flap over a few straggling solar-pods, their passengers gaping my way.

One glares from behind his water-spotted window, a silver streak in his raven pony-tail jogs my memories of, um… Can’t place a name to his pruny face. He shakes his fist at me, his synth driver nearly whacking my tail.

Jerk! “Watch it.” I soar around him, scanning the expansive forest blanketing the ground with ginormous hybrid-kapoks.

They sway, their curved branches bending under the downpour that pulls at their hand-shaped leaves and reveals the fuzzy outlines of bats feasting on the cottony figs hanging from knotty limbs. Roots, packed with necessary oxygen for human consumption, bulge from the crimson soil, multiplying at a phenomenal rate from the Nephilim powers my kinsmen and I expelled. Months ago, after I vanquished Regana, we recreated our home. Our trees, sweeping up the mountainside, span over that basalt-capped peak then descend with me close to that mammoth lake. The rain, drilling into the choppy blue depths, distorts my butt-ugly lizardish reflection. An overgrown dragon. That’s all I am in this moment as I reach the shore. Soggy in spots, the sand sinks under my webbed paws. My enormous chest puffed out, I study that glossy oval above the lake where that haunting voice promised to punish me.

Odd thing is, no one, not even Oberon has mentioned the threat since. Then again, we have been super preoccupied. Spending our mornings brain-deep in MRD vaccinations, our afternoons in wedding arrangements and our nights in non-stop peace talks. No wonder it’s taken me this long to notice it. A dewy green haze, way lighter than the rain, drizzles from the glossy oval. Strange I know. Maybe it’s nothing other than steam rising from the rapids. Rushing from the jagged mouth of that rocky cave, the rapids plummet down the sky-scraping waterfall then swirl into a jutting metal tube collecting healing nutrients I must test before dispatching more vaccinations to the humans.

Analyzing microbes, that’s the stress reliever I require. I nab a metal flask. Buried in the sand where I left it the day before, I dunk the flask then cap it and return it to the sand that’ll transport the sample to my underground lab where I’ll conduct my one unchanged trait; my scientific prowess. What I can depend on. Find comfort in. Not some hasty marriage I never asked for with a guy I’ve only been reunited with for ninety days. Seriously, I was barely seventeen on Earth. On Mars? Well Moth and Puck claim my Nephillim spirit is over a thousand-years-old. A concept I can’t comprehend. My mind’s still stuck in Manhattan. Stuck on a ghost who’s the spitting image of the guy winging it over the mountain.

Great. Just great. He’s transforming. In his ginormous bird-being body, Oberon beakdives for me.

Can’t a girl get a second to sort out her doubts? Don’t answer that.

Oberon lands alongside me. “Ye worried me. Departing in such a hurry.” He side-glances me, the rims of his green eyes slightly wet. Perhaps from the rain. Perhaps I hurt him so badly that he started crying.

Crying? He doesn’t cry? Does he? My throat swells as if a big wad of saliva is lodged inside it. I should’ve stayed with him. Allowed him and everyone else to dictate my life-path. And pretend that I’m content with baby-popping? That I’m not mourning. Not scared shitless ‘bout... Squash that thought.

Oberon steps nearer me.

I inch aside.

He folds his wing over mine. “Talk to me.”

And say what? That while we were shagging I was day-dreaming about his clone. Sure. That’d go over well. Might as well grab an electro-rod and vaporize his ego.

“Bae. Whatever it is tell me.”

Thanks, but no. No boy truly gets me. Only Shelia did. God, I wish she were here offering her guidance. Her wisdom. Her strength. Why’d MRD have to kill her? I shudder out a breath, throwing my attention to the mountain where a solar-pod descends. Hovering in our direction, it flicks it’s headlights straight into my eyes.

I squint. “Hey!” Blind someone else.

