Something shakes me carefully.
“Ana? My lady? Wake up, please.” The whisper continued, soft and slow.
I groan slightly, moving between sheets that smelled like the poppies that bloomed in the field where they hung to dry. “Just a little longer...” I never liked waking up - but Janna was never this gentle with me usually. How strange?
There’s a chuckle and my eyes open wide to Jack’s beautiful face. That’s not Janna.
That’s Jack. MY Jack. In MY room. “Jack? What are you-”
He pressed a finger to his lips, his smile showing on either sides. “I want to show you something.”
I remember that moment. I remember it perfectly. With no hesitation he had turned his back to me so I could climb out of bed. I did such and adjusted my nightgown on me, intentionally leaving the top undone and hanging open. I wished he would look, but he was too chivalrous so this would have to do. “I’m decent, you can look.”
It was the most satisfying thing ever - watching him whip around quickly and freeze his gaze on me with his eyes wide open. I couldn’t stop my own grin at his slack-jawed appearance.
“You’re staring, Jack.” I tease, knowing full well that I stare equally awed at him as he worked nearly every day in the heat of the sun - his shirt off and the light sheen of sweat reflecting on him. It was only fair, I reasoned, that he should suffer too.
Yet my Jack was ever so polite and he swallowed carefully, adjusting his gaze so he no longer gaped. “Forgive me, your beauty catches me off guard my lady.” He smiled to himself as he brought his gaze back to me - where it belonged. “As it always does.”
I flush at the comment, my heart pounding in my chest. Yet I latch onto his arm and prepare to never let go. “You wanted to show me something?”
His grin is imprinted on my mind now. “Follow me.”
The world was dark and the grass had been wet with the morning’s kiss beneath my feet. “What time is it, Jack?” My voice is still quiet, despite us being outside. Jack could get in trouble if we were caught, and I would never risk him. I wouldn’t risk him for anything in the world.
“Early.” He grinned at me, thinking he was smart.
It made me laugh. He always did. “I figured that.” I say with a roll of my eyes. “What are we doing?”
“I’ll show you.” He motioned to the ladder in the stable. “Come my lady, we have to get up higher though to see it.”
I hadn’t climbed that ladder since I was a child and it suddenly seemed a lot more daunting. Yet before I could even protest Jack had me by the hand and pressed it to the ladder. “What if I slip?”
He touched my face then, I remember. It made my head spin as his fingers brushed against my jaw and I could feel his breath on my face. “I’ll catch you, I promise.”
He climbed with me, keeping his strong arms around either side until we reached the top, and then there was another ladder!
“We’re almost there!”
His voice makes me happy. I can’t describe why or how - it just feels normal. His excitement is my own. I crawl out onto the roof of the stables, fearing the fall, yet I have my Jack with me, so I know I’m safe.
“So why did you bring me up here, Jack?”
He turned to look at me but his gaze turned back to the sky, motioning me to come to him on the roof. “Come see.”
It was like the sky was catching fire with the morning sunlight breaking through the horizon. I’m certain my mouth dropped at the sight - it was by far one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen.
Jack’s voice was in my ear and his arms were on my waist. “I get to see every morning when I come out to tend the horses. It always makes me think of you.”
I look at him then, trying to understand the connection he made. “Me?”
“Mhm.” His smile warms my soul and he looks back out towards the sunrise. “Your hair… your eyes… your spirit. It’s not as beautiful as you, but it makes an attempt.”
“Promise you’ll stay with me forever, Jack Demarco.” I needed to hear him say it. I needed to believe it.
Jack looked at me with soft eyes and an even softer smile. “For as long as you’ll have me, my lady.”
“Forever. I want you forever.” I insist.
His fingers brushed my face again. “Then forever, always, Ana.”
That was the first early morning I ever got to spend with him.
That was the first sunrise I ever fully appreciated.
That was the first time he ever kissed me.
Soliana woke in an unfamiliar room.
The walls were not white and neither were her bed-sheets.
She winced at the sunlight that came through the windows.
When was the last time she had ever seen the sun?
She couldn’t even remember. Was it when she was trapped by Zachurr?
Had she known then that it would’ve been the last time she would’ve seen it for thousands of years she would’ve tried to bask in it longer.
She reached her hand out to touch the windowsill as her eyes burned and blurred.
How many sunrises had she missed? How many sunsets?
None of them mattered.
None of them would truly matter again, would it?
The world can seem so hopeless, yet at the end of the day, between you and Zachurr, you were the stronger of the two.
Agonin's words gave her strength. She was stronger. She would overcome this. Zachurr tried to take her sunrises from her and he failed. She would ensure he would continue to fail for as long as possible.
“I will spit in that monster’s face, Jack.” She wiped her face dry of the tears that fell. “I will see many more sunrises and think of you and only you. I promise you that.”