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This entry is part 20 of 58 in the Aurora's World collection

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This entry is part 20 of 58 in the Aurora's World collection

“He blames you,” Mackenzie said. “All of the changes that have happened, he believes, are entirely your fault.”

Stasia nodded. “Which is another reason I don’t want to be around him when I bloom.” She reached out and took hold of Mackenzie’s hand. “Thank you for helping me. I promise I’ll pay my way.”

“You don’t have to do that. As I won’t need to move into a double room with Iliana I’m not so worried about my income and I do I have little bit saved.”

“Money that you have plans for, Mack, so I won’t let you use it.”

“How do you know about that?”

“It’s the same thing I’d do if I was in your position. A woman alone in the Hideout…” Stasia studied her again. “How about you move in with us?”

“That’s…” Mackenzie trailed off, trying to find a way of saying no gently because she didn’t want to share a room, but maybe it would be safer than being alone. “Give me some time to think about it. It would be too easy to walk away from an opportunity that I might later regret not giving a chance.”

“While I’m here I’ll take you to meet Rica and Jill. I think you’ll like them and it will give you a chance to make an informed decision, rather than one based on the fact you’re very much a loner, so the thought of sharing a room with anyone, even Iliana, fills you with dread.”

“By that logic I should have said no to you.”

“Of course you should, but you don’t want anything to happen to me.” Stasia smiled. “I know how you see me. Being female and in the Hideout isn’t easy for any of us. When we first met I was a child, my father had no idea how to cope with me, and I brought you to the Hideout, so you felt like one of the ways you could pay your debt was to help me. Without you… honestly, having someone by my side on the days when I was feeling at my most vulnerable is something I can never repay you for.”

“Every time you did the same thing for me I thought of it as repayment.”

“Yes, but if it hadn’t been for you I wouldn’t have had anyone to guide me through puberty and it wasn’t until recently that I realised how much I really did need you. I still do, obviously, and your debt to me is long since paid in full, even though I never really believed that it existed. If there had been anyone else I would have asked them, rather than asking you once more for help, but you really are the only person I want to be around when I bloom, because I know, for certain, that you won’t take my magic.”

“How do you know that?”

“Once, while I was out looking for people who might need my help, I saw you with someone who looked very much like he was dying thanks to the blooming process. You held his hand and I thought for a moment you might take his magic. Instead you took enough to make his death much less painful before letting it go. I have no idea how you did it, but it makes me certain that you won’t do anything to me, except for help if something does go wrong, as that is always a possibility.”

Mirrored from K. A. Webb Writing.

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August 2014

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