via Daily Prompt: Silence (another part from what will become an “Aladdin” story).
She swung the double doors open of her father’s study, she flung the royal purple curtains away from the opening revealing herself to her father, who sat at his desk, his quill still moving furiously across the parchment. His dark eyes glanced up for a moment before turning back to his work. Jade frowned before swiftly walking over to his desk.
“I need to speak with you.” He nodded his head indicating he wanted her to continue. She blew out a sharp breath. “Father I-“
“I’m glad you’ve returned to us unharmed my dear.” It was the lilting voice of her mother, she swept into room like she was floating on air. She stood next to Jade’s father, her hand resting on her father’s shoulder. He paused in his writings to squeeze her hand.
Jade watched them both. Part of her still fuming over what transpired a mere hours ago and the other part falling in love with her parents’ love.
“-as I was saying,” her mother gave her a sharp look, causing Jade to glance away for a moment “I, uh-“
“Do not stutter dear.” Her mother interrupted again. Jade squeezed her hands into fists trying to reign in her anger. They both acted so unassuming or indifferent at times and she wondered why. They were royalty, they were the king and queen, they were her parents, they should be interested in what she had to say. They are, you’re just being a baby. No I’m not.
“There was a boy in the market, he saved me and cared for me while I was there. Just this morning, we left our shelter and the guards swooped in like a swarm of black bats and they arrested him! They had no right!”
Her father tilted his head to the side, his eyes focusing on his daughter, it made her want to squirm but she didn’t move. Her mother didn’t react.
“Dearest, Nazar handles the arrests-“
“Exactly! They said he was the reason why they wouldn’t release him when I demanded it.”
“You need to speak with him. If their orders came from Nazar, perhaps he can shine better light on the situation. I know nothing of this boy you speak of. He may be a well known thief if Nazar has the guards actively searching for him.”
“But he did nothing wrong. He helped me!”
Her mother moved from behind the desk and came to Jade’s side. She took her hands in hers, the look in her face allowing Jade to know her mother was on her side. Neither woman liked Nazar but he was the king’s best friend. They grew up together in the palace. Her father a noble prince and Nazar, the son of the king’s royal advisor. Her father trusted Nazar more than he probably should. He allowed him to handle issues he may not be able to get to himself, such as petty thieves on the streets and the poor.
“Chinelo.” Her mother’s firm voice said. The king frowned, he pushed away from the desk and stood, his tall frame moved gracefully towards the women he loved the most.
“Jade. Just, speak with Nazar. You’ll find he has reasons for the things he does.”
She knew this wasn’t going to be a conversation that would end in her favor. With an annoyed but resigned sigh, the young princess pushed her curls from her face before giving a quick nod. She pulled herself from her parents hands and slowly moved towards the door. Fine. He wanted her to speak with Nazar, then she would. She would get the answers she wanted.
It didn’t take her long to find him. He seemed to just appear in the large ballroom. Jade always wanted to know where he went, he must have secret passages but she could never find them, nor could she ever catch him escaping or entering one. One of these days.
“Nazar.” Her voice echoed in the large room, his dark eyebrows lifted as he approached the young princess. Jade met him in the middle of the room, her jade skirts moving quickly against her legs.
“Ah princess, how may I be of serv-“
“The guards took a boy from the market this morning, they said they were ordered by you to imprison him.”
Nazar’s face gave away nothing and it infuriated her. He was tall, with long limbs, his eyes were cut sharp, with intense dark eyes, his skin was not as dark as her father’s, unlike her father he wasn’t bald. He always wore dark colors, today it seemed a dark purple was his choice. The bird on his shoulder squawked loudly at the girl, causing Jade to startle just a bit, but she only scowled back. The bird was horrid but it didn’t frighten her. At least, not all the time.
“Ah yes, the street rat. They were operating on my orders, the boy is a criminal.”
“What was his crime?”
“Why, thievery, kidnapping, disorderly conduct, disturbing of the peace. The list goes on majesty.”
“Kidnapping? He never kidnapped me, I ran away.”
Nazar raised his eyebrows in surprise. Feigned surprise. The princess before him held a haughty and irritated expression and he couldn’t help but to inwardly smirk. The brat truly worried about his prisoner. The boy was of use to him, he was of no use to the princess. He touched his hand to his cheek, scratching at his dark beard, shaking his head.
“Oh dear. I wish I had known that before.”
“What have you done?”
The bird on his shoulder bristled at her tone, but with a gentle touch to its chest from Nazar, it calmed. Jade noticed the reaction and frowned. That bird… so strange.
“The boy has been sentenced. His death was only an hour ago.” His tone was indifferent but his expression help sorrow for the princess. Jade crumpled. No. He can’t be…
“W-what?” Tears begin to well in her eyes, she tried to hold them to not cry before this man but it was painful. That boy, she didn’t even learn his name, but he was kind, handsome and she liked being in his presence. He was full of life. Life she wanted. She stumbled away from him.
“Princess-” He reached out for her but she slapped his hand away from her.
“Do not touch me, you-you monster! He was just a boy!” She turned away so fast, that she was worried she might fall. But she was a princess, she would never fall in front of watchful eyes. Nazar watched her run from the room, her jade skirts swishing behind her, her long dark curls bouncing behind her. Her muffled sobs faded into silence. The bird squawked. Nazar nodded.
“Yes my dear. The princess’s attention has been diverted. She will mourn the boy, but it matters not. He is of use to us and she will never see him again.”
Alijah sat, his back against the dank stone walls of the royal dungeon. Manacles were attached to each wrist, both manacle attached to lengths of chain that barely gave him enough room to move them.
The princess. He was so angry with himself for not knowing. But how could I have possibly known? No one has ever seen the princess’ face. Anytime the royal family paraded through the town, Queen Kamaria and Princess Jade’s faces were always covered. Hot sun.
