It was warmer up the hill than it had been the week before, but I was still glad to have clothes on this time. I knew I had nothing to be ashamed of, but I was not going to form any kind of flashy, exhibitionist habits. Show off I was not.
Unsure of when the prince was turning up, I sat down on the side of the hill to wait, hoping he wouldn't be too long. After a few minutes and no sign of him, the anticipation had built to breaking point and I knew I had to occupy myself before I burst. I lay back and started to hum, loud enough to use up my extra energy but not so loud as to have my voice carry and attract unwanted attention. Gradually my humming turned into words, until I was softly singing under my breath, not even thinking about the song that had crept into my subconscious.
"We booked our flights those years ago
I said I loved you as I left you.
Regrets still haunt my hollow head
I promised you that I will see you again."
It wasn't until the last line left my lips that I realised what I'd been singing. It was a song which Gabriel had put me on to the week beforehand; I'd only listened to half of it before hitting pause, unable to stomach the lyrics that reminded me of the promise I had broken all those years ago. I tried to push the lyrics from my mind, but the focus on them just made them ring louder in my ears.
No dust will ever grow on this frame.
A million years and I will say your name.
I love you more than I can ever scream.
I had been so excited about the progress made with Celeste and now it was all being ruined by a stupid song that I hadn't even heard in its entirety. I thought my prolonged existence in a world out to get me was punishment enough for what I had done to Gem, but apparently the Gods decided I needed a little reminder, a la Black Veil Brides. "FUCK OFF!" I finally screamed, slapping my hands over my ears in an attempt to block the words out.
"Is now a bad time?"
I sat up and whirled around to see Kiiros standing a few feet behind me, staring at me with his eyebrows raised. "Oh my Gods," I sighed, pushing myself to my rather shaky feet. "I wasn't talking to you. I was just having a mini-breakdown in my head." Realising how bad that sounded, I immediately flushed. "It's not as bad as it sounds... I'm not crazy! I just don't want to talk about it."
"Whatever you say," he replied with a shrug, sitting down and patting the spot beside him. "Come on, I don't bite unless asked."
"I can bite harder," I mumbled, depositing myself on the ground beside him. "Had you been standing there long when I flipped out? I'm sorry if I offended you, things just...get a bit much sometimes."
"I'd been there a minute or so, just listening to you sing, but as soon as I took a step you screamed," he replied with a grin, clearly amused by my discomfort. "You have a beautiful voice, by the way."
"Thank you," I whispered, my cheeks heating again. "I don't sing very often, I was just passing the time while I waited for you to turn up. I didn't know when you were coming." I peeked up at him from under my lashes, shy all of a sudden. I'd been anticipating this moment all week, and now I had no idea what to say. I knew I'd felt a spark with him but, having had zero romantic experiences, I didn't know what to do about it or how to tell if he even felt the same. Being alive for so long had resulted in me having an extensive knowledge of most things; being at a total loss about something made me feel uncomfortable, and I was feeling stupid enough as it was.
"Penny for them?"
I chuckled darkly at his comment. "They're worth a lot more than pennies. I could sell rights to Paramount and make mega-bucks off these babies." Sighing, I lay back against the gentle slope of the hill, melting my wings away. "Or maybe Disney. I've got pretty wings and they love using poetic licence; they could totally turn my life into a story suitable for eight year old girls. Maybe that way I'd get a happy ending for once."
Kiiros whistled lowly as he lay down beside me. "That good, huh?"
I groaned and propped myself up on my elbow so I could look at him. "You know those days where the world finally makes sense, you've got the meaning of life sorted, blah blah blah, and then you realise you have no way of achieving it? That's my head right now."
He looked up at me skeptically, one eyebrow perfectly arched. "Aren't you supposed to be, like, the most powerful thing around? I didn't think anything was impossible for you?"
I snickered. "I wish. Unfortunately, cosmic powers don't cover figuring the male gender out."
"You should demand a refund, beautiful; sounds like you've been thoroughly ripped off," he replied seriously, drawing an amused laugh from me. "But really, you're getting worked up over a guy?"
I couldn't help but blush a tiny bit when Kiiros's eyebrow shot up. "It's not what it sounds like..."
