“I’ll be your family now,” he says.
“I love you,” I say.
I said that once, before I went to Erudite headquarters, but he was asleep then. I don’t know why I didn’t say it when he could hear it. Maybe I was afraid to trust him with something so personal as my devotion. Or afraid that I did not know what it was to love someone. But now I think the scary thing was not saying it before it was almost too late. Not saying it before it was almost too late for me.
I am his, and he is mine, and it has been that way all along.
He stares at me. I wait with my hands clutching his arms for stability as he considers his response.
He frowns at me. “Say it again.”
“Tobias,” I say, “I love you.”
His skin is slippery with water and he smells like sweat and my shirt sticks to his arms when he slides them around me. He presses his face to my neck and kisses me right above the collarbone, kisses my cheek, kisses my lips.
“I love you, too,” he says.