Aurora’s World: Ialaera: Mirica: A Thief in the House

This entry is part 8 of 14 in the Aurora's World collection
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Mirica didn’t know what it was that caught her attention, but it was probably nothing more than the tiniest noise. Like her brother she heard things that no one else did and there had been a couple of times when that ability had saved both their lives. That time… She made her way down the stairs, slowly, with the knife she always carried, just in case. When she thought about it later she realised she should have stayed in her room, which would have been much easier to defend, but she couldn’t go back then and change what she’d done. All she could do was deal with the problems her decision had caused her.

The first thing Mirica saw was the butler on the floor. She had a chance then to turn, run back upstairs and barricade herself in her room, but she allowed her worry to get the better of her. The butler was always the first person to get hurt. They’d lost two already and she didn’t want to lose a third, especially as she liked him. When she knelt down next to him she checked his pulse with her free hand, hoping that she would find one, and couldn’t stop herself from breathing a sigh of relief when she did.

“I didn’t hurt him,” a male voice said from behind her, making her jump.

“What did you do?” Mirica asked, in an attempt to keep him talking so she could work out where he was.

“I put him to sleep.” She could hear the smile in his voice. “It’s a new power, so I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it work, but I did.”

It was those words that caused the first tremor of fear. The only people who could gain new powers were the thieves and having a thief in her house was the last thing she wanted. Add to that the fact Mirica was alone apart from the sleeping butler and the conclusion she came to was one she would have liked to have avoided. That left her one option.

Waiting until he touched her was one of the hardest things Mirica had ever had to do. There had been other thieves, but she’d never had to deal with them alone, and she knew she’d only have one chance. Her powers weren’t useful in a battle most of the time, but she had some idea of what he was likely to do, which was more than she’d hoped for. Finally, after what felt like hours, he put his hand on her shoulder and that would have easily been enough for him to take her powers. A part of her did wonder if her life would be a lot simpler if she didn’t have any powers, but almost everyone ended up dead when they had their power taken from them and being dead wasn’t on her list of things to do.

Unfortunately the knife missed him. He looked at Mirica and she could see him change his opinion of her, but that change made him grin at her. The words he was going to say next were ones she wished she could have stopped him from saying, because she knew what they meant.

“You’re a feisty one.” He raised an eyebrow. “How good are you with that knife?”

Mirica knew she wasn’t good enough to stop him, but that didn’t mean she was going to back down and let him have her powers. “You’ll have to wait and see.” All she could do was keep him busy and hope that her brother turned up soon. “What’s your weapon of choice?”

“Well…” He looked at Mirica, his eyes calculating. “I’ll give you a chance,” he said, nodding as though he was happy with the decision he’d made, and all she could do was breathe a sigh of relief. “Normally I’d use my powers, because it makes things easier for me, but you…” The calculation turned into something she really didn’t like. “You’ve interested me. Very few people challenge me when I come to take their powers and it’s nice to deal with someone different. Someone who has some backbone.”

Mirica didn’t want him to be interested in her, but she did her best not to show how she was feeling to the man who could change his mind at any moment.

“What are you going to use then?”

The dagger he took out of a sheath on his… back, maybe, Mirica wasn’t certain… looked almost identical to hers, but she could tell from the flourish that he was probably going to be better with his than she was with his. She kept hoping that her brother would turn up soon, before she ended up dead on the floor after the thief took her powers, as she got ready to fight the thief.

“No powers on your part either, please. I want this to be a fair fight.”

Biting her lip Mirica looked at him. “I’ll do my best,” she said, startled into honesty.

He stared at her, surprise replacing everything else. “You’re still not in control?”

“Some days it’s harder than others.”

“I came here looking for a man, who is supposed to have powers that I don’t, but you… you’re a surprise. No one ever mentioned a… what are you to him? A lover? A sister?” He shrugged. “To be honest it doesn’t matter who you are exactly. What does matter is what powers you have and how best I can make use of you.”

A shiver went down Mirica’s spine. “Are we going to fight or are you just going to keep talking?”

“My decision would be to keep talking, but I doubt you’d appreciate it from the look you’re giving me.” Holding his knife ready he took a couple of steps towards Mirica and she took the same back, trying to keep away from him. “We could make a deal.”

Shaking her head Mirica tried her best to keep her emotions off her face. “No.”

“If you come with me I’ll leave your…” He stared at her. “I’m going with brother, I think. Come with me and I’ll let him live.”

