My Gothic Boyfriend VIII

Monday was a quiet day. I went to work, fixed a few computers and small appliances, and helped get a couple more shelves organized in the back room. After work, I went to Justin’s aunt’s house. He and his cousins were at the kitchen table, each with their own snack and homework sheet. Justin’s mother was at work, but his aunt was there; once she let me in, she told Justin that he could take me upstairs as long as he did some more work and kept his door open, then went back to helping her children get their homework done.

“She will not let up on me!” Justin groaned once we were out of earshot of her. He flopped onto his bed. “All day long it’s been chores and homework.”

“That bad, huh?” I sat on the edge of his bed and rubbed his temples.

He looked up at me. “It’s way different than it was with David. He was thankful and made sure I was safe.”

“Your aunt doesn’t keep you safe?”

He groaned again. “I don’t mean she asks me to do dangerous things. Argh… But David checked on us and asked if we had enough supplies and listened to our opinions about stuff. Aunt Julia just wants things done her way.”

“Hmm… I guess it’s different running a household instead of a store. You’re washing dishes, not organizing her cabinets.”

“Shhhh, don’t give her any ideas! Whenever she thinks I’m not trying hard enough, she gives me another chore. After she took my cousins to school, it was dishes and worksheets, then laundry and math, then sweeping and more laundry, then I could read on the back porch until the floor was dry from her mopping. I couldn’t even watch T.V. during lunch, since we’re not allowed to eat on the couch, and she says if it’s not allowed at school, it’s not allowed here during school hours.”

“It sounds like she’s working you hard, Little Moon.” I finished rubbing his temples and moved on to his shoulders. “Do you want me to review what you got done?”

“She already did,” he groaned. “She would not let me leave anything incorrect or unfinished.”

“I see. Well, the school day is over. How much more do you have to do?”

“Umm… I think it was a science thing. She’s making me do one of each subject.”

I got up and looked through the stack of books on his desk until I found the science book. “Oh, this is a great topic,” I told Justin when I pulled out the first worksheet stuck among the pages. “Chemistry and solar fusion!”

Justin rolled onto his side and gave me a look that was somewhere between frustration and disappointment. “I know you think that stuff is really cool,” he said in a defeated tone, “but I don’t understand it. Even before the bullies wasted class time making fart jokes, I usually just read enough of the chapter to get the paper done.”

“They have no attention span at all, do they?” I sighed. “Maybe your aunt would let you watch ‘Nova’ or ‘Cosmos.’ They explain it so much better.”

He shrugged. “I don’t really want to. It’s not like I’m going into a science career. I’m not even going to college.”

That had been his stance for as long as I could remember. It wasn’t that he disliked knowledge, because he did get into something when he was actually interested in it. He also liked reading, as long as he could pick the book. When it came to college, however, he saw scholarly pursuits as lofty and out of his reach. I couldn’t completely fault him for that, because as much as I would have loved signing up for classes with him, college wasn’t for everyone.

“Did anything happen after I left last night, Little Moon?” I’d stayed for dinner after bringing him home, and the family had all been relaxed and cheerful. “You seem down today.”

Justin shrugged. “I just wish they were as nice to me as you are. Mom says I have to finish high school even if I don’t go to college, and Julia says I’m not allowed to talk about not going around her kids. I liked it better at your place.”

“Yeah,” I sighed. “I’m low pressure compared to them. You should finish high school, though; it’s just ridiculous from them not to offer something safe that isn’t all this busy work.”

I was able to talk him through his situation enough that he got a little more schoolwork done for the day, but I was worried that he’d burn out pretty quickly if this was all he’d be doing every day until graduation. He wouldn’t talk to doctors, and his family had already made their terms clear, so I was going to end up being the one to really pull him through this. Not that I minded; that was what I’d gone there for. I only hoped the next few months wouldn’t be so full of struggle that he’d turn his back to his family.

We took a short walk through the neighborhood, enjoying the atmosphere as we talked, and got back around the time Justin’s mother returned from work. They had me stay for dinner again, which I was glad to accept. Afterwards, I sat with Justin on the porch swing until I had to head home and sleep. He was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to stay as late the next night, but he was understanding.

He didn’t let me leave without sharing a long kiss that spoke of affection and need for me. He practically clung to me, begging me to take him away from his sorrows without even using words. It took all of my strength to not sweep him into my arms right then and insist that Justin live with me, to promise to help him with his schoolwork, that it would be so much better if he were happy while he did it. But I knew better. I had to be better. Ms. Anderson needed me to be better, to be the right kind of guide and hero to her son.