"You've been saying that a lot tonight," he said pointedly, a wry grin on his face. "Why don't you explain and I'll decide if it isn't what it sounded like?"
I looked at him uncertainly. "For the story to make sense I'm going to have to explain my prophecy and my childhood. It's a long story."
Kiiros tucked his hands behind his head and smiled lazily. "I've got all the time in the world."
I took a deep breath. "Okay then..."
It took me twenty minutes to explain the prophecy, Gem and the new discoveries I had made earlier that night, while at the same time trying not to give away any hints as to my current alias. I called Gem by his family name, 'Magor', because I felt awkward saying his name when talking to another man I was attracted to. Kiiros listened patiently throughout my whole story, never uttering a word until I got the part about there potentially being three men deciding my fate.
"So you know who these three guys are, then?"
"Possibly," I hedged. "Like, I have my suspicions, but I don't know if I'm right or not. It's weird thinking that my other half may be a human, but I'm sure I'm on the right planet. My gut's telling me I am, anyway."
Kiiros pushed himself up his elbow to mirror me. "So who are they?"
I hesitated slightly. I didn't want to freak him out by telling him I suspected he was one of them, but at the same time I needed to figure the puzzle out. I sucked in a deep breath and steeled myself. "Um, well there's this one guy who's new in town...when I'm around him the hollow throbbing inside fades, kinda like it did with Magor. Then there's my best friend, who I'm even closer to than I was with Magor and I'd do anything for, and then..." I ducked my head and mumbled the last few words, my courage failing.
"You!" I burst out, burying my face in my hands. Now he was going to do a runner and I'd be left to drift around the universe for eternity, cursing myself for being such an idiot.
I peeked at him between my fingers. I couldn't define exactly what emotions his face was showing, but fear wasn't one of them. "And what one do you think I am?"
I slumped back to the ground, partly relieved and partly frustrated. "I have no idea. All I know is that you make me feel differently than any other person I've met and I've been alive long enough to know there's no such thing as coincidences. It probably sounds dumb, but –"
"How do I make you feel?"
My eyes snapped back to the dragon's face to see his hair and eyes melt from chocolate to gold. He shifted his body closer, tangling one of his legs with mine. My breaths got shorter and shorter as he leaned in closer. "Tell me how I make you feel, princess."
I jerked away, my mind suddenly flooded with images of Gem; images of what could have been if I hadn't been so darn stubborn. "Don't call me princess," I gasped, trying to regulate my breathing. I twisted back to face Kiiros, his features now tinged with red. "I'm sorry; it reminds me of what I gave up when I ran away from home and it still hurts. Please don't take it personally."
Kiiros untangled his legs from mine but stayed pressed against my side. "Fair enough," he said lightly, though there was a note of bitterness in his words. "No would like to know they gave up on a chance to live like royalty."
"That's rich coming from you."
I gasped when I realised what I had unthinkingly said. "Oh my gods, I –"
"What did you just say?" he whispered. I couldn't form an answer though; I just stared at him in horror, knowing that I had just ruined any chance of working out the prophecy. I knew the secret he didn't want anyone to know and now he thought I was out to get him.
"Please, Kiiros, I –"
"I won't submit to him!" he bellowed at me, his hair and eyes blazing red as he jumped to his feet. "I don't care how powerful you are, I would rather die than see him sit in my father's throne!" The furious energy around him was palpable and I couldn't stop my hands from crackling in response to it. I shook them to try and diffuse the power, but all it did was make my fingers spark.
"Go on, kill me," he taunted viciously. "What's he promised you in return for my body? It won't be the throne, but maybe he's asked you to be his whore of a Queen, fighting his battles by day and fucking his brains out at –"
It didn't even take me half a second to stand up and grab him around the throat. "You bastard," I hissed, throwing a shield up around us so he couldn't get away from me. "Is that really what you think of me? That I'm the kind of person who uses my power to get what I want and make other people's lives miserable?" I felt tears prick in my eyes but I blinked them away. "I hate my powers! All I want is to work this stupid prophecy out so I can stop looking over my shoulder every ten seconds! I want to get married and have kids and grow old, but instead I'm a two thousand year old teenager who was stupid enough to put her trust in an asshole who is so far up himself that he thinks I want his crown! Well, newsflash, buddy; I don't need your shitty crown, and I don't need you!"
