Just let go.
Nothing had worked. She’d showered but was too wired to go to sleep and she knew if she got even a little bit distracted, something bad would happen. So, here she was, at 3 in the morning, pacing in the kitchen; the furthest room in the house she could get from Andrei.
Connor sat in a chair and watched her pace. God, she loved that man. Maybe a bit too much, maybe so much that he didn’t have a choice but to love her back…
He sighed, “Stop it Rosie.”
“Stop what?” She asked, confused.
“Stop thinking whatever it is you’re thinking. You look like someone just ran over your kitten.” He laughed, but it sounded forced, as if whatever he’d seen on her face had scared him.
She walked toward him, deciding to sit and talk to him, but when she reached the table, she just turned around and paced back the way she came. She couldn’t even sit for a few minutes. She uncurled one of the fists she’d made and was horrified when a surge of electricity danced across her fingertips.
She cried out and Connor was there immediately. “What? What is it?” He took her hands in his and looked down at them. “What just happened, Rae?”
“I-I don’t know. I don’t think I can hold it in anymore.” She looked up at him, all her fear in her eyes.
“And there’s nothing you can do? There’s no exercise or mantra or mind trick that might turn it off?”
“I can’t just turn off who I am, Connor! I wish I could, but I can’t.” She shook her head, angry. “Not even for you.” She tried to pull away but he held onto her hands.
“That is not what I meant and you know it. But there has to be something you can do for moments like this. Nyema never said anything about a way to protect yourself?” He was trying to stay calm; she could see it in his eyes. She shook her head again. “Let’s try the breathing techniques again then.”
She stared into his eyes as he took a deep breath and waited for her to follow before exhaling through his mouth. He was so beautiful with his golden eyes and strong eyebrows. As she took another deep breath in, she wondered what he would look like as a wolf. Would his fur be the same burnished brown as his hair? Would he remember her in that state; remember that she was his wife? She let her eyes rest on his lips before going back to looking into his eyes. His wide, flashing eyes.
She looked down and saw that her hands were now spread open against his chest and as she watched, a dim, steady light started to flow from her hands into his body. She gasped and tried to back up but it was as if her hands were glued to his chest. His hands were now gripping her wrists, another thing holding them together. “Oh no. Oh dear Goddess, no!”
She looked back up at his face and saw his eyes were still glowing and he was staring, unseeing, at her. She could do nothing but stand there and watch as she did…something, to Connor. Her body started to vibrate and she felt that tense current of energy make its way through her body and exit out from her fingers into his chest. It felt like forever before the glow dimmed to nothingness and the vibrating stopped. Then, just like that, there was emptiness and she was suddenly exhausted.
Connor blinked and his hands, still wrapped around her wrists, slipped down to his sides and he exhaled. “What the hell was that?”
She started trembling as she scrambled away from him, finally able to move. “I have no idea!”
He was still standing there, looking as if she hadn’t just sent what felt like a massive current of electricity into his body. “Are you okay?” He asked.
She gave a slightly hysterical laugh, “Shouldn’t that be my line? Are you okay?”
He glanced down at his body and flexed his fingers. “I feel a little warm where your hands were on my chest, but other than that, I feel fine. Maybe a little shaky.” He looked at her and gave a small smile. “Stop it.”
Rae felt like she was about to faint, she could have killed him! “Stop what? Am I still affecting you somehow?” She felt panic start to rise within her.
He walked toward her, “Stop thinking whatever you’re thinking. I’m fine, I think.”
“You think?” He thinks! For every step he took, she took two away from him.
He stopped walking and frowned. “Stop it, Rosie. Nothing happened, nothing bad anyway. I’m fine.”
“But you don’t know that. Maybe whatever I just did takes time to…to do whatever. You could be dying and we don’t even know it.”
“And you want the last thing I do on this earth to be chasing you around the kitchen? I would rather be holding you, proving to you that I’m okay. So, stop it and come here.” He reached forward and snatched her hand before she could jerk away. “I’m fine. See?” He brought her hand up to his lips and kissed each finger.
She watched him warily, waiting for something – anything to happen. When he’d kissed the last finger on her other hand, her lungs expanded just a tiny bit more, letting her breathe a little easier. She studied his face, searching for the truth. He didn’t look like he was in pain. He was breathing normally and he didn’t seem clammy or as if he was suffering from shock. But what if…
“Stop it,” Connor murmured as he kissed the palm of her hand.
“I can’t help it! I thought I was killing you and I couldn’t stop!” She closed her eyes and took another breath, this one deeper than the last. She kept them closed as Connor kissed the back of her hand before pulling her into his body and placing a kiss on her temple, then her eyelids, her nose and each cheek. She waited for him to kiss her lips, but he placed both hands to the side of her face instead. She opened her eyes and looked into his golden ones once again.
“That’s better,” he said, smiling.
She wrapped her arms around him and would have kissed him, but he pulled her into a hug instead. And it was better than any kiss would have been, because feeling him surrounding her, seemingly okay, helped calm her down more than anything else could have.
She started to tell him that when the baby monitor crackled and they heard Andrei’s cries.
“I’ll get him,” Connor said.
She wanted to tell him no, to sit and rest until he was sure he was okay. But she couldn’t go near Andrei, not when she was so out of control. So she just nodded and watched him walk away.
Connor sat outside, listening to the night animals, waiting for Rae to get back. She’d gone to the local spice shop to find some herb or root or plant thing that her aunt said would help with her problem. As much as he loved her, he couldn’t wrap his brain around what she was going through. Magic was far beyond his reasoning capacity and he’d had just about enough of it.
Sighing, he stopped rocking when a woman started walking towards him across the lawn. “Hello,” he called out.
