Today’s photo fic takes place in the world of my poor neglected serial “Your Lies”.
I sat in the coffee shop, ignoring the buzzing of my phone—been doing that since the conversation with Mom earlier. When I’d told her I wasn’t going to stop seeing Maddock Roberts, that he wasn’t the enemy. Not the way Mom thought he was. Sure, his family embodied the anti-magic movement, but Maddock wasn’t like that. Yeah, when we’d met, he was leading anti-magic rallies on campus and seemed to think along the same lines as his parents, but that had changed. He listened to what I said, what my friends said. He wasn’t unreasonable.
Though he didn’t know I was a magic user. While I didn’t think he was as bad as his family or his friends, I wasn’t at the point I’d out myself that way. I wasn’t stupid. Despite what Mom thought.
I understood where she was coming from. She was worried. I totally got that. But what she was doing—calling and texting constantly to tell me I need to come home, calling Kyle so he was constantly harassing me too. It was infuriating. The last straw though? Finding out she had someone basically spying on me and reporting back to her. This morning was the first time I’d talked to Mom in a week after finding out that little tidbit. And the worst part? She wasn’t even sorry. Not even a little. Just dove right back into how unsafe it was on campus, especially with Maddock in the picture. I’d hung up on her. Felt a little guilty about that—until she kept calling and texting, and within an hour, Kyle was doing the same.
I jolted and felt my face heat as I met Maddock’s clear green gaze. Shit, I’d lost complete track of time and been too caught up in my thoughts to notice when he’d walked in.
“Hi,” I said, cursing the breathlessness of my voice—though it was a regular occurrence.
Whenever I saw him, the emotions I felt for him were like a punch in the gut. Not to mention my magic swelling, practically reaching for him every time he was near. It was why I wasn’t willing to give this—give him—up with without a fight. Even if a small part of me could concede this was likely going to end poorly…especially when he found out about me. Did that make me naïve? Mom and Kyle would say yes, obviously. But I didn’t think so—not when I was prepared for that possibility. Not when I was going to protect myself for the eventuality that he was going to know that I was the thing his family hated, the very thing he spent his whole life fearing and speaking out against.
“Ready to take off?” He frowned when my phone skittered across the tabletop, even more so when I hit ignore and shoved it into my pocket.
“Yep.” I snagged my backpack, slinging it over my shoulder as I stood.
He grabbed my hand, tangling our fingers, and together, we walked out of the café into the cool night.
“So, still not talking to your mom?” he said softly, after we’d gone a few blocks toward campus.
I sighed. He knew I was upset with her. Knew it kind of had to do with him. Not the full extent of it, of course—I’d let him assume that it was because we were Sympathizers while his family was very vocal in the anti-magic movement.
“I talked to her this morning,” I admitted. “She just didn’t like what I had to say.”
“I don’t like being the cause of problems between you and your mom.”
“You’re not. Really,” I said quickly when he opened his mouth to protest. “She doesn’t even know you, so it’s not you. She isn’t happy she can no longer control what I do. That’s what it comes down.”
He hummed, lips turned down, and squeezed my hand. The hairs on the back of neck suddenly stood on end, and an energy I didn’t recognize slid along my skin. I looked over my shoulder and saw a young woman about my age, with long dark hair, dressed all in black, walking behind us, a cell to her ear. She spoke in a low tone, but now I was aware, I caught a few words—yes, with him…will see where they…will keep you updated—and anger rose swiftly, to the point I nearly gagged on it. I came to an abrupt stop and letting go of Maddock’s hand, spun around.
The woman stopped, too, just as she was pocketing her phone. She stared, wide-eyed at me, mouth hanging open slightly.
“I told her to call you off,” I bit out, shoving down the power that snapped inside me, aching to get out of the confines of my skin.
I rolled my eyes at the forced smile and fake confusion. “Since she’s not getting the message, I’ll tell you. No more spying for my mother. Back the fuck off of me. If I see you again…”
I let the implied threat hang in the air, not willing to say more with Maddock standing right there. And honestly, I didn’t exactly know what I would do but it wasn’t going to be pretty, damn it!
The confusion—which didn’t look so fake anymore—clouded her face for a moment longer then cleared.
Before she could speak again, though, Maddock took several steps forward. “Get the—” And nearly fell back onto his ass when she had no problems revealing her power on the dark, nearly deserted street.
The intense energy radiated off her, sparking off her open palms, lifting her hair wildly. My magic nearly suffocated, pushing out, out, out. Wanting to answer the blatant show, desperate to protect. Protect the man beside me with a desperation I’d never felt.
“Don’t threaten me, Maddock Roberts,” she sneered. “I would have no problem eliminating the problem you pose to us. It would be easier than you could imagine.”
I moved forward, placing myself between them, staring into the woman’s dark eyes. “It would be harder than you imagine.”
“You would align yourself with him? He would see all of us caged like animals!”
“You don’t know him,” I shot back. “Leave now.”
In a blink, she pulled her magic back and straightened to full height. “You’re going to regret this, Delia,” she said.
I frowned at her words, at her tone. It was a warning, yes, but she didn’t sound threatening. She sounded…sad, resigned.
“You don’t know him either,” she continued. “His family. This is going to end badly—for you more than any of us. He can’t be trusted.”
I shook my head, almost violently. “You’re wrong. And you can tell my mother that.”
She chuckled hollowly, backing up a few steps. “Don’t know your mother, but if she’s trying to stop this,” she gestured between Maddock and myself, “she’s smart, and you should listen to her. Listen to Kyle. Choose who you associate with more care, before it’s too late.”
With that, she turned and walked away.
“Kyle? He sent you?” I called after her. I got no answer, except a quick glance as she turned a corner out of sight.
“Delia?” Maddock moved in front of me and cupped my face in his large hands, dipping his head to catch my gaze. “Well, that was…something. Haven’t been confronted by a magic user like that before and— Shit, you’re shaking, baby.”
“I’m okay,” I lied, eyes burning, vision blurring.
“Who’s Kyle?” he asked quietly, fingers catching the stupid tears I couldn’t hold back.
“A friend. My…my best friend.” I swallowed past the lump growing in my throat. “At least I thought he was.”
“He’s a magic user. Like her.” He jerked his head in the direction the woman had disappeared. When I didn’t answer immediately, he smiled and brushed his thumb along my bottom lip. “It didn’t take me long to figure out someone close to you had to be a magic user—you’re so dedicated, so passionate about protecting them. It’s clear that it’s not just a cause for you. It’s personal.”
Still unable to speak, because the truth—like my magic—was so close to the surface, I was terrified all of it would come spilling out, I just nodded.
“It’s going to be all right.” He released his hold on my face and wrapped his arms around me.
I gave a strangled laugh as I returned the embrace and leaned into him. Into his warmth and strength.
“It will be,” he insisted, running his palm over the back of my head, fingers massaging my scalp. “We’ll make it all right. You and me. Because she was wrong—you do know me, and I would never do anything to hurt you.” He pulled back and looked me in the eye. “You know that, right?”
“I do,” I whispered then pushed up to kiss his tempting mouth. And I did. I knew he wouldn’t do anything to hurt me—as he knew me now.