I dropped the shield and shifted back to Celeste's lounge just before the dam of tears burst. I collapsed on the couch, crying my eyes out, knowing that any chance of me fulfilling my prophecy had been ruined by my big mouth and Kiiros's temper. I didn't even stir when Celeste came out of her bedroom and sat down beside me, stroking my hair and whispering comforting words in Xarkadian.
I'd been crying for a good ten minutes and was just starting to calm down when the phone rang. I sat up, wiping my eyes as Celeste answered the phone.
"Hello, Celeste speaking...I know you've screwed up...I didn't See it happening, but I've got a very beautiful, very distraught girl in my living room right now and I know who she was going to see tonight...obviously...yes, it was me...I'm not telling...it's only fair, K...K, she's been through more than you can imagine, you aren't the only tortured soul in the universe...no, I won't...no, K...yes, she is...I should think so...bye."
She hung up and grinned at me. "That was Kiiros, as I'm sure you guessed. He's not very happy with me right now, but I don't need Sight to know –" She was interrupted by the door bell. "...that he's coming around."
"Celeste, I can't face him, not after what he said," I sobbed, fresh tears leaking out. "I've heard worse, but...he was supposed to be different!"
"Honey, he watched his mother, father and little sisters get slaughtered in front of him. He's got a ton of baggage and is far from perfect, but he needs you as much as you need him," Celeste said gently before going to answer the door. "Trust me."
I slumped back down against the cushions, not wanting to face Kiiros any sooner than I was being forced to. I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths to try and clear the sobs. When that didn't work as well as I would have liked, I started singing the lullaby I had sung to Rosie, this time in Xarkadian. I blocked everything out and lost myself in the song, concentrating on the words and the way they felt rising from my chest, taking joy in the simple act.
"You really do have beautiful voice, you know."
I opened my eyes to see Kiiros standing in the doorway, his remorse showing plainly in his now-black eyes. "You're going to have to do better than that," I croaked.
His face softened at my comment as he hesitantly walked over and knelt beside my couch. "Stellymi, I'm so sorry about what I said. I've been betrayed by a lot of people in the past, but that's no excuse for treating you way I did. Can you forgive me?"
"I'm not a whore," I whispered hoarsely.
"I know you're not and I feel awful for saying that. I let my temper get the better of me; not that it justifies anything, but I want you to know that I'm truly sorry for not trusting you, especially when you trusted me." He looked me hard in the eye as he apologised and, despite the flat blackness of his eyes, I could see the deep anguish in them. I winced slightly when I saw the faint red marks of my fingers around his throat. He tentatively laid his palm on my face, gently cupping my cheek, and I instinctively leaned into the warm of his touch. I reached up and placed my hand over his, smiling faintly. While his words had cut me deep, I knew how easy it was to simply lash out at people for knowing who I was; I'd been pretty hostile to him when he'd first revealed himself to me. I needed to suck up my pride and forgive him, despite what state my feelings were in.
"It's okay," I said finally, weaving my fingers into his. "I threatened you when we first met. Not quite as harshly, mind you, but I understand why you need to be careful; you're not bulletproof like me." I gave him a small smile which he returned with much more enthusiasm, and for a few moments we just stared at each other, until a tiny cough startled us both.
We swivelled in unison to look at Celeste, who was leaning against the doorway, arms folded and a smirk on her face. "Okay, you two, outside. You're going for a walk and don't come back until the sexual tension is under control. The world isn't ready for a half-breed just yet and people here are trying to sleep." She nodded towards the guest room, but my mind was stuck on the words she had just spoken.
"Do you really have that little faith in my self-restraint?" asked Kiiros in mock hurt as we were shooed out the door.
"Given your track record tonight with controlling yourself, no I don't," replied Celeste smoothly, shutting the door before we could respond.
"Charming," I said with a chuckle, glancing at Kiiros. "Can I trust you not to jump me?" The glare I received in response made me laugh even harder. "Okay, I'll rephrase that; should I be concerned that a genuine Xarkadian Seer used the word 'yet' when referring to our potential offspring?"