For a moment Mirica did think about it, but she knew that nothing was that simple. “Even if I did go with you of my own free will he’d follow me and then you’d have no choice.”

“He wouldn’t be able to find us.”

“At some point he would, no matter how many years in the future it is, because he’s not the sort of person who would ever give up on someone he cared about.”

“There’s every chance that in the future you might come to agree with my way of doing things.”

Mirica shook her head. “I will never come to agree with your way of doing things.”

“Don’t be so sure.” He smiled at her and she couldn’t help thinking she’d made a huge mistake by talking to him, but until her brother turned up she knew she had no chance of beating the thief. “Even if you don’t want to be a thief it’s possible for you to collect powers by gathering them from people who died during the blooming process.”

Feeling nauseous, Mirica shook her head again. “How is that any better than killing someone to take their powers?” When he went to answer she knew whatever he was planning on saying wasn’t something she’d want to hear. “Don’t bother. I’m sure you have your reasons for doing what you do, but it’s not what I want to be doing with my life.” She tightened her grip on her knife. “Are you going to try to kill me to steal my power or what?”

Raising an eyebrow he stared at Mirica. “You’re not going to like the answer.” He shrugged. “If you’d reacted the way I expected you to we wouldn’t be in this position, but you chose to challenge me and now… I want you.”

The laugh that escaped Mirica was unexpected. “At least you’re honest.” She glanced over her shoulder, hoping that she wasn’t going to have to keep the thief distracted for much longer, which gave him a chance to step closer. “Who were you expecting to be here?”

“A lone male, with only his butler for company.” He ran his eyes over Mirica. “I don’t know how they missed you, because in this kingdom females with power are very rare, and that makes your powers very special. They can be sold for a lot of money if the powers aren’t something they want personally, but the thieves who keep the powers will find that they’re very strong.” He bit his lip. “If anyone else finds out that you exist you won’t survive, but I can keep you alive if you come with me now.”

“It’s not going to happen.”

“Killing you would be easier.” Mirica almost breathed a sigh of relief. “I just don’t want to now.”

“I still want to kill you.”

“That’s not a surprise.”

All Mirica could do as he moved at a speed she hadn’t expected was try to keep him in front of her. She knew if he got behind her she wouldn’t have a choice what happened next. He would take her to wherever it was he’d come from, probably where there were more thieves, and that was somewhere she knew she didn’t want to go. For a few seconds she managed to keep him in sight, but soon he disappeared. Biting hard on her bottom lip she did her best to find him, still hoping that her brother would turn up, and then she felt an arm wrap tightly around her shoulders. Using her knife she slashed his arm, but that didn’t seem to do anything as he pulled her backwards.

“You’ll be better off with me,” he said, whispering into Mirica’s ear, “because there’s only so long your brother can keep you hidden. I know you don’t want this and I know you’re going to hate me for a long time, but you’re an asset I can’t leave behind.” With his free hand he squeezed her wrist in such a way that she dropped the knife. “Just try to play along, okay, so I can keep you safe.”

Mirica wasn’t sure how they managed to get from the house to what appeared to be the reception of a hotel, but obviously he’d used some form of magic that she knew nothing about. That wasn’t a surprise. Even though she’d wanted to learn her brother had said it would be better for her not to and, after what had happened, she couldn’t tell if he’d been right or wrong. If she’d learnt how to use them she would have been able to fight off the thief, but maybe it was not learning about them that had helped him to keep her safe from the thieves ever since she bloomed.

“Play along with what?” she asked, aiming for her voice to be as neutral as possible.

“This is the thieves’ hideout.” He released her and she turned to look at him. “I first came here with my older brother. Almost everyone who comes here is guided here by someone, but there have been a few who found their way here because it’s the only place they could be safe. Due to the way the magic that created this place works you won’t be able to leave unless you have a pass, which is something only I can give you as I’m the one who brought you here, and I doubt very much that you’ll be able to find it again from down there without someone’s help.”

“So I’m your prisoner?” Mirica sighed, wishing she had her knife, as she glanced around. “Why did you bring me here?”

“I live here.” He bit his lip. “Unlike my brother I was sensible enough to keep my head down, earn enough to rent a room, and survive this place. He died because he couldn’t do that. He picked a fight with the wrong person and lost, which could easily have led to me being in the same position, but thankfully the woman he took on realised I wasn’t like him, so she gave me a chance. Now you have a chance to become the person you should be, instead of being protected by your ignorance.”

“My brother will come looking for me.”

