"I . . . I just want to thank you two for not giving up on me," I said, focusing on Dixon. I cleared my throat. "For looking for me and for caring."
"You don't need to thank us," Ren said. "You never need to do that, sweetness."
"For once, I agree with the loser," Tink replied. "I already told you. That's what we do."
Tears burned my eyes. "Yeah," I croaked out, pressing my lips together.
"You're going to be okay," Ren said, seeming to sense I needed to hear that, because I really did. He stretched his arm out along the back of the swing, curling his fingers around my shoulder.
Tink nudged my arm, careful not to wake Dixon. "Of course she will be. She has us."
That was the first time I think Tink had ever referenced himself and Ren in the same sentence and had it not end in insults. Wow. Progress. Or he was that worried about me.
Tink was probably just that worried about me.
And that was okay. He worried because he cared and loved me. And even as hard as it was for me to believe and understand, Ren cared too.
Ren loved me.
Sitting in between Ren and Tink, I turned my face up to the sky and closed my eyes. I let the sun soak my skin and start to warm places inside me that were cold and dark.
I was a little torn, frayed around the edges, and it was going to be a long, bumpy road to being a hundred percent okay. And nothing was going to stop and wait for me to get there. Drake would be coming for me, or he would be going after another halfling. We had to find the crystal, and we had to stop him. None of that could really wait.
But I was going to be okay.
I was a halfling. I wasn't the same Ivy from a few months ago. Everything was different now. I was different. There were places in me that were still cold, that were still full of insidious shadows, but I wouldn't be cold forever.
Careful not to disturb Dixon, I reached over and placed my hand on Ren's leg, palm up. I felt the sharp breath he took. A second later, he folded his hand over mine, and he squeezed.
I lifted my gaze to his, but I didn't need to say anything. I leaned into his side, resting my head against his shoulder. I felt his body relax almost instantaneously. My gaze slid over to Tink. He was watching us with those pale, blue eyes. He winked.
I was not alone in any of this.
I was only a little torn, but not broken.
"Yeah," I said. "I'll be okay."
And I was brave.