Playing with Fire
Whenever I see my girlfriend I ask her how she is doing.
She generally responds:
“Fantastic!” - Good, in her book
“Tired.” - Bored, in her book
“Terrible!” - Distressed, in her book
“Fine.” - Accusing, in her book
I know I am at least safe with the first two.
As for the other two: I can tell she is disappointed with me. Which I have learned to ignore.
When we are together, best friend and confidant always asks: “Why do you like her?”
He asks this often, as if it were the crux of our relationship.
“You ask me that every time we are together,” I finally reply, “Is it out of common courtesy or does it really concern you?”
“Well you are always fighting...it is almost as though she is trying to kill you! Please listen to me as I am only looking out for you as your best friend.”
“Listen, I love her because she is beautiful and keeps me on my toes. And besides, there is no need to worry about me...you know why.”
“Exactly. What if she learns the truth about who you really are?
Although she can be aggressive...daresay even violent, at times...
I must confess that I am not sure which of you poses more danger to the other!”
“Dracula, while you may feel thrilled keeping a tiger as a pet,
it is you who is truly the dangerous one.
You are immortal... while she, Buffy, is only human.”
The Allure of Moonlight
Valora was tired and more than ready for bed this evening. It had been a long day, and she was looking forward to the comfort of her soft mattress with its fresh, sun-drenched linens and plumped up puffy pillows. As she perched herself on the edge of her bed, she picked up the old, discolored photograph that she’d found in the antique shop earlier that day. She didn’t know why, but it had held a fascination for her, and she’d impulsively purchased it.
She slowly turned the photograph over and read the inscription on the back of it again: “Aramis, 1914, Italy”. She whispered the name aloud as she read it: Aramis. The man in the picture was extremely attractive, dressed in expensive and fashionable clothing and wore a handsome smile as he posed in front of a Trattoria – obviously in Italy - as if he didn’t have a care in the world. She didn’t know exactly what it was about him or the picture that attracted her so, but she suspected it was Aramis’ eyes. Even in the faded, yellowed photograph one could easily tell he had beautiful, light eyes that were the focus of his handsome face and appeal. Valora wondered at the volumes of stories those pleasing eyes might have told as she continued to hold the old photograph.
Sighing wistfully, she placed the photograph back on the bedside table, turned out the lamp, and sank into the mattress, pulling the covers up to her chin while she watched the repeated spin of the fan as it twirled on the ceiling above her bed. She had just closed her eyes and was about to drift off to sleep when she heard it: the faintest of knocking upon the window pane.
The moon was full this evening, and its light spread evenly across the length of her room, so she did not turn on the bedside lamp, although she did sit straight up in the bed and peer toward the window. Her bedroom was on the second floor of the old, renovated Victorian house, so it could be none other than a creature or animal of some sort making the noise, she assured herself.
She was about to lie back down when she heard it again. Tap…tap…tap... But from where she was in the bed, Valora could see nothing.
Discarding the covers, her bare feet glided silently and with a bit of trepidation across the hardwood flooring toward the window, an indescribable feeling in the pit of her stomach that seemed to propel her forward with each step she took. Tap…tap…tap. There it was yet again. It grew louder with each step she took.
At first she saw nothing, but then, of a sudden, he appeared, almost as if he had always been there, patiently waiting for her. She should have been shocked and alarmed to find a man outside of her second floor window, but instead and as if in a trance, all she could seem to think was that he was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen. In the moonlight, his nearly black hair gleamed, his crystal blue eyes shone with an iridescent light, and the barest hint of a determined smile graced his lips. He seemed to beckon her, and all she could do was stare back at him in wonder. Unable to move, she felt mesmerized, rooted to the spot by the sight of his image outside of her window where there should be nothing and no one, and yet, there he was.
Tap…tap…tap. His long, lean fingers lightly touched the window pane again as he gave a slight nod of his head, reminding her of his need for entry. Obediently, she deliberately slid the window upward until it was fully open, feeling the fresh coolness of the evening’s breeze.
“Good evening, Valora. May I come in?” His voice was rich, melodic, and thoroughly hypnotic. How in the world did he know her name?
Still in a trance, Valora nodded, completely oblivious that she stood only in a sheer night dress that left little to the imagination as the moonlight drifted through the thinness of the material.
“My sweet,” he implored. “May I enter?”
