I sat at the kitchen table, a warm cup of tea cradled in my hands as I watched out the window above the sink. My mind was still spinning, trying to connect the dots, to understand everything that had happened at the parade. Rupert sat across from me, watching me in silence as I struggled to grasp my thoughts and emotions.
I pushed back from the table, surprising Rupert by my quick and unexpected motion.
“We have to go,” I said quickly.
“Wait, what?” Rupert scrambled out of his seat to come after me, I was already moving out of the kitchen.
“Ariella.” He called after me. “Slow down, where are you going?” I felt his hand wrap around my wrist, my body exploded with heat from the contact. He spun me to face him, my chest pressed against his.
“Talk to me.” He put both hands to the side of my face, forcing my eyes to meet his. “What’s going on in that brain of yours?”
“I want to go back to the cliffs,” I said slowly as if I was trying to make sense of my own words.
Rupert’s purple eyes were assessing me, he was focused on my face. “Okay...” He gave a slight nod before he let go of me.
“I want to go back to the cliffs, to see if it happens again.” I could see the questions forming in his brain. “Maybe it can give me more answers.”
I stood at the edge of the cliff looking out at the swaying trees that covered the rolling hills. The wind blew through my long hair that hung low against my back. I could feel Rupert standing off to the side, under the shade of the large trees that surrounded us. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end as I felt his gaze burning into the back of my head.
My heart was beating erratically in my chest as I made my way back to the swirling stones. They were glowing just as they were when we were here last. I clenched my hands into fists as I stood before the art in the ground. A gust of wind blew through the trees, tossing my hair up above my head and into my face. I pulled my hair back from my face and tucked it into the hood of my sweater.
I heard movement to my right, I looked over my shoulder and saw Rupert move from the shadows. He came to stand beside me, his face was stone cold. No emotion was placed there, his eyes were cold. He seemed as if he was trying to suppress any feelings in that moment so I wouldn’t see them.
I saw through him.
Beneath the cold surface, he was trying to show, I could feel his nervousness and curiosity. I watched him, his eyes moved to look into mine. His stone cold eyes flickered something that I couldn’t quite make sense of.
“I think so,” I whispered. “As ready as I can be I guess.”
I stepped to the center of the swirling stones. I could feel the energy surround me, the magic hummed, I could feel it moving, licking my skin. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I blocked all thoughts out of my head and listened to the sounds that were around me. I could hear my own heartbeat in my chest, pumping my blood through my body. I could hear Rupert’s uneasy breathing. He was nervous, worried, almost more than I was. I took one last deep breath before I bent my knees down to the ground and touched the warm stones that sat beneath me.
Heat exploded through my fingertips, followed by an icy current. I felt myself pull back from the stones, shocked by the unexpected feelings that moved through my body. My eyelids stayed closed, darkness surrounded me. I gasped as the coolness continued to move through my body. I felt myself fall back to the ground, the hard stones were cold against my body. I felt the energy moving through me, the darkness behind my eyelids began to warm. Orange light flashed before my eyes.
Long green grass swayed in the field as the warm breeze swirled through the peaceful meadow. The sun was high in the sky, soft wispy clouds were spaced out across the sky. The heat from the sun was refreshing against my skin. I looked around me, I stood in the middle of a meadow. Beautiful yellow and purple wildflowers were growing between the long blades of grass. Tall trees surrounded me, swaying with the breeze. Birds sang their songs from the branches and flew from tree to tree.
I looked down at myself. I wore a soft pink sundress, it blew against my legs. My skin was warm, it looked as if it was glowing. My body felt like it was floating like I wasn’t truly there. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath before I began to walk through the tall grass. I felt the grass at my fingertips. The grass was rough against my soft skin. As I continued to walk the scene before me began to change. Off in the distance, shadows began to form across the field to my left. The tall bright green trees were now shaded.
I walked closer I noticed something beneath the trees. I could see the silhouette of a tall man standing beneath the heavy branches of the evergreen trees. I stopped not far from where he was standing. My heart was beating in my chest, I tried to see his face but I couldn’t. I could see him from the neck down. He wore black dress pants, his hands shoved into the pockets at his sides. He wore a burgundy dress shirt that was open at the top. I could see his collarbone and the thick muscles of his upper chest.
My body hummed with recognition. I couldn’t stop myself, I took a few more steps closer to him. My body reacting differently from my brain. My body begged me to get closer to him, it called to him, ached to be touched by his strong hands. My mind revolted. Not wanting anything to do with the shadowed figure before me. As I stepped closer to the man he moved back into the trees. He casually leaned against the tree. If I could see his face, I knew it would be filled with an arrogant smirk.
A rustling noise came from beside me in the grass. I looked down and immediately jumped back. A black and green snake moved across the ground. It was thick like it had just filled its stomach with its dinner for the night. The sun hit the scales on the top of the snake causing it to reflect back in hues of purple. It hissed at me as it made its way across my toes and into the shadowed trees where the mysterious man stood. I watched as it slithered its long body up the trees and coiled itself around a think branch above the man. I could feel its black beady eyes burning into my skin.