“Idiot.” He mumbled to himself. Alijah rubbed his wrist, wanting to scratch the itch he couldn’t reach. She probably thought he sounded stupid, all of his stories, his tricks of surviving the street, he thumped his head back against the wall, wincing only slightly at the pain. Then she had to see him be friendly with Maria and her brothel. He could die right now and not even be bitter about it.
It didn’t matter anymore. They arrested him without telling him what he did. At least that time. He was sure it was something about the melons but they never said and they weren’t even in the marketplace when he stole the melons, or the apples. It was impossible for them to have known.
“Street rat-” He perked up hearing the scraping of the prison door. It was too dark to see who entered but from the dark mass and the gravelly voice, it was the head guard. Kondo.
“The princess, is she alright? Did she make it back home safely?” Deep laughter sounded and Alijah frowned. What was amusing? It was a serious question. “It’s a serious question.”
“The princess is no longer your concern ingrate. You will never have to worry your criminal head again.”
What? Alijah frowned at those words. Was that a threat? His brown eyes narrowed at the man as he came into the moonlight streaming into the iron bars. It’d been a long day, he’d been down there since morning and he was tired. This was no time for games.
“What do you mean?”
Kondo stood down before Alijah, just enough out of reach that if the boy attacked, the chains would prevent him from touching.
“Midnight tonight, you will receive your punishment. All these years of stealing-“
“It’s only been food. To live, to feed my dog. I’ve never stolen anything important. Just food and trinkets people will never miss.” Those people didn’t care about their wooden carved camels, their broken beaded necklaces, or old worn shoes and their small balls he gave to Fox for enjoyment. Kondo grabbed the front of Alijah’s shirt, yanking him forward, fear flickered through the boy’s brown eyes but he refused to give him the satisfaction.
Kondo continued like he was never interrupted. “-lying and running from us is going to end. That stupid mutt will be without it’s master. You’ve been allowed to avoid this for far too long. That ends tonight.”
He flung the boy away from him, Alijah colliding with the stone wall. He stood a bit too gracefully for such a large man and he swept out of the dungeon. Alijah breath caught in his throat. This wasn’t his first time being caught by the guards, it wasn’t his first time spending time down here, it wasn’t the first time he’d been threatened with death or roughed up a bit but this was the first time that threat was eminent. What was he going to do? The silence around him seemed crushing and it took everything in him not to break.
(This one is long… but I couldn’t stop writing once I got started)
He ran through the streets, his brown eyes darting around as he tried to make sure no one was following him. He understood that people had to make their livings but he also had to eat. The young man spotted a dark alleyway and twisted through the oncoming crowd to hide. His chest heaved as he leaned against the faded brick wall, he let his head rest against the brick blowing a hard breath. That was so close though. Alijah clutched his bag close to his chest and glanced at the streets, no one seemed to even care about him so he slipped into the crowd. Woof! Woof! The dark haired young man looked over his shoulder, a large grin plastering his face. His beagle friend came bounding over, his brown ears flopping and his pink tongue hanging out.
“Fox!” he knelt down to pet his little dog, Fox’s tail wagging happily. “I was worried I lost you.” The dog yipped and Alijah grinned. “Yeah, I should know better by now right? You’ll always find me.” He held up his bag, Fox barked excitedly, his strong nose smelling what his friend stole for them today. Alijah stood and they both walked off to their humble abode.
It wasn’t anything special. A hole in the wall place to be honest. It was a ramshackle old building, no one lived there anymore. He wasn’t sure what the building used to be but he’d been living there for at least eight years, it served its purpose and it was home. They climbed the dark and corroding steps. He walked over to the bowl he found and poured the water into the bowl for Fox, who lapped happily. He couldn’t help but to smile at his friend, Fox made his sorry life bearable. He plopped down on the large ratty pad he used for a bed and pulled the bits of fruit he stole, as well as the loaf of bread. Once Fox finished his water, he trotted over picking over the fruit Alijah left for him.
“I would say I’m sick of this Fox,” the dog glanced up, his head tilting to the side “You know, stealing to survive, living here. I mean I’m glad we have a place but…” he shook his head, his curly ponytail shaking against his neck. His voice trailed off. This happened at least once every few months, where he wished his life was more than it was but there was no changing it. He would be a street rat for the rest of his life.
“Look at the view Fox.” He pulled the tattered curtain back from the hole in the wall he called a window. In the far distance sat the most beautiful place he’d ever seen. The palace was beautiful, with its curved arches and beautiful yellows and golds perfectly reflecting from the colors of the sun as it descended behind the mountains. “One day.”
Jade sat in her bedroom, a book open next to her as she was reading but tired of it. It was all she did every day. Lessons, reading, lessons, reading, perhaps a bit of free time and conversations with her beautiful white cat Nyla.
Her light brown eyes followed the intricate details of her bedroom ceiling before she closed them out of frustration. She grew tired of her schedule, of her nonstop everything. Why couldn’t she have just a bit of freedom? Of a bit of leeway? Perhaps a day to something that she chose to do? She was passionate about wanting her freedom, of wanting to do something she chose for herself. Her arms hung over the large bed and she started feeling soft fur at her fingertips. She rolled over, seeing her cat rubbing against her fingers. Jade couldn’t help but to smile. Nyla always pulled a smile from her full lips. The turkish angora jumped to the bed, purring gently against Jade’s cheek.
“Jade.” The young woman sat up on her bed as her parents walked into her bedroom. Her mother tall, slender with beautiful brown skin, long dark curly hair, full lips and dark eyes stood with a kind expression, whereas her father, with his dark skin and dark eyes stood looking grim. Her father was the one who spoke.
“We need to speak darling,” her mother came gracefully to the bed, sitting next to her, her hands resting against her shoulders. Her father stood awkwardly stiff, Jade knew he appeared to be intimidating and while he was, he was her father and she knew this wasn’t his true nature. Eventually, he relaxed and slumped on her bed on the other side of her.
