It was late when something woke me. I hadn’t closed the curtains and the full moon filled the room with its cold glow. I sat up and saw a figure standing by the window. He leaned against the frame, his shoulders slumped in despair. A wave of sympathy washed over me. He was trying so hard to make everything right and I wasn’t helping matters by fighting against him all the time. And now with the Elite council kicking him out, me bringing home Robyn and Macy... and my reluctance to even consider a future with him, it was no wonder he looked so tired.
I slipped out of bed and wrapped my housecoat around the thin nightgown I wore. Slowly I stepped towards Dante, one hand reaching out for him. I laid it softly on his arm and he startled.
“Crystal, I didn’t mean to wake you,” he whispered.
“It’s okay. We need to talk.” I lead him to the couch and we sat down.
I shivered and rubbed my arms. Dante hurried to the fireplace and stirred up the coals. Smiling I went and sat down on the rug.
“Come on, we’ll talk here.”
Dante’s brow wrinkled but he sat down anyway, folding his legs gracefully. I picked up one of his hands and stroked it.
“Dante, I never meant to hurt you it’s just when Dominique suggested going to see my family, I just didn’t think about anything else. I am sorry.”
Dante brushed my hair back from my face. “I know. And I’m sorry I didn’t take you back there sooner. To tell the truth, I almost forgot about them.”
“Did they ever send anymore letters after that first one?” I had to know. Had he hid them from me or had my family given up on me?
Dante shook his head. “I’ve never received another letter from them.”
I sighed. “I don’t understand. They would have sent more to me. They loved me.”
A tear slid down my cheek as I realized I would never hear their beloved voices again. There would be no more late night talks with Trinity, no more mock fighting with Lance. I would never again spend time teaching Alex how to fight, to hunt, to survive. Quincy and Pete were silent forever and Grandpa’s words of wisdom would only be remembered by me. Robyn was young and would soon forget. And Macy would never remember him.
Dante drew me to his chest and I relaxed against him. He rubbed my back and I closed my eyes. It felt good to have someone holding me for once, instead of always holding everyone else.
“Crystal, can you forgive me?”
I looked up at him. “For what?”
“For trying to turn you into something you are not,” he said. “For taking you away from the ones you loved. And for not giving you a chance to explain to them what was really happening.”
“Dante, it’s not all your fault.”
“I think it is.”
I pushed away from him. “What do you mean? You didn’t do anything.”
He stood up and poked at the fire again. “If I had let you go back and explain we could have brought them all here. I didn’t think the government would go after them. But I should have known. Virgilian knew that we were looking for you, so she probably told someone.”
“But she didn’t know that you had found me, did she?”
“I didn’t tell her and neither did Dominique. I haven’t spoken to her in at least five months. I avoided her as much as possible to tell the truth.”
I pulled my knees up and hugged them to my chest. If it wasn’t Dante or Dominique, who could it be? Savannah didn’t know who I was. Or did she?
“Does Savannah know who I am, what I am?”
Dante shook his head. I stood up and warmed my hands over the flames. “Dante, if you didn’t tell and Dominique didn’t and Savannah doesn’t know then you have spy in your house.”
He looked at me, denial in his eyes. It slowly faded away as he realized I was right.
“But who? They’ve all been with me since I moved here. I trust them all.”
I shrugged. “Someone is playing you. Or maybe someone heard something and let it slip to another servant. There has to be an explanation to all this.”
“There is. I think I did it.”
We both turned and saw Savannah in the doorway, one hand behind her back. Dante straightened and I moved towards her.
“What did you do, Savannah?” Dante’s voice had grown hard and I pressed a hand against him to keep him away from her.
Savannah swallowed and pulled her hand out from behind her back. Clutched in her hand was a bundle of envelopes. “These belong to you, Crystal. I didn’t want you hurting Dante like Virgilian did so I tried to make you forget about your family.”
I walked towards Savannah. “What do you know about me?”
Savannah shook her head. “Nothing. I don’t know why Dante is so eager to have you here. No will tell me.”
“That’s because if you knew you would be in danger,” Dominique said coming up behind her. “And Dante and I couldn’t let that happen to you.”
I laughed. “Protecting people from secrets gets them killed. If I’ve learned anything from this, it’s that. You’d better tell her everything.”
“But Virgilian came to the house once when Crystal was sick. I entertained her in the parlour. She wanted to borrow a book so I went to get it. When I came back she was coming down the stairs. She said she needed to use the bathroom but she seemed very eager to leave. She almost forgot her book.”
Dante looked at me and I groaned.
“She must have looked in on me one time when I was out of it. Great. Well, Dante, that army they are amassing is going to be at your doorstep in a matter of days. Good luck with that.”
“What is going on?” Savannah stomped her foot. “I want to know.”
“Then grow up and stop stomping you foot,” I said. “This isn’t something little girls can handle.”
“Crystal.” Dante shoved me a little. “Can you be more rude?”
“This isn’t rude, Dante, I’m just telling the truth. She can’t be your naive little sister anymore. If she wants in she is going to have to become the woman she is. And will you please all take this somewhere else. I don’t want them to wake up.” I gestured to the two girls sleeping on my bed. “I don’t want them to know yet. Macy won’t understand and I don’t want Robyn worrying. She’s seen too much.”
I sat on the edge of the bed and stroked Robyn’s head. Both girls looked so innocent lying among the pillows. But I knew that Robyn had seen things Dante and Savannah only dreamed about. Macy would soon forget the horrors she knew.