Even though my brain was on red alert, my body was still moving towards the man in the shadows. My body was on fire, begging me to move faster to reach the man within the trees. I could feel the energy radiating off the man. It felt like tentacles reaching out and licking my skin against my ankles and wrists. As if it was calling me, teasing me with the pleasure that would come once I reached him.
Pressure wrapped itself around my wrist and yanked me away from the shadowed man with the snake. My body whipped around, my dress spun around my legs, my long locks spun off my shoulders and into my face. I quickly pushed my hair back from my eyes with my free hand and looked up wide-eyed to see what had just stopped me from moving forward.
Striking lavender fields met my eyes. I gasped, my body and mind immediately recognizing the man before me. Unlike the shadowed man my body and mind were on the same understanding. I pushed myself against him. His body radiated heat. I ran my hands across his chest, his white dress shirt was completely open. I could feel the softness of his skin beneath my fingertips. I sucked in a shaky breath as I felt his body against mine. I looked back up into his striking eyes. They looked at me with confusion, pain, and understanding.
I felt his hand release my wrist and rest against my hip. He gripped my body and pulled it tighter against his. I moved my hands up his arms and brushed his white-blond hair from his eyes. He leaned down and pressed his forehead against mine before he softly pressed his lips against mine. My heart exploded in my chest, heat burned through my body like it was doused with wildfire. Desire clenched in my stomach as his soft lips greedily pressed against mine. I leaned into him, pulling his face closer to mine, desperate to feel every inch of him.
Just as quick as he pulled me in, he pushed me away. His eyes were still filled with the conflicting emotions of pain, confusion and understanding. I looked at him, shocked as he pushed me away. I reached out to grab him, to pull myself back closer to his body. I saw his lips moving as if he was saying something but no sounds came from his lips. I desperately tried to reach back for him but he kept stepping away from me. His eyes left mine and looked out past me. His face was filled with pain, and regret. It felt as if he knew what he was doing, and everything inside of him was screaming at him that it was wrong. I wanted to shout, to scream at him, cry and tell him to stop. I couldn’t my mouth wouldn’t move.
I watched as he gave a slight nod, and began to turn his back towards me. I looked back behind me. The shadowed man was still hidden beneath the trees, and the large snake still lazed against the tree branch. I looked at the man wide-eyed, finally understanding what was happening. My heart was in my throat, my stomach dropped. I quickly turned to run after him. His blond hair tousled in the wind and shined in the sun. I tried to catch him, my shaking hands reaching out to try and touch him. The farther he got, the more desperate I got. My heart was breaking in my chest. My body was in pain.
I watched as his silhouette began to fade, the light along with him. The shadows moved from behind me and slowly took over the whole meadow I stood in. I turned back, the man was now behind me. His face still hidden by the dark shadows and the hooded cloak that now covered his body. I stepped away from him, his hand reached out and snatched my arms. He pulled me towards him. My mind was screaming, my heart was breaking, and my body…my body was betraying me. The energy that licked against my skin was now covering my whole body. My legs collapsed beneath me from the overwhelming emotions and desire that hit me all at once. I couldn’t breathe. My breath was restricted, struggling to escape from my lungs.
My mind began to fog, my vision betraying me as it became darker and darker. My eyelids became heavy, drooping from the exhaustion that pulsed through my veins. Red snake-like eyes shined from beneath the hood of the man. For the first time, a noise other than singing birds met the barriers of the meadow. My scream.
My eyes snapped open, the scream that I was experiencing through the magic followed me back into reality. It was ear-piercing as I shot up, trying to gather my wits. I felt large hands grip my shoulders. I blinked, my eyes focusing in on what was touching me. I relaxed as my eyes met Rupert’s. He sat on the ground next to me. His face was filled with fear and concern. He didn’t understand what was happening. I quickly glanced at him again before I looked down at his hands touching me. His hands glowed with silver and gold against my skin.
“It’s okay. You’re back.” His voice was hushed.
His one hand moved from my shoulder to the side of my face to wipe a tear that trailed down my cheek. I didn’t realize I was crying until he removed the moister from my cheeks. My body was shaking, trying to bring itself back down from the event that just took place in the depths of the magic.
“You stopped breathing.” He whispered, his eyes looking down at my hands that sat shaking in my lap.
“What?” I wasn’t sure if I said that out loud.
“I had to try and get you to breathe again. I wasn’t sure it was going to work…” He put my hands in his and helped pull me up as he stood. “You can’t come back here and do this anymore.” He shook his head.
“I won’t argue with you about that. I don’t want to be here anymore.” I continued to whisper. I looked back out at the hills and waterfall. It no longer felt beautiful, bright and soothing. It felt tainted, haunted.
“Will you tell me what happened?”
I shook my head. “N-Not today.” I looked up at him. Unsure of how to process what had happened, unsure of how I could possibly tell him how he had ignited my body on fire with desire and how his kiss felt real even in the dream. There was no way I could possibly tell him that he was even a part of what the magic had shown me, not when he was promised to someone else.