“Of course he will. Siblings always do, but by the time he finds you you’re going to be a different person to the one he knew.”

Shaking her head Mirica let him take hold of her wrist and guide her away from the reception. “You can’t know that.”

“Rica…”

“How do you know my name and why have you shortened it?”

“I know your name because I touched you and I’ve shortened it in case someone else knows about your brother. From what I heard I doubt they’ll have any idea that you even exist, but we need to be careful. You’re now my younger sister, Rica, and I’ve brought you here because there’s no one else around to teach you how to use your abilities.”

“I don’t like this,” Mirica said, even though she was certain he already knew that. “Send me home.”

He shook his head. “Now that you’ve been behind the wards I can’t. If I return you to where you came from there will be others coming after you and I am the only one who can keep you safe, at least until you learn how to protect yourself. Rica, you could be much more than you are now – your brother obviously had no idea how to teach you, but I do.”

Breathing deeply, Mirica looked around, trying to work out what her next step was going to be. “If you’re my brother I need to know your name.”

“For now you can call me Nico. That’s the name everyone here knows, but I don’t trust you enough to give you my true name. One thing you need to learn very quickly is that names have power and the other thieves here…” Nico licked his bottom lip. “Be wary of them. Some I would say you can trust, to a certain extent, but it’s up to you to work out who they are. I am not going to mollycoddle you.”

“You think I expected you to.” Once again Mirica looked around, feeling more nervous with every moment that passed, because she knew, she had always known, that she was in danger. While they stood there anyone might see her and decide they wanted her too, the same way Nico had. “I take it you have a room here.”

“Don’t be afraid. I will keep you safe.” Nico smiled. “No one here will touch you if you tell them that you’re my sister, because we have rules here, even though we aren’t nice people.” He shrugged. “Well, most of us aren’t. It’s what the world has made us and I am not going to make excuses for the choices that I’ve made in order to ensure my survival. Doing what you have to is something you will learn with time, Rica, but I want a promise from you.”

Mirica stared at Nico, wishing it was easier to understand him. “What promise?”

“There is one line you shouldn’t cross. Never steal magic from someone, because it is something that will change you, and I brought you here to teach you how to use the magic you already have. It’s strong and it’s more than good enough for your continued survival.”

“Nico, are you seriously telling me not to cross a line that you obviously have?”

“Yes, Rica, I am, and I realise that it makes me a hypocrite, but I will protect you from becoming like me, because that is not what I want for you. Here you will be safe and you will be able to learn how to use the magic you were born with. That is all you need.”

“That line is one I never planned on crossing, no matter what.” Mirica had expected him to be the one to be urging her to, not making her promise not to. “It’s a promise I can make to you, Nico.”

The two of them stared at each other. Mirica wished she knew what was going through Nico’s head and she had a horrible feeling that he might know more of what she was thinking that she wanted him to. If he could learn her name from touching her what else could he pick up. Finally, she sighed and shook her head, unable to believe the position she had found herself in. She should have gone for him when she had the chance, but instead she’d done her best to stall him until her brother had arrived, because she didn’t believe that she was capable of fighting him herself. At least if she had of tried, rather than talking to him, she wouldn’t have found herself in the Thieves’ Hideout, of all places, because he’d come to the conclusion that she was interesting.

Nico smiled. “Now that I have you here I don’t know what to do. I don’t have a big enough room for us to share comfortably and I don’t think that’s something you’d even think of as an option, although it isn’t unusual for thieves of opposite genders to share space. Renting one large room is much cheaper than renting two.” He shook his head. “You’re lucky, really, that I can afford to rent two rooms, and that the room I can rent for you is going to be one of the better ones, because I think it’s important that you’re safe when you’re asleep. The last thing I need is for someone to try to steal your magic at a time when I can’t protect you, so I’m going to have to rely on the magic of the hideout.”

“How do you earn any income up here?” Mirica asked, before realised she probably didn’t want to know what the answer was.

“We steal magic, pass it on to the auctioneers, and get paid when it’s sold, because some days the same magic will go for twice what it did the day before. It all depends on who’s at the auction, how many people are bidding on one item, and what sort of magic it is, as some are much rarer than others, some people are much stronger that others, and often magic taken from a female mage will go for more than that from a male mage.”

“My magic is?”

“You don’t want an answer to that question.”

“If I didn’t want an answer I wouldn’t have asked.”

