It is not the home we had planned, but after they found my body with the neck snapped and bled dry, it is a happier home than we could have hoped for.
I sat on the counter, swinging my legs as Kaine prepared a meal for himself by candlelight. The children were already in bed, I could hear Fyren whispering a story to little Elswyte. Artair was likely already asleep or pretending to be, Lyn would be pretending not to listen. It was not a family by blood, but it was our family.
Regnis hid her face, the only light that came through the window was soft starlight reflected off the dark beauty of the lake. It was a night for the dead to wander, when the lines blurred and spirits could almost almost take on mass. It was our night.
“You look beautiful with the starlight shining through like that.” Kaine looked up from the stew he was stirring, smiling in that adorable puppy-dog way of his. I leapt down from the counter, spinning around to fall into his arms. He obediently raised his arms to “catch” me, and I hovered there, pretending for a moment that he could actually hold me. That I couldn’t just pass right through him.
“I love you.” I ran a hand down his scruffy beard, from his shiver I could tell he almost felt it.
“Always.” Kaine smiled back.
A pot of stew and flask of wine went into Kaine’s bag before he banked the fire and blew out the candles. I ran ahead of him down to the beach, to the canoe that was hauled above the waterline. Kaine followed, the soft crunch of gravel as he crossed the beach and stowed his bag under the canoe’s seat. Dark waves lapped at the shore, it seemed a double sky the night was so clear.
Kaine shoved the canoe out, a raspy crunch and a splash as it hit the water, as he leapt in. I found my perch in the bow, curling up as Kaine dipped his paddle into still water.
“Elswyte found an injured turtle today. She might be keeping it in your bed.” I smiled at the memory – she’d been so worried for the poor thing until I reminded her that it was safe to use her gift out here.
Kaine drew the intricately carved paddle through the water, content.
“I thought as much. Her mind is so rich it can be hard to tell what she did and what she imagined sometimes.” Another stroke and he shipped the paddle, letting us drift. Silence stretched between us, silence born of long years of companionship. I wondered, sometimes, if we would have been this blessed had I not been killed so long ago. If Kaine would have turned bitter living among the petty thoughts of petty people rather than here, in a place blessed by solitude.
“Chiara.” Kaine broke the silence, using my name like a song. I turned back toward him.
“Tell me your music,” he asked. I smiled.
“I was wishing that all nights could be like this.”
“We have become a beautiful story. I wish this was the ending.” Kaine let his hand trail in the water, sending ripples through the stars caught in its depths. He seemed distracted though. The far-away howling of Wardens drifted through the night. A familiar sound, but Kaine shivered as if he felt the touch of fate.