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Chapter 5 : Close Call
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After I got through the tangles in my hair, dried it and straightened it, I slapped on some makeup and looked at myself in the mirror. I looked like a girl. Which considering I am one and that’s what I was aiming for, I was quite proud. But also mortified. As I stepped out of my room and into the hall way. Three of the girls that I had known forever stopped and stared.
“Wow, Claire” a pretty girl whose name was Zayna smiled. “You look great!”
“Oh, um, thanks” I mumbled “Figured I’d try something different.”
Zayna smiled and looked over at Reds closed door. “hmm, well yes, different is good”
She shot me a wink and then disappeared down the hall.
I made my way down to the mess hall and tried to ignore the stares of the people around me. Was it so odd that I wanted to look like a girl today? Yes. Yes it was. I caught Lucas’s eye and he jogged over to me.
“Wow, Claire you’re a girl!” He smiled approvingly
“Really? I had no idea” I snapped irritated
“I see you’re taking my advice!”
I blushed and looked away. He grinned and patted my back.
“You like him hu?”
“NO” I said defensively and stomped off to grab breakfast. My mood didn’t seem to be dampening the general shock at finding out I could look pretty considering people still talked to me. I was contemplating running back to my room and changing when I spun around and almost ran into red.
“why are you in such a hurr…” Red’s sentence stopped short when he really got a look at me
His eyes slowly traveled up and down taking in every bit of me. I swallowed nervously and mumbled and awkward hello
His eyes finally came to a rest on my eyes, and his expression made my heart skip beats.
“You look wonderful”
A blush and a slow smile crept onto my face and had to swallow a coupled times before I could manage any words
“Should we go sit down?” I said, stuck in his gaze
He blinked a few times and then nodded slowly. It wasn’t until I moved that he seemed to regain his usually composer and walk beside me.
“So what on the agenda for today?” he asked, studying his sausages intently.
“Well I figured we could um...Take it as it comes?” I said slowly, watching his eyes flash up to mine and then shyly away
“Meaning?” he asked
“Well I figured that I’ve been to hard on you and that we should just let your mind unfold when it’s ready too, because I think that would be best…” I said it all very fast, making him grin in the way that always made my breath catch.
“Excellent” he said, meeting my eyes and grinning. “There’s something I want to show you.”
I frowned and suspiciously went along with it. I’m sure whatever he had to show me would be against the rules and possibly something we would get in trouble for.
“Don’t worry” he said laughing “It’s not bad”
“How did you know I was thinking that?”
“I’ve been here a month today C” he said shaking his head “I’ve spent basically every waking moment with you, I’ve got a pretty good idea about how you think.”
His blue eyes burned into mine and I think I stopped breathing all together. Lucas’s words suddenly flashed through my head like a broken record ‘you like him hu?’
I blushed and looked out the window where the sun was starting to shine warmly. “are you ready?”
“Yes” he said softly, rising and taking both our trays to the bin. When he returned he waited for me to get up and then we led me out side. We were headed to the rose garden and when we got there he stopped so suddenly I ran into him. I was about to protest when I heard Madeline’s voice.
“Oh red! I didn’t know you were coming to see me, couldn’t stay away hu?” She purred
A flare of jealousy hit me so hard I almost lunged for her. Red shifted uncomfortably and politely mumbled a greeting. Madeline’s eyes shot over to me and narrowed. I was instantly defensive.
“And what are you up to then?” she asked with acid in her voice. She took in my attire and made up appearance and then looked at red. A slow, sly smile grew on her face as she realized the purpose. I was flushing fiercely and terrified shed out me but Red grabbed my arm and smiled at Madeline.
“Oh you know, we’re working on my memories. C really is wonderful at helping me”
I thought Madeline might explode. Her face turned an odd shade of purple as Red waved a quick goodbye and tugged me along behind him.
“Oh thank Merlin for that” He exclaimed once out of ear shot “I thought we’d have to suffer more stories about her nails.”
“Who’s Merlin?” I asked amused
He looked at the sky and then grinned “well I don’t know but I remember I used to say that quite a lot.”
I smiled again “You remember that!”
He grinned and then happily grabbed my hand. “Come on C, you really must see this.”
I stumbled along behind him as he took me down a little hill and up into the woodsy area behind Misty Hill.
“Where are we going?” I wheezed and he chuckled
“We’re almost there, just a few more minutes!”
When I felt like I was going to fall over from exhaustion Red stopped and spun around to face me.
“Are you ready?” He asked, excited and somewhat nervous
I nodded and curiously tried to look around him.
