“How did she “defile” your character, your highness?” Kaleb says perplexed.
“That is not relevant, Mr. Vanelli. All that is required is that you bring her back to the kingdom at once.”
“Well, how are we supposed to find this woman?” Kaylen intercepts. “You’ve only given us her name. Do you have some sort of relationship with this woman? What does she look like?”
The king rolls his eyes and narrows them at Kaylen. “That is not relevant, as I told Mr. Vanelli over here. I gave you her name and if you hadn’t interrupted Ms. Hawthorne, I would’ve told you how. Now hold your tongue.” He spits out her name as if it tasted foul. He watches her eyes roll and scoffs. “Now, before I was interrupted,” he glares daggers at Kaylen, “you will need to find a witch by the name of Aubree. She will enchant this necklace and it shall lead you to your destination. Ms. Hawthorne, you know where Ms. Aubree resides, don’t you?” he smirks.
Clenching her jaw, she looks at the king and stresses, “Yes I do.”
The other group members look at her with questions written on their faces. The king looks pleased and asks, “Any further questions?”
Someone behind Kaleb raises his hand, “Not to be rude, but you never said what this woman looks like.”
The King huffs under his breath, “Irrelevant!” he shouts. If she is escaping and running away, don’t you think she would’ve changed her appearance?!”
“So what if she did? Do you know if she has any distinctive features? Birthmark or a mole or even--” Kaylen gets cut off.
“Your king has given you the information that you need!” a member of the Kingsguard exclaims. He turns his attention back to the king and nods for him to proceed.
“Thank you, Layton. Since there are no further questions, I would like to inform you that Layton will be accompanying you on your journey. He will hold onto the necklace,” a ruby gem attached to a dainty chain is handed off to Layton who pockets the jewelry. “Now, be off and do not return until you have retrieved the girl.” He waves us off, but before we could leave the throne room, a voice bellows from a wooden door on the side.
“Father,” a young man announces, “shouldn’t we send them on their way with weapons perhaps? We all know the types of beings that are outside these walls.”
The King turns his head to the gentleman with disgust in his gaze, but turns away and waves his hand in his direction.
“Kay--I mean, Ms. Hawthorne, would you follow me to the armory?” the man asks Kaylen. She hesitates before taking a deep breath and following him into the armory.
Never did I think that I would see Kian ever again. Not after everything I did to hurt him and betray all of the trust he had invested into me. I watch as he opens the armory door for me and gestures with his head for me to walk ahead of him. At the same time, I can feel his gaze on me watching my every step. He shuts the door and goes to open the huge cabinet on the wall and starts laying out different weapons and items to choose from on the table. Going to reach for the bow and pack of arrows, his slender fingered hand pulls it away. His knuckles have somehow shifted down a bit since the last time I had seen him.
I wonder who he hit to cause that much damage to his knuckles. Or what he hit.
Eventually, I looked up to meet his seemingly sad, yet frustrated dark blue eyes. Damn those eyes. I can feel my heartbeat accelerating just by him looking into my soul.
“May I see the bow?” I choke out, clearing the bubbles out of my throat. I hold out my hand to him, but he doesn’t seem to notice. He just continues to stare me down like an animal. After a few seconds, he pushes the bow to my side of the table and looks away. I can see his Adam's apple bob up and down as he stares out of the floor to ceiling glass window with his arms crossed across his broad chest.
I had forgotten how gorgeous Kian was. In the past 3-4 years, I’ve just survived off of my memory of him from years ago. He looks mature. The light stubble suits his face very well as the sunlight through the glass hits his face. For a tall, lanky man, he has built up muscle, but not too much. I can see the veins in his biceps travelling all the way down to his hands. My eyes flick up to admire his face again. His jawline is defined like the gods chiseled him themselves. He has worry lines on his forehead and around his naturally narrowed eyes. I didn’t notice that as I was subtly checking him out, that he had turned his body towards me as if he felt my gaze on him. I clear my throat once again, trying to keep my composure and study the other weapons on the table in front of me.
“So, which items do you recommend for whatever is lurking around out there, Ki--” I halt as I almost addressed him by his name, “I mean, your highness?” I pick up a dagger with a dragon on the handle to distract myself.
He lightly chuckles under his breath causing to glance in his direction. “You seriously want to talk about weapons and the beasts that occupy the lands beyond these walls?” He scrunches his forehead and squints at me like I grew four more heads.
“Well, we and this group of misfit toys are set out to find this supposedly dangerous woman who just so happens to be beyond castle walls. So, yeah, weapons are exactly what I want to talk about right now.” I didn’t want to snap at him, but I had to keep up my nonchalant act that I developed years ago.
Kian quickly makes his way over to me and towers over my 5’6” demeanor. “I see you again after years of not knowing whether you’re breathing or not and you waltz through here like I’m this…stranger who you want nothing to do with.” He lowers his voice at the end.
I lower my head because not only was there clear desperation in his voice, but his eyes had started to become glossy and I could tell that tears were threatening to burst through the floodgates. I open my mouth to say that I didn’t know what he was talking about but he cut me off before I could say anything.
“Don’t you dare say that you don’t know because I know for a fact, that is not true,” he chokes out. “Why did you leave me, Kay? All those years ago. Just tell me why and we’ll leave it in the past and move on.” He puts his hands on my shoulders and lets out a shaky breath. “Tell me why.”
Looking up would be a death sentence. Listening to his heart break over and over again was doing a number on my ears. With every word that passes his lips, I can’t help but think about why I broke his heart in the first place. If I could go back, I would. I would’ve ran into Kian’s arms and kissed him like he was my final breath I would ever take. But I can’t. I can’t have him no matter how much I want to grab his face into my hands and tell him that I never stopped loving him. That he haunts every fiber in my body.
I slowly release his hold on my shoulders and start collecting the majority of everything that is on the table and put them into a large duffle bag I brought with me.
I hear him scoff from behind my back. “That’s it?” The betrayal in his voice is very prominent at this point. “You turn and leave me once again with no explanation?! Just give me something, dammit!”
I drop the bag to the floor and face him. “You want an explanation? Maybe I didn’t love you as much as you thought I did. Maybe I didn’t want to be tied to royalty for the rest of my fucking life! Have you ever thought of that?!” The lies flew out of my mouth so naturally, I felt bile coming up but I swallowed it down. I have to do this in order to not get hurt. For him to not get hurt.