Five

Soulmates




Esmerelda looked uneasily at the temple that she stood in front of.



Gods always made her uneasy, regardless of how “good” or “kind” they were. Calypso was a goddess. Calypso was hunting her.
Nowhere is safe.



She clenched her fists and swallowed anxiously before looking to her dear friend. Melanie had been distracted and quieter than usual, which Esmerelda had taken sharp note of.
Despite the morning’s events, Esmerelda had made it back to her hotel with little trouble and even had time for a fast shower. Now the Temple of Carule - the God of Love was staring them down and they both seemed fairly uneasy, which she hadn’t expected from her friend.



“Everything ok, Mellie?” Esmerelda broached carefully.
Melanie jumped and looked at her nervously before she nodded.



“Getting cold feet already?” She teased lightly, perhaps it wasn’t the most appropriate for the moment, but Esmerelda’s head wasn’t the clearest.
Melanie looked down and bit her lip nervously. “N-No! I just… I…” Melanie stopped and let out a heavy breath before sitting on the steps.



Esmerelda frowned before plopping down next to her. “Oh no, I know that face. What happened, Mel?”
“I don’t think I can do this, Ezzie.” She breathed, putting her head in her hands.
“Did something happen with Eric, Mellie?” Esmerelda looked at her concerned.



Melanie shook her head and took in deep breaths. “It’s not right, Ezzie. It’s just not…”
“What’s not right, Mellie?”



Melanie let out a groan. “Everything. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.” She shook her head. “Eric is always calling. He always needs to know where I am and last night…” She sighed as she trailed off, defeated. “Nan and the pack tell me I love him and I believe it, I guess? But this isn’t it. This isn’t it! They keep telling me that with enough time I’ll see Eric as my one, true mate, but it hasn’t happened yet and I just… What if he’s not right for me?”



Ezzie leaned over and gripped her hand. “Look at me Mellie, take a deep breath.” Melanie slowly looked over at her, her eyes wide with uncertainty. “What happened last night with Eric?”


“He was so mad when I got back to the hotel because my phone had died on the way. He accused me of sleeping with someone else and I just… I had no way of proving I hadn’t because my phone was dead and he said he couldn’t get a signal on it and-”



Ezzie held up her hand, her eyes narrowing as she stopped her friend. “He’s tracking your phone?”
She nodded slightly. “It’s not that big of a deal, but you see my phone was dead so he couldn’t see where I was and he thought I was trying to hide where I was.”



“‘Not that big of a deal?’” Esmerelda stared at her, dumbfounded. “That’s a really big deal, Mellie.”
Melanie shook her head and shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. I’m sure he was just concerned and I would be too if he suddenly stopped answering - I would be worried if he was hurt and-”



“Exactly!” Esmerelda cut her off. “You would be concerned for his safety… not his fidelity.” She sounded the words out carefully before realizing this was a futile conversation. She shook her head and changed tactics, gripping her friend’s hand in hers. “Sweetheart, let’s just forget that, ok? It doesn’t matter why he was mad, but he was upset and you’re questioning whether or not you’re supposed to be together, right?”




Melanie nodded slowly. “There’s no way Carule could bless a marriage when I’m this uncertain… and maybe… maybe I just don’t want him to.”
Esmerelda bit her cheek. She wanted to say this just right. This was a delicate situation and she needed to take advantage of Melanie’s doubt, but not too far, and she didn’t want to isolate Melanie either. “You know, Mel… I’m not an expert at love or anything remotely resembling it but…” She swallowed and took in a breath. “I know that love is supposed to be a good thing - something that makes you happy and not stressed. You’re 25! You’re a-” She stopped herself and half laughed. Announcing her friend was a werewolf in public would not be the wisest move. “-a… uh… gifted woman in terms of how long you will live… you’ve got plenty of time to figure this out. There’s no rush to get married!”



“What if I’m never certain though, Ezzie? I feel like I just need to make up my mind. I just need to stay with Eric and things will be ok.” She responded evenly.
Esmerelda pursed her lips and began digging into her jacket pockets, realizing she didn’t have what she needed she looked at Melanie. “Do you have a coin?”



