The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter Thirty Two

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[ CW: strong language, sexual content ]

Marina’s big house was fairly quiet for the rest of the day, especially considering how many people were in it. The party spent most of the afternoon napping and getting cleaned up.

Some time after three o’clock, Em jolted awake and glanced groggily around the room until she remembered where she was. It came back to her slowly: the memory of crawling along the couch and flopping down onto her stomach between May’s splayed legs. May had been lounging there, reading the computer reference book Marina had loaned her; Em fell asleep with her arms wrapped around May’s middle and her face resting on her stomach as it rose and fell with each gentle breath May took.

“How long was I asleep?” Em asked. She peered up at May, who lifted the book she was still reading to peek back at her.

“Not sure,” May admitted. “Maybe an hour?”

Connor strode into the room carrying a basket full of fresh laundry.

“Do you guys mind if I fold in here?” he asked. “Rue’s sleeping upstairs.”

“Knock yourself out,” Em replied with a yawn, snuggling back down onto May who set the book aside and began combing her fingers lightly through Em’s hair.

Connor was almost finished his chore when a sleepy-eyed Rue wandered downstairs.

“Feeling better, love?” he asked when she walked up for a quick kiss and to survey his progress.

“Much better.” She smiled warmly.

Marina breezed into the room and grinned when she saw them. “Everyone’s surfacing! Who’s up for a drink or two?”

Without waiting for a response she unlocked a magnificent liquor cabinet and pulled out glasses. She then went to retrieve wine from the kitchen as everyone made their drink selection. Before striding back into the room she called up the stairs to the stragglers. “We’re getting drunk without you!”

Soon Jeremy and Priva joined them. They were disheveled, but it didn’t appear to have been from sleep. Em and May exchanged knowing looks when the pair passed them on their way to make their drinks, but they kept their teasing remarks to themselves.

“Oh, man.” Marina sighed happily, settling back with a very full glass of wine. “I can’t remember the last time I got drunk. I think I’m overdue.”

“We’re not getting drunk,” Connor laughed. “But don’t let us stop you.”

“For those prepared to party,” Em raised her glass of whiskey to Marina. “We salute you.”

They all clinked their glasses, a chaotic moment of reaching arms trying to make sure no one was missed, and toasted to being together, regardless of the circumstances.

For everyone but May and Em, the conversation flowed naturally, especially once the alcohol started to lighten the mood in the room. No one wanted to talk about the present and so those who shared a history dipped into the wells of nostalgia. They rehashed memories, retelling increasingly funnier stories until they gasped for breath between their laughter.

May and Em sat on the far end of the couch, edging closer with every sip from their glasses. At first they tried to stay cognisant that Jeremy was right there, regardless of the fact that he hadn’t looked at them once since entering the room. But as the whiskey worked its magic, they seemed to forget that anyone else was in the room. Em coiled an arm around May’s slender waist and nuzzled into the curve of her neck. She planted kiss after kiss – playful in the beginning, then slower and seductive as they worked through their second and third drinks – along May’s jawline and shoulder. Between kisses she’d whisper things in May’s ear that left her crimson-cheeked and giggling.

“One day I’m gonna buy us a big house like this one,” Em told May in a matter-of-fact, whisper-yell. “And you can just spend all day lounging around in fancy lingerie like the fucking queen you are.”

“Shhh, everyone can hear you.” May grinned and kissed Em to silence her.

Em replied by mumbling something against May’s lips that sounded a bit like, “I worship you.”

The only sign that Jeremy heard any of this was the subtle bouncing of his knee.

It wasn’t long after that May excused herself, slipping upstairs to use the washroom.


Jeremy didn’t realize Em had crept away too until he rose to fix another drink and found her missing. Squaring his jaw, he tried to focus on the promises he had made; one to Rue to try harder to be pleasant to the girls, made in the throes of gratitude that came with having survived his beating in the alley, the other to Priva. That afternoon she had made him promise to stop obsessing over the past – to see her, the one standing right in front of him. He had promised to try and it must have been enough for her; they made love for the first time in ages.

He thought of the sex, imagining the feeling of Priva’s silky skin under his and the look on her face as he moved between her thighs. Her moans of pleasure, her nails digging into his shoulders, the genuine happiness she radiated as they laid together afterward.

He reached out and took her hand. He could try.

“I know what we’re missing,” Marina announced, sitting up quickly. “Music!”

Priva snapped her fingers. “Didn’t you say Myles plays guitar now?”

“Yes!” Marina pointed at her, clearly into the direction Priva’s train of thought was headed. “It’s in his room!”

Priva looked to Jeremy expectedly. “Go get it, boo! Play for us!”

Jeremy blinked up at Marina. “Where’s his room?”

“Third floor. First door on your left.”

Without arguing – he was trying to be better, after all – he got to his feet and made for the stairs. He hadn’t realized just how much he’d had to drink until standing; his head swam with the early stages of his buzz.

As he stepped onto the second floor, Jeremy paused. To his right the staircase continued upwards. But to his left he saw the bathroom, open and dark. Across the hall was Em and May’s room, the door open just a crack. Everything was quiet.

That’s weird, he thought with a frown. He had been sure they had sneaked up here to fuck. A slight flurry of concern rose in his stomach.

Against his better judgement, he tiptoed toward the room. Perhaps they had simply passed out like a couple of lightweights. But what if they weren’t in there? He tried to push down the paranoid voice in his head, honed from years of fighting and fleeing, that screamed something might be wrong.

He held his breath as he peered through the miniscule opening in the door. From there he could see the bed, made and empty.

A sudden rush of movement took him by surprise as a pair of bodies tumbled into his line of vision from somewhere hidden by the door. Jeremy had to bite his bottom lip to keep from gasping out loud.

A tangle of peaches and cream; May had pushed Em up against the wall, kissing her fiercely. Their shirts had already been discarded, their hands were everywhere.

To Jeremy, the world seemed to fall away. He stood, paralyzed; knowing he needed to walk away but helpless to do so.

May dragged her teeth lightly against the tender flesh of Em’s throat. Head back, Em welcomed May’s assault with a breathy moan.

Kisses were peppered across Em’s collarbone as May groped under her lover’s bra with one hand and worked the button of her jeans with the other.

Get out of here, Jeremy’s brain shouted at him.

But he couldn’t. He was transfixed by the ecstacy on Em’s face as May’s hand plunged down the front of her pants and pressed into her warmth.

He knew that look, he remembered it perfectly. Her quiet noises of passion were exactly the same.

All at once, memories of when he was the one in May’s place came back to him like a crashing wave.

It didn’t matter what she looked like or what she called herself: Jeremy knew Audrey when he saw her.

At last he was able to tear himself away from the door. He staggered to the staircase and heaved a few deep and rocky breaths.

Go upstairs, he coached himself. Get the guitar. Go downstairs. Figure your shit out.

From down the hall, Em cried out softly.

Figure your shit out.


By the time the girls slunk back downstairs, the sitting room was filled with the sound of guitar strings and drunken singing.

“Welcome back, ladies,” Priva announced loudly, drawing everyone’s attention to the blushing pair as they slid back into their spot on the couch.

“Look,” May laughed, trying to come up with an excuse and failing.

“Listen,” Em said, with just as much success.

From his chair, Jeremy fiddled with the guitar pegs, adjusting the tuning. He didn’t look up as he launched into another song.

The notes were familiar. May recognized it as the song she and Em had performed at the flat in Luxton; the first song she learned to play herself.

“Hey!” She turned to Em, smiling. “It’s the song you’re always singing!”

But Em didn’t answer. She wasn’t smiling either.

Instead her gaze was fixed on Jeremy’s hands as they danced over the strings.

“Wait,” Em muttered, squinting. “How do you…”

Her eyes grew wide. “Oh, fuck.”

“What’s wrong?” Connor asked, glancing between Em and Jeremy.

“Imagine how surprised I was when you two started playing this song,” Jeremy said, his eyes still trained on his instrument as he finished the melody. “This, the song I wrote for Audrey.”

The final note reverberated itself into silence. No one spoke.

“She’s the only person I ever played it for.” Now he looked up. His eyes were cold.

“Isn’t that interesting?”

