The Sequels to Syrrah's Game SGSequels




CHAPTER 52

 

OCTOBER 10TH, 5:29 PM, GHANAIAN TIME

 

Lang gazed straight ahead, westward, along the gently curving line of the Volta River’s sandy shore, slivers of seaweeds randomly dotting the shore’s surface. The setting sun, scarcely above the palm tree line, produced a misty, yellow-orange glow that filled the air and highlighted the tops of trees. This mistiness most likely came from the constant onslaught of splashing, foamy waves from the nearby Atlantic Ocean beach, saturating the air with fishy, salt-drenched odors.

He looked left, beyond a rustic wooden table placed against a palm tree, and then farther still, beyond several thatched-roof cabins, until his eyes settled on the location where the Atlantic Ocean should reside. Darn, it just couldn’t be seen. A slight incline in the wide, expansive area of beach sand, about two or three hundred feet away, formed a high mound, blocking any view of the beach.

But, didn’t matter. He certainly got a good view of the beach walking down here with the others. Even though they all wore some sort of assortment of shorts, tee shirts, and sandals or sneakers, the hot, eighty-degree heat was rather oppressive; the Atlantic’s splashing waves along that beach had been quite the welcomed relief.

He gazed right, out across the Volta River, and took in a deep breath, more of those fishy, salty odors pervading his airways. This river was just so wide. Large, distant, tree-covered islands appeared about a half mile to a mile across, and yet the other side of the river lay beyond their widths. And then to think that he and everyone else were actually standing on a relatively thin strip of land separating the Atlantic Ocean and the Volta River.

He turned around, eastward. Nahas had said it was only about a half mile away that the Volta drained into the Atlantic. But part of this land strip blocked his view, so he couldn’t see it.

Everything, combined - what a beautiful, exhilarating place.

He focused his eyes forward again and noticed Nahas and Akina approaching.

Nahas gave a broad smile, his pearly whites brilliant. And Akina appeared so relaxed in her denim shorts and pretty white top, with her long dark hair flowing around her shoulders. What a change, after seeing her non-stop in that confining red sweater and black dress.

“I see Evan is becoming quite the lady’s man,” Nahas said, motioning for Lang to look westward again.

Lang did. Evan was walking along the beach and conversing with three girls. Two of them appeared Ghanaian, while the other was a light-skinned, brown-haired girl, probably one of the girls from the group of Swedish travelers mingling nearby. “Yeah, I guess he got a boost of confidence, since that girl Heidi smiled at him. She even talks to him now at times.”

“Since he stood up for Freddy, and the two became friends?”

Lang smiled. “Yes, right. But I think she already has a boyfriend, so sort of a dead end for Evan.”

“Ahh, he’s such a good-looking young man,” Nahas said, smiling again. “There will be others.”

“Yeah, he’s always been a good-looking kid. And he will be a good-looking adult, as we know, so…but hopefully he finds a nice Christian girl.”

“He will.” Nahas spoke with sincere confidence and placed his hand on Lang’s shoulder for a moment. “And don’t worry about Syrrah. He will forget about her.”

 “I hope so.”

Akina stepped closer to Nahas. “And remember,” she said. “We decided not to mention her to anyone.”

“Oh, yes, right, my dear.”

“What do you mean?” Lang asked, puzzled.

“After Evan found the evidence of Syrrah and her accident, Akina and I discussed this for a time. And we decided Syrrah should not be mentioned, anytime we discuss the Savior and what he revealed to us.”

“Why not?”

“Out of respect for the family of that young girl. They must be suffering terribly, still, from her death.”

Lang suddenly felt like a fool for not realizing this sooner. “Yes, of course. You’re absolutely right.”

“And I’m glad you found Dr. Maplen’s web page for that North Dakota university,” Nahas said. “And he has his own website too?”

“Yes. I forgot to send you the link, but I will. And I plan on giving him a visit, just to talk to him, find out what he does.”

“That would be a good idea, Lang. Please let all of us know, when you do.”

“I definitely will.” An idea recalled earlier pressed to the forefront in Lang’s mind. “Have you thought about General Tauring, and the way he runs that underground base, and his border-line illegal behavior? And the things Evan saw. I mean, should we tell someone?”

“Yes, I have thought about it, Lang. And you know? There is essentially nothing we can do about it. Big government. Out of our control. The Savior has told us what we need to do, and that should be our focus and concentration.”

