SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE OTHER BOOKS!!!
“Ariel, what is it? What has happened? Our world…”
“Oh my God… why… this was not supposed to happen!”
“Ariel, I don’t understand. It’s like an outside influence is affected them.”
“Yes Roselyn, I can feel it, the ebb of time. There was an inter-dimensional shift… something terrible has happened.”
“What should we do, sister?”
“I have a feeling I know what caused this… I think it’s time for us to check in on our friends.”
“Ariel… you know the laws…”
“I know sister, but it’s a risk we have to take. The influence of our kind is what sent their world into chaos in the first place. We have to see…”
“Come on Toby, get up!” A shrill voice called out, breaking the silence.
Toby groaned as his dream world gave way to a light blur. His eyes opened as he spoke, “All right, I’m awake…”
Lia’na shook her head, “Ever since Hawaii you’ve been getting lazy! Come on, we’ve got stuff to do today.”
Toby shook his head as he sat up, “Yes… I know, don’t remind me.”
She frowned, “I already did. We’ve got to go check on your uncle’s house to make sure that the lock was repaired and the cleaning crew did their job, and then you promised that you’d take me somewhere fun.”
“I know…” Toby replied. “I guess I’m just dreading it. I haven’t set foot in that house since before… well you know.”
Lia’na nodded, “Yeah… look if it’s that big of a deal, I can just go and look for you.”
She crawled onto the mattress until her face was right in front of Toby’s, “I’m sorry. I guess I’m just anxious. Classes start on Monday and I know we won’t be able to go out much when things pick up.”
Toby turned to the side and put his feet on the floor, “Don’t worry about it. I know we need to get this done at some point. It might as well be now.”
Toby looked Lia’na over as he stood up. She was once again sleeping in his Boston Red Sox jersey instead of the pajamas that he’d bought for her. The white shirt complimented the tan on her skin from the weeks that they’d spent in Hawaii. Her hair was a mess and her braids were coming out, but she didn’t seem to care.
Toby liked this look on Lia’na much more than when she got all dressed up. To him, this was a sign that she was comfortable and relaxed around him. Why she preferred his jersey to the cotton pajamas was anyone’s guess, but the one time she wore the pajamas he got her, she tossed and turned all night.
Lia’na smiled as Toby pulled himself up, “All right! Shower time.”
She grabbed his hand and led him into the bathroom. Toby followed close behind and shut the door. He quickly turned the dial that activated the fan in the bathroom. It quickly came on with a whoosh as he in turned back to the shower.
Lia’na reached down to the bottom of the uniform and pulled the end up over her head. All she was wearing underneath was a pair of white bikini bottoms. Toby watched her undress as she got ready for the shower. It was something he’d seen several times before, but he never tired of it. Lia’na noticed him staring and slowed down a little with a coy smile on her face.
The moment Toby realized what she was doing he stopped watching her and quickly stripped off his own t-shirt and boxers. Once they were both ready, Lia’na stepped into the porcelain tub and bent down to turn the water on. It took her a moment to find a comfortable temperature, but once she had, she pulled the level and activated the shower head.
Toby got in behind her as the water poured down her body. She stood up straight, closed her eyes, and released a deep sigh as the heat caressed her skin. The water made her shimmer as Toby pulled her body close and let the water fall down around them.
Lia’na nuzzled her head into Toby’s chest as he squeezed her and wrapped her arms around him. She was breathing deeply, allowing the water to sooth her nerves. Her back arched as Toby ran his hand over her spine and her skin broke out in goose bumps.
A familiar feeling came over Toby. His body began to glow as little wisps of light appeared around them in the shower. Lia’na looked at them with worry, “Spirit embers… Toby, this is the third time in two weeks.”
Toby nodded as he looked at his skin, “I know. I don’t understand it either. The radioactive properties of the crystal are what gave me these powers in the first place. By now, the residual energy should have worn off. Shouldn’t my powers have vanished by now?”