Valora stepped backwards, nearly tripping. As she did so, the spell was suddenly broken, and she was keenly aware of the absurdity of her unexpected visitor – and the surreal reality of him. “Aramis!” she whispered as dawning awareness of who he was filled her.
“Yes, you know me, Valora,” he said patiently and quietly. “You have always known me,” a smile forming across his handsome lips with his words. “Your soul craves me, does it not? May I enter?”
“Aramis?” she repeated but as a question this time, nearly afraid of his answer.
“Don’t ask questions, Valora. Listen and respond to what your heart is telling you in this very moment.” His look was beseeching, reaching deep into her being as he spoke, his eyes as beautifully blue in their depths as she had envisioned them to be while staring at the old photograph of him.
Feeling the pull of something unknown that had begun when she’d first encountered the picture of him, she responded to his luring, melodic tone. “Please, Aramis, come in,” she whispered softly. Still, she was surprised with the words that issued forth from her mouth and took yet another step backwards, her back now flush against the wall as if seeking support and solace of some kind.
With a lightness of foot and remarkable speed, he was inside, standing before her in a split second of time. Fully illuminated in the moonlight, she saw that he was even more handsome than he had appeared outside of the window. He was tall and slender, clothed completely in black, his opaque, white skin nearly transparent, and the ice blue of his eyes in stark contrast to the black of his hair. His eyes deepened in intensity as he watched her.
“Come closer,” he commanded quietly.
Unable to defy him but unsure as to why not, Valora hesitantly approached, stopping mere inches from him. True to character, she refused to look downward and instead warily watched him, raising her chin in defiance as the green of her eyes deepened.
“You aren’t afraid of me.” It was a statement, not a question. A small smile of irony spread across his lips.
“No,” Valora answered and crossed her arms defiantly in front of her. She did not know why, but whoever he was, and even if he was here to kill her, she was not afraid of him. Instead, she seemed to be mesmerized by his invading presence.
His smile grew, and Valora noticed a deep dimple in his left cheek. “My sweet, you should be very afraid of me,” he said. But he grew more serious as he added, “However, I am immensely pleased that you are not.”
“Why are you here? You say I know you, but I don’t, at least not beyond the photograph….”
He watched her for a long moment before he spoke again, as if contemplating what he would say next. His blue eyes found her green ones again, “Yes, you know me. I am Aramis, and I fear our destinies are intertwined in ways far beyond your comprehension or imagination.”
His words resonated within her despite the lack of understanding. She’d never heard of him or seen him until earlier today, so how on earth could their destinies be intertwined? But then again, she had found the photograph in that drawer amidst so many other pictures at the antique shop. Perhaps….
“I’m not sure I understand,” she said, her voice only above a whisper.
He inched closer and reached out a finger to tuck a stray curl behind her ear. His touch was an oxymoron: cool and yet also electrifying, burning in its intensity. His blue gaze deepened as he moved his finger from her ear to trail across her cheek until it came to rest beneath her chin.
“Do you not feel it?” His voice was laced with promise, the allure of moonlight, and something mysterious.
Yes, she did feel it, but as to what exactly it was that she felt, she did not know. Her emerald green eyes turned liquid at his touch, and she felt the nearness of him with everything inside of her. She desperately longed to lean closer, to fall against him with wild abandon. What had this man done to her in the skip of a heartbeat? She had never felt as she felt at this moment. It was all very surreal. She must be dreaming.
“Yes, I feel it.” Her voice, in her surprise and confusion, was nearly inaudible, but he heard her clearly, as if she had screamed the words at the top of her lungs.
Lifting his hand and reaching behind her neck, he pulled her nearer. He was so close she could feel the coolness of his breath against her cheek. His other hand slowly grasped behind her waist, pulling her tautly against the hardness of his chest with a strong, yet gentle force. His blue eyes searched her green ones, never breaking their gazes as he did so.
“You smell of sweet jasmine,” he said quietly. His blue gaze fell, focusing intently on her neck. His lips drew a hard line, and he inhaled deeply as he studied the strength in the beat of the pulse therein.
She could not think beyond the blue of his eyes and the nearness of him. Whatever it was he wanted of her, she would willing give it – and more - she thought. His gaze, his words, his touch, his being: they were all more intoxicating than the strongest spirits she’d ever imbibed.
“Please,” was all she could seem to say, a plea for something unknown in the heat of the moment as his gaze remained fixed upon the beating pulse in her neck.
