Invision (Chronicles of Nick #7)(7)

Written By: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Ash shrugged. “Yes and no. It’s painful at times. Like watching a child you love on the playground when you know they’re about to tumble. You have that split second where you think, do I catch them or let them skin their knee and learn about gravity? It’s an innate craving to want to keep them from harm, but if you don’t let them learn now, the later repercussions can be a lot more catastrophic. Unfortunately, you don’t know how bad until it’s too late.”

“Like marrying my wife.”

Nick turned at the sound of Kyrian’s unexpected Greek accent behind them. There was no missing the pain in his tone. He rarely spoke of Theone. Not that he blamed him. His ex had done a number on him when she’d handed Kyrian over to his bitterest enemies to be tortured and then crucified as a traitor of the Roman Empire.

It was one thing to read about history in school. Another thing to interact with the people who’d actually lived it and been affected by it.

Glancing at Acheron, Kyrian moved to stand next to Nick. “You remind me so much of myself at your age, boy. Hotheaded and stubborn. No one could ever tell me anything. I had to learn it for myself. My father did everything he could to talk sense into me and I wouldn’t hear it for anything. I thought he was prejudiced and old-fashioned. Set in his ways. How stupid he was to judge a woman he didn’t even know, based on her occupation that I thought she’d been forced into.”

Perhaps, but it didn’t change one basic thing that Nick would always come back to. “She shouldn’t have betrayed you.”

“I shouldn’t have been blind.”

Ash clapped Kyrian on his shoulder. “We make our own realities, brother. See what we want to in others and ourselves. Always.”

Kyrian nodded. “And I saw a heart where there was only greed. Truth where none was spoken. It’s easy to get suckered when you’re young.” He laughed bitterly. “My father used to always say, ‘Kyrian, my son, you’re not a pot of gold to anyone but me and your mother. And we will always love and worship the ground you tread upon. Sadly, the rest of the world won’t cherish you for your worth. All they see is a smart-mouthed brat. For everyone loves a self-made man and despises his spoiled, entitled issue.’”

Nick grimaced. “Man, that’s harsh.”

“But true. And I never turned my ear. Rather, I chased the shiny apple only to find the swallowed fruit bitter on my tongue.” He reached up to touch the marbled hand of his youngest sister as if he could still feel the flesh of her skin. “You would have thought with my sisters forever nagging me and pointing out my endless list of flaws that they’d have broken my spirit when I was young, and I’d have known not everyone would seek or enjoy my company.”

Nick snorted at his self-deprecating humor, especially given that he normally said his sisters didn’t criticize him at all. “Your wife was stupid.”

“No, Nick. Theone was quite clever and calculating. She knew exactly what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to go after it. I was the idiot who closed my eyes to things I should have seen.” He narrowed his gaze. “She was nothing like your Kody. But to answer your earlier question, it’s not as hard to live with the future you know as it is to live with the future you don’t. Uncertainty is the hardest cross to bear. You will spend most of your life letting that shred your time. Does she love me? Should I do this or that instead?”

Ash nodded. “Kyrian’s right. Nothing tears at the soul more than making a decision when you don’t know how it’s going to ultimately play out. And what you’re going to be left with when it’s all over.”

“Except living with the burden of making a bad one,” Nick mumbled.

Kyrian snorted. “Wow, Acheron, he does listen to us, after all. I think I’m scared now. Surely, this is a sign of the Apocalypse.”

Nick blew him a raspberry. “Well, boss, as long as it doesn’t involve any more zombies, I can handle it.”

They both groaned at his reminder.

“Madaug hasn’t been programming again, has he?”

Nick shook his head at Kyrian’s question. “We’ve all banned him from computers. Threatened to break all his fingers, toes, and glasses.”

“Good. He’s brilliant, but terrifying.”

“I know, right? And poor Bubba. He and Mark have nothing left to chase. They’re stuck with survival classes. Maybe we ought to throw them a bone?”

Kyrian scoffed. “I think I could use some boredom for a while. What do you think, Acheron?”

“Boredom … what is this foreign word you speak of, General? I fear I know nothing of it.”

Nick laughed. It always amused him when Ash and Kyrian acted like kids.

At least until Ash’s phone went off. Excusing himself, he went to answer it in private.

Kyrian crossed his arms over his chest. “So why are you in here?”

“I was curious,” he admitted. “I know you’ve told me about your sisters. And since I don’t have any siblings, I was just trying to imagine what you must have been like as a kid with them. It screws with my head.”

Sadness haunted Kyrian’s eyes as he looked up at the huge statue. “It’s sad we don’t appreciate our childhoods until it’s too late. At least those of us who had good ones.”