Sunday is back!
Last week,Haley came face-to-face with the Fire Eyid, woke up in a strange place, and had her heart (and her world) rocked when she meets up with her Earth crush, Ian.
Ian wasn’t wearing his usual Earth uniform of a tight shirt and jeans that highlighted his jacked body in every good way possible. Instead, his totally fine body was hijacked by loose-fitting black clothes, all the way to his sandaled feet. His dark hair was longer than I remembered, falling below his ears and sweeping across his eyebrows. His green gaze zeroed in on me like taser beams, and my heart gushed blood to my head.
Ian strolled toward me. “How’re you feeling?”
I couldn’t think of a word meaning confused, smitten, and ecstatic. I could hardly think of any words at all. “What are you doing here?”
“I live here.”
My heart had a mind of its own, trying to escape my chest so it could pant at Ian’s feet. “You’re Eyidoran?”
“Yup.” He sat next to me.
Ian, one of the best-looking hall gods ever, sat next to me on a bed. My brain worked faster than my mouth when I tried to talk, and neither worked right because I stuttered, “How—what—where?”
“I bet you’re wondering how I found you. Right?”
“Let’s see, where to start?” He looked at the ceiling as if the answer could be found carved into the beams. “About two months ago, I went to Earth to find you.”
“Yup. See, your kidnappers died right after you went through the gateway as a kid. You disappeared when you were adopted by your Earth-kin mother, and I,” he tapped his chest, “went to find you.”
“Are you from Sardeena, too?”
“You mean Sabina?” Ian laughed. “No, and neither are you.”
I wrinkled my forehead. “Tuggin said…”
“He lied.” Ian got up and paced the room. “Did he tell you what he is?”
“I figured it out.”
Ian stopped to study me. “You’ve turned out to be very…resourceful.”
I grinned and ducked my head. “If you were liking me…” I winced. “I mean, looking for me, how come you never, you know, talked to me?”
“Think about it. If I told you I was taking you home to another globe, you would have thought I was bat shit crazy. You’d never have come with me.”
My toes curled. Didn’t he know that I’d follow him anywhere? “Do you know where by brother is?”
He stalked to the end of the room, and then turned back. “I didn’t know you had a brother. Anyway, Elana found you first, and that made the whole situation kind of sticky.”
“And Elana was there because…”
“Are you hungry?”
I blinked in confusion, but then my stomach growled. Loudly. “Um, yeah?”
Ian smiled. “Tanner? Can you get her some food?”
Tanner had been watching us from a chair in the corner. “I return.” She leaped up and bounded out of the room.
Ian dragged the chair to the bed. “Haley, I need you to listen to me very carefully. Elana, and her brother, can’t be trusted. She was sent to Earth to spy on you.”
My heart decided right then it wasn’t worthy of beating. “Why?”
“To be honest, I don’t know why. See, the only people who knew why you’d been sent through the gateway in the first place are all dead. So the question remains: why were you sent through?” Ian tapped a finger on his chin, and then shrugged. “When I found out a witch had been sent to find you, I had to try to get you back, I couldn’t let you fall into their hands.”
“Witch? Then, that means, Elana really is a…a…”
“Menta,” Ian finished for me.
“Why would she…who…”
“The Mentas are your enemy.”
No, that was wrong. What were those region names again? I couldn’t remember. “No, the enemy is in the fire region, Laka something.”
Ian gave me a funny smile. “Lak ‘Toom.”
“Yeah, Lak ‘Toom. That’s where the enemy is from.”
Ian folded his arms over the chair back, and then rested his chin on them. “Why?”
“Because whoever wants to control Eyidora wants to burn it, right? Doesn’t it make sense that he’d come from Lak ‘Toom?”
Sighing, Ian straightened. “You have to remember that things aren’t always as they look. Take Elana for instance. You thought she was your best friend.”
“Why would she do that to me?” As soon as I said the words I remembered: to control me, control my dreams, steal my stone. Just take your pick.
“See, I think they want something you have.” Ian’s gaze strayed to the chain around my neck. “They’re very deceptive, you know, those Mentas. Can’t trust them.”
My heart bobbed once then sank. Did the Mentas have the other three stones? Did Tuggin? My heart constricted at the thought of Tuggin using me. I quit arguing; I knew what Ian said had to be true.
Ian touched my chin, forcing me to meet his gaze. “I wish, for your sake, they weren’t traitors.”
I lost myself in the green sea of his eyes, and tried to focus. He sounded distant, his mouth forming words two seconds after he’d said them.
“They lied to you.”
