I awoke drenched in a cold sweat for what seemed the millionth time in the past month. Every night I closed my eyes with the single hope of a restful night’s sleep only to be greeted with a foul phantom. Xavier’s visage appeared each night bringing with it nightmares both old and new. As I lay there, staring at the ceiling, I wondered if he were really dead. I took a deep breath trying to clear away the remains of his latest taunt. He couldn’t be real. I killed him.
I looked over at Kennan, lying peacefully in the bed. I pondered what I would tell him when I woke him up. I had been trying to hide my nightmares from him for the past month and I knew he was beginning to suspect something was wrong.
I took in his face as he rested. His eyelashes fanned out on his cheeks and his face relaxed as if there were nothing in the world to worry about. A knot formed in my stomach. I knew the moment I woke him up and told him everything would change.
I gritted my teeth together and tried not to be angry at the universe or whatever kept dragging me into this mess. Selfishly I wanted things to remain the same. I longed for my life with Kennan, our wedding, and even someday a family. I wanted a future that did not include subterfuge, violence, and pain.
If I were ever going to make that future a reality I had to stop hiding. I swallowed down the lump and pulled up my big girl panties. It was time to face the music and find out just what the universe wanted from me. I couldn’t ignore the not so subtle hints of my nightmares any longer. Stupid universe, always getting in the way.
I nudged Kennan’s shoulder trying to wake him up which caused him to sprawl more, almost making me fall off of the bed. One would think with a California King there would be plenty of room. Not with his giant self. Stupid Guardian. Ugh, I needed coffee to deal with this.
“Kennan, wake up. I need to talk to you.” I said, trying not to giggle as he pulled me against his body nuzzling my neck.
“Woman, you better be waking me up for a good reason. You know I don’t do mornings.” he groused. Kennan was an even worse morning person than I was.
“First of all, it is eleven. So stop grumbling. Second, I really do need to talk to you. It is kind of serious.” As the words left my mouth Kennan’s body grew rigid.
“What’s happened?” he asked, fully alert.
“So, I have sort of been having the nightmares again. I don’t know why or what they mean, but I have a bad feeling Kennan. I feel like something wicked this way comes, if you know what I mean.”
“How many Izzy? How many have you had?” his voice barely masked his anger. Apparently my jokes were doing nothing to diffuse the situation.
“Three or four a week for the past two months. Originally I thought it was just some sort of Post-Traumatic Stress disorder. But they just kept coming. Now I can’t seem to shake this gut wrenching feeling that everything is about to go to hell in a hand basket. I’m not explaining it right. Ugh.” I threw myself back into the pillows exasperated. Not only was my future about to get jacked but I couldn’t even properly explain what was going on.
“What happens in the dreams? Is it more of what happened back at the lab and the Council? More importantly, why in the hell didn’t you tell me Izzy? I could have been helping you instead of wondering what was going on. I was starting to think you didn’t want to marry me.” He sat up in bed to stare down at me. His wickedly tattooed body beckoned me.
He still took my breath away. His dark wavy hair was mussed from where he had slept and he had a shadow of growth on his jaw. I loved when he left just a bit of scruff, it felt amazing against my skin. I needed to get a hold of myself. Serious topics needed to be discussed and here I was wanting to climb atop Kennan and ride him like some sort of rodeo bull. I shook my head to clear the thoughts away and get back on track.
“I didn’t want to worry you. I know it was stupid so don’t give me that lecture. I was just trying to deal with it on my own and not put you through my crazy again. Besides, I was always aware that it was the dreaming this time. Even the nightmares were like watered down versions of themselves. Bah. This sucks. I just wanted to get married and have a wonderfully fluffy future with happy rainbows and a unicorn or two. Is that too much to ask? Instead I have to be the all powerful Seer, savior of the universe. I thought that my superhero costume was finally retired.” I said as I buried my face in the pillow allowing my self-pity to run rampant.
“Unicorns don’t exist Izzy. So that future is implausible.” Kennan said as I glared at him for dashing my imaginary future. “Izzy, you know you have to call Isadora, right? There is a reason she gave you that number. I am pretty sure this was it.” He continued on as if I weren’t giving him a withering glare. I needed to start practicing these faces in the mirror. I must be doing them wrong, they never seemed to produce the desired effect.
“But I don’t wanna.” I whined gaining myself an annoyed look from Kennan. “Fine, I realize I am being petulant. I just thought that maybe, just maybe our lives would be normal now. Besides, we have a life here Kennan. What if she says we have to come back to Illinois? As much as I would love to see Molly and Ian again, I really don’t want to leave here. This is our home now.” I was beginning to resign myself to my reality. I needed to call her. I just didn’t want to. Besides, she had probably already seen everything that was coming.
“Call her.” Kennan said, getting up from the bed. He walked over to the dresser and grabbed his phone tossing it back at me, sparing me a hard glance before turning to leave the room. I stared daggers at his back. Okay, so they were probably more like toothpicks, I didn’t have the angry face down quite yet. Why did I love his bossy Guardian self again?
I stared down at the phone waiting for it to magically disappear. I wanted to remain in my happy bubble of existence. No matter if the bubble were a figment of my imagination or not. I swallowed deeply resigning myself to my fate. If I were being completely honest with myself, I knew it wasn’t over. When we’d left the Council months ago, I’d had the feeling that it had all been the beginning of something more. Why did I have to have such a heavy conscience? I breathed in and out for good measure before finally pressing send on the phone. It only rang once before Isadora answered.