“Dearest, you are seventeen, soon to be eighteen…”
“Not for another year father.”
“…yes but this is something we need to begin speaking of. You will be preparing to take the throne and you need to find a proper suitor…” Jade pulled away from her parents with exasperation. She climbed off her bed, her elegant and light skirts moving with her.
“I thought you promised not to talk about this anymore.” The ONE thing she thought she was able to do for herself, they were taking away. When she turned sixteen, her parents began speaking with her about marriage, about her future as queen of their small kingdom and while she was prepared to speak about her duties, she did not want to be forced into anything.
“Yes but it’s been a year my darling.” Her mother said softly. Jade’s eyes narrowed completely irritated with her parents now. What if she just wanted to be Queen without having to marry? That law was stupid and outdated. “The law clearly states-“
“But you are the king father. You can change the law.”
“I cannot change a law my ancestors put into place just because you throw a tantrum every time we speak of it.” Ugh, she was NOT throwing a tantrum. This wasn’t fair! She already had no control over her life, couldn’t this be the one time she did? She threw open the large doors to her balcony and tried not to stomp out to the rail. She rested her hands on the brass railing, her eyes taking in the sights of the kingdom. “Jade-” she felt large, warm hands on her shoulders but she remained tense.
“No.” She snapped but she didn’t move.
“Tomorrow, suitors are to be arriving for you to meet. You must choose one. It is your duty, as the princess.”
Maybe I don’t want to be a princess anymore. But she didn’t say it. She heard the steps fade and she knew they were gone. She blinked the tears from her eyes. No. She wasn’t going to go through with this. This peacock parade… no. This was the last straw. Her eyes zeroed in on the marketplace that wasn’t far… they would never find her there.
The next morning Alijah climbed to the top of the melon stall. This man was one of the worst, his name was Bernard and Alijah affectionally called him “Bernie” which the man hated. Any time he could get the chance to steal from the man, he would and this was one of those days. It was all planned. Fox would create the diversion and Alijah would steal a couple of melons.
“Alright Fox.” He whispered, if he could nod, the dog probably would before he ran off barking loudly towards Bernie’s stand. The older man began fussing with the quick moving dog, Alijah couldn’t help but to watch the spectacle for a moment, his stomach hurting from laughing so much. The other vendors tried to help catch the animal but Fox was too quick. Being sure to not be seen, he wrapped his legs around the pole that held up Bernie’s sign, and hung upside down to grab a melon. As Bernie was still distracted, he grabbed two more, he couldn’t be greedy. Putting the melons into his bag, he climbed off the stall and into a nearby window. He sat on the sill and waited for his friend to join him. It wasn’t long before Fox trotted up the stairs of the building and nosed the door open. His dog was like a monkey, he could easily climb and jump but Alijah wanted him to not show off today.
“Woof.” Alijah cracked open a melon and sat it down for his dog.
“Good job Fox. Now we eat like kings!”
Jade walked through the marketplace. It was nothing she’d ever seen. It was loud, it was brash, parts of it smelled and she loved it. She wore a long dark maroon cloak to cover her long curly hair, that she pulled back into a ponytail and clothes. While she tried to find the less royal thing she had, it still was more than what she saw on the streets. Plus, the sun seemed so much hotter here, perhaps it had to do with the small amount trees that were around compared to inside the palace walls.
It was so loud! Her eyes were wide with awe, people were selling their items, people were trying to barter the prices lower, children ran through the stalls, small dogs chased after them and she couldn’t help but to smile. She loved it. She’d never been outside the palace walls and now she wasn’t sure if she ever wanted to return.
“Watch it!” She gasped feeling someone knock into her, Jade stumbled gracelessly backwards, she threw her hands out trying to catch herself to not fall. Her hip slammed into the side of an apple stall, some of the apples dislodging from their pyramid structure. She grumbled in pain but no one came to her aid. She was almost shocked. You’re not a princess here Jade, they have no idea who you are. Her hood fell back, her hair almost dislodging from her bow, she pulled herself to her feet and quickly covered her hair back up being sure to push any stray curls back. She hoped no one saw, but someone did.
Alijah paused in the digging of his melon at the commotion he didn’t cause outside. He leaned slightly off the sill to see a girl, wearing a maroon cloak fall into Maggard’s apple stall but the man was busy arguing with the woman trying to barter against his ridiculously high prices. The girl’s hood fell back and his eyes widened seeing her face.
“Wow.” He muttered watching her. She was beautiful. Brown skin, obvious curly black hair she tried to pull back, brown eyes, long elegant fingers… he knew everyone but he’d never seen her before. Who was she? He felt Fox’s cold nose nudge his leg but he ignored him, his eyes only on the mysterious girl.
Jade glanced around, a young boy scrambled over to one of the fallen apples. His tiny hands trying to grip the ruby red fruit. It rolled out of his hands, so Jade plucked one from the stall. “Here you go. No need to eat one off of the ground right?” The boy looked at her with wide eyes, he smiled a grin, a few teeth missing before running off. She rubbed her sore hip and began to walk away.
“Stop thief.” She felt a large hand fall against her shoulder. It made her entire body buckle from the force. She tried to jerk away but the man held tight.
“Unhand me. I am no thief.”
“You stole an apple from my cart. You must pay.”
“Pay?” Jade’s eyes furrowed in confusion. She didn’t understand. What was he talking about? She didn’t steal, the boy wanted an apple and she gave it to him, it was a good thing. “You mean with money? B-but, but I don’t have anything.”
Maggard released her shoulder and grabbed her arm, jerking her towards his stall. Fear began to boil inside of Jade, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. She didn’t know what to do. “Thief!” He shouted loudly. She looked around frantically but no one was going to help her. Those who looked on, just watched curiously, or with pity and the others ignored it. Did this happen often? Was this a normal occurrence in her kingdom and she didn’t know? “Do you know what we do to thieves!?”