The pod’s hatch zirrs up, the synth driver motionless like someone deactivated it. Someone like him? The pony-tail man. He bobs his head up, his brown eyes belonging to someone I’ve met. Whose. Think…

Impossible! Too old to be him. He manifests a touch screen on his spandex sleeve, lifting it. It flashes.

Lovely. Paparazzi.

He clicks more pictures while three boomerang-shaped drones buzz into view and Oberon takes for the sky, yelling, “Outta here.”

The man leans over the solar-pod’s curved edge. “Down with the monarchy!”

Really? Who cleared this bigoted bozo for entrance into Verona?

I tail Oberon, three drones whirling our way.

Widening from their middle, guns poke out. They shoot. Bullets whizz over Oberon, reverberating in the sand below me. One nicks my shoulder. I grunt. Lurching up, I swat the drones. They hurtle, splashing in the waterfall where I incinerate them. Where a fourth drone surfaces. Hiding in plain sight?

Crap! It drunkenly spins up, flanking the paparazzi who Oberon darts toward.

“Come to face me. Have ye,” Oberon squawks.

Wait? Does Oberon know this hater I’m whooshing after? I’ll have to ask him later.

I approach the solar-pod, growling, “Hand over your camera.”

“Drink acid.” The man flips the solar-pod’s hatch shut, mouthing. “Hell’s waiting for you.”

“You first.” I belch fireballs. One smacks the drunken drone. Another sizzles past the solar-pod that’s ping-ponging up and down above a humongous field of speckled mandrakes once riddled by Regana.

How eerie that here I am again speeding over that same bone-yard. Even if it no longer entombs her meal-time remains, I’m chasing a fiend no less. One who keeps avoiding the path of my continuous fireballs. How aggravating! Dude’s gotta be a stunt pilot. Or an air cadet. Either way, he can’t outfly me forever. I burp flaming bomb after flaming bomb. The solar-pod plunges. Pivots. Reverses, dashing the opposite way. I swoop after, catching up to Oberon, his feathers fluffing when a gust of wind blows a bunch of rain at his bird-head.

He presses his talon to his temple, activating his neural lace. Telephachating Othello no doubt. “Send guards to the field. It’s finally happened.”

What’s finally happened? “Enlighten me, Oberon.”

“Not safe.” He bolts ahead of me.

“Fine. Keep yer secrets.” I quicken my pace past Oberon reaching that glossy oval where the green haze thickens. Drifting closer, it shrouds two drones that drop from the oval also, averting my attention for a split second. Long enough that the solar-pod zooms past me and disappears into the oval. I attempt to follow. The drones veer in front of me, radiating a cage down and boxing me in.

I flap hard like a bee trapped in a jar. Except I can’t see the walls. I can feel them. They fry my wings each time I slap them.

“Help!” Something zaps me, paralyzing my limbs.

“Let her go!” Oberon kicks the invisible walls.

They ricochet him toward our guardian solar-pods who rocket slower than this green haze. It seeps in, penetrating my cage and mixing with this noxious fume wafting from the walls. What I can only deduce as a chemically reaction, it creates this toxic concoction. Invading my lungs, I cough repeatedly. My dragon-force draining, I shrink to my human form, retaining enough powers to cast my intergalactic suit over my body. But not nearly enough to fight the toxin. I choke on yellow phlegm foaming from my mouth while Oberon crushes one of the drones in his talons and our guardian solar-pods shoot my cage. The walls deflect. Spewing the bullets back, three of our solar-pods explode into a thousand charred pieces scattering above that last drone still skirting my cage

Oberon flings himself toward it, whamming the drone with his powerful legs. It catapults then swings forward, evading the zizzing bullets from my guardian solar-pods.

A wolfish voice erupts from the drone. “Enjoy my wrath.”

Wrath? Brought on by one piddly drone? Yeah. Right! Someone’s hacked it. Probably the pony-tail paparazzi. Whoever he is, he’s trying to end me with these toxins. Why? I’m incapable of unraveling the mystery given this fluid is brimming in my lungs practically drowning me alive. I wheeze a gurgling breath, my blood pumping fiercely within me, it mimics the rain pinging off my cage and the waterfall thundering below me, dampening Oberon’s shrill roars.

