Hello, world! What? I've been gone seven months, you say? You had given up on me? Well, I'm back darlings! What? You're angry with me? What if I give you all cupcakes? Anyways, I know this is out of order but I figure seventh months is long enough to start the order over from the beginning. Also, I'm officially in high school! Congrats to me! I had more to say, but I don't quite remember what that was. So I guess I'll meet you all at the end. Read On!
Chapter 18: Met
Kalona felt the familiar pull, the draw of his soul towards an eleven year old girl who by all rights he should not be able to go near. So he breathed, a slow inhale and as he exhaled his soul left his body and into the dreams of Layla Stark. He smiled at her.
"Hello, Layla. What can I do for you?" He felt a tremor of shock run through him even as he said it. Since when did he care what people wanted of him? She smiled back at him. Then she shook her head.
"I do have a favor to ask of you."
"I'm sorry," she said.
"Layla, what is it?" He felt his heart pump faster as he realized this might be her saying goodbye. This girl who had changed him so much might be leaving him.
"They want to meet you." Kalona felt a breath of relief through his entire body.
"Who is they?" he asked, barely managing to keep the relief out of his voice.
"Joi, Cassidy, and Kalleb. They don't trust you," she said apologetically. "They just want me to be safe." Kalona took a second to breathe, to tame the beast that was the anger in the pit of his stomach. He knew Layla better than them all and they dared not to trust him with her safety, to have the audacity to request his presence. But saying so would upset Layla. "Kalona?" she said after he didn't respond.
"And where would this meeting take place?" She grinned up at him and hugged him, hearing the defeat in his voice.
"We haven't decided yet," she said as she fingered the feather around her neck. "I'll call you there, okay?" He nodded at her. "Thank you."
"Of course, Layla." She backed away from him and sat on the ground. They weren't anywhere really. The dream had set to default mode so everything around them was white. Kalona snapped his fingers and the world came into being around them. They were in a forest, next to a giant tree with strands of cloth hanging from it.
"Where are we?" Layla asked in awe.
"We are in Nyx's realm," he said, simultaneously feeling joy and a deep pain at being so close to even a figment of his home.
"Are you sad?" she asked quietly.
"Yes, I am sad," he said. "This is my home and I may never return to it. But at the same time it makes me happy to be here. It's so… peaceful." She nodded at him. He turned to smile at her when he felt it- the pull in his gut that meant his body was waking up and he would have to go. "I have to leave for now. Goodbye, Layla." With that he, and the dream, evaporated.
She woke up not long after that, the sun having fully left the sky as the vampyre day began. She smelled bacon frying in the kitchen and decided maybe it was a good time to get out of bed. She went over and hit Joi in the head with a pillow.
"Wake up," she said. "Mom's making breakfast." Joi groaned and yawned but sat up.
"What time is it?" she said, the words riding on another yawn.
"Past time to be up. Mom let us sleep in." Joi nodded and together they walked into the living room.
"Morning, girls," their father said. He was drinking out of a coffee mug, likely filled with blood. Layla understood it was natural and that eventually it would be normal for her, but right now the idea was disgusting. Their mother was in the kitchen humming a song and frying bacon. Joi ran to grab a piece. Layla laid down on the couch and closed her eyes for a second. She began to drift off, so she didn't even hear her dad get up and walk over to her.
"Daddy!" she screeched when he tickled her.
"Wake up!" he laughed. So she opened her eyes and she ate breakfast and almost forgot what was going to happen later- Kal, Cass, and Jo were going to meet Kalona. When they were done, she and Joi went back to their room.
"We need to call Kal and Cass," she told her twin. Joi nodded and called the other set of twins.
"Is that a yes?" Cassidy asked.
"Yes," Layla said. "Where should we go?"
"We can go to GG's house," Joi said. Her lavender farm is huge and she won't know we're there."
"How will we get there, genius?" Cassidy asked.
"Oh, well, umm…" Joi stuttered. Cassidy sighed.
"I can carry Joi while I fly," Kalleb said Cass and Layla snickered. He ignored them and continued saying, "and Layla can, like, manipulate the wind to carry her and Cass." Joi looked at Layla and raised an eyebrow.
"That could work. At seven thirty, then?"
"Sure," Cass said. "You guys can sleep over here. It's easier to sneak out of tunnels than your house."
"It's a date then," Joi said.
(7:30) Kalleb (In the tunnels)
"Are you ready, Joi?" She was in his arms, arms around his neck, their faces closer than ever before… well, almost ever before. His breathing came quick, and his heart beat fast. Kalleb was beginning to wonder if this was his best idea ever. He had wanted to be close to her, but… it was messing with his focus.
"Yeah," she said, zapping him out of his mind. So with a powerful beat of his wings he took to the sky. Joi squealed and tucked her face into his chest. Kalleb's heart skipped a beat. He personally loved the feeling of being high off the ground. The air was cooler and with the wind in his face all his worries and troubles flew away. He was just himself up here.
"You alright, Jo?" he asked.