“No! No please, I’m sorry. I could get money from the king! Please I didn’t know!” The man refused to listen and he slammed her arm down on the free space of his stall, he was prepared to remove her hand. Jade pulled with all of her strength but he wasn’t going to release her. What would she tell her parents when they saw her left hand gone?
“Now now Maggard, that’s hardly necessary.” Alijah slipped up next to the two, pulling the sharp dagger from Maggard’s hands. “She doesn’t know any better, she hardly gets out of the house.”
“You-you know this urchin?” The man demanded, his dark eyes still focused on the girl. Alijah could see the fear mingled with confusion in her eyes, he winked and she blinked, the confusion slipping away and being replaced with intrigue.
“Unfortunately. She’s my sister and she suffers from delusions. I didn’t realize she managed to get away from our mother, poor thing must be worried sick.” The young man stabbed the dagger into the side of the stall to prevent the older man from using it. Jade felt her anger rise at his words, she felt like reprimanding him for his insolence. He’s just trying to help.
“She took an apple from my cart. She also said she knew the king.” Jade inhaled sharply but the young man didn’t miss a beat. He gave the man a wide grin, his face brightening and his eyes twinkled.
“She thinks our dog is the king. She talks to him all of the time.” The beagle’s ears twitched as Jade glanced down to him before she took note and dropped to her knees in front of the door.
“Your majesty” she said massaging behind the dog’s ears. She could pretend too. Alijah smiled at her quick thinking. While Maggard watched on, his brow furrowed and the murderous look gone from his eyes, he managed to slip an apple from the stall behind them, before pressing it into Maggard’s hands.
“No harm done.” Alijah took Jade’s hand and pulled her to her feet. “Come on now, let’s get you home before mother comes screaming through the market.”
“She’s in the trees.” Jade said with a dreamy expression and tone for extra measure. She heard a soft chuckle from the young man.
“No, she’s at home. Come on your majesty.” Fox made a snorting nose, an apple in his mouth as he trotted after the couple. Maggard turned back to his stall noticing a few more apples missing. His dark eyes swung around as he saw the two teenagers run through the crowd. He’d been swindled!!
When they were out of the bustling marketplace, Alijah couldn’t help the loud laughter that escaped his mouth. He led the girl through the back ways of the kingdom, to prevent being seen.
“Where are you taking me?”
“You look like you’re trying stay out of sight. So I’m just helpin’ you.” Fox trotted ahead of them, Alijah kept a gentle hold on her hands. Unlike his they were soft, no calluses, she’s never worked a day in her life but he didn’t mind that. It was nice.
“You really don’t have to do that. I can take care of myself.”
“I know. But you should let me help you. Come on.”
He led through dark alleys, they climbed over fallen trees and roofs. It was hard going but she adapted and he couldn’t help but to steal glances back at her every time. He could still see her face through the hood but he wanted it to fall back like it did earlier. When they got to his home, he paused before turning to her. The hood had fallen back slightly, her skin seemed to glisten with sweat, her eyes wide as she breathed heavily.
“This is it.”
They walked up the steps, through the opening that no longer held a door. He muttered warnings at the low hanging beams, and the broken steps but she made easy work of it. Alijah heard a intake of breath and he felt horrible for bringing her here.
“I love it.” She whispered. Surprised, he turned to face her. She took in everything, the little trinkets he’d stolen over the years, the ones that caught his eye, the things he kept from his childhood. He watched as she moved around the small room, Fox watching curiously as well from his old pillow. “It’s so… lived in.”
“Yeah-” he chuckled scratching his head “-it’s home. But all of that stuff isn’t the best part.” He hopped over the items littering the floor and pulled back the tattered curtain showing her the view he so loved. Jade’s smile faded seeing what she was sure he was smiling about. “Isn’t it beautiful?”
“Yes… beautiful.” She turned away from the palace and sat on the ground, crossing her legs under her cloak. Alijah’s eyes stayed fixated on the palace.
“Imagine living there. Lots of trees, new food and clothes every day. Servants waiting on you hand and foot.”
“Yes, everyone telling you what they think you should do with your life. Lessons and reading, not even the books you’d want to read.” Her tone was flippant but he didn’t notice.
“Sweet smells, warm beds, cool air from tall ceilings. I mean it has to be better than living here.”
“But you’re free here.” She turned to him, he looked at her. “You can live your life the way you want. You don’t have to submit to any rules.”
“But that’s not freedom, having to run from the guards if I’m caught stealing. Not having a real home for me or for Fox. Having to go hungry some nights, freezing when it’s too cold, dying from heat when it’s too hot.”
“You can make your own choices.”
“Maybe but I- I don’t want to live like this anymore.”
Jade stared at the boy. He leaned against his window, she finally decided to give him a good look. He was tall, with an athletic build, with golden brown skin, his hair seemed to be long and curly but he kept it back with a ponytail. You don’t understand. She wanted to say but instead she asked him his name. He pulled an apple from his pocket and tossed it to her, he seemed to avoid the question.
“Where did this come from?”
“You stole it?”
“Well, after all of that fuss he was giving you, I figured why not. Besides, I’ve never liked him anyway.” Fox barked lightly and Alijah tossed one his way “You already had one Fox. Greedy.
Jade laughed “Why is his name Fox?” Alijah plopped down next to her, taking a bit from his own ruby red apple, his lips quirked into a grin. That grin seemed to be his default expression.
“When I was thirteen, I found this old crumbled and moldy box. I was going to leave it but it moved and I heard a noise. So, I looked and inside was this tiny runt of a dog.” Fox bounded over, jumped into Alijah’s face and licked his cheek. “I could barely feed myself, so I was going to leave him but he followed me. He was so small he could fit in my hand but he followed me back here. He couldn’t make it up the stairs but somehow he made it halfway.” He shrugged and petted his friend “He was so quick and silent that I didn’t even know he was there until he got tired and whined halfway up. Foxes are quick and clever. It seemed to fit the best.”