Kiiros rolled his eyes and took my hand. "I can never tell when it comes to her, but I'm not going to give her reason to be right, okay?" The amusement in his eyes was infectious and I couldn't help but laugh, despite my nagging worries about Celeste's comments. "Well my lady, shall we go and see what the night still has to offer us?"
I let go of his hand and instead linked my arm through his. "Where are we going? Somewhere people can hear my screams?"
I giggled when Kiiros narrowed his eyes and nudged me in the ribs. "Very funny, Stellymi."
I looked up at the Draagen prince next to me, taking in the scar on his face and the rich brown of his eyes, took a deep breath and spoke.
"Call me Stella."
Everybody seemed to be awake when I got back to Nate and Cleo's house around half eight Sunday morning. I hadn't waited for Celeste to wake up, but had instead left her a long note, thanking her for all her help and giving her my contact details so we could keep in touch. Not only did I know that she was going to be someone who played a big part in my future, she was just a genuinely lovely person and I liked the thought of us being friends, especially seeing as I hadn't spoken to one of my own kind for so long.
Rosie bounded up to me the second I set foot in the house and wrapped herself around my legs. "Aunty Joos, we have pancakes and you have to sit by me," she commanded, grabbing my hand with her tiny one and leading me to her side of the table.
"What do you say, Rosie?" asked Nate, helping her climb onto her chair.
"Pease!" cried the toddler, banging her knife on her plate in excitement. Nate deftly took the knife from her hand and frowned at her, not saying anything. Rosie shrank a little in her seat before mumbling 'sorry, Daddy,' and folding her hands neatly in her lap. She was quiet for a few moments before perking up again and clambering down from her seat, reaching up to me. "Aunty Joos, can I sit with you, pease?"
I looked at Nate and Cleo enquiringly, picking Rosie up when they had both nodded at me in approval. "Thank you for wanting to sit with me, Rosie," I said with a smile, wrapping my arms loosely around her so she couldn't fall. "Did you have fun with your Mama and Daddy last night?"
"Yes, we watched Nemo!" she exclaimed happily, bouncing up and down on my lap. "Can you make your wings the same colour as Nemo?"
"I don't know, Rosie," I said. "How about I try and you can tell me if they change or not?"
"Okay!" she squealed, clapping her hands.
I grinned at her and closed my eyes, trying to look like I was thinking hard. After a few seconds I opened my eyes. "Have they changed?"
I closed my eyes again, this time scrunching my face up a bit.
"Okay, last time sweetie," I said, contorting my face into what must have been a truly hideous look.
"You bunged up, Sunny?"
My eyes flew open to see Toss standing in the kitchen doorway, looking at me with a mixture of concern and amusement, camera in hand. Despite my horror at the thought of my facial expressions being captured forever, I summoned my dignity and puffed myself up. "Actually, I was trying to make my wings orange, if you must know," I said haughtily, sitting Rosie in her own seat as Cleo started dishing up pancakes. "Thanks Cleo, they smell great."
"Grandma's recipe never fails to please," said Cleo with a wink before cutting Rosie's pancakes into bite size pieces for her and telling her to eat up. "I swear it's the only reason Nate asked me out in the first place."
"I asked you out because you were cute. Why I proposed, on the other hand..." he trailed off and grinned at his wife, the love in his eyes clear as day.
It was with a resentful pang that I ate my own breakfast; I wanted what they had so badly, but things weren't as easy for me as it would have been for them. They were the same species, whereas my options were a runaway Draagen prince or humans. That was going to make things fun.
My emotions must have showed on my face because Toss nudged me with his shoulder. "You okay Sunny?" he asked, keeping his voice uncharacteristically low. "Did something happen at Celeste's to upset you?"
"No, not at all," I said quickly, forcing a hasty smile on my face. "I'm okay, promise."
Toss frowned, not buying my fib. "You sure? Not constipated or something?"
"What's cossipaded mean?" asked Rosie, interrupting before I could reply. Nate shot Toss a look that clearly said 'I will maim you later' before scooping Rosie up and taking her to watch cartoons, leaving Toss and I with Cleo to tidy up.
"What did you and Celeste get up to last night, Jules?" asked Cleo as we cleared the table.
"Oh, you know...had dinner, talked, it was nothing ground-breaking," I said easily, even though I was lying through my teeth; it was very ground-breaking what we'd talked about.