“Good night, sweet prince,” I whispered, and gave him one last hug before I had to drive away.

———-

For most of Tuesday, it was hard to focus on work. I had tried contacting my grandfather to ask him how late he planned to arrive, but he was notoriously difficult to contact. It was completely the opposite of when he contacted me. Eventually, I was forced to resign myself to letting him be the one to make all the moves.

My phone rang as soon as I pulled up in front of Justin’s house. I looked at the screen. Of course it was him.

“Hello?” I answered, trying not to sound too grumpy.

“My dear Emory,” my grandfather’s voice floated out.

“Yes, Grandfather, it’s me. I was meaning to ask you when you planned to drop by.”

“I’m here now,” he replied in his matter-of-fact way.

“What? Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” I didn’t bother asking him how he’d gotten in; I already knew. “My landlord didn’t see you, did he?”

“Not at all,” he assured me. “You were kind enough to leave your curtains drawn.”

I half-wished I’d left all of the curtains open and flooded the place with daylight, but it would have been in vain, as he had plenty of help on hand.

“Are you on your way home?” he asked me.

“No,” I replied flatly. “I wasn’t expecting you until after sunset, so I’m about to spend some time with Justin.”

“Let it be only enough time to ensure that he is well, and come here post-haste.”

“My friend needs me, Grandfather,” I protested.

“You’ll have a lifetime to spend with him,” he replied, “and if you want him as safe as you claim, you need to listen to me.”

“Okay, I’ll just check in on him. It should only be an hour.”

“You have ten minutes,” he replied. “After that, I shall send Xanthus.”

“I don’t know why you still employ him,” I sighed. I turned off the car and got out. “He’s really crude sometimes.”

“Go to your lover, Emory,” my grandfather insisted. “We shall talk when you are done there.”

The call ended, and I shook my head. Grandfather still acted like a well-respected nobleman of ages past, which could be trying sometimes. I suppose I should have been grateful that he was so patient with me, but I was still frustrated that I had no say in what he had me involved with.

Justin ran outside to greet me; he must have been watching through the dining room window ever since my shift ended. He leaped into my arms and clung on as though for dear life.

“Blackthorne, get me out of here!” he cried, on the verge of tears.

“Little Moon,” I said as I wrapped my jacket around him and rubbed his back, “what happened?”

“Today was terrible!” he groaned.

“Tell me everything, sweet prince.”

“Aunt Julia made me pull weeds instead of letting me read! And she made me do that math paper the bullies had stolen from me, and then extra math after that.”

“I’m sorry she didn’t understand how painful those memories are,” I murmured. Why in the world was his aunt being so strict after what he’d been through?

“Then I fell asleep instead of eating lunch, and she called my mom and got me yelled at.”

I kissed the top of his head and held him closer. “That’s not really the best way to handle you not eating, is it? But why wouldn’t you eat?”

“It was soup,” he grumbled.

Well, that explained it; Justin hated soup of all flavors and varieties. He wouldn’t even eat ramen, though I could hardly blame him, as the only kind he’d ever tried were the plain, salty American brands. I’d tried inviting him to join my parents for dinner at an authentic ramen restaurant, but he was unwilling to try.

“I’d tell them not to make you eat it if I had any control,” I told him, “but since I can’t, will you at least try to keep your strength up?”

“I don’t wanna live in Cody anymore,” Justin whimpered into my chest.

“I know,” I whispered. By all the gods, I knew, and knowing broke my heart. “Oh, my sweet Little Moon…”

“Can I come with you?” he asked in a voice so small that I hardly heard him.

“My dearest prince…” I replied. I cupped his cheeks and looked down into the most beautiful brown eyes imaginable. Why today of all days? “You know I would take you anywhere in the universe if I could.”

“Why are you saying it like that?” His voice was trembling, his eyes red with tears. “Do you…”

“Please don’t cry, Little Moon. Your mother will be furious if I take you away right now.” And this couldn’t be how he ended up meeting my grandfather.

“I’ll do my schoolwork at your place,” he begged.

“I know you’d intend to, sweet prince, but you also know that I cannot make you do it if it pains you.”

“Being here pains me,” he grumbled.

“I know.” I kissed the top of his head again. “Give me some time, and I’ll try to find a way to prove to her that I can look after you.”

He shook his head and looked about ready to collapse into tears. “You’re not going to take me with you, are you?”

