“You’re allowed to be worried about her,” Prior said to me that night. I looked at him.
“She says she’s alright,” I whispered, “I can’t just say that she’s not. She knows her own mind.” He looked at me.
“You can still worry,” he said. “You don’t have to tell Marina that you’re worried about her.” I smiled and lay down with him.
“You’re very bad at this,” I said. He laughed.
“How so?” He whispered.
“You’re supposed to talk about how Marina is very strong and can stand on her own and doesn’t need me,” I explained.
“Ah,” he kissed me. “Noted.” I laughed. “But you know, I worry about you, nearly constantly, and I know there’s very little that you can’t handle.”
“You worry about me,” I said rolling over and facing him. He smiled.
“Oh constantly,” he whispered and kissed me. “If I valued my sanity I’d have found a woman with far less to worry about.” I whacked him in the chest. “I worry when I’m not with you, and when I am, I worry more, because I see what you carry.”
He saw so much. How had I found him?
“Prior,” I whispered.
“Annalise,” he whispered back.
“I think I’m falling in love with you,” I managed softly. He smiled and kissed me again.
“Took you long enough.” He murmured. I laughed and snuggled into his arms.
“Don’t be smug,” I whispered. “It doesn’t suit you.” I fell asleep wrapped up in him.
I Dreamed that I was standing on a pebbly beach, covered in snow and the sea was raging. Angry, heavy waves, crashing against icebergs and cliff shores around me.
“Rana,” I screamed out, “please say something!”
“What is left to say?” I turned my head and startled back seeing Brayton. He looked older, obviously, so it wasn’t a memory, this was real. He’d grown a beard and it had flecks of grey. “You’ve grown up, Cousin.”
“Where are you?” I asked. He cocked his head to the side.
“I know Caleb taught you better than that,” he tsked. “Coming right at me head on. Honestly, Lisette.”
“Don’t call me that,” I snapped. He smirked.
“Sensitive,” he said, “you’ve grown so beyond that?” I swallowed. “I’ve missed these talks of ours.”
“I somehow doubt it,” I mumbled. “Did she punish you?” He looked down.
“Yes,” he said.
“Was it painful?” I stared at him. He nodded. “Good.”
“Vindictive,” he said softly, “that’s new.” I sighed and looked at him. “I am not at fault for Eric of Phania leaving you. You have other enemies.”
“I am aware of that,” I whispered. “But you once told me that I didn’t know what it felt like when love went sour.” He looked at me. “I know that now.”
“You have a new love,” he teased, “or so I hear.” I glared at him.
“Don’t touch him,” I hissed.
“I’m not interested in Allred’s brats,” Brayton laughed. “Wyatt was always useless, I can’t imagine those boys are good for much either.” I frowned. “I hadn’t thought of using them for stud of course.”
“That’s disgusting,” I said. He shrugged.
“I’m not judging,” he said. “But it’s an interesting development.” I rolled my eyes and then woke up to Prior shushing me and stroking my hair while I thrashed and screamed.
“Annalise,” Prior whispered, “it’s alright love, it’s alright.” I realized he’d never seen me in a full Dream before and I started crying, clinging to him. “I’m here, sweetheart, it’s alright. Can you tell me what you saw?”
“No,” I said, “not yet, please just hold me,” he nodded and held me closer. I was shaking, my heart racing. I realized this was the first time I’d had this kind of Dream reaction with Prior in my bed. He was taking it well.
“I’m here, love,” he whispered and kissed my hair. “I’m here.” I looked up at him.
“I’m scared,” I mumbled.
“I’ll keep you safe,” he whispered. “Always.” Something deep in me, calmed. I believed him, all of me did.