The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter Twenty Six

[ Beginning | Previous Chapter ]

May’s heart threatened to hammer its way out of her chest.

In the first light of morning, it was impossible to tell who was standing there, blocking the shelter’s exit.

“Can we help you?” Em demanded but did not rise.

Once May’s eyes adjusted, she saw the intruder was a boy, only fourteen or fifteen-years old. He didn’t speak. He didn’t smile. He simply looked between the two women huddled in the corner and, without acknowledging it, dropped a tightly folded piece of paper on the ground and left. The sound of a bike being righted from the ground and peddling off was the last they heard from him.

“Who was that?” May asked, hushed but panicked.

“I have no idea.” Em’s head was cocked, listening.

May crept forward, stiff body aching in protest, and reached for what the boy had dropped.

“No,” Em pulled her back. “Leave it. Just wait.”

Too nervous to argue, May did as she was told. In motionless silence, they waited. They waited for what felt to May like forever.

Em nodded. “Okay, I think we’re good.”

This time when May reached for the paper, Em didn’t stop her. Instead, she peered over the shelter’s half-wall, scanning the picnic area around them. A couple runners plodded along a trail skirting the grove. Otherwise they were alone.

Licking her dry lips, May shot Em an anxious look and unfolded the paper.

We’ll meet you there.

“That’s Priva’s handwriting.” Em crouched back down beside May. She studied the note with a frown. “Meet us where?”

May searched her memory; Priva had told her where they were going, that day in the woods when she opened up about her family’s history of exploration. The memory was fuzzy now.

“Priva told me once,” she groaned, closing her eyes and trying to remember where Priva had pointed on the map. “We were going to get there by train. Ugh, it was a city, had a short name… I think it started with a y?”



Em looked surprised but didn’t say anything.

“What’s wrong?” May asked, fresh panic making her heartbeat quicken. “What’s in York?”

“Connor’s sister.” Em answered. “Or at least, that’s where she used to live.”

It was May’s turn to be surprised; this was the first she’d heard of Connor having a sibling.

Em recommended they get a move on before it got much later. It was still early enough that the streets were quiet, but they kept to sleepy side streets and alleys until they eventually found the train station. When they arrived, May donned both Em’s wig and hat before heading into the station alone.

“You just missed the morning train, sweetheart,” the smiling, grey-haired woman at the wicket told her. “But there’s one heading that way around 5:30 if you’re willing to wait.”

May glanced around the station. Morning commuters and travellers milled about, but she didn’t spot any familiar faces – friendly or otherwise. “I’ll take two tickets, please.”

A few minutes later, May sat alone at the cafe across the street. She was too anxious to eat but forced herself anyway. Em, she knew, was perched on the roof of the building, keeping an eye out from a safe distance.

One day I’m going to look back on all of this and think it was really exciting, she thought. She figured if she told herself that enough, she might start to believe it.

When she was sure no one was watching, May tucked the other half of her breakfast sandwich into her hoodie pocket for Em, slinked into the washroom, and shoved open the window.

“Good thing you’re so tiny. That window isn’t very big.”

May gasped. “Emmy! Don’t do that. I’m too freaked out for surprises right now.”

Em hovered just outside the window, which mercifully faced the alley behind the building. She kept her eyes trained on the sidewalk.

“Yell at me later. We’ve gotta hustle.”

She helped May shimmy out the window and carried her up to the roof where she had set up a spot near the edge. From there they could keep an eye on the station. The building was five storeys – the tallest on the street. May collapsed onto the little nest-like space Em set up, feeling safe for the first time since she went looking for Jeremy the day before.

“The next train to York doesn’t leave until 5:30,” she said to Em, who settled down beside her. “I brought you breakfast.”

Em took the sandwich and smiled softly. “You’re amazing. You know that right?”

“Because I brought you food?” May gave her a teasing look. “I didn’t realize the bar was set so low.”

“First of all,” Em chuckled, laying down beside her. “Don’t underestimate the importance of food. Second, that’s not what I meant. I’m proud of you and how you’re handling all of this.”

