“Rose,” someone called. “Rose!”
“What?” I whined.
“Get up,” Hunter whispered.
“What’s wrong?” I asked hearing the worry in his voice.
“Keep your voice down. There’s someone outside. Get up and go hide in the bathroom. Get in the tub and stay there until I get you.”
“Okay,” I said as I scrambled out of bed.
“Here.” Hunter handed me my backpack. “Go.”
“Stay safe, Hunt.”
I took my bag and ran into the bathroom as I was told and hid. I heard the bedroom door slam open and someone yell. Something or someone hit the wall and Hunter screamed in pain. Then it was quiet. I suddenly heard footsteps in the bathroom.
“Rose,” Hunter said, “you can come out now.” He sounded exhausted.
I came out from the tub and looked at him. His hands, face and clothes were covered in blood.
“A-are you okay, Hunt?” I asked.
“Eh,” he mumbled and shrugged his shoulders.
“Is it your…”
“Not much of it’s my blood. It mostly belongs to the dead guy down the hall.”
My face went pale. “Y-you killed him?” I asked in disbelief.
“He held a gun to my head and tried to stab me. I had to protect myself. You too. He knew you were here. He was wearing an academy badge. He was trying to kill us.” His serious look made me look away.
“…I guess so.” It still made me uncomfortable to see him like this. “You should clean up before it stains.”
“Thanks,” he said with a small smile. He leaned over and kissed my cheek.
I went out of the bathroom while he showered and changed.
“Put your clothes in the sink with warm water and soap,” I yelled through the door.
“Okay,” he yelled back.
I sat on the bed and looked around the room. The door was closed, but there was a dent in the wall in the shape of the doorknob. I looked for blood, but I couldn’t find any. I guessed learning that was part of their training—to leave as little evidence as possible. Hunter’s fingerprints probably wouldn’t be on the body or the weapons either.
The bathroom door opened and interrupted my thoughts.
“Hey,” I said, without looking at him.
“Hey. I put my clothes in the sink like you said. Should I wash them now or let them soak longer?” Hunter asked.
“I’ll wash them,” I said, standing up.
I turned around and ran into him.
“What’s wrong?” he asked as he hugged me.
“I was scared,” I answered.
“Don’t worry. I’ll protect you.”
“That’s why I’m scared.”
“I don’t want to lose you.”
He pushed me away and looked into my eyes. “No,” he said. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m not going to leave you again.”
“How do you know?”
“I promise. Rosaline, I love you and I won’t leave you. Ever.”
I smiled, but I was still worried. Hunter was the best thing I’d ever had. Losing him would be the end of everything. After losing Hunter, leaving my grandparents and finding out the truth about my parents, losing Hunter again would be too much for me to handle.
“Alright,” I said. “I’ll go wash your clothes now.” I started to walk toward the bathroom, but he wouldn’t let me go.
“I’ll do it. You go eat a pastry,” he said.
“Okay.” I turned back to the bed.
I looked at his caring face. “Yes?”
“Can you smile for real?”
“I don’t know.”
“Please try. I don’t like to see you sad.”
“I know, but Hunt—”
“I can’t right now.”
“Smile whenever you can. There’s not enough time in the world to cry.”
“Hunter, please stop.”
He frowned a little. “Fine. Just try.”
I looked away from him. “I will.”
As I ate, I thought of how Hunter’s personality was turning back to how it was before he left. He truly seemed happy again, but he looked worried whenever he left me alone. He cared for me and loved me. I knew that, but he still looked at me and treated me like I was weak.
“It’s not that I think you’re weak,” Hunter called from the bathroom. “It’s just that your powers at the moment are unstable, but they are undoubtedly amazing and much more advanced than anyone else I’ve met before.”
“How did you do that? You knew what I was thinking. You did it last night, too,” I respond.
He walked out of the bathroom and sat next to me. “Something else I didn’t tell you…while at the academy, I learned I have other powers. I can do magic, like you, and I can read minds, too.”
“What? So you’ve been invading my privacy?!”
“No! I-I try not to, but everything that I’ve heard you think just…comes to me. I think that you’re trying to tell me those things.”
I was shocked at his accusation. “Why would I want you to hear my thoughts?! If I did I would have just said them out loud!”
He looked away from me. “I know. Maybe it’s you.”
“One of my classmates had telepathic abilities and he could direct his thoughts to people.”
“So you’re saying that I could have telepathic powers, too?”
“I guess. I don’t know what all of your powers are. All I know is that you have a lot of them.”
“Oh,” I said sarcastically.
“What?” he asked looking at me.
“I thought you knew everything,” I mocked.
“That’s not true. I don’t even know all of my powers yet,” Hunter said confused.
“Oh really? You seem to have contradicted yourself,” I said sounding angry.
“What are you talking about?”
“From your previous attitude, you implied that you knew everything about this situation and everything that I don’t know. This would be something I don’t know, so you do.”
He looked at me in confusion. “I have no idea what you just said, but no mage knows all their powers. They vary from person to person, and you have more than a normal mage, anyway. You may have new powers that no one else has.”
“Whatever,” I said turning away from him. “Let’s just find this rebel group thing, so I can get some real answers.”
“Ro, why are you mad at me?”
I refused to look at him, knowing that me acting like that was making him have his adorable worried face. One look at that face and I’d lose all my nerve I had built up to tell him the truth. “I’m not mad! I’m just sick of not having answers and being confused! I just…I want this chaos to be over. You keep getting hurt because of me…I love you too much to see you die for me. I don’t want that to happen.”
