Intergration Time

Breakfast…” Luna, naked and shimmering, beaded water hugged her skin from the shared shower, asked, “…at Sadie’s? Although, it’s more like lunch.”

Sadie’s?” Chloe said, towelling herself “Which place was that?”

Oh, I haven’t taken you yet? Sadie’s, definitely then,” Luna dried quickly, rapidly threaded her towel through an airing rack to walk through to the bedroom, searching for clothes, “Remember when I took you to Harper’s? The place we danced…”

Yes…” Chloe followed, longing once more for Luna’s sharp edges to graze her lips again.

Sadie’s is the daytime equivalent, they’re right next to each other.”

Chloe watched Luna’s searching eyes, until they found what she was seeking, her mobile. Chloe intercepted the mobile and held it with a smile, “Ahem…”

Well, Well….” Luna looked up, away from Chloe’s hand to her gentle form, filtered through daylight streaming in the windows and felt moist all over again. Luna closed the gap quickly to run her fingertips lightly over the edge of Chloe’s ribs and as she drew a sharp breath in, slipping her mouth over the gasp. The distraction allowed Luna to extradite her mobile and she giggled as she turned away.

Hay, not fair! Get back here…”

Nothing is ever fair…we’re meeting Kai and Gerome, remember?”

Oh, right,” Chloe meant to sound happy, but her desire for Luna was distracting.

Hangover breakfasts are fun, I’m hungry.”

So am I….” her voice saturated in desire.

Chloe…” Luna looked up at her and acquiesced, her own arousal betraying her ever more. She texted Kai revised timing, doubting they would be on time anyway, before throwing her phone to respond to the urgency Chloe’s touch evoked.

Chloe felt Luna’s intensity, the small curve sharp in her arching back, the sweep of her ribs across her chest. Chloe whispered her lips across the crest of her stomach, hands seeking an embrace beyond her own. Luna twisted underneath her, exquisitely murmuring pleasure, reaching out and urgently pulling Chloe. They arched together, merging flesh that tingled and glowed, shuddering.

Lying naked on the rug, her fingertips running over Chloe’s body, “Come on, we better go…”

It’s early afternoon before the pair wandered out into the daylight, the town car taking them towards Sadie’s.

So, this is the day Harper’s?”

Yes. No dancing, though. Calming music, its more relaxing. Sadie’s opens at dawn as the sun kisses the cityscape, closing as darkness encroaches. Sadie’s and Harper’s are two faces looking into a mirror and refracting the damage.”

Where as Harper’s is more noise and dancing, Sadie’s is quiet and calm?”

Luna nodded as she said, “We’ll need to walk the last bit.”

Why?”

Sadie’s and Harper’s are referred to as the coin face. They’re the flip side’s of the same coin, mirror reflections of each other. Sadie’s is daylight, Harper’s is night, and a town car is noticeable…in a bad way. That and I’ll never live it down.”

Oh. Okay. Should I be worried?”

About what?”

Sadie’s.”

Why? You were fine at Harper’s. Kai, Gerome and I’ll all be there…” Luna laced their fingers together, adding, “I love you.”

I’ll never tire of hearing that..” a smile crept on Chloe’s face as she leaned over and kissed her pulling back enough to say, “I love you,” before pursuing how far the kiss would get her. The car ride short and all too soon dumped them out to the bright streets of a hidden shopping precinct. Luna led Chloe down a side street, and around a few rubbish piles that could have been bodies curled up against the wind, all part of the breathing texture of the city, blending into each other.

How do you know all of these places?”

I told you, when we first came here, we lived on the streets. When you’re minors, mostly, you need to stay out of sight,” Luna shrugged, “stay away from places you could be noticed. We learnt how to hide.”

Ash’s fed you. Rainbeaux gave you shelter. Jamere, Abraxas, Galla and Archer became family. What’s Sadie’s?”

Kai worked at Harper’s before Marlene’s like I worked at Antique Atelier. We hung out at Sadie’s a lot, I guess, and they don’t ask any questions. Kind of like you Asceline for you and the trilogy.”

Why does Kai not work at Pacer?”

Choice. Kai gave up music as atonement for following me from Tempenka.”

Did you give up anything?”

Of course,” Luna’s nose tweaked momentarily, “I gave up ever returning to Tempenka. I will not atone like Kai. I think we’ve suffered enough.”

They came to Sadie’s warmth, yellow painted walls emanating refracted fractured light stabs onto the cracked footpath, Kai and Gerome were sitting towards the back.

Hi guys,” Luna said sitting down.

Hi,” Kai said.

Where is the menu?” Chloe asked, “I’m starving.”

There’s none,” Luna said, “Remember?”

What do you mean?”

There’s not much else I could mean,” smiled Luna, “there’s no menu. Coin face works on the get what you’re given policy.”

Why…why are we just given food?”

Because…” Luna looked at Chloe’s sharp face with amusement, “…sometimes decisions are too hard to make.”

It is food…”

No. It’s not. Its another decision after an entire day of them. Behind a week of decisions, a month of choices, following a lifetime of them. Including the immediate one of choosing to come here. We feed so many things around us that it drains us of our energy and the last thing we need to be concerned about is how we nourish ourselves with food. We choose the place we need the most. If we’re at Sadie’s, we need our friends, to replenish ourselves, that’s why the food here is fresh and green and wholesome. If we’re at Harper’s, we need to move, release tension. The food there is crunchy, dirty and quick.”

What you nourish yourself with is not important?” Chloe asked, intrigued.

Of course it is. But its what needs to be nourished first that takes priority.”

Sadie’s is nourishing connections and friends, Harper’s the physical need to move?” Chloe repeating the intricate philosophies wrapped around intonations.

Yes. We lost our connections to how we get our food when we stopped growing it ourselves, but we’ve still connections to each other.”

Chloe nodded as she leaned back, food appearing alongside a jug and glasses, teetering the table. Gerome, Kai and Luna grabbed the cutlery before it tumbled from the table, Gerome handed off a fourth pair to Chloe unwrapped his from the napkin, while Luna already shoved a mouthful of food in before she reached over and pursued the jug jittering across the table and filled the four glasses.

Chloe, though familiar with tapas and sushi train, is surprised by the communal nature and fluidity of the three working around each other to balance the table and eat. She reached over to try the food and relaxed inside of Luna’s smile, feeling her confidence the more she managed to feed herself without spilling much.

Luna is showing her parts of this city she never knew existed and was questioning how she lived here most of her adult life yet knew so little. Her life is rapidly evolving, becoming one not simply an obituary marked by career successes. After lunch, she wandering with Luna aimlessly back through the dark corners of the city, looking at the displays in glass framed windows.

Luna?”

Hmmmmm.”

Would you like to move in with me?”

