Paradise Chapter 4
- 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....
- Paradise Burning Chapter 2
Sky and Ember arrive at the island
- Paradise Burning Chapter 3
Ember begins to teach Sky how to use her lightning
The light pounded into her eyes and wind slung her hair into her face, and she was standing on sand in a place that smelled like nectar and seaweed.
“Sky—oh, Sky. What happened? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean—” A man stood there, backlit by the sun, and she realized it was Ember.
“No—i-it’s not your fault.” Tears streamed down her face, and she tasted salt in her damp hair.
“What is it? What’s wrong?”
“I can’t do it! I can’t find the center. It’s too—deep. There are too many memories. I can’t go back, Ember. I just want to be here with you. I didn’t want the past to ruin this.”
His brow furrowed. “I don’t ever want to make you relive that horror. Maybe there’s a way around the memories. If you can go straight to the center. Block your father out. He is nothing. He doesn’t belong here, in this place. You are so much more than what he did to you.”
She nodded, although—when she looked at her past at all—her father overshadowed it. He was entwined in every thought; he poisoned every word. “I want to tear the past from me like it never was. I was born the day of our wedding. I came to life that first night when you took me in your arms and held me, your kiss gave me my first breath. Your touch gave me the spark of life that awakened the cells in my body—your lightning brought mine into being.”
He smiled through the tears that welled up in his eyes. “Oh, Sky…. That was beautiful.”
“It’s what I feel.”
“You have a poetic way of expressing it. I can’t be responsible for all of who you are, though. You were always there. I just—helped show you who you really were.”
“I was worse than nonexistent before you came. Worse than dead. You gave me life—beyond anything I ever expected. I never experienced anything so wonderful—it all feels like a dream, and yet—more real than anything that’s ever happened to me.”
He slid his finger gently over her cheek, wiping away the cold droplets that still lay there. Then he drew back just a little.
“Maybe that’s the key. Focus on what brought out your lightning in the first place. Fear suppresses lightning. Passion brings it out. It’s best to untether lightning from emotions so it’s consistent no matter what you’re feeling—but maybe that’s not the right way in this case. You’re learning unconventionally. Any way that brings your lightning out is the right way.” He sat down on the sand, and she sat down facing him. “Think about the first time we made love. How that made you feel.”
A twinge of sorrow hit her; she could only reminisce, not merge with him in reality. And she would not until she had enough control. If this was the best way to do it, it was worth a little discomfort.
She closed her eyes and pictured Ember, resplendent in his wedding suit. Such fear she’d felt—ridiculous in hindsight. But she hadn’t known…
His tender touch.
The trembling of his body, the nervousness she’d barely realized he had at the time.
The love that burned in his eyes.
The soft pressure of his lips on hers.
The soft sparks of lightning crackling against her skin.
A sharp stab of pain—
But afterwards, his fervent apology, and his astonishing words—he cared more about her feelings than his own pleasure.
He’d turned her world upside down.
And she’d chosen to trust him, and yielded to his embrace, and – it had been more wonderful than anything she’d ever known, like the crack of dawn splitting darkness apart, and blazing ecstasy had shot through her—and his lightning had blasted into the wall instead of her body. His amazing power. His incomparable love. Shown to her in that one earthshattering moment.
This. Yes, this is the center of who I am. Not that pain and fear and darkness.
Almost unconsciously, she lifted her hand, and let that light flow from the blazing core of her being. Soft prickles spread over her skin, down along her arm, and collected in her palm.
“Sky, look! You did it!”
She opened her eyes. Sparks flickered over her hand, small flashes of light crackling from one fingertip to the next.
“I did it!” Excitement thrummed through her. More lightning surged down her arm, some of it lashing off into the air in wide arcs. More lightning than she’d ever had. The world had flipped again, and she was in some wondrous dreamworld that she never wanted to awaken from. A world where she was no longer powerless and the man she loved was always near.
