Kiss of Golden Light

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Chapter 8

I sat under an umbrella of shade. The sun was high in the sky casting warm kisses on my skin when the branches above me moved in the breeze. The air was cool and damp, it felt as if a storm would scatter the sky tonight. It would be the first rain that I would see since stepping through the veil. It seemed odd, as I thought about it. The first rain in five weeks, unusual for Scotland, especially as the last days of summer were approaching.

I sighed and leaned back against the rough tree trunk. I closed my eyes and listened to the world around me. Birds sang in the branches above me, leaves wrestled as they shook on the swaying branches. In the distance, I could hear the rushing water from the river that wasn’t too far away. I smiled, happy to be away from the loud streets of Emerald City. I opened my eyes once more and looked at the trees that surrounded me. They were tall, bright with green leaves.

I pushed myself up off the ground and pulled the pocket watch out that Rupert had given me. It was encased in gold, a beautiful rose was engraved on the top and at the back, it was initialled with E.R. I hadn’t asked him who this belonged to. In the pit of my stomach, I knew who’s it was, and his honest answer was one I was not ready for. Seeing the time, I gathered my sweater off the ground and pulled it back over my head. I made my way out of the trees and found the small path that leads back to the city.

A few people wondered on the same path I did. Some were leaving the city and others were like me, heading back home. As I passed each person they offered me a friendly smile, or a simple hello.

“Hey, Red!” I cringed hearing the name called from behind me. I recognized the voice and prayed it wasn’t who I thought.

I turned to see who had called my name. I saw a tall figure jogging towards me. He wore dark washed jeans and a simple grey long sleeve shirt. His dark hair sat lose and wavy on the top of his head. He wore a devilish smile on his face as he reached me. I was surprised to see him looking so simple, so mundane when the last time I had seen him he was wearing his red royal attire.

“What are you doing out in this neck of the woods?” He now stood in front of me. His golden-brown eyes seemed darker than when I last saw him. I wasn’t sure if it was because we were shaded by the tall trees, or if it was another reason unknown to me.

“I could ask you the same question,” I replied, not wanting to seem rude.

“Ah, touche.” Valerian smiled. “I haven’t seen you around since we first met. Where have you been hiding?”

I shrugged my shoulders. “Here and there.”

He laughed. “Playing hard to get I see.”

I frowned, anger seeping into my bones. “No.” My voice came out hard. “There’s a difference between playing hard to get and just not interested.” I smiled sweetly before I turned to head back down the path.

I could hear his quick footfalls behind me as he tried to catch up with me. I could see the town, which meant I would be at Rupert’s house in just a few minutes. I prayed that he would notice that I was late and come looking for me. He knew where I was going, understanding that I needed time alone.

“Hold up, Red,” Valerian called after me. I ignored him. “Hey, hang on a second.” I felt his long fingers wrap around my arm. He pulled me back towards him. I turned, trying to pull my arm from his grip.

“Let go of me.” My voice was low, angry.

He smiled wickedly, “I’m the Prince of Carnelian. I do as I please, and I do not have to take orders from a little human girl.” He sneered.

I felt it then, the darkness that shaded his eyes was not from the looming trees that were around us. It was the darkness that lived inside him, that seemed to show its ugly face only when it wanted to. I could feel the panic rise in my chest as his dark energy circled around me. I tried to swallow my fear, I didn’t want him to see it.

I clenched my jaw tight. “That’s just it. You’re the Prince of Carnelian. Last I checked we were in Emerald City.”

His energy seemed to darken after my words. I felt like I was suffocating. His hand was still tightly wrapped around my arm. His grip was painful. I could feel the heat, the hatred, seeping from his skin into my body. I tried and pull myself away, I couldn’t. He was bigger and stronger than I was. My heart was racing, my palms began to sweat with the sheer panic and fear that I felt being in his presence.

“I could have you hung for those disgusting words that came from your pretty little mouth, human.” He spat.

“That’s just it, Valerian. You could, and you won’t because you have no authority here.”

I jumped as I felt Rupert’s arm wrap around my waist. I watched as his other arm pushed out. It connected with Valerian’s chest, surprising him, he fell back. His grip released from my arm. Rupert pushed me back behind him as if he was shielding me.

“Touch her again, and it’ll be you that’s hung in the town square. Not her.” I had never heard such venom come from Rupert’s mouth. I stood behind him, shocked by his words, his actions and his presence.

“I could have you hung for those disgusting words that came from your pretty little mouth, human.” He spat.

“That’s just it, Valerian. You could, and you won’t because you have no authority here.”

I jumped as I felt Rupert’s arm wrap around my waist. I watched as his other arm pushed out. It connected with Valerian’s chest, surprising him, he fell back. His grip released from my arm. Rupert pushed me back behind him as if he was shielding me.

“Touch her again, and it’ll be you that’s hung in the town square. Not her.” I had never heard such venom come from Rupert’s mouth. I stood behind him, shocked by his words, his actions and his presence.

I could see his muscles were tense in his back as he stood there, ready to defend him and myself if Valerian decided he wanted to take a swing. His one hand was balled into a fist while his other arm was still stretched out, his fingers touching my hip. It felt as if he was making sure I was okay while telling me to stay put at the same time. His touch sent a shiver through my body. I reacted to him in ways that I had never reacted to a person before. They were new feelings for me, new ones that I was beginning to understand but knew he would never return. He couldn’t, I wasn’t his life mate.

“So I guess I know where you’ve been staying, Red. In the dumpsters with the rats.” Valerian took a half step towards us. I tensed, stepping closer to Rupert, I put my hands against his back. I felt him relax at my touch before he tensed again. It was a split-second reaction, one I would have missed if I wasn’t so focused on him.

“Go home Val. We’re done here.” I could feel Rupert glaring at Valerian.