Luna stopped and turned towards Chloe meticulously, swallowed thickly, before saying “Move in?”

Yes. You spend all of your time there, we do together. When we’re not together, I think of you and because I think of you, I want to be with you. When I am with you, it feels…forever doesn’t ever seem like enough time for me to spend with you…I would like to know I get to come home to you, I guess I never want this to be left unsaid. Ever. It can never be too soon. Ever. I don’t want to wake up one more morning without you. Ever. I…” Chloe, fumbling words nervously, rambled, shrugging against her failing voice, “…love you. I love you with me. But you don’t need to answer now. Just think about it?”

Um…” Luna paused, concentrating on calming the rapid fire of her heart, “…okay. I’ll think about it.”

Of course,” Chloe breathed out in relief. She hadn’t automatically said no. She hadn’t panicked.

I’ll talk to Kai. He makes me feel so incredibly guilty sometimes for loving you, as if I failed him completely. I feel unworthy. I’ve a sneaking suspicion Gerome is living at the flat, anyway,” Luna’s voice was contemplative an echo of itself.

Really, Why?” this undercurrent simmered as Chloe saw the complex ecosystem of emotion webbed beneath Luna stretch.

The last two times I was there, different things, cups. Stuff. Small things is all. I guess the same small things that make me absent and present at yours. Life.”

You’re so very worthy. Why the guilty failure with Kai?”

Because I’ve become a ghost in his life. I rarely see him.”

I know you spend time with me at the expense of Kai. You go to the apartment because you feel guilty and then you fight, right? But since Lake St Clair, its been better, yes?”

Yes, it’s been much better, in our own way. He hasn’t said anything else, but still. We don’t fight, exactly…its like the last thing holding us together, this delusion of living together,” Luna sighed.

Not that I want to pressure you, but if you moved in, maybe you could choose to see him, rather then resent seeing him?”

You always seem to have a perfectly logical argument to get what you want,” Luna giggled, softening her comment as she said it.

True enough,” Chloe smiled back, interweaving her fingers with Luna’s to continue meandering through the streets, the impervious arch of her lips tracing the perfection of their afternoon.

Luna pulled on the first shirt she found on, hunger driving her out of the bedroom. The shirt smelled of Chloe and made her feel oddly comforted. She rummaged through the fridge, finding nothing exacting until she pulled out last nights Thai food. She found a fork and sat on the floor beneath the sink, slowly eating it cold, watching the half-light ghost into the room. She felt safe, sated. It is unique to her association with Chloe, this insidious feeling of contentment, unmasking her at unexpected moments like this, realising she wanted to be here.

A short while later Chloe walked into the kitchen to find Luna sitting in silence, eating. Chloe came to stand next to her, sleepily rinsing her cup in the sink.

Why’re you on the floor?”

No particular reason,” Luna shrugged, “its convenient.”

Okay…” Chloe switched the tap off as she felt fingers snake around her ankle and lightly up her leg. She shivered as lips gently pressed against the back of her knee.

Luna’s warm breath inched against her skin, her fingers drifting both down her leg, over her glittered toenails to tickle the instep and further up her inner thigh. Chloe leaned slightly forwards, exhaling. Luna moved along with Chloe, kissing further up her leg until she was perfectly positioned. Luna teased her lips against sweetness, lightly flicking her tongue out, tasting warmth.

Chloe whimpered, edging her body, suspended over Luna’s face, felt finger nails continue to lace up the back of her legs, her lips and breath still tantalisingly teasing, infuriatingly millimetres from where Chloe needed her to possess, desired her caress. Luna delicately raised her chin, twisting her pierced tongue to trace the wetness. Chloe shuddered, her legs teetered beyond the edge of what she could stand. Luna raised her arms, surrounding Chloe’s legs to brace her as she delved deeper, relentlessly pursuing the orgasm ripping through Chloe shortly after.

Luna,” Chloe whispered, as she slid down to the floor and with Luna’s guidance, fluttered to cradle her in her lap.

Shhh…” Luna murmured as she patterned small circles over Chloe’s back with her palm. Chloe rested her head against Luna’s shoulder, waited for her trembling to stop.

Luna…” who was holding all of her together, “thank you.”

She felt Luna smile without having to see her face, “How about I take you bed, hmmm.”

Luna lifted Chloe’s face from her neck to bring their lips together, so softly Chloe floated, unhinged, into the chasm Luna tore open for just the two of them. Slowly, tenderly, Chloe deepened the kiss even in this awkward position. Softly, Chloe pulled back her body, but not her lips, moving to standing them up even when unable to disengage from their kiss and lead them back to the bedroom.

They were lying in bed and Chloe was tracing her fingertips across Luna’s back, feeling the smooth warmth of a well cultivated love. Luna, with her head relaxed over her crossed arms, a lazy smile drifting over her lips, relaxed and sated, exhausted after their third round. Chloe felt the bumps in her spine, and worked her way up to where her head met her spine, where her fingertips bruised over the watercolour owl tattoo.

Chloe began twisting her fingers through Luna’s hair, who responded in a soft moan before she lowered her fingers to trace the tattoo on again, “Why an owl?”

You ask this now?”

Yes,” Chloe curiosity tickled at her inhibition, what she really wanted was a answer, reassurance Luna wanted this as much as she.

Music. At Pacer, when you work the night shift and it is quiet, we just sit around and play music, like that night you came in and had coffee with Galla. Because its always in those early hours, it was called the Owling, creatures of the night type of thing.”

But to tattoo it?”

Sometimes the scars on our bodies are the only way to show the cracks in our soul,” Luna shrugged, “music means more to me than anything bad that’s happened. It filled all of the spaces torn apart. Why not show that?”

Is that like with Galla’s face, why she hasn’t fixed it?”

Yes. No. Galla keeps her scars because they’ll never fix what she’s lost. Archer offered to fix her eye, but she refused,” Luna’s voice quiet, an undercurrent of sleep lacing her consonants.

What’s she lost?” Chloe’s voice reflecting Luna’s as sleep gently creeps around them.

More than I have. But, its not mine to tell. She’ll tell you in her own time,” her voice so low into sleep Chloe struggled hear her.

Is that the only tattoo you have? Does Archer have an owl?”

Yes, she does,” Luna heard Chloe struggle to stay awake, whispered “although, I think you would’ve seen if I’d any more.”

There was a definitive silence about her, a solidarity Chloe could not resist, pulled her awake. It is tantalising, irresistible, comforting as her desire curled heat inside of her, pushing her to lean over and brush her lips against the sunshine on her shoulder. The smile curved happily on Luna’s face, reeling Chloe’s inner core out as it spooled down the divide and tumbled over Luna. Her lips drifted across skin, down her back, light as a whisper.