May sighed and covered her eyes with her forearm. “If by ‘how I’m handling this’ you mean ‘not well at all’ then you would be right.”

She felt Em’s lips press into hers in a loving kiss. “You’re stronger than you give yourself credit for, babe.”

Relenting, May let herself smile. “Thanks, Emmy. You’re pretty amazing too.”

“How about you take a nap?” Em offered. “We’ve got nothing but time. I’ll take the first watch.”

This time, May kissed her. “Have I ever told you how much I love you?”

Em grinned. “Once or twice.”

May wriggled into the sleeping bag Em pulled from her pack and fell asleep to the sound of her love unwrapping her breakfast.

They were unmoored, separated from the others and uncertain of where the Loyals might be lurking next. But they were together.

This time when May slept, it was deep and it was dreamless.

By the time their train was ready to board, May was convinced there was nothing worse than waiting.

Save for the blissful hours she spent sleeping, every moment left her plagued with worry.

Where were the others? Were they safe? How long before they found each other again?

Though Em never would have admitted it, May knew she was worried too. She could see it in the way Em dipped her head forward to hide behind the hair of her wig. May let her board the train first while she hung back, scanning the platform for suspicious faces and doing what she could to avoid drawing the attention of anyone who might have been searching for a couple of young women travelling together.

She found Em again a few minutes later, crouched low in her seat.

“Everything okay?”

Em twitched, startled. “Sorry. Yeah, I’m fine. Just trying to keep my head down.”

May slid into her seat and adjusted her cap to cover her surreptitious glance around the train car.

“I think we’re all clear,” she said, forcing a smile for Em’s sake. “Now we just need to figure out what to do once we get there.”

“I don’t suppose P had a chance to choose an assembly point in York, did she?”

May shook her head. “I’m not sure she thought that far ahead.”

“I figured as much.” Em gave May’s hand a firm squeeze. “Don’t worry, babe. We’ll figure it out.”

The pair dozed in and out for most of the trip to York. It wasn’t until the train was pulling into the station that they made the hushed decision to find a motel to hole up in until they figured out what to do next.

“Shouldn’t we go find Connor’s sister?” May asked, heaving her pack onto her shoulders. Its weight was beginning to wear on her.

“How would we explain to the others how we knew where to go?” Em replied over her shoulder.

“We could always lie and say that one of them told us.”

“Are you suggesting we gaslight them? Lie until they believe our bullshit?”

May shrugged. “Aren’t we already kind of doing that?”


Down on the platform, Em found an information stand and pulled various brochures. She didn’t remember York well enough to know where to search for a place to stay. While she researched, May kept a lookout.

She scanned the crowds of bustling travellers from beneath the brim of her hat. Between the weary faces and scurrying bodies, May spotted a happy reunion between a pair of lovers. The laughter and smiles struck a chord of envy in her; what she wouldn’t give for a carefree welcome like that right now.

As she stared off, imagining a different timeline in which she and Em hadn’t made this trip alone – one in which WIND was with them and everything was going according to plan – May’s eyes focused in on a different face in the crowd. A face that, unlike the other bodies on the platform, stood still.

The face of a woman who staring right at her.

Unnerved by the stranger’s intense gaze, May shivered.

“Find anything yet?” She glanced at Em, who was absorbed in a brochure for a quaint bed and breakfast. When May looked back, the woman had moved on.

“I think so,” Em muttered, flipping the paper over to read the inn’s address.

“Let’s go find a cab then.”

They wove between the other travellers, pressing through the crowd in search of the station exit. May glanced around and her heart stopped; the woman was trailing just behind them.

“Em,” she hissed, sounding far more calm than she felt. “We need to run.

We’re being followed.”

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The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter Twenty Five

[ Start from the Beginning | Previous ]

Content warning: Strong language

May crashed through the door and raced into the living room of the flat, breathless and frantic.

Everyone else was there, their faces falling when they saw the state she was in.

