“And then I’m going to anoint you,” I said going over the ceremony for Raymond’s Mastero vows. He was the first in nearly twenty years to do it. “Rose oil and mud mixed from the soil of the valley.”
“You anoint me with mud?” Raymond said. I shrugged. “Cornan’s so weird.” I laughed. “Then I say the vow, ‘I am at the service of the gods and their knowledge in this world, blah blah blah,” I nodded. “And then I’m a Mastero.”
“And then you’re a Mastero,” I said and smiled at him. He sighed. “We’re all very proud of you. I’m sure Eric and Damian are too.” He smiled.
“Will your father come?” He asked. I smiled. Papa was already on his way.
“It was meant to be a surprise,” I stood up. He laughed. “Evan is worried.”
“About me?” He said. I nodded.
“He said you’ve been Dreaming,” I explained. “More violently than usual.”
“Oh,” he said softly, “that.” I sighed.
“Yes,” I matched his tone. “That.” He sighed.
“It’s nothing new, the wheel, the two of them screaming. Karina on a throne engulfed in flames,” he sighed. “I’m supposed to help her but I don’t know how.”
“We’ll both help her,” I assured him. He nodded. “I’m a little jealous,” I admitted, “before the other week with the shadow, I hadn’t Dreamed in months.” He squinted at me.
“You don’t miss it?” He was disbelieving. I shrugged. “Gods, Marina, I thought we all hated it.” I smiled. “Have you and Nika made up yet?”
“No,” I said softly, “I don’t think we will honestly.” I sat down again. “I keep thinking about Damian. How much I miss him, and how he wouldn’t have been angry at me,” I frowned.
“You’re deluding yourself if you think Lefty finding you half dressed with Tristan Dugarry wouldn’t make him the angriest person to ever live,” Raymond said. “I know it’s been four years, but have you completely forgotten what he’s like, especially when it comes to you?”
“He wouldn’t!” I argued. “I mean he did, not the half dressed part. And I wasn’t half dressed that night,” I looked at him. “He was very understanding.” I crossed my arms.
“You’re romanticizing because you miss him,” Raymond said, slowly, as if talking to a child. I glared at him. “If you walked into a room, and saw Elaine Addison draped over Lefty, him whispering to her, you wouldn’t care?” I glared at him.
“I once walked into Lisette’s bedroom and she was riding Tristan while naked,” I pointed out. “And all it did was make me laugh.”
“I’m not talking about Tristan,” he said. “I’m definitely not talking about Tristan and Annalise. I’m talking about the person you love and gave your whole self to, with the person who you worry they’ve given more to.” I looked down. “Nika gave up her whole world, to be with you. And she left you, and now you’re here talking about someone else.”
“Stop being so damn wise,” I grumbled, “it’s annoying.” He laughed. “You’re wrong.” He said.
“Maybe,” he said, “but you never gave in to her, the way she did to you, because you’ve just been waiting. Waiting to find the gods, or Brayton, or for Lefty to come back.” I looked him. “But Nika gave up her life for you, you should be sensitive to that.” I looked at him.
“Do you feel that way?” I asked. He shrugged.
“Sometimes?” He admitted. “I could have gone home, been with my family, with Lefty and Eric and I wouldn’t have Evan, or you or have become a mastero,” he shrugged. “But I’d be safer, in ways.” I rested my head on his shoulder.
“I’m so proud of you,” I said softly. He nodded. “Do you know the thing I hate Brayton from taking me from the most?” He looked at me. “I hate that he took you and Lisette from me. I hate him for it, more than anything else. We could have grown up together, we could have had inside jokes and played and known each other better than anyone.” She exhaled. “And he took that from us. He took it when he killed Lisette’s parents, when he imprisoned my father and refused to let him take us back to Phania. Over and over again.” He looked at me. “He took so much, but the thing I hate him for the most was taking that from the three of us, what we could have had, what we could have been.”
“I’ve never thought about that,” he admitted. “I wish we’d grown up together too.” I sighed. “Have you tried apologizing to her?”
“Yes,” I mumbled. “She won’t even talk to me.” I frowned. “Some of the people arguing against Calla today,” I shook my head, “I had no idea that they were on my side. How could I not know that?”
“I don’t know,” he said, “They probably aren’t, they probably just hate Aaron.” I laughed. “I’m going to be a Mastero, Marina. When I came here, I thought I had no future. And now I’m a Mastero. We can change anything, we’re not bound to fate.”
“I know,” I smiled and hugged him. “I’m proud of you, like I said, I don’t think I’ll ever say it enough.”