“They need a safe place to stay. A place that will keep them safe. No one can know who I am or they’ll get to me through Robyn and Macy. They’re all I have left.” My voice dropped and I felt Dante’s hand on my shoulder.
“Take her to the study, Dominique. Tell her everything.”
Dominique took Savannah’s hand and led her away. I watched as she walked away. Savannah looked over her shoulder mouthing “Forgive me.”
I nodded and her features relaxed. With a sigh I turned back to Dante. He had walked back to the fireplace and was leaning on it.
“Dante, what are we going to do?” I tugged my housecoat tighter around my shoulders. “Am I putting you all in danger?”
Dante shook his head and turned to me. The fire behind him made his profile stand with sharp lines. “We were all in danger before you came here. We’ve be fighting against the Elite government for years now. If they find out what we are doing, we’re all dead.”
I stood up and walked over to him. “Why me? Why did God choose me to be this person? And how are we supposed to do this without Destiny? Without my sister it’s over before it begins.”
“Listen, Crystal,” he took my hands in his, “I’ve been looking for your sister. That’s one reason I wanted to go to the meeting today. All the records of anyone every born, killed or taken are in the Parliament Building. I was going to look through the records and find out where Destiny was taken.”
I gasped. “You think she’s still alive?”
Dante shrugged. “I really don’t know. Right now I’m grasping at straws.”
I tugged my hands free and went to look out the window. The moon shone down on everything, their shadows showing sharply against the white snow. The window pane was cold against my fingertips. This was a mess. I didn’t even know what was happening anymore. I stood there, staring into a vast unknown. Pondering what was going to happen I realized I didn’t even know what drove Dante. Why he wanted this so badly, why I was so important to his plans.
“Dante, why do you want this? Why you and not someone that has lived for fifty or sixty years in this world?”
“Because I don’t like people treating others like dirt. My father never paid any attention to me when I was young. When I reached my teens he wanted me to help him reach the top of the world. He wanted to be president. I thought it would be so amazing, so right. I would be the president’s son. But the way he was going about it was so wrong. He hurt so many people and when I confronted him about it, he just laughed.”
Dante’s voice faded and I looked at him. He was sitting in a chair, his head in his hands. I padded over to him and sat on the arm of the chair. Pulling his head to my chest I stroked his hair as I had once done with Alex and Lance.
“That’s when I figured out that the whole world was treated like my father treated people. So I decided to stop it. I saw the way my father lived. He was never happy, always pushing for more. And this is the only way I can stop the pain, the tragedy we call life. When I found that prophecy, suddenly everything became clear. It would happen. The world would go back to the way it was. I didn’t know it would be in my time until your grandfather appeared one day. He knew the man who had the dream. Somehow he had discovered that I was looking for you and your sister. He came to our house once about eight years ago and showed me a picture of you and your sister. He never told me your names, he just said when the time was right he send both of you to me.”
“What were you going to do with us?” I stilled my hands in his hair.
“I don’t know. There really is no explanation to what you two girls are meant to do. Somehow the two of you together will bring an end to this misery.”
“Oh, Dante, what have we gotten ourselves into?” I laid my cheek on his head and he reached up to hold my hand.
“Crystal, will help me figure out what to do?”
The sun was peering over the horizon by now and I looked up as the pinks and golds of the early morning light floated into the room. Light cascaded over the bed and turned Robyn’s hair to auburn and Macy’s to spun gold. Truscott yawned and Buddy and Anne woke up.
“I’ll help you.”
Dante framed my face in his hands. “Are you absolutely sure? This might kill you.”
My lips creased into a smile. “Dante, you know I was never going to live that long. I want to help.”
He pulled my head down and kissed me.
I heard a groan behind me and turned to see Robyn sitting up, her hair in a tangle around her face.
“What are you doing?”
I rolled my eyes and pushed Dante back. Going to the bed I hugged her. “Robyn, this is Dante. Dante, my sister Robyn.”
Dante got up and came to the bed. “Hello, Robyn. I’m glad to meet you.”
“Why were you kissing him?” Robyn demanded. “I don’t like him.”
I laughed and sat down on the blue comforter. “Robyn, don’t be so rude. Dante is letting us stay here.”
“Do I have to like him?” Robyn flopped back onto the bed and threw her hands up in the air.
“No,” I said calmly. “But you have to be polite.”
Macy’s baby blues opened and she smiled when she saw me. She crawled into my arms and pressed her head against my shoulder.
“And this is Macy.”
I cut Robyn off before she finished. “My sister.”
Robyn wrinkled her brow and then buried her face in a pillow. I rubbed her back.
“Well, I’ll let you ladies get dressed. See you at breakfast.” He leaned down and pressed a kiss to my head. “We’ll talk later.”
I nodded. When he had left the room I looked at my girls and met Robyn’s scowling face.
She simple shook her head and climbed out of the bed. Running to the window she clambered onto the window seat and stared outside. “Is this all Dante’s?”
I nodded. “Yep, it’s all his.”
Robyn stroked Buddy’s head. “Wow, I think I’m going to like it here.”
I laughed and stood up. “Come on, let’s see what Elise can whip together before breakfast for you two to wear.”
Robyn slid to the floor and ran to my side. “What’s wrong with my pants and shirt?”
“Around here girls wear skirts.”
Robyn groaned. I just shook my head and led her down the hall to the sewing room.