“Release her or ye shall suffer!”

“Suffering is yer fate. And hers!” The drone blares, pitching me above the waterfall. That glossy oval opens. Dragging me out of my cage, it slurps me up quicker than a straw.

I shriek.

“No!” Oberon smashes the drone with one of his wings. With his other he reaches for me.

A milky vortex blocks him. Swallowing me, it erases Oberon from sight then spits me into a void. Blacker than bloodstone, the void swirls me round and round til my awareness wanes. My mind blanks.

  ***

 I wake to darkness. It engulfs me like non-bayronic matter engulfs a light proton as it drowns in the belly of a Kopac-munching-bat. Not that I’ve ever witnessed the digestive system of a bat. Or traveled inside any other mammal besides the Nephilim shape-shifting dragon I still can’t transform into. Regardless how hard I focus my mind, something’s disabling my powers. What exactly? You figure it out. Cause it’s difficult for me to determine when I can’t even see my own body. My legs are dangling in thin air and my arms are hanging above. Maybe I’m confined in a cave. Maybe in a tunnel. A heaviness binds my wrists.

I yank them. Blue volts crackle off them, illuminating electronic cuffs shackling my hands to a low ceiling. I examine the long slabs of steel lining the ceiling before the light leaves. Something stuns me. I wince, flailing. With each move more electricity fizzes, revealing more of the small dank cell surrounding me. The metal walls. The black bedrock below. The buzzing bars in front of me lock me in while a pair of eyes glow from behind; eyes belonging to the pony-tail paparazzi who I’m certain is an older version of my former starship micro-biology mate, the one I thought drones drilled bullets through. Brutus survived and aged like two decades? How’s that feasible?

He says in a wolfish tone. “Blame yerself.”

“Myself?” I wrestle with my cuffs. “For what?”

A boom erupts outside.

Brutus bellows after. “Take care of it.”

Boom! Boom! Boom!

Flashes of what look like dwarves race past Brutus, their footsteps clunky and pounding up something. A staircase? Possibly. Betcha it leads outta here, exactly where I gotta go. Gotta return to Oberon and open my heart to him. Spill my torn emotions. My unresolved grief. That’s why I fled him in the first place. Sure it sucks that I had to get captured to admit my feelings. But Oberon might understand. He might help me find closure from August. After all, Oberon risked his life trying to save me. He must love me. And truth is, I love him just as much. Maybe more. I blink back a tear, hoping it’s not too late for us. Or for me to restore my powers.

I swing forward, whacking the bars with my feet. The bars jolt me back.

“Forget resisting! In fact, forget who ye really are. Yer restored memories have ruined too much already.” Brutus belts the bars, sending a shock of electricity through me.

I hiss. “Why am I here, Brutus?”

“Funny. Ye remember my Earthly name.” He flicks an electro-rod to life, throwing shadows of his pointed nose on the steel walls behind him. “I shall never forgive ye. Ye annihilated my mother.”

“Mother?” That short pudgy woman Brutus introduced to me back when August and I were researching MRD? “I didn’t do anything to her.”

“Smarten up, queenie. Yer not the only one who grew up on Mars. I was here way before yer starship touched down. Who ye think pulled yer ship into that dust storm? Or sent those drones to attack ye and all yer clone friends?”

I gasp. “That can’t be. I was there when ye started barfing. When ye died.”

He laughs. “Death shall never conquer me. But it shall for ye, queenie.” His voice deepens to a gritty snarl, his eyes glowing yellow. “Yer little king didn’t uncrack yer mind enough. Eh?”

Boom! Boom! Boom!

“Useless peons. Asked them to take care of it!”