She smiled and said hello back.
Connor stood up and waited for the woman to walk up the porch steps. When she stood in front of him, he smiled. “You need some help?”
She looked up at him closely, studying his features before saying, “You look like him. You have the same golden eyes.”
Connor stiffened. “Can I help you with something?” He asked again.
“Actually, yes and no. I’m hoping we can help each other.” She held her hand out. “I’m Kaylynn Payne, may I come in?”
“Wait, so let me see if I understand this. My brother has a girlfriend and a son but is still trying to steal my wife and child from me and you’re here to try and explain why? Can you see how ridiculous that sounds?”
He’d just spent the last half hour talking to Kaylynn about Caleb. He supposed she meant to help, but all she’d managed to do was confirm how much of a jerk his brother really was.
“No.” Kaylynn shook her head. “You have to understand. He doesn’t want to steal them away, he wants to help. Caleb is a fixer, a protector. He sees what he thinks is a bad situation and he wants to make it better. He has the wrong person talking to him that’s all.”
“He has you, doesn’t he?”
She smiled. “I’m a very recent confidant. Once I learned what was really going on, I knew I had to talk to you and Rae Rose. Caleb needs help, from family, from people he loves. And believe it or not, he loves you dearly Connor.”
Connor snorted at that. “You have to forgive me for not believing you. If he does, he has a terrible way of showing it.”
Kaylynn placed her hand on his. “You are the only person that Caleb ever talked about growing up. Not his mother, not his father, just you. You are the person he missed the most from his old life. He’s been lost these past few years, confused and very much alone. People sometimes do very bad things in those conditions but you can help me change that. Just give him a chance.”
Connor started to say something but the front door opened and Rae walked in.
“I think it worked! I feel much better now. How’s Andrei, has he –” Rae stopped abruptly at the kitchen entrance. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know we had company.”
Kaylynn smiled and Connor stood up. “Rosie, this is Kaylynn Payne. Kaylynn, my wife, Rae.”
They both said hello and Rae shot him a look as she shook Kaylynn’s hand. He just shrugged.
“You must know what I’m going to say, right?” Rae asked. She wanted this woman out of the house as soon as possible. Kaylynn had explained herself and Rae wanted no part in it. Connor had gone upstairs to check on Andrei and most likely to escape an awkward situation.
“You are nothing like I thought you’d be,” the other woman said. “I didn’t know you were married to his brother. I have to say, I’m a bit relieved.” Kaylynn had moved into the living room and was admiring some of the artwork.
“Excuse me?” What was she talking about?
“You and your husband, Connor. You’re not at all what I was envisioning on my way over here.”
“Did Caleb send you here to try to persuade us into giving him Dre?” She was so beyond tired of that man!
Kaylynn laughed and turned back to her, “On the contrary, he doesn’t even know I’m here, although I’m sure he’ll know soon if he doesn’t already. I came to try and make peace. If we could talk about this, we could come to some understanding.”
“He can’t have Andrei. That’s all he needs to understand.” Rae walked toward the door. “It’s getting pretty late; you don’t want to drive on the roads after dark.”
“Listen, I know you must think the worst of me, I haven’t exactly been very clear. I am on your side. I want you to keep your baby. If you would just listen to me…”
“All I’ve been doing is listening. Caleb wants my son. I highly doubt you’ll be able to make him change his mind. He’s a stubborn man.”
Kaylynn leaned back, “It sounds like you know him pretty well.”
Rae did not like her tone of voice or what she seemed to be implying. “Well enough to know he’s not someone I would let around my children, let alone give him one to raise.”
If the woman caught the implied insult, she let it slide. “I’m not Caleb. I’m here to listen to what you want and see if we can work something out. You want to keep your child at home with you. I get it; I wouldn’t give up my little boy either. What’s the harm in talking to one more person? I can help you.”
Rae looked at her for a minute before heading back toward the kitchen. “Fine. You want to talk, let’s talk.”
Kaylynn smiled as Rae passed her and followed her to small eating nook. As they sat down, someone rang the doorbell. Well wasn’t this their lucky night. Not one, but two visitors.
Connor came downstairs, furious. “It’s Caleb,” was all he said.
Rae looked at Kaylynn, who just shrugged. “He’s very…impulsive. I didn’t think he would make it here quite so fast.”
Rae heard the door open and felt her body begin to hum. No! Not again, please not again. She tightened her hands into fists and took a deep breath. The man at The Spice Shop said it was a reaction to emotional triggers. She just had to keep calm.
She expected to see an angry Caleb, like he’d been the night she told him to leave or maybe a charming Caleb, like the man she had first met. She saw neither of those men.
This Caleb walked straight into the kitchen, with a still angry Connor behind him and stopped in front of Kaylynn. He searched her face and person, as if assuring himself she was okay and then just looked at her for a while before smiling. When he spoke, his voice was deeper than usual, full of concern and tenderness. “You okay, Calli?”
Kaylynn smiled back at him and nodded. “Yeah, you didn’t have to come down to get me.”
“You walked. It’s late. I came.” He shrugged and she laughed and Rae suddenly understood. She watched as he took Kaylynn’s hand and kissed her palm. It was the only contact they’d had since he’d walked through the front door, but it felt like she was viewing something extremely intimate.
Connor must have felt the same way because he cleared his throat and said, “Kaylynn stopped by to introduce herself to us.”
Rae watched, fascinated, as Caleb mentally shut down at the sound of his brother’s voice, but it was too late. She’d seen him, the real him; the person he was when he was with this woman. Kaylynn glanced at her and smiled and Rae gave a tentative one back. The hum in her body was suddenly gone and she felt…hopeful.