“People ask questions that don’t actually want an answer for all the time. They’re unfortunate enough to find themselves with someone who answers them anyway and makes things much harder than they need to be. I’m not that sort of person, Rica, so I am not going to tell you how well your magic would see at auction.” Nico sighed. “Let’s just say you’re lucky that I found you before someone else did, because they wouldn’t have cared that you were interesting enough to keep, they’d have just taken your magic and made themselves a nice little wad of cash.”

“Why is it that I really don’t feel lucky?” Mirica asked, not really expecting an answer.

“You don’t understand the position that you might have been in if it had been someone else who’d found you.” Nico studied her, their eyes meeting for a moment. “That’s something you couldn’t understand unless you were in the position and I’m glad you weren’t, because it means that I get to do something I’ve never done before – teach someone how to use their abilities.”

“My brother always told me that my abilities were dangerous and that I was better off not learning how to use them, which was why he was going to teach me how to protect myself with weapons instead, but…” Mirica bit her lip. “Maybe he thought he’d always be there to help me, but he wasn’t, and he did me a disservice by not teaching me how to use my abilities and a weapon. If he had I probably wouldn’t be in this position.”

Nico smiled. “You’re right about that, Rica, and now we’re going to make certain that it can never happen again, although I’m not certain I could teach you how to use a weapon. My skills lie with the magic that I manifested when I was eighteen and stole from that day forwards.” He bit his lip. “Do you want to know a secret?”

Fortunately Mirica had learnt how to stop herself from saying the first thing that came to mind. “That really does depend what the secret is, Nico.” She managed to summon a smile for him because she knew she was going to have to make the best of what had happened. “If it’s something about your sex life I don’t.”

He laughed. “It’s not.” The laughter faded away as Nico looked at her and Mirica once again wished she knew what he was thinking. “When I was nineteen my younger brother bloomed. None of us expected it to happen, not to him, but then that isn’t exactly unusual.” She remembered the day she had bloomed and the fear in her parents eyes when they realised what it meant for her, but fortunately that was the day her brother returned… or maybe it was unfortunately, considering what had happened. “He managed to survive the process, even though I didn’t think he would. I told him I’d be back to help him, because I had to get my room ready for him, and not to leave our parents house, no matter what. They weren’t happy about what had happened, but I didn’t think they’d throw him out. When I went back for him that’s exactly what they’d done, less than twenty-four hours after he’d bloomed, and I was glad then that I’d thought ahead – I’d given him the address of a house I knew was safe for him to wait, so I hoped that was where he’d gone, instead of doing something stupid.”

“He’d done something stupid,” Mirica said, seeing the pain in Nico’s eyes.

“I wish he’d had time to do something stupid.” Nico blinked, as though he was trying to stop himself from crying. “He’d managed to walk halfway up the street before a thief got hold of him, because, as I told my parents, my brother had bloomed with a rare power and he wasn’t going to be safe if he left the house. The husk that was left behind was one that I’ve left behind myself, more times than I can remember, but it’s different when it’s family. Feeling more angry than I’d ever felt before I picked him up and took him home, to show my parents what their selfishness had done to him, and that was when they realised that I’d been telling them the truth.

“My father told me, the shock in his eyes still there, that he thought I’d been lying to them when I told them that my brother had a rare ability. They, for some reason, didn’t accept that I knew much more about magic than they did, considering what I am, what I’ve done, and why I’ve done it.” Nico sighed. “Now I refuse to go back home, unless I know for certain that one of my siblings might bloom, because I can’t look at them. There was this huge part of me that wanted to hurt them the way they’d hurt me, but I didn’t. I told myself it wasn’t worth it, not when they have three other children who need them.”

“Why are you a thief, Nico?” Mirica asked, suddenly realising that she’d never, like most people probably hadn’t, thought about why thieves did what they did. It was too easy to assume they were just in it for the money.

“Being a magic user doesn’t give you a lot of options.” Nico studied Mirica. “I was wandering the streets for a year before I was found by someone who knew about the Hideout, although they didn’t live here any more, and I knew there was a chance that I might end up having my magic stolen. Now that I am a thief I know what we actually look for and I doubt that anyone would have thought my abilities were tempting, especially as I’m not particularly strong. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point of view, I am a good thief. I make a lot of money and most of that goes towards paying for rooms for people who need them.

“You see, Rica, the Hideout isn’t just the home of the thieves, even though it did start out that way. No, it’s a sanctuary for magic users, and they need people like us, people who are willing to do something immoral, to make sure they have that. They don’t know it’s me who pays for their living accommodation, but I know they appreciate having it, because if they didn’t they’d just be another target wandering the streets with no other option.” He shrugged. “I might not be a nice person, but I am doing a good deed.”