Lang nodded, and stared down at the sand, a few strands of drying seaweed edging near his sneakers. “Yes. You’re right.” But Kyleigh. Where was she? He looked up at Nahas. “Hey, Nahas. You’ve seen Kyleigh?”

Nahas smiled and pointed behind Lang.

Pounding footsteps suddenly vibrated up into Lang’s feet. He turned around.

Robert was sprinting, running ahead of Kyleigh who was in fast pursuit just behind him, with Alan a distant struggling, running figure behind Kyleigh. Both Robert and Kyleigh were heading for the clearing between Lang and a lone palm tree close to the shore. Once zipping by a few feet past Lang, Robert leaned himself sideways, his sneakers digging into the sand, and slid himself forward a short distance until he crashed-landed on his rear.

Robert quickly scrambled to his feet and shot up his fist. “This thirty-four-year old bloke…still has it!”

Possibly, but he sure was huffing and puffing a lot.

Kyleigh stopped near the tree and leaned over, placing her hands on her knees, breathing hard, attempting to catch her breath. Just like with Akina, seeing Kyleigh now, in anything but her bus company’s blue suit, was a huge relief. But the outfit Kyleigh was wearing couldn’t be more perfect – a close-fitting black tee shirt and dark blue denim shorts, revealing her lean arms, her long, slender legs and her curvy, feminine shape. And that cute ponytail that swept back her blond hair, exposing more of her pretty face – Lang could barely keep his eyes off her, even with the abundance of natural beauty surrounding them; her beauty simply surpassed anything else.

“Well, well!” Nahas said. “Great show, you three!”

Akina laughed, her cute giggling a pleasant contrast to Robert’s out-of-breath huffing and puffing.

Alan then ran up, obviously the slower of the three. He slumped against the palm tree, his torso heaving in and out rapidly under his grey tee shirt. “Hey…I’ve gained some weight…in college.”

“Too much booze…university brat,” Robert told Alan.

“Yeah, yeah.”

“I’m just…out of shape.” Kyleigh stood up and pointed at Robert. “I was centimeters…behind you. Could have…overtaken you.”

 That time on the Moon, when Kyleigh raced ahead of him, came back fresh in Lang’s mind. And Robert had just won between the two of them. Though not wanting to admit it, jealousy was raising its ugly head.

Her fast breathing gradually slowing, Kyleigh looked over at Lang. She gave him a broad, warming smile, sending a calming flow through him that instantly diminished the irritated, green beast. She walked over to him and wrapped her arms around his right arm.

He stared down, unable to look her in the eye.

 “What’s…wrong?”

Tell her exactly? No, he couldn’t. “Nahas, Akina, and I were just discussing that when we witness about the Savior and what we saw, we should never mention anything about Syrrah, due to respect for her family.”

He gazed into her wondering blue eyes.

She blinked a few times, and nodded. “Oh, yes…I understand. We don’t need…to mention her at first…would be hard on her family…But eventually, we may need to…or what happened to us…might not make sense.”

She did have a point. “Yeah, maybe.”

Alan left his trusty support tree and staggered over in Evan’s direction, down the shore toward those girls.

Robert, though, abruptly developed a disappointed, gloomy face. He walked over to the table, shaking his head a few times, and then dropped down into one of the wooden seats. He rested his forearms on the wide wooden armrests and stared out at the Volta, his breathing finally lessening.

Nahas took notice of his behavior and stepped closer to him. “What is it, my friend?”

Robert stared up at him, and then glanced at Lang, Kyleigh, and Akina. “Look. I know we were supposed to come down here, to this nice beach…have some fun, and then do that prayer circle. But…look, I’m an atheist. And I’ll probably always be an atheist.”

“Yes, we know you are,” Nahas said. “But things can change.”

“Maybe. An atheist, to me…isn’t about being defiant, not believing in God for no reason, but…” He gushed out a hard breath of air. “Look. This is hard to say. Ultimately, I’m a truth seeker. And I’ve been thinking hard and long about this. And, I have no doubt, that something phenomenal happened to all of us…because there is no way on earth the seven of us, from different parts of the world, could ever have gotten to know each other, without any prior communication or some type of connection.”

“Well, then, what is the problem?” Nahas asked.

“I have a whole laundry list of problems.” Robert snuggled his back firmly into the seat and grasped the ends of the armrests. “First of all, how did the so-called Savior access the universe engine, to allow us all to get back to the universe, in the exact time we left…when the Causalitors control it? Did he mention anything about that to any of you?”

