Paradise Chapter 2
- Paradise Burning Chapter 1
Sequel to Spark into Flame. Sky and Ember land on a beautiful world for their honeymoon, but soon their paradise is shattered by the unthinkable....
“I’m so sorry!”
“No—it wasn’t your fault. It just—surprised me, that’s all.”
“But—the scars!” She pointed to his side.
“Sky—it was an accident. You never had so much lightning before. I could have been prepared with my own, if I’d known—but I don’t want to hurt you either. I’d have just let you hurt me.”
“No—it’s not worth it. I’ll have to keep away from you—til I know what’s wrong with me.”
“Nothing’s wrong. I think…something’s right.”
“What do you mean?”
“You may be called Nobility, but technically, your DNA is Royalty. You’re supposed to have as much lightning as the Marches. That’s why it was seen as a particularly good match—our children will be more pure genetically than any for twenty generations, because no Royalty intermarried since the Schism.”
“But I thought I was an anomaly. I mean—my father always belittled me because I didn’t have much lightning, not like my brothers. I was too weak to be worthy of the Vale name.”
His eyes flashed. “That Meshkamesheskh!”
She flinched at his use of the Winged curse. Of course he would not lash out at her. It was just that her father had used that word for his enemies, and sometimes he would take out his anger on her. And there was something about Winged words—they were used sparingly, because of their power. They seemed to have more weight, more real meaning, than other words. So they were usually used only when someone wanted to use a word as a weapon.
“He…he said that if I couldn’t fight back, then I deserved…whatever he did to me.” She closed her eyes, fighting the image of her father bearing down on her, lightning crackling over his fists.
Fury blazed over Ember’s face. She would have feared him, if she had not known the object of his anger. “I wish that your knife had found his heart.” Trembling, he grasped the passenger chair and pulled himself to his feet. His jaw was taut, the muscles in his arm bulging, the veins in sharp relief. A few stray sparks rippled over his bicep. He looked out over the ocean, the pink clouds laced with gold where the sunrays hit them.
He turned to her, his eyes softened, though anger still smoldered in their depths. “Sky. It’s not you. It’s him. You said he first….started coming to your room when you were five. That’s when lightning begins to manifest. Of course you couldn’t fight back—you didn’t know how to use your lightning yet. Fear suppresses lightning. You’ve been living in fear—”
“Until now.” She reached out to touch his hand—but what if she sparked into him again? She drew back.
“You defeated him. He lost his hold over you. And so—your lightning is free.”
Free…such a beautiful word.
“It’s because of you. I would never have been able to stand up to him before you showed me what love was. You are the one who freed me, Ember.” She looked up into his golden eyes, burning with such love she had to force herself to bear their intensity.
“And you saved me. You have great strength inside of you. And now we know you have powerful lightning—maybe even to match mine.”
A smile crossed her lips. “I doubt that. You are the Heir.”
“And so are you. Or you would have been.”
“I am glad I’m not my father’s heir in anything. That the Marches rule—and that you’ll be Sovereign one day. But—if I do have a lot of lightning—it’s no use if it hurts you. I can’t even kiss you now! And even when your scars are gone—I don’t want to give you new scars!”
“There are ways to control it, you know. I can teach you.”
“Really? Won’t it take a long time? I mean—I never even had any stormdance lessons.”
“I can teach you some rudimentary tricks. And I have years of learning how to block others’ lightning—I’m sure I can do it with someone who hasn’t had training. Some sparks feel good—when I’m not injured. Even if it hurts me—well, it’s worth it. To know your lightning has been freed, and you’ve claimed your birthright at last.”
“It’s not worth you getting hurt.”
“I’d be willing to risk it, if you didn’t have scars too.” He slid his fingers delicately along her jaw. “We’ll just have to wait. But not too long—I won’t be able to stand it.” He kissed her lightly, then drew back. She longed for more of him and yet—this new fear, worse than the fear of his lack of control, burned inside of her. She didn’t know what to make of her newfound power. What if it was too late to learn control? She didn’t know of anyone who had begun their training over the age of six. Part of her hoped she had a lot of power—more than her father (wishful thinking), which would serve him right. But – she could not bring herself to do to Ember what he refused to do to her. Burn him—the most horrible pain that existed—the thing her father had done to her over and over—She could not bear the thought of doing something so horrific to the man she loved.