Aramis’ blue gaze slowly lifted to search her green one before he leaned closer, his lips lightly trailing across hers, momentarily tasting of their richness. Raising his head slightly, she saw that the blue of his eyes had darkened so much so that they were nearly black. She leaned into him, the need for more encompassing her in a way she had never known until this very moment.
Aramis kissed her again, more deeply, and Valora’s world spun out of control. Instinctively, she turned her neck to his mouth and he willingly partook of what she offered, his own need for it encompassing him.
The first sweet taste of her rich, red blood was sublime, and Aramis nearly lost control. After several moments that felt more like centuries, he raised his head and looked at Valora, the taste of her blood still evident on his lips as he spoke. “Do you understand now, my sweet?” he asked.
Valora’s eyes devoured the man who stood before her. Unsure as to how, she now completely understood the complexity of the situation, and her eyes begged him to partake of more. Indeed, she wanted him to take all from her.
Aramis answered her plea, drinking deeply of her blood again before he suddenly and unexpectedly straightened, taking a step backwards while the flat of his right palm pressed against her chest to prevent her from following his steps.
“I cannot,” he said with a growl and a look of surprise in his dark eyes.
Disappointed and confused, tears filled Valora’s green eyes. “I need you, Aramis. Please,” she begged him.
He was silent for long moments, his eyes black, before he finally spoke again. He was as unprepared for what had just transpired as - and totally unprepared for the onslaught of what he’d just felt as he’d drunk of her blood.
“They named you Valora for a reason,” he said, the faint glimmer of a smile in his eyes as they began to return to their ice blue color. He could not, and he would not, drink all of her as he had originally planned despite the fact that he craved her to a point of mindlessness. Her innocence and allure were too rare and too divine - she was too unique. And she was far too brave for her own good. Yes, she was well worth the keeping.
Valora looked at him questioningly, more confused than ever before.
“You are indeed as brave and courageous as your name suggests, my sweet Valora.”
Aramis reached across and drew her nearer now that his restraint was firmly in place again. Valora fell willingly into his embrace as she craved the mere touch of the man before her., her eyes ever trusting. He stroked the waves of auburn hair, an unknown feeling taking root within him for the woman who stood before him. She was quite rare in unexpected ways, and he knew he had much to learn about her. No human had ever affected him so strongly. Indeed, there was more to this night’s chance meeting than he’d ever suspected.
“Never fear, my sweet, there will be many times we will meet again. I assure you that now I have tasted of you, I see you often, both in your dreams and in the moonlight. I shall never be far. You need only think of me, need me as you did earlier tonight, and I will come to you.”
Raising his wrist and biting into it, he then placed it against her lips, entreating her to drink from it. If he wished to continue to see her, it was important that there be no tell-tale signs of what had just transpired. His blood would ensure that the bite marks on her neck healed and none would be the wiser.
Valora sighed and deeply drank willingly until Aramis removed his wrist. He pulled her close to lay her cheek against his chest, and she closed her eyes, knowing a security and depth of feeling previously unbeknownst to her. Embracing the coolness of what she thought was his chest, Valora sought to wrap her arms around Aramis, but of a sudden, her eyes flew open for it was the coolness of her pillow she held instead of his body, and she lay within the crisp coolness of her bed.
She sat up and quickly jumped out of bed, her bare feet thudding as they hit the wooden flooring. Valora looked all about in search of the man who had just invaded her room, her mind, her heart, and everything within her being, but there was inexplicably no sign of him. Glancing at the window, she saw that it was not as she had left it when first she’d gone to bed; it was now raised and the curtains fluttered in the light breeze. Her feet made short work of the distance where she leaned upon the window sill in search of the man named Aramis. But there was no sign of him in the stillness of the moonlight night. Had it all been only a dream?
Slowly and methodically and as if in a trance again, Valora shut the window and leaned against it. She raised her hand to lightly touch her neck but feeling nothing, she quickly headed to the mirror, turning her head to better gage the length of her neck in the flooding light from the moon. Disappointment filled her: there were no bite marks. No sign of Aramis remained where she was sure his mouth had once been, filling her with a need unlike any other she’d ever experienced.
