Luna sat on the bench in the garden. The sky crystalline blue, mixing with the yellow light of the sun, bright. She is offended the day is glowing when all she feels is disconsolate. She hears the noise of life drifting to her — cars and voices and metal — as her head pounds behind her eyes, sketching black spots inside her vision. Everything is screeching loud, grating against her body. She feet the bristle of air changing and the soft fall of Chloe’s feet. Sitting next to Luna, offering warm tea, a glass of ice, tequila and a slice of lemon. Steam gently curled out of the mug, dew drops formed against the chilled glass.
Chloe’s voice a caress, floated to Luna on an undercurrent, “I didn’t know which one you wanted.”
Luna took the tequila and swallowed all of it, shivering as it hit her empty stomach. She placed it down on the armrest and reached for the tea, slipping the slice of lemon in before wrapping both her bands around it, “Thank you.”
After a few sips, she placed it next to the glass. Luna shifted until she is flush against Chloe, slipping her head into the crux of her neck, picking her hand within her own, “There’s too much noise.”
Luna leaned further into Chloe as her eyes welled, slipping over her lash and down her cheek, brutally raw to the world, “Are they all still here?”
“They understand. They’re family. They care.”
“Family?” Luna tensed, went to withdraw her hand, but Chloe, swifter, manoeuvred Luna closer.
“Kai and you have history within yourselves. Since you’ve been here, you know these people are family. You’ve told me as much, they definitely love you,” her voice remained soft, an undercurrent flowing between them, “Jamere, Abraxas, Galla, Archer, Caro, Arlo and Quin. Even Gretchen, Mitsuko and Bree. Me. We’re family.”
“They’re all here, still?”
“Yes, Abraxas has private investigations. Archer and Ivie are…I’m sure the less I know about what they’re doing the better. Jamere and Caro have taken over the kitchen.”
“Is helping Archer and Ivie. The five of them are terrifying,” silence fell between them, noise of the city filling in the gaps, as Luna snuggled back into Chloe, enjoying the weight of them, until her soft voice sung between them, “Jamere said to remind you of Archer when you first met.”
As scattered as the pieces of herself are, Luna knew that Chloe would collect them all and give them all back to her in perfect order. Chloe shifted minutely and said, “I added this for you, I hope you don’t mind.”
Luna looked to where she was pointing, at the white leaves and yellow centre, speckled blue and silver flowers cascading down from the pot, “No, not at all. I don’t like them in bunches, cut from life. Growing them is better,” Luna looked up at Chloe, “these are perfect, meant to live and grow.”
“Yes. Well. I though it time to add orchids,” She caressed Luna lightly, “is the moon orchid and is perfect. Caro raised it.”
Luna, overwhelmed, asked, “Weren’t you going to tell me a story?”
“Yes. Yes, I was,” Chloe spoke into the quiet.
“Come on. Distract me.”
Chloe wrinkled her nose as she smiled, fluttering her fingers around, indicating the penthouse, “I wasn’t always this, my parents were young, underage, living an itinerant lifestyle, escaping a system that mostly seemed to fail them. My father’s parents fled one type of oppression for another, languishing against a broken system with broken languages. My mother fled her own immigrant parents, raising children just as lost as they were in a world they did understand. They met jumping through cities big enough to hide them. Until they had me, I guess. They were still underage and under educated.”
Chloe smiled, remembering her fathers voice tell her this story as a child as she was now telling it to Luna, “Yet, I gave them purpose. Sometimes life events make people become who they’re meant to be. My birth did for my parents, young, hungry and fierce. They started an import business. I don’t remember what they were importing. My mother was thirteen when she had me, dad a year older. They started the business while mother was still pregnant. She doesn’t talk about this period. From what I’ve gleaned over the years, they returned to her family. They were young but had been raised in this country and held more grasp on the reality of how it functioned.”
Chloe gently circled her fingers around Luna’s back, “My father used his family as much as my mother did, connecting them to the edge of an industry just beginning to boom. My mother used her own extended family to import, from what I can gather, something vastly shadier, potentially illegal. It became rapidly successful, and by the time I started school, they could afford their own education. I would’ve been about five, my mother eighteen. My mother became a successful litigation attorney, my father an international business consultant. Within ten years, my parents were both wildly successful yet still both in their late twenties. Their careers took over their lives, and they worked constantly. I was raised by nannies and boarding schools. I’ve been at boarding schools since I was six and I thought of them as my home.”