Lia’na shrugged, “I don’t know, ta arshana. I would have at least expected them to weaken somewhat, but they haven’t and that worries me. We need to figure out why your powers are still with you, and why they seem to have gained strength.”
“How do we figure that out?” Toby asked.
“I don’t know.” Lia’na admitted. “Masarabi might have been able to tell us, but we’re not allowed to go back there. I checked every historical piece I could find on the Lux Mundi online, but they didn’t have anything either. Maybe when we get back to campus the library will have something. Arias has a collection of old books that might have something.”
“All right.” Toby replied. “Then we’ll check the library when we get back. For now though, can we just not worry about it? It’s been bothering you since we got back from Hawaii and I would just like to have a day or two where we don’t worry about things.”
Lia’na nodded as the embers slowly vanished and she gave him a tight squeeze, “Deal.”
Neither one of them wanted to let the moment end, but they had a long day ahead of them and had to get started. Toby would have been okay with staying in the room and relaxing, but he knew that Lia’na was still getting used to her new home closer to the city, so he decided to do things her way.
Toby grabbed a small green bottle of shampoo off of the wall and turned back to Lia’na, “Okay, turn around.”
Lia’na smiled as she did as she was told and faced the shower head, “I’ll never get tired of you doing this.”
Toby shrugged as he emptied some of the contents on to his hands, “I don’t get why you enjoy it so much.”
She closed her eyes as he ran his hands through her hair and shrugged, “I’m not really sure why I like it either. When you wash my hair, it relaxes me. It feels like you’re willing take care of me when I need or want it.”
Toby ran his hands through her long hair, careful to make sure that it was all getting some soap. His fingers spread and ran through it like a pair of combs. He quickly finished up and lathered the rest of her body.
Lia’na slowly rinsed herself off by turning around a few times under the water. Finally she stepped out from under the shower and wiped the water from her eyes. She smiled as her eyes met Toby’s, “Your turn.”
Toby switched places with Lia’na and got under the water. He closed his eyes as the drying sweat rinsed off of his skin. As he washed, Toby felt fingers going through his hair.
Lia’na had apparently decided to return the favor and quickly washed Toby’s hair. She worked her fingers through his short hair with the soap. Toby knew she had a much easier job than he did because he didn’t have anywhere near as much hair. Yeah, no fair; this shouldn’t count as returning the favor.
They stayed in the shower for a few more minutes before Toby twisted the handle to turn the water off. Once the last drops had fallen from the shower head, he reached out from behind the curtain to the rack above the toilet and grabbed two towels. He handed the first one to Lia’na and wiped himself down with the second one.
Toby quickly brushed his teeth and hair and left Lia’na to tend to her own hair. He headed over to his dresser and grabbed a clean black shirt out of the drawer with a decent pair of khaki shorts. Unlike when he was on campus, his underwear drawer was full of clean shorts, so finding a decent pair was easy.
Toby dressed quickly as Lia’na worked on her hair in the bathroom. When he was done, Toby quickly went through the closet he’d given to Lia’na for her clothes. He found a nice pair of flats and a black dress that he had bought for her, but she had yet to wear. He went back to his own drawer with her clothes in hand and grabbed a black collared shirt and a pair of longer pants from his drawer.
Now that Toby had everything that he wanted, he sneaked out of the bedroom, through the living room, and down to his bike in the garage. He moved quietly, hoping Lia’na wouldn’t notice that he was missing.
A familiar purr came from the garage as he opened the door. Toby shook his head, “Shh…”
The bike quieted down as Toby slid the clothes into the leather side bags on the motorcycle. He quickly threaded the straps back together, concealing the bags’ contents as he looked at the bike’s headlight, “Don’t say anything okay? I’m taking Lia’na somewhere special.”
The bike made a low revving sound and immediately cut out. Toby smiled, “Thanks buddy. I’ll be right back.”
Toby quickly made his way back upstairs to the condo. He opened the door, walked back into the bedroom, and sat down on his mattress. Thankfully, Lia’na was still in the bathroom. He was about lay down when his phone went off. The loud music made him jump as he turned to his nightstand. The display was lit up and a horrible picture of Gishan from when he was drunk appeared.