“May, what happened?” Em was on her feet in an instant. Since meeting WIND she had been reluctant to use her abilities in front of them, but now she didn’t think twice about bounding airborne across the room just to pull May to her faster. “Are you hurt?”

“It’s Jeremy,” May choked. “The Loyals. Two guys have him in the alley. I think they know we’re here.”

“Em, May, we’ve got to get you out of here,” Connor barked.

Without another word he, Rue, and Priva jumped up and began re-packing their belongings in haste.

Em looked at May with wide eyes. “Babe, are you okay?”

May wasn’t sure how to answer.

“I don’t know. Jeremy was the only one who saw me but…” she trailed off, the grisly images of Jeremy’s assault flickering through her mind in rapid succession.

Priva rushed up to her, eyes full of panic.

“These Loyals,” she said, her voice cracking. “Did they hurt him?”

May couldn’t find words so she nodded instead, wrapping Priva in a tight hug when she sobbed.

Connor strode back into the room, a pack in each hand.

“I know it must have been awful but you did the right thing, May.” He handed the packs off to Em. “We’ll take care of Jeremy. Do you two remember what to do?”

It had been one of the many, many things the group had discussed before leaving the motel on that first day, and yet May still remembered the rule with perfect clarity. For every stop along the way, Priva would choose an assembly point somewhere a safe distance away. In the event of an emergency or separation, the group was to find one another again at that point.

“We remember,” Em assured him, slinging her pack over her shoulders.

“Good,” he said. “Now go.”

For the second time in their relationship, May found herself escaping out a window in Em’s arms. Together they soared in the direction of the assembly point, moving as quickly as Em could before the added weight of May and both packs forced her to find a discreet place to land.

“Good thing it’s dark out.” Em panted as she brought them carefully to the ground behind a row of dark houses a few blocks away.

“Are you going to be alright?” May asked. “Do you need me to carry your pack?”

“No, I’m good. Do you know which way we’re headed?”

“I think so.”

Hand-in-hand, the pair took off, avoiding busy roads and streetlights, speaking only when absolutely necessary. Every flash of a vehicle’s headlights or shout in the night made them jump; May’s hand was sweating in Em’s but she didn’t dare let go.

It took hours of sneaking around and getting lost before the pair finally found their way to Still Water Park. They followed a winding trail into a wooded grove in the heart of the park to where a lonely rain shelter stood like a shepherd amid its flock of picnic tables. Everything was still and quiet – they had beaten the others there, but at least they were alone.

“I feel like I’m in one of those hokey haunted houses and I’m just waiting for some actor to jump out and scare me,” Em whispered as they picked their way blindly into the shelter.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about but I can still tell it’s not funny,” May hissed. She reached the far corner and settled onto the poured concrete floor, pressing her back to it so she could still see the opening.

“Right,” Em mumbled, joining her on the ground. “You probably didn’t have those on Hoku. When this is all over, remind me to take you to one.”

The shelter wasn’t much more than a raised roof and three half-walls, but it would do for the night. May shivered, partly from the chill but also from the adrenaline still coursing through her, but she didn’t want to risk taking out her sleeping bag in case they needed to make another hasty retreat. Em wrapped an arm around her and pulled her close.

“Do you think they’ll be okay?” May asked, her eyes fixed on the shadowy shelter entrance.

Em gave her a squeeze. “I do. Trust me, they’ve prepared for every scenario. If anyone can figure a way out of this, it’s those guys.”

“How long do you think it will take before they can meet up with us?”

“I’m not sure. They’ll want to wait until they’re confident they won’t be followed. We have to be patient.”

A quiet breeze swept through the park, rattling the leaves on the trees above. May nestled in closer to Em.

“They really hurt him,” she whispered, so softly she wasn’t even sure Em would hear her.

For a moment, it seemed she hadn’t. But then she sighed and rested her head against May’s.

“He’s tough.” Em sounded as if she was trying to convince herself as much as May. “Incredibly tough. Believe it or not, he’s been through worse. He’ll be alright.” She planted a kiss on her lover’s temple. “Still, I’m sorry you had to see that.”