Lang thought a moment. “No. I don’t recall the Savior saying anything to me.”

Kyleigh shook her head and Akina shrugged.

“But,” Lang said, “I have thought about what could be the ramifications of even pausing the universe in the first place. I mean, everything around us, all this beauty and activity, was on pause for four and a half years, our time. And no one knew? It’s mind-boggling, and just…I don’t know, troubling.”

“True, Lang,” Nahas said. “But don’t forget the Causalitors said they could pause our universe for billions of years and we would never know a thing.” Nahas directed his gaze on Robert. “But I think we all forgot to ask about what you suggested because we were so caught up in saying good-byes to our loved ones. And besides, the Causalitors were going to put us back here either way, like they said. And maybe the Savior can access the universe engine, as long as he doesn’t interfere with free will or actually take back the universe engine itself…not yet, anyway.”

Lang had another idea. “And they had that challenge together too. It was probably pre-planned for them both to use the universe engine, whatever the outcome.”

Robert nodded and gave a satisfied smirk. “Okay, fair dinkum, as we Aussies say. I’ll accept those answers. But how about this. How can all you Christians even believe this stuff? For one, the Savior, the Christ, was only supposed to have visited earth. But he claims there are many bibles and he’s visited many worlds. And two, he basically dumped the Bible on its head. He said there needs to be universe-wide peace, when Revelations claims the Savior will return when there are wars.”

“Well, those are some good points,” Nahas said. “But, he did say that bibles can be manipulated.”

“Exactly!” Robert nearly yelled. “And how do you address that aspect?”

“But he said he would give us more answers, in time,” Lang said. “We just need to have faith.”

Robert gave Lang a sideways stare. “And that’s your answer? All right. Great.” He crossed his arms over his chest and kept his eyes on Lang. “And that copy universe we existed within, when we were in the hull. I know he explained it, but doesn’t it bother you, any of you, that those people and aliens disintegrated away? They weren’t real, fine. But we’re supposedly not real too!” 

“Yes, Evan and I discussed the same thing.” Unfortunately, Evan and Alan were slowly walking closer, minus those girls, and listening to the conversation. Lang felt unease growing, yet hoped to give some positives. So he simply told Robert what he had said to Evan about the dream state and essence verses real existence.

Nahas, Kyleigh and Akina spoke similar words in agreement.

Robert narrowed his eyes and raised one eyebrow higher than the other. “But you guys aren’t bothered by that?”

“If that other universe hadn’t existed,” Nahas said, “we wouldn’t have learned all that we now know.”

Robert shook his head. “Okay. We’ll leave it at that.” He looked back at Nahas. “And what about this. If the universe existed before the Causalitors took it away, did those people and beings in that old universe go to Heaven, with the Savior?”

Everyone became silent a moment, thinking.

“I would say yes,” Nahas said. “Most likely yes, seeing the Savior’s mercy and understanding.”

“Mercy, I suppose,” Robert said. “Understanding? I’m not so sure. And here’s another one. If the Causalitors are now dependent on ueluxhra, then how were they surviving before the universe was even created?”

“I have thought about this too,” Nahas said. “Because if the Causalitors were originally angels, as it says in the Bible, then maybe once they changed, to Causalitors, they needed the universe and ueluxhra.”

Lang thought about it likewise. “That does sound like a logical answer.”

“Yeah, I think so too,” Kyleigh said.

“Look,” Robert said. “I’m not trying to have you guys question your faith, I’m just--”

“Yeah you are, Rob.” Alan walked closer, his hands pressed on his hips and his glaring eyes on Robert. “But I guess you just can’t help yourself. Like the scorpion in that Aesop’s fable. It’s just your nature.”

Robert sighed. “As I was saying, before being rudely interrupted.” He ignored Alan and mostly glanced between Nahas and Lang. “I’m really not trying to have all of you question your faith. I only want you to think about everything, with a clear, open mind. Because I’ll tell you what. In my opinion? Everything we saw was supplied for us, as we already know. Our hearing, our sight. We don’t know if any of it was real. And I did some research. Are any of you aware that a theoretical physicist, the one mostly responsible for cosmic inflation theory, Alan Guth, he said--”

“I know what he said,” Nahas interrupted. “I read it too. He proposes that it could be possible for very advanced aliens to have discovered the physics of inflation, and therefore they could have created our universe.”