"I admit I was surprised that she invited you around," she replied slowly. "She's never struck me as the most social person around."
"Doesn't stop half-dressed men knocking on her door at midnight."
My heart stopped at Toss's words.
He'd seen Kiiros.
"What are you talking about?" I asked flippantly as I washed the dishes. "Where you spying on us or something?"
"Hardly," he scoffed, sitting down at the table and balancing himself on the back legs of the chair. "I was near her place last night and there was definitely a guy there. I'm surprised she'd do that kind of thing with a guest around. Unless...were you there all night, Sunny? You didn't sneak off to see someone else?"
Despite the fact that he was dead on in his assumptions, I played the part of Affronted Girl perfectly. "Who would I be sneaking off to see, Toss? I only know two guys on this continent; one's an idiot and the other is Nate. Not a lot of choice is there?"
I resumed my scrubbing, trying hard not laugh along with Cleo, who was snickering at our ridiculous behaviour. "God, why are you two friends?" she asked, shaking her head. "Could you imagine what it would be like if the two of you lived together permanently? You never stop!"
I exchanged looks with Toss, who shook his head very slightly. I had to admit I was a tad offended that he didn't want Cleo to know we were moving in together, and I made a mental note to ask him why later. I turned back to Cleo, who had caught our exchange and was now frowning, but to my relief she didn't say anything. "I'm going to go wash, I'll be back soon," I said casually, draining the sink and taking my overnight bag into the guest room. I grabbed a fresh set of clothes and my toothbrush, looking forward to washing all the grime and lies off my skin, even if just for a little while.
I soaked in the bath for longer than I should have, reminiscing about my walk with Kiiros. He told me about the things he'd seen and done while on the run. His past was much like mine; disguising himself to fit in with a community and then fleeing when discovered. He seemed more positive though, like he knew things were going to get better and he was just waiting for it to happen. He knew he would take the crown back one day, but that day had yet to arrive, which he seemed oddly content with.
He told me about his life as part of the Royal Family, playing games with his little sisters and strolling through the market with his mother. He spoke about his father almost reverentially; despite being King, his father had ruled on a first-among-equals basis, something which his subjects had deeply admired and respected him for.
Well, most of them did.
He told me about the attack which had left him orphaned with a near-fatal wound to his face. Though he would never look a day older than twenty one until he took the crown, he was still only mortal, and his kind didn't heal much faster than humans. It was only Celeste and her sister Pandera's help that had saved his life, though they couldn't do much about the scar. He'd found a healer later, but the wound had healed by then, leaving the healer unable to do anything to fix his face.
He told me about the woman he had given his heart to years ago, just to find out she was a bounty hunter who was intending to sell him to Talyn, the man who had killed his family. She'd been his lover for six months before he had discovered her secret, and he had barely escaped with his life; luckily Celeste had a last-minute burst of Sight and had managed to rescue him before Talyn had gotten hold of him.
My heart went out to him as he shared his story with me. I'd been through a lot and had sustained far worse injuries, but I couldn't die. While I resented my immortality a lot of the time, it came in handy when someone got a lucky shot in your gut with their weapon. Kiiros, on the other hand, had the death of his entire family to remind him of his own vulnerability. Despite being able to shift between planets and conjure clothes from nowhere, he had no 'special' powers; it was only his royal blood that afforded him the talents he had. Other than that, he was defenceless save for his brain and his own two hands.
The pain of his memories was still reasonably fresh in his mind; they were a lot more recent that mine, and he hadn't grown as numb as I had. Yes, things still hurt when I was reminded of them suddenly, but I didn't wear my heart on my sleeve like Kiiros did. Despite his positive attitude to the future, there was no doubt that his past had damaged him irreparably. I felt slightly bad that his future was now tangled with mine, as I didn't want him to hurt any more than he already was, but if it was fate then there was nothing I could do.
I'd let him ask me questions about my past, which I'd answered honestly. He stiffened at some of things I described, such as what a Janaskan bounty hunter had once tried to do to me when I'd spat in his face, but mostly he listened unflinchingly. I admired his courage and his determination; he was a far nobler royal than Gem's parents had been, who preferred to laze about getting drunk on nova juice and order the servants around. Even if I had been born in Gem's place, Kiiros's childhood would have still been far happier than mine.
