One of your most intriguing qualities. Along with this.
he adds, drawing a finger through the red blood on my cheek.
A kick catches me in the stomach and I let it roll me. Over and over, until I'm facedown in the dirt of the garden, my face scraped an bleeding. The cool scent is a momentary balm, soothing me enough to let me see again. But when I open my eyes, I want nothing more than to go blind.
I said I would find you.
His hand moves from my jaw to my throat, squeezing. Enough to keep me silent, but not enough to stop me from from breathing. His touch burns. I gasp, unable to summon enough air to scream.
Maven shifts, obstructing my view of the scene beyond. But I will not give him the satisfaction of my gaze. I won't look at him, for my own sake. Instead, I focus on the clicking sound, that no one else seems to hear. It stabs with every second.
I expect his grip to tighten. Instead, it remains constant. And his free hand reaches for my collarbone, one blazing palm against my skin. He is scorching me, branding me. I try to scream again, and barely get out a whimper.
He tips his head again.
I am a man of my word.
His grip tightens, sending a firework of pain through my jawbone. The clicking makes everything hurt more, hurt deeper. Reluctantly, I meet familiar blue eyes and a pointed, pale face.
That's enough. I said enough!
To my horror, he is exactly as I remember him. Quiet, unassuming, a haunted boy. He is not the Maven of my nightmarish memories, a ghost of blood and shadows. He is real again. I recognize the determination in his eyes. I saw it on the deck of his father's boats, as we sailed downriver to Archeon, leaving the world in our wake. He kissed my lips then and promised that no one would hurt me.
Maven. You're hurting me. Maven, stop.
He is not his mother. He cannot read my thoughts. My vision spots again, darkening. PInpoints of black swim before my eyes, expanding and contradicting with every awful click.
And I said I would save you.
When I want to be.
Click. Click. Click.
I manage to choke out, one hand reaching into thin air, wishing for my brother. But it is Maven who takes my hand in his, and that burns too. Every inch of me burns.