Luna shivered, but still languished, her eyes fluttering while remaining closed. Chloe kept going, worshipping with small increments, all the way down her legs. A soft giggle escaped Luna as she reached the inside of her knees. Luna is a revelation, a delight of steel and vulnerability, strength and discernment.

Encouraged, incredibly wet, Chloe pursued the flesh embodying her love, igniting her passion, whispering, “All for you, it’s always for you, every fibre is for you.”

Drifting to sleep within each others arms, unconscious comfort overwhelmed them. Chloe woke hours later, thirsty, and unwound herself from Luna’s limbs, and walked out to the kitchen.

Moments later, she heard soft bare foot fall on the golden wooden floor behind her, and her heart immediately quickened half a beat as a smile edged across her lips. The air flow changed subtly, lifting the fine hair along her arms as the scent of vanilla lifted to her nose. A body breezed behind her, slender arms curled around her and a head gently placed between her shoulder blades. The weight comforted her, buried her pain, bloomed her love. Part of her unhinged and floated within the weight of love gathered between her shoulder blades. She slowly turned and found lips waiting, pulling her own in, drawing her back to bed.

Chloe followed the weight of her love, the deranged passion calling her, gathering her desire between her thighs to flow from her, unstringing her love to grasp Luna within her, unclasping her mouth to trail her body, worshipping her as she drew her nipple inside and sucked, her fingers fluttering everywhere until they found Luna inundated, anticipating her touch.

Luna’s scent left her intoxicated, unable to contain her desperation for Luna, writhing beneath her. Luna would not give up, would not loosen underneath Chloe’s incessant touch, and pursued her, wanting her own taste of perfection.

Chloe….” Luna panted, “…please…” clawing Chloe up “…look…at…me…I want to see you…”

Chloe’s fingers continued curling roughly into Luna as she tore her mouth away, releasing Luna’s clit with a soft purr, trailing hot, sticky kisses up to Luna’s face, looking into her fiery eyes. Chloe quickened her pace, brushing over where her mouth abandoned with her thumb, causing Luna to shudder and tighten around her fingers as her consciousness and body succumbed to orgasm.

Chloe still mostly asleep, the grey murkiness of room shadowed in pre-dawn. A gentle movement next to her became an arm flung over her stomach and body pulling into the length of her own. A soft sigh escaped her lips as Luna murmured into her neck, her nose running against her pulse increasing. Chloe moved her arm around the sleeping Luna, smiling into the drift back to languid sleep, content she is trusted enough by the body snuggled in her arms.

Kai is where Luna always remembers him being, stretched out on the sofa, asleep. This apartment already transposed for Luna. Once, it reflected what she gained, reflected her bond with Kai. Her façade is cracking as if glass, revealing in the gaps how well she learned to hide rather than to live. She slipped past the sofa and to the door of her room. It required a full body push, the wood long since warped beyond the capacity of the frame. The room contained twisted sheets cast over an unmade mattress, a pile of clothes indistinguishable in shades of black and a stack of used and faded boots jumbled in a corner. She had no other furniture other than the mattress.

Luna sat on the bed and unstrung her knee high boots, unknotting the laces as her mind drifted to Chloe with her enchanting voice and her enchanting life. Luna knew she was unconcerned about the changes in her life with Chloe. She knows she is defiantly in love with Chloe, desired it to be love with Chloe. Desired love. The enticement of love in her life is concerning, a worryingly easy exit from the darkness she had always embraced. And from Kai’s. She texted Galla and an hour later they were sitting at Antique Atelier, twisting their food as they chatted about Chloe.

She asked you to move in?”

Yup,” Luna scrunched up her nose, “I’m there all the time, anyway.”

Yes, you are. So what is the problem?”

What if I…what if I am not enough?” worried wonder snuck into Luna’s voice.

What you do when she asked?”

What do you mean?”

We all went out last night. You’d recovery with Kai and Gerome, this afternoon, right?”

Yes…”

She asked you after?” Galla continued, “While you were window shopping?”

Yes…”

Then?”

We went back to her place.”

And?”

Had lots of sex. What’s your point?”

Did you panic? Run away?”

No…”

Everything matters. Actions, however infrequent and perfect, are not enough when words are never spoken. Words, however beautiful and supplicant, leave savage reminders that while we may worship them, specifically those three magnificent ones, there absence of them is murderous. Perfection lies in that helix bound bond of actions and words. Sometimes, jumping is an act of trust: in yourself to jump and in someone to catch you,” Galla smiled at the hitch in Luna’s throat.

Who is jumping and who is catching?” Luna whispers, knowing that Chloe stocks her favourites from Ash’s, carves her a space in her life, tells her every single day of the love she has. Chloe, in turn, has heard Luna’s compositions, still in infancy, being built for her alone and her record collection growing exponentially.

Hopefully both. She jumped by asking you. You will by saying yes. The catching is in the outcome.”

I cannot live with this kind of love. Its so intense, irredeemable.”

Love should be irredeemable. This kind of love is magical anarchy — a force that plunges in and disfigures your life. We already have this reckless disregard for our own lives, otherwise you would never take this risk to begin with,” Galla shrugged, “we’ve both loved being out on this wedge of sanity, staring into the abyss, only your luck had Chloe stare back it can’t fix all of those scars, but it will allow you to release the trauma. But it can’t unless you choose it. One can only hope for that kind of intense insanity.”

I feel the abyss mocking me utterly, whispering an echo of itself, jump. She allows me to think of a future. It is terrifying and I don’t want to let that go.”

Then don’t,” Galla smiled as she reached over to squeeze Luna’s hand, “You love. You are loved. Enough.”

Luna walked out to the living room in an opal black maxi dress with intricate lace bodice, the skirt flowing around her legs to the floor. Her hair is controlled against her head, a clutch resting perfectly within her hand. Turning, she stopped disconcerted fluttered over her face at the look on Chloe’s face.

Chloe?” Luna said as her dress swirled around her before settling against her, “What is it?”

You look so beautiful,” Chloe whispered, walking towards Luna with a tender expression.

Thank you,” Luna breathed out, “you look quite stunning yourself.”

Leaning into Chloe’s arms, basked in the comfort. Chloe wore a tailored tux with no undershirt, so the v dipped against her cleavage, fine stiletto heels allowed her to tower over Luna, who nudged against the divot inside her neck, brushing her lips against the pulse point hip-hopping underneath.

Every time these little moments come, I think you can not get more perfect, yet here you are, slaying me every time,” Chloe’s voice jittered with the flutter of kisses Luna is persistently placing down her neck and chest before pulling away, causing her to moan and shudder at the loss.

We’ll be late if we get distracted. We’re expected.” Luna smiled.