Chloe sighed, snorted and licked her lips, “over the holidays, when I was younger, I was sent to summer expeditions until I was old enough to attend summer camps, and then it became a mixture of both. I don’t think I went to my parents home for six or seven years. I asked my mother why I didn’t see them for years, why they didn’t raise me. She said they didn’t know how and then could afford someone who could.””
Chloe stopped, looking out to the sky, remembering isolation and deeply held senses of loss and entitlement. She felt her heart beat rapidly, and her sentences became clipped as a result, “My father died when I was sixteen. A heart attack. I became his sole beneficiary. My mother became the guardian of my estate until I was twenty-five. I didn’t find out about his death until six months later. I don’t think Isabeau thought to tell me. I also become co-owner of family property and trusts. My estate was earning twenty-three hundred a week. My parents were very particular about their financial clarity from each other and my inheritance. I think it was a taxation issue. My mother was ruthless with my trust management, and tripled investments by the time that I’d turned twenty-five, she had diversified into property, industrial, scientific and medical programs.”
Luna noticed how tense Chloe became, and moved them both to lay down on the grass, stretched out against the length of her body, gingerly wrapped her arm over. Chloe tensed momentarily before relaxing and moving her arm over Luna’s, her fingers drifting lazy circular patterns over her skin as her memory drifted back to days she had long since left behind.
“I graduated high school at fifteen in the top one percent of the country. I was always the youngest in the class and I decided to study overseas for a year upon graduation, I guess as a kind of gap year. Quin, Caro, Arlo and I met at that school. I wouldn’t have survived without them. We wouldn’t have survived without each other, hijacking summer to spend the time together. Arlo lived in the village our boarding school was in and was the local student on full scholarship with alumni that are bankers, politicians, owners of umbrella corporations owning multiple others. Her family was large, noisy, and poor,” Chloe flattened her vowels in latent anger.
“Until Arlo cam to school, she shared a room with three of her siblings. The bathroom was always full, the water always cold, food a continual struggle to have enough off. Arlo initially struggled, unable to concentrate and ostracised, she this tiny doll, dressed in torn, faded second hand uniforms bobbie pinned together. Arlo was dragged from the local community as a public example of the school’s benevolence and charity, but internally a representation to the student body of what they were better than. After her first summer at home, her family noticed the shift within her, the change in dialect and the syntax of her conversation. Arlo had a choice, as she could not live in both words and survive. She found her way, though, understanding this was her way out, her opportunity to escape,” Chloe sighed, pausing to kiss Luna’s hairline.
Quietly, she continued, “Quin was an outcast already on the first day of school via the alumni magazine on freshmen, the garbage empire child and teased mercilessly. Her father ran a counties sanitation disposal program. His company grew to include several counties, and they lived in a small village where Quin attended the local school and was ostracised even there. She attempted to kill herself, and her parents decided to to send her to an out of state boarding school, but she could not to avoid the stigma, as the school was mostly legacies like Caro, with her pale, ice hair, transparent eyes and old money.”
“I’d freedom from my parents and we didn’t really know each other, communicate much or even see each other. Yet, I’d no direction, no idea what I wanted. When I left to study, I took with me the nanny I myself hired. For lack of anything else to do, I took art classes while travelling. I remember how lonely I was. I don’t remember the face of my father,” Chloe’s voice dipped to a whisper, a jagged collective of consonants shuddering all over each other.
Her voice dripping in memory, “It was after this study I returned to my parents to discover my father’s death. My mother, in her grief, did not think to tell me. For lack of anything else to do, I went to law school. Again, I graduated with honours, the top one percent of that years graduates. I found it a ruthless and distasteful profession. I was at an indefinitive end, young and educated and rich if only on paper rather than reality. So, I fled, lacking a home or a family to bind me together. I spent six months travelling around the country, free finally from the obligation of education and the paid concern of nannies, but not quite free from myself. My mother too busy, as usual, to be concerned with an already overachieving daughter. On paper, I was the perfect daughter of those who were wild too young, however just like I was wealthy on paper, most things are an illusion,” Chloe’s breathing regulated to the weight of Luna’s, absorbing the peace of her body.
