A/N: Hey, guys. Here it is - the final chapter of Almost Dying. I was stuck on this chapter for a long time, not sure how to wrap up this story... knowing how I wanted to lead into the next book but not sure how to get to that point... but here it is, finally. The last chapter. It's been a fun, long ride. I'm going to miss this story to bits. I've fallen in love with Kieron and Terry. I'm excited to start the third book but it probably won't be for a while, I'm afraid. I don't want to rush into it and then run out of ideas halfway through. So I will take my time, think about other stories, and attempt to make a very vague outline for the third book and see how that goes. I'm still debating about that 4th book; there might be one, there might not be. We'll see how it all works out.
Thank you guys so much for all of the support. For all the reviews, favorites, follows... everything. I really appreciate it and you kept this story going when it could have died otherwise. You are all a major part of this story, and I hope you will follow me over to part 3 and enjoy it just as much. I can't give any hints about part 3 because I don't want to give too much away... but hopefully you will be satisfied with the ending of this book. I agonized over it for a while, but here it is, finally.
Chapter length: 2166
Song listening to: "Come With Me Now" by KONGOS
Onward! (for the final time this story)
Chapter Fifty-Seven: Change in the Air
I woke wrapped in Kieron's arms. It was so warm and comfortable, like it was meant to be, and I had no desire to move. For a long moment I lay there, confused as to why I woke up and why my heart was racing, until I heard the knocking again. Someone was knocking on the door; we had company. I ignored it for the time being, content with staying in bed with Kieron. The perpetual who claimed me last night. The bond wasn't as open right now but I still felt so incredibly warm and at peace.
Kieron finally claimed me. It wasn't painful; he didn't hurt me like he was afraid he would. He finally let go and lost control, but in all the right ways. And now we were closer because of it, and I thought it actually helped him. This would help him not be so conflicted, I was sure. Because lately he'd been so conflicted it left him almost unwilling to come near me at all, and be close to me. That was unacceptable; now he'd claimed me and that could stop.
The knocking continued, though. Loud. Banging.
And then I heard the door creak open. I needed to fix the hinges on that thing, but the door was fine except for it being a little loud. It made sneaking out hard, but I had no intentions of going anywhere. It also meant I could hear it when someone came in unannounced.
Instantly I was trying to pull free of Kieron's grip.
He snarled and tightened his hold on me.
"Kieron, someone's here," I said quickly. "Kieron, c'mon. Look at me."
His eyes opened, still too bright for him to really be in control. I swallowed, bringing a hand to his face.
"Kieron, c'mon. Someone's in the apartment. Focus, okay? Kie?"
He blinked slowly a few times before he nodded, but his eyes were still bright.
"Bekkah and Ashere," he said.
Instantly I was growling. He smiled, actually smiled, and pulled me down toward him, his lips claiming my own. I gave into the contact until I heard someone knocking at the bedroom door. Kieron growled and allowed me to move away enough to sit up, but beyond that, he still held tight to my waist, my skin still incredibly sensitive to his touch.
"Go away," Kieron called to our uninvited guests.
"We can't," Bekkah said. "It's important."
"It can wait," I said.
It could wait forever, because everything was perfect right now.
"Put some clothes on," Bekkah said.
"How do you know we're naked?" I snapped.
"I didn't," she said, chuckling. "But now I do."
"Kieron," Ashere growled.
A growl caught in my throat even as Kieron tightened his hold on me, sitting up behind me, pulling me closer to him. His lips met my neck, leaving me swallowing thickly because fuck, I shouldn't have enjoyed that tiny bit of contact that much. This was crazy.
"I'm coming in," Ashere said.
"If you come in," Kieron said lowly, his breath hot against my skin, sending chills down my spine both from the warning tone and the feel of it against me, "I will hurt you."
"Just… um… we'll be out in a few," I said. "Just wait on the couch."
"Very well," Bekkah said. I could hear her walking away and it sounded like she was dragging Ashere with her.
I turned my attention back toward my perpetual.
Who had his teeth against my skin.