Even though he asked for pain, like she had asked (not quite—he didn’t want pain, but wanted to risk pain for pleasure’s sake), she could not do to him what he had done to her. Lose control. Lash lightning into him until he cried out—
His cry of pain from when she’d kissed him tore her heart. Nothing was worth the guilt she would feel if she hurt him and could have prevented it. Selfishly, for her own pleasure—let Ember love her, controlling himself, while she could not hold back her own power….
However, she had to admit, the thought of having power—after being powerless for so long—was seductive.
“There it is!” he said, turning to the window.
The sky shimmered slightly, like a soap bubble that had popped into an irregular patch. It was so small and thin that she wouldn’t have seen it if she hadn’t known what to look for.
Skycars swarmed around it and formed a protective sphere as Sky and Ember’s car flew within a few hundred feet.
“Authorization?” came an officious male voice, almost human, except for an indefinable hint of artificiality.
“I’m Ember March.”
The voice turned deferent. “Welcome to Mirage Portal, Your Highness.”
The swarm parted and allowed them entrance, and their car flew above the faint sheen decorating the sky. Ember slid into the pilot’s chair and she sat beside him.
Her heart fluttered. Mirage! Another world. A beautiful place for me and Ember to immerse in love—to start over—
He held her hand, and the sky, brilliant with the rising sun, wavered like a warped mirror. Then, it vanished completely into a dense gray fog, flickering with iridescent sparkles.
Her chest tightened. She knew there was enough air, but still—grayspace frightened her. She’d never gone offworld before.
A glimmer at the edge of her vision. Her stomach flipped as the car seemed to invert—but she didn’t fall, as if gravity, as well as time, were different here.
The mist slid back from the window like a curtain of sparkling cobwebs.
Brilliant sapphire blue burst across her vision, its surface sparkling with a million diamonds. She plunged toward that blue, ready to embrace its tangible glory.
The car tipped upward and her stomach flipped again. She fought nausea. She had to lean her head in her hands, while Ember slid his hand comfortingly over her back.
“Are you okay?”
The sick feeling subsided, and she raised her head.
A jagged peak approached, as green as an emerald, dotted with splashes of vivid color. It took her breath away.
White sand fringed the island’s irregular edges, which were laced by a lighter blue. As they flew closer, she could make out the fronds of trees; craggy rocks on the steep mountains; large fish, and schools of smaller fish, swimming in the blue depths. A flurry of dark shapes ran along the beach, and as the car descended, the creatures scattered, breaking off into smaller groups. They were sleek, shining in the sun, and had long tails and hair along their necks. Some were brown, and some were gray or almost gold.
“What are those?” she asked, as the creatures disappeared into the forest.
“They’re called horses. They’re wild on this island, but the natives ride tame ones.”
“If you want, you can choose one, even a wild one, and we can bring it home. Dad already has a small stable of them, and he’s learning to ride.”
It was strange to think of riding an animal. The flying beasts her ancestors rode had long become extinct. But her heart flipped over when she thought of owning one; longing sparked inside her for something she hadn’t known existed until a few moments ago.
The car flew over a small peninsula and lowered toward a long, curved beach, nestled in cliffs and cradling a broad swath of blue sea.
“This is the best beach on the island,” he said.
“You have been here before?”
He nodded. “I scouted out places for our honeymoon before the wedding. This island is both secluded and close to the Portal. And it’s one of the most beautiful places in all the worlds. I wanted it to be yours.”
“What do you mean?”
“I petitioned the king, and he gave it to me. It’s my wedding gift to you.”
A whole island? That someone would give her such an extravagant gift—she could not wrap her mind around it.
The car settled on the beach close to the cliffs, facing the broad blue expanse of sky and sea.
Her heart thumped hard in her chest. She couldn’t move. It was just so overwhelming.
He grasped her hand. “Come. Let me show you your paradise.”
© 2018 Evelyn