The Makers Market was outstanding. Rupert and I left as the sun was beginning to set. It was a cool night, the dampness in the air from earlier had left and was replaced with a breeze. I tugged my jacket tighter against my body.
The Makers Market was held in the town’s square. The square was the downtown core of Emerald City. Shops were lined next to each other. In the middle of the square was a beautiful park with benches, tall trees, and open areas for people to walk and set up their stands. In the centre of the square was a small stage where musicians and theatre acts could take place. The set up for the market was beautiful. The lanterns that lined the sidewalks were light, and fairy lights were strung down the posts. They had rustic strings of light bulbs attached from the corner of one stand, across the top of the sidewalk and over to the corner of another stand. The lights gave a soft warm glow to the stands. It made it seem more welcoming and exciting.
I could hear the soft tones of acoustic guitars being strummed, and drums being hit while a beautiful voice sang the lyrics to the song. I could smell the fresh baked cookies and cupcakes. I turned to look at Rupert, a large smile spread across my face.
“This is beautiful!” I made my way down the sidewalk.
I moved slowly as I took in each vendors table. Some had handmade jewelry, others had beautiful paintings. I stopped at one stand and admired the beautiful scenery paintings. It was a large canvas that would look lovely over the top of a bed frame. The painting was filled with beautiful reds, oranges and yellows. The setting took place in fall, the sun was setting against the large body of water that was painted into the middle of the scene. The sky was painted blues, purples and pinks. It was a warm painting that made me think of home. The turning maple trees, the sunsets on Lake Huron. I took one last long look at it before I carried on to see the other stands.
We moved along the sidewalk, Rupert stopped at a sweets stand and bought each of us a delicious brownie. It was gooey and filled with chocolate chunks. It was a sinful dessert and left me craving more. We moved to the middle of the park to watch the musical acts. I stood off to the side and swayed to the soft tones of the music that filled the air. I felt Rupert move behind me, he stood dangerously close. I could feel his chest brush against my back with each breath. I sucked in my own breath as my heart pumped in my chest.
I didn’t understand anything that happened today. The arms wrapping around my waist when Valerian was around, the almost kiss in his front door and now, he was standing directly behind me. His sudden advances have taken me by surprise. I stepped away from him and turned to face him. The show had ended, and the artist had said there would be about fifteen minutes while they set up for the theatre acts.
“Should we go and see the stands on the other side?” I asked, hoping he would be fine with that. I needed air to breathe.
“Sure.” He looked down at me. His lavender eyes sparkled in the night light.
We moved to the far side of the park that we had not been to. This side had a small area where games and activities were set up for children. They had board games set up at one table, at other tables paints and canvases were set up for the young children to create their own masterpieces. I smiled as a few children ran past us. Their laughter was contagious. I giggled as they pushed past me, the little girl squealed as the little boy caught up to her. He tapped her on the shoulder before he quickly ran away.
“You’re it!” He called as he tried to get away from her.
I became suddenly aware of Rupert’s hand grabbing my arm and wrapping his arm around me to keep me standing as I swayed into him.
“Ariella?” His voice sounded distant.
I wanted to scream as my body succumbed to a familiar feeling that had been happening quite often. My vision blurred, and my body relaxed into Ruperts. The sound of children’s laughter met my ears once again, this time their laughter faded into someone else.
The air was warm, people walked along the streets. Some were pushing wagons filled with merchandise while others sat on the benches reading the paper or books. The sound of children’s laughter and playful screams were filling the air. Children played in the middle of the park. They were running in all different directions. They had a clear motive. Don’t get caught.
Two children rushed passed a woman carrying a large box. The small girl almost ran into her, and dodged her at the last moment. She women let out a soft squeak before she turned to see who had almost crashed into her.
“Sorry, Ms. McGee!” The little girl called over her shoulder.
The woman let out a small laugh as a taller boy ran by. “Make sure you catch her Rupert!”
Rupert waved over his shoulder as his long strides began to catch up to the little girl with strawberry blond hair. You could tell her ringlets were usually darker but the hours spent in the sun had lightened her hair to a strawberry blond.
The little girl ducked behind a table. She stood on the other side and braced herself for any quick movement.
“Careful Ella-Rose, I might just catch you.” He said a playful smile crossed his lips.
“You know I’m much faster than you!” She teased.
“Prove it!” He smiled as he lunged over the table. Ella-Rose let out a scream as Rupert’s arms wrapped around her.
“Not fair!” She called as she tried to wiggle out of his arms.
