“Come in Yul. What’s the update?” asked Kyra.

“Trev is administering the agent of retribution as we speak. Rog and Emy looked pretty excited to be back, don’t you think?”

“I’m sorry Yul, what did you say?”

“You miss him don’t you.”

“Rog?”

“No, Kieran.”

“What makes you say that.”

“Are you kidding me,” laughed Yul. “Look at your hands. Disinterest doesn’t do that.”

Kyra smiled.

“Sit down Yul. Tell me what you see.”

“Permission to speak freely?”

“Yes Yul, always. Please.”

“We all appreciate the burden you carry and quite frankly I’m not sure where we would be without you Kyra. But you are as Hynerian as the rest of us.”

Kyra leaned forward in her chair, her eyes slightly wide and focused on Yul. Those brilliant blue eyes framed by strands of silky black hair that fell loosely over her reddish cheeks. Regal even in repose, thought Yul.

Tilting her head slightly to the right, her eyes softening as if to say I understand, Yul asked, “Did you tell him?”

Kyra starred straight ahead as if she was looking right through Yul. Here but not here in a moment. Yul felt a book in that vacant look and wondered if she had been too presumptuous.

“I’m sorry Kyra. I didn’t mean to pry.”

“No, no not at all. I’m just a little stunned and confused and lost all at once. I’m experiencing emotions with a strength and ferocity I’ve never felt before and they seem to be muddying the waters of my mind.”

Yul’s eyes narrowed, her lips rolled together and cheek bones rose slightly.

Kyra hesitated.

“And no, I didn’t tell him. I had just about worked up my nerve when you came in with news of Rog.”

“Oh Kyra.”

“You didn’t know Yul. How could you. Can I ask you a question?”

“Anything Kyra.”

“Have you ever been in love?”

“Yes.”

“Tell me.”

“What would you like to know?”

“How did you know?”

“Know?”

“How did you know it was love and not some silly infatuation?”

“Oh. Well, I’m not sure how to answer. Not sure I know the answer. Not sure anyone does. The feeling does not loan itself to words. Love is in the spaces between the words, between the notes as they say. As soon as you try to use words the essence slips away like water through a fist. I hate to say you just know but . . .”

Kyra just sat.

“Kyra, let me put it this way. You are at Valla. First visit since winter has passed. You rise early, walk the path to the beach. Barefoot, you walk to the water, warm sand underfoot. The sun smoothly peeks over the horizon. There is not another soul in sight. Simultaneously the warm water laps at your ankles while the cool fresh air of dawn awakens your senses like a hot cup of snizzle. Your out-breath is more of a sigh, and with that sigh the thought occurs that life is about as good as it gets. Now imagine if every breath brought that feeling.”

Kyra thought for a second. “Would you say love is a timeless, needless space?”

“Never heard it put that way. Not sure I understand needless.”

“Papa often tried to help me see the folly of desire, the endlessness of desire and the foolishness of chasing it. He told me, “Kyra, satisfy one desire and two more will take its place.” When I think of Kieran, all the things I think I need or want drop away, almost as if the one desire to hold his hand, to stand with him in silence, sucks the air out of every other want.”

“Mmm, sounds like just another desire.”

“I know. Yet . . .”

“Yet, it’s different somehow.”

“Yes, different. Or perhaps just a subtle rationalization covering the most baseless and shameless selfishness.”

“Perhaps. Then again . . .”

“I don’t know. I just don’t know Yul. I had the most selfish thoughts in the iso ward.”

“Kyra, can I tell you something?”

“Please.”

“You think too much. Love is not in thinking. Thinking misses the spaces. What happens if you stop thinking?”

“Go on.”

“I’m serious. Stop thinking. Stop mind mapping. Stop analyzing. Stop beating yourself up. Stop doubting. Stop the mental gymnastics. Let go of your need to know. Can you just let go?”

Kyra sat stunned. For the second time in twenty-four hours someone had told her to let go. Was she so obvious in her grasping, so transparent in her selfish neediness.

“There you go again. Stop it. You will never find love in a word. Words are just words and love is something other. You sense it in a look or a touch. As my nanny use to say, ‘Love is a verb dear, not a noun.’ ”

Kyra smiled. “Thank you Yul.”

“For what?”

“For being honest and direct with me.”

“Kyra, I don’t mean to interrupt,” said Goldie, “but Trev says he needs you in the iso ward right now.”

Kyra looked at Yul.

“Go. And leave the thinking here. All you need bring is your heart. Oh, and Kyra.”

“Yes?”

“Let go of everything you know. Dissolve into the flow. Let love carry you. If you try to carry it, it will crush you.”

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