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The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter Thirty One

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When May finally made her way upstairs she found Em lingering outside the half-closed kitchen door, listening to the excited chatter on the other side of it. Her eyes – glassy, bottom lashes glittering – turned to May and the corners of her mouth twitched into the smallest of smiles.

“I thought I’d give them a bit of privacy,” Em whispered, hitching a thumb toward the voices. “Sounds like it’s been a long time since they’ve seen each other, right?”

May frowned, knowing she was lying.

“Em,” May breathed her name and took Em’s hand in both of hers. “You don’t have to-“

They jumped as the door swung open.

Rue stood on the threshold, her face splitting into a delighted grin. “There you two are! It’s so good to see you safe and sound! Come on now.”

She pulled the girls into the kitchen, cutting the conversation like a switch. Every face turned to them and, just like Rue, everyone lit up.

“You’re alive!” Priva cheered, pulling Em into a tight bear hug.

Em laughed. “Of course we’re alive, dork.”

“Are you both alright?” Connor asked from the other end of the kitchen island. “No one’s hurt?”

“We’re fine,” May answered, watching Em squirm and struggle against Priva’s boa constrictor grip and giggling.

She turned to ask Connor the same question just as Jeremy stepped up to her, startling her.

“Relax.” Jeremy lifted his hands. “I come in peace.”

His voice was soft and friendly and made May realize he had never spoken to her like that before. Her eyes searched his face and regarded the blooms of purple and yellow around his eyes and across his already-delicate looking cheekbones. His split lip looked painful, but he grinned at her anyway. “Don’t worry; it’s not as bad as it looks.”

A well of emotion swelled in May’s chest as she remembered every blow that had left those bruises on Jeremy’s face. “It looked pretty bad when it was happening. I’m so glad you’re okay – I can’t believe I just left you there.”

“You did exactly what you should have done,” he insisted with a tight shake of his head. “Thanks to you the team was able to act. They would have been fucked if you hadn’t warned them. Which is why I, uh…” his casual air slipped and suddenly he seemed awkward. Clearing his throat, Jeremy thrust his hand forward. “Thank you.”

It took a second for May to realize he was serious. Surprise turned to happy relief, and she smiled and took his hand, shaking it firmly. “You’re welcome, Jeremy.”

“On that note, I should probably check in,” Connor announced, pulling a nondescript cell phone from his pocket. He turned and made his way to the breakfast nook on the far side of the room and spoke under his breath to a voice on the other end. Knowing that he was communicating with a Loyal agent made May shudder.

“While he’s doing that, is anyone hungry?” Marina asked, surveying the group. The remaining members of WIND looked ragged and wilted with exhaustion. “I’ll make us something to eat.”

Jeremy, moving gingerly, started to make his way over to her. “I’ll help.”

“I don’t think so,” Rue clucked, pulling a chair over and waving Jeremy into it. “Your job right now is to rest. Marina, I’ll give you a hand.”

As the two women got to work, Connor finished his call. He gave Jeremy the slightest of nods and the battered redhead relaxed back into his seat.

Smiling softly, Connor gazed around the room, taking in what he could gleam of his sister’s life from the details. His eyes landed on the fridge and class photo of Myles held beneath a magnet made from a pinecone with plastic googly eyes.

“He’s gotten so big, Rini,”

Marina glanced over her shoulder. “Tell me about it. I feel like he was still in diapers a couple weeks ago.”

“He sure looks like dad.” There was so much heartache in Connor’s eyes, but he kept smiling anyway.

“He does,” Marina agreed. “He’s playing soccer now. He’s pretty good at it too. Oh, and he started taking music lessons a few years ago. Plays the guitar. He does not get musical talent from our side of the family, that’s for sure.”

“Must be from Marcus’ side.” Connor grinned.

A phone rang, making Marina jump.

She pulled her phone out from her back pocket and squinted at the name on her caller I.D.

“Speaking of Marcus. I’ll be back in a sec,” she said, stepping out of the room to answer the call.

“Oh, I need to give you this before I forget.” Priva dug through her pockets, unearthing a folded sheet of notebook paper. She handed it to Em. “This is a list of meet-up locations for the rest of our route, in order. If we get split up again, head to the closest address. These are the only places and people we can trust.”

“Don’t lose it,” Jeremy said, miming the action of putting something in his pocket. “One of you should always have it on you.”

“Got it,” Em confirmed, reaching down her collar and stashing the list in her bra. She gave May a wink, who responded with a deep blush and a playful shove.

“So, Jeremy,” May said, trying out this tentative new friendship that seemed to have settled between them. “Marina showed us a security camera picture you sent her so she knew which train we’d be on. How did you do that?”

“It’s called a screen cap,” he teased, smirking – playfully this time – as May put her hands on her hips and shook her head at him.

“Did you hack their security system?” she asked. “How did you learn to do that?”

Jeremy shrugged, then winced. “It’s just one of the surprisingly useful skills I managed to pick up over the years.”

“Who just ‘picks up’ hacking?” Then, as soon as she asked, May remembered. “Does it have anything to do with your ability?”

“Ha, no.” Jeremy chuckled. “It would be cool if I could actually do everything I’ve ever seen or read about, but that’s not how it works.”

The kitchen door opened and Marina hurried back into the kitchen.

“Sorry about that,” she said, fussing around the counter as she spoke. “That took longer than I expected.”

“Did they make it okay?” May asked, noting Marina’s far-off expression. “Marcus and Myles?”

“Oh, they’re still driving.” Marina gave her head a shake. “They were just calling to check in. Myles got carsick, poor kid.”

“Ew.” Jeremy pulled a face. Marina ignored him.

“So, how long do you guys plan on staying?” she asked, glancing around the room.

Rue sighed. “Not long, I’m afraid.”

“Will you at least be spending the night?” Marina looked hopefully at her brother. “It’s been so long since the last time we were together.”

Connor ran his fingers along the tight line of his lips.

“It would be nice to have a short break,” he agreed. The others nodded and shrugged their shoulders. “But only if you’re sure. I don’t want you to feel obligated to put yourself at risk any more than you already have”

“Not at all.” Marina grinned.

“One night off and then we’ll get back at it,” Em announced, as though her words were absolute. No one disagreed.

Em absentmindedly placed a hand lightly on the center of her chest and imagined the hammering of her heart.

“We have important work to do.”

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The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter Twenty Three

[ Beginning | Previous Chapter ]

Content warning: sexual/physical assault mentions, PTSD trauma, sex

With each day that passed, the awkwardness and tension lifted. Though Jeremy remained cold toward May, she found herself warming up to the other members of WIND.

According to Priva, it would take three more days for the group to arrive at a small town called Luxton where they would be able to take a brief rest and resupply. The town was a stop along a train route that would take them to their next destination; the city of York.

“You’re amazing with these maps,” May remarked as she hunched beside Priva, watching her trace the path they would follow with the tip of her finger.

“I’d better be,” Priva laughed. “Cartography is in my blood.”

“How so?”

Priva pointed to a signature in the bottom corner of the map. It didn’t register as anything familiar to May, but Priva was clearly proud of it.

“My great granddaddy drew this map himself when he explored this range as a young man,” she explained. “People think we’ve found all that’s worth seeing in this world. But there are still so many remote places waiting to be understood. I even like to map out the places I’ve been, just in case I’ve seen something other explorers have missed.”

“That’s incredible!” May was so enthralled that she listened to Priva explain the finer points of cartography and tell stories about her great-grandfather for half a day out on the trail, hanging on every word.

After dinner the following evening, May was helping Rue clean up when she noticed the far off look in her eyes as she gazed into the dying fire.

“How are you holding up?” May asked kindly.

Rue started slightly. “I’m sorry. I was just…”

“Thinking of Gaten?”

There was a heartbeat of silence. “Yes.”

“I can’t even begin to imagine how you’re feeling,” May said. “I have a nephew back home and I love him like crazy. Don’t tell Em this, but when we first went into hiding I would wait for her to fall asleep and then I would cry because I missed him so much.”

“Oh, May.” Rue pressed a hand to her heart. “That’s awful. I’m so sorry.”

“No, don’t be!” May balked. “I only bring it up because I thought that was bad. I was a mess over it. And yet here you are, going what you’re going through, and you’re being so brave about it. Gaten is going to be so proud of you.”