Sheesh. Jerk face here needs a temper tamer. “Ditch yer pissy attitude and fill yer cup with a bit of optimism. I mean, ain’t it awesome that yer alive.”

“You call being cloned twice alive?”

“Twice?”

“Clue in! Brutus and Moth might share my DNA. But they’re not me.” He grips his e-rod tighter. “Not even Oberon knows how the dark ones betrayed me. How they banished me to the humans and made me their needle bed for centuries.”

Centuries? “Who are ye?”

“Not Moth. Definitely not Brutus!”

He thwacks the bars with his e-rod. Multiple volts smack my legs.

I scream.

He screams louder. “Verona was supposed to be my kingdom! Not yers. He promised.”

He? Who? “Explain yerself.”

The ceiling rumbles, rattling my body like a bag of jumping beans.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

“Blasted buggers. I have to do everything myself.” Not Brutus storms off.

Clearly NB’s got issues. Resentment I can sorta relate to considering the dark ones enslaved me also. Problem is, my memories of them and the things that happened to me during that time remain fuzzy. And any one I ask about this clams up. Especially Oberon. Maybe it’s too painful for him to talk about. Maybe it’s a good thing; my memory loss. Allows me to hold some compassion for NB. Whoever he is, I might be able to talk him out of whatever he’s planning if I get outta this cell. If I can remember how to manually unlatch these cuffs. Othello once demonstrated it. And I hate to do it this way but I’ve got no other choice.

I curl my fingers til the middle one wedges between the cuffs. Stings my skin; the continuous sparks flying from my wrists. I grit my teeth while I prod my fingers further into one cuff. The searing pain more excruciating than if I dipped my arm in a vat of boiling lava, I burn my hand to the bone as the cuff releases. I hang by one arm. Squashing shriek after shriek, I fight to lift myself. Fight to stay conscious before Brutus returns. Before the remaining cuff cuts my circulation off. Or worse, my limb. I chomp my cheek. The air stinking of charred flesh, my free hand black as toast, the pain intensifies. When I dig my fingers into the next cuff, my senses peter in and out. My eyes close then blip up seconds later to a tiny winged creature.

It flurries through the cell bars.

“Queen Octaria. Yer in grave danger. Leave the valley of Hinnom.” The hummingbird, with a girl’s face I recognize from somewhere, flutters nearer. “No time to waste.”

She blows some iridescent dust atop my cuff, fading it from sight. I drop to all fours, my injured hand throbbing. The ground, trembling beneath me, tosses me to the side while a crack forms and splits upward. A horned aardvark bursts through bedrock then busts a hole in the outside wall, letting shards of moonshine in.

“Go.” The hummingbird-girl murmurs.

The aardvark squeals. “Now!”

I crawl through the hole and follow the blinking constellations to coal colored soil covered with a labyrinth of thick twisted roots. Spanning in every direction, roots climb up what I just escaped. A castle of steel, with three tall towers where atop perch three gargoyles. One a bull. One a man. One a ram that shifts its metal head my way. Ten dwarves, bolting from the main castle door, rush in my direction

I smell smoke. Fart-reeking smoke. A ton of it exits the ram’s mouth and clouds over the castle as the smoke warps into that toxic green haze, snaking toward my gaping eyes.

Work powers. Work. They won’t. I run instead, springing like a crazed bunny over the mess of roots, the only vegetation for miles on this flat barren wasteland. Where is this? Oh yeah, the hummingbird called it the valley of Hinnom. Sounds so familiar. Think! Octaria. Think! Maybe it’s a different realm. If it is, maybe there’s a portal exit. Where tho?

I increase my speed. The air dark and dirty brightens from the green haze beaming behind while the clunky stomps of dwarves follow after. I bump into something. It throws me on my rear. Roots snare me. Winding round my feet, the haze comes closer and closer while the thing I bumped into materializes. A mammoth banyan tree is propped like a shaggy umbrella with wide outcropping roots spanning to six other banyans. All situated in a circle, the banyans surround Oberon who’s standing in the center.