Yes, we will and we are. And I do very much want to see if this years corporate liaison did her job efficiently, and filled all of those silent auction slots,” smiling cheekily, Chloe leaned in for another kiss.

Luna drew back, seared heat passed between their lips, “Perfectly, of course.”

Seriously, the both of you need to be less chilled.”

Luna laughed at Caro’s input, answering lightly, “Like ice, baby.”

Arlo walked out with Quin to a chorus of giggling voices, “What’s so funny?”

Not much, just how these two can’t keep their hands off each other.”

Yes, I’m sure we all remember that time well…” Quin smirked, snickering, “and, really you both look amazing.”

Mmmmm,” Arlo leaned over and swiftly kissed Quin, “Remembering exactly what?”

Quin swatted Arlo, “Early days, you know…”

We need to go,” Caro said, walking to Arlo and Quin, joining their circle.

Chloe sighed as Luna walked out to the ante-room, and picked up her own clutch to follow the disappearing vision. The elevator waited as, Luna silently watched Chloe approach, while the trilogy walked around her into the elevator.

I love you,” Luna mouthed, surprising Chloe with her oblique openness.

Thank you,” Chloe said next to her ear, when she was close enough, “same. I will show you later how much.”

They rode the elevator down and walked out to the waiting car, talking the half hour trip to the Mai Sans Centre in relative silence, until they pulled up to the steps.

It’s time,”Luna said under her breath.

In gala’s prior, she had gone with Galla after setting up the entire day with other volunteers. Today, she had only spent the first half of the day setting up the largest ballroom, displaying all of the auction donations she had collected. Various season tickets to sporting and arts events were mixed with avaunt guard labelled clothes and specialist goods like the ones the trilogy donated. Tickets for the event, Galla’s domain, sold out in pre-release.

Luna is already taking the only date she ever wanted and the trilogy as exciting companions. Arriving yesterday, they kept Chloe entertained while Luna was setting up. She herself had had not time with Chloe over the day, and relished being able to spend the night with her. She stretched and curled her arm into Chloe’s, as the five of them entered together, greeted by Jamere and Abraxas.

Luna, stunning as usual. Chloe, you look amazing.”

It’s easy when you supply my clothes,” Luna leaned in to kiss Abraxas on the cheek and switched with Chloe for Jamere.

Ladies,” Chloe turned, “May I introduce Arlo, Quin and Caro.”

Hello,” the three said in unison.

Abraxas,” Luna indicated, “and Jamere.”

Pleasure. Thank you for your contribution. We’ll catch up once we finish here?”

Okay,” Luna grasped Chloe’s hand, pulling her into the room, now mostly full, seeing the trilogy follow them, calling, “we’re at table nineteen.”

We’ll follow,” called Arlo, seeing Galla already at the table, texting.

Is Galla wearing a ball gown and boots?”

Luna unreservedly laughed, “Galla could trip over her own feet, so yes, this is safer for everyone.”

Galla,” Chloe called, walking up to the table.

Hay, guys,” Galla jumped up and hugged Luna, fluttering her fingers at the rest, “so glad you’re here. Why are you guys so late? People wouldn’t stop coming over and talking too me, just because my table is empty.”

Galla, seriously, they all talk to you because they know you. Its been a long day, hasn’t it…” shifting around the table, leaving two spaces for the eventual return of Jamere and Abraxas.

The night ran beautifully, delightfully, dancing and dinner and raising just under two million for Smash Punch Woman. It is close to two am when there is only Luna, Chloe, Galla, Abraxas and Jamere heading for their waiting cars to return them home.

Where are the three?” Jamere asked.

Went home hours ago. They’re not used to late nights,” Chloe answered over Luna’s head, rested into the curve of her neck, arms linked around each other.

Thank them again for their contribution. They were the third highest earner.”

Oh, no! They don’t like loosing. Who beat them?”

Weekend at Callister’s and dinner for eight at Karaleigh’s.”

I can see this turning into a competition.”

Their car pulled up and Chloe nudged Luna, whispering, “Babe, car’s here.”

Luna twisted and hugged Abra, Jamere and Galla, “Bye.”

See you.”

Night Baby Girl.”

Do you have to go?” Chloe asked tracing Luna’s back with her fingernails, eliciting a soft moan.

You’re asking me not to do charity?”

No,” Chloe leaned over and kissed the owl tattoo on the base of her neck, “I’ve alternative things on my mind.”

Sure you do,” Luna laughing as she sat up, “Stop it. I’m going.”

Okay, then,” Chloe fell back down to the bed, pulling the pillow over her face.

Why don’t you just come to Ash’s after? We could eat?”

Chloe moved the pillow so an eye was peaking at Luna, “I’ve that conference to attend…”

Luna pushed her as she climbed over her and off the bed, “Then why…you’re so facetious. I’m having a shower.”

I’ll join you.”

As Chloe climbed into the shower, Luna turned to face her, “You remember that question you asked me?”

Chloe nodded slowly, water cascading over her face, watching Luna intently.

Yes,” Luna said softly.

Chloe read her lips before making out the sound. Relief tumbled through Chloe, as she pulled Luna in and ensnared the curve of her bottom lip between her own. The delicate balance hit hard against Chloe’s and liberated all of her disquiet, knowing her love will be encompassed within this future.

Luna moved in on a Tuesday morning. Chloe was grateful for work at the office, as she could leave Luna the space to move in. She had the entire day to integrate herself into an environment of her own making, anchoring her presence. Chloe thought to clear out space in the wardrobe, left to her to fill it with the small gathering of items she had, and in the giant bathroom, left half of the wall length vanity for her.

She even had, now, her own desk in the library/study hybrid, waiting for her to claim it as her own. She loved the study, as Chloe believed books are reflections of the body, sentences the veins and chapters the heartbeat pushing rhythm around the body. It was Chloe’s favourite space, as she explained that words are blood, giving of themselves in all ways. The story, though, is the soul set loose and bound together in this room they both adored.

She used the car Chloe had sent for her and only needed that single one. She wore torn off jeans cuffs and an old band shirt with more holes then not, the first she had purchased with a pay check. This shirt travelled through her street days and Gretchen’s wealth, and now to the excesses of her own heart, to here, this space of infinite welcome. She couldn’t even wear it to work anymore where a certain casual aesthetic applied, yet today, on the day of her moving, it felt perfect, the thread of her journey plucked to here. She had been so unsure of this, of being here, of this type of place again.

Alone in her ratty old shirt and falling apart jeans and unhindered by Kai, she swiftly unpacks, quicker than she had packed. She walks around in the silence, jumping at the ring of her phone with an unknown number. She lets it go to message bank. She circles back to the living room, then into the study, lying back into the wide, heavy couch, grateful she had no furniture to move.