Eyes glistening, Rue still managed to smile. “That’s a very sweet thing to say, May. Thank you.”

They worked for a couple more moments in a silence that was lighter than a moment earlier.

“So, you like kids then?” Rue asked, unexpectedly continuing the conversation.

May grinned. “Yeah. I mean, I spent a lot of time looking after my nephew and he just… I don’t know. I guess kids just have a way of giving you a whole new perspective on things.”

“They sure do,” Rue agreed, laughing.

The more May got to know these people, the better she felt about the dangerous journey they were on together.

She also felt like she was getting a better sense of who Audrey might have been. The person Em had once been often felt like a ghost to May, haunting just out of her line of sight. But the more she learned about the people Audrey had known and loved, the more that spectre seemed to take shape. While Jeremy’s thorny disposition had left May wondering what kind of person could love someone so perpetually hostile, the others gave Audrey more dimension. May could imagine being friends with these people. She could imagine Em being friends with them too, and although May recognized that she still had virtually nothing other than a notion to go on, she couldn’t help but wonder if Em and Audrey were quite as different as her lover insisted they were.

As for that lover, the pair did what they could to make sure the circumstances didn’t come between them. Long after the others fell asleep, May and Em would keep one another awake, rolling and rocking in the throes of love and lust as best they could while trying to stay as quiet as possible.

May loved crawling between Em’s legs, using her tongue to guide her in the darkness as she teased and tasted, feeling Em tremble and buck against her. Em preferred to use her hands. With one she would pin May down while the other worked its magic. The night was like a blindfold that kept May tense with anticipation; each touch was a surprise so overwhelming that it took every ounce of willpower May had not to shatter the silence of midnight with her passion.

On their last night in the woods, long after the lovers had exhausted themselves into sleep, May awoke with a violent, heat-pounding jolt. She sat up, breathless and terrified. Frantically she tried to remember where she was by reminding herself of where she wasn’t.

“It was a dream,” she whispered into the darkness, feeling hot tears slide down her face. “He’s not here. It’s not real.”

Beside her she could feel the softness of Em’s naked body and the gentle rhythm of her breath. She was, somehow, still asleep and May couldn’t bring herself to wake her.

But her nightmare – the feeling of Kane’s greedy mouth on hers, his hands in places they had no business being – refused to release her from its grip. Her lungs panicked for air and her heart wouldn’t stop racing. To May, the world seemed to be tipping, threatening to cast her off into a full fit of panic. Knowing she needed to move – to do something – she crawled, trembling from beneath the covers and pulled on her clothes before staggering out into the cold of the night.

Free of the tent, May doubled over, gasping for breath and pleading with herself to calm down.

“It’s not real,” she wept as quietly as she could. “He can’t hurt you anymore.”

“May, it’s Connor,” she heard in the darkness. “Don’t be frightened.”

Through tear-soaked eyes, May peered around but it was too black for her eyes to focus.

“Connor? Where are you?”

A match flared, illuminating him from where he sat beside the fire pit, a heavy blanket over his shoulders. “Would you like to sit?”

May’s flight instincts were still firing wildly in her mind. It was a struggle for her to overcome the impulse to shrink away, but slowly she shuffled to where Connor sat and lowered herself down beside him just as the match burnt out.

“I’m going to put the blanket on you. Is that okay?” Connor asked, his voice soft and steady.

“Yes,” May whispered back.

In the darkness she felt the full weight of the blanket gently drape across her shoulders. She clutched at its edges, drawing it closer around her body; she hadn’t realized just how cold she had been before now.

They sat in silence for a long time, until the blindness of night came to feel like a hiding place and May felt her heartbeat slow.

When her lungs were at last able to have their fill and her mind had ceased its noise, May looked into the void beside her where she knew Connor was sitting.

“Why are you out here?” she asked.

She heard him release a long, slow exhale. “The same reason you are, I’d imagine.”

“Did you have a nightmare too?”

“Is that what it was?” There was a hint of skepticism in his voice, so faint May wondered if she imagined it.

May considered his question in the privacy the night’s black shroud afforded her; she’d had plenty of nightmares before, but when she really thought about it, she knew this one was different.

“Maybe not,” she admitted finally. “It’s more like a… I don’t know…”

“A flashback?”

She ruminated on the word.

“Yes, I think so.”

Connor hummed. “Me too.”

Questions leapt to May’s mind at his subtle confession, but she wasn’t sure it was her place to ask them.

“We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to,” Connor said as if reading her mind. “But if you’d like to, I’ve been told I’m a good listener.”

This made May smile despite herself. “I’m not sure why it happens. Something happened to me – was done to me – years ago. Sometimes I relive it in my sleep.”

“Trauma is like a ghost that way; sometimes it doesn’t like to be ignored.”

“What about you?” May asked. ”I mean, we don’t have to talk about it either but-”

“It’s okay,” Connor assured her. “I’ve had a lot of time to get familiar with my ghost. I’m not sure how much you know about the different Star worshipping groups; there are a lot of them out there. My uncle is part of a fairly conservative group that only acts on direct command from the Stars. They opted not to pursue Wishes because, technically, the Stars didn’t sanction the hunt in the first place. But they also frowned on the illegal Wishes.”

Connor paused to sigh. May waited in polite silence.

“I was still pretty young when the Loyals were formed and began hunting down Wishes. My parents thought the safest place for me was in hiding.”

“So they left you with your uncle?” May ventured.

“It was a good idea in theory; the Loyals didn’t suspect such a stringent group of harbouring a Wish. But, like I said, this group didn’t approve of the Wishes either, they just weren’t willing to destroy them. Needless to say, I wasn’t treated very well.”

“They didn’t… hurt you, did they?”

“Very much so.”

The wind passed, rattling the tree branches above them.

“Connor, I’m so sorry.” Already May was feeling terribly guilty for having asked.

“Don’t be,” Connor replied. ”Like I said, I’ve had plenty of time to learn to live with what’s happened to me.”

“But that doesn’t make it alright.”

“No, and it’s not always easy, but I’m doing better now than before. I’m proud of how far I’ve come.” Even in the darkness, May could tell he was looking at her now. “Besides, I’m not the only one out here with ghosts.”

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The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter Twenty One

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By the time May, Em, and Priva returned to the campsite, Connor already had the fire blazing with a satisfying crackle. Rue busied herself with food prep while Jeremy had been tasked with creating small tin foil bowls for everyone. They took turns layering their bowls with meat, potatoes, and eggs, positioning them delicately on a camp grill once the coals were hot enough.

The snapping fire was the only sound as the group sat wordlessly, waiting for their meals to cook. May watched spits of ash pop from the flames and drift skyward into the darkening sky. The sherbet colours of twilight gave way to night by the time Connor inspected his bowl and deemed dinner to be ready.

May wondered if the tension around the fire had been in some part the result of empty stomachs. As she collected her meal, she felt the mood lighten as everyone tucked into their food, and decided now might be a good time for casual conversation.

“Back to camping,” she said with a sigh, dropping back down beside Em, the edges of her foil plate pinched between her fingers.

“Hey,” Em remarked, looking mildly scandalized. “I thought you liked camping.”

“I like some parts of camping more than others,” May replied with a wink.

Em rolled her eyes dramatically.

“Kids these days,” she grumbled, earning her playful kick in the ankle from May.

The comment raised curiosity in Rue.

“How old are you two, anyway?” she asked.

“Twenty-five,” May answered, distracted. She leaned over to survey what was in Em’s plate. “Yours is cooked better than mine.”

“That’s because I’m a pro,” Em teased. Then, turning her attention back to Rue, “I’m, uh, a bit older.”

At this, Priva laughed loudly.

“You saying you’re a cradle robber?” She grinned at Em who mirrored her expression.

“Ha! Not quite that bad.” Em scooped a hearty forkful from May’s plate and shoved it in her mouth. After swallowing, she continued, “Still, I almost passed out when I realized my girlfriend was just a wee babe.” She turned to look at May. “Yours is fine, by the way.”

“You’re not that much older than me,” May defended, digging her own fork into Em’s plate. The utensil pierced the foil bottom, catching in a way that May hadn’t expected. Her hand slipped, sending the plastic handle snapping backwards and striking Em’s breast with a sharp thwap.

