Time stood still as I drove home. I was numb. I’ll never forget the beam of light carrying Lucien and me into the sky. But now… all I feel is a betrayal. After all that we’ve been through, Lucien was gone… or had he ever existed? Was it all a dream, or once again is my sanity in question? I drove the Mustang into the driveway. Squeezing my eyes shut, I held in the tears that welled there and rested my head against the steering wheel. I thought about the last time, I had felt this bad…last April. I recovered then, but this time I wasn’t so sure. Lucien—the person who sustained me through the grief—was now the one causing my sorrow.
Cassiel didn’t say a word when he opened the passenger’s side door. He climbed in and shut the door. I shut the engine off. We sat there a moment, neither of us saying a word. Cassiel reached over and took my hand. “How are your hands?” he said softly. I turned my face away, looking outside at the glimmering white night. It felt surreal… like I was dreaming. He let go of my hand.
“Samantha, I’m sorry this happened to you, you of all people…” his voice faltered. “You have to understand,” he said, clearing his throat, “why it had to be this way. Lucien didn’t know it was going to happen that night.” Cassiel looked out at the road. “It all happened so fast; it wasn’t until the last minute that any of us knew. The wormhole isn’t an exact science,” Cassiel said, trying to explain as his voice cracked.
“The wormhole?” I mocked.
“Yes, Sam, the wormhole. A window where time and space have no boundaries. It was a now or wait for the next opportune moment, whenever that would be.” I didn’t believe him. He seemed genuine, but I didn’t trust him.
“Samantha, you didn’t think your little romance was going to last a lifetime, did you?” He looked at me sideways with an icy edge to his voice, a tone I had forgotten he possessed.
I turned and looked him straight in the eye. “How dare you! You wanted this! How do you sit there pretending you’re my friend?” I shouted. My head throbbed from the sudden rush of blood pressure. My warm breath steamed up the windshield; it seemed strange that anything could be warm right now. It seemed unreal that anything could seem human.
“Samantha, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. I thought we were past this hostility. I would never hurt you,” he said in a calm voice. “Lucien had to go. He was the most rational choice. If he had stayed…who knows what may have developed with Banth and Dejaha? They’re not ones to mess with.”
I sat there for a few moments thinking. I peered out the window at the snow falling.
“You betrayed me, Cassiel. You are no better than Lucien. You should’ve warned me.” Catching my breath, I continued, “All of you—Jordan, Michael, everyone, except me—knew that Lucien was leaving. He made me believe we had a future. I did believe that, Cassiel.” My voice trailed off to a whisper.
“Samantha… you must have had some clue,” Cassiel said. I could hear his sneer, even if he kept his mouth still.
“A clue? …I hate you and I hate Lucien!”
“Don’t….Sam… really, what kind of future would you two have had anyways?…What would you do when you started to get old and Lucien still looked like the day he met you, just a little older?”
“I-I never thought about that.”
“Don’t you think Lucien thought of it?”
“So you’re telling me he left because I was going to get old?”
“That’s just a small part of why he left. He saw how complicated it made your life. The Alliance had to make things right. A government official was killed.” I remembered that night on Halloween when we were being tailgated. We were nearly killed. Lucien took the blame.
“But Lucien didn’t kill him. I was there.”
“It doesn’t matter…he was involved.”
I opened the car door and was about to climb out of the Mustang when Cassiel took hold of my arm. “Samantha, wait.”
With all the strength I could muster, I pulled away from his grip. I rushed toward the house, sliding on the ice-covered driveway. Damn snow! I thought it didn’t snow in New Mexico. I’ve been wrong about many things, haven’t I? I heard the slam of the Mustang’s door, and then the Jeep’s door opened. “Sam….” Out of the corner of my eyes, I could see Cassiel standing outside of the Jeep holding the door. I ignored him. I trotted to the front door, leaving Cassiel behind.
“Sam, don’t do this!”
I took my keys out of my purse and fidgeted with the lock. I tried to place the key into the tiny hole, but my hands were too shaky to steady them.
“Sam, wait,” Cassiel said, walking up behind me. “It doesn’t have to be this way.” I struggled to unlock the door once more. I started to panic. “We can figure something out. Maybe there’s a way to get him to come back…. We can work something out with Banth and Dejaha!” I halted a moment listening to him.
“You don’t get it!” I said without turning, “He chose to leave! He doesn’t want to come back, Cassiel.”