“I have a cat back home. She’s a white turkish angora.”
“Why’d you leave her and your home? You don’t seem to get out much. Your hands are really soft and smooth.” As soon as it was out of his mouth, he blushed. “Uh, I mean-“
Jade laughed and rubbed the smooth apple in her hands, her eyes focusing on the beautiful fruit.
“I was tired of being told what to do with my life. I didn’t want to leave Nyla but I couldn’t very well bring her with me. I was only able to grab a few things to eat but I must have lost my pack somewhere in the mayhem of the marketplace. I wanted to see what it was like away from home. Besides, my parents wanted me to choose a husband so when I turn eighteen, I can marry and-“
“Marry? But why?” She didn’t answer. So he changed tactics. “What do you think of today so far?” She shook her head trying to figure that out. She said it wasn’t what she thought but it’d only been one day. It was his turn to laugh. “Yeah, but a day should be enough, especially if you ain’t used to it.”
“Well I’m not going back.”
“You don’t have to. You can stay here.”
Jade turned to him, her eyebrows raised in surprise and Alijah’s eyes widened in shock at his declaration. That just came out. He was much closer than before, she could see a splattering of freckles on his tanned face and she felt a flutter in her stomach. It wasn’t long before there was a noise down the stairs, it was heavy footfalls and angry shouts. They both jumped to their feet.
“They’re after me” Alijah said fearfully. This wasn’t the first time the palace guards came to home, accusing of him something he may or may not have done. Fox began to bark, Jade faced the boy
“Why would they be after you?” She demanded nervously. No one saw him steal the other apples. Her father must have sent them after her. Freedom was going to be snatched away before she even got to have more than a day. Alijah ran to his window, his eyes narrowed as he took in the area, he always had a quick getaway but he never had to worry about another person before. “What are we going to do?”
“Do you trust me?” Jade turned back to him, his eyes held an excited glint.
“Do you trust me?”
Hearing the guards get closer, Jade knew she had to make a choice now. It was now or never.
This is a long one but I wanted to try my hand at an “Aladdin” story. I was going to try and make it modern but that requires more thought than I thought, I may still actually write that but for right now… here lol.
Daily Post Word Prompt- Cake
He stood there nervously. He couldn’t believe he was doing this, well actually he could believe he was doing this but it still made him nervous. To make this leap, to look into her eyes, to ask her… man it was intense. His heart pounded as he looked over the area again. She would be thrilled.
Aidan’s mind traveled back to their first meeting, they were in college, she was a Bennett Belle and he was a Winston Salem Ram. They happened to meet at a conference, she was a bit intimidating seeing her standing there in her business attire, dark blue slacks that he noticed held a little flare around the black heels she wore, a nice white blouse and a nice blazer. He wanted to talk to her the moment he saw her, but she was surrounded by others and he’d rather not crash and burn in front of a group. However, she must have saw him looking at her because she gave him a smile before turning back to her group.
“Excuse me.” He said walking over to her, he supposed it was now or later. Maybe she’d go easy on him. She turned towards him, her light brown eyes looking at him curiously, the young women around her also looked curious. “Hi, I’m Aidan.”
“Whitney” she smiled shaking his offered hand “Nice to meet you Aidan.” He tried not to feel or appear nervous so he gave her an easy smile.
“So you’re from Winston Salem State. What are you majoring in?” He frowned, how did she know? His confusion must have shown on his face as she pointed to his name tag. Oh right. He forgot about that stupid thing.
“Uh History.” Her friends said something to her and walked away leaving her alone with him. Well, at least he won’t make a fool of himself in front of more than one person.
“Interesting, you want to be a professor?”
“I like museums.”
“Oh so you’re looking to be a Historian?” He nodded, something like that. The details weren’t all worked out in his mind, but he’s always loved museums and history, so he thought History was the best avenue to go in college. “Well, English Literature for me. I’ve always loved books.”
That was the moment where things took a positive turn. They kept in touch for the next three years, they started dating their senior year. He went to her graduation and she came to his. Their conversations were never boring. They talked about everything, from their views on world events, their favorite movies -his was The Princess Bride with no shame, and hers changed all the time. Ever After was her current favorite-, their favorite books, shows they remembered watching as kids, family stories, painful memories, music (she was a hard Michael Jackson fan) and their dreams. He loved her. Everything about her. The kink to her hair, the smooth silk of her dark skin, the length of her legs, the curve of her hips, the fullness of her lips, the light in her brown eyes… thinking about her now, he felt his spine straighten. He was confident.
“Hello? Aidan?” Here she comes. His mind drifted to her last birthday.
She was turning twenty four and they had an argument. Something was wrong and she wouldn’t tell him what it was. He knocked on her apartment door, small ice cream cake in hand, she didn’t like regular cake, and a present tucked under his arm. Aidan knew she probably had a busy day at work, spent time with her friends and family earlier and saved the last bit of the day for him. He understood how it worked, especially with his late job hours. He knocked again.
“Whitney?” He knocked again. He didn’t hear anything but he tried the knob, it wasn’t unlocked but he did have a key. He usually wanted her to open it. “Hello, Whitney?”
“I’m in here.” Her voice shook, sounded weepy. What was going on? He put his items down on her bar counter and went to her room. Whitney was sitting against the wall, next to her bed, she was crying, her hair was in disarray, like she pulled on the twists she took out that morning. He knelt in front of her.
“Whit…what’s going on?” She shook her head, trying to stifle the sobs. “Please talk to me.” What didn’t he know? Bleary brown eyes looked up to him, she looked devastated. “Whitn-“
“I want to break up.” It was like he was burned. He let go of her, brown eyes wide as he pushed away. W-why? What did he do?