Chloe’s voice dropped an octave, “In the isolation of refusing to deal with the death of my father, I drifted among the relics of a culture which discards those who do not participate according to the rules. Arlo came with me on that trip, Quin and Caro stayed in the city, studying. My parents didn’t play according to these rules, but changed the game to dominate it. It was a world of the disenfranchised, an emotion I was familiar with. We were all hidden in plain sight, just on the wealthy side. I stayed into the dark, a prodigy lost, all the while knowing it was unlikely I wouldn’t be searched for if I didn’t return. I hid from everything wrong within my life by abandoning it. I met fabulous people who taught me many skills unknowable in my sheltered life, but life was desolate and lonely, a wasteland of the unfound.”
Luna watched Chloe intensely fall through the memories, her voice husky yet tender. A gentleness flowed between them as Chloe’s lips curled up at the edges, “I was at this beach, surfing. When I paddled back in, thinking of how I may just sleep on the beach before moving on, when an out of place car, black and shiny and expensive, puffed up a dust cloud on the gravely dirt road. By the time I ran out of the water, and up to my backpack, my mother stood, silhouetted against the sandy dunes, the black car, the cloudless blue sky. She requested I return to her house.”
Chloe closed her eyes, “So I did, for lack of anything grasping for my attention or direction. My mother felt she’d allowed me enough time to grieve and I needed to commence my future. She requested a decision be made within the month as to my future direction and if it was unsatisfactory, I would be disinherited. She requested my presence within her house be limited unless I engage my future appropriately.”
Luna gasped slightly, strengthen her arms around Chloe, causing a slight smile to grace her face, “Why did she bring you back?”
Chloe frowned, “Because she could, I guess. I used to hope because she noticed. All of this was once hard, reflecting was be intense and could immobilise me for days. I applied to medical school, eventually specialising in neurosurgery. I worked, consumed by the intricate nature of brain patterns and repair. I studied and researched, wrote papers and topped out again with stellar academic record. I worked and I drifted into relationships but also as soon as out of them, they were auxiliary to my main life and hard to maintain.”
Chloe’s voice lightened, “The four of us, though, became own enclave, our own family. We all felt safe when we disappeared in the Manor, and we discovered the possibility of happiness within. Development of the Manor was slow, meticulous and detailed as Quin was very specific in her vision, design and implementation. Quin and Caro’s lives were peppered with visits from Arlo and myself, through the completion of degrees, internships, specialities and career advancements. Within the noise and the silences, they noticed the understated sigh of pleasure together and shifted into their relationship,” Chloe truly smiled at the mentions of her friends.
“Arlo worked an eighteen hour day after a sixteen hour one the day before, and was in a taxi, drifting through traffic mutilated by the darkness of night. Two cars slammed into each other in the middle of an intersection the taxi had paused at, then drifted together in a fan of sparkling metal before collecting the taxi and slamming them all into a building. Arlo said she felt weightless for an infinite moment, before she struck the door of the cab, slammed her head against metal, which dazed momentarily, before she jittered into hyper alert as adrenalin flooded her body and dis-embedded herself from the door,” Chloe’s voice has lowered into dusk.
“The driver was unconscious and Arlo was unable to reach her through twisted metal inhabiting the space inbetween them, so she turned to door, which is when she saw the body pressed up against the window, wedged between the car and the building. He was struggling to breath, fear tumbling out of his eyes and spooling against Arlo, who watched as his life fell from him. Arlo fell into shock, time falling away until she was pulled from the wreckage,” Chloe visibly struggled and Luna firmed her hug.
“Arlo’s body was marginally damaged, mostly bruises and sprains. However, watching the life drain from a stranger cracked her, broke on essential part that held her together. She was in hospital for three days, under observation for potential brain injuries. My mother attended, being the emergency contact for all four of us, as she was the only parent and reasonably organised adult of any of us in the city when we started at university. Her assistant periodically contacted us to update our information. As none of us has had any reason to change this arrangement,” a derisive giggle escaped Chloe.