“I wish I could have done something.” May felt dangerously close to crying. “He was in trouble and I just froze. If he hadn’t spotted me and signaled for me to run I probably would have just sat there like a useless lump.”

“Do not do that to yourself.” Em was gentle with her scolding. “You did exactly what you were supposed to. Thanks to you, we got out of there in time. You saved us, May.”

Unable to accept her accolade, May merely hummed vaguely and wrapped her arm around Em’s middle.

“I know it’s probably asking a lot right now, but you should try to get some sleep.” Em stroked May’s hair. “No matter what happens, we’re going to need our energy in the morning.”

May wasn’t sure if she managed to reply. As uncomfortable and frightened as she was, Em’s simple suggestion was like permission, and in moments May was asleep.

But it didn’t feel like sleep, and if the intention was to wake up refreshed, May’s subconscious was doing its best to sabotage her. Nightmares and night noises kept her flickering in and out of wakefulness.

Sill, she must have drifted off eventually, because the sun was rising when she felt Em jolt beside her.

“Holy shit!”

May scrambled.

A silhouette stood at the entrance of the shelter.

They had been discovered.

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2018 Housekeeping

Now that we’ve launched into a fresh new year, I figured now might be a good time to do a bit of housekeeping! I’ll make it quick:

The Wind and the Horizon returns publicly on Friday, January 26th and will shift to updating every other week.

Not fast enough for you? Want new chapters now? Well, if you’ve pledged on my Patreon, you already have early access to the latest two chapters! You’ll also get weekly updates until the book is finished for as little as $1 per month.

Patrons also get access to all kinds of other early and exclusive perks, including artwork, colouring sheets, and steep commission discounts.

Can’t commit to a monthly pledge but still want to help support my work? Ko-Fi is always there for single donations!

The Work in Progress Podcast just posted Episode #8! It’s a little wild to think this podcast we started on a whim has already been going for eight weeks. Do you have any topics you’d like the four of us to discuss? Leave a comment and let us know!

As of right now you can listen to us on iTunes, Google Play, Overcast, and Pocket Casts. Don’t forget to rate, review, and subscribe!

Okay! I promise I’ve got some fresh posts and useful content coming up soon. In the mean time, thanks for letting me get this bit of business out of the way ❤️

Hello 2018!

I wasn’t going to do a New Years resolution post, but when I decided I wanted to post something today it felt weird to write about anything else.

2017 was one hell of a year: it started with my world falling apart which was quickly followed by a big move. It took months before my life really started to feel normal again but, when it did, good things happened.

Last year I finished the beta draft of The Star and the Ocean, a passion project more than 20 years in the making. The beta draft of that web novel went on to win a Watty Award, which really made me feel like a have a chance with this whole writing gig.

In 2017 I finally felt comfortable with calling myself a writer. I started work on the sequel, The Wind and the Horizon, dove back into art, started a podcast with my friends, and even launched a Patreon.

Oh, and I finally took up guitar, although I hesitate to say I “learned to play” because, well, I haven’t. Yet.

In next weekend’s episode of The WIP Podcast we talk about our different creative resolutions. Compared to Athena, Bri, and Rey’s goals for this year, my plan felt less grand and structured. Still, after all this time (not to mention the state of mind I ended the year in) I know what’s going to work for me with regards to where I am right now.

My creative resolutions aaaaare:

  • Finish the beta draft of TWATH (it’s half done already!)
  • Get The Witch’s Patron ready to query (and then do exactly that!)
  • Plot out my idea for NaNoWriMo (it’s never too early, dammit)
  • Create more art (and get better at it as I go!)
  • Get back to practicing guitar (I’ll actually learn to play properly!)
  • And that’s it! No deadlines or word counts.

What about you? Tell me all about it!


Welcome to 2018!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! Wishing you all an incredible 2018! 🥂

I hope you like my EmMay Champagne dolls! Patreon patrons can get a high-res text-free version of this image, plus the line art for colouring!

The Star and the Ocean is now on Goodreads!

I made a surprising discovery this past weekend, babes!