Looking into his eyes, I wanted to cry, too. I never, ever wanted to upset him; I’d have given him the moon if I could. “Not today,” I whispered.

“No,” he groaned, burying his face in my chest. “No, no, no, no, no. I’m not– Blackthorne, I can’t–”

“You can,” I insisted. “I need you to be brave, Little Moon.”

“But… please…”

“Just a little longer,” I whispered, rubbing his back.

“B… Blackthorne,” he murmured.

He clung to my shirt as tightly as he could, but it seemed like that wasn’t enough to keep him upright. His legs gave out under him, and I had to catch him before he collapsed onto the ground. I lifted him into my arms, one behind his knees, the other near his upper back; he was as light as a feather.

“Did you even eat breakfast, Little Moon?” I asked him as I carried him back into the house.

He wrapped an arm weakly around my neck. “I think… some cereal,” he breathed.

That couldn’t have been enough; I would have to find a way for his family to offer him better food, and for him to eat even when I wasn’t around. None of us wanted him to end up in a hospital, and I could pretty much guarantee that he wouldn’t get any better in one. For now, all I could do was carry him upstairs and lay him in his bed.

“You keep pampering him like that,” a voice said behind me as I pulled the blanket over him, “and he’ll never get stronger.”

I looked up at her. I wanted so badly to tell her that some people aren’t as strong as others, that even if he did become a little hardier, he may never be as unbreakable as others appeared to be. She would take it as disrespect, though, and I couldn’t risk that. So I just nodded to her instead.

“I… I think he’s getting sick. He feels a little hot.”

She sighed. “Probably from crying about everything. Well, no use fighting with him now. My sister can check on him when she gets home.”

She was partly right, I thought. I was no med student, but I could tell that his depression wasn’t doing his immune system any favors, especially with the extra stress. There was encouragement, and then there was making him toil; was there really a reason he had to trudge along the hardest path?

I turned back to Justin as soon as his aunt left to return to the dining room. He squeezed my hand and looked up at me through hooded eyes.

“I love you,” he whispered.

“I know you do, Little Moon.”

“And you love me,” he added, his voice wispy and delicate. “I can feel it.”

“You’re right, sweet prince,” I agreed. “I love you more than words can say. You warm my days like the sun, and you light up my nights like the moon.”

Justin flushed and gave me a weak smile. “It’s in your eyes, too. They shine like silver whenever you look at me.”

“You look at me in the same way, you know.”

“Will you stay?” he asked me. “I never want to stop looking at you.”

“That’s very tempting, Little Moon, but you need to sleep, and I’ve stayed too long already.”

“Can I at least have a kiss before you go?”

He knew I couldn’t say no to that. He knew my lips would be locked with his in an instant, and that I would let him devour me until I was desperately tempted to give him everything. Justin tasted so perfect, so delicate and sweet, and he knew I would seek more of his taste.

“I’m not strong, you know,” he murmured when we parted. “I can’t be like you no matter how much they wish I was.”

“You don’t have to be, Little Moon,” I assured him. “All you have to do is try your best. Now close your eyes and sleep.”

“But…”

Justin’s protest was interrupted by a long, drawn-out yawn. I tucked his blanket close around him and rubbed his back slowly as I hummed a song my mother used to sing to me.

“Mmmmm…” he murmured, “…like that.”

“Sssshhhh. Just rest, Little Moon.”

If I’d had a hand free, I might have checked the time on my phone. It was just as well; I knew I didn’t have long before Grandfather sent Xanthus to pry me away from Justin. I also understood that he knew I wouldn’t want to explain who Xanthus was– not to anyone, least of all Justin. I sighed and resigned myself to the idea that it would either be that, or the other thing I’d planned on never doing: using influence and suggestion to overcome any resistance Justin put up. He trusted me enough that he wouldn’t know the difference, but I would know, and I wasn’t proud of myself.

He was asleep within just a couple minutes, breathing as peacefully as a baby. I kissed his temple lightly and whispered into his ear before I left, closing the bedroom door behind me. I bade Justin’s aunt a brief farewell, and hardly a minute later I was on the road back to my temporary home.

Once I was in the driveway, I acted as calmly as I could so as to not alert the landlord that anything was going on. The guest house was dark when I slipped inside. I locked the door and hung up my keys and jacket before turning towards the rest of the room.