"Just…" she said, breathing heavily. "Just a little afraid of heights." So he placed one hand over hers on his neck. With the other he stroked her hair. "Talk to me, please," she said softly. He was a bit shocked at her vulnerability, but he obliged. He told her stories his father had told him, old Cherokee ones he knew she'd probably heard from Grandma Redbird anyways. He told her jokes that made her laugh. There was something else he wanted to tell her but held back. Eventually he ran out of things to say.
"You're beautiful," he said. It just sort of slipped out of his mouth. He felt her shudder. He was about to apologize when she spoke.
"I am?" she said? He nodded tightly, then realized she still had her face against his chest.
"Yeah," he said quietly. They were silent for a while then.
"You know I like you, right?" she said very quietly.
"I had hoped," he whispered back. She tilted her face up and he leaned his down. Their faces were so close.
"We're here," Cassidy shouted over from where the other two rode on winds that Layla had created, snapping them out of their trance. The were drifted down and Kalleb brought them down.
"So how does this work?" Kalleb asked, his voice a little hoarse. Cassidy raised an eyebrow but stayed silent. As she had in the dream, Layla fingered the feather that hung around her neck.
"He gave me this to call him with." She closed her eyes. "Kalona, I need you to come to me. We're all out at GG's lavender farm. Please?" Layla opened her eyes.
"What now?" Joi said.
"Now," she said, sitting down, "we wait.
He heard the words echo through his mind. "Kalona, I need you to come to me. We're all out at GG's lavender farm. Please?" He heard the sound of Neferet walking towards their bedroom and heard the whispers of the Darkness that surrounded her. Without hesitating a second, he flew off the balcony and out, out to where he'd been summoned.
From high above, she heard the rustle of wings, as though a giant bird was descending upon them. A man landed in front of them. He was tall, with dark hair that hung to his shoulders in wave. His skin perfectly tanned and his eyes were the color of amber. He was shirtless and wore only jeans. The man's eyes darted around as though assessing the situation before resting on Layla.
"Hello, Layla," he said in a voice that was deep and rumbled like thunder. She grinned and she saw her face light up like a firework.
"You came!" she said and ran to meet him. She hugged him and he hugged her back. Finally, he turned to face them all. Layla stayed by his side. He smiled and Cassidy swore the area around him got brighter.
"Hello, children. I'm Kalona. Surely you've heard of me?" Layla elbowed him and he laughed.
"I'm Cassidy," Cassidy said, the first one to speak. "This is my brother, Kalleb, and that is Layla's sister Joi." She managed a small smile. "And yes, we've all heard of you."
"Nice to meet all of you," he said and took a seat and they all followed suit. Kalleb's wings fluttered restlessly- and that's when it hit her. This man was her grandfather. This was the man who had raised her father.
"Our parents aren't very fond of you," Joi said with a defiant flip of her hair and a glint in her eyes daring him to challenge her. Kalona only laughed.
"You remind me very much of your father," he said. He turned to look at Cassidy and her brother then. "Tell me then, children of my son, how is he?"
"Fine," Kalleb said curtly.
"You look very much like him," Kalona said. Kalleb didn't respond. The immortal sighed. "What is it you want of me children?" None of them answered.
"They just wanted to know that they could trust you, I guess," Layla said. Kalona sighed.
"And how do I prove that?" Layla shrugged.
"Children," he said. "I do not pretend to be anything other than I am not. I have done terrible things and there is a good possibility I will do terrible things again. These are not things I deny. I am who I am and you all are who you are. Layla has deemed me trustworthy beyond these things. I don't know whether that is a good decision or not and I'm not trying to sway you either direction. Make your decisions based on that, not on your parents' decisions and not on the stories they tell or even what Layla tells you. Do you understand me children?" Cassidy heaved a sigh.
"I think maybe you care a bit about what we think otherwise you wouldn't have made that speech," she said. Kalona opened his mouth but Cassidy cut him off. "No, don't object. I'm not saying you actually care about us. Of course you don't. Who are we to you? But what this does tell me is that you do care about Layla- and that's enough for me. I give."
"Ditto," Joi said. They all looked at Kalleb. It was all or nothing. Either all four of them were in or none of them were.
"I still don't like it," Kal said. "But I give." Kalona nodded at them all.
"Then, I take my leave of you children. I presume that I will eventually see you again." He kissed the top of Layla's head. "I'll see you the next time you call me." Then he took off. Cassidy took note of the certainty in his voice. Not that he'd try to come, but that he would come. He would be there when she called, no matter what. Right then, something in her gut told her she'd made the right decision.
Layla yawned and, as if this wasn't an event that had possibly irrevocably changed the course of her life, said, "Can we go home now?"
So that's it. It was a pretty long chapter, not that that makes up for seven months. I really am very sorry, I didn't realize it had been that long. So, review and tell me how it feels to have me back. I'll really try to update more from now on- but then again, I've said that before. I'm in IB and I just have so much homework and ugh. I love all you guys and thank you to all of you who have waited for me. I love you all so so much and, best case scenario, I'll see you in three weeks because the schedule for what I post is resuming. With Glee and TFIOS feels killing me simultaneously, StevieRae2011, signing off!