“Oberon!” I reach my hand toward the tree. The roots slap my burnt fingers to the ground. I screech, watching Oberon frantically racing from tree to tree tapping each one, his mouth moving but his words deafened by some unseen force.

“Oberon! Oberon! Help!”

He keeps tapping trees, deafened to me as well while roots strangle my legs. I tug them. They grow faster, mummifying me til my spine compresses and my chest creaks. The harder I thrash the harder they tighten. Perhaps they sense my fear. If go limp, they might go away. I relax my limbs. Slowly, the roots loosen. Gnarling themselves in loops and bends, the roots return to the onyx soil where the dwarves advance; their bodies looking smaller. Child-like. Weird. Hard to say for sure since the green haze swallows them. Within seconds, it collides with me, fogging out the trees and Oberon and cramming my lungs with that same sticky fluid as before. I hunch on the ground choking on bile yellower than Not Brutus’ eyes. Glowing through the haze, his eyes become more visible. More sinister.

He skulks my way. “Asked for my name? Call me Balam.” He smirks, his skull splitting into three different heads identical to the gargoyles’ heads. “And to be fair, I’ll remove my power draining hex from you. Not that I should given you killed my mother, Regana.”

Holy Shit. A synth lordess birthed Not Brutus? I mean, Balam? Whoever he is, he’s not going to listen to any positive messages from me. That I’m certain of.

“Show me what ye got!” He leaps to his bearish paws. His arms elongating into thirteen serpentine tails, he spreads his bat-like wings and flys away.

I transform also, surging after, the bile from my ballooned belly replaced by a scorching inferno so furious it shoots past my dragon fangs with five flaming arrows aimed directly at Balam.

He dips down. Avoiding three of them, he whips one of his heads around and widens his gangrenous mouth. He sucks in my remaining two bombs then relaunches them from his bullish eyes. I bound left then right as his eyes singe my tail. As my dragon scales grill off me, I yelp repeatedly. Charging forward, I bang into something hard. Something invisible. What is it? I’m so distracted by whatever this is I miss Balam behind me.

“Pretty measly powers for a tough queenie.” He slams a laser into my back slicing me down the middle.

I roar. My dragon body literally scalding in half, my throat grows stone cold. My bones ache to their marrow. I writhe uncontrollably expending all my energy to stay airborne as his serpentine arms bite my skull, my shoulder, my neck. It’s all too much. I fall into a plume of smoke that tails me to utter darkness.

“Stop!” Someone speaks in a still, calm voice.

Thunder cracks. Lightning blasts across the two moons. Balam snarls when mighty wings breach the suddenly brightening clouds. A sky-scraper sized being, with the head of a man and the body of an angel, swooshes in our direction.

Gadreel! It’s like seeing my father for my first waking minute. Except in this minute I see memories of him swaddling me in a blanket and cradling me for the last time. Why? I can’t remember. All I know is that as I peered over the folds of my baby blanket, his gentle smile looked down on me as adoringly as it does now.

“Daughter.” He soars for me, banishing the darkness with moonbeams gleaming from his glorious face. “Ye have suffered long enough.” He catches me.

Balam dives.

“Not today half-brother.” Gadreel ascends. Sheltering me under his wing, he kicks Balam to the sky. It peels apart, revealing an insidious black mist that slithers out and gulps Balam whole.

“Good riddance.” I mumble.

Gadreel adds. “Yer uncle shall be the one who is punished. Though I’m afraid I shall have to answer for that.”

Answer for what?

Gadreel’s expression grims. “The hour is upon ye, Octaria. Ready yerself. Chaos shall strike like a thief in the night.”

What’s that supposed to mean?

Gadreel lifts the broken parts of me. Healing me instantly, he settles my transformed humanish body to the ground where the roots clear away, the castle disappears and the first rays of morning, winking through those seven banyan trees, glint atop my lover. My husband. My darling Oberon. “Yer future awaits, my daughter.” Gadreel tilts my chin with his behemoth thumb. “I give ye my blessing. Be happy.”