“My boob!” Em cried, choking on laughter and clutching at her chest. “You got me right in the tit!”

May doubled over, breathless in a fit of gasping laughter and tears, unable to reply.

Everyone but Jeremy succumbed to the first true bout of laughter since the two groups met, a moment of pure weightlessness that made the night feel a little less dark and the stakes a little less dire.

“So, how’d you two meet, anyway?” Jeremy asked, his question stopping the laughter dead.

May’s heartbeat stumbled. When she and Em decided to lie, they hadn’t taken the time to fill in the blanks of their cover story. Hoping her own panic wasn’t showing, May glanced at Em and found her to be a picture of calm.

“Maybe’s a dancer,” Em said, a goofy lovesick smile on her face that left May flushing. “I was in the audience one night when she was performing and I was instantly smitten.” She gave May a wink. “I’ve been her biggest fan ever since.”

That night in Omea’s community theatre – the night everything changed between them – flashed through May’s mind. She could still see Em standing in the wings, wide-eyed and marveling, watching her take the stage for her final performance of the night. Was this what Em was thinking of as she spun her tale? May had never asked Em what it was that pushed her over the delicate line between friends and lovers; that there might have been some truth to Em’s story made May giddy.

“Of course!” Rue’s face lit up. “We saw you dance at the circus. How long have you been performing?”

“Since I was in school,” May replied, delighted by Rue’s interest. “I’m self-taught though, so sometimes it feels like I’m making it up as I go.”

“She’s selling herself short,” Em insisted.

“Self-taught?” Connor look gob-smacked. “I’m impressed.”

“Me too,” Rue agreed brightly.

“Thank you,” May gushed. But elated as she was to have a chance to talk about one of her truest passions, she wanted to steer the conversation away from her and Em. “What about all of you? I’ve been so curious to know more about Wishes. I mean, I know what Wishes are but…” she shrugged, struggling to find the right words. “What does that mean for you? Is it different than being human?”

Sure, she was playing dumb to a certain extent. But this was the first time she had ever met other Wishes; she was curious about what she might have been missing. Em’s attempts at distancing herself from her past had often made her answers to May’s questions vague or indifferent. May figured this was a chance to learn more about herself as much as the others.

Connor rubbed his chin, mulling over her question. He looked to his friends. Priva shrugged.

“I guess for the most part it’s not that different,” he admitted. “We’re born to our mothers and, if we’re lucky, we live our lives and die when we’re old. The only difference we’ve noticed – aside from how we come to be, of course – is that every Wish has their own unique ability.”

May blinked in a way she hoped conveyed naive confusion. “What kind of abilities?”

“Something we’re naturally very good at,” Connor replied. “Think of it like a talent on steroids. Everyone’s is different. Mine is my strength.” He gestured back to the massive dead tree they were using as firewood and May picked up on the implication that he had felled it singlehandedly. “Nothing too fancy here.”

“Mine, on the other hand, is very fancy,” Priva said, sounding rather proud of herself. She leaned forward and grinned. “I don’t have to sleep.”

“That’s only partially true,” Rue quipped, giving Priva a cutting look. “She can live on very little sleep. One night’s worth for every three or four days awake.”

“Killjoy,” Priva pouted.

If this was a reason to be any less impressed, May didn’t see why.

She looked to Jeremy expectantly. “What’s your ability?”

Arms crossed, Jeremy studied her for a moment before answering.

“Perfect memory.” He tapped his temple, his expression impossible to read. “I don’t forget anything.”

“Oh.” May smiled. “I’ll bet that comes in handy.”

Jeremy didn’t reply.

“What about you, Rue?” Em cut in on the awkward silence filling the space between May and Jeremy.

Rue laughed. “Oh, I’m not a Wish.”

May looked at her in surprise. “Really?”

“Yep.” Rue set her bowl down and settled back beside Connor, leaning gently into his side. “My place in this little family is kind of different than the others. I come from an ancient line of astromantic druids.”

Now genuinely confused, May frowned. “What does that mean? Are you human?”

“For the most part. But way back, in the beginning of human history, my people came to be specifically because of the Stars.”

The firelight danced, reflected in Rue’s magnificent golden eyes. May’s breath caught as she remembered why they had seemed so familiar.

“Were they Wishes?” May asked.

“No.” Rue’s eyes – the same otherworldly gold as the Star called Welkin – creased in the corners as she smiled. “They were Starborn.”

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Ko-Fi May

The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter Twenty

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Content warning: Strong language

It was morning by the time the bus rolled into the dusty little town of Willingdon. From what May could see, the place itself wasn’t especially remarkable, but from here the bus route veered off in the opposite direction of where they needed to go. She and Em gathered their packs and hobbled down to the street, stiff and groggy from their cramped night on the seats.

On the sidewalk Em nodded toward a large map of the town and surrounding area that was posted outside the station; it was where they had been told to wait for further instruction. They shuffled over to it, yawning and stretching as they went, and surveyed the lattice work of neat little roads to kill time.

“Look,” May pointed to one on the far side of town and grinned. “This one is called ‘Dingus Street’.”

Em snorted. “Who comes up with this shit?”

A pack dropped to the ground a couple  feet to their left. May recognized it as Connor’s and intensified her focus on the streets, knowing neither she nor Em was supposed to acknowledge the others so long as they were out in public.

Priva stepped forward and wordlessly tapped her lips as her eyes scanned the map.

“Yikes,” Em muttered. “‘Loveless Lane’.”

May studied the street Em pointed at. “Bleak.”

“Here,” Priva announced, jabbing at a place on the outskirts of town somewhere well past Dingus Street. “This is the pull-off for the trailhead.”

Out of the corner of her eye, May made out a dotted path snaking out to the north from the pull-off. She sneaked surreptitious glances at it while pretending to look for more odd street names.

“From the looks of things it would take most of the day to get to the first lake.” Priva gestured to the tip of a body of water just visible along the edge of the map.

“That should still give us plenty of time to set up camp,” Jeremy noted with a false cheeriness that seemed eerie after his sneering, sullen attitude.

“Should we refresh our supplies?” Connor asked.

Em burst into laughter. “There’s seriously a place called ‘Lickkity Way’ here.” She waggled her eyebrows suggestively at May.

“Behave yourself for once in your life.” May gave her a playful shove.

“We’ll leave in twenty minutes,” Jeremy said, his remarkable cheerfulness disappearing completely.


The plan was fairly straightforward: the two groups would appear to go their separate ways from the station and find each other again later at a meeting point. In this case, the beginning of the West Green Crest Trail, which would lead them to the next town on their route.

While Jeremy, Priva, Connor, and Rue divvied up their shopping list and beelined for a grocery store, May and Em grabbed breakfast at a charming little family-run cafe. May took her time savouring her hot tea and fresh pastry knowing it would be days before she’d get to enjoy creature comforts again.

As they left, the pair spotted the others up ahead, making their way to a store specializing in camping and outdoor supplies. The girls strolled at a leisurely pace, mindful to keep their distance. Music wafted from a cobbled plaza that opened off the street; a busker played folksy renditions of popular songs to a small gathering of onlookers. Priva slowed, listening. Her features lit up as she recognized the melody.

“Ah, this is my song!” she cried, depositing her bags at Rue’s feet. She snatched the packages in Jeremy’s hands and placed them beside her own. “C’mon, boy. You’re dancing to this.”

May watched with surprise as Priva took him by the hand and dragged him into the center of the plaza. Jeremy didn’t seem put off by her touch, nor by the closeness of her body as they danced; they were clearly used to being in each other’s arms.

“Now that’s an interesting development,” Em muttered, watching the pair with a bemused expression. She gave May a knowing glance before pushing onward.

Curious, May glanced back one last time. If dance was a conversation without words, this one said a lot. That Jeremy and Priva were an item was clear, but May wasn’t fooled. This relationship was one sided; Jeremy’s heart wasn’t in it at all.


The rest of the plan went off without a hitch. May and Em beat WIND to the trailhead and, once the group reunited, they began a long day of hiking. The further they walked the more rugged the trail became, twisting into darker and denser woods. Occasionally the trees would break and open up into lush, sunny meadows, or the trail would meet a babbling creek, which they would cross in single file along aging wooden footbridges. For the most part no one spoke.

