Here we are again at Wednesday Brief time. I've been out of it for a while due to a lot going on in my life, but here I am, back on top with some more of Catherine's Revenge.
This week, the prompt I used was to have a character crying - not so hard a task in one of my stories :)
Hour after hour the anxious wait went on. One by one test results came back to show that the only abnormal thing in Ash’s body was the unnatural cold which, despite their best efforts, the doctors could do nothing to dispel.
Emma sat at the side of Ash’s bed, holding her brother’s hand, and watching him sleep, as Adam discussed the latest test results with the doctor. She let their voices wash over her, with little interest. There was nothing the doctors could tell her she didn’t already know.
The room was stiflingly hot, but Emma shivered nevertheless. Ash’s hand in hers was icy and sent chills up her arm and into her heart. It almost felt as if she, too was being frozen from the inside out.
The worst thing of all was the helplessness. Emma was a ‘doing’ sort of person. Yes, she enjoyed losing herself in her books and writing, but, with her father often lost for hours, even days in his studio, and Ash practicing, or playing guitar with some band or other, it was down to her to make sure the house was clean and warm, and that there was food on the table. Having a painter for a father and musician for a brother, meant family finances fluctuated greatly and, if left to those two, they’d live like kings for half the year, and starve for the rest.
Emma always had a plan, a goal, at least a list of options. This time there was nothing; nothing at all but sit and watch as minute by minute, hour by hour, her other half, the person who meant more to her than anyone else in the world, died. And he was dying. Even if she hadn’t already known it, she could have seen it in the eyes of the doctors and nurses, heard it in their hushed voices. She was in hell.
Despite her best efforts, tears ran, silent and unchecked down her cheeks, blurring the image of her brother before her. All she could see were shades of white and grey.
Surprised, Emma looked up from an intense study of Ash’s face, to find the room empty for once. So, who
“Emma, are you alone?”
“What? Yes, I’m alone. Who are you? Where are you?”
Emma turned her head sharply toward the voice at her shoulder, to find Tristan standing where no one had been standing moments earlier. Not caring to think of that, Emma chose, instead, to experience intense relief that Tristan had returned unharmed. She got to her feet and threw her arms around him. She wouldn’t have been surprised if she’d embraced nothing but smoke, but Tristan was solid enough in her arms.
“Oh God, Tristan,” she gasped, “I was so worried. What happened? You disappeared. I thought— I don’t know what I thought. Are you alright?”
“Hush little lady, everything is as it should be.”
“Did you…did you…?” Emma couldn’t bear to ask if Tristan had taken the ultimate step to promise himself to Catherine for eternity, in order to mortgage the lives of her brother and all other Loughbridge men, as yet unborn.
Tristan shook his head. “I’m sorry, Emma,” he said.
“No,” she said, with genuine relief. “I was an idiot. I don’t want that. Ash wouldn’t want that. Human lives are brief anyway. If not now, Ash will die in fifty? Sixty years? Eternity is such a long time, and to be bound to something like that. No, I don’t want you to do that. I don’t ever want you to do that.”
The smile Tristan gave her warmer her. It was golden; glowing in his eyes. “You are a special woman, Emma. In different circumstances it would have been easy to love you.”
“In other circumstances?” she asked, suddenly shy. Her first impression of Tristan’s outstanding beauty had not lessened or changed, and she found herself melting into his embrace without thinking about it.
Gently, but firmly, Tristan moved back a little and laid his hands on her shoulders. Emma was cold again.
“You know what I am,” Tristan said softly. “Whether I bind myself to Catherine or not, I am not of this world, not anymore. I cannot stay here. It takes more energy than I can really spare to come here, so far from my home, from my body. A life with me would be no life at all. Bound to the house, never travelling far, never taking a break or a holiday. We would be unable to have children. If we had friends we would be forced to lie to them. There are many things you take for granted I cannot do and—“ Tristan took her hand and pressed it against his lips. “Worst of all, I would have to watch you grow old and die, while I remain as I am.”
Emma’s stomach flipped. “But—“
“Perhaps I may not even be permitted to remain once Catherine is gone. Our fates are combined to that point but I do not know what will transpire after. There are too many uncertainties; too many things that work against us. You must see this.”
Emma did see. As much as she didn’t want to, she couldn’t help it. Of course it wouldn’t work. Of course they couldn’t be together. And yet…. Nothing Tristan had said could stop the way her heart fluttered when she looked into his beautiful eyes, or how her cold body warmed in the circle of his arms.
“We’ll see,” she said. “We’ll take it a day at a time. Right now we have to concentrate on saving Ash. After that, if you’re still here, we’ll think again. Don’t think I’m going to let go easily.”
Taking both of them by surprise, Emma leaned forward and kissed Tristan gently. He stared at her, his face pale and his eyes wide.
“So,” Emma said, “what do we do next?”
If you've enjoyed the story, or if you haven't and are looking for something better, look no further thanWednesday Briefs where all the other flashers have some delicious stories for you