Sighing, she began to turn back to the bed, convinced she’d had some strange, surrealistic dream, but then she inadvertently caught her reflection in the moonlight falling across the reflective mirror. On her lips still lingered the slightest hint of red blood. Slowly, she reached a slender finger upwards and felt wetness, then lifted it to see the richness of Aramis’ blood. Her heart leapt with joy that he had not been a dream after all, but a reality beyond the imaginable. A secretive smile lingering on her blood-stained lips, Valora climbed back into bed, picked up the old photograph, and turned to lay on her back as she watched the spin of the fan above, immensely pleased with her newfound discovery.
Aramis. The name was as sweet as the nectar of the Gods, and she could think of no other. He had been very real and in this room with her until only moments ago. It was not a dream and she had not imagined him or what she’d felt. She smiled. Her heart, her soul knew this man and had beckoned him from the depths of the forbidden and unknown. This is why she had found the old photograph and was so drawn to it. And now, he would return to her when she needed him, forever to remain a part of her life.
This night had been unlike any other moonlit night, and Aramis, unlike any other she’d ever known. The unbidden and the forbidden mingled, joining to complete her dreams as she drifted to sleep. And as she slept, Valora held the sweet allure of moonlight tightly within her grasp, a secret smile of desire, longing, and fulfillment playing across her bloodstained lips as she knew, without a doubt, that only the most intense of desires are derived from the depths of the unknown and the forbidden.
Charles and Angelica
Her antennae were long and beautiful, like slender branches from a willow tree, and her thorax was unlike any he had ever seen -- it was the color of amber, as if a drop of honey had formed into the shape of a perfect linepithema.
As Charles looked up from the crumb he was dragging, his fellow worker ants clicked their mandibles in a certain way, the message was clear, Bro, she’s not in your league.
In fact she wasn’t even the same species, she was Argentine and he was Fire, but he didn’t care. Her eyes were mysterious, like pools of red wine he could dive into. Her name was Angelica.
"Angelica" he whispered under his breath. Even the sound of her name made him weak in all six knees. He stopped pretending to work and dropped the crumb to stare at her in the distance. He didn’t care if the other colony would tear him apart, he knew they were destined to be together.
"One day, Angelica. One day you will be mine".
Love of this world and all that is repersents is a forbidden love. For My love is to my Kin, Savior, and my sheild and bucker. He is my live, and glory when I die.
He watches her from across the room, longing for one second alone, just one second where niether of them have to pretend or try to fight how they feel, she's just out of reach, close enough to touch but to far to keep. The tension almost makes the time they are together worth it, it's so fiery and passionate between them, like they just can't get enough. But is that only because they know they can't have each other? What would happen if they weren't sneaking around? Would it all just fizzle out? After all forbidden fruit always looks sweeter on their side of the tree.
Eli and Amelia’s (kinda) first date
The smell of roasting herbs and potatoes wafted through the small apartment complex. The smell of roasting herbs and potatoes wafted through the small apartment complex.
This was a delicious smell, with some altogether unexpected origins as it emanated from the bachelor pad on the second floor whose occupants rarely seemed to cook anything other than microwave meals and popcorn. Inside that apartment, a young man of twenty something with tawny hair and deep grey eyes was anxiously pacing his living room waiting for his guest to arrive. It was 5:57, and she was supposed to arrive at 6. So obviously, she had been in a terrible accident, or simply decided decided to ghost him.
Neither option was pleasant. Or true.
The light knock on the door shook young Eli, for that was his name, out of his stress induced stupor. Taking a steadying breath, he made his way to the door and saw her.
On the other side of the door was Amelia. She was a smartly dressed young woman of approximately the same age with dark pink hair and cute button nose. Unbeknownst to Eli, Amelia had been standing at his door for nearly ten minutes before plucking up the courage to knock. In all honesty she probably would have run if her feet weren’t frozen to the floor. Then the door swung open, and for the first time in a year she saw him.
As awkward as it sounds, they stared at each other in practical silence for near a minute before Amelia plucked up the courage to say something
“Can I come in?” She asked in a tone that betrayed the nervousness she felt.
“Uh.” Eli stared for a second longer before he pulled the door open further and smiled awkwardly “Yes of course.”
Her chunky heels clacked on the linoleum wood floor of the entry way.
It took another second for Eli to return to relative normalcy and ask for her coat.
Most of that left when he saw what she was wearing underneath the coal black duster.
“Do I look ok?” She asked, brushing imaginary lint from her dress shoulder.
″ No. I mean.” He swallowed “You look beautiful.”