He had left me on the doorstep with a lingering kiss on the cheek and a whispered 'next week' before shifting to what I assumed would be home. I had dropped off to sleep almost immediately, such was my feeling of contentment with life. It had been so long since I'd had such an intense heart to heart and revealed so much to someone. I had meaningful discussions with Toss or the girls sometimes, but I had never spoken to anyone about my past in such detail; it made me feel like I was bonded to Kiiros by more than just a prophecy. We were confidants.
We were friends.
When I finally dragged myself out of the now-lukewarm water I was shrivelled beyond belief. I quickly dried myself off and got dressed, not wanting to hold up the day's plans any longer. It was our last day with Nate and his family before leaving early the next morning, so we were going to the beach for a picnic lunch. Rosie was practically hysterical with excitement and was tearing around the house with a pink Dora the Explorer bucket that she refused to let go of, and I was slightly jealous of her easy contentment; she was satisfied and amused by the simplest things in life, whereas I always seemed to find flaws in things and was always searching for perfection. I knew I was supposed to 'wander the universe' in search of purpose, but I hated having to be so fussy all the time.
The beach was nice. It wasn't a hot day by any means, given that it was only early September, but the sun was shining and the water was warm enough to paddle ankle-deep in. Of course, Toss being Toss, he decided that I wanted to get in a bit deeper. I wasn't going to drown, but it didn't mean I was okay with him throwing me in the ocean fully clothed. Being a foot taller than me, he could go in further than me without getting the bottom of his upturned jeans wet, so he slung me over his shoulder and waded out up to his knees, ignoring my pleas for him to let me go. He let go of me and I shrieked, gasping as he caught me at the last minute, barely inches above the water.
He suspended me there for a few seconds with a grin on his face, before his eyes widened suddenly. He tried to lift me up but he wasn't quick enough, the incoming wave soaking my still-hanging backside. "Carter!" I bellowed while he just snickered at me. "I'm all wet now!"
"You're not all wet," he corrected slyly. "Only your butt's wet, but I can fix that for you."
"Toss, don't –". My protest was cut off with a mouthful of seawater as my supposed best friend dumped me in the water. I came up choking, but not enough to stop me pushing Toss's legs out from under him. He swore as he hit the water, unable to stand before I sat on him, keeping his legs trapped underwater. His torso was above water, so he was still able cuss me out, which he did with enthusiasm. I splashed him in the face and scrambled off, trying to get to the shore before he could stop me.
I'd made it into ankle-deep water before I was tackled hard from behind. Toss and I fell hard on the side, his weight landing on me and pushing the air out of my lungs. I gasped and thumped him hard on the shoulder, at which rolled off me and gave me space to breathe. "Sunny, are you okay?" he asked, realising he'd winded me. I nodded and tried to take the deepest breaths I could, and after a few seconds I was breathing normally. I thumped him again for good measure and lay back on the sand, closing my eyes and enjoying the feel of the sand between my toes.
"Are you sure you're okay?" he asked, placing a hand on my lower ribcage. "I didn't mean to wind you." He lay down beside me and slid his arm under my head, pulling me against his side.
"I'm fine, Toss, I promise," I said firmly, curling into him slightly. I could feel Nate and Cleo's eyes burning into us from their spot further up the beach, but I ignored them. I was so used to people making wrong assumptions about Toss and I that it didn't bother me anymore; even when I corrected them, they just nodded with a knowing look in their eyes that made it clear they thought I was lying. Even our friends thought we were more than friends, or at least should be, as Lisa, Sinead and Amber always made clear.
People swore that guys and girls could never be 'just friends' yet refused to accept the fact that Toss and I could and we were. We were practically siblings; he was the big brother I'd always wanted to look out for me, whereas I was the baby sister he'd always wanted to dote on. I still didn't get why he'd pecked me on the lips that night, but I knew there was nothing romantic about it. That simply wasn't how we worked. We were closer than I wanted to admit at times, but Toss and I just got each other. I couldn't imagine life without him and I didn't want to.
So how did he fit?