“My mother is still the only relative that lives in the city. Caro’s, Quin’s and Arlo’s families are settled, the closest three states away. I was the only one with a parent based here. My mother is only nine years older than the three of them, thirteen years older than me. Arlo quit her job after her release from hospital, and unable to stop seeing death leak from his eyes, Arlo retreated to Westwood Manor. Quin and Caro had been there for sixish years and the manor felt like home — lived in and comfortable — and she felt it sooth the broken parts of herself, the haze of her nightmares reduced. When she stumbled out of the darkness caressing her, she realised life gifted her with opportunity and love,” Chloe wrinkled her nose, smiling as Luna shifted closer, twirling their legs together.
“I was both focused and untethered, ebbing into a strange and unbalanced hybrid life, spectacular professionally, distant and indiffident personally. It took me far longer to negotiate my own recovery and integrate all this history together. Honestly, I began to develop my own worth by recognise my own passions. Being wealthy and independent allowed me many freedoms that took me years to learn,” pausing to relish the love in her arms, acknowledged they are both here because of her life, not in-spite of it.
“I realised the insanity of my own hate, of my own distance. I’m privileged in so many ways and it has taken me to adulthood to understand them. I realised the choices I could make, what I could develop and become. This greenhouse is an example. I gradually started to accept invitations to advisory committees and became a member of several boards, most particularly at my boarding school. I wrote papers and became part of a peer group reviewing papers for publication. I developed procedures for allowing existing extant tissue to remain at a far higher ration then previously when removing diseased or damaged tissue,” knowing she did all of this to fill in the lonely gaps, the pre-Luna oblivion screaming her apart.
“This is how I knew Gretchen. I’d no idea she fostered. She is a highly respected forensic neonatal specialist, and consults for various governments as well as teaching trainees with various law enforcement agencies with primary directives regarding the care of infants in criminal cases and the high impact socio-economic development delays in infant care,” Chloe is silent as she reflected, “I’ve become much more contented. My mother, still practising litigation, and we’re not become much closer as adults.”
Chloe stopped and shrugged. Luna smiled, pushing herself up onto her elbow and lifted Chloe in close, kissing her velveteen lips, slowly relaxing into an extended, delicate tasting of each other.
Three days later at Galla’s insistence they went to what was becoming a favourite place, CLS Bar, a city institution named, and infamous for, the particularly lethal combination shot of espresso and café liquor. It’s old, warm and a fire filled atmosphere, ancient, intimate and relaxing beyond measure. The espresso – liquor shot combination also branched into various sponge cakes, muffins, even cereal. The pair, highlighted against each other, went inside and found a booth, flush against a brick wall. They ordered and waited it to be delivered.
Stoker walked to the bar, took a stool and ordered a drink. Chloe noticed, glancing at the incongruous beauty besides her said, “One Moment.”
Luna mumbled her assent yet did not focus her eyes. Chloe snaked her way through the chairs to the bar, “What are you doing here?”
“I cannot leave. I am the only one.”
“She doesn’t want to speak to you unless you have answers,” the bartender approached and Chloe waved him off.
“I know. We have been looking for five days. No unexplained dead bodies, no unaccounted for stolen cars, no ransom demands made, all stolen credit cards and obvious false names checked out at hotels. Once we realised he was missing, we highlighted to other federal agencies as well as the team observing Tempenka. Five days of nothing,” Stoker sighed and sipped his drink.
He looked at Chloe before continuing, “I’m her handler irrelevant of whether she wants one or not. I would be here without this. I am to stay visual, as we have to be sure his disappearance is not habitual. I am here for the safety of Sky.”
Chloe fury burning within her at the overtly threatening behaviour, turned away before adding, “She has a point about your department. If I see you again anywhere near Luna or myself, I will be pursuing legal action. I believe she challenged you successfully before.”
“No…” Stoker half-stood, raising a placating hand.
Chloe cut him off without hesitation, “I’m not a scared child, nor a traumatised young adult. I do not care for you, or your department. It is actually important whether she wants a handler or not. I cannot easily be discredited. I have resources you cannot imagine. I’ve no idea where on the food chain you are, but just so you understand I have begun pursuing legal resources in information regarding Luna. Push, Stoker, and see exactly what I will do to protect her.”
“Most of the time, the right thing is a luxury,” Stoker said, “like an environmental tax everyone wants yet does everything to avoid. I do what is needed and necessary.”