Floating loose, her deconstructed history falling around her, without a culture yet still hanging on by the thinnest of threads, she dozes off on the sofa, relaxing into the sounds of her new home. She spent so much time refusing to be attached to anything, any one that she missed all of this beauty. Luna loved how extravagant their love is, inspiring both of them to break every rule they had had. Chloe breaks her open as if Luna herself is made of eggshells, and she falls asleep knitting them back together.

Chloe sounds through the door, calling Luna’s name as she threw her keys into the side table bowl and leaves her bag next to this, calling again as she searches through the apartment until she sees a delicate leg balanced off of the study sofa, and an asleep, stretched out, unencumbered Luna. In the right light, every the mythical can be real.

Luna,” her voice is so low it vibrates through her body as she leans over the slumbering form, genuinely happy to be sharing her life with this intoxicating, exquisite beauty. She is all at once overwhelmed by the ferocity of the love she feels in this moment, finding Luna here, home, staying. Chloe picks at the edge of the hem of her thread bare shirt, privileged she was able too, here, loving this absurdly beautiful creature, “Luna.”

Luna blinked, softly moaned and moved to sit up, bringing her arms up to rub her eyes, her fingers brushing Chloe’s arms entwined in her shirt, insistent, “Chloe?”

Hello,” Chloe viscerally reacted, knowing she had masterminded this brilliant hostile takeover, sublimating Luna’s reticence of moving in and she leaned in and drew their lips together.

There is unexpected violence in the way of their love, the way they love each other relentless and restless, devoted. Shivering against this, Luna reached in and shucked Chloe’s jacket off, her smile turning savage against Chloe’s lips, caused a shudder in return and wasting what is left of her shirt, quick rendering her topless, passion intoxicating them both. Chloe surged forward, landing them both back on the couch, landing exquisitely on Luna as she pushed inside.

Luna arched back, the brutality of Chloe’s entrance leaving her defenceless against this rawness chaffing against her soul until her world exploded, rendered her blind and unable to remember how to breath. Collapsing to sink into the couch, her breath gently came back as her vision stumbled into grey, shadowed and hooded, before inching to colour, unsure.

Chloe…” Luna, horse and scratchy, still wearing the shape of teeth marks across her abdomen, mutters, her voice full of promiscuous promise sent shock waves down Chloe’s spine. Chloe ducks her head into Luna’s neck, attempting to calm her racing breath and jaggard heartbeat.

I’m beyond ecstatic your here,” her voice comes out in hazardous little breaths, treasuring the nail marks scratched down her back. She didn’t want to die without scars permanent marks of their love.

Luna tensed slightly before manoeuvring Chloe gently beneath her, resting her down on the sofa and placed slow, delicate, kisses on her, revelling in her own desire for Chloe, spending time lavishly on her love. Chloe craves her affection and is rewarded greatly. Luna loves the taste of her, deciphering their story within the soft caress of her fingertips, the truth of their love in the warmth of their body heat.

Her voice is muffled against Chloe’s skin as she says, “I love you, I love you,” over and over again. She runs her mouth down Chloe’s hot body, kissing skin before licking further down, sliding her tongue gently against her clit, swirling around to soak her mouth in her heavenly taste, nudging her nose deeply, her own mind drunk on the scent as she felt Chloe convulse around her and her entire mind released control completely as their bodies tensed and slackened together.

Of this, their extraordinary ordinary exquisite happiness, she is sure of her movements again, of tasting the desire thicken again, pushing Chloe again until her bones turned to water and she heard her cry out incoherently. Luna lengthened her body against Chloe’s, tasted her salty skin, frequently filling each others arms, singing a song on her breath.

She had finally left him. It is absolutely irrecoverable as he stands in the doorway to her empty room, absent now of her possessions. Kai cannot pass the threshold to her room, so stood back and closed the door. He couldn’t follow her, not this time. Her path right angled away from his and he was bereft. The apartment smells stale, she hadn’t really been here in months and had only then ever really returned to salvage cloths.

There is nothing here she wanted now, the apartment pathetic in a dangerous, violent suburb. She had discarded him like the damaged goods he was for someone so unlike the two of them. Every breath they had shared, shaped them, tangled them together since childhood and he knew their was no reason to alter perfection.

He already knew he didn’t know how to live without her, yet Gerome was a kind of distraction, alone and craving his attentions, wanted already to move in, take a place that could never be empty or filled. He decides to do the best thing he can think of, the truly kindest thing and finds his bottle waiting.

I’ve something for you,” said Chloe walking into the kitchen, still elated at Luna permanent presence in her house over the last week.

Really? What?” Luna, sat cross-legged on the stool eating breakfast at the table and reading the news on her phone, looked up, “Why am I getting anything?”

Because I wanted to and because I can. Because I saw this and I wanted to see the both of you together,” Chloe walked in from the office, carrying a case with a distinct shape. Luna lifted her head and watched as Chloe completed the half circle of the table and placed the case on the table.

Chloe?” Luna gently unfolded herself, looking cautiously at Chloe, placing her bowl over the glass covered mahogany table, “What have you done…”

Most recently you. Now, this.”

Luna unclasped the metal latched and opened the case. The world quietened as she ran the tips of her fingers over the curved wood and she whispered, “Its Zhu Ming-Jiang.”

Luna lifted delicately and held the weight, balanced it against herself. Luna frowned, tensing as she placed it back in the case and closed the lid, pushing it away from herself, distrusting her own place in time, “I cannot accept this.”

Chloe reached out and pushed it back, “Yes, you can. Wait. There is something else.”

Chloe, in love with the sight of Luna’s lost fascination, slipping over to the couch and picked up a long box. She handed it to Luna, “Here.”

Luna pulled off the smooth cardboard lid to reveal inside a new bow. She lifted it from the sheltered synthetic cloth. Chloe placed the last item on the table, a wood bow case, before she sat again, watching Luna. Loving her.

Chloe. This is too much,” Luna looked finally away from the gifts, “Really. Far too much.”

No. No they’re not.” Chloe’s voice sang the spaces between Luna’s heartbeat, her love a lullaby to calm her down, “I’m glad beyond words that you’re here. You’re worth it. Its kind of a moving in present.”

Chloe…” Luna acquiesced, releasing uncertainty by closing the slight gap between them and reaching into the infinite space Chloe offered, looked at her, exposed and open, “…why? Why get me something this beautiful?”

Chloe felt the exposure Luna offered, left it floating between them and released herself too, “Because I saw it. I come into Pacer last week to see you briefly and caught part of your set with Galla, but it would’ve made me too late to stay. It reminded me of Violet Pier and Antique Atelier. You amaze me. I guess I wanted…I’m so in love with you and seeing you play and it opened my heart even more. I keep loving you more every time I see you, and feel you. I was then where I never am, you know down near the docks at the new conference space. They’ve this little instrument shop. This was there. I still could feel you playing, and I wanted this for you as soon as I saw it.”