We lay there in silence, my head on his shoulder, the waves lapping gently at my feet and my mind whirling at a million miles an hour. What I felt for Toss wasn't a physical thing; I'd felt a tingle of pleasure when he'd kissed me, but it didn't burn like when Kiiros had kissed me. Toss's appearance had nothing to do with why we were friends, despite the fact I did think him to be good-looking. No, what Toss and I had was deeper than that, more than skin deep...
"Do...do you believe in soul mates?" I shifted my head so I could look at his face properly, trying to gauge his reaction. My stomach flopped slightly as his face clouded over. Guess that's a no...
"Why do you ask?"
I shivered at the coolness in his voice. "I'm just curious...you don't think that sometimes there are people that you just...get? Like you meet them and you wonder how you survived that long without them?" I stopped talking, realising that I was getting a bit intense. I found it a touch amusing that just a couple of weeks previous I'd been fussing about getting too close, yet now I was blatantly admitting how much I needed Toss in my life. Contrary much?
Toss looked at me oddly for a few seconds before closing his eyes and shaking his head. "I knew this was going to happen one day," he sighed, a touch of wistfulness in his voice as he pulled me tighter, wrapping both arms around me. "My baby's growing up."
"What do you mean 'you knew this was going to happen'?" I asked in confusion.
"Well, I couldn't expect you to be a spinster forever," he said, the bitter note in his voice growing stronger. "I think you're moving a bit fast if you think he's already your soul mate, but you're big enough to make your own decisions, even if I don't like him."
I pulled away from Toss and sat up, frowning hard. "Who are you talking about? And I'm not a spinster!"
Toss's face now matched my own. "Gabriel. Who else could you mean?"
His response knocked me for six. "Gabe?" I asked in a slightly harsh tone. "For crying out loud, Toss, I've barely known him a week! Have I ever been the kind of girl to rave about a guy like that after a week?"
"I've never known you to rave about anyone before, how am I supposed to know?" he shot back, sitting up to face me properly. "You told me yourself he kissed you, what else was I supposed to think?"
I sighed and shook my head, unable to understand his stupidity. "Toss, you kissed me that night too, you can't use that excuse. Besides, who said I was talking about a specific person? Did it occur that maybe I was just curious as to your answer?"
Toss looked at me sourly. "I know you were talking about a specific person, Sunny, don't treat me like I'm stupid."
"You are though!" I cried, smacking the wet sand in frustration. "It was a yes or no answer, why did you just assume it was about Gabriel?"
"Keep it down Sunny, I've already got a headache. And really, who else would you be talking about? What other guys have you met that you haven't told me about?"
I couldn't help but burst out laughing. "Oh, Toss," I sighed, wrapping my arms around him in a hug. "You're the only person who actively tried to be my friend when I moved here. You're the one who helped me put myself back together when I was grieving for my parents. You're infuriating sometimes but I know that I can always count on you to be there for me when I need you. You're the best friend I've ever had, and if anyone's my soul mate then it's you."
Toss stared at me wide-eyed for a few seconds before as small smile quirked his lips. "You're something else, you know that?" he whispered, returning my hug. "Just promise me something, okay?"
"Promise me that, no matter what happens...you'll always be my Sunny. I know I sound about six years old right now, but just promise me that when you're married to your dream guy with twenty kids and I'm a miserable old bachelor living with my Mum, that we will always be friends, because sometimes you're the only person I can stand."
I closed my eyes, praying that whatever part Toss had to play in the prophecy, we wouldn't be separated. Even if I found the love of my life and all the things that went with it, Toss was a part of me and I'd be crushed if I never saw him again or let him down in any way.
I reached up to ruffle his hair. "Toss, you're my best friend in the world and nothing can ever change that. I promise."
Now I just had to make sure I could keep it.
A/N: Sorry it's been so long! I've kinda lost inspiration for this, but I will keep going, it might just take a while.
Now, I hate to whine, but I'd love it if you could review please! I have literally hundreds of views, but only one regular reviewer; to be honest, the lack of reviews isn't helping my motivation to write. If I know heaps of you want to read it, then I'm more likely to push the chapters out. If I don't get many more reviews, I'm going to just take the story down and move it to my LJ page. Sorry, but I need feedback to make this story the best it can be!
To those who have reviewed; THANK YOU! And this is the right chapter this time, promise!