May and Em brought up the rear of the pack, letting the others lead the way. They dawdled like children, keeping one another amused and their spirits up. When they passed a grove of fruit trees at the end of their blooming season, May collected handfuls of fallen blossoms and followed behind Em, sticking them here and there throughout her black wig. When May’s feet ached, Em playfully swept her up in her arms and marched until the combined weight of another person and an overstuffed pack became too much.

It took the better part of the day, but by the time they reached what Priva decided was an ideal place to set up camp, the girls’ had managed to lighten the moods of nearly everyone in the group; Jeremy kept gruffly to himself. The rest of the party joked about the sweet relief of abandoning their packs and called dibs on spots to pitch their tents. There were three in total: May and Em, Connor and Rue, and – confirming the girls’ suspicion – Priva and Jeremy.

As May hammered in their final tent peg, Em stood and stretched.

“Who’s in the mood for a camp fire?” She scanned the other two pitches. Everyone else was still a step or two behind in their tent set-up. “Maybe and I will go collect wood.”

“That would be awesome.” Connor smiled at her, appreciative.

Em offered her hand and pulled May to her feet. She didn’t let go as they wandered into the woods.

May waited until she was sure they were out of earshot before she spoke.

“Do you think the whole trip is going to be this awkward?” she asked. “They hardly said anything all day.”

Em shrugged, her attention elsewhere. “It’s a weird situation and it’s not like we got off on the best foot. Can’t blame them for being cautious.”

“And what about you?” May ventured. “How are you-”

She didn’t have a chance to finish her sentence. The trees in this part of the forest were ancient; towering and broad. In one swift motion, Em pulled May behind one and backed her up against its weather worn bark. May didn’t have time to react as Em pressed up against her, kissing her so intensely May forgot what she had been saying.

With a passionate force they usually reserved for the bedroom, Em wedged her thigh between May’s legs and gripped her hips. She pulled her closer, creating a friction so delicious May couldn’t help but moan.

“I didn’t realize how badly I needed a kiss like that until you did it,” May whispered in Em’s ear.

“Whatever happens, I don’t want you to forget what you mean to me,” Em’s voice was low and gruff against May’s cheek. She kissed her again until May was dizzy. “I don’t want us to lose sight of what makes us who we are together.”

“Never,” May breathed, overwhelmed with the heat exploding between them.

Em pawed at May’s body, unzipping her hoodie as she kissed her way roughly down May’s neck. Weak with lust, May gasped and cooed shamelessly, wrapping her legs around Em’s waist as she hoisted her up higher. Em could have devoured her right there – kissing and biting at the soft exposed flesh above the deep neckline of May’s shirt – and May wouldn’t have cared. She wanted it.


A voice rang out. May and Em froze.

“Are you out here?”

It was Priva. Her footsteps were getting closer.

The girls leapt apart. May fussed over fixing herself up while Em snatched a few branches that laid close by

“We’re over here,” Em called back, fighting to keep her tone casual.

May finished tucking her hair back under her hat just as Priva stepped around the tree.

“There you are!” Priva smiled brightly. “I was starting to think you’d gotten lost. Connor found a fallen tree on the other side of the site, so I think we’re good for firewood for tonight.”

“Oh,” Em glanced down at her piddly collection of sticks and laughed. “That’s probably for the best.”

“C’mon.” Priva waved them to follow. “Let’s eat. We’re dying to get to know you both better.”

May shot Em a tense look. Em reached out and gave her hand a reassuring squeeze.

We’ll get through this together, the gesture seemed to say.

They had no other choice.

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Ko-Fi May

The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter Nineteen

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“We need to lay low and travel carefully,” Connor had instructed. “If the Loyals learn we’ve found you before we’re ready to stage the handover then we’re screwed.”

According to WIND, the Loyals had informants everywhere. To avoid rousing suspicion from potentially prying eyes, the group would have to leave as faint a trail as possible. No travel that required identification; cash only, aliases as much as necessary. May and Em didn’t mind – they were familiar with the best practices of runaways by now.

No one cared who you were when you took the bus, and travelling by dark was a good way to keep a low cover, which was how the group found themselves riding a night bus headed east. May and Em sat away from the others, as they would whenever they were in public. May was grateful for the many hours that lay between them and their next destination; she felt like she could breathe for the first time since climbing out of Dom’s truck.

She leaned into Em, her legs curled up beneath her. She was supposed to be sleeping, but with the space to breathe had also come the stillness her mind had been waiting for. It took advantage of the silence and filled it with a barrage of worries.

Beside her, Em fidgeted.

“Can’t sleep either?” she whispered, her voice just audible over the monotonous din of the bus.

Em gave an affirmative grunt.

Glancing up, May watched Em toy with a lock of dark hair. In their hasty packing, Em had the foresight to take one of her stage wigs – the long black one she used for their Moon and Ocean routine. May had trimmed it to a reasonable length and tucked her own hair beneath Em’s old ball cap. It wasn’t much as far as disguises went, but it was certainly better than nothing.

“On a scale from one to ten, how goth do I look in this thing?” Em asked, gesturing at the wig with a dramatic flourish.

May chuckled. “Ten. Very witchy.”

“Ooh, witchy. I can get into that.” Em wrapped her arms around May and let her cheek rest atop May’s head. “How are you holding up?”

Chewing her lower lip, May debated whether she should share the latest addition to her growing list of concerns. She hadn’t had the chance to tell Em what happened with Jeremy back at the motel.

Em broke her train of thought with a squeeze. “Babe? What’s on your mind?”

May sighed and decided to go for it.

“When we were back at the motel, Jeremy pulled me aside and told me he wouldn’t put up with me slowing things down.”

Em snorted. “Classic Jeremy.”

“He said he wouldn’t let me ‘get in the way’.”

“He doesn’t know you’re a Wish,” Em said, shrugging lightly. “He, Connor, and Priva have their abilities; him and his perfect memory, Connor and his super-Wish strength… have I ever told you that Priva only needs like, a handful of hours of sleep per week? And I mean, Rue may not be a Wish but even she has experience resisting the Loyals. Jeremy probably thinks you’re just an ordinary human, and if that were true, he wouldn’t be wrong in thinking you were in over your head.”

“Interesting,” May bristled. “That wasn’t what I thought he was implying at all.”

Em stared down at her quizzically before she clued in.

“Ah, you think this is about Audrey.”

“Can you blame me?” May tried to keep her voice down. “Ever since you told me the two of you were engaged I haven’t been able to-”

She was cut off by Em shifting out from beneath her. Righting herself, May twisted in her seat to see Em sitting pin straight and frowning at her in the flickering shadows.

I was never engaged to him, May,” she spoke tersely, her words simultaneously hurt and offended.

May’s heart dropped. “I’m sorry. I meant-”

Em grabbed May’s hands and held them tightly.

“Babe, I need you to believe me when I tell you that Audrey and I are different people.” Her intensity was impossible to miss, even as she whispered. “Please, tell me you understand.”

“You can’t blame me for being confused,” May hissed, the fear and frustration she had been suppressing bursting the holds of her patience. “I still don’t even understand why Jeremy expected you to be her. These are her friends – people who loved her. And here you are asking me to keep this all straight as if it made any rational sense to begin with.”

Sighing, Em sat back and took a moment for both their sakes. It was difficult to see her in the darkness but May didn’t need her eyes to know Em was studying her carefully.

“You’re right,” Em agreed at last. “I’ve been asking you to suspend your disbelief without giving you much reason too.”

May shook her head. “I’m not asking for you to placate me, Em – I’m asking you to help me understand. Please?”

Leaning back against the window, Em hummed thoughtfully. She gestured for May to join her, and she did, nestling into her as best she could across the uncomfortable bus seats.

“Where do you want to start?” Em mused, lacing her fingers with May’s.

“Tell me why Jeremy thought you would be Audrey,” May replied. She remembered the tattered security photo he had shown her when he first stormed into her life. “Do you look like her?”

Em chuckled softly. “Not really. Audrey wasn’t a ghost like me. She had her mother’s super thick, brown hair and this warm, honey brown skin that I’m guessing came from Welkin, like her eyes.”