“Very fair little rose.” He kissed her temple. “You’re it!” He quickly let her go and took off in the other direction laughter belting out of his chest. “Catch me if you can!” He turned to run backwards, his tongue stuck out of his mouth.
“Oh, I will!” She called as she took the ribbon tied to her wrist and pulled her hair up. Once her hair was tightly in place she took off after him, her pink floral sundress blowing in the wind behind her.
“Ariella!” The sound of my own name brought me back to reality.
I gasped, sucking in a deep breath as if it was my first time breathing. The clouds that covered my eyes began to fade. I blinked and looked up at Rupert who was looking back at me. I felt his hands on my body. His one arm was wrapped around me to keep me from laying on the ground while his other arm was stretched out brushing the hair away from my cheeks and forehead.
I frowned looking around me. I was sitting on the ground, Rupert was angled to the side his one leg behind me and the other in front underneath my own legs. His body felt warm against mine, I wanted to pull him closer and snuggle into his chest. I resisted the urge, my mind still trying to understand what I just saw and why it happened.
“Are you back?” His voice was right beside my ear. I turned back to look at him. My nose brushed against his. I looked into his eyes for a moment before I pulled back.
“Ella-Rose.” I whispered. His body went rigged, he snapped his head back away from mine. His eyes were wide with shock.
“H-How do you know that name?” He stumbled over his words. His voice was laced with anger and curiosity.
“That’s her name right?” I ignored his question. “Your life mate, her name was Ella-Rose.” My voice was soft, barely above a whisper.
He sat there silent, uncomfortable, surprised. It seemed as if this was the first time in seventeen years he had heard her name.
“Yeah.” His voice was rough. “That was her name.”
I nodded my head, and slowly pushed myself off the ground so I could stand. He moved to help me stand up, I grabbed his hand to help me up. I continued to lean against him for support as my mind was still hazy and my legs were still weak.
“I-I saw her.” I said as I looked down at my feet. “I saw both of you actually.”
“Yeah you were playing tag in this park. Right here.” I looked around us. The children that were playing were gone, and only a few adults were around taking down their vendor stands. “You were a cute kid. Lanky, but strong.” I tried to laugh, to hide the jealousy that was boiling inside me.
“I remember that. It was one of the last times I saw her.” He replied. His eyes were distant like he was lost in his own memories.
I wanted to cry, to curl up and wish all of this was a dream. I was ready to wake up in my warm sleeping bag in the log cabin I had left five weeks back. I wanted to take these things I was feeling and throw them away.
“She’s pretty,” I said. I didn’t want to talk about his relationship with her. I didn’t want to tell him how I saw the way he looked at her, how he kissed her head, teased her, how he was a true friend to her.
He didn’t say anything, he just nodded his head and looked at me. He held his arm out for me to hold onto as we walked back to the house.
“I-I think we should probably talk to Nix.” He said after a few minutes. We were moving slow, my legs were still getting used to the weight that they carried.
“About?” I asked.
“Why you keep seeing these visions. I know the last few times it was because you were touched by the obvious magic that was attached to the cliffs,” He stopped walking and wrapped both his arms around me as my legs gave out with the step I took. “Okay?” He asked.
“Yeah.” I said as I nodded my head. “You were saying?”
“Well, this time we were talking and walking and just out of the blue you were hit with a vision if you want to call it that.”
“Would Nix know what this is?” I asked, unsure if speaking to her would even be worth it.
“Maybe. I mean she is one of the most powerful Changelings in Emerald City. I’m sure she might have some idea, or maybe she’s seen this happen before.” He shrugged his shoulders. “I mean it’s worth a shot.”
I thought about it for a moment. My emotions were still all over the place. I felt conflicted, confused, jealous, hurt. I felt every possible emotion possible all at the same time and I wasn’t sure how to handle it.
“I guess it wouldn’t hurt.”
I found myself lying comfortably in the hammock Rupert had set up. It was tied between two large trees. The coolness of fall had finally set in. The breeze was cold enough that a sweater and jacket were needed when you weren’t in the sun. Some of the leaves on the trees were already beginning to change colour. Some of the leaves were already beginning to fade into bright hues of red and orange.
I pulled the hood of my jacket over my head to keep the breeze from blowing my hair across my face. I pulled my book open and found myself getting lost in the words that filled each page. The close relationships between the characters in the book were relationships I longed for. I missed having the close friendships, I missed the idea of finding someone who would love me. Now that I was here I found myself missing the relationships I once had. I wasn’t sure if that was because of the events that took place three days ago with Rupert. Since seeing him as a child playing with Ella-Rose he had been distant, he had barely said five words to me. It was now that I was finally feeling like I wasn’t welcome in Rupert’s house anymore. I knew I was here to stay, I had accepted that. I found myself wondering if it was possible for me to find my own space. Somewhere that I would feel welcome, a place that I could make my own home.
