If not for Kiarra’s stubborn refusal to leave his side, he probably would be dead right now.
Well, that and the discovery of his own latent ability. It wasn’t what he would have chosen if given the choice, but being a Screecher was better than being nothing at all. He could at least short out technology and incapacitate other Feiru with the vibrations of his voice.
He brushed the hair from Kiarra’s forehead and smiled, wondering how she’d take the news of his abilities. She would probably tease him about never raising his voice again, just as a precaution. He needed to test his ability later and judge if that really was the case. Not being able to argue or raise his voice with Kiarra was not an option.
Especially now, when he had a thing or two to discuss with her.
From what he’d heard, Kiarra had gone to meet Gio’s people alone, with no backup. Even with her abilities, that was tantamount to suicide. She’d spent fifteen years inside the AMT, and he would never try to truly curb her freedom, but he needed to drill some common sense into her.
Especially as word of her legendary abilities started to spread.
Speaking of which, he’d expected to hear from Neena or Aislinn by now. Neither one would answer the phone, nor did Neena respond to his dreams. He knew they were busy, probably off locating another Talent, but considering their search would mean nothing if the Fire Talent died, he’d expected some help.
But it wasn’t just Kiarra he was worried about; Jaxton didn’t know what had happened to Millie. Before Darius had burst into their room back at the research facility, Vanessa had spoken to some people she knew on the inside and confirmed that Millie was no longer there. Some people had said she’d died, while others had thought she’d been sent away. Darius seemed to trust Vanessa’s words, though Jaxton had yet to find out why. Darius and Vanessa had disappeared shortly after securing Kiarra and Jaxton in their current location.
Jaxton brought Kiarra’s hand to his lips, kissed her knuckles, and willed her to wake up. He needed to find his sister, but he couldn’t do anything until he was sure that Kiarra would live. He had people searching for Millie in the meantime, but that wasn’t enough. Jaxton hadn’t just found his brother after five years to now lose his sister.
He let out a frustrated sigh. Sitting around, doing nothing, was not his style. He’d been patient and attentive over the last few days, but it was time to try a different approach with Kiarra. He poked her in the side gently a few times, and she moved a little. Maybe this would work.
He pinched her hip lightly and said, “Get up, lazybones, we’ve work to do.” He rose halfway from the chair and leaned down next to her ear. “Both in and out of the bedroom.”
He nipped her ear and Kiarra gave a half-hearted swat before mumbling, “Leave me alone.”
Jaxton stilled, then relaxed as he said, “Never. Now, get up.”
His heart pounding, Jaxton waited to see if Kiarra would wake up. Kiarra rubbed her head against the pillow, and all of the sudden, Jaxton was jealous of an inanimate object.
He needed to touch her.
Brushing her cheek, he said, “Please, pet, wake up.”
One eye cracked open. “You only use the word ‘please’ when it’s something I don’t want to do.”
At her words, a rush of warmth went straight to his heart. Until now, he hadn’t realized how scared he’d been that his little Fire Talent would never wake up again. Jaxton wanted—no, needed—to hold her in his arms. He swatted her side. “Make room for me.”
She looked at him with an unreadable expression before her eyes widened and darted to his throat and back to his face. “You’re alive.” She tried to sit up, but she grabbed her head and sank back down onto the bed. “Why am I so lightheaded?”
“Woman, after sitting here for two days, wondering whether you were going to live or die, I’m not going to tell you a bloody thing until you move over so I can hold you in my arms.”
She blinked for a second then scowled, although the smile in her voice lessened the effect. “Fine, just this once, I’ll do as you say.”
Kiarra moved over and held up the blanket in invitation. Jaxton slid under the covers, and as soon as he pulled Kiarra close, his bravado melted away. “Don’t ever do something daft like that again, do you hear?”
She rubbed her head against his chest before hitting him with her fist. “You’re one to talk. You were bleeding out, right in front of my eyes. If I hadn’t been able to heal you…”
Kiarra started to cry and he hugged her tight. “Sssh, love, I’m here now.”
Her tears went straight to his heart, but no matter how much he murmured affirmations, interspersed with kisses to the top of her head, she wouldn’t stop crying.
“Can’t lose you…too many…people I love…” Kiarra choked out.
Jaxton’s hand stopped mid-stroke as he processed what she’d just said.
Kiarra knew she was being an idiot, but once the tears started, she couldn’t seem to make them stop. Even with Jaxton holding her close and murmuring reassurances, she clung to him for dear life, afraid that she’d wake up to find it had all been a dream.
He’d almost died, and it was only when she saw him whole again did she realize just how scared she’d been. A lot had been taken away from her over the years, but Jaxton had been the one to coax out her secrets and fears, introducing the concept of trust back into her life. If she lost him, she wasn’t sure she could find the strength to recover.
She’d lost too many people she loved in the past; she would fight till her last breath to make sure it didn’t happen again.