Oh God… what does he want? Toby thought as he picked up the phone, “Hey buddy, what’s up?”
“Nothing,” Gishan replied, “just checking in. How you guys doing?”
“We’re fine.” Toby replied. “Lia’na’s pretty much all healed up. The Ulium is gone and the emotional damage seems to be going away as well. She seems to be getting more used to living here.”
“That’s good… really good.” Gishan replied.
Toby rolled his eyes, “Seriously dude, this is the fourth time you’ve called in a few days, what’s going on?”
“Ah I don’t know.” Gishan’s voice replied. “I guess I’m just bored. Giselle is out of town for another few weeks and God only knows where she is.”
Toby nodded, “Comes with the job, you know?”
“Yeah I do…” Gishan said. “Doesn’t make it any easier though.”
“I didn’t think it would.” Toby admitted as Lia’na came out of the bathroom. “Don’t worry about it though. We’ll all be on campus in another day or so.”
Gishan sighed, “Yeah I know. It just won’t be the same having to share my place with a new roommate.”
Toby shrugged, “Matteus is a good guy. You’ll do fine.”
“Did you get all of your crap out of the room?” Gishan asked.
“Yeah.” Toby replied. “We rented a van a few days ago and got both mine and Lia’na’s stuff before turning in our keys to the office.”
“Don’t seem right dude…” Gishan said softly.
“I know Gishan.” Toby said in a comforting tone. “Look, if it gets that bad, you can always come here and shack up in the spare bedroom. You’ve got a key, you know?”
Gishan’s voice perked up a little. “Yeah I do. All right thanks Toby.”
“Don’t mention it.” Toby replied. “I’ll see you on Monday.”
“Looking forward to it, see ya man.” Gishan said as he hung up the phone.
Lia’na stepped out of the bathroom and looked at Toby as he put the phone down, “Gishan again?”
Toby nodded, “It’s a big adjustment for him. This will be the first time we’re not living together in a while. I guess he doesn’t like having to let go.”
Lia’na rolled his eyes, “He doesn’t have to, you know? We have the extra room! He can always move in here! Now that you’ve bound me to you, I don’t really need that room and I never wanted to come between you two.”
Toby shrugged, “I know that, I offered it to him… but he’s stubborn. I’m sure after a few weeks with Matteus, he’ll come around.”
Lia’na shook her head, “I hope so. I don’t think Giselle likes the idea of hanging out on a college campus.”
Toby smiled as he looked at her, “Come on; let’s go out for some breakfast.”
Lia’na’s eyes lit up, “Oh, the Tumble Inn?”
Toby nodded, “Why not?”
“All right!” Lia’na cheered. “Give me a minute to get dressed.”
Lia’na quickly threw on a pair of black bikini briefs, a matching bra, jean shorts, and a green lace top with spaghetti straps. It was still warm out, so she thought that this would be sufficient. She quickly looked at herself in the mirror and nodded in approval.
Once Lia’na was convinced she looked presentable, she turned to Toby, “Okay I’m ready! Let’s go!”
The couple left Toby’s condo and headed down to the garage. The moment the door opened, Lia’na was startled by the loud roar of a motorcycle engine. Toby’s bike was powered up and ready to go.
Lia’na shook her head as she looked at it, “I still don’t understand how she still has powers. That’s a little worrisome.”
Toby frowned with a hurt look on his face, “I like it. The bike is much more fun with a personality, though it can be a little too pushy at times!”
The bike stopped roaring and let out a low purr. Lia’na gave the bike a sympathetic look, “Aw, Toby, you hurt her feelings!”
“And how do you know it’s a woman?” Toby demanded.
Lia’na ran her fingers across the seat as the bike’s engine purred appreciatively, “Women just understand each other.”
Toby’s eyes rolled as he sat on the bike, “Oh whatever, let’s go!”