“Her eyes?” May asked, peering up at Em and trying to imagine her painted in Audrey’s pallet.

“Gold,” Em answered. “Just like the Stars.”

May mulled this over, curiosity tugging at the corner of her mind.

Em continued. “She was a bit shorter than I am. Smaller in generally, actually. It’s like when Welkin built this new body for me they made everything about it… more. Bigger. Stronger. It’s as if they thought…”

She trailed off. Her expression was distant.

“As if they thought making you stronger might keep you safe,” May finished. Em’s physical strength had never escaped May’s notice – even now she could feel the firmness of her body beneath her own. She could imagine Welkin – like any parent – wanting to do whatever possible to protect their child, especially after what happened to her.

“Yeah,” Em breathed.

May swore she could feel the fissure Welkin’s disappearance left in Em’s heart widen from where she lay against her.

“So what was it then?” she asked, trying to pull Em back from the edge of despair. “What tipped Jeremy off?”

Beneath her, Em squirmed with unease.

“My abilities,” Em explained. “All Wishes have a distinctive natural advantage; like you and the way you can master virtually anything with only a little bit of study. But the things I can do – the levitation and manipulation of energy – only a Starborn can do that.”

“A Starborn? Are there more like you; people who were parented by a Star?”

Em shook her head. “Not anymore. We were a bit more common thousands of years ago but that’s it.”

Fear settled over May. She sat up and looked at Em in a panic. “If that’s the case then they all know. How could they not?”

“Babe, people don’t come back from the dead.” Em’s voice was calm and steady. “What Welkin did for me is unheard of. Jeremy might be holding out hope, but the others are probably looking for the logical answer. They likely think I’m another Starborn, just like the Loyals do. Our job is to come up with a convincing story and stick to it, okay?”

May toyed with her ring, her anxiety relentless despite Em’s self-assured tone. “Okay. So you’re a Starborn. We’ve never heard of Audrey or Welkin.”

“Right.” Em cupped May’s cheek. “Just another secret love-child between a Star and some earthly creature. Maybe we can tell them I’m half-elvish. That could be fun.”

“Sure,” May laughed weakly, trying to shrug off her apprehension.

In the darkness, Em kissed her; soft, slow, intoxicating.

“It’s going to be okay, my love,” she whispered against her lips. “Trust me.”

May swallowed and nodded, breathless.

With a gentle tug, Em pulled May back against her, wrapping her in her arms and offering her body as a makeshift bed. “Let’s try to get some sleep, okay?”


It took only a moment for Em to drift off, the rhythm of her breath joining the concert of bus noise.

For May it would still be some time before sleep took her.

She could say she was okay as much as she liked.

She felt anything but.

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Ko-Fi May

The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter Seventeen

[ Start from the Beginning | Read Previous Chapter ]

Content warning: Strong language

May was still awake when she heard the trailer door creak.

She didn’t move as Em’s silhouette crept in the darkness.

A thud was followed by Em hissing a curse beneath her breath. May switched on the lamp above the bed. Em winced at both the sudden brightness and the pain of her freshly-stubbed toe.

It had been May’s intention to ask Em where she’d been for the past couple of hours, but when she saw the way her girlfriend’s soaking wet hair and clothes clung to her body, she had her answer.

“You went to the water after all, huh?” May asked.

“I’m sorry,” Em replied, a slight warble to her words as she stood there shivering. “I just needed to make it stop.”

May sighed and climbed out of bed. “Come on, let’s get you into some dry clothes.

They moved without speaking, Em peeling her sopping layers and draping them over chair backs while May brought her a fresh towel.

She repeated Dom’s words in her mind like a mantra: don’t make this about you. But it was hard; it stung to know her touch and her love hadn’t been enough to bring Em peace in all of this.

More than that however, was the helplessness. She had come to think of her relationship with Em – the team they made together – as being unstoppable. What was she supposed to do if this problem was what proved her wrong?

“Thank you,” Em mumbled, taking a seat on the edge of the mattress as she tugged the towel tighter around her shoulders. “Never in a million years did I think you’d be put in this position and you handled it like a rock star.” She looked up, eyes glittering with unshed tears. “I love you.”

May sat beside Em and gave her cheek a soft kiss.

“I love you, too.” May gently ran her fingers through the damp clumps of Em’s hair. “And I know you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do when your mind starts to slip, but when it comes to problems like this, I want you to know you don’t have to deal with things alone. I’m here to help, even if that just means listening to you talk through how you’re feeling.”

Em shook her head and let it hang forward like a tree branch heavy with snow.

“Right now I feel sick,” she admitted. “I don’t know what to think. It feels like a fucking nightmare they’re even here, let alone what they’re asking me to do.”

“Us.” May interjected before she had a chance to think about what she was saying.

“Huh?” Em blinked at her.

May swallowed. “What they’re asking us to do. There’s no way I’m leaving you to deal with this on your own.”

Chuckling softly, Em rolled her head to rest on May’s shoulder. ”My feisty little queen.”

“I mean it.” May smiled. “We’re in this together.”

“I’d prefer if there was no ‘this’ to deal with in the first place.”

“Em…” May wasn’t sure how to tell her what she overheard at the motel, let alone her own feeling about what WIND was hoping they’d agree to do.

“Ugh,” Em groaned, flopped backwards onto the mattress with a defeated fwump. “Do you think if we just went to sleep now we’d wake up in the morning to find this was all just a dream? I don’t remember taking anything before the show but maybe we did and this is all just a bad trip-”

“Babe.” May eased herself down beside Em. “I’ll lie to you if that’s what you want to hear right now but we’ll still have to face it in the morning.”

Sighing, Em look at May. For a moment she didn’t speak, searching the dark pools of May’s eyes for the right things to say instead.

“I thought I was done with this.” Her voice was tight with sadness. “Fuck, if Welkin knew…”

She had to take a moment to steady her breath. May wrapped an arm around her and wriggled in closer.

“The entire time we were talking to them, I could feel Audrey’s memories bubbling back up,” Em explained quietly. “It was so confusing.”

“Confusing how?” May wanted so desperately to understand what Em was going through.

“I’m not sure how to explain it.” Em closed her eyes, a look of concentration settling across her face as if searching for answers on the back of her eyelids. “There had always been a tiny, tiny part of me that wondered what would happen if I ever saw them again. Would I forget who I am now? Would the Audrey in me be, like, awakened or something?”

May held her breath as she listened. She had wondered – and worried – about the same things, only that part of her was anything but tiny.

Em sighed and opened her eyes. “But instead I just kept remembering bits and pieces of life with them and I… don’t feel anything. Audrey would be devastated about the Loyals taking Gaten but instead here I am, grateful it’s not my problem.”

“Em.” May couldn’t help but feel scandalized. “You don’t really believe it’s not our problem, do you? That little boy…”

Omi’s face flickered across May’s mind. She sat up as a wave of emotion came over her and threatened to tumble out in the form of a sob. Em righted herself as well and watched May carefully.

“You think we should help them?” Em asked.

“You honestly think we shouldn’t?”

“You realize we’re just going to end up getting pulled back into the system that cost Audrey her life in the first place, right?”

“Emmy, look around,” May didn’t mean to shout. “We’re already there. We’ve been on the run for a year now. Isn’t this exactly what Audrey and the others were trying to get free from? What if helping them could put an end to all of that once and for all?”

A darkness fell over Em’s face. “I think you’re forgetting I’ve heard this argument before, May.”

Clutching the towel around herself tightly, Em rose from the bed. Before she could march away, May reached out for her with a tender hand.

“My love, listen to me,” she begged. “I’m not saying I want this. But I don’t know if I can walk away knowing there’s a little boy whose life might depend on us. And if you forget the others – what they meant to Audrey and what they mean to you now – and just think of him as one kid who needs help, I know you’d feel the same way. I know you, Em.”

With a defeated sigh, Em slumped back down. “Fuck. Who am I kidding? We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.”

“What do you mean?” May asked, unease creeping into her voice.

Em pointed at her chest. “Remember that scar Jeremy showed us? They all have one – it’s from a device the Loyals planted in them after the treaty to measure their vitals and shit like that. I wasn’t being paranoid; they are being tracked.”

“Oh,” was all May could think to say.