The argument was nasty. He demanded to know why, she acted like she couldn’t tell him but he finally got it out of her and it was something was small as her being afraid. She said she was afraid of the future. He was worried she cheated, or had feelings for someone else but she was just scared. “That’s ridiculous.” Aidan snapped.
“Aidan… they want to apply for this promotion. If I get it, I’ll train for six months before being sent abroad for a year.”
“So? Long distance is fine. We can make it work.” She shook her head, fresh tears sprung to her eyes. Whitney was sure that they didn’t work, she commented that they’ll try to stay in touch, but the time difference, their work schedules would eventually get in the way and no more talking. The relationship would crumble. Aidan couldn’t believe her, did she have no faith in them? “That’s not fair.”
“How isn’t it?” She stood as he did. He was angry. “Think about it Aidan. We’ve been together but never that far from each other. If I go to Europe, you’re going to be here. The only time we could actually talk would be 7 in the morning! If we end this now, no one has to get hurt later.”
“Later? Really? What about now? You breaking up with me now does what? I came here for your birthday and you want to break up.” The argument continued, her trying to justify why this was a good idea and him refusing to believe she really wanted to do this. By the end of the night, he left hurt and angry and she had a forgotten birthday cake and more tears.
He smiled as she walked into sight. Whitney’s hair was pinned in the back, allowing the curls to fall into her face, her dress was a black cocktail with a slight flare. She liked flare pants, her cocktail dresses were no different. She smiled, her eyes taking in the sights. He chose their favorite park, their favorite gazebo. With help from her friends, he decorated it to what he knew she liked. Purple orchids, candles, soft music playing, her eyes wide as she climbed the short steps to him.
“What is all of this?”
He took her hands in his, putting her purse on the bench next to them. “Whitney. We’ve been through a lot. I can’t imagine, especially with this promotion you’ve received, not having you in my life. No matter how far you go. I will always love you. I love you, like I’ve never loved anyone.”
He heard her take a sharp breath, turned to direct her to a book her friends helped him create. He normally wasn’t this sappy, but he knew she liked romance. While she flipped through the book, he released her shoulders, took a step back and knelt on one knee, pulling a black box from his pocket.
“Aidan… what is this pa-?” She turned around, her eyes falling to his frame below her. The pages he was sure she stopped on made him smile. It was empty but the way he had her sister decorate it was hint enough.
“Whitney Reynolds… will you marry me?”
via Daily Prompt: Eclipse
Essence let out an annoyed and tired sigh pushing the large books away from her. She’s been reading everything they’ve put in front of her and some of it was so dense, she had a hard time focusing. At the orphanage they went to school but this was different, learning magical history, spells, potions, all in the short amount of time she had… was hard. The young woman never had a hard time in school, she was pretty intelligent, but this… ARGH! She leaned back against her pillows and stretched out her limbs.
Tess had to force her way into Bastien’s lessons in order to teach her how to physically fight. She enjoyed that part the most. Essence saw how Aldric and Cassandra fought that day in that rocky realm. It was primal, full of power and anger (mostly on Cassandra’s end), and the way they used magic… she needed to know how to do that and Tess was cooperative. Alongside all the book reading, there was training and she felt more comfortable fighting because it was muscle memory. Tess said she was a natural and good.
Essence laid on her bed, her eyes staring at the intricate ceiling of the room she was given. It was large, spacious, something she never had before having to share with at least fifteen other girls. Her eyes closed, she allowed her mind to slip into a meditative state, she did enjoy doing that. Bastien told her it would help calm her mind and the large quantity of magic she had pulsing through her. She laid there for a while before falling into a light sleep. She didn’t feel the pull of magic of someone appearing on the balcony just outside the two doors. She didn’t hear them enter the room, but she did feel the shadow of a hand ghost over her forehead. Essence slowly became aware but she didn’t open her eyes. Making sure her body stayed relaxed, she willed summoning magic to her fingers, she could feel the pull of the metal knife Tess gave her.
With quick movements, she snatched the wrist of the hand above her and closed her fist around the hilt of her knife. Essence surged up, knocking the other body to the floor, her own frame on top of theirs. “Who are you!?” She whispered harshly.
“You’re quick.” Came the smooth reply. Her emerald eyes widened seeing deep brown ones under her. He smirked and just as smoothly as his reply, flipped their positions. She attempted to swing her hand down to stab him in the shoulder but he grabbed her wrist this time, locking it back against her head. “I see Tess has been teaching you. That’s good. But you’re not attentive enough.”
“I was sleep!” She snapped trying to throw his body off. He only pressed down harder.
“So? The best warriors can sense intruders in their sleep. The best witches can react magically while sleep. You have to be both so you need to work harder.”
“Get off me Antonio.” He could feel the air around them grow heavy, he glanced down to her, he could see those unique emerald eyes burn with fire, with magic, and he knew she was about to attack him magically. When a being is extremely powerful, the air around them had the possibility of charging, to suffocate their opponent’s lesser magic but that was rare. Essence was a rarity, he knew that. Probably why he was so intrigued and drawn to her. He felt her attack and he tried to move before she did but he was thrown back against the wall, he could feel the expensive plaster crack behind his back and he tumbled to the ground.
Essence sat up, pushing herself back scrambling to her feet seeing him fly. She wasn’t actually afraid of the immortal but his loyalties were confusing to her so she couldn’t trust him no matter how much he may randomly appear to give her tips. Emerald eyes watched as he groaned and stood to his feet, brushing something she couldn’t see from the shoulder of his dark maroon colored coat. She made a mental note to ask him about that ridiculous Matrix-like coat.
“That was a strong hit.” He muttered. She shrugged.
“That’s what happens when you just come into my room.”
“Do it again.” Her eyebrows shot up in surprise. What? He wanted her to attack him again? Considering how that attack just looked, she was sure it would hurt much more this time. He smirked again, so smug. Fine. He wanted her magic to knock him on his ass again, then fine. She would happily oblige. Essence tried to do what Bastien taught her when channeling her magic but something was wrong. It felt like it was locked behind a door she couldn’t access. Her distress must have shown on her face because Antonio chuckled and walked over to the window grasping the soft lavender colored curtains.