All Mirica could do, as she tried to work out how to reply to what Nico had said, was stare at him. By stealing magic to sell at auction he was earning enough to help at least a few of those who needed sanctuary – and if he’d have been doing it any other way she would have agreed that she was doing a good thing.

“Who do you take magic from?” she asked, eventually, because she did want to learn more about him, even though there was a voice inside her screaming that she was being an idiot for letting herself believe the story he was weaving for her. He just wanted her to feel sorry for him. “Is it from anyone who has magic?”

“Do you want me to say that I only take it from those who will die anyway? When you know for a fact that I was in your house, looking for your brother, because I wanted to steal his magic.” Nico shook his head. “Like I said, I’m not a nice person. I don’t pretend to be. I just like to even the scales a little.”

“I don’t actually know why you were in my house – I assumed you were there to steal my brother’s magic and you let me keep thinking that, Nico, but that doesn’t mean that really was why you were there.”

Nico smiled. “Your brother, Rica, is a bastard. The time would have come when he decided that you were too much hassle to look after and he would have done the same thing he’s done to so many other magic users – taken your magic. It wouldn’t matter to you that you were his sister, in the same way it never mattered to him that he had killed your parents when he took their abilities. He sold them on, in the end, the same way he would have sold yours, but he never wanted you to know what he was doing or what he’d done.” He shrugged. “Not all thieves live in the Hideout and not all of the thieves in the Hideout are the sort of people you think we are.”

Somehow, even though she didn’t know quite how she managed it, Mirica managed to keep the disbelief she felt to herself, as she went back through her memories, trying to work out if what Nico had said was true. Her brother had looked after her since their parents had died. One day she walked in to their bedroom to find both their husks lying on the bed and she didn’t know how it had happened. Neither, apparently, did her brother, who’d found her there three hours later, sitting with them so they didn’t have to be alone any more. After that it had just been the two of them and the occasional member of staff to look after them, who, in the end, would become the target of one of the thieves. She shook her head. Had she really been that stupid?

“You weren’t stupid, Rica.” Nico reached out and squeezed her shoulder in what she thought was meant to be a reassuring way, but it took all her willpower not to shiver. “Trusting your brother was the only thing you could do, especially considering the circumstances, and you never thought that you should suspect him of hurting people that you thought you both loved. Unfortunately the only think he loved about them was the magic they had, that he stole, and that he still has now.” He bit his lip. “I never thought he would keep them. I thought he would sell them, take the money and make a run for it, but instead he stayed… did your brother ever tell you anything about your other family?”

Mirica shook her head, as she tried to work out why that mattered, and wished that Nico couldn’t read her thoughts. “I know that our mother had a younger brother who died during the blooming process. Our father never talked about his family, although I never worked out why.”

“I think they might have suspected something about your brother. They weren’t the first people he’d killed.” Nico shrugged. “Your father never mentioned his family because they were still living and he knew they would be in danger.”

“How do you know this, Nico?”

“There was a reason I started stealing magic, Rica, and that reason was your brother. I knew he was my cousin, but he never knew that he was my family… before your parents died it was something I planned on doing and then I realised that if I did my siblings would be in danger.”

“My brother hadn’t long been eighteen when my parents died.”

Nico nodded. “I know. We started early. I bloomed six months before your brother did and I went to find him when that happened. As far as I was concerned helping him through the blooming process was the most important thing, because I wanted him to get through it safely and he said it was thanks to me that he survived.”

“You’re my cousin?”

“Apparently so, but I never knew that you existed. I don’t know how I didn’t know, but I didn’t, and because of that I left you in a situation that might have ended with your death.”

“Nico…”

“For now we continue to pretend that you’re my sister. If anyone finds out that you’re his sister… I don’t want to think about what they might do to you, but it wouldn’t be nice. All I can do is hope that you aren’t like him, because if you are…” Nico ran a hand through his hair. “Well, I know you aren’t lying to me about your abilities, but there is a chance that you might be just like him.” He shook his head. “I should have known what he would be like if he bloomed. I just wanted to believe that I could change him and I ended up being the one who was changed.”

