Epilogue—two months later
"Aleithea, you can grab that stack of books and bring them downstairs." Percy said, pointing to the secluded stack of books on Kol's nightstand. Today was the family's version of 'spring cleaning'. This consisted of everyone cleaning out there rooms and putting the things they did not wish to keep in garbage for the boys to bring to donations. Everyone was supposed to organize their room and set aside the things they did not wish to keep. Aleithea, Alex and Evangeline were to collect the things and put them in bags and label them, and the boys would take them out.
They were also in charge of planting new flowers in the courtyard and along the back. They'd put in fresh tulips or daisies and watered them. Again, the task was for the boys mostly, until the three girls finished taking all of the old things and setting them aside out of the manor.
Picking up the books now, Aleithea coughed on the dust that floated everywhere when she lifted the books that Kol had set aside. They were dusty, with yellow pages and ripped borders. It was obvious they hadn't been opened in months at least. She walked out of the room, looking for anyone there to help her with the books. When no one was there-Alex and Evie most likely in Sebastian's room, grabbing things, she huffed and adjusted the several books in her arms. As she adjusted her arms, a sheet of paper fell out, one that must have been hiding in between two books. Puzzled, Aleithea bent down and set the books aside, sighing in relief as the heaviness left her arms. She picked up the sheet, thinking it was a page from the book. She unfolded it, looking at the bottom for a page number, but was puzzled to see the words, "With all the love in my heart, Kristopher" at the bottom. Her eyes skimmed up to the top and she nearly gasped at the first line.
I wonder when I'll ever have that courage to call you mine. If I ever do. Your name, it reminds me of home. Of happiness. Something that took so long for me to feel again. And now I have-and for that, I must thank you.
I have written this letter over and over knowing, after each word is written that I couldn't possibly ever give it to you. For, you mustn't know how I feel.
But you do.
I shouldn't have let you walk away that day by the fountain. I shouldn't have told you it meant nothing. It meant everything to me. I shouldn't have pushed away and stopped myself. I should have kissed you. Every bone in my body was breaking, watching you stomp away; watching your hate for me grow. The worst part was being fully aware of it; and wanting to be with you in a way I wish I could. It is a mistake that I now have to face every day. I stay awake all night sometimes, thinking, wondering, if I hadn't driven you towards him, would you have considered me?
And now I sit, swallowing my own sorrow when I could give this to you. And I could be happy. But I know for you to be happy, it is not to be with me. And that is why this letter ends up in the fire every restless night. I want to make you happy. I want to see your smile-the same one that sends shivers down my spine and shakes me with happiness. A smile I would die to see.
You have taught me to love again. You are the light that eliminates the dark. And you're all I see. And you're all I could ever dream of seeing. All I could ever want to see.
You're always in my heart, Aleithea. You always have been. And I was stupid not to realize that sooner.
With all the love in my heart,
Goosebumps ran over her arms as she stared at the note. She was stunned. Absolutely speechless. Aleithea bit her lip, reading it again. His Aleithea. Kristopher Turner's Aleithea. This must have been written shortly after the time at the fountain, when Alex had been missing. Near the time he had seen her with Sebastian.
A sudden need and desperate want to find this boy rose up in Aleithea. How could she have been so stupid? How could she not see this before?
Aleithea scrambled off of the floor, the note clutched tightly in her hand as she sprinted down the stairs and into the courtyards where she last saw him. When she pushed through the heavy glass doors, her heart was pounding so hard in her chest that she felt the throb in her head. Her vision spun as her heart beat with happiness and regret for abruptly ending everything she had with him before.
She stumbled against the stone walls leading to the garden where Kristopher was supposed be found arranging the flower pots and putting flowers in them.
Aleithea turned the corner too quick and smashed into something. She gasped loudly, hearing a shatter, something like glass hitting the pavement, and a yelp of surprise.
"Aleithea!" Kristopher gasped, taking her forearms in his hands. "What the hell are you doing?" he said, anger clear in his expression. Then softer, but confused, "You-you're bleeding." he said, not letting her pull away. She didn't try. Her eyes left his confused ones briefly to look down at her forearms, clay sharp pieces over her arms, mixed with blood and peeled skin. Kristopher dusted away the pieces with soil covered hands. Dirt was stuck under his fingernails and covered the top of his hands. When Aleithea looked down she saw a smashed flower pot, with soil and a purple rose sticking in the pile of dirt between her and him. "What's...going on?" He asked, lowering an eyebrow.