The air in the trailer felt heavy. It pressed down on the pair who struggled with the weight of their predicament in silence. After a moment, May took Em’s hand in hers and held tight.

“I know this is hard for you – scary, even – but I’ll be right beside you the whole time.” She gave Em her bravest smile. “Whether the others like me or not.”

Em’s body rocked with a silent laugh. “What makes you think they don’t like you?”

“Oh, please,” May groaned. “You were there. I’m pretty sure Jeremy wishes I was a bug just so he could step on me.”

Em’s face dropped, her expression growing distant.

“He thought I was Audrey,” she muttered, indistinguishable enough that had to May lean in to hear better.


“Isn’t that what Dom said?” Em asked, snapping back to the present. “Jeremy was expecting me to be Audrey.”

Failing to follow Em’s train of thought, May frowned. “What are you saying? Jeremy’s mad at me because you’re not who he thought you were going to be?”

With her free hand, Em pinched the bridge of her nose and exhaled slowly. “Knowing Jeremy, he probably hasn’t given up on that theory quite yet.”

May laughed. “I don’t understand. What reason would he have to think you and Audrey are the same person?  Why would it matter if-”


Em repositioned herself so she was facing May, both of her hands now clutching May’s in a way that almost seemed pleading.

“If you’re serious about wanting to help WIND find Gaten, then there’s something you need to know about Jeremy and Audrey.”

May’s mouth went dry.

“They were in love, weren’t they?” she whispered, realization hitting her head on.

“That’s putting it lightly.” Em seemed to shrink into herself with embarrassment.

“They were engaged.”

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Ko-Fi May

The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter Fifteen

[ Start from the beginning | Read Previous Chapter ]


You want to blow up the treaty.

It had been a life-changing moment for Audrey. There she was, thousands of miles away from where she was supposed to be, staring down the one person who, until a handful of minutes ago, she had trusted more than anyone else in the world.

And he lied to her.

So what if I do?” Jeremy snapped, anger and frustration getting the better of him at last. “Is this really how you want to live the rest of your life, Audrey? Lab rats under constant surveillance?

Of course it wasn’t how she wanted to live out the rest of her days. But if they wanted to free themselves of the suffocating conditions of the treaty, it couldn’t be like this.

“The question you should ask yourself is whether this is how you want to die. Because I know my answer. Do you?”

Jeremy threw his hands up and stormed away from her. “You’re being dramatic. Neither of us will die over this. We’ll get these fucking things out of us and then we’ll go back for the others.”

He looked back at her, his expression softer now.

“Please, Audrey. We have a real shot here.”

Without thinking, Audrey’s fingers traced down the center of her chest where, beneath the soft fabric of her sweater, a scar marred her flesh. The devices she, Jeremy, Connor, and Priva now lived with, nestled next to their hearts and tracking them like spies, seemed like the better end of the deal back when they made it. They hoped understanding more about them as Wishes would encourage the Loyals to see them as people.

But instead Audrey and her friends traded one form of imprisonment for another. The Loyals were always with them. The treaty came with strict rules and check-ins and repercussions for stepping out of line… Was this freedom?

Was the sacrifice worth it?

Audrey took a shaky breath and let herself meet Jeremy’s desperate gaze.

“Where do they think we are right now?” she asked.

“On vacation.” Jeremy took her hands in his. “A romantic getaway of sorts.”

Despite her anger, Audrey let slip a soft chuckle. It had been romantic, at least romantic by their standards.

At least until she caught onto Jeremy’s plan.

“You realize what they’ll do to us if they find out?” Her voice was the tiniest of whispers.

Jeremy pulled her to him. Pushing the dark curtain of her chestnut hair away from her shining golden eyes, he smiled down at her.

Gently he pressed a kiss to her mouth, working her lips until he felt her relax against him.

“They won’t,” he assured her in a tender voice. “I promise.”

Even then she knew it was a promise he wouldn’t be able to keep.


It was rare Em experienced a breakdown May couldn’t help fix. And if May’s touch – her embrace, her kiss – wasn’t enough, there was always the water.

On only two or three other occasions, water hadn’t been an option. When those breakdowns came, all May could do was hold tight.

From where she sat, rocking gently with her arms wrapped around Em, it looked as though her lover was falling apart. Choking and sobbing, Em clasped her hands over her ears, screwing her eyes shut and trying to shut out the barrage of cosmic noise. The trauma of her mind ripping back and forth between who she was and who she used to be, coupled with a heightened sensitivity to the energies pulsing around – the ones that are always there but no one else seemed to notice – left her screaming and thrashing.

This breakdown did not surprise May. A part of her wondered what coming face-to-face with people who once meant the world to Audrey might do to Em. The fallout was as bad as she had feared.

So May rocked her, letting Em know she was safe with whispered words. Dom sat beside them, rubbing rhythmic circles on Em’s back. He had seen her lose control before, but never like this.

“Is there really nothing we can do to help her?” He watched the scene with sad eyes.

May shook her head, acutely aware of its weight through her exhaustion.

“We have to ride it out. She’ll come around, eventually.

“This is hard to watch.”

“Imagine how hard it must be for her.”

They lost track of time while they waited, but as the night wore on Em’s breathing slowed and the screaming ebbed. May thought she had fallen asleep when a groggy voice punctuated the silence.

“What did you tell them, Dom?”

Dom sat up with surprise. “What do you mean, Em?”

Em peered over her shoulder, twisting in May’s still firm embrace. “Do they know who I am? Who I used to be?”

“I think they thought they did,” Dom admitted. “At least Jeremy did. But once they saw you-”

“What did you say?” She sounded more awake now, her voice tight with urgency.

“I told them the truth,” Dom said. “That your name is Em and you’re not whoever they thought you were. I told them I could help them find the person in the picture, but that was it.”

Em let out a slow exhale as May gave her a tight squeeze.

“Thanks, buddy.”

Dom sat back and ran his hands through his hair. “I thought it was important. When they told me about the kid, I thought you might want to make your own call-”

“Poor Dominic,” Em teased. “Always has to be a hero.”

He didn’t have it in him to argue.

“What do we do now?” May asked. She had bought them some time, but they still had a decision to make.

Em pulled herself up to sit, wobbling and looking around sluggishly as though she’d had too much to drink.

“I don’t know,” Em mumbled, lurching to her feet and staggering the few short paces to the door. “I need to think.”

“Wait.” May scrambled up and after her. “Where are you-”

But before she could finish her sentence, Em threw open the door and launched herself into the air.

May could only gape after her as Em disappeared skyward without so much as a goodbye.

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Ko-Fi May

Off Pitch Hype Train: Just Visiting

Check it out! It’s the first ever guest post on my blog! Today is cover reveal day for my amazing friend, Brianna! Check out the details on her debut f/f new adult contemporary romance (and see how you can win a copy!) below!


Hello all! Thank you for having me here, and thank you so much to Maggie for helping me kick off my first ever cover reveal and giveaway!

Let me introduce myself. My name is Brianna Kienitz and I’m the author of f/f new adult contemporary romance, Off Pitch, available from Ninestar Press beginning October 9th. This novel is the first of two in the Pitch Prodigies series. It follows Northwestern University’s soccer star, Adeline Fahey, as she encounters a roadblock in her life plane in the form of Gabriella Soto, an equally driven cello prodigy, and the TA in Addie’s Spanish class.

I could babble on and on all day about my upcoming novel, but I’d like to share a few fun tidbits with you. But first, how about a cover reveal? Here it is, my beautiful cover from the very talented Natasha Snow!

Now that your eyeballs are filled with that awesomeness, I want to tell you a little bit about the T-rex. If you follow me on social media, you may have noticed a plethora of T-rex’s. But why? I didn’t choose the T-rex brand, it chose me. The T-rex costume plays a relatively small, albeit hilarious, part in Off Pitch. When I started pitching this story on Twitter, it became clear that the T-rex costume was garnering a lot of attention. I latched onto it and ran with it. I like to think that the T-rex played a large part in acquiring my publishing deal with Ninestar Press.

With that in mind, I present the official Off Pitch sticker!

I will be sending a sticker with every signed copy of the book, handing them out at events, and sticking them to every available surface.