“What took you so long?” Isadora asked smoothly. She never ceased to creep me out with her all knowing self. I hoped that I would not be that way when I was her age. I had about a hundred and twenty years to worry about that yet.
“I was practicing my repression and avoidance techniques.” I said snarkily.
“How did those work out for you last time my dear?” She asked without a hint of emotion.
“Fine, okay, I should have called sooner. I get it. Moving on. The nightmares are back. Which you obviously know since you are getting on me for not reaching out sooner.” I said rubbing my hand down my face, a gesture I had picked up from Kennan. He did it whenever he was exasperated, which I was becoming.
“No need to be snippy young lady. I did not, in fact, know about the nightmares. I just knew that you were stressed about something. I kept seeing you look fretful and upset. I knew you needed to reach out but that you would do so in your own time. So, here we are. Tell me everything.” She paused patiently, waiting for me to spill the beans.
“The nightmares started up about two months ago. I thought all was well and then out of nowhere they showed up again. The common denominator in every last one is Xavier. He shows up at the end telling me that it is not over. He keeps telling me that there is more to come. In this last one he told me ‘I was nothing compared to what is to come.’ Then I wake up and question my sanity. I feel like something is coming. Something bad. I haven’t seen anything but I can’t deny what my gut is telling me.” I finished hoping she understood the jumble I had just spit out.
“Well, this is certainly no good. Do you have any idea if he is still alive or not?”
“No. That is the part that scares me the most. I thought that he was finished. I thought I had watched him die. It wasn’t until I watched that surveillance video at the Council that I began to doubt it. I am not sure what to believe where Xavier is concerned.”
“I have been seeing some things lately. Things that are quite disturbing. I really don’t want to discuss this over the phone. Do you think that you and your dear Guardian might be persuaded to come back to the Council? I really would like to clear this all up with you in person, my dear.” Isadora might have posed it as a question but I knew that it was more an order than a request. My fears brought to life, we were going back to Illinois.
“Let me get things arranged with Kennan and I will call you when we are on our way.” I grumbled, knowing good and well there was no use in fighting it.
“That would be lovely dear. We will set up a room for you. I expect to see you by week’s end. Until then, stay safe. Oh, and have Kennan block your dreams. I need you well rested when you arrive.” Isadora hung up the phone before I could even sputter a quick goodbye.
I sat there staring at the accursed thing. In that brief conversation my whole future had shifted. It looked like the wedding was on hold and my life was back to being a jumbled mess of chaos. I yelled out and threw the phone on the bed. I furiously put on my robe and headed downstairs. I knew it was silly for me to be so upset, but ever since this Seer business started I’d felt like my life was not my own. I thought that once we brought down Xavier all would be well. I knew deep down that it wasn’t true but I had disillusioned myself for so long that I had started to believe the lie.
I looked in the kitchen and found Kennan cooking breakfast. I walked up behind him, wrapping my arms as far around him as I could manage. His butt hit my stomach and my face barely reached the middle of his back. He was my anchor in this world of chaos. I knew that I needed to start telling him when the bad stuff happened. The last time I tried to do it on my own he had almost been killed. I needed to suck it up and just admit that I had a role to play. The life I longed to build had to be put to rest for the greater good, at least for the time being. It didn’t mean I had to be happy about it though. I buried my face in Kennan’s back and breathed in deeply.
“What did she say?” His voice vibrated against my ear.
“She says we have to be in Illinois by the end of the week.” I sounded drawn, even to my own ears.
“Well we need to make arrangements then. After breakfast I will call some of the other Guardians and schedule a meeting. If what you said earlier is right then we need to be prepared for whatever is coming.”
“But Kennan,” I sighed into his back, “we have things here. What about my garden? It will die without me.” He laughed and the vibration was a comfort to my weary soul.
He turned around to look at me. His eyes full of laughter. “Izzy, your garden is already dead. I think it will do better without your constant attention. It is the brownest plot of land I have ever seen in my life. In fact, I think the local nursery has put your picture up with a ban on any future purchases. You are a plant murderer my love.”
I smacked his arm and moved over to pour myself a huge cup of coffee. I needed liquid reinforcements. I glared at him the entire time I fixed it. Not that he was fazed. He just went back to cooking and ignored my angry glances.
“I am not that bad.” I mumbled as I plopped down in my chair.
“It doesn’t make me love you any less. It just means that I will have to do all of the gardening when the end of the world comes. Otherwise, we may starve.” He snickered as he brought the bacon and eggs to the table.
Some days I wondered why I loved him so much. He really was a giant pain in my rear. On top of that, he never let me get away with anything. In all of my romance novels, the men fawned over their women giving them whatever they pleased. Granted, I probably would not love him as much if he did that.
I looked out the window at the brown plot of land in question. Stupid garden. It wasn’t even my fault. I grew up in the city where there were no wide open spaces to grow things. How was I supposed to have picked up that life skill? I wasn’t hundreds of years old like Kennan, the ridiculous old man.
We finished breakfast in companionable silence. Kennan seemed to be trying to form a plan to protect me from my own stupidity while I was trying to form a plan to get out of my inevitable future. Maybe I had a long lost twin out there that I could pawn the fate of the world off on. After everything I had seen, it was highly plausible.