“Ah, dearest Emory!” a voice called while I waited for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. “I told Xanthus that you would be along shortly. He was eager to meet the beautiful young man who’s moved your heart so well, but I managed to convince him to give you a few more minutes.”

‘Convince’ was no better a word for what he’d probably done than it was for how I’d gotten Justin to fall asleep so quickly. Still, this was not the man to argue semantics with.

“As grateful as I am for that, could you explain why you are sitting on my bed?”

“Well, I knew you wouldn’t want Xanthus to sit here,” my grandfather replied. “And while Matthias doesn’t have the same musk as my satyr ally, you would not want him in a place so personal as this.”

As I walked further in, I saw Matthias craning his head around to look up at me, his smooth brown hair pulled back tightly, as it usually was, and tied with a pale blue ribbon. He was lounging in my recliner, his booted feet propped up and looking as comfortable as I should have been just then. I gave him only the briefest nod. Xanthus, meanwhile, was in one of the tall chairs near the kitchen counter.

“So you came with the satyr,” I sighed, “and didn’t have him or Matthias dress for the location?”

“Let that show how well I trusted you to keep your commitment to meet with me,” my grandfather replied.

I shrugged; he may have had a point there. He wouldn’t risk Xanthus being seen as he truly was– with his curling horns and goat-like eyes– if he actually needed to send him after me. Matthias couldn’t be out in the daylight, and if Grandfather had thought that he might need to search for me at night, he’d have had him dress more like other people in the area, making him forego the ruffled white shirt and blue long-coat. His boots were like something out of a pirate movie and couldn’t have passed for any sort of fashion statement, especially with the navy-blue breeches he had on.

“How do you live like this,” Matthias asked, gesturing around the guest house, “when Lord Thorne has offered you an entire tower to yourself? Even my chambers back at the castle are larger than this.”

“I will not be kept and controlled like Rapunzel,” I snarled back. “Get out of my chair.”

Matthias moved languidly to pull the lever that would put the leg rest back down then stood up and smiled at me. “Your hair certainly is as long as hers.”

I rolled my eyes and shook my head. “You’re an idiot.”

The fact was, Matthias had a ponytail of his own; not nearly as long as mine, and his had curls and waves that reminded me of eighteenth-century paintings.

“Matthias,” my grandfather said, “if you incite Emory, I shall be forced to relieve you of your duties.”

“But–“

Grandfather raised his palm. “Enough. His refusal of my offers does not give you leave to disrespect him.”

“They don’t need to be here, do they?” I asked, ignoring Matthias and his weak attempt at an apology. “There’s no reason for this meeting to be a headache.”

Grandfather looked from Matthias to Xanthus, then to me. “Very well. The both of you are dismissed.”

Xanthus got down from his chair and bowed low before my grandfather. “As you wish, my lord.”

“Lord Thorne–”

“Do not try me, Matthias!” he snapped, getting to his feet. He rose up to his full height, straight and tall– several inches taller than me, in fact. “Do not make me regret giving you my blessing in taking a fledgling.”

Those words had Matthias kneeling in an instant. “I’m sorry, Master,” he whimpered. “I… I was…”

“Don’t try thinking up an excuse now. Go back to the castle and look after her. I can manage myself here alone.”

Grandfather made a simple gesture in the direction of the bathroom. It had been dark there before, but now it was absolute pitch blackness. Matthias rose and made his way to the shadows without turning his back to my grandfather, then bowed before disappearing through it. Xanthus followed him, ducking his head a little to keep from hitting it on the door frame. Once they were out of sight, Grandfather waved away the blackness, and the shadows returned to normal.

“It’s good to see you again, Emory,” he said, holding his arms open to offer an embrace.

I pursed my lips nervously, avoiding his gaze.

“I am here to help you,” he reminded me. “Of all the times I’ve come to you, have I not always helped you?”

I nodded, faint though the movement was. As much as I’d tried avoiding the reality of who he was and what that meant for my own life, I had to accept his guidance. Even if Justin managed to avoid the bullies in Cody, there could be other situations where I’d have to protect him, and I had to be prepared. I found myself letting my thoughts wander so much that I didn’t notice him approaching, and very soon his arms were wrapped around me.

“You’ve grown since I last saw you, Emory,” he said as we embraced. “You are stronger and taller.”

“It’s from work; I hardly even have to lift weights anymore,” I told him. Then I noticed the tall, dark bottle on the kitchen counter. “You brought wine?”

“Indeed, I’d hoped that you would celebrate with me. A baby girl was born to me last night.”