Chloe sighed everything out to Luna, she felt cathartic even though she released more then intended to, but now she couldn’t stop, “I get to wake up every morning in love. I’ve never had this before. Even better, I’m pretty sure I get to wake up loved and I’ve noticed my rare classical music collection is getting excessive. I didn’t have any where near that amount before. I would give the world to you.”

And I would burn it all down for you. Thank you,” Luna leaned forward and kissed the soft edge underneath her chin.

She knew Chloe’s love of rare classical music, especially experimental conductors, one she could defiantly facilitate and had unleashed Ivie to collect as many as she could. She had intended to sneak them into her collection, however one hundred and twenty three new additions are hard to hide.

Chloe drew a sharp breath in as Luna kept muttering in between kisses against her neck, murmuring thank you again as her lips moved to the swallow of Chloe’s throat, her fingers entwined the robes knot, gently teasing the cloth lapels apart, grazing her fingers over the heated, dark skin pulsating under her touch.

Can you please play for me?” Chloe felt Luna slowly twist off of her lap, gently teasing her heat away, “Please.”

Luna padded softly over to the table where the violin still sat and gently lifted it out, caressed the golden cherry gloss as her eyes glazed into dreams. Lifting the bow and swinging her arm around as she nuzzled the rest underneath her chin. Luna strung low, raising the heel of her feet as she slid into the depths, anchoring all of herself together to cast everything away. Her fingers found a rhythm she is comfortable with yet her soul toyed with the balance and leaped over her desire and amplified their love until these senses overwhelmed them and they drowned in each other. She cut diamonds from their own ashes.

A frantic alarm reaches her, followed by six texts, panicked and desperate. Luna rang Ivie, who reported that Kai was in hospital, and Gerome had attempted to call her but had only gotten through to Ivie. With deference to the family only protocol, the hospital would not allow Gerome into his hospital room. She scrambled out of bed, randomly pulling clothes on, grasping at scattered objects. She needed her socks and was hunting for her shoes.

Chloe woke and, after years off emergency medicine, was awake and absorbing Luna’s controlled panic. She negotiated its release by accompanying what she could, already on the phone as they were driving to MARH, talking to the doctor attending Kai.

Chloe assembled the news before presenting it to Luna as they walked into the hospital. Alcohol poisoning, still not awake and potentially may have aspirated vomit before he had been found by Gerome. He had had his stomach pumped and a brief moment of lucidity before lapsing back into unconsciousness. She spoke with Gerome, who was frantic with being unable to see Kai and Luna barely acknowledged him as she walked past him and into Kai’s room. Chloe remained glacially calm, negotiating staff as she entered his room after Luna and stood aside too perused his medical charts. Ivie beeped on her phone stating Galla and the ladies were on their way.

Luna,” Chloe looks up to see tears in Luna’s eyes but still steel streaked within her, “Luna?”

Yes.”

I’m going to make some calls. I’ll be back in half an hour.”

Yes. Okay.”

I’m sending Gerome in.”

Yes. Okay,” she sat straight and stiff in the chair next to his bed, contemplative. Chloe walked out to the nursing station. Luna lost track of time, of how long she could stand to watch him unconscious in this bed, his face bruised at the edges. Chloe returns to find Gerome sitting, unacknowledged still, off to the side. Luna is stoic.

Luna?” Chloe pitched her voice low, “he’ll be fine.”

He wasn’t fine, otherwise he wouldn’t be here.”

He said he was fine,” Gerome whispered, “When I fell asleep this morning.”

He would say that,” Luna’s lips twitched, “and I’m complicit in this, not you.”

Your not complicit in his temper tantrum, you’re only complicit in your own survival.”

How can I not be complicit? I left him.”

I was with him and I didn’t see…” Gerome whispered.

No, you didn’t,” Galla walked in, fury radiating off of her, “this is why we cannot have nice things. I mean, honestly, its as if we’re all suffering from chronic melancholy, traipsing around into whatever hovering paranoia leaches into us. This is so irritatingly typical of Kai.”

Galla…”

Nope. Not now. Ivie said Archer, Jamere and Abra are close to being here. Chloe, Jamere are bringing food. Luna, you’re to call when ready. Kai is going to be fine. You are not carrying any more scars for this child, he’ll need them for himself to heal.”

Luna tensed under Chloe’s hand, resting on her shoulder, yet relaxed again as Galla’s voice softened, “As chaotic as our family is, we’ll always be a choice of necessity over biology. No one needed to tell us we belong together. Kai knows this, and therefore did not need to end up here.”

Silence settles over them again until Chloe leans in and kisses Luna on the cheek, whispering she is going to update Ivie before slipping from the room.

He is how he is because I left,” the wilderness in Luna’s voice scaled the walls, “he never coped very well, did he? But, I think he needs to start. I haven’t made the wrong decision. We need to shatter the bonds of our lives to rebuild them, and recovery is always a baptism of flame and fire, a way of fixing the unfixable, by killing all evidence we existed at all.”

Yeah, but what was he trying to kill?” Galla’s voice tipped down, stumbling in only a manor hospitals inspire.

No. No him. Me. I’ve only been gone a week. We were meant to have dinner next week.”

I know. All we can do is talk to him again.”

How far was he gone that he couldn’t just yell at me in person? Why is the beautiful always tempered by the stupidly ugly. He seemed to be dealing with it. Better, understood a little since the Lakes district. Why this?”

Why not this? Its rather….” Galla laughed softly, “Kai-ish?”

Luna snorted, “Yes.”

He doesn’t drink,” Gerome whispered.

He doesn’t with you?” Galla looked to the boy hidden in the corner.

No, never. We worked and did Rainbeaux stuff,” Gerome sniffed again, tearing, “apart from those three days away, we work and volunteer. I only just moved in.”

Chloe walked back in, followed by Archer and the ladies and over to Luna, “He’ll be released in the morning.”

Archer reaches in to her bag and pulls out a round, thick disk, branded with Ivie’s mark and activates it before continuing, “We’ll come back in and take him home.”

Luna went to shake her head, however Galla grasped her hand and squeezed, “Come. Ivie will monitor the situation. You need sleep. He won’t be released without you.”

Galla stood, extracted Luna’s hand from Kai’s and half pushed her at Chloe, “Luna, he’s like glass. Once its over, he’s done. Go. Please.”

Abraxas and Jamere extracted Luna and embraced her, “Darling. Let him sleep of the sedatives. We’ll come back.”

Don’t…”

Be rational?” Abraxas said.

Babe, love, he is okay. Really. He’ll be here until we retrieve him,” Jamere shot a warning glare at Abraxas, “you’ve been here over three hours in the middle of the night.”