″ Really? ” Amelia asked, blood rushing to her cheeks. She had spent nearly three hours trying on outfits before deciding simple was best.
“Yes. Really.” A light blush tinted his cheeks “Absolutely stunning.”
A few more moments of tense silence passed before they spoke at the same.
“What’d you -”
“How have you-”
“I’m sorry.” The said in unison once again.
″ I guess I’m a little nervous” she said with a gentle smile.
″ Me too.”
″ Especially since.. ” her thought trailed off
“Yeah.” He stared at the floor “Since...”
“Dinner smells good?”
“I’m glad you think so!” Eli smiled and gestured towards the kitchen ” I had to call my mom for help- I have a nasty habit of burning chicken.”
″ I still do that and my mom made me take cooking classes!”
The awkwardness seemed to slip away as the two old friends fell into conversation about calling their mom whenever something went wrong. Over dinner they easily switched between talking of home and child hood stories, of favorite foods and recent events.
“Can I ask,” Amelia asked as they were eating dessert, curiosity having burned a question deep in her mind “Do you still talk with David?”
“Well” Eli set his fork down “Not really. He moved out a little bit after you guys. I take it you and he don’t?”
“No. He said not to contact him again after he picked up the last of his things.”
″ Do you miss him?”
″ Sometimes” he
flinched and leaned away ” Sometimes I miss how we used to be, or how I felt when I was around him.” She grabbed his hand on the table and squeezed it gently “But I missed you a lot more.”
A long time after the movie had finished, and the TV screen turned black Amelia woke up curled up against her date, her hand wrapped tightly around his.
The sun peaked through the window, and prickled at her eyes. She could get up, she supposed, but to lie here with him was simply too comfortable.
The sun peaked through the window, and prickled at her eyes. She could get up, she supposed, but to lie here with him was simply too comfortable. The sun peaked through the window, and prickled at her eyes. She could get up, she supposed, but to lie here with him was simply too comfortable.
Eli had been awake for nearly an hour. His left leg had fallen asleep and he was positively dying of thirst but he didn’t want to wake her up. To the outside observer, Amelia wasn’t terribly pretty while she slept, her mouth hung open and she sounded like a tiny chainsaw when she snored. But to Eli, she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever met- her grace, her mind, her humor, the way her eyes twinlked and hair frizzled. All of it was so unequivocally beautiful to him.
“You’re awake” Amelia murmured, snapping Eli out of his thoughts
“Have been for a while.” He smiled at her as she pushed herself upright and brushed the hair out of her face.
“Did you sleep ok?”
“No. Not really” he sighed and leaned on the arm “I’m terrified that this isn’t going to work and that we will be worse off then before. I don’t want to lose you Amelia, even if that means never actually do.... This.”
″ It’s because of David, isn’t it?” She rubbed her numb hand ” though you’re not friends anymore it still feels like cheating. Like a betrayal to date me.”
″ Eli,” she gently grabbed the sides of his face, and stared into his eyes “I don’t want to give up on us just yet. ” Amelia pressed a gentle kiss to his lips ” I think I love you. ”
“I think I love you too.”
His Woman of Mauve and Lapis
Two Days Before the Ball
Prince Lorenzo knew the law. It was something he had to memorize since he was a child in preparation for his big future and the inevitable inheritance of the kingdom. The law had been set in place for hundreds of years, a way to keep order within the land and keep not only their ways, but their blood, pure. But just because Lorenzo knew the law, did not mean he agreed with it.
His eighteenth birthday loomed ahead of him like a storm cloud jutting off the horizion. In just two days was his birthday ball and every eligible woman in the country was invited and encouraged to attend. For as the ancient decree announced, every royal must marry a commoner, to keep their blood pure and clean. And yet, Lorenzo was not looking forward to meeting the girls that would come in cotton dresses void of jewels. He wanted those in silks and pearls. No, that wasn’t right. He didn’t care what Princess Justina wore, so long as she was by his side. The Ivivalon royal family were invited to the ball, of course, to enjoy the festivities and delight in the pairing that Lorenzo would choose. Some lucky girl that he would have to court until they would be married at twenty-one. He grimaced at the thought. Lorenzo was unsure of what was worse--not having Justina or her watching him get paired off with another.
