Exhausted the next day, Sunny chugged a cup of coffee and hit the road. When she’d opened her eyes that morning, she’d managed to convince herself for a few minutes that she was in Nashville with her normal family. However, that didn’t last long when she saw that she was entirely alone. She called her parents and said that everything was fine. Both of her parents were on their way to work so they didn’t talk long. Somewhat relieved, but still feeling like garbage, she stared out at the road ahead of her. “Great, here’s hoping I don’t get attacked,” she muttered to herself.
Even though she turned on her music, she couldn’t get Tod and Eli out of her head. She was angry at them, angry at Tod for keeping it a secret for so long, angry at them for arguing. But more than that, she missed them and she wanted to help them. She remembered Eli had said something about granting wishes. Maybe she could wish for something and they’d hear her. She cleared her throat, even though she wasn’t even going to say her wish out loud, and thought hard.
Groggily, Tod opened his eyes to find himself in a room with marble floors. He heard water running somewhere behind him. “Oh, stars, ow.” He rubbed his head. The woman was standing over him. Tod figured she was about his age, early hundreds. She had orange streaks running through her brown hair and fire danced along her arms, her body. Tod saw that his body was sparking too. The energy from whoever this person was must have not worn off yet.
“Finally. You’re awake.”
He lurched to his feet. “Who are you? Why – what is happening?” He swayed, his head aching.
She raised a gloved hand, stopping his tirade. “Good news. We have an heir.”
“Wait, what?” Tod said, accidentally spitting on her as the words exploded from his mouth. The thought of Sunny winking at Eli when he’d told her Setareh formed by fusion appeared in his head.
She wiped the spit off her cheek and managed a short laugh. “We’re the rulers now. Eventually, he’ll be big enough and he can come out. What do you want to name him?”
He shook his head, the beginnings of panic trickling through him. This was not a good way to wake up. “No, but – the other Cassiopeia won’t like that. They’re going to be mad,” he said, his voice weak. The less he focused on having a kid, the better. How could this stranger do this? It was trouble enough the thought of having to rule with Eli, but being bonded with this lady? This wouldn’t go over well. They couldn’t unite the Gemini and Cassiopeia like this – they’d been at war for nearly 100 years. This girl was incredibly naïve if she thought fusing with him and producing an heir would work. There were his parents first off. And he knew they would not like this. And they would definitely blame him.
She waved his question off. “It doesn’t matter. We’re the leaders now. Well, once we get your brother out of the way – ”
“Who the hell are you?” he snapped.
“Isolde,” she replied. She reached for the four leafed clover necklace that still hung at his throat, and yanked it off of him. “What is this trash?” she said, throwing it on the ground.
“Sunny – ” he began, and she stopped him with a pointed look.
“Never mind,” he said, but his heart ached when he looked at the four leafed clovers lying on the floor.
“Let’s get you some clothes,” she said, turning her back. Tod grabbed the necklace and shoved it into his pocket. Isolde heard his movement and turned around just as he was tucking it away.
“Where are we?” he said.
“My house,” she said.
“Ah.” That explained why he couldn’t remember this place. He stared behind Isolde to see black water rushing down the marble walls and a river burbling past. He could feel the water’s heat from here. To his right was a walk in closet, a desk, and a mirror. Isolde peered at her reflection and tossed her curls away from her face, adjusted her golden forehead band. Tod thought she was beautiful but he still liked Sunny way more. Sunny didn’t take what she wanted without asking first. And he knew too much about the Setareh – they weren’t good people. At least, the majority of them weren’t. Somewhere in the last few years, they’d lost themselves.
He looked outside at a garden – thankfully, none of the man eating plants were there, but there were plenty of things with thorns. He missed Earth already.
“My father’s part of the Senate,” she said, as she looked into the closet.
“Oh yeah?” He tried not to laugh; it was like she thought that would impress him. His own father had ruled their planet for five hundred years. “How will he feel when he finds out what you’ve done?”
“Oh, he’s proud of me. It was his idea.” She turned around, smirking.
Tod stared at her, his mouth dropped open. Just what he needed. Someone who always listened to their parents. He had to get out of here. And at that moment, he heard Sunny’s voice in his head. He blinked, not sure if he was imagining it or not. But he knew he couldn’t be; the words were clear –
I wish I could fly up there. I wish I wasn’t human.
Over and over again, I wish, I wish, I wish.
Tod cleared his throat, his heart fluttering in his chest. “Isolde.”
“Yes?” She yanked a robe off the hanger and turned around, a hand on her hip.
“Do you still grant wishes?”
She tilted her head, thinking it over. “No. Not unless…no.” For a moment, her expression lost its sharpness, and she was back to how she’d been when she’d talked about the child. Their child. He wanted to run away just thinking about that.
Hurriedly he said, “Will you? Will you try?”
“It depends on what it is, and if it’s something bad, my father will kill me. Literally.” She threw the robe at him and the thin silky material brushed against his skin. “Get dressed. We have to go to the palace.”
“Isolde.” He dropped the robe to the ground. “I’m not moving a muscle until you help me grant a wish.”
“Oh, we’re going to be difficult, are we?” Isolde advanced on him, grabbing him by the collar of his shirt. She tried to pull it off over his head but he struggled away.
“Leave me alone. I’m not going unless you help me.”
Isolde swore. “I thought you were easier to control – Eli must be impenetrable.” She lifted an eyebrow.
“True,” Tod said. She’d almost made him laugh but he managed to keep it under control. He paused. “So…will you?”
“What is it?”
“Protection for Sunny, this um, girl, I met,” he managed to say.
Isolde’s eyes narrowed. “Okay. Fine. I’ll get some of the others. Wait here and please, when I’m back, you better look presentable.”
Tod nodded, relieved. “Yep, of course. Just, um, my sunglasses? You have them, right?”
God, I’m going to kill him.