“What the heck is cosmic inflation?” Evan asked suddenly. “I might have heard of it before, from Freddy, but I’m not sure.”

Nahas smiled at Evan. “Young man, inflation theory is the only explanation of how the universe started incredibly small, smaller than a subatomic particle, but then maintained homogeneity and an isotropic state, or similarity throughout its entirety, even though the universe then grew, in a tiny fraction of time, by nearly hundreds of millions of light years in dimension.”

Evan shrugged. “Oh. I see…I guess.”

Nahas laughed. “I’ll tell you more about it later.”

“My conclusion?” Robert said abruptly. “Yes, we were definitely put through something…but…was it God, his son, demons? And the lines were blurred, as to who was who, trying to have us believe Limati, A.K.A. Syrrah, went from one side to the other, without the Parent even noticing it. These are supposedly extraordinarily intelligent beings and yet the Parent couldn’t figure this out?”

“Rob does make a good point there.” Alan relaxed his arms and began picking at his thumbnail. 

Lang noticed Evan frowned and stared down at the sandy ground.

“I don’t know,” Kyleigh said. “The Parent did seem genuinely distraught about Limati leaving him.”

 “Exactly. Couldn’t see the writing on the wall beforehand?” Robert let out a long sigh. “But I do get your main point, that it shows maybe they weren’t in it together. Yet then how do we address that Evan saw and felt something from Syrrah before her accident? Some sort of preplanning?”

Lang nodded. “Maybe. That is odd.”

“To me, all of it,” Robert said, “everything we went through in the hull…was just a bunch of aliens fooling around and having a good ole’ time at our expense. And I really don’t understand how any of you can believe any differently.”   

But then Lang realized one thing that impacted each of them in a very profound manner. “But Robert. You saw your cousin. And all of us saw loved ones. Doesn’t that mean anything to you?”

“Yeah, sure. That was pretty impressive, felt great. But you know? They could have accessed my memories, and Todd’s brain activity before he died. I don’t know.”

“Well,” Kyleigh said, “we could discuss this all day, all week for that matter, and doubt every little detail of what we witnessed. But, I only know…that the feelings I received from the Savior’s presence, his warmth, his love, his forgiveness. I never felt such pure feelings like these, ever, in my entire life.”

“And the way I often felt that comfort, that warmth in my chest, with all the bad things happening to us, from the hull.” Lang pressed a hand over his heart. “I know, without a doubt in my mind, it was him. It was the Savior all along. I knew for sure when his light line connected exactly in the spot I felt that comfort.”

Robert smirked. “Proves nothing, Lang, except that they were all in it together.”

Evan walked closer to Robert. “Yeah, but what about how we could take all those videos when we returned? They all show the time pause, so, why wasn’t just the phone I used, my dad’s, have the video working, since Syrrah only connected with me before? Because Syrrah supposedly joined with the Savior’s side, and the Savior must have allowed all of us to have things work.”

“Evan does bring up an excellent argument,” Nahas said to Robert, “though we still haven’t figured out if we should use those videos as physical proof or not.”

“Yes, I know. That is interesting, like we discussed.” Robert sighed again. “And yeah, people could say they’re doctored, not real. But still, doesn’t prove to me without a doubt they weren’t all in on it together.”

“But another thing,” Evan said. “When the Savior touched me, I felt this sense of peace, and love, go through me that I never felt before, ever.” He looked at Kyleigh. “Like what you sensed.”

“Really, Evan?” Lang asked, before Robert or Kyleigh could respond.

“Yes, Dad.” Evan’s eyes were very serious. “I truly mean that.”

A flood of happiness surged through Lang, and he wanted to ask Evan more about this, but Robert needed one last important point to be heard. He looked at him. “Robert. Whatever you want to believe, just remember this. If you join with the Savior, you can live again, once you die. If anything, with all your doubts, focus on that.”

Robert leaned forward, grasped his hands together and gazed down a moment. “After they were able to keep us alive, for so long, without food, water, sleep, and how something obviously occurred for Evan to become a sixteen and a half year old bloke over what seemed just hours, I suppose…I must consider that.” He looked up at Lang and showed a tired, confused face. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll think about it.”

“Good. That’s a start.” Lang patted Robert’s shoulder. “Fair dinkum.”

Robert smiled. “What are you, Aussie now?”

Lang and a few of the others laughed.