"I-" she broke off. It occurred to her just now that she didn't know what to say. Or how to say it. Should she lift up the letter and he could connect the dots? Should she just kiss him or let him know she was scared to love him because she didn't believe he loved her, but the letter proved otherwise? "Um." She bit her lip. Kristopher stared, letting her go slowly as he lowered an eyebrow.
"Aleithea, just say something. You look like a deer in the middle of a busy intersection-"
"You loved me." She blurted out. Kristopher's hands clenched into fists, now at his sides.
"I loved you?" he repeated. The adrenaline rush she had on her way here was fading quickly, looking at his expression.
"Um…" she mumbled softly. Kristopher stepped forward closer, stepping into the soil.
As her gaze dropped to the ground, he said, "Leithie." He said, the nickname surprising her. "look at me." He forced her chin up and her eyes to his.
"What?" she mumbled, obviously frustrated. Before he was confusing, and now he still was. She should just forget it. But that was the thing through these past few months of not getting close to him; she couldn't forget it, even though she tried her hardest. It made her love him more.
"You think I loved you?" he asked. Anger that flared before sizzled down to softness and his thumb ran softly up her jaw. "I have always loved you. I will always love you. I still do love you." she bit her lip, and smiled softly. "Don't make me say it again. It's embarrassing enough that you know it and we're not together. It's like rubbing it in my face that unrequited love is a bitch-"
"It's not unrequited." She cut him off in the middle of his sentence. He didn't seem to hear what she said.
"I said…" she felt heat in her cheeks but couldn't back down now. "It isn't unrequited." Kristopher stared at her for a long moment.
"Then why, so long ago, you said-"
"I didn't want to start anything with you, because I thought you didn't love me. Your past self didn't add up with the person you were months ago. You know, mean, jerky, cocky and-"
"I get it." He cut her off.
"I didn't even let you finish. I didn't let you explain. And you did what I said; you didn't make a move on me. You were patient." He smiled softly, his cheeks turning slightly pink. She almost couldn't believe it-he was actually blushing.
"You're my darlin'." Kristopher said. "I would do anything you wanted, even if that meant jumping off a bridge." She smiled widely, sliding her arms around his back. She rested her head against his chest, listening to his heartbeat. He brought his arms around her too, rubbing her back. After standing in moments of silence, she heard his heartbeat quicken and his whole body stiffen. "Leithie." He said, barely above a whisper.
"Yeah?" she murmured.
"What's that?" he asked, gripping her arms softly and prying them from his body. He took the folded letter in her hands. Aleithea turned a bright red and bit her nails.
"Um…" he unfolded it and read the letter.
"Shit." He growled. "Where did you find this?" he asked, swallowing hard. His cheeks were flushed and his forehead was pale.
"When we were cleaning. I grabbed the books you set to the side and it fell out. I thought it was a page, but when I picked it up and read it…" he rubbed his forehead, biting his lip.
"This was supposed to be thrown out." He said. Aleithea took the letter from him, folding it up and tucking it in her back pocket.
"I love it." She whispered. "I want to keep it. Forever." She cupped his cheeks, smiling and falling into place in his arms as his hands held onto her waist.
"Really?" he asked. Aleithea reached up on her tip-toes and bumped her forehead against his.
"Yes, dummy." She said in a soft giggle. It wasn't long before his lips hovered over hers, their gaze never leaving one another.
"I love you, Leithie." He whispered. The nickname sent butterflies scattering around her stomach, making her heart jump up in her throat.
"I love you to, Kris." She whispered. Kristopher's lips parted, then formed a smile as he bent his head down over hers, bringing his mouth to hers. Aleithea's hands crawled up his chest and hooked around his neck, only pulling him closer until there was no space left between them.
What could have been hours, or minutes passed by as they stood in the courtyard, kissing as if there were no tomorrow. When there finally was an interruption, Aleithea pulled back, opening her eyes. When she saw the man in front of her, the one to be there in front of her after kissing the love of her life, and saw it was Kristopher, she went fluid and pulled him close. This was her man. She couldn't think of anyone else she better belonged to than Kristopher Turner.