It’s hard to describe how it felt the moment I saw Brightcoast for the first time since I was a small child. My heart nearly burst out of my chest it was so full. The smell of the sea and the sound of the waves crashing onto the cliffs felt so unbearably right to me.
There’s sunshine most mornings and then intense thunderstorms as the heart gathers in the afternoon followed by calm tranquil evenings. My power is growing too, ever since Athena and I made our vow to Annalise, summoning light, moving water, even reading people comes as easily as breathing.
“It’s home soil,” Athena said softly one afternoon as we walked down the beach, “or I suppose, water for you.” I looked at her. “Martin taught me about it, when I was little and having Dreams. A Chosen’s power is connected to home, so,” she shrugged, “you’re home. I didn’t really feel mine until I got to Pantona.” She smiled. I looked at her.
“Pantona,” I said. She shrugged. “I didn’t realize it was home.”
“I didn’t expect it,” Athena admitted. “But Dovetail isn’t home, and certainly not Dorin.” I laughed. “Have you heard from him?”
“Yes,” I admitted, “you?” She nodded. “He seems, unsettled.”
“It’s Tristan,” Athena said, “Unsettled is an improvement.” I laughed, and the bells from the tower at the University began to peel. “We should head back.” She sighed.
“You should,” I pointed out, “who’s dressing her? I have other responsibilities.” Tradition dictated that the summer season officially opened with a masked ball at Brightcoast Manor. We’d all been here for a week or two, but formal court hadn’t been convened yet, after tonight it would be.
I was extremely nervous.
“Mercy,” Athena said. I nodded. “So you approve?”
“A few of the newer girls don’t understand her,” I shrugged. Athena laughed. “Mercy at least understands me, so that’s close enough.” She shook her head. “I put together the costume, she’s supposed to be Anessa.”
“A strong choice,” Athena said, “and you’re going to be?” I sighed.
“One of the Glora,” I said softly. The Hadmaids of Rana. Only in the past few months, my times studying with Raymond had I learned so much about The Goddess, and what could be, when we free her. The first generation of Sisters were taught by The Glora, how to serve and honor Rana and the sea itself properly. They were beings of water and light, faded now, because of Rana’s binding on the wheel. “You?”
“No one specific,” she shook her head, “one of Anessa’s commanders. Aaron is going as a shadow, which means, all black, which is the laziest costume I have ever heard of.” I laughed and hugged her. “Elodie is coming as Mariah, which should scandalize everyone with Annalise as Annessa.”
“And only make Mercy mildly apoplectic,” I grinned. She laughed. It is funny to think about how our two closest friends before everything changed were now a couple.
“I’ll see you later,” she said and headed towards the palace. I walked into the manor and up to my bed chamber and lay down, closing my eyes to get a little sleep before everything exploded in activity.
A brief nap before people arrived would be a blessing. But I don’t know how long I actually slept.
“Hey, beautiful,” his voice whispered. I smiled and kept my eyes shut. “Your guests are arriving Duchess.” He kissed me.
“Damian,” I mumbled, “you greet them.” He laughed as I opened my eyes and looked up at him, I rolled over and straddled him. “Or they can wait.” I whispered and kissed him deeply. He slid his hands to my waist and I giggled as we rolled over again, this time onto my back.
“Darling,” he whispered, “they’ll say I’m a bad influence.” I giggled.
“You are,” I said. “I was so very well behaved and compliant before I met you.” He laughed and kissed me again, standing up. “No,” I whined, “come back.”
“After your little party,” he said, “when we have time to do things properly, I won’t let you out of that bed.” I giggled and blushed a little. Winter in Dovetail and then our ride down here, were full of moments where things were “done properly,” and I’ve become a little addicted it. But I also still find myself dizzy for realizing I’m in love with Damian and that he loves me. “I should change. I suppose you have to dance with somone very grand first.”
“Aaron,” I said, “I think, or possibly Evan Allred. Maybe Harran.” He nodded and sat down. “But then just you.” He smiled. “Damian,” I whispered.
“Marina,” he said softly and took my hand.
“Do you love me?” I whispered.
“I only love you,” he said. I smiled. “I’ll leave you to get changed. I hope you recognize me.”
“I always will,” I said softly. He laughed and kissed my hand and slipped out. I groaned and fell back against the bed, before rousing myself to get up and get changed. A letter was sitting on my dressing table and I smiled softly glancing at it again,
My Dear Marina,
We arrived in Dorin today, and if you can believe it my grandfather might be more of a tyrant here than Brayton was.
I smiled and missed him. IT felt strange that I would walk down into that ballroom and he wouldn’t be there, hovering in a corner, beaming at Annalise, smirking knowingly at me. Tristan’s absence was palpable. I quickly changed into my simple ice blue dress, my hair already in a row of braids. I placed a round crown of pink jewels that looks like coral on my head and then a golden mask. I took a deep breath and walked out of the room, ready for anything.