"Smell good," he breathed, tightening his arms around me, my body still entirely too sensitive to his heat against me, to his teeth on my skin and his breath against me.
"Kieron… We should, um… w-we have company…"
His hand had inched lower, releasing my hip to instead slip toward my groin. My body reacted immediately and my breath caught in my throat as his fingers teased an area that was entirely too sensitive right now.
His tongue slid over my neck as he sighed heavily, removing his hand from my groin and just sitting there for a moment, face buried against my neck as he breathed deeply.
"Okay," he said. "I'm okay now."
"Okay now?" I repeated, frowning. "What do you mean?"
"You have ten minutes," he told me. "After that… I'm going to hurt someone."
My eyes widened even as I nodded. He still wasn't entirely in control. I could understand that; we both thought we'd have more time to get used to everything. WE didn't know we'd be having company immediately following the claiming. I knew it was hard for him when I left after we had sex; I could only imagine how hard this was right now. He was at least in control enough to talk and give me ten minutes. Ten minutes for us to talk to Ashere and Bekkah.
"Stay in contact at all times," Kieron told me as I moved to climb out of bed, his fingers catching my wrist. "And no clothes."
"What?" I gasped. "I'm not going to go in there naked!"
His lips pulled back into a snarl before he took a breath and closed his eyes. A moment later he opened them, the blue color greatly dimmed, back to its usual hue except a tiny bit brighter since he still wasn't really in control.
"I will hurt you," he told me seriously. "If you try to leave. Don't make me."
"And we can wrap up in this," he said, tugging the comforter from the bed.
He draped it over our shoulders, standing right behind me as I clasped the edges of the comforter, keeping it covering us. I sighed and began moving toward the bedroom door.
After opening it we stepped out of the bedroom and toward the living room. Bekkah and Ashere looked at us as we approached. Bekkah smiled; Ashere scowled.
"What the hell?" Ashere asked.
I shrugged. "Why are you here?"
"Something has… happened," Bekkah said, all traces of mirth disappearing as her smile left.
"What do you mean?" I asked. "What happened?"
I stiffened, then, because Kieron was sniffing at my neck again. I doubted he even realized he was doing it, but Ashere noticed.
"Don't tell me you…" he started, staring at my perpetual.
I snarled and took a step forward. Kieron's arms were warm around my bare waist as he pulled me back against his chest, keeping me there. I tightened my grip on the comforter, unwilling to let Ashere see any part of my perpetual. My very naked perpetual. My very naked, semi-hard perpetual.
My own cock twitched in response as I closed my eyes, thankful that I had a large comforter.
"What happened?" I asked again, opening my eyes to look at them.
"Exrie," Bekkah said quietly.
"The Master," I murmured, swallowing. "What… What happened?"
"He has gotten… He has more followers."
"What do you mean?"
He always had a lot of followers; why was it different now?
"Terry… he's captured the Lake."
My spine stiffened, and not just because of her words, but because Kieron's own body stiffened behind me, his mouth growling into my neck, sending chills through me at the vibrations against my skin.
"Yes," Bekkah said, "it's as bad as it sounds. He's going to free those perpetuals, Terry. And he's going to use them against… well, everyone."
"Fuck," I breathed, feeling dizzy with this new information. Or maybe I was hungry. I did use a lot of energy last night. I was also really thirsty all of a sudden.
Kieron breathed in again and released me, stepping away from me and out of the privacy provided by the cover. I spun and watched as he walked into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator, grabbing a bottle of water before he turned and returned to me, easily slipping back under the cover and pressing against me again, holding the now-opened bottle to my lips, his eyes bright.
I stared at him as I took a long drink.
"Kieron," Ashere hissed. "Tell me you didn't…!"
Kieron's gaze flickered toward Ashere, then. His lips pulled back into a snarl.
Ashere took a step back. I hadn't even realized he'd been walking toward us until then. Now I was growling too. How dare he come near my naked perpetual?
"Whoa, take it easy," Bekkah said, moving to stand between us and Ashere. "We all have bigger issues right now."