He let lightning slither over his own body and then he leaned forward and kissed her. His lightning met hers and did not shock her; a pleasant tingle spilled over her lips and crackled into her mouth. Laughter bubbled over her tongue and she slid onto her knees to meet him and carefully place her hand on his back. Her lightning crackled just over his scars.
She drew back. Stray sparks dripped from her fingertips.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“My lightning is protecting me. I can’t hurt your scars either, as long as you’ve got lightning.” He pressed his lips to hers again and she reveled in the taste of his mouth. She ached for him, a burning pain, a building explosion she didn’t know if she could hold back.
He lifted his lips away from hers—ah—my Ember, where are you!—but then his lips pressed to her neck and she leaned back and let him hold her as he kissed down the length of her throat to the dip where her collarbone met her chest. His lips gave a particularly strong spark there and she gasped.
“Are you okay?” he asked, concern bright in his golden eyes.
“Yes—Ember—please, don’t stop.”
She ached for him to continue but he lifted his head and, horribly, took his hands from her back so they no longer touched. Blue brilliance danced over his glorious body for a few seconds before it melted back into his skin.
“Why did you stop?” she asked, almost mindless with longing for him. She couldn’t bear to be so close to him without her skin pressed to his. And for him to be right there, the shirt revealing his magnificent chest, it was too tantalizing.
“We can’t go any further. Not while you still have scars from…the last time.”
A pang shot through her—the memory of his lightning spiking into her. The fear. She hadn’t been afraid this time, though. Because he loved her and would not hurt her. She knew it at the very center of her soul.
“I trust you.”
“But your lightning won’t protect you fully if we go much further. Not unless I’m in complete control.”
She nodded reluctantly. She trusted him to channel his lightning away from her, even if he didn’t trust himself yet. But if he did channel his lightning away, it wouldn’t be able to protect him, and hers would hurt him. No, she couldn’t bear the thought of that, no matter how much she wanted him.
Lightning skipped over her fingers to dance onto the sand.
Calm down, she told it, but that didn’t dull its brilliance.
“Ember, it’s not stopping.”
“You’ve got a lot of excess. It shows how much you care about me.” He smiled. “But it could take a while to dissipate, since you can’t suppress it on your own. Not unless you want to bring up memories of fear or sorrow. Please—don’t do that. As long as it’s not hurting you, I don’t mind. It’s beautiful on you.”
“It’ll die down eventually?”
“It should. Unless you’re unusually powerful, or something’s wrong with your lightning. Or—“ He stopped.
“Well, sometimes…if a powerful Royal is diverted from the object of their passion, lightning can stay awake for hours. If that happens, you have to channel it away from you, or it could explode.”
“I only heard of that happening once. But it can hurt you and anyone nearby.”
“I don’t know how to channel my lightning.”
“You’ll have to learn.”
She lifted her hand to see if it was fading at all. If anything, it looked like it was growing stronger. Bright arcs of lightning sparked across her palm. Burgeoning into a miniature storm.
“What about suppressing it with sadness or fear?”
“If it were an explosion, nothing would stop it except one of your worst experiences. I never want you to relive that.”
“There are ways to suppress it without emotion?”
“Yes. Just forget I said anything about an explosion. They’re so rare I shouldn’t have mentioned it. You just have powerful lightning, that’s all. All that’s happening right now is normal—I had something similar happen when I was five. I was angry that…I had to go to bed.” He laughed sheepishly. “My lightning built up so much that it started sparking all over the place. It hit my mom.”
“What did she do?”
“She sang me a lullaby. It calmed me down. It wasn’t the last incident, though. I had—quite the temper when I was little.”
“I can just picture you throwing a tantrum and flashing lightning all over the place!”
“I can show you some holos of me when we get home.”
“Really?” She wanted to see him, to know him, at every stage of who he was.
He nodded. “I was kind of spoiled as a kid. Some would say I still am.”
“You’re the furthest thing from spoiled that I know of. That’s just your great-uncle talking.”
“I’d better start teaching you before your lightning dissipates.”