I don’t really remember how I stumbled across it, but apparently The Star and the Ocean has been listed as a title on Goodreads!

It seems the listing is connected to the Wattpad edition of the book. Even though I have no clue how it got up there (did Wattpad submit it? Does Goodreads comb the internet for web novels?) it’s still pretty cool to see my book up on a site used by so many readers.

Despite the fact that I still plan on publishing the Starborn Series in some capacity one day (once the web edition has been re-written and polished), this listing feels like a little victory. As a web-based author, I often feel – and openly bitch – that people don’t take web novels seriously. Forget the fact that many of us write full novels, take the time to proof and edit like trads and indies do, PLUS make our work as accessible as possible (which is to say, we give it away for free); our books are constantly relegated to the bottom of the reading hierarchy (if they’re considered at all!) Getting listed on Goodreads makes me feel like I’ve earned some sort of badge of legitimacy.

Hard work aside, I know I’ve been really fortunate with my online readership. I’ve seen some heartwarming successes since I started publishing online back in 2016. Because of this, I’m trying to pay it forward by advocating on behalf of other web-based authors to help change the perception that web novels “don’t count” as real books.

If you’re someone who has read TSATO: thank you! Your readership and support means the world to me! If you enjoyed the book, I would deeply appreciate it if you could take a minute to rate and/or review it on Goodreads so other readers can find it too!

Looking for other ways to help support your friendly neighbourhood web-author?

  • Those able to commit to monthly pledges will get early and exclusive access to writing and artwork (including future chapters of The Wind and the Horizon and other perks like contests and commission discounts) on my Patreon.
  • Not able to make monthly pledges? One-time donations can be made via my Ko-Fi account and are just as appreciated!
  • And if financial support is off the table (no judgement – I get it!) please consider sharing my work with others instead!

P.S. are you a fellow writer? The WIP Podcast updates with new episodes every weekend! This past Sunday we tackled a topic near and dear to our hearts: the New Adult age category in fiction. Find us on iTunes and Anchor!

TWATH Update News and a New Way to Support my Work

Happy December, everyone! To kick off a new month (and the last one of 2017, whaaaaaaat??) I’ve got two pieces of news to share:

The Wind and the Horizon is taking the month off

I’m want to refrain from using the dreaded h-word here, so I’ll use the happier h-word instead: I’m going to take a holiday from updating TWATH in December.

This month is going to be a shit show for me. My day job is about to get ridiculously busy, my brother is visiting for the holidays, and I have a few projects I still need to wrap up (two outstanding commissions and editing an anthology submission, if you’re curious). Plus my lovely editor is going to be travelling for half the month anyway.

On top of finishing my outstanding projects, I want to use what little free time I’m going to have this month to keep padding the buffer of TWATH chapters I’ve already written. Not only do I want to start 2018 strong, there’s another reason I’m going to need that healthy buffer…

Segue to piece of news #2:

I’ve officially launched a Patreon

For the past two years I’ve been producing a metric buttload of content and giving it away for free on the internet. As an author and artist of queer work, I’ve been ridiculously lucky to connect with friends and fans all over the world. Up until now I’ve relied on donations, merchandise profits, and commissions to support my creative projects. Unfortunately, I’m no longer in a place where I can maintain my aggressive production schedule completely free of charge.

Enter, Patreon.

My patrons will get early access to all future chapters of The Wind and the Horizon as well as the final yet-to-be-named instalment of The Starborn Series. How early, you ask? Patrons will get to read new weekly chapters a full month before they go public, beginning in 2018.

I will also offer exclusive art and short stories, as well as discounted commission rates to Patrons (all perks that were previously only offered to members of my mailing list. Yes, that means mailing list perks will be changing). Once I figure out how the goal/reward system works, I’ll begin offering free art and other exciting stuff for higher tiers.

Your support makes everything I do possible.

I work full-time, I help my parents financially, and I have a beautiful old dog who needs expensive meds on the regular. Patron support will provide the financial incentive I need to justify continuing to create and share content.