“That’s some pathetic attempt at a moral argument as I’ve ever heard,” Chloe laughed, “yet, legally, you have nothing.”
Chloe walked off, her mind focused on Luna, who has been torturing herself since Stoker visited them on the island. She had only been sleeping because Chloe was mildly sedating her. Their life, exploded with this disaster and the days filtered by with Luna’s anguish and her own worry. Returning to the table, and sitting down, Luna splayed her fingers over the table, reaching for comfort in Chloe, who immediately reciprocated.
“You get used to it. Used to them.”
“Why should you get used to it? Why should you have to?” Chloe pitched her voice evenly, pulling her anger back.
“If Caro, Arlo and Quin turned up and joined the table, would you be offended or would you simply include them in the table, like they naturally belonged?”
“Naturally belonged,” Chloe frowned, “What’s your point?”
“That’s how it is for us. We don’t notice. Its like its natural.”
“That’s twisted, Luna,” Chloe said, “Did you just compare love among friends to being stalked by the government. They don’t treat me like Stoker treats you.”
“I know, but its the same Pavlovian response. Galla, Archer, and Kai wouldn’t notice if one of them sat at the table with us. They’ve always just been there. Well, except for the ones who failed to follow Kai that night. I imagine they’ve, at the very lest, been fired.”
“Its just seems too passive of an adjustment to reality over an aggressive one. As if prefer to live deconstructed, without expectation.”
“Why put it together when it inevitably leads to…not disappointment exactly, but not what was hoped for. If nothing can be constructed, you can cope with the lost, with loosing.”
Maybe. Not everyone has hidden nefarious agendas,” Chloe recognised the precociousness of the woman fulfilling Luna’s life without malicious agenda, a sense of exquisite balance rendering a sense of completeness, “How do Abraxas and Jamere deal with it?”
“It’s not meant to sound bleak,” Luna commented before she chuckled, “I’m constantly surprised Abraxas hasn’t killed one.”
Three agonising days later, Chloe and Luna lay naked on the bed, a slightly sweaty glint shearing over their bodies. Luna, propped up on her elbow, gently running her fingers in an ever increasing circular pattern over Chloe’s stomach.
“I’m sorry for being difficult.”
Chloe took Luna’s hand and kissed her fingers, shifting her body closer to Luna, encouraging desire, “You’re not difficult. I love you. I love you.”
Luna smiled, kissing Chloe’s wrist, her hand bee lining across Chloe’s skin. There is a slight tap at the door and both scrambling out of bed, grabbing robes, going from relaxed to tense in an instant. Chloe opened the door for Galla to walked in.
Looking pale as she quietly said, “Stoker. He is in the…”she waved her hand at the ante-room, “…he wants to speak with you.”
“Okay,” Luna swallowed thickly, “I’ll be out in a second.”
She went over to the clothes hastily thrown on the floor as Chloe closed the door behind Galla, pulling on jeans and a shirt. Chloe followed, dressing as hastily as Luna. They walked through the silence of the clustered group and out together.
Stoker, waiting, looked to Luna as she walked up to him, “I am sorry Sky. His body was found, pulled out of the river this morning. He was just identified.”
“What happened?” Luna asked as tears involuntarily started streaming down her face.
Stoker pulled out his notebook and opened it to a page two-thirds of the way through and said, “The taxi was hailed on the streets by Gerome and both entered at zero four three zero from the Esther Ball Homeless Youth Charity after party. He drove them to a riverside industrial estate, where various indications suggest torture. They were weighed down and thrown into the river at approximately zero six three zero.”
“Do you know the perpetrator?” Chloe asked, hand bracing Luna’s back as her tears turned to sobs.
“Nash Ransley, male, sixty-three. He drove the taxi, resisted arrest and shot at the arrest site. Deceased.”
Luna tensed, “Wait. You knew the taxi driver was missing? Or you didn’t bother checking on him?”
Stoker paused “We were looking for him, yes. He delivered the taxi to the next driver and failed to show for his next shift. As I said no criminal past. He was interviewed at the time.”
Luna screaming, irredeemable hysteria breaching her voice, “How could you keep this, of all things?”
