His shining eyes stared directly at me and I had to fight the urge to look behind to see if someone else was standing there. But no, I could feel the touch of his hand against my cheek, even the warmth emanating off his skin. This was real, he could see me.
“Aria…,” he said weakly.
“I’m here,” I replied.
I wasn’t sure how to react. I was still unnerved by the whole situation. All I could do was stare down at him confused and uncertain. Was this part of the vision or had something changed? “…Aria,” he called again. “Cai? Can you see me?”
I wrapped my fingers around the hand he was using to touch my cheek Maybe he was too weak to see me.
I frowned at him. It was starting to feel more than just being unable to see me as he persisted in trying to call out for me.
“Can’t you hear me? I’m right here.”
His eyes continued to bore into mine intensely before, finally, it was like he saw me. I watched as his expression changed to one of worry.
How could he be worried about me? He was the one who was dying.
“Aria… wake up.” “What….?”
Suddenly my vision evaporated, and I was looking up at Cai, his concerned face close to mine as he was bent over my body. It was just like in my vision, I could feel his hand was on my cheek as a few tears had escaped my eyes. Had he actually not seen me as held laid dying then? Was it just a mesh of the two realities as they transitioned?
It had already been a frightening ordeal having to confront him like that without the added fourth wall breaking.
“Aria?” he asked, seeing that I was becoming more alert. It was too much. All of it it. My already weak body, the news of a ghost coming back to haunt me… and then having to witness it for myself.
I couldn’t do this anymore. I reached up and wrapped my arms around his torso, pulling him down towards me. He had to act quickly to use his arms to support himself so he didn‘t completely crush me during the sudden embrace. I didn’t care though.
He couldn‘t have broken every bone in my body and it still wouldn’t have been enough. I cried into his chest, unable to process everything that had just happened. This gift was
becoming more like a curse every day. Had it really been necessary to be shown all of that? Caius Knight would die at the age of twenty–one with no Luna, mate or child.
I already knew that was his fate if nothing were to change, I didn‘t need to be reminded. This wasn’t like Myra where being able to see it happen in a vision had a real benefit. This felt more like I was being reprimanded.
When I’d finally calmed down, I released my grip on him, allowing for us both to sit up. My eyes were painfully sore and puffy, my body ached still from the training.
“I’m sorry…,” I mumbled.
“Yeah, you might have mentioned that already once or twice… or ten times,” he joked.
I couldn’t reciprocate the joking half–smile he gave me though.
“Aria, you need to tell me what the hell I just saw because I’m really confused.” He sat down with his back against the wall and drank from my water bottle.
I could see a small frown on his face as he was trying to process the situation. “Is this like a medical condition you have? It was if you were asleep… except your eyes were open the whole time.” I shook my head.
“I’m fine now, really. I’m sorry for worrying you.” I did my best to give him the best reassuring smile I could manage. “Aria! Enough,” he suddenly said loudly, a tone of annoyance in his words. “You’re clearly not fine.
Stop feeding me that same bullshit line. You weren’t fine with Aleric and you’re not fine with whatever hell that was. If you don‘t tell me then I‘m marching you to your mum right now and telling her exactly what I saw.”
My face paled. If he took me to my mother then she would lock me up in the hospital for a few days in order to conduct extensive tests. And I could see I’d upset Cai, my chest tightening with the guilt of seeing him like that. He was worried and wanted to know what was wrong. I owed him at least some sort of explanation.
I took a deep breath. “It’s the Goddess mark,” I said slowly. “It shows me… nightmares sometimes.”
“Nightmares…? Like what?” “L… I see…,” my voice trailed off. A flash of Cai‘s dying face came to mind and I shuddered. I couldn‘t tell him. If I told them then I would need to explain my rebirth and it was something I wasn’t ready to talk about with anyone.
But even if I did tell him about my past life, how could I even begin to explain what I’d seen? ‘Oh, by the way, Cai, I saw your death. Sorry about that. It was my bad? I‘d either sound completely insane or, if he did somehow believe me, he would probably not want to be around me anymore.
“…I‘m not ready to talk about it,” I said finally. “I really am sorry. I hope that this will be enough explanation for now.”
He looked uneasy and I could tell he wanted to ask me more questions. “Just… believe me when I tell you… I feel like this Goddess mark is shaping up to be more pain potem than it’s worth.”
It had only made things more difficult. I was living with visions of graphic murders and was now having to fight harder for my right to be left alone.
Not to mention that, if I somehow didn’t get assassinated by someone before my coming of age, then it would need to be classed as a miracle. This mark prevented me from ever being able to run away or even to live a peaceful life.
Cai was reluctant but he finally agreed to leave it at that for now, having realised that I wasn’t medically ill at least.
After we had finished talking, Cai helped me get back home and we agreed on a new training schedule. He had banned me from any physical exercise for at least a week to allow my body to recover some of the damage I’d already done, and he had even given me a new strict diet plan.
I gave it to the cook at my house and told them to keep it quiet from my parents in exchange for a pay rise. Finally, a few days into my mandatory bed rest week, I was upstairs in my room when a small knock came from the door. “Come in!” I called out.
The door opened slowly and an uneasy looking Lucy came walking in. I was confused about what she needed at first before I finally realised the date. I couldn’t believe I’d almost forgotten.
“Sorry for the interruption, Miss. I’ve finished organising most of the things you’ve asked for, ” she said and handed me a manilla folder.
I opened it up and had a look Inside contained an array of information from a fake alias, bank account details, financial estimates, to even the details for a private investigator. The PI looked to be qualified and came at the recommendation of a neighbouring pack who had used them in several large cases with a huge success rate.
I smiled at Lucy and was genuinely really pleased with all the work she’d done. She only returned my smile with a look of concern. “The PI is expecting half payment upfront…,” she said nervously, unsure if this news would upset me.
“That’s fine!” I said cheerily and could see her relax a little. “I actually have an errand for you to run so he can expect payment within the next two weeks or so.”
I turned to the side and started sifting through a few documents in my drawer until I found an envelope I’d carefully prepared earlier. I handed it to Lucy. “You’ll need to use a third party you can trust for this task. Also, make sure they hold no tiest o the Winter Mist that can be traced back to you or me.”
“Miss?” she asked, tensing up again.
I ignored her distress and kept going with the details. “This letter needs to be delivered to Alpha Raymond Sullivan of the Hidden Moon pack directly. It is for his eyes only. Please ensure it is sent urgently as this is a time crucial errand.”
“Who is that? I’ve never even heard of them.”
“They’re a large pack to the far east so I wouldn’t expect you to know them,” I explained.” They’re actually quite wealthy.”
She frowned. “So, are you planning on asking them for money, Miss?”
I laughed. “Don’t be ridiculous. As if they’d just hand over free money.”
“… Then what….” Her words trailed off in thought.
I smiled brightly at her, which only seemed to worry her more. “I’m going to blackmail them of course.”