Melanie looked confused before nodding. “Yeah, I think so… why?” She dug into her pocket and pulled out a few different coins. Esmerelda reached over and snatched the first one she saw.
Melanie looked at her with confusion as Esmerelda held the coin up to her face. “Heads and you stay with Eric, tails - you leave him, ok?”



Melanie’s eyes widened as Esmerelda put the coin on her fist, getting ready to flip it. “B-b-but… this is serious. I don’t think this-”
“Ready?” Esmerelda looked at her. “Trust me Mel, ok? We do what the coin says. You wanted to make up your mind, so here we go!”
Melanie looked like she might protest, but instead she stayed quiet, her eyes fixed on the coin.



Esmerelda smiled as she flipped the coin and they watched it go into the air. Melanie’s eyes were wide and Esmerelda smirked as she reached up and snatched the coin out of the air, clutching it tightly in her fist. She moved her fist out of her way and stared at Melanie intensely. “Now, what did you want?”
Melanie looked at her confused. “W-What?”



“What did you want it to land on?” Esmerelda persisted.
“I… I don’t know what you’re talking about - what did it land on?” She reached over to Esmerelda’s hand that grasped the coin and Esmerelda shook her head, tightening her grip on the coin to the point it nearly cut into her palm.



“You wanted something. The coin was in the air and you wanted it to land on something. What did you want?” Esmerelda would not back down.
Melanie slumped slightly where she sat and she looked away. “Tails.”



Esmerelda felt relief run through her and she smiled with ease. “Then you have your answer.” Esmerelda’s fingers brushed the engravings on the coin, feeling the tail’s side up and she opened her hand to show her.
Melanie shook her head. “It’s not that simple, Ezzie…”



Esmerelda reached over and placed the coin in Melanie’s hand, gripping it with her own. “It is that simple, Melanie. Everything you’re afraid of is not more important than your happiness.”



Melanie leaned over and hugged her and Esmerelda smiled. They were quiet as Melanie gathered herself and took calming breaths. “What should we do now? What about that appointment at the Temple?”
Esmerelda bit her lip before an idea hit her. “We’re going to get you a proper romantic prediction. Ok? No point in wasting a great opportunity to test if I catch fire upon entering one of these temples!” She started laughing and Melanie did too.



“Hey Ezzie?” Melanie asked quietly as they stood and began ascending the steps.
“What’s up?” Esmerelda said as she looked at the daunting temple before them once again.
“Thank you.” Melanie said softly, linking her arm into Esmerelda’s.
“Anytime, Mellie. Anytime.”

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The careful footsteps of two older women moved through the corridors of the Temple of Carule.



Devoute followers of Carule they had always been, and they rolled their eyes at the newer followers who had not expected to see the god Carule, himself, at their temple that day. They both were calm as they carried on with their morning duties.



One of the women stopped abruptly in the hallway, peering into the main hall of the Temple with wide eyes as the other had carried on almost without noticing the change in her companion.
The woman who stopped swatted at her companion and she turned to give her an irritated glance, yet her gaze was drawn to where her friend pointed with a devious smile.



It was just a woman. She had come in earlier hesitantly with the friend who had an appointment. The woman looked back at her pointing companion who only furthered her point and her devious smile.



It was then that she looked closer and her whole face was yanked into a similar, devious smile. “Well, I’ll be darned…” She muttered as she resisted laughing.



“You see Sheera? You see it too?” Sheera’s companion had not stopped pointing with her wicked grin.
“That I do, Ninae. That… I do…” Sheera stopped a laugh in her throat. “The same one who’s…” Her own finger came up and pointed to the room where their Master was speaking with a man of many of their headaches - a man whose name was written over the top of that beautiful woman’s head in a brilliant gold color. Soulmate.



Ninae let out a breathy laugh, her eyes wide as her point finally dropped. “That poor girl…!”
The woman’s face shifted as she seemed to hear something and Sheera swatted rapidly at Ninae.



“Shush-shush-shush! She can hear you!” She whispered harshly, yet she smiled still. This was too good an opportunity to pass up - far too good.  



“Oh I have to see how this plays out Sheera.” Ninae nodded as she stared unabashedly.
“Oh no… we have to make this play out, Ninae.” Sheera responded back with a playfulness in her voice.



