‘I couldn’t get a read on him.’ Mari remarked as she wiped down the counter. “It was as if he was trying to block me. ”
“You know, not everyone is okay with having someone walk around in their thoughts. It’s common courtesy to ask first. ” Jan replied as she wiped her furrowed brow.
“I know. But I don’t think, hey I’ve never seen you before and you seem interesting. Can I poke about in your head for a bit? would have worked. ”
They laughed in unison. Mari always treasured the days she worked at Le Bistro de Jan. It was a great distraction from her life. She would serve hundreds of people on her shift, living vicariously on the thoughts they let slip from their minds while dining. Most days were a mixed bag: financial worries, adultery , plotting to kill the boss. The typical thoughts of most good natured adults. Today,though, she saw something different when she looked at him. It felt as if she was staring at a mirror: seeing the parts of herself she tried to hide from everyone. He displayed them all, unafraid of being deemed strange or unworthy. How? The question still lingered on her mind as she finished her cleaning.
“He was cute though” Jan said as she placed her apron in the closet.
" You better not let Philip hear you say that.” Mari replied.
“I heard her think it anyway. ” Philip said as he hugged Jan. Their interactions always made Mari smile. They proved it was possible for love to exist while following the clan rules.
“Want us to take you home? ” Jan said as she nuzzled Philip.
“No. I’ll going to walk to Aramis’ house. We’re supposed to have a date tonight.”
“Ooh the predestined lovers. How romantic.” Mari feigned a smile at Jan’s comment.
Mari closed the door and threw her apron on her shoulder. She walked through the remnants of the sunlit sky, her mind unable to let go of the image of Max. Why haven’t I seen him before? The answer eluded her. Her mind drifted, as it often did, to her dilemma. She was sixteen, the prime marrying age in her clan. It would be expected that she would be a wife before her next birthday. Her parents and by extension her family were one of the more prominent families within the clan. Her father sat on the clan council, while her mother ran the soothsayer school. To strengthen the position of the family within the clan, the decision was taken to bethroth her to Aramis, the only son of the clan leader, Shriel. It would grant her parents great favour and prestige. Mari was unsure what she would be granted.
She reached the large decorated gates of clan house. The guard nodded with a smile as he let her in. ” Is Amaris expecting you?” The guard said.
“He should be. ” Mari replied.
She strolled through the large garden in front of the house. Fireflies began their courtship, their glow warming her heart.
“You’re late.” A voice called from above. ” I should’ve told the guards not to let you in. ”
“I’d be okay with that.” She replied as she pushed herself off the ground and towards the balcony. She floated through the air, her foot landing on the rail with a gentle tap.
“Good evening Amaris. How was your day?” Mari said .
“Good evening Marielle” he replied, leading her from the stairs. ” My day was boring as usual. Learning clan laws and etiquette, meetings: the usual droll. ” She hated when people used her full name. Only three people did: Her parents and Amaris.
“Want to switch?”
“And wait tables for commoners? Sometimes you joke too much. ”
“Just wonder what you’d look like in an apron.” She loved teasing him like this. Anything menial was beneath him as the clan’s next head. To be honest, everything was beneath him. In the ten years they had known each other, his arrogance never ceased to surprise her. Some of it was merited: He was a brilliant fighter, and was very intelligent. His personality however, was governed by two things: his belief in his dominance and his absolute need to prove it. And she was to love him, the rest of her life.
“So did you get any interesting reads from the commoners today?” . His question snapped her from despair. ” Not really. Except for one. ” she replied entering the house for the first time. She sent her memories to him: words failed to be accurate when telling a story.
“Hmm.” Amaris said. ” I haven’t seen him before either. But the old guy looks like Arlegen Baku, a retired blacksmith. His son?”
Mari nodded in reply.
“Must be adopted, Arlegen should be 100 by now. And you couldn’t get a read off of him?”
“Interesting. He must have been using his will on himself.”
Amaris shook his head. “Remember the power of most of the Baku clan is the ability to invoke their will upon themselves and their surroundings.”
“Oh yeah! So he was actively blocking me. ”
“So...what do you want to do tonight Amari?”
Amaris walked closer to her. He trailed his fingers on her back, his eyes glazed with lust
“What I’ve wanted to do for a while now. ” he grabbed her by her hip, twirling her to face him. He ran his hands along the side of her face. If only his thoughts matched his actions. Mari thought.
“What do you mean?”
“Huh?” His question snapped her out of her daze
“If only his thoughts matched his actions. you thought that when I touched you. You deem my love false?”
“No. I just don’t deem it love.”
He scowled. “By this time all the couples to be married by next summer have made their soul ties. As next in line I can’t be left behind.”
“So its just business then? ” she walked to the corner of the room.
“No but I do have to care about my image.”
“Then it is just business. Then the deal is off the table.”
“You don’t get to make that decision.... And you know it. ”
Her eyes glowed with fury. Of all the people to have to marry.
He swung his hand at her, forcing her body onto the wall with his mind.
“You do not have to love me, I already know I’m unloveable. You don’t have to fuck me because I can get that when I want from any woman, many prettier than you. What I need from you however is compliance. Or else your parent’s lives that they have spent so long crafting will disappear .
She struggled to breathe the pressure from his telekinesis crushing her tiny body. She managed to nod. With a smile he released her. ’Thank you. Was that too much to ask?
“No.” She replied. She swung her fiist in his direction, pinning him on the ceiling. ” but never, ever do that again. I’m not one of those concubines that you can toss around. Do that again and your family line will end with you. ” She slammed her hand on the floor, Amaris’ body following suit. He groaned.
“Goodnight my fiancé.”