Chapter 28: The Palace
I love to travel but if I have to sit in that smelly van ever again, I swear I might become a homebody. The van smelled oddly of lavender and mildew, I was stuck in between Kai and Clementine. The whole ride to the palace, Clementine shout me pouting looks. Her eyes practically begging me to switch seats with her and I would have too. Kai’s arm kept brushing against my shoulder or arms and every time it sent sparks racing up my arm. Neither of us had spoken about his declaration, so we spent the entire drive shooting each other sideways glances when the other wasn’t looking. Though I was painfully aware of every time his gaze landed on the side of my face because of the tingling feeling I got each time it happened. I can only assume that he felt them too. We didn’t stop from restroom visits or stretch our legs, and no one spoke.
When the car stopped for the first time I looked around in anticipation. Where we here, yet? I frowned; it was nothing but mountains.
“We are here.” Mama Fra said from up-front.
“Where’s here?” I asked. Is this a test?
Peter pressed his foot on the gas, and we resumed driving with a lurch. He was driving straight into the base of a mountain.
“Peter! Watch out!” I shrieked as we approached the wall.
I’m going to die. I never traveled the world or went to college. Or at least learn to master my abilities. I’m not ready to die, there is so much to do. I closed my eyes and braced for impact.
After several seconds nothing happened. Hesitantly I opened back my eyes and let out a gasp. We where inside the mountain. What’s with demons and mountains? But this mountain was different, it was huge. This one had roads and small little boutiques, it almost looked like a town. Towering above the homes and shop was a pearl white palace. Woah, are we staying there?
Kai let out a chuckle, “Welcome to Hollowmound. The Demon capital in the mortal realm.”
“Am I dreaming?” I asked as I peered out Clementine’s rolled out window.
“Aw that’s cute, Kai’s in your dreams.” Alvina piped up from the back seat.
I turned towards her and glared. I couldn’t deny, I have never dreamed about Kai because I have but that’s before we met. When Satan introduced me to my team. It’s just like I can’t deny I dreamt about Zephyr, Peter or even Gabriel.
“What, no comeback?” Zephyr asked raising an eyebrow at me.
“I have one.” Kai added as he turned around, “If you don’t quit now, I will personally remove your head from your neck.”
Zephyr made a face then elbowed Alvina, “Look how Kai protects her. How charming.” He said before winking at me.
“Children, behave.” Mama Fra said but her grin told a different story. “It’s time to put on your veil, darling.”
I took the wrinkled black veil out of my back pocket and tried to put it on. But every time I tried, we would hit a bump and it would fall over again.
“You need help?” Kai offered.
“I got it.” Clementine said as she grabbed the veil out of my hand.
It took her several tries before it was secured safely to my face. At least in a few short days, I wouldn’t need to ever wear it again.
When we turned into the palace the gates immediately opened. Don’t they need to check who we are first? That’s not very safe.
“Only those decreed by Satan can enter these grounds.” Nyra explained with a yawn.
“How was your nap?” I thought to her.
“Best twelve hours of my life.” She stretched her wings on the stomach causing me to squirm.
“You okay?” Kai asked.
Nyra stretched her wings again, once again making me squirm. “Just fine.” I nodded and let out a little laugh.
“Stop that tickles.” I commanded to Nyra.
“You mean this?” Nyra stretched her wings once again and I barked out a laugh.
“Are you having a seizure?” Zephyr asked from the back.
“Nope.” I said as she repeated the motions several times causing me to laugh uncontrollably. “Stop!” I shouted out in protest.
“I’m not doing anything.” Kai said, putting his hands up in surrender.
“Neither am I.” Clementine moved away from me.
“Owl. Tickle. Me.” I said in between gasp of laughter.
When we turned into the main entrance dozens of maids and butlers waited by the steps. As we pulled to a stop, one of the butlers opened the door.
“Presenting the Nox Knights.” He called out and everyone else fell into a bow.
Kai got out first fixing[PS1] his sweatshirt and sweatpants. He extended his hand and I took it. Many of the maid’s heads shot up as they peered at me with interest. Clementine then exited along with Zephyr and Alvina.
Zephyr winked at group of maids who didn’t look much older than eighteen. They begun to giggle and blush before standing up straight.
Peter opened the door for Mama Fra while handing the keys to another butler.
“Welcome.” An elderly woman said as she descended down the center of the stairs towards us, “I am Mistress Elizabeth, I shall guide you towards your suite.”
Suite? Why didn’t she say rooms? Does this mean we are sleeping in the same suite? My face filled with heat; I don’t think I could do this.
“What are you, a child?” Nyra scolded, “It’s a suite, there are separate rooms in a singular suite.”
I let out a sigh of relief, “Oh good.”
Mistress Elizabeth turned on her heels and walked up the stairs. Kai, who had yet to let go of my hand led us forward. The maids once again giggled at us holding hands.
“Um, Kai.” I whispered, trying not to be overheard by the maids. I have read stories about gossiping maids and their rumors.
“Yeah.” He said, his voice barely above a whisper.
“My hand.” I gave my hand a little tug, but Kai strengthened his hold on it.
“Let the maids think what they may.” He replied while squeezing my hand.
My heart picked up speed as I stared down at our hands. We looked like a couple. If my parents saw this, they would kill me. Then resurrect me, just to kill me again.
“You must be tired from the drive.” Mistress Elizabeth says while we entered the palace.
Inside was a white marbled lined with gold. The ceiling sparkled with a chandelier lit with real candles. Imagine how much a bother it is to change them.
“I will send for some tea and cookies to your sweet right away.” Mistress Elizabeth continued taking a sharp left.
If not for Kai’s hand I would have probably crashed into the wall. He yanked me back with such force, that I sent us both crashing to the ground. I was laying on top of Kai. We were so close; I could feel his breath fan my veil.
Nope, not a cliché! I reminded myself as I pushed off him and stood up.
Kai let out a laugh, “Are you okay?” He asked as he stood up.
I hit the front of my foot to the ground a nodded while giving him the thumbs up, “Yup, I’m great. Fabulous even. “
“Could you be any weirder?” Nyra laughed.
“Well then, shall we continue?” Mistress Elizabeth asked but she didn’t wait for an answer.
I begun to fall a few steps behind Kai. When Kai noticed he turned abruptly around and marched next to me. He grabbed my hand and pulled us forward.
I tried to tug my hand loose, but he tightened his hold. I looked towards the rest of the group for help, but they weren’t any. Zephyr wagged his eyebrows at me and Alvina gave me the thumbs up. Clementine huffed and looked away. Mama Fra looked shocked but understanding filled her gaze. Peter frowned but didn’t say anything.
“If you keep looking back for help, then I’m never letting go.” Kai threatened lowly.
I groaned and tuned to face Mistress Elizabeth. A small part of me wanted to look back and see if he would make do on his promise. I quickly squashed that hope and set my gaze ahead and steeled my resolve from looking back.
Didn’t I say I would stay away from Kai? Why does the thought of him letting go of my hand fill me with sadness?