“I do love how you think, darling.” Ninae responded without looking at her. “What’s the plan?”
Sheera looked at her and smiled bigger. “Here’s what we do…”


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It was a feeling of being very small in something much bigger than oneself, Esmerelda decided as she stared at the empty room she stood in. Temples often made her feel this way and it wasn’t a pleasant feeling. She was just a bug under the boot of the gods. She did not belong here.



“You look a tad lost, deary.” It was the voice of an older woman and Esmerelda jumped.
“Oh? Oh… no! I’m fine. I’m just… waiting on my friend.” She pointed to the door where one of the other followers of Carule had taken Melanie just a few moments before.



“Of course.” The woman tipped her head slightly before she looked around. “You know… Carule is responsible for a lot more than just romantic love between two people.” Her eyes landed back on Esmerelda carefully.



Esmerelda shifted beneath her gaze and began to get the impression that this woman knew more things about her than she was letting on. “I…” Esmerelda chuckled loosely - nervously. “I can’t say I know much about him at all.” She shrugged, feeling more awkward the longer the woman stared at her. “Save for that he’s… uh… a big, scary god!” She waved her fingers around and suddenly realized the joke might be in bad taste. “Er… sorry.”



“Have you lost someone you loved before?” The woman was looking at her sympathetically now and Esmerelda began to wonder if she stepped into some Twilightzone.



“Yes… but how would you know that?” She narrowed her eyes on the woman carefully.
The woman raised her hand in front of her face and her eyes glimmered slightly. “A gift of Carule - it gives us the ability to see into the souls of others, in a way, so that we might find your proper soulmate.”



Esmerelda nodded slightly, but inside she felt her stomach turning over. This was not cool. “Right…” She cleared her throat.
“You know, we keep a portion of the Temple dedicated to lost loved ones. It creates a space where people can be alone with their thoughts if they need to be.” The woman had hooked an arm around Esmerelda and began guiding her that direction.



What was wrong with this woman? She seemed to think her mother’s death was haunting her. It wasn’t though - Esmerelda was fine.
Yet she thought about it more lately, and it kept finding it’s way to the surface every time she stepped outside.
It’s been almost twenty years.



Esmerelda was lost in her thoughts when she was pulled into a different room and the lighting changed. She looked around, mildly awed by what she found. The woman who had escorted her spoke again. “This room always brings me peace… perhaps you’ll find some here too?”



With that she suddenly vanished from being so close to Esmerelda and she was left alone in her thoughts.

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Quinn only had to deliver a pouch - why was this such a big deal? It’s like Carule’s followers somehow forgot Quinn’s charm and sass each time he would grace them with his presence. Surely they couldn’t forget the man who spent all of his time finding little ways to spit on their beliefs while he worked with them? Or perhaps they intentionally ignored him for that very reason? He wasn’t sure, nor did he care to inquire.



Yet he had to go through rounds of questioning before he would be let in to see Carule and he was growing both bored and irritated now that he was stuck waiting to even leave. Everyone was lucky it was a combination of the two, lest he grow more one than the other and start stringing people up for fun or to alleviate his annoyance.



Quinn wasn’t a big fan of feeling like his time was being wasted, but his head wasn’t clear after the night before. Currently he was blaming it on the hangover, but there was more to it than that.
Esmerelda had gotten under his skin. She had him taking his own disguise off. Willingly, no less. There was just something about her that disarmed him and left him wide open for ages after encountering her.



There was something different about her and part of him was tempted to see if he could find her again. If he had something of hers he could have his master’s High Priestess locate her so he might run into her again…



He leaned back and stared at the ceiling before cursing himself. He hated hangovers. Why was he still here again? The pouch was delivered.
He lurched forward in the seat and pulled himself standing all while reminding himself what a bad idea it was to drink as much as he had.



Yet Esmerelda’s laughter entered his head and he found himself standing still as he slowly snapped back to reality. He needed to sleep this off. That’s all this was. He walked to the door and threw it open only to be met with the face of a middle-aged woman who had more mischief in her eyes than Quinn was prepared to tolerate. He held back a groan.