She looked down at her hand. Sure enough, the lightning was fading into disparate sparks. An unexpected pang of sorrow hit her. She’d never realized what it felt like to have any lightning, much less the powerful kind. She’d barely even considered it—she was weak, undeserving of the power the rest of her family had. So she hadn’t even felt much desire for it; it was no use longing for something that she could never have. But now—the gorgeous blue sparks blazing over her skin, evidence of her love for Ember—she felt more herself than she ever had. As if a part of her was missing, and now she was complete.
Still, she almost felt like the lightning was taking over. It had a mind of its own. It took control of her, rather than the other way around, as if it was another being inside of her. That scared her—to have such a disconnect between a natural part of her, and the rest of her body and mind.
“Can you teach me how to control lightning without emotions?”
“Emotions can only bring lightning out or suppress it. The rest is stormdance. It’s the first step before learning to bring your lightning out without emotion. Here’s one of the first forms.”
He stepped back onto the sand, his body outlined against the dark rock of the cliffs. He lifted his hand and lightning sparked onto it. Then, he swirled it into a crackling sphere and hurled it toward the cliff and it smashed into the rock and made a dark splash of burnt coals.
Awe surged through her. His form was perfect, his motions fluid and elegant. Her brothers, who were experts at stormdance and constantly fought over who was better, faded in comparison to Ember.
“Now, you try.”
“I can never be like you!”
“You can. I want you to see how amazing you are. You have so much power; it’ll just take more work to control it. Every Royal since the dawn of time has learned to control their lightning. All it takes is practice. Look what you’ve been able to do already! Not everyone can bring out lightning at will on the first day.
“Now, cup your hands. Let lightning flow there, and settle there like water.”
Kneeling on the sand, she cupped her hands and concentrated on the zap of tiny lightning bolts across her palm. She willed them to collect in one place, but instead they seemed to scatter, crackling over her fingers and spilling off onto the sand and creating charred black pinpoints where they landed.
“It’s not working!”
He knelt beside her. “Close your eyes. Breathe. Focus on the current flowing through your body from the center of who you are. Feel the nuances of your hands. Its components—delicate bones and veins, the flesh and blood and skin and nerves. Feel the sensitivity of your palm, where you will cradle another part of yourself. Now, feel the lightning, sparking at your arm, wrist, and fingertips. Send it to the center of your palm. Don’t force it, just guide it and let it settle there.”
It seemed so untamable, separate from her rather than intrinsic to her being. Probably because she had been cut off from it for so long.
She focused on the sparks, urging them to her hand, but instead they seemed to run the other direction.
Frustrated, she flung her arm out, tossing sparks to the sand. They sank into the golden dust and disappeared. A few more snapped across her fingertips, then melted back into her skin.
“It’s like it’s doing the opposite of what I tell it!”
“You tried to force it, didn’t you.”
“It’s a paradox, but control sometimes means letting go. Accept that it’s a natural part of yourself. It’ll listen to you if you let it follow a path of least resistance.”
“That’s just it—it doesn’t feel natural. I mean—it feels good, and right, but at the same time it’s like it’s an alien thing, like it’s got a mind of its own.”
He frowned and rubbed his chin. “It shouldn’t feel like that. Even if it’s not listening to you, it should feel like a part of you—like a limb you are just starting to learn to use.”
“It does—and doesn’t. Like there’s—I don’t know, something still missing.”
“Maybe you just need to get more in tune with your power. I mean—it’s not normal for so much lightning to be suppressed for so long. No wonder you’re having trouble. It’s miraculous, really, that you’re able to use it so well, considering….” He looked away, tears welling up in his eyes.
Gently, she laid a hand, now bereft of sparks, on his cheek. He turned to look at her, wonder and deep love in his eyes. “You are the miracle,” she said.
“So are you.” He pressed his other cheek to hers and she held him and his jaw was prickly against hers and she could feel warm tears on her skin, and she didn’t know if they were his or her own.
© 2018 Evelyn