“A…” I looked up into his face; he did look more tired than usual. “Oh… It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”

He nodded and went to the kitchen to pour two glasses of wine. “Yes… after what your father did, I decided to slow down quite a lot. I have to be able to check in on my children and ensure their wellness.”

I looked down at the glass he offered me and sighed.

“Please, Emory. Let me tell you about her, and you may tell me about your beloved.”

I accepted the glass from him, and then he slid his phone over to me with a picture album pulled up. Grandfather rarely used technology, but when he was here, he couldn’t avoid it; he needed to be able to fit in, and he couldn’t let one of his eccentricities be that he wouldn’t use electronics. In his words, being eternal came with the need to also be adaptable. I took my time swiping through the images of the newborn and her mother.

“Where do they live?” I asked.

“Quebec,” he told me. “In the city of Saguenay. Her name is Lirabelle.”

“She’s a pretty baby,” I said as I passed the phone back to him.

He set it aside and grasped my hand. “Tell me what is on your mind, Emory. I can tell that there is a lot.”

I turned around and walked over to my bed, then set the wine glass on the night stand while I sat on the edge and started removing my boots. “It’s you, I sighed. Everything about you. I can hardly decide whether to say that I never want to see you again, or just take the plunge and fully accept your world.”

Grandfather took a seat in my armchair and sipped his wine. Though it seemed that he hadn’t slept much the night before, he appeared young and noble and virile. He had all the features a woman could want in her lover’s face, and it was no wonder it was so easy for him to keep his bloodline growing.

When he was in his own home, his hair was long– impossibly long, according to my memory– and shone like silver, but here, it was the color of dark chocolate and usually did not go much lower than his shoulders; I think it depended on the sort of woman he was hoping to attract. His deep crimson eyes sometimes looked more hazel when he was here, though my mother and I had always known them to be steel gray, like my father’s.

And my own, I reminded myself. I hated having so many of my father’s features, and I didn’t care that he got them from his own father; I didn’t like having any reminders of the monster.

“You are young still,” grandfather said, “and of all my living descendants, you have the most potential.”

I made myself comfortable on the bed and met his eyes. “You want me to be proud of that, but I don’t think I want the same things you do.”

He sipped his wine slowly. “Perhaps not in the narrowest of terms, Emory, but think of it more broadly: I want to make my bloodline strong and keep it safe, and you’ve found the love of your life.”

“You talk like you think he’s my soul-mate.”

“If you mean the term loosely,” he replied thoughtfully, “then yes. You disrupted your plans and came all the way here for him. You called upon the shadows and used your intimidation to protect him.”

I met his gaze evenly. “That’s just the problem. I…” I sighed and looked away. “Grandfather, what you told me years ago… If I over-extend my abilities, is it really possible for me to let monsters into the world? Or to collapse structures?”

Grandfather took a long drink from his glass, then got up to refill it. “Yes,” he said when he sat down. “If you were pushed hard enough, and if you pushed back even harder– and without any proper training– you could unleash such power. But your mind is stronger than your father’s was, and I don’t think you’d let yourself get to such a point.”

That was as much relief as I was going to get from him, I suppose.

“Unless, of course, the love of your life was threatened.”

I gasped, and he shared a look of understanding with me.

“But I know you won’t abandon him just to avoid what being a part of my bloodline has given you. Neither would you avoid me if it meant wrecking havoc on his life. You need him to be safe, but you also need to be with him.”

“And what about when you insist that I come to live with you?”

“I would never force you, Emory,” he replied, keeping his voice gentle and even. “I think it would suit you well, but if you choose to only live the mortal life laid out before you, I will not act against your will.”

“Grandfather… Since coming here…” I wiped my hand over my face and shook my head.

“Life has changed?” he finished for me. “As it so often does.”

“He told me he loves me,” I whispered.

“So the last barrier between you and the greatest possible love has been broken down,” he noted. “Are you going to turn away from him once he is back on his feet?”

“I don’t think there is such a thing as that without me in his life. But also… I can’t imagine a life without him. I haven’t even started college yet, and suddenly he went from being my best friend, who has a boyfriend, and who moved away, to being…” I fought for another word, but my head was spinning, and all I could choose was, “my soul mate.”

“You almost sound as though you don’t want to be in love.”

“Like this?” I gasped. “Drowning in thoughts of him and summoning shadows in a grocery store to scare off his bullies? I feel as though I’ll be consumed, one way or another.”