He was so lost in his foreboding that he didn’t notice the gentle rasping at the door becoming more hurried with each knock until it swung open without invitation. Lorenza jumped to his feet, startled. The intruders were a nervous servant in his humble powdered wig and burnt orange loose collared shirt. Behind him peered the face of someone dressed more ostentatiously--the seamstress, Madame Damiana Tait. Her plump lips curved into a smile when she saw the prince, making Lorenzo grimace. He could hardly see her smile behind all the powder on her face and her fiery red hair was donned into some sort of aristocratic ponytail. Jewels hung about her neck, given even her own cotton dress a sort of glamor above the other common people. She did dress the king, after all.
“So sorry to intrude, His Royal Highness,” the servant ducked his head and wrung his hands. “But Madame Tait said you had an appointment and she could wait no longer.”
Lorenzo sighed and waved them in. Madame Tait pushed past the servant and immediatley started tousling with his long brown curls. He bit back a smile as he saw the shock on the servant’s face at her impropriety. Lorenzo gave him a nod to dismiss him.
“You really want to keep this length for the ball?” Madame Tait pursed her lips. “We could alter the sides--”
“Please, Madame Tait,” Lorenzo held up a hand. “I do not wish to hear the word altar here.”
Damiana was the one person Lorenzo trusted with his secrets. Sure, she dealt in gossip but he knew she’d take his truth to the grave. In fact, it was his very seamstress who had found seculded places for Lorenzo and Justina to mingle in past royal obligations, though it had always come at a price in gold. Gold Lorenzo could easily afford. Heartbreak, though, was an entirely new and costly thing.
Madame Tait frowned, crease lines struggling to crack through her caked-on make-up. “Perhaps his highness will find a respectable lady at the ball. Perhaps she will whisk you away with her beauty.”
Lorenzo looked away, towards the window. He was ever so prone to melancholy these days. “No one is as beautiful as her,” he said bitterly. It was true. Many courtiers had already scripted songs of Justina’s beauty. Golden hair that fell in ringlets below her shoulders, hazel eyes that looked like gems, cheeks that blushed as red as an apple, and curves that put Lorenzo to shame when he thought of them. Some had begun whispering conspiracies on why someone so beautiful had not caught a suitor yet. Some had already begun to suspect them. Lorenzo knew it was better to get this ball over with and cast his affair aside so as not to cause either of their kingdoms disgrace. But the thought of never seeing her--never holding her again--well, that seemed worse than his own kingdom crumpling to the ground.
Damiana had kept talking but Lorenzo didn’t hear her, too busy thinking of Justina’s smile. He looked at his seamstress now as she was pulling powder blue fabrics from her bag.
”...a nice suit will do and you’ll charm the ladies, I am sure of it,” the woman crowed. “I just need to measure you so I can alt--er, adjust the fabrics.”
Lorenzo nodded and bit the inside of his cheek as she stabbed him with her needles.
One Day Before the Ball
The Friday night before Lorenzo's birthay, they were hosting a dinner at the palace. Because the ball was meant for the commoners, the dinner was something the nobles could enjoy. Which meant it was the last night Lorenzo might be able to steal kisses with his beloved princess.
As the host country, Lorenzo and his family, the rulers of the Ophilian Kingdom were seated first at their long glass dining table. Because the ball was in his honor, Lorenzo was seated at the head chair usually meant for the king, where intricate designs of gold swirled across the backrest and velvet cusions padded the seat. It seemed fitting with the outfit Damiana dressed him in: a royal blue fur cloak that made the room too warm, a matching tunic that fell just below his waist, and dark tights that left little to the imagination. Lorenzo tugged at the tunic a bit self-consciously as he joined the seat of honor. He faced the long expanse of table, in between his parents, and braced himself for her entrance.
The king and queen of Ivivalon were the first to be seated of the guests, their lips pursed in sophisticated frowns though their eyes twinkled. They had been the friends of Lorenzo's parents for decades, ever since the two countries made an alliance. As such he knew Justina since they were children, but in recent years, that friendship had bloomed into something deeper.
Lorenzo sucked in a deep breath as Justina entered. Her tight but full dress swept around her, gold lines accentuating her curves against the mauve colors of her house. A matching veil fell from the top of her blonde curls and settled against her soft, pale neck. To complete her attire, Justina tucked an ermine cloak around her, one she would discard once seated. Lorenzo could hardly remember to exhale; she was so beautiful, and even after all these years she could still surprise him with her shy smile and sparkling lapis eyes.
