50- In Which It's Time to Awaken

Elena made sure to peek around the corner when she reached the top of the stairs. She could see him at the end of the hallway in the Wheel Room. "Hayden?" she whispered quietly, though loudly enough for him to hear her.

When he heard her voice, he looked back over his shoulder. "Elena?" he responded, inspecting her presence curiously.

"Hi, Hayden," she said. "I just wanted to come and talk to you."

"Are you sure it's safe?"

"I think so."

"I trust you."

She cleared her throat and began to walk down the hallway so they wouldn't have to shout at each other at opposite ends. "So, Cole woke up," she said, hoping that might start a conversation.

"Well that's good," said Hayden with a sigh of relief as he turned his attention back to the window in front of them. "How's his fever?"

Elena leaned up against the open door. "I think it's going down," she remarked. And then she snapped her fingers, adding, "And Lawson also knew that Cole lived at his house for four months."

"Oh really?" Hayden said with a bit of a laugh. "That's interesting, to say the least."

"What else do you think he knows?" Elena asked quietly.

Hayden shrugged casually. "I can't begin to guess," he admitted.

"Do you think he knows about your relationship with Emma?"

"Emma and I don't have a relationship."

She wanted to call him a liar. The way his face looked when she hugged him just before he left…there was something there. Even if it was mere attraction to her because she was so beautiful, there was definitely something there.

Still, she didn't call him out on it.

"Do you think he knows what Phinn and I almost did?" Elena asked.

"What did you and Phinn almost do?" Hayden asked curiously.

"You know," Elena said, lowering her head.

"Oh," said Hayden, nodding in remembrance of learning about that little interaction from Sage. "Well, perhaps. Perhaps not. If he did, do you suppose he would say something to you? Or act differently?"

"I think he might," Elena said. "So maybe he doesn't know."

"It seems to me like it would bother you if he knew," Hayden said.

"It would," said Elena.

"And you don't think he would have the same reaction to learn that you want to do the aforementioned act with me in order to Awaken?"

Elena wringed her hands. Well, yes, she thought to herself. But it would be different, somehow. After all, Phinn was Lawson's brother, and Phinn had a history with being less-than-gentle with Chaste Beauties' virginities in the past. Seeking Hayden's help on the matter was like seeking a professional's help. Lawson would understand.

"Elena?" Hayden led.

"He might be upset," Elena admitted. "But I think if he learned about me and Phinn, then it would be like a betrayal since he already thinks that I want one of his brothers to ask me to marry them. With you and me, he might just be annoyed that I didn't ask him to do it."

"If you say so, Elena."

Hayden clearly wasn't convinced. And, if he had it his way, he wouldn't do it at all. She could hear that subtext in his voice.

He lowered his hands from the Wheel and smiled at her. "It'll be about two hours more," he said, then pointed at the window. "Just straight from here."

Elena stared at the window and sighed. "It's like autopilot," she decided.

Hayden nodded. "Let's go back down to the others," he suggested.

"First," Elena said, standing up straight. "Can we…um…could you…?"

Wow, this was pretty much the most awkward thing she had ever asked anyone to do.

Thankfully, he seemed to understand what she intended to ask him. His smiled faded, before he quickly replaced it and took a deep breath. "Are you sure, Elena?" he asked her.

She nodded. "I'm sure," she said. "We need a new Chaste Beauty. That's all."

"We," Hayden said. "You said 'we'."

Elena looked up at him. "Is that weird?" she asked.

"Well, after you've Awakened, do you plan on continuing this fight?" Hayden inquired. "You're not bound to it anymore. Your duties to serve the Lords are absolved."

Elena frowned slightly. "Do you think they'd want to keep me around?" she wondered.

"I think they would," Hayden replied immediately. "They all find you quite…" He didn't know the word. He only raised one finger and nodded shallowly. "Well, like your company," he offered instead. "That may be reason enough to keep you around."

"Maybe they won't like my company as much when they find out…" Elena began, but she shook her head. "No, we have to. I'm sorry, Hayden. But…I just really need you to do this for me."

"Of course, Elena," said Hayden. "Come on."

He took her by the hand and guided her to the stairs. She found herself holding her breath as he led her down the stairs and to a floor she didn't recognize. Hayden took her right to a small room that looked like a guestroom: there was a bed in the center. There were other things in the room, but Elena didn't really notice them.

Hayden locked the door as Elena went to the bed and sat down. She turned on the light near the bed and quietly asked Hayden to turn off the overhead light. He did as she requested and came over to her, sitting down next to her.

Elena took a deep breath and swore to herself that she wouldn't cry in front of him—not like she had with Phinn. There was no reason to be afraid. This was going to be quick.

"Will it be quick?" she asked for confirmation.

"As quick as possible," he said.

She bit her lip hard and closed her eyes tightly, putting her hands on both her knees. She was getting that anxiety again. She knew and trusted Hayden, and was positive he would be kind and treat her with respect. But, in spite of all this, it was terrifying.

"Okay," she said finally. "Let's do this."

"Do you have any questions first?" Hayden asked.

Elena's eyes darted back and forth between his face and the floor. Questions? Like what? Well, yes, she supposed she did have questions. But maybe it would be better to get it over with as fast as possible. What to expect, maybe.

"Will it hurt?" she asked.

Hayden paused a moment. "A little bit," he replied honestly.

She closed her eyes again. "Have any girls ever cried before?" she tried. "In your experience, I mean."

She had to open her eyes to see him nodding. "Sometimes," he answered. "But not from the pain, Elena. Just the nervousness."

"If they cry, do you stop?"


She sighed and made the double promise not to cry.

"Elena," he said gently. "If you tell me to stop, I will stop."

"Don't," Elena said. "Just…even if I say stop, just do it."

"If you tell me to stop, I will stop," Hayden repeated.

"Then I won't say anything," Elena said, taking in a deep breath. She felt as though maybe she should cover her mouth, but Hayden probably wouldn't let her do that.

And this was it. Still terrified, and trembling, Elena laid down on the bed, her eyes closed and her mouth clamped shut.

Hayden—please make this quick.

/end book 3.

Hey everyone! Thanks for reading and reviewing. The amount of feedback I've gotten on this book really inspired me to keep updates as quick as possible. I've got another book in the making. My goal is to get it up by Valentine's Day, but I imagine I'll get it up faster than that. I hope to see you again for the next part! Thanks again!