“Lied,” I repeated. Ian’s gaze took hold of me. With my head spinning, I decided I didn’t like Elana much anymore. The bitch had betrayed me.
“You can trust me.”
“You need to come with me.”
As if there was any doubt about that. The thought of pleasing Ian, making him happy, agreeing with him, filled me with delicious warmth. “Of course.”
Tanner burst into the room carrying a tray.
“Eat,” Ian said. “I’ll come back later.”
“I glad you come with uth.” Tanner set the tray on the nightstand and sat in the chair Ian had just left. “It be adventure!”
Tanner tipped the chair back, balancing on two legs. “Yeth. I go with you.”
“Aren’t you a little young?” I asked, trying to hide my disappointment that I wouldn’t have Ian all to myself. Tanner looked all of twelve years old; kind of acted like it, too.
Tanner giggled, dipping her head. “I ten years and eight. How old you?”
“Seven…teen?” Tanner wrinkled her forehead.
“Ten and seven?”
Bob and swish. Add a giggle. Tanner headed for the door. “Eat. You feel better.”
I nibbled the chunky brown bread and some kind of casserole thing with green leaves and lumpy white stuff that I thought might be potatoes. The casserole was heavy but, channeling Porky Pig, I scarfed it all then downed the entire pitcher of water. I felt bloated but completely satisfied.
I limped to the mirror on blistered feet. The loose-fitting pants were so wide they almost looked like a skirt flowing around me. I had no clue what they were made of, but the fabric was light. My sunburned nose, cheeks, and forehead had peeled so that I was spotted with pink patches of new skin. My cracked lips were swollen. What had Ian thought of me? I rummaged through my backpack, wishing I had chapstick.
I twirled the herb and studied my necklace. Did this twig thingy have the power to show me where the stones were, through the mind of one of the gods?
I cleared my throat and looked over my shoulder to make sure I was alone. “Um, Nomer? Can you help me see where the stones are?”
I waited for the vision, or whatever. Nothing happened, so I stuffed the herb back into my pack.
Tanner knocked and burst back into the room. Kicking off her sandals, she sat cross-legged on the bed. “I back to talk, I tho full of questions I no wait for the morrow. Earth-kin, what you do in dethert alone?”
“I guess I was kind of lost.” I paused. “But it’s great that Ian’s here.”
“I know Ian long time.” Tanner bounced her foot against the bed.
“Ian and I very clothe.”
I froze. My heart stretched tight against my ribs like guitar strings. What did Tanner mean, she and Ian were close? How close?
“You ath well?” Tanner hung one leg over the bed and swung it back and forth.
“And I what?” I didn’t feel so fabulous anymore.
“You have clothe friend?” Tanner popped off the bed and twirled. “I like friend!”
Before I could answer, Ian poked his head in the door. “Can I come in?”
Giggling, Tanner swung the door open. “We talk about you.”
Ping! One of the strings in my heart snapped. I didn’t like the way Tanner looked at Ian, all adoring like. Then I wondered if that’s what I looked like around Ian.
“All good things, I hope.” Ian winked at me.
“I no tell you.” Tanner laughed.
Ping! There went another heartstring. My body deflated like a whoopee cushion that someone’d just sat on.
“Here’s something that’ll heal your skin.” Ian gazed at the small jar he held then gingerly, almost reverently, set it on the nightstand.
“Thanks.” I couldn’t meet his gaze. Of course Ian’d never be interested in me…he was a former hall god, and I was a mutant with a peeling face.
“Tanner, go make sure everything’s ready for tomorrow,” Ian suggested.
“I thtay and talk to Haley. Hawkin will prepare.”
Ian and Tanner locked gazes for what I thought was an eternity. Ping! Another string ricocheted off my ribcage.
“Tanner, leave us now,” Ian said firmly.
“I go.” She bobbed her head and swished her ponytail. Back to her bubbly self, she said to me, “I thee you on the morrow,” and skipped from the room.
“I wanted to be alone with you.” Ian sat next to me. “I hope you don’t mind?”
“Nope.” My heart jumped up and ran away with my breath.
“I realize that I should have explained things better.”
I didn’t know what to do with my hands, so I sat on them. “Explain what?”
“About Tuggin and Elana. See, I know all this must seem whacked to you, coming to a globe you didn’t even know existed, and then the shock of finding out that your best friend lied to you.”
“You got that right.”
“Like I told you, they’re both traitors, but you in particular can’t trust them.” He paused. “Do you know their parents are dead?”
“Yeah, Tuggin told me.”
“Did he tell you how they died?”
I shook my head.
“See, it’s because of you.”