He turned me to face him. “You don’t have a choice. I’d die for you in an instant.”
“Hunter, I can’t be responsible—”
“The way I see it, I’m the one responsible for you.”
“I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself.”
“So you’d prefer I let you beat up that guy?”
“Well, no…,” I said shyly.
“How about if I let you defend yourself and escape from those people back at the warehouse?”
“Maybe I shouldn’t have encouraged you to fight against Leon and be kidnapped?” he questioned with a smile.
“I get it, okay? I need you to protect me, but I just need to know why it has to be you?”
“Because I love you.”
“Why?” I asked looking into his eyes.
“Why wouldn’t I? You’re smart, you’re sweet, you’re beautiful, you’re strong, you’re brave, you’re amazing, and you’re everything I could ever need to keep me grounded to reality and the proper way to live.”
Hearing him gush made me turn red. “What do you mean?” I asked, embarrassed.
“You are my life. I need you to keep me as sane as I am insane,” Hunter said stroking my hair.
I smiled and said, “You’re only insane. Always have been, always will be.”
He tried to stifle a laugh, but it slipped out as a high pitched snort and we exploded into laughter.
“What was that?” I asked in tears.
“I don’t know,” he laughed. We kept laughing for a while, until he calmed down. “Let’s get going. The academy knows where we are. We need to keep moving.”
“Okay.” I rolled out of bed and stretched.
“Rose,” Hunter said as he got on his feet.
He pulled me close and held me tightly. “I promise we’ll get out of this safely.”
I looked up at him and said, “I know you’ll protect me.”
He smiled and kissed my forehead. “I will. I always will.”
When we got outside, Hunter became very aware of our surroundings. He stayed close to me and looked around as we walked down the streets.
“Do you know where we’re going, Hunt?” I asked.
“We’re supposed to go to a café and give a code word. Then we’ll know how to find the rebellion,” he said.
“Here.” He held out a piece of paper with an address on it.
“I know that place. It’s–”
“Shh,” Hunter whispered. “We’re being followed.”
“Is it the academy?” I whispered back.
“Yeah. Purple shirt, black leather jacket and cap. To your right.”
I turned and reached into my backpack and stole a glance in our stalker’s direction. “Alright,” I muttered as I turned back around.
“I read his mind. He’s waiting to hear the address then he’ll leave.”
“Yeah. I know where 7143 Benton Road is. It’s on the other side of town,” I say a little louder than necessary.
“He’s buying it. He’s leaving,” Hunter whispers. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the man that was following us turn in the opposite direction.
“Alright,” I said once he was out of sight. “This is the address for Callie Lotus. It’s a cute little café that has delicious drinks and sweets.”
“Oh. So you’ve been there before. Cool.”
“It’s actually not too far from here.”
“Alright. Let’s go.” We walked to the café hand in hand.
When we arrived at Callie Lotus, I looked at the yellow store front, with its red and white awnings. On the front patio sat little tables with red and white umbrellas growing from their centers.
“Real…cute,” Hunter said.
“I know it’s kind of cheesy, but they have excellent service. They treat you like family…the good kind,” I reply.
“Okay…Well let’s go in.”
We walked inside and I heard someone call my name.
“Rose? Rose! Hey, Rose!”
I looked around and saw a guy with light blond hair smiling and waving at me. “Austin!” I screamed.
“I haven’t seen you in a while. What’s up?”
“Nothing much,” I lied to him.
“Ahem,” Hunter said behind me.
“Oh, Austin,” I said gesturing to Hunter. “This is my boyfriend Hunter. Hunter this is my friend Austin.”
“Rose, it would be nice if you could introduce me the correct way,” Austin said.
I blushed and said to Hunter, “Hunter, please meet my wonderful, handsome, talented, most amazing, royally worthy master, Austin. Also known as my cousin Austin.”
“Good job, young servant,” Austin said as he patted my head. Hunter looked confused and Austin smiled at him. “A few years ago, we made a bet. She lost. This was her punishment.”
“Oh,” was all Hunter said.
“Dude, don’t worry. I won’t steal your girl. I can tell she loves you way more than she loves me.”
I felt like Hunter didn’t listen to what Austin said because he just stared at me.
“Hunt–” I started.
“You lied to me,” he cut in.
“What?” Austin and I said at the same time.
“I’ve known you for years and you never mentioned that you had any family besides your grandparents.”
“Hunter, I don’t–”
“You lied to me when I trusted you.” I was shocked by his accusation.
“So did you! You have lied to me about your family and, as far as I know, you could still be lying to me!” I yelled.
“You said you had no family,” Hunter yelled back, taking a step closer to me. “Yet, here is another family member standing right here in front of me!”
“You don’t understand, Hunter. It’s not what you think.”
“If you’d prefer to stay with him instead, that’s fine with me. I don’t care.”
In an instant my hand was making contact with Hunter’s face. He looked as stunned as I felt, while Austin remained calm.
“Rose, what the–!” Hunter began to yell.
“Don’t talk to me,” I interrupted as I walked outside.
“Rose,” Austin said. I ignored him and pushed through the glass door.
I was greeted with, “Hello, Princess Blackthorne. Nice to see you again.”
“Leon, what do you want?” I asked, still pissed off at Hunter.
“My, don’t we have a little attitude,” Leon responded.
“What. Do. You. Want,” I repeated.
“You already know the answer to that.” I watched in confusion as two men appeared out of nowhere: one carrying a cloth, the other carrying a rope. I hesitated to turn and run back into the cafe–back to Hunter.
“You asked what I wanted,” Leon said approaching me, along with the men.
“And what’s that?”