“Then walk though there” he pointed to a wall of vines that hung from the rocky ledge above. I cautiously proceeded and pushed through the vines. On the other side I emerged in to a large damp tunnel. Water drops glistened and slid down the walls. At the end of the tunnel I could hear the gentle lapping and tumbling of water. Curiosity took over and I slowly made my way to the mouth of the cave. The sight before me took my breath away (something that had been happening a lot lately). A beautiful pond sat before me, surrounded by old and graceful willow trees. The grass was startlingly green and looked as fluffy and smooth as a pillow. The water itself was clear as glass and beautiful multi color fish darted here and there. I stepped out on the stones that led down to the grass like stairs and looked up in awe. The walls surrounding the pond were stone and raised high above our heads. Across them were vines swirling in beautiful patterns that seemed to go on endlessly. A small waterfall fell from one of the walls and formed a stream that gushed over rocks and down into the pond.
“Do you like it?” Red’s voice was soft as he spoke from right behind me.
“It’s beautiful” I breathed and I turned around to stare into his eyes “When did you find this?”
He shrugged and gave a guilty smile “about three weeks ago I couldn’t sleep.” He guided me down into the grass where we sat in the warm rays of the sun.
His eyes and face had taken on such a serious look and I didn’t dare interrupt.
“I woke up in a cold sweat, from a night mare full of screaming and flashing lights and things I don’t even know exists.” He frowned “So I got up and slipped out side and just started walking. I didn’t know where I was going and I was sure I’d get lost but I didn’t care at the time. I just had to be away from that dream and the room.”
I watched him silently, seeing the pain and struggle finally escape the good humored mask he always wore.
“I kept walking until I stumbled upon this place” He looked around and smiled “the moon was shining and I could see everything so clearly it was beautiful and it’s like I forgot all about the dreams. I sat right here and just listened to the sound of the water and the animals and finally I relaxed.” He closed his eyes and sighed “I let my mind go free but all I could think about was y..”
He stopped suddenly and smiled shyly “Uh, never mind.”
I looked at him curiously but didn’t press.
“So you like it?”
“I love it Red” I smiled warmly and he blinked a couple times.
“Tell me about you” he said so suddenly it startled me
“What do you want to know?” I asked slowly
“Everything,” his gaze was so intense I couldn’t look away “I don’t know who I am, where I come from, or what happened to me, tell me about your life, it will give me something to know.”
I looked at him for a long while before I finally let my walls down and let him in.
“My name is Claire Alexandra Rixen,” I started slowly “I can’t say that my life has been the best and I’m not sure it will give you the satisfaction you need.”
He nodded for me to go on. So lord help me, I went on.
“My mother abandoned me when I was young, very young. No one has seen or heard from her since then. My father, well I never knew my father, no one ever talks about who he was… I was alone and on the streets at 5 years old.”
I stared at the grass and swallowed back memories I wish I could forget.
“That was when mark found me; he took me in and gave me a home, given it was a room at misty hill surrounded by strangers, but it was a bed, shelter and food. He became my sort of father. I grew up learning the ways of guiding; I grew up learning that people come and people go and no one I’ve ever gotten attached to sticks around forever.
I got good at helping, I became a helper and I moved up ranks through the hill. I went to school but I wasn’t very popular or liked. Most the kids stayed away from the creepy loner orphan from the hill. But I learned to ignore them and I graduated at the top of my class and I never got in trouble.”
“What about boy friends?” Red asked amused
“What boy friends?” I laughed “romance was and never has been an interest to me” I shrugged and watched his face turn curious
“You’ve never liked anyone? Been attracted to someone?”
“Liked someone? No, but sure I’ve been attracted to guys before” I laughed shyly and looked at the pond “I just don’t see the point in giving your heart to someone who is going to break it and leave you high and dry in the long run.”
“That sounds very lonely” Red said softly
I looked at him and then down at my hands “It can be, but its better this way.”
“What if it doesn’t have to be this way?” he leaned closer to me, his face inches from mine
“B-but it’s all I’ve known” I stammered “everyone hurts you in the end.”
“I wouldn’t hurt you Claire.” His voice was a whisper, and I shivered in longing as he spoke my name.
His hand slowly wound around my waist and pulled me even closer. His breath tickled my lips and I shivered and he ran his fingers up my side and over my collarbones. His eyes burned into mine and I wanted to dive into their depths and get lost in the blue. A little frightened part of me was whimpering to pull away and hide, to run away now. But a bigger, braver part of me was urging me to stay where I was and let it happen. My heart was hammering in my chest as he slowly lowered his lips. Just as they were about to reach mine a bird screeched over head making us both jump. With the mood broken I slowly slid back from Red, he watched me and his eyes darkened. He looked away and cleared his throat.
“We should, we should get back.” He stood up and helped me to my feet.
The walk back we were silent and I couldn’t help but think about what had happened. I scolded myself for letting it get that close, but more so I hated myself for not embracing him, grabbing his face a kissing him until I passed out. He didn’t touch me again as we came back to the hill. He made a few comments and then we went to find lunch.
A couple days passed and Red seemed to be back to normal. Neither of us mentioned the almost kiss though I’m positive that’s all we thought about while with each other. I vividly remembered the hurt and rejection on his face when I slid away from him and I didn’t know how to make that right. But there was one person who did.
I needed to find Amelia.
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