Relena wants freedom, depending on herself and not having to answer to anyone, but a betrayal takes that away. The last thing she expected was the incredibly handsome Marren to free her.
She has to fall in love with him, fulfill a prophecy involving their heart song, and rejoin the two realms. But Jiren, the last Ancient of his kind, isn’t convinced and will stop at nothing to maintain his throne, even if it means breaking their most sacred law.
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Chapter 5, scene 2
“Spring is definitely in the air.” I giggled to myself as Marren’s arm tightened around my hand.
“It is, indeed.”
He led me down a path that forked to the right and opened into a small field of the most beautiful, tallest, red tulips bordered by trees, as if he had cut out a place for these flowers, and they grew with the magic that had won over my heart. I held my breath for fear that letting it out would make them fade.
“By the Gods, this is beautiful!”
“I thought you would like it. Go on.” He motioned toward the field.
I looked into his eyes, as if to make sure he wasn’t joking, and then stepped tentatively into the field of flowers. Their light scent danced in the air. It was sweet and mild. At about the halfway point, I looked over my shoulder at Marren, still standing on the path. I smiled, facing him and cocked my head to the side. I wondered what was taking him so long to join me. He nodded toward me a smirk pulling at the corner of his lips. I turned back around taking another step, finding a rock that rolled underneath my foot. I fell to the ground and started laughing.
I was pulled up by Marren so fast it took my breath away. “Are you okay?”
Slowly, he placed my hands on his shoulders then slid his down the side of my arms, along my back, and coming to a rest at my waist. He pulled me into him, pressing our bodies together. I took in a deep breath as a rush pulsed through my veins. The woods became silent, and the wind stopped blowing, as if the world stilled for us. We started to sway, slowly, from side to side. It was awkward, like he was nervous, which made a giggle bubble out of me, shaking my frame against his. He chuckled in response and started spinning me as we glided through the flowers, twirling one way and the other in motions that were graceful, magnificent, and magical. My feet barely touched the ground, like we floated in the air.
We dance in circles, through every inch of the flower field as we gazed into each other’s eyes, looking into forever. Eventually, we slowed, returning to the center of the field and shifting back into the sway before stopping completely.
“I want you to promise me something . . .” Marren said. I worried that there was something on his mind, a weight that burdened him.
“What?” I asked.
“Promise you’ll remember this day, no matter what decision you make.” His voice was sad and fearful.
“What decision am I to make?” I asked, twirling a strand of his hair around my finger and losing myself in his eyes.
He pressed his lips to mine. The sweetness in his kiss filled me, but his lips were almost too soft. “You’ll see . . . just promise me you’ll remember today.”
I woke from a fitful sleep with a loud clap of thunder that shook the room. I sat up, struggling to catch my breath, when I saw someone at the foot of the bed. “Marren?”
“What are you doing at the foot of my bed?” I said, impatient and still angry.
“I want you to see me . . . what I am,” he replied as if he was surrendering to something he didn’t want to do.
My heart raced. Questions and warnings rang in the back of my mind. One thing overwhelmed them all. Need. A need to know, a need to see, a need to keep him with me because I was too proud to admit I was too scared to be alone.
I moved slowly, crawling on top of the blankets and to the edge of the bed. I stood on my knees and took deep breaths to calm myself as lightning and thunder crashed and rain pelted the stone balcony. I reached with trembling hands and pulled the sheers apart slowly. Marren stood on the other side of the bench, patiently waiting for my reaction. He stood perfectly still, like a statue belonging in the ballroom with the other races, long fallen into myth and legend. Lighting flashed across his face, and I realized why he was so afraid.
I froze. Partly in terror and partly in awe. “You’re a werewolf.”
“Are you afraid of me?” he asked with uncertainty.
Of course, I was afraid. It wouldn’t be natural otherwise. I couldn’t tell him that. “No. More like . . . mesmerized.”
I leaned over the bench, reached out my hand and touched his face. Soft and smooth skin returned my touch, just as with the human part of him. My fingers traced the changes, moving over the rises and falls of his features. Goosebumps rose on my arms and trickled down my spine. Another flash of lightning shone on his face, his eyes were closed.
“You’re beautiful,” I whispered.
“You—you don’t think I’m a monster?”
I laughed under my breath. “How could I?”
“This is what I am. If living a life with me is what you really want, you will need to eventually make the change as well,” his words echoed soundlessly through my mind, as well as the urgency within them.
I dropped my hand and sat back on my legs. “Before I can think about that, give me some answers.”
He nodded slowly.
“How old are you?”
“Old enough to have seen the changes in this world,” he spoke with sadness in his words.
“Does that mean you will you live forever?”
“So if I decide not to make the change, then . . .”
“It will kill me when you eventually die.”
“Why would my death kill you?” I fought a losing battle. Instead of getting answers, I found more questions.
His mouth opened as if he was going to answer, but then he closed it, looking out the window. Worry creased his brow.
I tried a different approach, “Is that the decision you warned me of?”
“I wouldn’t want you to rush into something like this. It takes time. With the company that’s coming, you’ll need to make that decision sooner than I had hoped.”
I climbed atop the bench and then stepped to the floor to stand in front of him; my knees were stiff from sitting on them. “When?”
“The decision will need to be made by tomorrow night.”
“What happens if I say no?”
“I would rather not think about that but considered that a possibility.”
“And?” I asked.
“I’m hoping you won’t,” he said.
“Why is it important to you for me to say yes?”
“Because, my world was never complete until you were a part of it, and you are my heart song.”
My mind emptied of everything. Every question, every thought and argument, even logic left my mind. Not once did I expect to hear words like his. I was never anything to anyone. My own father didn’t even want me, and yet, Marren did. The whirlwind of my life seemed less chaotic with him. He calmed the destructive force that claimed so much of me, and when I thought about not having him around, my heart hurt. I’ve always been told persistence wins over patience. I didn’t realize how true that was until now.
My decision was made.
I lifted my hands to his chest, his heart thumped against my touch. I inched close enough for his breath to blow over my neck and shoulders. His lips pressed into my forehead, but I could tell he was holding back.
I slid my hands around his neck and pulled his lips to mine. Fire pulsed through my veins, setting every nerve ending ablaze. Everywhere his hands touched, tingled like tiny bolts of lightning. Slowly, his arms wrapped around me as our kiss deepened. My feet left the floor as he carried me to the side of the bed, lying me down. His mouth traced the edge of my jaw and the length of my neck. He pulled away, letting his breath flow over my skin in warm waves.
“Are you sure this is what you want?”