He continued to stare at Chloe speechlessly, his mouth slightly agape. She had a nagging feeling that something had just gone seriously wrong between them.
“Hello, earth to Colin.” Chloe said waving her hand in front of his face.
When he blinked but still didn’t respond, Chloe rolled her eyes again and shrugged.
“Fine, whatever, I’m outta here.” She had given up.
This time when she turned to leave, Colin didn’t try to stop her. Chloe paused for a second with her hand on the doorknob, hurt and trembling, hoping that he would stop her. She was hoping he would give her a reason. She was hoping that he would take her into his arms, hold her, and tell her that everything was going to be fine. When he didn’t follow, Chloe opened the door and stormed inside. She didn’t even bother closing the door behind her. Out of the corner of her eye Chloe saw Aidan and Katie rush towards the open door looking for Colin, and she heard Aidan speaking.
“What you’re just going to let her go like that? Colin, go after her.” Aidan told him.
“I can’t Aidan, she’s not the one. I mean she’s…” Colin paused looking around, “She’s special, but she’s not, she’s not…” he stammered.
“She’s not what man?” Aidan forced through gritted teeth obviously frustrated with Colin. Colin looked directly into Aidan’s face.
“Mine.” Colin breathed out unsteadily.
“Feck!” Chloe heard Aidan swear.
Chloe closed her eyes for a brief second, as a wave of hurt and confusion washed over her. She swallowed hard. Not his? She thought, well then why have I spent the last year of my life totally ensorcelled by him? Why is he the only one I dream about? Why does he consume my thoughts? There was a lump forming in Chloe’s throat and she ached to cry, but she was determined not to do it in front of all these strangers. She wasn’t going to let anyone see that she had been hurt beyond measure by his blatant rejection. Instead, Chloe marched down the stairs and out the front door. She vaguely made out someone calling her name, but she kept walking without looking back.
Once outside, the chilly night air hit Chloe’s coatless body and she shivered as she hurried down the little street past Mr. McFarland’s house and ran towards the fields. She didn’t care that it was cold and almost dark. Truthfully, she didn’t even notice the fading light until she slowed down her pace a few minutes later. Chloe stumbled every now and then on the stones protruding from the road. Not sure whether she stumbled because of the dimming light or because of the useless, unwanted tears that stung her beautiful eyes. Chloe had already giving up on caring if anyone saw her cry. Her heart felt broken in two and she sobbed and sobbed.
As the tears ran in torrents down her pale, sorrowful face, Chloe couldn’t stop them and it was no use for her to try. She wiped her eyes on her arm, sniffing hard, and cringed as she realized she had forgotten her jacket in her mad dash out of Aidan’s house. Her vision blurred through the tears and she couldn’t see the road in front of her anymore. When she sniffed again and it sounded more like a snort, she started crying harder. She was glad that there was no one around to see her embarrassing outburst of emotion. She never cried. She was tough. She had worked hard to hold up that front for years. Now, the whole façade was crumbling down around her and she had no idea what to do.
What is wrong with me, Chloe thought, I’m acting like a silly school girl.
Granted, she had expected some kind of magical connection between them. Like the ones in books, when a woman meets the man of her dreams and it becomes hard to breathe, hard to speak, and acting like a total klutz becomes second nature. In the books the women always became a besotted love-fools. Fireworks and wild heart beats were in order.
But I’ve never really believed in that stuff, Chloe thought sadly, I’ve always thought it was just an over exaggeration on the author’s part. A few moments earlier, however, when she had realized that Colin was standing across the room from her and that he was real, she had relished the fairytale ending.
Instead, as Chloe stood there in front of Colin, she realized that all those crazy-in-love feelings weren’t happening. There were no fireworks. Instead, she had been swamped by confusion and irritated by Colin’s standoffish manner. Still, she wanted all that silly school girl stuff to happen, and there had been a connection of sorts, but somehow it just hadn’t felt like the gushy love stories she had read about. Then, when Colin had looked at her so oddly after he had grabbed her hand, Chloe had definitely felt like she was being rejected and she didn’t know how to deal with the hurt and tremendous disappointment she had felt. That was why she ran.
The cold wind hit that hit her caused the tears to sting her face and numb her cheeks, and Chloe felt inadequately prepared to face the torment that ravaged her body as the storm ragged around her while she stumbled forward into the dark abyss of her emotions. She hadn’t even realized where she was headed until she reached the field with the stones in them. Chloe sat down under the huge oak tree and cried her heart out. Her body shuttered with sobs, feeling absolutely broken. She wiped her eyes on her arm again, wishing that she had thought to grab her jacket on the way out.
Great, Chloe thought, my mascara is probably all over my face.
She felt queasy and a cold chill made her shudder involuntarily. A twig snapped nearby and she looked up suddenly alert. At first, Chloe thought that Colin had followed her but as she gazed through the dimming light just past the shadow of the oak, she realized it was Aidan.
“Chloe, are you okay?” Aidan whispered as he knelt on the leaf covered ground beside her.