To everyone who chooses to support my work: THANK YOU! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!

To support me on Patreon, click here

To make a one-time donation via Ko-Fi, click here


Introducing The WIP Podcast!

Yesterday I spent hours talking to my friends and fellow writers Athena Wright, Brianna Kienitz, and Rey Noble, which is a pretty excellent way to spend a Sunday.

But we weren’t just talking for the sake of catching up: we were recording the first couple episodes of our new writing podcast!


The Work in Progress Podcast is a conversation between four creative friends talking about creative things. It’s mostly going to be writing, but not always! We’ll each take turns hosting and will cover a wide range of topics, including those submitted by the audience.

We know there a tons of writing podcasts out there, so what makes ours different?

So glad you asked 😉

What’s interesting about the four of us, aside from the fact that we’re all at vastly different places in our writing careers, is the different ways we’ve chosen to get our work out there. Our group includes an indie trad author, a hybrid self-pubbed author, a web-based author, and an aspiring author, all of whom have experienced different degrees of success, which means we have a wide breadth of experience (not to mention, opinions!) to share.

We’re also a lot of fun to listen to, if I do say so myself.

The podcast is only hosted on Anchor but you can subscribe to it via major broadcast platforms too (like iTunes!) You can find the episodes via our website now!

Have questions or potential topics for us? Want to follow along and engage? You can tweet us @TheWIPpod or send us an e-mail.

We can’t wait to hear what you think!

The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter Twenty Four

[ Beginning | Previous Chapter ]

Content warning: Strong language

The party reached the town of Luxton by mid-afternoon the following day. As the one least likely to find her face on a wanted poster, May volunteered to source out accommodations, and came back with keys to a rented flat shortly before dinner.

After days in the woods, everyone was more than eager for access to clean running water and soft places to sleep. They took turns showering and crammed the washing machine to bursting with dirty clothes. After making a stealth grocery run, May dropped onto the plush living room couch and immediately declared it her favourite place in the world.

While Connor took to preparing dinner, the others explored the flat, calling dibs on different bedrooms and making themselves more comfortable than they had been in days.

“Hey, Maybe!” Em called from another room. “Guess what I found?”

Before May could venture a guess, Em sauntered into the living room holding a well-loved acoustic guitar. “Do you think you remember everything from the crash course that hippie gave you?”

Of course she remembered; it was a cheeky remark that May had to stop herself from chirping back at lest she accidentally mention her own special Wish ability. In only a couple of hours she had all but mastered the basics of strumming and fingerpicking. Em handed her the instrument and with a little bit of messing around she was able to recall the chords she had learned in that first and only lesson.

She strummed and plucked until the notes for a song Em often sang came back to her. With fingers as nimble as her feet when she danced, May strummed the familiar tune just to make Em smile. In return, Em curled at the floor at May’s feet and sang along in a voice she normally reserved for moments when she thought she was alone and – somewhat surprisingly – for drunken karaoke.

Rue and Priva applauded when they finished.

“You two have great harmony,” Rue said with a wink.

May blushed but Em was quick to accept the compliment. “Yeah, we’re pretty cute.”

From his seat across the room, Jeremy grumbled something beneath his breath. Just as Connor stepped into the room to announce that dinner was ready, Jeremy maneuvered passed him and disappeared into the flat.

Connor looked at Priva, who rolled her eyes.

“Anyway,” he drawled, gesturing toward the kitchen. “Who’s hungry?”

May, Em, and Rue followed him but Priva hung back. The four hadn’t even finished dishing out when the sound of raised, angry voices erupted in another room.

“Oh shit,” Em said, casting a wide-eyed glance at the rest of the group. “Should we do something about that?”

Rue and Connor frowned at each other, but before either could respond, Jeremy stormed through the flat and out the door.

“Should we stop him?” May asked, unnerved.

“Let him go,” Priva growled as she stalked into the kitchen. “Can’t talk any sense into him right now anyway.”

Nobody asked what happened, nor did the press the issue. Together they settled in and ate their dinner in a silence reminiscent of their first day together.