“Yes. However we could not ascertain if he knew who Kai is…”
“Liar, you knew exactly who he is, knew from the name,” fury emanated off of Luna and scorched all of the oxygen out of the room, “he would’ve been well aware of Tempenka. FSA would’ve made damn sure he knew where you suspected his daughter went. They blew up a military faction…”
Luna managed to slap him across the face before Chloe pulled her back. She struggled to compose herself, and said through gritted teeth, “Please. Leave.”
“I am so sorry,” Stoker stood and left.
Luna is unstrung, sobbing, and pushing Chloe away as her heart crumbled to ashes and dust. Snot dripping form her nose, her eyes swollen, her breath ragged with her shuddering body. Luna’s throat hitched as she failed to speak and fell back into Chloe, who lead her back to the bedroom to lay her down.
Luna’s voice scratched and broken, “He’s my last connection, my last evidence I existed. I’ve lost myself. I destroy people.”
Chloe fell apart at the sight of Luna breaking. Yet she waited, watched as Luna shattered, “Ransley. That’s my mother’s name on my birth certificate. Meredith, no middle name, Ransley, aged sixteen. Father Bailey, no middle name, Weaver, aged seventeen.”
Chloe curled up around Luna and for hours laid like that in the silence. Eventually, Luna shuffled and cuddled further into Chloe, before whispering, “Every single one. Kai is dead. Gretchen is broken. Archer rarely leaves her basement.”
Chloe felt the terror inside of her. Finally, the tears Luna shed slowed. Chloe moved to a sitting position, reaching for tissues and handing them to Luna, waited in silence. Luna looked up and held Chloe’s gaze, connected for the first time since she became upset. There is silence.
“You’re extraordinarily,” Chloe said, “every day you’re extraordinary. You may be torn and frayed at every edge, but you’re a masterpiece to me.”
Luna went to withdraw, almost recoiled as Chloe shifted and moved next to her, wrapped her arms around her, pulled their bodies tight defiance of Luna’s instinct to run.
Chloe’s voice, even and strong and soft, said, “I know you don’t want to, don’t like to hear it, but you’re so phenomenally remarkable. You don’t destroy. You’re a gift. You allowed Kai a choice. You love him. You gave Gretchen an idea outside of herself. You gave Archer hope when she had none. You’ve given me so very much, and I’m illiterate to the world without you. You’re worth waiting for, worth the pain. You, I ran towards.”
Luna slumped against Chloe, curling down until her head rested in her lap. Her body shuddered softly with silently shed tears. Chloe ran her fingertips up and down Luna’s back, relaxing her slowly.
Her voice tiny, a whisper above audible, softly into the darkness “Why does it feel like he died because of me? I don’t remember us ever having being loved. Exalted, but not loved. There was always a price-tag. An expectation. We were meant to lead the community. I was meant to protect him. Gretchen wanted a daughter. Stoker wanted information. There was always something. Always. Even from myself. Especially for Kai. Why not you?”
“Why don’t I have a price-tag?” Chloe said. Luna nodded, murmuring her assent. “I do. It is simply you. You’re absolutely my collateral damage, destroying my desolation. I love you. That’s everything there is. There are no expectations, not even for you to love me back. You’re a privilege. I’m not going to save you. I don’t need to, you can fall apart, but I’ll be here and I’ll love every single piece. That’s what I’ll do, love every single second, because you’re a treasure. My treasure.”
Chloe held no other answers, only comfort, only love. They stayed that way, hibernating together within love and sorrow.
Chloe took Luna to bed after encouraging her to eat and stayed until she fell to irredeemable exhausted sleep, before returning to sit with Jamere, the table scattered with remnants of dinner. Galla and Archer escaped up to the greenhouse as soon as Luna went to bed. Jamere knew they would go to her side soon enough, once they drew their brokenness enough together to be of use to her. Abraxas silent at the edge of the table, watching.
“What did Stoker say?” asked Jamere, hearing the sounds of the kitchen, moving bodies of the trilogy tidying.
“Nash Ransley killed them, tortured them.”
“Yes. There is information they’re not telling us.”
“Of course their is,” Jamere’s voice reflective of the voice she uses with Luna, gentle love, a hug wrapped within her cadence, “however Ivie would have found it if there was why.”