“What are you laughing about?”
“They must not have told you, about the lunar eclipse.” He pulled the curtains apart, allowing for her to see the muted moon. Essence frowned seeing the red tones in the full moon. She didn’t know it was going to be a lunar eclipse tonight. Seeing her confusion, Antonio leaned against the window to explain. “In some forms, magic is connected to the moon, some beings prefer to cast magic according to the cycles of the moon, it could strengthen the magic depending on what it’s being used for. Example, those who are desperate can cast love spells, or use love potions during the New Moon cycle.”
Essence glanced at the moon again as he spoke. She remembered reading this in one of those many books on her bed. Bastien hadn’t gotten to this part yet but she made another mental note to ask him. “So what do my magic have to do with a lunar eclipse?”
“Well full moons are always great for magic. You know the mortal stories about werewolves and full moons, and how evil always comes out at night during a full moon?”
The young woman nodded, “Of course” Antonio ventured on, his own eyes never leaving the girl.
“While mortals are foolish, in our world, it’s partially true. The full moon can help increase magic, especially to those who are deserving. The moon is fickle like a woman. Not all magical beings benefit. Young witches, such as yourself, especially those who aren’t negatively inclined have a chance of their magic being increased. Now the lunar eclipse blocks the moon due to it being in the earth’s shadow, meaning the magic normally gained from the moon, is unsteady and unpredictable. It can be too strong, with the possibility of killing the being and others around them, or it can wane. You’ve experienced both tonight.”
Essence looked back to him, he always knew so much. While their encounters haven’t always started off pleasant, they always turned into something like this, where he taught her things Tess and Bastien haven’t gotten around to yet. She appreciated that, though she couldn’t help but to wonder why he did that. They weren’t on the same side. He was sent after her to kill her and yet, they’ve been in each other’s presence a few times now and she’s still alive.
“So, if I tried to do magic while the eclipse is happening-“
“You have the chance of not being able to do anything, or harming everyone in this house.” He tilted his head as she turned back to the dark red moon, she was curious, he could tell. Antonio was becoming very attuned to the young witch and it made him nervous. However, he couldn’t stay away. He reached out tentatively, allowed just the barest of touches against her cheek, she turned towards him, but he snatched away just as quickly. Her emerald eyes widened in surprise as he moved away from her.
“I must go. I shouldn’t have come, especially with everything going on. Lunar eclipses usually last about three hours, don’t do any magic for next two hours and fifteen minutes and you should be fine.”
“But-” she moved towards him but he shook his head and in a burst of smoke, he was gone. Essence blew out a frustrated breath, with one more glance at the eclipse she went back to her books.
via Daily Prompt: Melody
“Hey.” The young woman started hearing a deep tenor behind her. She hated when people stood behind her, or tried to reach around her, it freaked her out. People have no sense of personal space. She turned and frowned seeing her unexpected guest.
“Xavier. What are you doing here?”
He grinned. Ugh, still so good looking. He held up a small white card. “I got a library card today.”
She rolled her eyes upon seeing the card. He could have gotten that when he came last week. What made him change his mind? Xavier stood there with that broad grin on his face, that card in his fingers, and today he was wearing nice pressed jeans, a button down navy shirt and a nice jacket… he still smelled good. Unfortunately, he was invading her senses and she hated it already.
“You could have gotten that last week. Instead you threw a tantrum because I didn’t remember your phone number.”
He shrugged, sticking the card back into his pocket. “It wasn’t a tantrum.” She lifted an arched eyebrow and turned back to stick a book on the shelf. “What time do you get off Leah?”
“What do you want Xavier?” She moved away from him to continue her job. He only followed, a slight hop to his step. Leah wrinkled her nose at his close proximity, he was always persistent. It was pretty annoying. It was back then and it still is now. “Stop doing that and walk like a normal person.”
“Get a coffee with me.”
“I don’t like coffee.”
He laughed, his expression determined. “Okay, one of Starbucks’ speciality drink things. We can sit in the shop or we can walk around the Boardwalk.” Leah paused in the motion of shelving another book, she glanced at him, he leaned against the shelf waiting her confirmation. Xavier wasn’t going to leave until she gave him an answer, if it wasn’t going to be a positive one, then he’d come back every day till she did. While he waited, he allowed himself to take her in again, she was always thick, maybe not as much as when they were younger but she wore it with confidence now.
“I get off at five.” He grinned.
He stood at the front entrance of the Starbucks, about five minutes from her library. To be honest, he was a bit nervous. She was right before, it had been years since they’d seen each other, but he wasn’t going to let it go that easily now. He checked his watch. 5:15. Damn, she probably changed her mind. He let out a sigh and prepared to head back to his car when a Honda Accord pulled up next to his black Mazda.
“Giving up so soon.” It wasn’t a question but he couldn’t help but to smile sheepishly. She stood before him, her curly hair blowing in the wind. He held the door open for her.
“No, just a bit impatient.”
They sat down at a small table, his coffee with a bit of cream and a few sugars, and her vanilla bean frappe with coconut milk. They sat in silence, sipping each drink, neither knowing what to say now that they’ve made it to this point. A soft melody played over the speakers in the shop. Xavier felt nervous, his entire game plan was failing and he wasn’t sure how to save it. She sat there, her hazel eyes focused on something outside the window.
“So, this is awkward.” She finally uttered. “I’m sure you didn’t want me to come to coffee so we can just sit here in silence.”
“I guess I lost my nerve.” He sipped his coffee once again before speaking “It’s been so long that I think we should catch up. I mean, after all, you stopped talking to me.”