Lorenzo could hardly make it through dinner, trying to make eye contact with Justina while she tactifully avoided his gaze. He knew during the rounds between dinner and dessert when they usually exchanged bawdy humor for entertainment, he'd be able to get her alone in the corrider, where there is a tiny alcove underneath the grand staircase. But, there were seven courses until then. First came the pottage made with leeks and onions, then the wild boar which he had the honor to carve with the gilded knife upon the silver platter. Followed by the salmon and the stuffed peacock and the buttered bread, Lorenzo watched as their parents dabbed their mouths with handkerchiefs and sipped up their stew. He, however, could hardly eat a bite. He fought a stab of guilt for the chefs who prepared his meals as he swirled his spoon through the food but the guilt did little to increase his appetite.
Finally, just when Lorenzo thought he might scream over the pleasentries and politics being exchanged at the table, they decided to break to the parlor before dessert. Justina excused herself first, claiming she had to use the powder room. Lorenzo was not long after her.
In their hidden alcove, Lorenzo embraced Justina even as she stiffened under his arms. He retreated, lost. "What is it, my princess?" he whispered before peppering kisses about her neck. Her skin was soft and intoxicating. She was right in front of him and yet he still yearned to be closer. But, when he reached for her plump lips, she turned away.
"You're to find a wife tomorrow," Justina said. He didn't imagine the hurt in her voice.
Lorenzo scoffed. "Hardly, we shan't be married until the ripe age of tewenty-one."
Justina placed a palm on his chest. Lorenzo wondered if she could feel his heart pounding. "Are we to carry on like this? Stolen kisses in the shadows?" Before Lorenzo could respond, Justina shook her head. "I will not scorn some poor woman, no matter how much I want to."
Justina made to retreat her hand but Lorenzo caught it in his grip. Her palm was warm. "You know if I could make you my wife, I would."
"But you can't." Justina's eyes glanced down towards the shape outlined in his tights, and Lorenzo wasn't sure if he should be flustered or flattered. Instead, he only gripped her hand tighter, pleased when her cheeks flushed like the skin of an apple.
"Maybe we could run away together," Lorenzo pleaded. "Forget the kingdoms. Forget the marriage mandate."
"And dishonor our families? We have responsibilities, Lorenzo."
Even though the rejection should have stung, Lorenzo loved the sound of his name in her mouth. He brushed a tear away from her cheek and she leaned into his palm, eyes fluttering closed.
"I want to be with you," he whispered, his lips against hers, before hungrily embracing her. She was intoxicating and tonight was his last night of drunkeness.
The Night of the Ball
Damiana really came through with his ball costume. Hours before the guests would arrive, she draped rich baby blue cloths over his shoulders until he was cloacked in form fitting tights and billowing trousers tucked over his tunic that had intricate designs of his family sigil. The finishing touch was a fur cloak draped over his shoulders and cascading to the floor behind him. Damiana had turned him towards the long looking glass, eager for his opinion.
In response, Lorenzo raised his eyebrow at her. He couldn't deny that he was exquisitely dressed and any woman of the kingdom would adore the lavishness, but Damiana knew her worth. She never asked him what he thought.
She only shurgged. "I thought I'd give you control over something tonight."
Though her words came from kindness, they only bittered Lorenzo's heart, and now he sat on the throne like an imposter, watching as each woman entered, announced from the doorway. Some glided in, hands poised on the sides of their ballgowns as if they practiced their whole lives for this. Other girls stumbled in apologetically, and blushed when he made eye contact. Really, Lorenzo was just trying to avoid looking at one girl, stood in the corner of the honored guests. Justina looked beautiful that night; she always did. Her golden dress billowed out at the hips and threads of jewels fell like waterfalls down each curve. Her bare neck was powdered white so that one could only see the lapis gemstone in the middle. Her family heirloom, and a reminder that she was not for him.
It glinted from the light of the chandeliers, drawing his eyes away from the young woman who were preening for his attention. Justina's matching eyes met his from across the ballroom and he found himself striding towards her. When he paused in front of her, she curtsied.
"Your highness," she said, her voice tight as if there were too many words waiting to get out. "Shouldn't you be dazzling the woman of Ophilia?"
Lorenzo bowed, jaw tensed. He knew everyone was watching him. He knew he couldn't break protocol and kiss Justina there and then, but oh, he wanted to. "I have alread found the most beautiful woman," Lorenzo responded, voice so low that only Justina could hear.
