“You have to get out of here,” she whispered. “Go back.”

“Not without you,” I told her.

“We both can’t stay here,” she pleaded. “You must go.”

“Roman is growing weaker,” I said. He wouldn’t be able to get you back, is what I was too afraid to say.

“So, please go!” she cried.

But I wouldn’t. I’d gladly die there with her. Always with her.

I tried to put my hand on her face. “Will you forgive me?”

She was startled. “What?”

“For all the things I’ve done to you. Will you forgive me?” It was all I needed to find peace in myself. To have the mercy in her.

“Of course,” she whispered.

I smiled as a breeze whirled around us. My soul felt like it had wings.

I kissed her, as much as I could.

Our hearts are magnets, I heard her voice come into my head, a voice she never spoke. I heard her thoughts, pure and powerful.

And with that, I felt everything. Her soft lips under mine, her tongue, her warmth. Everything that was Perry. I grabbed onto her as hard as I could, vowing to never ever let go and she returned the favor, wrapping her arms around my waist. Suddenly, we were flying back through the air, like we were pulled by a chord. But we were together, wherever we were going.

Then it stopped. The darkness melted into light. I felt Perry fall from my arms and Roman’s hand fall from my head. I was back in my body, back in the world.

And Perry was right beside me, kneeling on the carpet, alive but well, Roman connecting the two of us.

“Your soul is yours,” Roman said to both of us, his voice dropping with exhaustion.

We both slumped to the floor in peace.

***

There’s nothing like going to another dimension to make you tired as fuck. When I woke up from the aftermath a few hours later, I felt like every bone in my body had been broken and my head had been presented with the world’s largest hangover. It was worse than the time I drank a bottle of Baja Rosa and a liter of wine (hey, it was college).

Perry was still under, snoring away, which was a good sign. Her little nose was cute when she did that. It was a reminder that she was herself again. Roman said she’d be sleeping for a day but when she came to, most of her injuries from the ceremony would be healed. He said because they’d happened in another world, at least from a being from another world, that she’d be okay. She’d certainly seen better days but at least she was whole again.

As for me, well my head still hurt a bit from the car accident and my favorite jacket was singed to shit, but I was okay. I mean, yeah there was the whole feeling like shit thing, but I’d get over that. I felt amazing deep inside, knowing I’d saved her or at least helped. I didn’t feel like I’d made anything even between us and I didn’t know if she’d even want to talk to me despite everything I did, but I didn’t care. She could spit on my face and kick me in the balls and I would still love it because she was alive and well. A world without Perry Palomino is just too fucking boring. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

Ada was obviously over the moon but the poor kid was so shell-shocked that it was taking her a while to come around. I think she was so afraid of the entity coming back, even though she had no reason to be. It was hard to explain, but I just knew it was gone and it wouldn’t return. At least not for her.

And I knew Roman felt the same way. He’d been sleeping on and off, trying to work his way through the terrible strain he’d been under. But it had to be somewhat cathartic to know that he’d finally won. Sure, I went in there in the end like the fucking action hero I always wanted to be, but I couldn’t have saved her without Roman there. He took a chance on me, on Perry, and I would be forever in his debt for it.

That night, we put Perry on a small bed in Roman’s study. Though there was no room for me to lie with her, I did what I could. I had her back, even in her unconscious state, and we weren’t going to be apart for a minute, not if I could help it. If that made me overprotective, so be it. I was going to protect this woman—my woman—until the day I died.

I stayed up with her as long as I could keep my eyes open. It was morning when she stirred enough that I knew she was well. She muttered, “Dex,” once in her sleep, then smiled to herself and drifted off again. I felt like I was on top of the fucking world.

Before I settled down into the pillows Roman had thrown along the side of the bed, my makeshift mattress, I took Perry’s hand in mine and held it up to my lips, peering over her. She looked like an angel lying there as dawn broke somewhere on the horizon, bathing the room in an ethereal glow.

“You’re my light in all this madness, Perry,” I whispered, knowing she couldn’t hear me. “It all fades away when I’m with you. Everything fades until it’s just you and it’s just me. I’m Dex and you’re Perry and I love you. I won’t stop loving you, even when you won’t love me. I love you more than I can ever really tell you. I love you until the end.”

I felt myself choking on my tears a bit while I kissed her hand. I kissed her soft forehead. Then I peeled back the blanket and gently touched her middle, watching her serene face as sleep still held her so close.

I smiled though she couldn’t see it and placed my lips on her stomach. “I would have loved the baby too, more than you’ll ever know.”

Then I pulled away, and still holding her hand tightly, lay down on the ground beside her. I held her, even as the darkness took me away.

The End

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