All Chloe could muster the strength for was to shake her head no in response. Her voice choked in her throat. Aidan leaned closer to Chloe, wrapped his coat around her shoulders, and gently gathered her into his arms. Chloe didn’t struggle; instead she burrowed close and rested her head on his shoulder as he cradled it with one of his strong hands. For a moment, Chloe just stayed there and absorbed his strength. Slowly, her tears began to subside and her breathing became normal again. Chloe’s cold nose was close to the warmth of his neck and the feeling began to return to it. His smell was intoxicating, like honey and cinnamon. No, not cinnamon, Chloe thought as she breathed his scent in deeply, it was cloves.
She ran the sleeve of his jacket over her eyes one more time and pulled back so she could look at him.
“Aidan, will you tell me the truth please. What’s going on?” Chloe’s lips trembled as she spoke.
He sighed and ran a hand through his thick black hair.
“I’ll be breaking the rules if I tell you everything.” He paused momentarily weighing his next words carefully. “However, I do feel you have a right to know certain things. Your life is also involved in this tangled mess. Colin really mucked things up.”
Chloe nodded in silent agreement and he continued.
“You’ve been seeing Colin in your dreams?” He asked point blankly, and Chloe wondered how he knew, but she nodded again sniffing loudly instead of asking him.
“Well we believe that you were called to us, to Colin more specifically,” he paused and Chloe sat quietly waiting for him to continue.
“Every hundred years a woman is chosen and called to one of the members of the brotherhood. The woman and the man share a very close connection, which becomes an unbreakable bond, and she becomes his mate.”
Chloe shook her head in confusion. Nothing he had just said made any sense at all.
“What brotherhood? What every hundred years? What exactly are you saying?” She asked him in skeptically as she stood up and shook the leaves off of her sundress.
“Sit back down Chloe, and I’ll try to explain.” She nodded and sat down and he continued. “Once this woman is chosen by the … let’s just say… higher power, a member of the brotherhood is gifted with the opportunity to make her his soul mate. Because dreams and visions are such an integral part of our lives, this is how he communicates with his chosen soul mate. He meets with her, befriends her, shares his most intimate secrets with her, and she is drawn to him. An insatiable yearning to be completed helps to guide her to her mate. Sometimes it takes years for the woman to actually recognize this internal need and act upon it. Others simply act unconsciously, but they all find their way. Once she finds her mate, the bond between them is completed by a special ritual.” Chloe listened to him with wide eyes.
“To put it simply, Colin thought you were his chosen mate.” Aidan finished his explanation. He leaned forward, intent, waiting. Chloe picked at the hem of her skirt as she let what he had just told her sink in.
“Ok let’s say I believe your far from enlightening explanation. If it is true, then I don’t understand why I’m not Colin’s chosen mate. Colin has been in my dreams for a long time and we have become very close. Is there something wrong with me? How does he know I’m not this chosen one?” Chloe asked sniffing again.
“No there’s nothing wrong with you, you’re perfect.” Aidan said sympathetically. He thought quietly for a moment and then he asked, “Did Colin join his hand with yours?”
“Yes.” Chloe said hesitantly.
“And what do you remember happening?” He prodded.
“Well, when his palm touched mine I felt a pinch. It kind of hurt a little,” She said remembering that she had wondered about that pinching feeling.
“Right,” he said nodding at her words as if what she had said settled the matter.”
“Well, if you were chosen to be Colin’s soul mate, you would have felt a lot more than a little pinch. When the connection happens there’s a shock, like an electric current, and the two souls become instantly bonded.” There was a long silence while he waited for Chloe to process the information.
Then she spoke. “What Brotherhood Aidan?” Chloe swallowed hard as she waited for his reply.
“We are the Guardians of the Fae.” Aidan said very seriously.
“You expect me to believe you guard fairies?” Chloe asked him, half laughing and half choking in total disbelief.
“Not fairies, Chloe, the Fae.” Chloe shook her head at him. “Just open your mind a little and try to believe that other things do exist.” He begged her.
“So what you’re like a Druid or something?” Chloe asked jokingly. She’d read enough books to know fantasy from reality.
“No we’re not Druids, we’re warriors. We guard the portals to the Fae realm.” He was totally sober. Chloe could see that he wasn’t teasing her. He actually believed what he was saying. She swallowed hard.
Chloe was entering that defining moment right before sensory-overload, when the information given has become too much to process and the mind sort of cracks. She stood up brushing off her dress and handed him back his coat. She had heard all she could handle for one day.
“Okay Aidan, I don’t know what kind of Dungeons and Dragons roll-playing you’re into, but I’m really not up for it. I just meet the man of my dreams, literally, and found out he wasn’t the man of my dreams. So, if you’ll excuse me…” she let her sentence drift off without finishing it, guessing that he would figure out her meaning.
A hurt expression crossed his face. Why does he look hurt? Chloe thought, I am the one that just got hurt. Now Aidan is standing here playing games with me. Chloe felt anger rising deep in her soul once again.
“Do you trust me?” He asked standing up.
“I barely even know you Aidan.” Chloe said and she looked away from him towards the road.
“Do you trust me?” He asked again softly.
“Sure, why not?” Chloe said flippantly, and he took her arm. Before she knew what he was doing, he chanted some strange words, and stepped through the stone doorway called Kierra’s Veil. Chloe saw a flash of light like a bolt of lightning and she screamed as she was pitched into blinding darkness.
Want more? Check out my newly released novel Daughter of Destiny