Reclaimed by Jaymin Eve



He placed me on my feet, and I returned my focus to the spark-filled smoke. When I reached out and ran my hands over it, it responded almost immediately, curling around me just like… “Is this what Inky is?” I breathed.

“Yes,” Shadow said, still pressed to my side.

Through the dark mists, I couldn’t see any other person in the underground theater room, and I was seriously hoping I hadn’t hurt my best friend, Simone, or Shadow’s best friends, Reece and Lucien. The rest could go to hell, but those three were important.

“You must know how to control it,” I said, a real punch of hope making itself known in my gut. Inky was a part of the mists that created the shadow creatures, and this thing I’d called was a hulked-out Inky. Stood to reason, right?

“No one controls the mists,” Shadow informed me, dashing that hope in an instant, “but a few select beings have been known to bond with a sliver of them. As you’ve seen with Inky and me. A symbiotic relationship—at this point, we can’t live without the other.”

“So, is this one bonded to me?”

I could feel it, but not in a way that made me think we had any sort of freaking symbiotic relationship.

Shadow shook his head. “You could not handle the power of a mist this size. You have to return it, or I have no idea what the worlds will become.”

We both eyed the insanely huge smoke show. “I have to send them back.” A whispered truth. “And I have to do it now.”

I felt the mists building in intensity, and soon they would escape my tenuous hold and wreak havoc across the lands. I could not let that happen, even if it destroyed me to return what I’d brought into this world.

Closing my eyes, I opened the pathway, and with not a freaking clue what I was doing, touched the smoke again, focusing on the tingling energy under my hands. Return home, I begged. Back to the Shadow Realm.

I’d never been bonded with Inky, so I hadn’t truly understood what it was until this moment. The mists were energy like that of pure creation. A living brain with power beyond anything that had ever existed before. All of the Shadow Realm had been formed using this energy… this power blanket that covered their realm.

I might have only brought a small blob of the power to me, but it was still enough to throw all the worlds off-kilter.

Or worse.

The mists resisted, wanting to stay with me, but I persisted in my quest to return them. Their power threaded through my own, and just as I was about to panic, a disembodied, gender-neutral voice sounded in my head. We’ll see each other again soon.

Just as I was about to lose my shit and start panic screaming, the resistance faded, and the mists returned through the path I had opened to the realm, leaving me with a mild sense of dread, and the age-old question that had plagued me more often than not lately: What was I?





2





“Mera.”

Shadow’s murmur of my name brought me back to reality. Back to a room that was free of smoke but was filled with a lot of other shit that hadn’t been there before I’d let my rage consume me.

Shadow creatures, to be more accurate, and they were spread out as far as I could see. Literally hundreds of them, clearly trying to figure out what in the freaking shit they were doing here.

“Fuck,” Shadow breathed near my ear, and I had to agree.

“Didn’t I send the mists back?” I asked, my heart pounding hard as air frantically sucked in and out of my mouth, while my lungs never seemed to fill.

Shadow shot me a sardonic stare. “You did, Sunshine, but you didn’t return what it was hiding.”

And the pathway was closed now.

I frantically tried to open it again, but either I was too exhausted, or it literally couldn’t be done unless I was angry enough, because no connection sprung to life.

“They’re going to kill everyone,” I breathed.

Shadow nodded. “Yep.”

Narrowing my eyes, I punched him. In the chest. And it fucking hurt… me. Damn his muscles and their rock-like structure. “Ouch and fuck,” I cursed, shaking out my fist before flexing my fingers to help the healing process. “But at least you’re still not setting my nerve endings on fire when I touch you. Silver lining.”

Shadow wasn’t smiling, but he also didn’t smack me back, so that was a second bonus. “You’ve managed to do what I thought was impossible,” he admitted. “My inbuilt security system no longer considers you… Well, let’s just say that there might be six now who are free to touch me without consequences.”

If it weren’t for the fact that I might have just ended the world—and I still wasn’t sure if I needed to be pissed at him over Dannie’s death—I’d have shed a tear at that confession.

“Shadowshine,” I murmured.

He grimaced, which almost got a smile out of me. His exasperation with our couple nickname was just like the good old days.

Before I could congratulate myself on annoying him once more, the creatures broke free from whatever confused state they’d been in and started rampaging around the room.

“Can you pull the fire from the lair?” I asked, lifting my voice to be heard over the ruckus. “Use it to round them up like you did last time.”

He shook his head. “Since I have no idea what else you released, I can’t risk the Solaris System. The fire will guard the knowledge.”