Leah’s eyebrows shot up, she couldn’t help but to tilt her head to the side an amused expression covering her face. Xavier kept talking and she just let him continue. He really thought their friendship ended because she stopped talking to him? Perhaps she did stop texting and reaching out, but it wasn’t like she did it out of spite. It just stopped. When there was a pause, she couldn’t help the astonished expression on her face.
“Wow. I can’t believe you actually think I stopped talking to you. I actually completely ignored you just now because you’re so full of crap.”
“How? It’s true.”
“No it’s not.” She released her cup and leaned forward being sure to lower her voice. “You know what? I’m glad you asked me to coffee because there are things I didn’t say to you and now I get to.” Xavier’s expression shifted from playful and engaging to closed off and wary; however it was too late because Leah pulled up a bag of closed off emotions she hadn’t thought about in years.
“You were my best friend in that group you know. I considered you my best friend and I would have thought I was yours considering but you never really acted like it. I remembered your birthday, I called you every year on your birthday, I went to your graduation, I helped you with your homework when you were struggling in school.”
“I told you things I never told anyone else. Is that not a best friend?”
“Apparently you doing all the talking is all a friendship is. You never listened to me because I doubt you honestly knew anything about me. I thought you’d treat me differently compared to all the girls you flirted with, I thought because we were friends, you wouldn’t do to me what you did to everyone else.”
“No.” She shook her head, she was on a roll. “I listened to you, I encouraged you, I was on your side. I can’t remember the times you actually listened to me. You never remembered my birthday-“
“That’s not true. I told you on your sixteenth-“
“No, I waited the whole day, then texted you to say something and then you said it. You didn’t even bother to come to my graduation. You didn’t even give me a good excuse. You didn’t even try. I made sure I was there for yours, I made sure I had a ride and I stayed for pictures afterwards.” All of that teenage anger was bubbling up. Perhaps it was anger she never put to rest, now she had the chance.
“I think I told you what happened. It rained and I didn’t have a ride.”
She scoffed. That was hardly an excuse. It was extra hot on his graduation and both her parents were at work, but she managed to get to his, to show her support. Xavier leaned forward as well, their voices hushed but intense. Leah’s eyes slightly narrowed.
“Let’s not forget, you didn’t exactly treat me like a best friend either. When I found out you had feelings from me, it was from someone else. You never said anything. How do you think I felt after you basically shut me down multiple times?”
“I shut you down? What about all the times you told me that you would wait for me because I was oh so different.”
“Because you were. You don’t know how intimidating you were, how you still are. You were the one who told everyone that I was like your brother, you were the one who told me you couldn’t have a boyfriend, you were the one who slapped me when I was dared to kiss you.”
“You know what, I can’t even believe that you still try to push this on me. I believed you, all of your crap and then you turned around and lied to me, over and over again and just kept right on flirting in my face.”
“We weren’t dating remember.” Xavier did not understand how he was wrong in this. Sure, he told her that he liked her for such a long time once he found out her feelings for him. Yeah, he told her that he wanted to take her on a date, ask her parents himself so they could be comfortable with it. He wanted to be more than her friend but she wouldn’t take that step, she just wanted to maintain their friendship so what was he was supposed to do? Stop talking to the other girls who showed interest?
“No, but you made me believe I had a chance. I thought things would be different because you made it seem like it.” The young woman stood so quickly, her chair almost flipped over to the ground. This conversation was going to turn bad. This wasn’t such a good idea. “But don’t worry, we’ve been done for a long time. Thanks for the coffee.”
Leah snatched up her purse and made a frustrated dash for the door. Xavier was frozen, unsure of what to do. This was not what he had in mind. You can’t let her walk away again. It could be another five years… he grabbed his jacket and followed her, almost crashing into an incoming customer on his way out. “Leah!” He pushed her car door shut, his tall frame crowding her slightly shorter one.
“No. I need you to listen to me.” She crossed her arms, the look on her face reminding him of that time everyone in their group told him to leave her alone, to back off because this look… this hurt and anger was familiar. “That day, that day everyone kept telling me to leave you, I didn’t understand why. Everyone knew what was wrong but me and it pissed me off.”
She opened her mouth to respond, but he put a finger to her lips silencing her.
“I called and called, left a bunch of messages-” she remembered, they were on her phone for a long time. “-you wouldn’t answer. I didn’t know what to do, I was freaking out. I knew something was wrong but you wouldn’t tell me, when you finally answered you were just quiet, then you hung up on me.” He tried to push down the emotions he felt that day. The confusion, the worry, the anger because she ignored him. “When you answered again, my friend was on the phone and you actually talked to him.”
His friend managed to calm her down enough to talk. She could hear Xavier in the background, going off because she was talking, but it wasn’t to him.
“He told me that you were upset because I lied to you.”
“I told you, I just wanted you to be honest with me. Yes, it hurt me that you were dating and flirting with other girls because I wasn’t going to be sneaky and date you, but if you were going to do that, I just wanted you to own up to it. You never did. How could I trust you to not do that with me, when you couldn’t do that anyway? When you lied to me?”
Xavier fell silent. What else could he say? He honestly thought all of this went away but it never really did. After that night, that big fight, things were never really the same between them. Their group still met to hang out, but they didn’t talk as often. He remembered getting two more birthday texts but soon enough even those stopped. To be honest, he still wasn’t sure if this was resolved, if either of them said all they needed to say but he supposed this was better than nothing.
Leah watched his brown eyes as he focused on her face. It was slightly uncomfortable, made her feel like that teenager again, the self conscious one who struggled with her body image. Weirdly, she felt better. She was upset with herself for harboring these feelings for so long but at least they’re out now. All of them? Probably not but this was enough for now. She glanced to her car door, Xavier took a step back allowing her room to her door. With one more look, she waited to see if he was going to say something else but he didn’t, so she climbed into her car and backed away.
This was a long one, a companion piece to “When We Were Young“. If you managed to get to this point, thank you for reading. I don’t think Xavier and Leah’s interactions are over though lol.