Chapter 7

“Oh, who’s there? Who’s there?” Ponpon asked but I didn’t answer. I could feel though that his head wriggled at the handle of my poniard.

It was that stranger from the forest alright. My sister seemed to be right with her foresight lately, I supposed.

I acted calm and normal, trying not to think what he had done to me in the forest early this morning. I turned my head to look in front of me and nonchalantly drank the fruit wine that was in the glass I held in one hand. It was a gesture that I was ignoring him—if he got what I mean. I did not want to linger or analyze why I feel something whenever he is around. I did not want to read something between the lines… er… in his eyes, rather. I did not want to feel anything at all, especially for this strange Aryan.

But it didn’t seem to get what I wanted to relay to him. He sauntered closer to me, and he sat down just beside me on the bench, looking up at the lights above us.

I stole a glance at him. There was a hint of a smile in his beautifully crafted lips and green eyes.

I did notice he wore different clothes tonight. Yesterday, it was some kind of shiny leathery black cloth that hugged his excellent physique. But now, it was more formal like the occasion demanded. And to my dismay, he looked even handsomer tonight with his hair down. It looked like a beautiful flame under the lights.

I didn’t like what I feel because I was already admiring this man whom I didn’t know of and about.

I sipped from my sparkling glass again, still without the intent to speak with this stranger.

“I never thought I’d see you here again, Xerra,” he said suddenly.

In the corner of my eye, I saw him look at me. As the gentle breeze blew, his out of this world unique spicy sent reached to my nostrils. Never had I smelled someone like him. It was kind of… stimulating my senses.

Okay, that was weird again.

I just swallowed the wine. The sweet warm liquid caressed my throat gently. I turned slowly to look at him, meeting his gaze. Right, he was also looking at me, straight in the eye. There was something there that I couldn’t fathom though. It was something that tugged my heart, which was mystifying. I slowly blinked and showed my blank expression at first. Then, I quirked my mouth and rolled my eyes upward.

“That’s a mutual thought, stranger… Just that I never hoped to see you again.”

But how come I just lied in front of this stranger? It was not like me at all. Why was I trying to hide my real feelings from him? Was I afraid that he’d know that I was longing to see his face again even though I wanted to ignore that feeling? But why was I interested in seeing him again even though the chances were so slim? Why did it rouse in me the feeling that wanted to know him better. And yet, logically, I shouldn’t. I shouldn’t trust someone who just appeared in the forest, which was my turf.

“How about I give you something to remind you that you indeed met me tonight?” And from his pants’ front pocket, he pulled out something.

It was a very rare kind of flower called guabula. One that could only be found in the north of Aryan. It had small three petals and a tube-like star in the middle of it, and it smelled so sweet. Addictive. The flower itself would turn into different colors by each passing day. Tonight, it was violet, and it just matched my lavender gown. I knew that it would take two months before it would dry up and die.

My eyes went up to meet his immediately. He couldn’t be one of the Furezos! Instinctively, I probed his thoughts. However, it was blocked by something… or by him. I couldn’t probe deeper than what he could let me.

Just how much did he know about me? It was just so unfair.

I stared into his eyes, deeply. He smiled at me charmingly than any other Aryan had smiled in my direction since I entered the puberty stage. Because in reality, I always thought that my sister is more beautiful than I am. Plus, she is pure-blooded Aryan. No one in his right mind would get entangled with me in an intimate relationship knowing that I’m just half-breed.

The beautiful and mysterious stranger leaned closer to me. “I know what powers you have, Xerra. But I’m sorry that I’ll keep myself… private… for the time being,” he said it softly in my ear.

I swallowed as his warm breath touched my ear, sending delicious feelings throughout my being.

He placed the guabula on my lap without touching my dress. Why did I suddenly long to be touched by his fingertips, by his hands? Why all of a sudden?

I swallowed a lump in my throat again. My heart was beating so fast because of his nearness and the way he made me feel. His scent did not help at all. It seemed that he awakened something from deep within myself that I’d never felt or known before. It was something of pure instinct… something…

I mentally shook my head. I did not want to continue it. But, yes.

It was something sexual that he awakened deep within myself.

Ah, it was really weird! I wish it would go away right now. I did not want him to notice it or even guess how I feel. It was not only embarrassing but it was uncomfortable, as I felt my core instantaneously go damp.

Our eyes held each other for some time. He abruptly got up and smiled as he looked down at me. It was as if he was thinking twice before he could decide whether to leave me or stay with me longer.

Or was it just my imagination?

“There you are…” Daraton suddenly stopped midsentence when a hand was gestured toward him. He nodded in understanding when his eyes strayed in my direction.

I smiled at Daraton and glanced at the stranger once again. It was clear that Daraton and he were closer than I could imagine.

“I promise that this is not the last time we’ll see each other, Xerra,” the stranger said to me instead and left without looking back.

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