Luna pulled back and nodded once and said, “Ivie?”

Always,” her voice different out of the disk, squeakier.

Gerome?”

Of course,” Gerome nods.

Luna nodded once again and slipped out, her hand secured in Chloe’s. Their car ride home is quiet, as is the elevator. It is not until the lock latches into place that Luna slumps into Chloe, flattens her breathing, draws all her pain in to a scattered mess and sobs, shuddering. Chloe holds her and waits until she pulled out of the embrace and stands.

Okay.”

Okay?”

Yes. Galla is right. Kai has a tendency to leap off of cliffs without looking. Yet, once he lands, he is done with whatever made him jump.”

Are you sure your okay?”

Yes. Its been the same conversation over and over. This means, hopefully, its done with.”

Okay.”

Hours later, Luna watched as Chloe blinked the shadows of sleep from her eyes, she felt like a beautiful lie against the painful truth, “Morning.”

Hay,” Chloe could read Luna’s voice like sonar, always aware of the blips signifying depths and hazards, knowing that she would willingly be crucified forever over these things of beauty, “Morning.”

Luna leaned in, ghosting a kiss, withdrawing quickly, prompting Chloe to shiver, as she spoke, “My love, what is it?”

Thank you,” Luna’s eyes swam, pooled deep sanguine green.

What ever for?” Chloe kept her voice steady, calm.

We’re living together. Us.” Luna’ voice filled with wonder and love, uncertainty and nervousness.

Proudly,” smiling, Chloe leaned in, “indefinitely,” sealing her words with a kiss, “absolutely.”

Luna fell into the kiss, fell into Chloe’s offer, revelled in her own desire, “You’re all I can see and I can’t even regret that.”

Do you have to work nights?” Chloe asked, running her lips against the white pearl flesh of Luna’s inner elbow, “Do you need to leave so early?” she murmured, kissing between the bottom two ribs, floating in the wilderness.

Luna sharply breathed in, Chloe’s tenderness released the deliberate feel of moistness between her thighs. Gently, Luna slipped out of Chloe’s kisses.

Yes. I like working, and no we’re not discussing it again,” Luna by this time was grinning, “I’m having dinner with Kai,” mumbling, quickly kissing Chloe, only to kneel over her to escape off of the bed.

I’ll miss you…” Chloe muttered following Luna into the shower, madly loving easily.

Luna had instituted a weekly dinner with Kai before their shifts, since the hospital incident. They still dinned as a group however this twinned time is what both of them need, still a perfect synchronicity between them, no longer the lost children, they are growing beyond the damage, almost feeling like pieces of this world.

Their lives once diverged, split halfway between abandoned history and not quite living their future, a game of survival against the twisted coil of their selves. Luna only ever learnt to scatter the brokenness between them and shelter the remains, yet Kai is learning how valuable it is not to dwell on the dismembered parts but to assemble their history and leave it in the past.

As Luna called the car service, her mind drifted back to Chloe. In spite of their deliberate love, she keeps fearing for something, anything to fall apart, conflicting with realising that if it did, she would die trying to put it all together again, to catch them both. She stands against all she ran from; communal mind frame and singularity leader prophet. Luna never to be a follower again, never to sequester herself from life, realised this love is not a weakness deserving of her ignorance, but should be feted and nurtured.

Her relationship with Kai evolving beyond the inter-dependency of their youth, further from the birth putting them together and the trauma etching each indelibly on to the other, however indelicately. Kai is freed from the sacred belief they were destined to be together, the claim of and too each other holy ordained. Trapped by the severe indoctrination of their youth, it took outsiders not to break the bond but forge a new alliance. Meeting for dinner at Ash’s, the place as intertwined within them and as much a home for them as anything else. Jamere brought them their standard order and left them to their matching voices, melting around each other in a language beyond Jamere’s own.

Returning to the apartment close to nine am, suffused morning light fluttered past the curtains relaxing her as she walked in to find Chloe asleep on the sofa. Even fatigued and unconscious, Luna smiled at the regal disposition, innate sophistication. She saw every single part of Chloe and loved her intricately She lay asleep in last nights clothes, day old hospital smell falling off her.

Hay, babe,” gently nudging at Chloe, “babe?”

Oh. Good morning,” Chloe pushed herself up, blinking her eyes, until she focused them to collect Luna’s, connecting them with devastating depth.

Common on, your all stinky. When did you get called in?”

A while ago. Midnight, I think. Got back at seven-ish I guess.”

Okay,” Luna knew better than to ask about a night call, as the last and only time she did, Chloe mentioned pulling crushed skull fragments out of brain matter. Although not particularly squeamish, the image left her unsettled, “Shower?”

That would be lovely,” Chloe shifted and stumbled to her feet, and walked towards the bathroom.

Luna began to remove Chloe’s grotty clothes, haphazardly pulled on from the dirty wash pile, peeling off the layers of the outside with their clothes, climbing in together to shed the world with a kiss. Fresh and clean, Chloe followed Luna as she wandered out to the kitchen to have breakfast, relaxed in fluffy robes. Moving around the kitchen, their fatigue sifting through into each other.

I’ve applied for leave,” Chloe said.

Why?” Luna asked over the noise of her moving cutlery moving around in the draw to find the ladle.

I decided something important.”

Okay,” Luna joining Chloe at the table, “So…”

I want a holiday. We haven’t been on one together. We don’t see each other nearly as much as we should and we moved in together to do that. We deserve time and our shifts keep us away from each other and…” sliding a small square box across the table with a trembling hand “…I thought that I would give you this.”

Luna, surprised, whispered, “What does this mean?…I only just moved in…”

Luna, look at me,” Chloe’s voice tender, “Please…” Luna raised her eyes to Chloe, who continued, “what do you see?”

Luna frowned slightly, “You. I see you. Always you.”

True,” Chloe knew Luna is the only one who ever truly saw her for who she is, “but if you look into my heart, what do you see?”

Um…” Luna unsure of Chloe’s direction. By this time, Chloe had pulled the ring from the box, an owl embedded in the design. Luna smiled as she saw it.

You. You’re in my heart. I love you, seeing you here it’s as if the entire universe conspired to help me find you. People always talk about firsts, but falling in love for you is my last. You’re it and I don’t ever want to let you go,” Chloe opened the little velvet box as she was speaking and slipped this ring onto Luna’s right hand, “this is a promise. To us. Our future. Of what is to come. And once we are ready, that can change hands.”

A fire of a smile burned at the edge of Luna’s lips as she sighed in release, Chloe accurately describing how brilliant their ordinary extraordinarily connection, “I love you. Of course.”

Of course?”