When everyone had finished, Connor and Rue chased the others from the kitchen, swearing they hand clean-up under control. Priva retired to a bedroom, leaving May and Em alone to whisper.

“That was about us, wasn’t it?” May asked, eyeing the door to the hallway down which Priva had cloistered herself.

“Most definitely.”

“Do you think we should go talk to her?”

“And say what?”

May sighed. “I don’t know but personally, I’m kind of sick of everyone being cagey about Jeremy’s attitude problem. Let’s just see what she says. Even if she isn’t honest about anything at least we can say we tried.”

Em thought about it for a moment and nodded. “You know what? Yes, let’s. I want to hear what she has to say about all this.”

They crept down the hallway, pausing to listen at the door before knocking.

“I’m good,” Priva called.

May looked at Em.

Em’s expression was determined.

“Glad to hear it, P,” she replied. “But we’re not. Can we talk about what happened?

There was a groan, the sound of creaking bedsprings. Priva opened the door with a scowl.

“What’s wrong?”

“That’s what we were wondering.” Em raised an eyebrow, a sure sign that she wasn’t about to back down.

“That fight,” May said in a tone far less confrontational than Em’s. “Was it about us?”

Priva licked her lips and glanced between the pair. “Honestly, you don’t need to worry about it. It’s just J being J.”

Em wasn’t having it.

“Cut the bullshit, Priva.”

Emanthy,” May hissed.

“This isn’t the first time he’s gotten pissy at or because of us,” Em barrelled on. “And quite frankly, it’s making an already tense situations worse than it needs to be. What are we doing wrong?”

“You’re not…” Priva looked past them, brow furrowed and gaze unfocused. “It’s complicated.”

“It always is.” Em folded her arms. “But resentful members of this little family we may be, I think we deserve to know if we’re doing something to rock the boat.”

Priva gave a resigned sigh and retreated back into the bedroom, motioning for the girls to follow. She collapsed on the bed, miserable, and May and Em tentatively took posts on either side of her”

“Jeremy and I are dating,” Priva told the ceiling. She didn’t seem ready to look at either of the girls. “Sort of.”

“Sort of?” May questioned, careful to make sure her tone didn’t come across as judgemental.

“If I’m being honest, I think it’s pretty one-sided.” Priva twisted at one of the coils from the half of her hair that hadn’t been carefully braided into tight rows across her scalp. “Honestly, I don’t know why I’m still trying with that boy. He’s never going to love me back.”

“Why do you say that?” Em asked, trying to keep her expression neutral.

“For starters, I’m not fucking stupid.” Priva grumbled. “But also because he’s still in love with someone else.”

There it was; a massive truth dropped so casually that May almost wondered if Priva might have been talking about someone else.

“Who?” Em pushed, waiting for more.

Priva sat up. “This is the worst part – and honestly, just thinking about admitting this makes me feel like a bitch: he’s in love with a dead woman.”

Em nodded at the duvet she had been picking at to avoid looking Priva in the face. “That’s rough, buddy.”

“Ha, that’s putting it lightly.” Priva agreed.

“So, why are you with him then?” May asked. “Has he always been this angry?” And, when Priva raised an eyebrow at her, added, “Or, uh, maybe it’s just me.”

Priva massaged the back of her neck with both hands and sighed.

“No,” she admitted sadly. “He used to laugh. He’s smart and fun and even dangerous in a way that’s so hot. But… thing have changed.”

“Since we showed up.” Em wasn’t asking.

There was a moment when nobody spoke, though the air was heavy with words waiting to be said.

“What does all of this have to do with us, Priva?” May asked gently.

Priva looked at them each in turn, awkward discomfort colouring her expression.

“The woman he loved – the one he still loves – was one of us. She was one of the original members of WIND. Honestly, she was such a badass and I really don’t blame him for being hung up on her. But she was a Starborn, like you.” She gestured to Em, who pursed her lips to keep herself quiet.