Grandfather nodded. “That is love,” he said. “I’ve fallen into it more times than I can count. I have more descendants than you can imagine, and only some of them still bear my name. You, my dearest grandson, have a powerful and singular love, and all the ability and willpower to harness it. You are the brightest of my stars, and I promise you that I would never ask you to extinguish that love.”

I stared at him for a moment before burying my face in my hands.

“You have from now until the end of your lives to decide whether to join me, Emory, and in all that time, I will never stop being there for you and your beloved.”

“You sound so sure of my being with him for the rest of my life,” I murmured.

He paused for a moment to think. “Tell me why you’re so hesitant to accept that idea.”

“Because I’m not so sure I can protect him and give him the life he deserves.”

“I am here to teach you so that he shall always be safe with you.”

I shook my head. “I know… and I’m grateful for that…”

“Then what else is troubling you?”

I let out a heavy sigh. “I don’t want what happened to my father to happen to me.”

That seemed to be when he realized why I was holding back so much. “Do you truly think that you could ever be like your father?”

I tried to meet his eyes, but mine were blurred by tears. I felt him come to my side more than saw or heard him. My grandfather wrapped me in his embrace, shrouding me from the world and all the pain therein. I breathed deeply of his scent; the scent that had held me as a baby, that had comforted me when my father hurt me and was taken away. There were so many memories, so many times when my grandfather had been there and kept the darkness from closing in on me.

Beneath the ancient wine and the rich leather was the scent of orchids. And then there were cloves and parchment, amber, vetiver, bergamot, smoke… and iron. Iron and copper, really. He was never without that scent, and I knew why; he needed it, could not be separated from it, no matter how strong his control was.

That is to say, my grandfather smelled of blood. So much so that if I scraped my knee or had a nosebleed, memories of him would float through my mind. It was the same if I was sweating while working with metal; the iron would trigger that connection. And when my father hurt me… It was so hard to separate the blood my father had shed when he was out of his mind from the blood my grandfather needed in order to live, in order to continue to be there for me– for all of his vast family, really.

“You could never hurt the ones you love,” he whispered as he rocked ever-so-slightly. “You could never stop loving someone to the point where you could hurt them. You’ve grown up to be the man I wanted your father to be. You are noble and strong, and you live with a sense of love and purpose. You are a treasure, Emory. I only wish I’d known sooner that your father was unwell.”

I still couldn’t talk. I must have been sobbing, completely overwhelmed by emotions from the past few weeks. All I could do was cling to him as Justin had clung to me, and breathe in my grandfather’s comforting scent. It occurred to me then that this might have been why I’d fallen so deeply into gothic culture; it had many of the same scents, it emulated the images and attitudes of my greatest comfort and the closest thing I’d ever personally had to a hero in my life.

“Do you remember that your mother let me choose your name?” he murmured as he held me. “I’m sure I’ve told you so many times before.”

I nodded weakly.

“It means strong and courageous,” he went on, “and you always have been. I tried so hard to cultivate that in your father… Emory, I’m so sorry he ever hurt you. I cannot tell you how many nights I’ve wished you were my son instead of his. You were the one good thing he ever brought into this world, and I see you working to pass your goodness on to others.”

We sad quietly for a while, me trying to calm down enough to talk, and him patiently holding me and rocking me.

“I won’t let anyone in my bloodline cause that kind of harm ever again; we are a brave and noble line, and your father was never worthy of bearing the Thorne name.”

“I believe you,” I replied, suddenly feeling very weak, “but right now, all I can think about is keeping Justin safe.”

“I will ensure that you can do exactly that,” my grandfather replied. “We can begin at sunset. For now, relax here.”

“Are– Where are you going?” I asked him when he stood up and formed another shadow portal.

“To check on my daughter,” he replied, “and make sure the nurses are keeping her mother fed and letting her sleep. I shall be back in time to teach you a good many things, Emory; that I promise you.”

About Legends of Lorata

Eleanor Willow is the author of the high fantasy series Legends of Lorata, which takes place on a medieval-style world filled with elves, dragons, and faeries. There is also a fourth race, one that is rare and magical: the angelic Starr. Lorata is a distant planet watched over by four deities: good, evil, elemental, and celestial-- and there are plenty of legends about them all! One of the most important ones is the prophecy of Jenh's champion, Loracaz, who is promised to return to the realm whenever evil threatens to take hold. There are currently three books completed, and the first one can be read online. Book four is currently being written, and a fifth will most likely be in the future.
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