Justina smiled, and Lorenzo was delighted to see a blush crawl up her neck all the way to her blonde curls. But her smile soon turned to a grimace as she shook her head. Lightly, she touched his arm. "People are watching, Lorenzo. Go dance with one of the other beautiful women."
Lorenzo scowled and bowed. "As you wish, my lady."
He wished spite didn't rule him sometimes, flowing through his blood like anger. For it was spite that drove him to another blonde woman with curls like Justina's, but her cotton dress hung limply about her shoulders and her smile did not dazzle him. Lorenzo danced with the commoner all night, barely learning her name, so focused was he on Justina's eyes following their waltz. He didn't hear his own words when he announced the commoner as his betrothed; the rushing in his ears was too loud.
The only thing he could focus on was how Justina's face fell--a tiny expression change that he did not miss, but one that showed him she had had hope after all. And now it was too late. There was a ring on his finger, but it was not lapis.
I laid back on my bed and put on the VR headset. I knew I shouldn’t. It was the third time already today and still not yet lunch-time. Working from home, being lonely, never meeting any real people. I convinced myself that it was okay. I wasn’t addicted, just enjoyed the trip. I could stop – any time – if I met a real person to share my life with. That didn’t look likely – but the virtual world was so much more realistic and enthralling.
She was everything he's mother prayed for and he everything her mother dispiesed, yet somehow they were drawn to each other like a moth to a fire. their love doomed from the begining but they would fight against all odd just to make it last...
maybe not forever...
maybe not another day...
but fight they did and they still are.
meeting him was unplaned. She was not one to believe in love, having had to dry countless tears of her friends in messy bathroom stalls with random writings on th walls, from heartbreak. that alone was enough to warn her about the dangers of loving someone. the dangers of letting someone else in. So she kept her heart, and her mind and emotions gaurded.
He was a whiskey shot on a sunday morning. Wrong in all ways. He played with girls hearts like it was a sport, he kept count of the amout of woman he could seduce. The tipical playboy with the little black book from all the movies she had watched. even though the warning flegs were blood red and the sirens louder than that of nails on a chalk board she still felt herself falling. falling for a man that probably never look her way. for she walked the line and gaurded her emotions. one glance was all she could give. all she would give before pushing the stupid thought of maybe away to be lost forever.
but seeing him for the first time was different. her world stoped and her breath caught in her throat. it was as though there was just him and her. and no one else. the feeling that came with it was uncany and she hated it. for the first she found herself afraid that her walls would fall and she would be left un gaurded.
and she was. for although years had passed since the first day she had layed eyes on him. that random rainy day, with the cliche romantic scene of bumping into him all because she had not focused on her foot steps provokes all those emotions and fears she had spent months hiding.
and when they had started seeing each other it was though fireworks had gone off. they never had a balance. it was always in extremes. when they were in love they were floating and when they were fighting, vases, mirrors and so much more became their targets. words hung in the air like wet cloths, demping the atmosphere for what seemed like months but in true nature was merely a few days. a few days of silence until one broke it and it was a far fetched memory of the cause of their fight.
but that didnt mean that loving her was easy. yes he was in love. but yes he still had a reputation. he was hard to love, yet easy. he never spoke about emotions, never showed appreciation for the things she offered, things she had never overed to anyone else. Girls appeared from all angles, he denied knowing them. but she had difficulty trusting knowing hes past. she would hate to cry in a messy toilet stoll because she decided to love someone. she dicided to give her all and be giving a back hand through her unsuspecting face.
their relationships was a series of: together. broken up. together. broken up. and so it went. but it was not until he trully lost her that he understood that he had lost a gem. something so brillliant that was irreplacable.
evantually they did end up together. not without a fight ofcause. her mother was the evil mother in law. ironic isnt it. the one that orchestrated every heartache and framed him for it. the one that attacked in the dark and acted as the victim . until the light came and day brought along the truth. washing away any doubt the girl had. for she new her mother only acted so poorly because her mother no longer controlled and ruled over her life like a dictator. her mother wasnt the only person that mattered anymore. now there was him. the perfect stranger. the one that her mother saw as a villian but she saw as a hero. because for the first time she felt as though she was alive.
and for the first time he loved her like took hes first breath. finally he changed, finally it was them against the world. although their love is still forbidden, and looked down upon they still fight to keep all of the strands together. often loosing people in the process....