“Robert,” Nahas said. “I know you have doubts, and that it is your nature, to question, to think seriously. But will you join us now, regardless, in the circle of prayer?”

Robert looked down again and pushed his sneaker-covered foot into the sand, creating a few lines and dips. He moved his foot back and stood up. “Okay. Let’s get that prayer circle started, before I change my mind.” 

“Wonderful!” Nahas said, clapping his hands together a few times.

Several people nearby looked in Nahas’ direction, but overall, the Volta shore had few other visitors right now. And the three girls Evan had spoken with were strolling away, farther down the shore, heading for a walking bridge nearby between the shore and a small, narrow island.

“Okay then,” Nahas said. “Let’s get this started.” He took hold of Lang’s right hand, and with his other hand gently grasped Akina’s hand.

Kyleigh stepped closer to Lang and he didn’t hesitate, gently taking her right hand in his left, while Evan took hold of her other hand. And then the hand grasps went from Evan to Alan to Robert and finally to Akina.

Evan laughed. “This is just like making a hull tent.”

 “Yeah, aren’t you funny,” Robert said. “But yeah, good noticing, kid.”

A few of the others chuckled and mentioned about it too, but Nahas then reminded everyone this was about a prayer circle, and not about any disturbing memories.

Lang breathed in a large lung-full of the fresh, ocean-scented air and stared off into the sun setting by the tree line. “If ever there was a place for a prayer circle, it would be here, in this tropical paradise.”

Nahas squeezed Lang’s hand tighter and smiled. “Thank you, Lang. I knew this would be a praise-worthy place.”

“It is,” Kyleigh said. “Just beautiful here.”

“I’m about to change my mind,” Robert said. “We’re taking way too long.” And he did appear serious about that.

Nahas bowed his head and closed his eyes. “Yes, of course. Let us begin.” Lang watched as everyone else did the same, even Robert, surprisingly. Lang closed his eyes too. “Dear Savior,” Nahas began, “we come together now, in this circle of prayer, our hands showing our connection as a whole, to ask you for your guidance and help. May we go forth, from here onward, and do the work which you requested of us. May we tell as many people as we can, about you, and your imperative need that many others join with us, and with you, all of us united in our goal to witness to many more. And please guide us, since, as Robert pointed out, there are inconsistencies between the Bible and what you revealed to us. Please, Lord, give us the information, so we can resolve these issues.

“And dear Savior, please be with us, for this will be very difficult. The Causalitors will be around us, and against us. So please, help us in any way that you can, but please do not let that include our harm. Please allow us all to remain whole and united, in service to you…Amen.”

“Amen,” Lang said too, as did most of the others.

It was a good, meaningful prayer.

Slowly everyone released each other’s hands. Wow, the heat here was obviously more intense than realized; both Lang’s hands were a sweaty mess.

“So sweaty,” Kyleigh said, smiling at Lang.

“I know, tell me about it!”

“Ha, you noticed.” Nahas laughed a good, hearty chuckle. “That’s why we don’t like to do lengthy prayers around here.”

Lang smiled. “I know, I see that.”

Everyone began quietly speaking to each other. A few strangers, some who hadn’t been close by when they first started praying, were staring curiously at them, but soon wandered away, losing interest.

However, those girls Evan had talked to earlier were now heading back. Evan saw them and immediately left their group, walking over until he met up with the girls. Alan followed after him.

Kyleigh gazed up at Lang. “I want to move to the U.S. There’s nothing holding me in Melbourne. And…and I’ve been waiting for something, some moment, to get me away.” Her pretty blue eyes sparkled with anticipation.

Only one answer existed for this idea. “Really? Well…you could use the spare bedroom at our home, if you would like.”

She stared curiously into Lang’s eyes. “But…but isn’t that…uh…” Her cheeks developed a light red tinge and she looked away.

No! Why did he say that? “Well, no. I…I didn’t mean it exactly like that, not really.” Though nervous, Lang’s remembrance of taking the lead to prevent all of them from joining with the Causalitors, and the Savior’s later praise, gave him strength. Time to get this out, right now. He slipped his fingers around Kyleigh’s hand and held her hand with gentle firmness. “You know, in the United States, to make someone a legal citizen, it is often customary to…to…” He dropped down to one knee and stared up at her. Kyleigh’s face took on surprise, happiness and more embarrassment. “Kyleigh Behrend. Will you marry me?”

