Authors: Justin Somper
Tags: #Parenting, #Pirates, #Action & Adventure, #Vampires, #Juvenile Fiction, #Mothers, #Seafaring life, #Fantasy & Magic, #Fiction, #Family & Relationships, #Horror & Ghost Stories, #Twins, #General, #Motherhood, #Horror, #Brothers and sisters
"I don't know what's wrong, Connor," she said softly. "And I don't need to. But you must understand that whatever it is -- and whether you ever decide to tell me or not -- you are not alone."
As she leaned forward and kissed him, a tear fell from his eye and rolled down his cheek to mingle with the dew on the academy grass.
On the deck of the Nocturne, Grace lay in Lorcan's arms, looking up at the stars.
He smiled suddenly. "I forgot! I have a surprise for you." He gently released her and walked over to the mast. Grace watched him curiously. When he came back, he was carrying a parcel wrapped in brown paper and string. Crouching down again, he held it out to her. "It's not the best gift wrap, I'll grant you, but I hope you'll like what's inside."
"What is it?" she said, her eyes glowing as she took the rectangular package into her hands. It was surprisingly light given its size.
"Well, open it up and see, for goodness' sake!" Lorcan exclaimed.
Grace needed no further encouragement. She began untying the string and then unfolded the paper. As it fell away, she gasped. "Oh, Lorcan, it's beautiful!"
In her hands was a painting of a scene on the very same deck. It was of two young people, a man and a woman. It was clear from their posture and expressions that they were very much in love.
"It's my parents, isn't it?" Grace said.
Lorcan nodded. "Oskar told me about it," he said. "He's still firm friends with your mother's friend Teresa. She's a donor. He took me to her cabin. Grace, it's piled high with her pictures -- she has to keep painting over old canvases to make room!"
Grace let out a breath. "Thank goodness she didn't paint over this one!" she said.
Lorcan rested his arms around Grace's waist. "She told me she would never have painted over this one. But she very much wanted you to have it."
"Oh, Lorcan," said Grace. "I love it! Will you help me hang it in my cabin? It will be like they're traveling with me always."
"Yes." He nodded, then kissed her.
She set the picture down carefully and then took Lorcan's hand as they sat back down on the deck together. Even then, she found herself gazing at the painting.
"What are you thinking about?" he asked, his finger gently tracing the curve of her cheek.
"Mosh Zu told me that everything is unfolding as it should. I couldn't believe him then." She turned to Lorcan. "But now I do."
"That's so good to hear, my sweet Grace. I was so frightened about how you'd react to all this. I thought that it would spoil everything. But I should never have underestimated you. I won't make that mistake again."
"Yes, you will," she said.
He twisted his head and looked at her quizzically. She grinned. "Lorcan, we're both immortal. That means we're going to be spending a lot of time together. I think it would be a mistake to imagine it will all be smooth sailing, don't you?"
He laughed. "Smooth sailing? With our track record? You make a good point!" He leaned over and kissed her again. She was growing used to his kisses, but even though she knew an eternity of them lay ahead of her, she had no fear that she would ever tire of them. After a moment, her smile turned to a frown.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"I'm just thinking about Connor," she said. "I'm worried about how he's going to react to all this. It's easier for me because I want to be part of this world. I'm already connected to it in so many ways."
"That's true," Lorcan said. "But you and Connor are different people. He will react differently and shape his future accordingly. He'll find his own way. You have to trust that he'll do that."
"But I have you and Mosh Zu and Darcy and all the others to help me," said Grace. "And hopefully," she added, "the captain will return one day soon."
Lorcan nodded. "Yes, you do have all of us. But Connor has his friends, too, doesn't he? And we'll be there for him, waiting to help, if and when he has need of us."
His words were deeply reassuring. "Thank you," Grace said.
"You're welcome," Lorcan said. "But I'm only speaking the truth as I see it. Now, just for tonight at least, could we stop worrying about your brother and lie back and enjoy the stars?"
Grace nodded. She settled back onto the deckboards, snuggled closer to Lorcan, and gazed up past the tall mast and the Nocturne's vast winglike sails, their veins sparking with light as the ship sailed on.
Up above, the night sky was clear, and the heavens were abundant with stars. Grace's eyes roved across the constellations, some familiar, others still mysterious to her. She remembered her dad telling her and Connor how sailors used the stars to navigate home. Now as she glanced up above, she imagined each of the lights representing one of the special people in her life, some gone now, others still with her. Sally. Dexter. Connor. Darcy. Oskar. Mosh Zu. The captain. Lorcan. Each in their own way had brought her to this special place. This place she now knew was home.