I took a breath and nodded. Kieron's growl cut off behind me as his chin landed on my shoulder, his arms tight around me as I held the water bottle now, along with the edges of the cover.
"Start talking," I said quietly. I wasn't sure how much longer Kieron would be in control. He did only give me ten minutes, after all. How long had it been?
"Exrie is going to free those perpetuals," Bekkah said. "Also… there is a bit of good news."
"What is it?"
"A lot of the… Etherians, have discovered who the real enemy is. They are willing to put aside their hatred for perpetuals to fight Exrie and his growing army. However… this peace won't last very long. Especially if Exrie manages to get all of those bitter perpetuals on his side…"
I nodded, taking in a slow breath.
"That's not all," Ashere muttered.
"Fuck. There's more?"
What else could possibly happen?
"One minute," Kieron mumbled against my skin.
I shivered even as Ashere narrowed his eyes.
"One minute? Until what?" he asked, glaring.
"Until I take my human back into our room and tell you to fuck off," Kieron said simply, no heat or anger in his voice, just seriousness as he nibbled briefly at the back of my neck, tightening his hold on me.
Did he just…?
Did he just call me his human?
Warmth filled me. I couldn't keep the goofy smile off my face.
Ashere's expression darkened somewhat but he didn't say anything, thankfully.
"I'm proud of you two for… getting this far," Bekkah said, "but… Kieron…"
"Thirty seconds," Kieron breathed into my neck.
I shivered again. That tickled. And I felt so very exposed right now.
"Kieron, you're related to him."
"To who?" he breathed absently.
Bekkah took in a slow breath. "Exrie. You're related to Exrie."
"What?" I gasped, staring at her, because surely she was mistaken.
"Come again," Kieron growled lowly, mouth leaving my neck.
"I don't know how… we haven't found your parents yet to ask about anything…" Bekkah swallowed and shook her head.
"The DNA used to make those blades," Ashere cut in. "It's Exrie's. He's using his DNA. And it's a match for yours, too."
"That doesn't make any sense," I said quietly.
"We're not sure how you're related to him, but you are," Ashere said, watching my perpetual. "And the Elders have… requested your presence to further discuss this."
"Requested," I echoed flatly. "Are they arresting him again?"
No. I won't let them.
If they tried to take him anywhere…
I'll kill them.
The thought of being away from him right… I couldn't do it.
I leaned further back into my perpetual.
"They're not arresting him, exactly," Bekkah said. "It's complicated. I'm just telling you what I know, Terry. A bigger war is rising, and we all need to be prepared."
I took in a slow breath and nodded. "What do we do about the… animalistic perpetuals he's going to get on his side? If he can get them out of the Lake, I mean."
It was never proven that he could do it. It just stated it might be possible.
"I don't know," Bekkah said. "That's what we're all worried about. We're going to need you and Kieron to help stop him."
"How?" I asked. "I'm just a human…"
And they weren't putting Kieron in danger.
I wouldn't let them.
"We need you to speak to Ethereal," she told me quietly. "Explain who you are. That you're human. That you're meant to be here. That… That you possess the ability to help change things. To stop Exrie. You need to help Etherians see who the real threat is."
"I… I can't," I said. "I'm just… me."
"Ethereal needs you, Terry. Are you going to help or not?" Ashere asked.
I looked at both of them, and then closed my eyes, taking in a slow breath. Kieron's teeth were back against my neck.
What do I do, Kie?
I'm with you whatever you decide.
Those words comforted me like nothing else ever could or would.
I don't want to be the head of a war.
Then don't be. If you say run, I'll say how fast.
Thanks, Kieron. I… I love you. You know that, right?
I know, Terry. I'm with you.
I nodded and opened my eyes, looking back at Ashere and Bekkah as they stood there, watching the two of us.
"Okay," I said quietly. "I'll… We'll help. Just tell us what to do."
A/N: And there it is, guys. The final chapter of this story. How bittersweet. I will miss it terribly. I look forward to seeing you all in part 3! Thanks so much for reading and please review for a final time!