She started breathing faster and grabbed her mouth, struggling to hold back her emotions. Tears welled in her eyes.

Worry seized Lang. “Kyleigh, are you okay? I…I didn’t mean to--”

 “Yes,” she said through quiet sobs. She held Lang’s hand tightly. “Yes, of course I would marry you.”

“What’s this?” Nahas had excitement elevating his voice to a higher pitch. “You’re proposing to Kyleigh right here on this glorious Ada beach?”

Uncomfortable heat spread across Lang’s face and back, but he didn’t care much. Slowly he rose up, yet holding Kyleigh’s hand, feeling lighter than air from her answer. “I haven’t made any arrangements yet,” he told her, staring only into her eyes, ignoring anything and anyone else.

“That’s okay, Lang.” She discretely wiped her eyes with trembling fingers and tried to calm her breathing. “I’m just…I’m just surprised. I didn’t really think you felt this way.”

“I do, Kyleigh.” He stared more intensely into her tearful gaze and felt even more emboldened. “I love you.”

She formed a fragile, trembling smile, and then covered her mouth with her hand. She looked away, seeming on the verge of losing her composure.

Lang wrapped his arms around her and held her close, and she willingly, eagerly melded against his chest, turning her face into his shirt, her body yet shaking. “Kyleigh, are you all right?” Lang gently rubbed his hand across her back. “I’m sorry this is so sudden.”

She wrapped her arms around him, holding him even closer. “I love you too, Lang.”

Lang closed his eyes. He couldn’t remember the last time he had felt such happiness.

Their embrace didn’t last that long. She took a step back, but grasped each of Lang’s hands, gazing up at him with caring blue eyes. “I’m sorry. It’s the heat. Especially after running.”

He inched closer, desiring to lessen any distance between his body and hers, regardless of his excessive warmth. “I know. I’m quite sweaty myself.” He stared into her eyes, passion building in his thoughts. “We can certainly continue this later.”

She smiled and bashfully gazed downward.

Robert walked over. Without warning, he landed a loud, hard slap on Lang’s back. Lang flinched over from the pain. “Well, what do ya know. Didn’t think you had it in you, Lang.”

“Damn, Robert.” Lang gave Robert a disgusted look, though he tried to smile too. “Yeah, well, you thought wrong.”

“Robert. Do you always have to be so loud?” Kyleigh scolded, releasing Lang’s hands. “And…and rude?”

“Hey. I’m just giving my congrats, okay?” He placed a hand on each of their shoulders and leaned his grubby face closer. “We should all celebrate, go out and get rotten.” He looked at Lang. “You know, get a gutful of piss.”

Kyleigh had a mild scowl on her face. “He means drunk, Lang.”

Lang nodded at him. “We should discuss this later. Kyleigh and I need to talk some more, about our plans. But thanks, Robert, for the congrats.”

Robert gradually slipped his grip off their shoulders. His expression showed slight hurt and maybe even some of that same green monster Lang had struggled with just earlier. “No problem.” He nodded, slowly backed away and then turned and walked over to Evan and Alan, both of whom had just arrived.

Kyleigh sighed, but then took hold of Lang’s hands again. “I’m sorry, Lang. I really think he means well, but doesn’t know how to handle himself around people, sometimes.”

Lang was just happy she wanted to hold his hands once more. The lingering pain in his back from Robert’s slap barely registered when she gazed into his eyes. “It’s all right. I’m fine. He’s a rowdy guy. Can’t help it.”

She giggled, and looked down again.

Evan, Akina, and Alan gathered closer, with Robert not far behind, and with Nahas leading, conversations began springing up at how wonderful it was that Lang and Kyleigh had decided to get married, another positive outcome from their entire misfortunate hull event.

Yeah, how true. The hull – an event both amazing, yet incredibly disturbing.

But as the conversations continued, and Kyleigh stared longingly into Lang’s eyes, he couldn’t help but think of Deidra again. Deidra, my beautiful, dear Deidra. But Deidra’s words, of wanting Lang to be happy, and of Evan needing a mother - truth held in those words, but sorrow, and depression mingled there too.

Yet Kyleigh needed him. And he needed her, probably even more than she needed him. This was more than love alone. And the bond he had developed with her, with everything they had experienced together, was something he never would want to break.

And most importantly of all, his life, and everyone else’s life, was never going to be the same again from this point on.

For what other conclusion could any reasonable person make?