“Where are you going, sir? The Lord has something he wished to give you, we’re in the process of locating it now, so it could be a moment.” Her voice grated along the walls of his ears and he resisted wincing.



Why did everyone talk so loud? “And there’s no way we could speed this along?” He grumbled as he pinched the bridge of his nose. He knew there was no point in arguing. If he left now he’d get reamed by his own master.



“You’re welcome to wait out in the main lobby until we gather what you need so you can be on your way shortly after.” The woman immediately responded, motioning him to follow and he did. Normally Quinn would insist on doing the opposite of what she recommended, but his head just wasn’t in it today, and she likely noticed, giving him a cheeky smile as they walked.



Quinn leaned against one of the poles as the woman left him out in the main foyer. It was strangely quiet in the temple for a Saturday, but he could sense the magic in the room. The followers of Carule had a trick up their sleeve where they would make the Temple appear empty to every person using magic. It helped them feel special and starry-eyed as they got waited on by several people at once, when in reality the Temple would likely be packed.



Quinn was relieved for the silence and half wondering if he now owed that woman a drink for her kind service to Quinn’s pounding headache.
After a few moments Quinn let out a sigh and let himself sit at one of the benches heavily before he leaned back, covering his eyes with his arm. He would have his nap, one way or another.



Something stirred him though - a soft sound. His arm fell away from his face and he stared up at the ceiling perplexed as the sound persisted. He focused and he could start to make out the words.
“I need a light to take me home.”


He stood up quickly, stumbling as he lost his balance but he was determined to see if he was hallucinating or not.
“I kind of need a hero, is it you?”
Quinn’s legs smacked into the other set of benches as he mindlessly followed the sound. It jolted him slightly, yet he was too engrossed to pay any attention elsewhere. The sound felt so familiar to him, yet he knew he had never heard it before.



“I never see the forest for the trees, I could really use your melody.”
Yes, he certainly needed this melody. He fell into the hallway after knocking over a few plants.



“Yeah I’m a little blind and I think it’s time for you to find me.”
The source was an open archway off to the side and he approached it carefully, engulfed in the sound. He had long since forgotten where he had come from or what he was even doing. His knees felt weak just from the sheer beauty of her voice.



“Can you be my nightingale?”
His mouth went dry and he leaned his entire weight against the archway.



“Sing to me, I know you’re there.”
It was her. Esmerelda. She was singing and he was struggling to remember how to breathe.
“You could be my sanity.”


The mixture of feelings that ran through him cut into him more than he could ever describe. She undid him. She undid him so well that he wasn’t sure he could recover.



“Bring me peace, sing me to sleep.”
Quinn slid down the side of the archway, stunned by her. He didn’t have nightingales all over his future - he had a nightingale who had shaken him to his very core.



“Say you’ll be my nightingale?”





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Playlist
"Empty Gold" by Halsey
"Hymn for the Weekend" by Coldplay
"Nightingale" by Demi Lovato

*Lyrics in this chapter as part of Demi Lovato's 'Nightingale.'

6 comments:

  1. THEY ARE SO ADORABLE ALREADY! I love the pictures and the two women. Oh those two. XD Someone is suffering from denial. I don't think hangovers do that, dear.

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    1. Aahhhh! I forgot to mention Mellie! I feel bad for her. That's...that's not okay. Eric is...that's a whole different level of creepy. I hope she finds happiness and stops listening to everyone's opinions around her.

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  2. Hehe, I knew they'd meet here!

    Ahhh, confirmation that they're soulmates! Quinn listening to her sing is cute!

    Also Melanie you poor thing, you really need to drop Eric! Werewolf mate or not, you don't need to suffer that kind of abuse! If my boyfriend started to question my fidelity he'd receive a slap on the head for his troubles and no supper. He knows me too well to start doubting me!

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    1. Yes! Soulmate name-drop! Heh those nosy women made my day getting to do that.

      Also SECONDED, no one really notices poor Mellie is suffering in the background. I've got big plans for her too mhm. No one gets left alone in my world I'll say that with certainty... XD I swear I'm in the same boat as you, like if my husband pulled that I'd whap him so hard he'd be KO'ed forever - knock him right into his own grave, *snort*
      Ok not really, but still!

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  3. GOSH they are so cute. I love them.

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