Rupert quickly turned, his hands moved to my hips to spin me around to walk away from Valerian. I didn’t hesitate for a second to move away from Valerian. As we walked Rupert stayed behind me. He kept his hand at my side. I knew he was just doing it to protect me and steer me in the right direction. Despite knowing his intentions my heart fluttered in my chest. These feelings were blossoming into more than I wanted and I couldn’t stop it.

No words were shared between us as we moved down the streets. My mind was reeling from what had just happened with Valerian, while my body hummed with fire from Rupert’s touch. I looked back at him as we made our way into his house. His hair was a mess at the top of his head from the wind that blew through it on our way home. His jaw was clenched, and his violet eyes burned bright. His eyes caught mine, they softened. I quickly looked away, ducking my head down to hide the blush that formed on my cheeks.

What the hell am I doing? This thought had been one that had been flowing through my brain over the last few days.

We moved into the kitchen I went to the stove to grab the kettle. I heard him rummage through the drawer next to me to pull out the tea. I filled the kettle before putting it back on the stove. I turned to look at him. He was adding the loose leaves into the infuser.

“Are you okay?” He asked as he continued to work with the tea leaves.

“Yeah, a little shaken but I’ll be okay.” I shrugged my shoulders. He looked up at me, a frown covered his face.

“And with everything else that has happened to you?”

“What do you mean?”

“You know what I mean lass. Your whole life has changed.” He said. “Are you okay? Like really okay?” He moved closer to me. He reached out and pushed my hair back behind my shoulder.

My breath hitched, I swallowed, suddenly feeling like my throat was closing. “Y-Yeah.” I cleared my throat. His fingers were still playing with a few strands of my hair. I looked down at his hand then back at him.

“I know this has probably been really hard for you.” His voice was soft. His eyes were looking into mine. I watched him as his eyes flickered down to my lips then back to my green eyes.

“Um…” My heart was in my throat. I could feel the quick pace of my heart beating in my chest.

He moved closer to me. His chest was against mine. I felt his fingers move from my hair to the side of my neck. I was sure he would be able to feel the fast pace of my pulse against his fingers. I tilted my head to look back up at him. His eyes were so easy to get lost in. Fields of beautiful lavender. Bright and warm.

The loud whistle of the kettle snapped us back to reality. I jumped, stepping away from him. I quickly looked at him, he was looking at the floor as he cleared his throat. He turned towards the stove to take the kettle off the heat. I grabbed the two cups and set them down on the counter next to him. I made sure to keep my eyes anywhere else in the room except for him.

Was that just about to happen? I thought as I went to grab the infuser for my cup of tea.

My fingers brushed against his as we both reached out at the same time. I quickly snapped my hand away and mumbled a sorry. I glanced at him through the curtain of my hair that covered the side of my face. He was watching me. He held an emotion on his face that I couldn’t quite place.

“It’s okay. Go ahead.” He stepped to the side to let me grab the infuser to steep my tea. I grabbed both and handed him the other.

I moved passed him and sat down at the table. I turned to look out the window as I moved the tea leaves around in my mug. I looked over at him as he pulled the chair out next to me and sat down.

He cleared his throat again. The awkwardness and tension was obvious. I was uncomfortable with it. It was not a feeling I was used to, especially with him.

“What did Valerian want today?” He finally broke the silence.

I shrugged my shoulders. “I’m not really sure.” I tucked my hair behind my ear. “He seemed like he was trying to hit on me. He asked where I had been staying…” I trailed off as I saw a flash of anger cross his face. “I told him I wasn’t interested in him. That’s when I tried to get away and he came after me.”

“He came after you? Even after you said no?” His voice was dark. I shifted in my chair, uncomfortable with the energy Rupert was putting off.

“Yeah,” I whispered. “That’s when he grabbed me. I said some mean things, which didn’t help is anger.”

“What you said doesn’t excuse his behaviour. I don’t want you thinking him grabbing you was your fault.”

“I’m not. He’s a grown man, he should know how to handle himself.” I blew against the hot water in my cup. “Obviously he doesn’t know.”

“He’s always been hot-tempered like that,” Rupert replied.

“I don’t know there’s just something about him that’s off.” I shook my head. “I don’t know how to explain it. It’s like this darkness just surrounds him.”

“I know what you mean. A lot of people don’t notice it, but I see it.” He nodded his head. “I think it would be good if you didn’t go off on your own when he’s in town.” He looked at me, his eyes hard.

I was taken back by his forwardness. He had never told me what to do or demanded anything from me. His hostility towards Valerian was troublesome, and something I wanted to understand.

“I’m sorry?” I set my cup down on the table. “You know I’m my own person right?”

He sighed. “I’m sorry, that’s not how I meant that to come across. Valerian is not a good person and I feel like he could snap and turn on anyone any second.” He pushed his own cup away from him. “He’s a lot stronger than he looks. I don’t want you getting hurt. I would feel better if you went out with myself or Nix, rather than be alone.”

As he explained himself I began to relax. The anger that was beginning to boil inside me stopped. I relaxed and took a drink of my tea. I took a deep breath and cleared my head. Rupert was not a demanding Alpha, he was understanding, soft, the perfect Beta.

“I understand your concern, and I appreciate you caring for my welfare.” I looked down at my cup. The water was still steaming with heat. I could see a few of the leaves that escaped the infuser at the bottom of my cup.

“I was wondering,” Rupert said after a moment. “If you want to go to the Makers Market with me tonight.”

“The Makers Market?” I asked.

“Yeah, it’s a little different than the market I took you to the other day. At this one, you’ll see musical and theatre performances. There are stands where artists exhibit their work, bakers set up stands and sell their sweets. It’s really fun.”

“I love music and theatre. I would love to go, it sounds amazing.” I smiled.

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