“I don’t know why he thought this,” Priva continued, looking flustered. “And believe me, I know how nuts this is going to sound, but… he had it in his mind that you were her. Maybe he thought her death was a cover up or something but he was really convinced that that you were her.”

“But he knows that I’m not, right?” Em insisted. “I mean, I can appreciate his disappointment but why’s he mad at us?”

“Girl, I wish I knew,” Priva said, tossing her hands up in defeat. “I think maybe he built it up so much in his mind that he can’t seem to separate you from her now. And you -” she pointed to May. “- you’re just caught in the middle of all this bullshit and I’m sorry. That’s what we were arguing about; he needs to stop getting pissed off over you two. He needs to stop taking out the fact that he was wrong on you.”

“Maybe he just needs a bit more time?” May ventured.

Priva shook her head. “I don’t know. I think I’ve given him enough time. I feel like such a fool.”

May and Em exchanged sad looks.

“You’re not a fool.” Em put a hand on Priva’s shoulder. “You’re fucking brilliant. We couldn’t have asked for a better navigator. You just need to keep looking forward. Come on, let’s get the maps out and you can show us where we’re headed next.”

“Actually…” Priva glanced out the window with a frown. “I think I should go look for Jeremy. He’s been out there sulking for a while and it’s starting to get dark.”

“Let me go,” May said, earning equally befuddled looks from both Em and Priva. “What? Maybe he just needs to get to know me. I am determined to get this guy to like me. Besides, out of all of us, no one will really be looking for me, remember?”

Priva still seemed reluctant but couldn’t argue with May’s logic. “I guess so…”

Please be careful out there, love,” Em said with a pointed look. “If you’re not back in five minutes, I’m coming to get you.”

“Sure thing, mom,”

“Ew, stop.”

Dusk had settled by the time May got down to the streets. Jeremy wasn’t anywhere in view. Pulling her hat low, she set off, figuring she’d start by circling the block before getting more creative in her search.

Aside from an occasional vehicle passing, the streets were deserted. May shivered involuntarily and tried not to fixate on how alone she was.

“Maybe I should have let Priva go after all,” she mumbled, folding her arms and pinning them tightly against her body. “I have clue where Jeremy might -”

A voice, gruff and indistinct echoed down an alleyway. Another voice followed; it sounded threatening. May was immediately filled with a sense of dread. Self-preservation told her to keep walking but a third, familiar voice stopped her dead.

“I told you, we haven’t found anything yet. Why would I lie about this?”

It was Jeremy.

“That’s what we’re trying to figure out.”

Holding her breath, May crept into the alley. Taking shelter behind a row of garbage bins, she carefully peered out to find Jeremy being interrogated by a pair of men. The bigger of the two had a tight grip around the collar of Jeremy’s shirt and used it to keep him pinned against the wall. The man’s other hand was raised in a first, and based on the bruises blooming across Jeremy’s cheek, it was clear he had already put it to use.

“We did some digging when you didn’t check in. Sounds like you went sniffing around some circus.”

“We were following up on a lead,” Jeremy spat, feisty even in the face of danger. “It was a dead end.”

The men gave one another knowing looks. One nodded, the other struck. His fist hit Jeremy’s face with a loud crack.

“Don’t fucking lie to us, Parker.”

“Why would I lie?” Jeremy shouted.

The man who held him in place rattled him, slamming his small frame back against the wall. “Keep your voice down, man.”

“Why don’t I believe you?” The other man growled.

Jeremy glared at him through swelling lids. “We’re not stupid, you fucking neanderthals; we know what’s at stake here.”

His captor leaned in. “Don’t you forget that.”

“I won’t.”

“Oh, I think we’re going to need a bit more assurance than that,” the other man said, giving another nod to his partner who took the cue and threw Jeremy down at their feet.

Jeremy winced. When his eyes opened again, his new vantage point revealed May, crouched and terrified in her hiding spot. Fear flashed quickly across his face.

The world slowed to a crawl.

May watched one of the men swing his foot, aiming for Jeremy’s stomach.

In the split-second before impact Jeremy held May’s eyes with his and mouthed one word.


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