Emma grit her teeth, keeping both hands wrapped around the hilt of her sword. Her arms vibrated when Grace's blade hit hers, the metal ringing out. She nearly lost her grip on the sword."Don't let go." Emma nodded. She planted her feet and swung her sword. Grace blocked the blow. Emma tried again from a different angle. Grace stopped it once more. Emma tightened her grip, anger welling up in her chest. "Try not to be so predictable."
Grace knocked Emma off her feet. One minute, Emma saw Grace; the next, she was staring at the sky. Emma's head smacked against the ground, pain exploding behind her eyes. Yelling, she tossed her sword away.
"Damn it!" Emma said. "I can't do this. I can't." She exposed her neck to Grace. "Go ahead and take it. It's obvious you want to."Grace offered her hand instead of the tip of her sword. "Have you finished complaining for the day?" "No." Emma shoved Grace's hand away. She struggled to her feet and picked up her sword. She rounded on Grace. "You apparently enjoy pushing me down." Grace sheathed her sword and crossed her arms. "You have only been here for three months, Emma. No one learns how to fight with a sword that quickly. You are doing very well. Don't give up now." Emma stalked away, her anger growing with every step. She couldn't understand why whatever power was responsible for Immortals chose her to be one. She watched Grace practice every day, jealous of the fluid and easy movement. A movement she wasn't capable of. She had even seen Grace take a head. The strength and speed her mentor had fought with was the most impressive thing Emma had ever seen. How was she supposed to be able to do that? Frustrated, Emma tracked mud into the foyer of the country house Grace owned. She glared at the elegant space. She hadn't been off the estate since she arrived three months earlier, and that was getting to her as well. Unable to hold it in any longer, she screamed and stamped her feet. When she was finished, she noticed Grace's presence behind her. "So, you have decided to be a spoiled brat again?" she asked, amusement in her face. Emma tossed her hair over her shoulder. "Maybe." Grace sighed. "Emma, I thought we had moved past this. I'm really not in the mood for you to play the indignant lady again." Emma sat down on the steps, all the fight gone out of her. "I suppose it's everything. I'm not learning fast enough. I'm tired of seeing these walls every day." She took a deep breath and told Grace everything. How she didn't feel good enough. How she missed her family. How she felt trapped inside the house. With each little confession, it felt as if a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. Grace sat next to her and didn't say a word. When Emma finished, she rested a hand on her shoulder. "This life isn't easy, I won't lie to you, but you can do this. You may not know it, but you've grown so much in the time you've been here." Emma hadn't expected to hear that. "I have?" She met Grace's eyes. "You have. Remember, you were a spoiled brat when you arrived. A spoiled brat who couldn't hold a sword." The corner of Emma's mouth lifted. "At least I learned how to do that." "It'll come, Emma. Give it time. I'm not going to send you out on your own until you're good enough to protect yourself. And you will be good enough. I know you will." Emma was quiet for moment, digesting Grace's words. Guilt washed over her. "I'm sorry for the way I behaved. Thank you, for everything." Grace stood up, once again offering Emma a hand. "No apology necessary. We're family, you and I." "We are?" Emma thought about that, a smile spreading across her face. "I've always wanted a sister." "What do you say we go somewhere for a while? I think we both could use a holiday." This time, Emma took the offered hand. "That sounds lovely." Together, they climbed the stairs to their rooms. For once, Emma didn't dread seeing the same walls.