He vanishes. 

I sprint. Naked as the day I was born on Mars, I break past Hinnom’s invisible banyan tree barrier that suddenly mutates into a solid slab of stone. Stranger than strange, those trees weren’t what Oberon was tapping. They were rocks. Spiraling up and down, they rebuild around a second glossy oval looming in the one location I failed to ever suspect. The cave where Oberon and I first met.

“Oberon.”

He freezes. Pivoting from the damp stone wall, he scrutinizes me as if he doesn’t buy that it’s really me.

“Octaria?” He tightens and loosens his square jaw. “Ye escaped. How?”

“Thank my father for that.”

 “Gadreel. Ye saw him?”

“A lot of things I saw.” I shift beside a milky pool of water surrounded by tall stalagmite columns. “Wish ye’d have clued me in ‘bout my uncle Balam and the valley of Hinnom.”

“I wanted to. Believe me, the amount of times I almost told you. It wasn’t a choice. The elders forbade me. Promise.” Oberon rubs the nape of his neck, a water droplet plopping on his wide hand from the many stalactites hanging like short red icicles on the cave ceiling. “Forgive me.”

“Course I forgive ye.” I inch nearer him, the waterfall behind us whooshing around the cave opening and cascading to the lake far below. “I’m sorry I fled ye. Sorry I worried ye. Please. Try to understand. It terrifies me. All of it. Love. Marriage. Babies. Most of all. Ye.”

“Me? What’d I do?”

“Ye didn’t do anything. It’s me.” I exhale unsteadily, tears brimming from my eyes.

He leans over and swipes one of my tears away.

And then I really start crying. A snot-drizzling cry. The kind of cry you do under your covers at night cause you don’t want anyone else to witness it.

“Bae. Bae. It’s okay.” He hugs me.

I warm in his embrace. Attempting to breathe, I hiccup instead.

He laughs. I laugh harder, sounding like a snorting hyena. A hilariously awkward joke until it gets real again and I have to finally spill the truth.

I inhale stiffly. Exiting his arms, I step back unable to control the fear flooding me. “It’s been so long since I trusted another guy with my heart. Last was August and look what happened to him. How do I know ye won’t meet the same fate?”

“Ye don’t.” He sails his hand across my shoulder, sending small shivers up my spine. “Listen. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Life’s ‘bout risk. Sometimes the best blossoms bloom from the cruelest adversities.”

Adversities. That’s for damn sure. I’ve endured more than ten people have in their entire existences. I deserve this. Deserve him.

I bend nearer him, my breath swirlingin into his. He closes the distance between us. Melding his mouth to mine, he trails hot kisses down my neck to my breasts where he nibbles on my nipples. I moan, his tenderness so authentic it melts the barriers surrounding my heart till I yield to him. Not because I have to. Because he makes me feel alive. Feel like I can do anything. Defeat anything.

“Let me be the one to help ye.” He whispers.

I squeak, “Yes,” my body humming under his magnetic touch.

He lifts me atop his shoulders and skims his lips over my most sensitive areas — a place of release brewing passion within me. A hope for our future. A love for our life. Sexual elation for moments exactly like these. I throw my head back, gripping the backs of his biceps, my flesh a boat speeding over his wild wave.  

Never imagined making love like this.

Exhaling in a Martian cave — his hands flush on my hips, his braids brushing my fingers — his tongue strums a tempo to the drumming waterfall fueling those brilliant tides swelling within me while the sun, twinkling into the cave, marks a new day. A day I share with Oberon; whatever that may bring. Maybe a child with his green eyes and my freckled nose. Or maybe that chaos of evil Gadreel prophesied.

Either fate will not frighten me. I will face adversities and joys with Oberon by my side.


© Copyright 2019 Joy Shaw. All rights reserved.

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