Mirica stared at Nico. Her cousin. A cousin she didn’t know she had, couldn’t quite believe she did have, and yet she didn’t think he was lying to her about who he was. She half wished she did. That way, maybe, it would be possible to disbelieve everything else he’d told her, because she didn’t want to think of her brother as a murderer. Especially not as he might have killed their parents. Were there really no signs that she’d missed? Could he have been that good at lying about who he really was? An unwanted tear trickled down her cheek, one that she scrubbed away quickly in the hope that Nico wouldn’t see it, but she could tell from the pity in his eyes that he had.

“I’m sorry.” Finding herself wrapped in his arms was a surprise and she couldn’t work out how to extricate herself without making it obvious that’s what she was trying to to. “Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything.”

“Why?”

“Finding out like that… honestly, Rica, I’m not thinking straight. The last thing I thought I’d find when I let myself into your brother’s house was you. He never mentioned a sister, but then that might have been because he was worried that I might take your powers.” Nico released her. “A couple of years ago I might have done, you know, so he wasn’t wrong to hide you from me. I might even have done the same to my own family, because of the addiction, one that I only rid myself off when I knew myself how much it hurt to lose someone like that.” He shook his head. “I wish I could turn back time, to stop myself from becoming that monster, but that impossible, so all I can do now is try my best to make amends in the few ways that I can.”

“How does killing my brother help with that?”

“To be totally honest with you the only reason I want to kill him is to make certain that he can’t hurt anyone else. We have three young magic users here who only managed to get away from your brother because Stasia found them at the right time. If she hadn’t they’d be dead. As it is she found them another sanctuary to use until they were strong enough to be able to deal with the thieves in the Hideout.”

“Are there other places like this?”

Nico shook his head. “The Hideout is a one off, but she’s been working on making something similar for years now. Unless she blooms she won’t have the skills to be able to, although she does know how to get us to help her out if she needs us to, and I think, once you’ve settled in, I’ll introduce you to her. Having a friend might help.” He smiled. “What she has managed to do is create enough wards that she can set them up in an abandoned house for a week, or sometimes ten days, and give the newly bloomed magic users some time to accept what’s happened to themselves in safety. There are other magic users who do the same thing, but they don’t have the same abilities as Stasia, so for them it’s a waiting game, while she can go to whoever needs her.”

Their eyes met, and Mirica realised she had a choice to make. It would be easy enough for her to leave the hideout, return to her brother, and go back to living life the way they had been before. She didn’t think Nico would stop her if she did make a move to leave. Choosing to stay, she knew, would change her life, but that, if he wasn’t lying to her, wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. “I don’t know anything about what it means to have abilities like mine.”

“I can teach you, if you want me to.” He ran his tongue over his lips. “I can understand if you don’t, because I didn’t go about this the right way, but you have a chance to be the person you should be, Rica. You can leave. I’m not going to stop you if you make the decision. There’s no reason for me to now.”

“Why should I stay?”

“For you.” He looked very serious. “This isn’t about me, or your brother. This is about what’s best for you, and I think, for the first time, you need to put yourself first. Leaving means you’re putting him first and he doesn’t deserve that.”

“He’s my brother.”

“Yes, he is, and I wish I could tell you he was a good person, but he isn’t. He’s selfish. He cares more about himself than he does about you. No matter what he’s told you it’s obvious to me you don’t matter, because if you did he would have made certain you learnt how to use the powers you have. As he hasn’t… did he give you a reason?”

“Apparently it was for my own protection.” Mirica sighed. “I believed him. I truly thought he was putting me first, but from what you’ve said…” She shook her head. “I don’t know if you’re telling me the truth, Nico. You could be lying to me. He could have been lying to me my whole life. Staying here does seem to be the best choice I could make, but I’m not willing to share a room with you. Either find me someone else to share with, or get me a room of my own.”

He surprised her by smiling at her. “Okay.” He took a couple of steps deeper into the hideout. “I’m willing to do what it takes to keep you here, and if that’s something as simpler as making sure you’re safe then I’m more than willing to do that.” Nico held a hand out to her. “How about I start off by showing you around, introduce you to a few people I know, and then we can go from there?”

For a few seconds she stared at his hand, knowing it would be far too easy for him to take her powers, but he hadn’t so far. Still not certain she was making the right choice she took his hand, and he started walking again. “I know it’s going to take us time to get to know each other.” He squeezed her hand. “I know it’s going to take time for you to trust me. I’m glad you had the courage to take the first step.”

<<< Aurora’s World: Atecia: Aurora: Meetings, and Reunions***Aurora’s World: Ialaera: Jillian: Hunted >>>
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