Of course. I cannot wait for the whisper of your voice, the tickle of you breath against my neck, the smile on your face. I love you and I don’t know how else I can be but here, loving you. When is this leave?”

Chloe relaxed noticeably, as all the constriction burning within her was liberated and she leaned over, kissing Luna feverishly, without shield, exposed in a raw new state. Luna, her scent invasive with her proximity, smelled of home and Luna lost her space in the world, yet found her beacon.

What is that?” Kai tugged at her hand

Jewellery. It’s not like you can miss it.”

Luna, isn’t that the wrong hand, according to convention?” Galla commented dryly, sitting around in the apartment with Kai and Gerome, “Details.”

We’ve plans. In eight weeks, we’re having Chloe’s birthday dinner at the Eloise Club and a party at the Mai Sans Centre. The next morning we will go to Amberlai Island for three weeks and we’ll see you all when we get back.”

But…”

No, Galla. Its a promise, Okay. Nothing major,” Luna smiled, knowing it is in fact everything, “its a promise, and love is our extravagance and not much else. We’re what matters.”

Who is coming?”

You three. Arlo, Caro, Quin. Chloe’s mother. Archer. Abraxas. Jamere. Bree,” Luna shrugged, “you know, friends.”

Music?” Galla asked

Xaidia.”

Okay…they agreed to play?”

Yes. Please, G, don’t be offended. I want you to have a good time, love, with me.”

Perfect,” Galla hugged Luna.

The four celebrated, going to Marlene’s, swinging until daylight broke and returning to the penthouse Luna shared with Chloe, Luna dumped her friends in the spare rooms. Waking close to lunch, she found a note from Galla, explaining she woke within the silence and went home. Luna rummaged in the fridge to find already prepared food with a note struck to the top in Chloe’s cursive, I love you. Warmed at Chloe’s consideration, she clattered bowls and cutlery onto the centre bench, started to fill them with food.

Luna. See Tyl esk,” Kai said walking in the kitchen larger than his entire apartment.

Lei es tee plli,” Luna pushed a bowl of mixed greens across the bench. Silence fell again. Luna was struggling, Tranqi becoming a second language, a forgotten constellation in her memory, “Kai, its a kitchen, eat your Lunch.”

It is not just the kitchen,” Kai spun his bowl around on the glossy marble cover, “its you. And salad?”

What do you mean its me?” Luna scrunched her nose, as she sighed, “that’s not fair about the salad. Its the only food she keeps here, and she did make it for us.”

This place is fabulous. You look comfortable,” Kai smirked, looking at the bowl, “don’t you live here too?”

You said it was me. Why is it me?”

We’re separate again. I guess I just didn’t expect it to be by choice…”

Kai…”

You’re different…”

I fell in love. Shoot me.”

You chose to change. Not just that…It’s okay. I’m okay with it. Really.”

We keep having the same conversation. We’re not the only ones who are broken.”

Yes we are,” Kai thought back to his foster mother. Grey was phenomenal, negotiating an intensive six month education program so he could began to speak with discernment in a language he finally understood.

His attended school with his foster sisters, Anza and Callerey, and found being surrounded by children his own age a transcendent experience. He still desperately longed for Luna, yet flourished within the structure and cohesion of the family unit. Still, the guilt of running, of abandoning his true purpose and being unable to fulfil his greatest potential, remained. To atone for his behaviour, he gave up the one thing attuning him to the world: music. He could not forgive the bond broken irrecoverably.

No. No we’re not, Kai. Our experience is specific, but we all have trauma. Galla does. Gerome does. Chloe does. Why are you still so resistant to this? You’re not loosing me.”

I’m resistant to change,” Kai eyed his bowl suspiciously again, bursting into laughter.

After all your hissy fits…”

Galla pointed out a few truths. I realised a few of my own.”

So….”

Reality helped,” Kai pulled at some of his salad.

Reality?”

We’re never going back to the community. We crossed our bridge and set in on fire after us and I’m scared to loose…we’ve nothing to show but the memory of fire, the smell of smoke, and each other. One of us had to release just a little, to grow up, I guess.”

Yes, I know.”

You were always the leader. The first,” Kai said.

And you were always the crazy one,” Luna giggled.

Thanks.”

You’re welcome. We’ve spent so much time stomping cracks deeper in our lives, chasing some elusive goal neither of us could define. We shouldn’t continue the legacy of the community. We should love. And be loved.”

Amberlai Island is one of an archipelago with far more infamous neighbours, torn between fending off tourists and making a profit. Owners of Ava Arcadia Resort blended exclusivity with rustic aesthetic, old world money with new world adventure. Luna gently rolled over, breathing in as the white sand scratched at her sharp hip. As she settled on her back a gentle hand ran over her stomach and a shadow fell across her face, eclipsing the sun.

Chloe leaned in to Luna’s smile, running her fingers lightly up her arm, both responding like breathing. Chloe relaxed back down on the beach towel, their bodies contrasted, resting into each other, parallels of the sun, complete, relaxed, comfortable. It’s these gentle things working their way into Luna’s heart that soothed her terror. Chloe’s hand on the small of her back, her breath subtle on the back of her neck whilst they slept. The quiet but efficient integration of Chloe into her life and with her family, cohesive blending together.

Days melted into three weeks of rest, replenishment and bliss, their souls connecting in the calm between them. Three weeks shattered by a suit with a badge and worlds of attitude. A knock broke their nap, their quiet half sleep.

Sky,” the rusty, smoke damaged, whiskey soaked voice spoke when she pulled open the door.

Stoker,” a frown and a defeated sigh, Luna exhaled his name.

May I,” he asked, indicating entry.

Luna shook her head, “No,” indicating her hastily pulled on robe to Stoker, “an hour.”

A swift, almost imperceptible nod, accompanied a turn back towards the elevators. Chloe shifted towards awareness at the knock and quickly over to curiosity at the voices. Chloe sat up at the close of the door, then stood, pushed herself off the bed, beautifully naked. Luna, stood still at the door her blank expression staring at it. She had to let Chloe inside of the impenetrable walls she built. The more she tried, forced herself to communicate with Chloe, the more she felt like retreating. She knew this would be one of those times an obvious, vital imparting of her past is necessary.

Luna?” mumbled Chloe, “Love?” in a softer, gentler tone.

Luna turned and looked towards Chloe, but did not see her, her eyes unfocused and concerned.

Sorry, Chloe, sorry,” Luna said as she burst into tears, her body shuddered, weakened, slacked against the wall and wilted to the floor.

Chloe strode the few short steps, sifted to the ground, encircled her arms around Luna. She held her, time silent, waiting, paused, encompassed in orbits of warmth as Luna unravelled into Chloe, gradually relaxing. Luna ghostly whispered, “sorry, Chloe, sorry,” again while Chloe waited for her to speak.

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