Freedom of Choice

By

Anessa Ramsey

Disclaimer:  I own nothing.  Everything belongs to L.J. Smith. 

Summary:  Takes place 5 years after 'The Kill', book three in the Forbidden game trilogy.  Jenny Thornton makes a shocking decision.  Read and Review!  No flames!

         It's been five years since the end of the game.  Five years since my world changed forever.  Julian changed it.  For so long I'd been content with my role in life.  I was Tom's girlfriend and all around good girl.  Everyone knew me as that.  I never thought about the fact that there should be more to life than following his path.  I always assumed that his roads in life were mine as well. 

         Julian was the first person to challenge that theory.  He wanted me for reasons that, to this day, I'm not sure I completely understand.  I know that I was light where he was shadow.  That was a given.  He was a Shadow Man.  It was more than that though.  I didn't see it at first, I didn't even see it at the end, but there was something about him, I guess you could call it his humanity.  The things he wanted for himself were such human desires…the need for love, companionship, laughter, light…that's what drove him to do what he did.  He saw all those qualities in me.

         He's been gone for five years.  He faded away right before my eyes.  All I have left is the ring.  Once it bound me to him.  All I refuse and thee I choose.  I hated those words…hated that ring when I made the deal with him.  I didn't want him.  I wanted out of the game and him out of my life, out of my friends lives.  He terrorized us.  We all nearly died because of his games. 

         I used to deny that I was attracted to him.  I didn't want to be, especially when he was playing with us.  Then the final game happened and I made the mistake of freeing my grandfather from the obscene hold the other Shadow Men had over him.  They demanded my life in exchange.  It was only fitting.  I was the one they'd wanted all along, even when I was five and my grandfather sacrificed himself to them so I could live.  Julian stopped them. 

         In that moment he redeemed himself.  He gave up his existence.  They carved his name out of the runestave.  Even then they tried to catch us.  We made it through the door into what used to be my grandparents old basement and closed the gateway between the realms before they could. 

Julian freed me that day.  Not just from himself, but from the constraints that had bound my life.  The ring was no longer a bind to him.  It was a release.  I am my only master. 

         Tom and I tried to make it work after we got home, but everything was different.  I was different.  For the first time I knew I had all the choices in the world.  I could do as I pleased.  I was my only master.  So we parted as friends and I made my own path.  I went to college far from home and earned my teaching degree.  I always loved children.  But my life has been lacking something since that day.  Julian.  When he released me he made me realize that I wanted to be with him.  I loved him.  Somewhere in the middle of all the sarcasm and trickery and games, I fell in love with the man he was. 

         I still dream of his hair, white blond and falling into his eyes of blue.  No, not blue.  That's too plain of a word to describe their color.  They were the color of dark sapphires, blazing and glowing with azure fire.  They were magnetic and compelling, yet vulnerable, glittering with raw hurt when I turned him away.  Everything he felt showed in them.  I long to gaze into them again, just to see the love he felt for me once more.  I always see him in my dreams.  He's always there, wearing the black leather that he wore in the More Games store.  That was my favorite look on him.  Maybe that's why I've come to the point where I am now.  Maybe that's why I wrote the letters that I mailed yesterday.  So that my friends know that I'm doing this willingly.  Dee will be angry, Michael, Audrey, and Summer afraid.  Zack with be as he always is, angry inside, but he will not let it show.  Tom is the only one who will truly understand. 

         I'm standing in front of the door the knife in my hand.  I'm going into the Shadow World.  I don't know if I'll be back.  They won't make it easy for me.  I have to try though.  I need to bring him back.  So I'm going to make a deal.  I will succeed.  His name will be carved back into the runestave and he'll exist again.  I told him I'd dream him into a good dream, and for a while I did.  I can't do it any longer.  Dreams are not enough.  Bracing myself I carve the runes and adorn them in blood.  The door is opening and yet I'm not afraid.  I should be.  They're vicious…animals, tricksters.  But I'm not the same girl that went up against them before.  I am strong and I know what I want.  They'll not have me and I will win whatever game they throw at me.  I will get Julian back.  I have to.  Once he bound me to him and I resented it.  With his passing he freed me and I became strong.  My freedom is what allows me to make this choice. 

         The door is open and I can see their eyes.  They are waiting and they are hungry.  I walk into the cold, icy realm with one though in my mind.  'I'm coming for you, Julian, and I'm not going to lose.  I won't leave without you.'  It's all I need to go forward and I am filled with hope.