The dark was stifling. I felt trapped in my own body, unable to move or breathe. My chest felt like it was on fire every time I tried to take a breath.
I slowly became aware of a steady warmth moving through my body. It was comforting. I felt my muscles relax as it moved toward my heart. The warmth pushed away the fire in my chest, replacing it with a pleasant calm. I felt my heartbeat return to its normal, steady rhythm.
When I opened my eyes Caden was sitting next to me. He desperately clutched my hand, holding it next to him. His other hand rested on my chest. His eyes were closed tightly shut, and his lips moved almost in an almost imperceptible whisper. "Please Kyra. Not like this. Not like this." He repeated over and over.
His eyes popped open. "Kyra! Thank heaven! I thought I was too late."
"Where is Lahuir?" I tried to sit up, knowing I should be fighting, but Caden stopped me. He kept his hand pressed against my chest.
"Don't move yet. You're not completely healed."
I lay back. The same warmth I had been feeling again surged through me. It stemmed from Caden's hand.
"Lahuir?" I asked again.
Caden shrugged, "He's gone." He grinned mischievously at me, "He took a bit of a fall... out the window."
"What?!" I lurched to my feet and rushed to the window. "How?"
He moved to stand next to me, "You really should let me finish." He sighed. He glanced out the window. "He didn't see me coming, and I wasn't thinking. I just had to get him off of you."
I stared glumly out the window. "What are we supposed to do now? How do we save our world?" I felt tears sting in my eyes. We had lost. Because Lahuir had turned, we had lost.
Caden slipped his hand into mine, "No. Not all is lost. We can still win."
"How? My union with Lahuir was supposed to unite those still in hiding."
"Your union? With Lahuir?" Caden's eyes flashed with anger. "When was that decided?"
"I don't know. Ya'shiie was guiding me. He said it would save our worlds."
"Ya'shiie was a liar." He hissed. "The union was supposed to be between two lovers, not two complete strangers. You were supposed to be the key to finding the lovers."
"Oh!" I breathed. Suddenly I felt hope again, followed by a deep longing. I understood now. I wasn't the key to finding the lovers. I was going to be one of the lovers. Caden stared at me, as if seeing me for the first time. "Oh." He finally whispered. "It's us."
Caden grinned and grasped me against him. His lips found my mouth almost before I had a chance to react.
His eyes sparkled happily when he pulled away. "I didn't dare think it. I knew I was falling for you the first time you yelled at me... for almost killing you." He chuckled, "But I couldn't allow that. I'm a nomad, a loner. I've never wanted or needed anybody. But then I met you." He whispered. He took my face tenderly in his hands and pressed his lips softly against mine. "I know now why I had those feelings. You and I Kyra. We're going to save the world."