Up next I’d like to share a little bit about our lesbian lovers. Maggie was kind enough to gift me with beautiful fanart of these lovely ladies, and I’ve been googly-eyed over it all day.

On the left, we have Adeline Fahey. She’s a 20-year-old bio-mechanical engineering major at Northwestern University. Her parents are Irish immigrants of the affluent variety (a touchy subject for Addie). Most importantly, she is Northwestern’s soccer star and an aspiring soccer professional. Bio-mechanical engineering is her backup.

Fun fact: Adeline’s last name is a version of my Irish surname.

On the right, you guessed it, Gabriella Soto, a graduate cellist and the smoking hot teaching assistant in Adeline’s Spanish class. Originally from Spain, she’s studying abroad on a full scholarship. Her parents are much less affluent than Addie’s, but she is quickly becoming the darling of Chicago’s classical music scene.

Fun fact: The cello is not the only thing she plays well.

Anyways, that’s it for this blog post. Don’t forget to comment Team Soccer, Team Cello, or Team T-rex, and then head on over to Rafflecopter to claim an extra entry to the Off Pitch Cover Reveal giveaway. If you haven’t already, you can head over to my blog for another entry, and visit my Facebook and follow me on Twitter for even more entries and to stay up to date on the latest Off Pitch news!

Off Pitch is available for pre-order from Ninestar Press starting today, so if giveaways aren’t your thing you can head over there to reserve your paperback or e-copy!

Finally, another thank you to Maggie Derrick for co-hosting this cover reveal with me. Be sure to follow her blog, and stalk her on Twitter and Facebook, and consider snagging an art commission with her while you’re at it. Happy trails!

The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter Fourteen

[ Start from the Beginning | Read Previous Chapter | Read Next Chapter ]

Content warning: Strong language


Em’s eyes sprang open, widening at the sight of Jeremy’s accusatory finger pointed her way.

“Me?” She balked with indignation. “How is this my fault?”

“The Loyals caught wind of your little stunt in the mountains,” Priva said. “You remember, the one with the bear?”

Em went stiff.

“I was just doing my job,” she muttered.

“You should have been a little less fucking flashy about it,” Jeremy snapped.

“She saved someone’s life,” May countered, coming to Em’s defense. “It’s not like she had any other options.”

Jeremy stared May down with such burning intensity she flinched.

“The Loyals wanted us to help find you,” Priva continued, distracting May from Jeremy’s scrutiny with a shudder. “But we refused.”

“Why?” Em asked.

“Because agreeing to the treaty didn’t mean we agreed to turn on Wishes,” Connor answered. “They tried for a while on their own but they never were as good at finding Wishes they way we are. And when we refused to help them a second time-”

“They took our son instead.” Rue finished his sentence, her voice breaking.

A tense silence filled the small trailer. Em counted her rapid breaths as May looked to Dom.

“See?” he said quietly. “I told you they needed your help.”

At this Em shook her head. “How are we supposed to help? I’m sorry if I fucked things up for you guys but I’m not about to turn myself in just to-”

“We’re not asking you to,” Rue interrupted her, raising her hands to quell her rising temper. “We have a plan, but the only way it will work is if you agree to help us.

Em opened her mouth but paused when May placed a gentle hand on her shoulder.

“Let’s hear them out, love,” May whispered in her ear. Em might not have felt any responsibility for Gaten’s abduction but May couldn’t seem to suppress the guilt roiling inside her.

Lips in a tight line, Em gave her a hard stare before letting out a tired sigh.

“What do you need us to do?” she relented.

Looking more hopeful than he had all night, Connor stepped forward.

“The Loyals wanted us to turn you in when we found you,” he admitted. “But as far as we’re concerned, we don’t owe them anything now. The treaty was as good as dead the moment they took Gaten to get us to cooperate. Our plan is to stage an exchange and, once he’s safe, come at them in an orchestrated assault. We don’t need to beat them – just create enough of a diversion so that all of us can slip away. With our combined abilities – yours in particular – we should be able to pull it off.”

Em raised an eyebrow and let out a hollow laugh. “You not only want to use me as bait, you want us to help you fight the Loyals?”

Dom jumped as though someone had shocked him.

“You didn’t say anything about using her as bait,” he exclaimed, looking scandalized. “You promised me they would be safe.”

Priva shook her head. “They are safe. We’re not going to hurt them. This is their choice to make.”

Em buried her eyes beneath the heels of her palms and tried to focus. Audrey’s dearest friends being back in her life was confusing in a way that was making it difficult to keep her mind from slipping. The fight to stay grounded in the present was wearing her out.

Scenes from Audrey’s final days cut into her thoughts like a corrupted reel jerked from scene to scene. The surface of her skin prickled with the static that warned of an impending breakdown.

With great difficulty she tried to concentrate on the touch of May’s warm hands still tight on her shoulders while her mind stumbled over the problem at hand.

This is unbelievable, she thought as bitterness boiled in the pit of her stomach. What would make them think I would agree to a plan like

Em’s mind snapped. For a split second she was Audrey again, her attention wrenching from a heated argument with Jeremy as a terrifying realization dawned on her. Audrey placed a shaking hand over her chest and the jagged silver scar that ran down its center…

“You fucking assholes,” Em shouted, shaking her head and choking on her words.

“What?” May asked, alarmed. “What is it?”

Em’s glare was furious.

“They’re fucking tracking you, aren’t they?”

No one spoke. Connor and Jeremy exchanged wide-eyed looks of surprise.

Aren’t they?” Em bellowed again, her demand for a response making everyone jump.

“No,” Connor answered, caution edging into his voice. “I mean, I suppose they might be, but-”

“For fuck’s sake,” Em snapped. She was furious, anger rolling through her veins like a tempest.

“Please,” Rue begged, stepping around her friends so Em and May could see her sincerity. “We swear we aren’t trying to lead them back to you.”

“But you might have.” There was venom in Em’s voice now. “So much for us being safe, huh?”

“Does it matter?” Jeremy mused. “From the sounds of things, you two don’t mind being on the run, anyway.”

Incensed, Em made to lunge for him but Dom had already rushed to her side and held her back with a firm hand. All her anger earned was a satisfied sneer from Jeremy instead.

“I’ve about had it with your shit,” she growled.

“Stop it,” May cut in, jumping down from her perch and planting herself between the bristling pair. “Both of you need to cut it out.”

She gave Em a look that begged for her trust before turning to Connor and Rue.

“If we help you, is there a way to end this?”

The others shared a look of unease.

“How do you mean?” Connor asked, approaching her as though her fingers rested on the detonator of a bomb.

“If we help get your son back, you have to help us too.” May could not have explained where the confidence to negotiate with these people was coming from, but she let it lead her. “You can go back to running from the Loyals if that’s what you want but somehow, when this is all over, they need to be off our trails. We walk away from this without targets on our backs or no deal.”

Jeremy scoffed. “And how would you like us to do that?”

Since the first moment their eyes met, May had been intimidated by this man. Yet now she wasn’t willing to back down. Whatever his problem was with her, she chose to rise above it.

“I guess you’ll have to figure it out.”

“It’ll be tricky,” Connor offered, his brow knitted tightly. “We need to think about how to pull it off.”

“That’s fine.” May held her head up high. “We need to think about this too.”

Everyone started, each pair of eyes turning to gaze at her with varying degrees of incredulity.

“You’re asking a lot of us here.” May took in their surprised with an aloof shrug of her shoulders. “You didn’t expect us to answer you right away, did you?”

A quick whispered exchange passed between Connor, Rue, and Priva. Jeremy glared.

“That’s fair.” Rue agreed at last. “We’re staying at a motel on the edge of town – Willows Court. Can we meet again in the morning?”

May glanced at Em and Dom, who stared back at her expectantly.

“Noon,” she said. “If we don’t show up by then, you’ll know our answer.”

While the decision didn’t sit well with everyone, WIND knew they had pushed far enough for one night. With muttered words of parting, they took their leave. Dom stayed behind and locked the door after them. He took a moment to steel his nerves, knowing full well he owed Em and May one hell of an apology.

“There’s no way for me to express how sorry I am,” he began, his back still to the girls. “If I had known-”

“Em? Are you okay?”

May’s voice was high with concern.

Dom twisted around just in time to see Em collapse into her arms.

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Ko-Fi May