David veered off the gravel road and rolled to a stop at the edge of the wood. The bright gibbous moon hung high, painting the field silver. There was no one in sight.
“I thought you said they’d be at Spencer Hill,” said Olivia, peering over the tops of the trees toward the iconic mound rising above the landscape.
“We’ve beaten them here.”
He shoved the car in park and jumped out. Olivia met him on the driver’s side. He held out his hand, desperation tightening the lines of his face. No matter that she was doubting her own sanity, she knew David well enough to understand that this was real. Real fear. Real danger. She let him guide her into the dense woods surrounding Spencer Hill, her intuition urging her on.
“How do you know they’re not already here?” she whispered.
He glanced back, his eyes sparking molten gold. More proof that she’d stepped into a supernatural world she hadn’t known existed a half an hour ago.
“Spencer Hill is the extraction point. They’ll take Mazie from here as fast as they can. If Mazie was no longer in this world, I’d sense that she was gone.” He paused in a pool of moonlight and gazed upward. His throat worked as he swallowed hard, his heart in his voice. “She’s still here.”
Olivia gripped his hand tighter and edged closer. “You can sense her?”
“Yes.” He lowered his gaze, drinking her in. “As I can sense you, Liv. As I’ve always sensed you. Felt you.”
It was Olivia’s turn to swallow hard. His words sparked a memory of their first kiss. Standing in the parking lot after a football game, they laughed about their panther mascot and the opposing team’s tiger breaking out into a furry fist-fight. David walked her to the passenger side of the car and leaned close from behind to open the door. Olivia didn’t move to give him space. She wanted him even closer. She covered his hand with her own still on the door handle. He froze then pressed his lips to the curve of her bare neck, her hair up in a ponytail. She tilted her head to the side, encouraging him. Hands on her waist, he twisted her around and pressed her body into the car with his own. A surreal moment stretched where nothing mattered but him and her and this undeniable attraction blazing like wildfire between them.
“Do you feel it?” he asked, leaning closer, their breaths coming faster.
She nodded. “Yes.” The energy buzzing between them felt unnatural…perhaps supernatural. When his lips found hers, tasting with gentle sweetness then melting into fevered desire, when he slid his tongue along hers with a deep moan, she knew he was the one. The one who’d take her heart and break it if he ever left, the one who’d ruin her for any other man.
And so he had.
Snapping back to the present, she stared up at the beautiful man who’d haunted her dreams, her nightmares, and had destroyed any chance of her loving another.
He pulled her closer and pressed their clasped hands to his chest. “Do you feel it, Liv?” His words echoed from the past.
With the fresh sting of her old heartbreak aching anew, she wanted to jerk her hand free and slap him hard for the pain he’d etched so deep. Something stopped her. A vibration of energy throbbed in her chest, or was it coming from David? Her skin tingled, the hair on her neck stood on end, her heart raced at the hum coursing through her body. Her chest rose and fell in rapid succession as a pulsing energy swelled and surrounded them.
“Is that you…or me?”
“Both of us.” His voice dropped low and deep.
He pressed so close, their clasped hands were trapped between their chests. Olivia couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t dare look away as David lowered his head and swept his lips once across hers.
“We belong together,” he whispered, grazing her mouth. “We always have.”
He lingered, waiting for her acceptance. Or her rejection. She could’ve spurned him. She could’ve pushed him away and hurt him as he’d hurt her, gaining some small satisfaction in revenge of the coldest kind. But that wasn’t who she was. A deep knowing resonated in the air. This moment was about more than their past or their future together. There was only one course to take. She gave a single nod.
David released her hand, sliding his own to the small of her back and pulled her closer. He combed the other into her hair, holding her like his life depended on it. He angled his lips against hers, coaxing them apart. Gentle and soft.
A slow burn radiated in her chest. She pulled away on a gasp. His eyes flashed with unnatural luster. Then he smiled.
“What?” she asked, half-drunk from their brief kiss.
“What about them?”
“Your inner light has finally ignited. As I’d hoped.”
“What does that mean?” she asked, still panting.
“Your powers are awakening.”
Unable to process all that she’d learned in such a short time, she somehow believed every word. A bone-deep knowing told her this was true.
“My eyes are gold like yours?”
“No. Brilliant sapphire.” He swept a lock of hair away that had fallen across her forehead. “So beautiful. I’ve heard of your kind and the beauty of your inner light for so long, but I thought I’d never see it for myself.”
Confused, Olivia frowned. “I don’t understand. I thought we were the same kind. You said I was like you.”
David’s expression softened. “We are from the same world, Liv. But I am Aldorian. You are a Lumeri.” He shook his head, smiling, even while his brow pinched together into a frown. “You’re not just any Lumeri. You’re the daughter of Darion, the leader of the rebels.”
“What! The ones who took Mazie?”
A twig snapped behind them. David pulled her back into the shadows.
“Shh. They’re here.”