“What’s on your mind?” I jumped, startled by the sudden voice next to me. I swayed in the hammock, the sudden off-balance threatened my fall. I dropped my book and gripped the sides of the hammock as it swayed. I was able to keep it from tipping.
“Jesus!” I cursed. I looked to my right and found Nix happily standing next to me.
She wore a long black dress, black strappy block heels were on her feet. The dress was long-sleeved and high neck. A slit went from the top of her knee and down the right side of the dress. Half of her dark hair was pulled back into a braid while the rest of her hair hung loose against her back.
“You look nice. Going somewhere?” I asked after I finished assessing what she was wearing.
“Nah. Just felt like dressing up.” She moved her hands to her hips. “I’m old as hell. I wear what I want and most people don’t ask questions anymore.” She shrugged her shoulders. “So what are you doing out here by yourself, and why is Rupert sulking around inside the house?”
“Well I needed space, and I feel awkward around him right now.”
She laughed. “Whatcha do? Bone, and then wake up the next morning trying to forget that it never happened?”
“Nix!” I said in shock. “No! My God.” I grabbed my book and got up off the hammock.
“What! I’m not stupid. I see the way you look at him sometimes.”
“Exactly. I look but will never touch. He has a life mate, he is untouchable.” I pulled my hood off my head and pulled out my hair from underneath my jacket collar.
“Okay then.” She rolled her eyes. “So what happened then?”
I looked away from her, and sighed. “Well, the other day we were at the makers market, and I fainted after I saw children running around playing.” I moved to sit down on the top step of the deck. “When I fainted I had a vision, I guess.”
“A vision?” She lifted an eyebrow and came to sit down next to me.
I nodded my head. “Yeah, but it wasn’t like the other ones I’ve had. This one came out of the blue, and it was about Rupert.”
“Rupert?” Nix looked surprised. “That’s interesting…” She trailed off as she looked down at her shoes.
“Yeah but he was a child. He was playing tag, chasing after a little girl with strawberry blond hair.” I said. Nix turned to look at me, her hair flipped onto her shoulders with the sudden movement of her head.
“He called her Ella-Rose.” I began to pick at the skin around my fingernails. “I know who she is to him. I could tell by the way he talked to her and held her in the vision.”
“You told him didn’t you?” Nix sighed. “That’s why he’s sulking around in the house. He hasn’t heard her name, or even spoken it in almost ten years.”
“Yeah I told him.” I whispered.
“There’s something else that’s bothering him though. Something that happened between the two of you.”
I shifted on the step, I could feel the blood going to my cheeks. “We almost kissed the other day, and now since that and then Ella-Rose were not really talking right now.”
“Why didn’t you kiss?”
I almost burst out laughing. Her question was ridiculous. “Why would I?” I shook my head. “Why would I put myself in the position to open my heart to someone, to get to know them, when those feelings would never be reciprocated?”
“How do you know he would never feel the same?” Nix asked.
“His heart belongs to someone else. I’m not Ella-Rose, I’m not his life mate. He would never feel for me the way he did for her.”
“Just because she was his lifemate doesn’t mean he can’t feel for you too.” Nix leaned back, her arms back behind her to hold herself up. “Look, having a second life mate is something that’s never been heard of. Just because we’ve never seen it before doesn’t mean it’s impossible.”
“So what are you saying?” I was confused, uneasy. I wasn’t sure how to feel about this information.
Could Rupert really be able to open himself to me the way he would have with her? I thought. Would he be willing to?
“I’m saying that it’s possible for the fates to give you another life mate.”
“He doesn’t seem to think so.” I sighed as I ran my fingers through my hair. “I asked him after I had been here for a little while. He said that you can only have one life mate and that he had already found his. There’s no point, he’ll always wait for her.”
I stood up from the steps and brushed off my backside before I stepped up to head for the sliding door.
“I know I can’t leave here, I understand that and...I’ve accepted that,” I began. “I’d like to have my own space, like my own apartment.”
She hesitated a moment before she met me at the door. “I can see if that’s possible, if that’s really what you want, Doll.” She pulled open the door and stepped inside. “But I think you should speak with Rupert and figure out whatever -” She waved her in front of me and then pointed behind her. “- this is that’s going on between you two.”
She didn’t give me a chance to respond before she turned and moved down the hallway calling Rupert’s name. She left me there to gather myself and my own thoughts before I made my way into the house.