“Ransley is her birth mothers birth name,” Jamere paused, reflecting on those first years with Luna and Kai, “she was pretty sure she knew who her mother was. You understand the name thing, right?”
“Yes. How it connects you to you’re true self and to others true selves. Names matter.”
“Yes, they’re infinitely fundamental to who you are, and your place in the world. They’re a gift to yourself,” Jamere paused, “When she was supplied with her birth certificate, Meredith Ransley and Bailey Weaver, were the names printed, yet not the names of who they were inside Tempenka. Kai’s had who they were inside, so he always knew who his biological parents were.”
Jamere stopped to sip her coffee as Abraxas shuffled in her chair to move closer to Jamere, calming them both, “Luna attempted to guess her parents based on this name philosophy. Meredith Ransley means Guardian of the Sea Raven Meadow. Inside Tempenka, a woman went by the name Sea Raven. Bailey comes from Bailiff, weaver as in the profession. Their was a man called Thatcher. She was definitive about Sea Raven, far less certain about Thatcher. It took her a long while to understand how parenting works in this world, initially it made her angry and bewildered.”
“She said she rebelled against Gretchen as she couldn’t understand how one parent was enough,” Chloe stated.
“True. Kai, though, loved it, loved the family he was placed within. He is lost without structure. Luna, though, rebels, always making things extra hard on herself.”
“She’s lost and lost and lost,” Chloe fell.
“She’s gained and fought and collects love. Kai followed her for no other reason than love. She broke his life long training. Galla and Archer love her, sisters that may have started in pain and loss, but finished in love. Abraxas and myself,” Jamere watched Chloe intensely, “You.”
Chloe quietened, her heartbeat quickened irregularly as she unravelled, let all the pent up horror go, the wasted, languishing time, and of history full of shadows chasing the dawn, and quietly allowed it all to fall, salty pathways divoting down her cheeks. Jamere stood and grasped Chloe, drawing her body in, holding comfort within her grasp, and over her shoulder saw two figures emerge only to disappear within the master suit.
Luna woke, groggily, to find two soft bodies surrounding her. They were all curled together like when Cressida had died, all limbs and comfort.
“Hay,” Luna pushed them over her to get to the water on the bedside table.
“Hay,” Galla mumbled, rolling over.
“Off,” Archer pushed as Luna climbed over her.
“Anything?” Luna asked, “The taxi cam?”
“Not more than we already had. They’ve closed the case,” Ivie broke through, as Luna climbed off the bed and walked into the en-suite. Galla tumbled off of the bed to follow her.
“There is nothing, really, to action,” Archer said.
“Yes, I know.”
“Its frustrating,” Galla agreed, “but he is dead. What’s done is already done.”
“Of course. How’s everyone?” Luna flushed and walked to the basin.
“Isabeau, Gretchen, Mitsuko and Bree went back to their apartments. Everyone else won’t leave,” Archer said as she walked in, stretching out the sleep while Galla walked to the toilet.
“At least we know,” Luna sneezed.
“I know. What do you need?” Archer leaned over the basin to wash her face.
Luna shrugged, “Nothing can replace the dead.”
“Foozeball…” Ivie butted in.
“Ivie…” Luna frowned.
“You want a distraction. Iviesphere is sympathetic, but do you really want to hear all of those messages?”
“Not right now. Where is Chloe?”
“Living room with the Jamere and Abraxas.”
“Thanks Ivie.” Luna looked at Archer and Galla, waiting for her.
“She loves you, you know,” Galla smiled.
“I know. I love her, too.”
“Do you want me to tell her to come in?” Ivie asked.
“No, shower first,” Luna tugging at her clothes to get them off before attending the panel button. Galla and Archer followed her, the three standing under the water.
“This shower is insane. You sure you don’t want Chloe?”
“I absolutely do. I cannot unlearn her and the tangle of beauty she binds me too every single day, how explicitly she learns the details, enveloping our love, weaving it it into the quiet us. I cannot unlearn the caress of her lips against my skin, the comfort of her presence, just her ability to allow me to exist within my own space. All the fighting I had to do, exhausting myself just for my own space, and she just lets me in…”
“No. Let me finish. We had all of what I just said first. We did. I need you both, as well, because I cannot unlearn us, either.”