The Faet Within

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Chapter 2

Austin

Austin has to disguise the laugh as a cough, watching her expertly backpedal, trying to correct the word vomit that had just expelled out of her pretty little mouth. Once she is done explaining to their parents that they have indeed met, he takes a step towards her.

"I do apologize for being rude before. Let me introduce myself properly this time. I am Austin, Prince of the Western Kingdom." He bows to her, taking her hand to kiss her knuckles. He's surprised when he finds evidence of calluses. Obviously she is of high station or else his parents wouldn't be introducing them, so why would she ever work with her hands?

A barely noticeable blush tinges her cheeks as she responds, "I am Isobel, Princess of the Eastern Kingdom."

A woman who he can only assume is the Queen catches her attention, "Dear, why don't you show him the garden and get to know him a bit."

Austin doesn't miss the uncomfortable look that passes in her eyes before being hidden once more behind a mask of courtesy and duty. "Of course, mother."

He follows her through the crowd, grabbing another drink before moving towards the back of the building and through glass doors into a magnificent garden. He looks around at all the different plants and flowers, many of which he had never seen before.

"Okay, now that the parents are gone... Your mother said rough around the edges but I think she was being kind."

Her words bring a smirk to his face, "She only says that because I tend to take more risks than any Fae of my caliber should." He crosses his arms across his chest, not missing her eyes looking down at his muscles.

She blinks and her eyes are back on his. "Such a chip on your shoulder... Where did you get that from, I wonder?"

Austin shrugs, "I'm the youngest of four boys. I learned young that if I wanted to make something of myself I would need to take more risks. My mother... let's just say she doesn't agree. She's hoping that if I settle down, I'll stop taking risks."

A mirthless laugh comes out of Isobel as she walks around the garden slowly, caressing the petals of flowers as if they were lovers. Austin watches, finding himself mildly jealous of the petals as the flowers start to bloom at her touch. Should have known she was a nature Fae.

"I know all too well about parents wanting you to settle down. My mother keeps trying to set me up with men who... You know what? Why am I telling you this? It's obvious our parents are wanting us to get together. I don't blame them, on paper we would be quite the match..." The last part she almost whispers, lost in her own world as she continues working with the flowers.

Austin shrugs, watching her intently as he rubs his middle finger and thumb together, feeling the warmth spread through his hand. "I had you pegged for a nature Fae."

Isobel chuckles, a soft sound that somewhat reminds him of the wind. "It couldn't have been the dress, could it?"

Austin looks down at the dress, not for the first time, but really looking at the dress. She looks like a walking garden. How had he not noticed that before?

She picks up the prettiest rose off of a bush, plucking it from the stem. She caresses the petals again, making them almost glisten before putting it into his lapel. "Do I need to guess what you are? Or will you give that information willingly?"

Austin smirks, taking the flower off his lapel and holding it in his open palm. Suddenly the flower bursts into flames before dying out as quickly as it went up. "Fire Fae."

A cute little frown takes over her face as she gathers the ashes, "Was that really necessary?" She walks over to the base of the bush and places the ashes there as if they were a wounded animal.

Austin shrugs, "Most Fae don't believe me. The reaction I usually get is one of fear. Especially considering most fire Fae end up going crazy with their power. Did you know, the last Fae in my family to wield fire was Hogarth the Terrible? He burned four square miles of farmland because the farmer looked at him funny."

Isobel's eyebrow arches, "Why would I fear fire? Even with the devastation it can cause, new life always forms through the ashes." She points down at the small pile of ash, a new rosebud already growing there. "See?" She smiles up at him.

"You are a first," Austin chuckles, "I'll give you that. Now tell me... what do you do when you're not pacifying your mother by speaking with suitors?"

Austin watches as her slender shoulders rise and fall in a surprisingly delicate shrug. "I've been traveling off and on since I came of age, bringing something back to my garden in the palace from wherever I go. I also like to play botanist with flower species." The proud smile on her face is surprisingly genuine. "Some of my favorite creations are in this garden." She walks over to a beautiful flower bush with huge flowers on them.

Austin nods, "Interesting..."

Isobel sighs, "So what are we going to do about our parents?"

He shrugs, "Same thing I do with every girl my mother hopes to set me up with, piss you off enough that you throw your hands up and say I'm a lost cause." He gives her a smug smile, it hadn't failed him yet.

"You're not going to even try? I'm not saying I want to get married, especially to you, but if it's going to be with anybody, it might as well be someone who will unite our kingdoms into one for the first time in a millennia."

Austin smirks, "Little bird, I don't think you understand what joining me in marriage involves."

She rolls her pretty blue eyes, "Then enlighten me. Let me decide if it's worth it." She crosses her arms defiantly, unknowingly pushing her breasts together for Austin to see.

He feels his body heat up at the very thought of her body and has to physically shake his head to rid himself of the thought before it took over the rest of his body. He smirks, stepping up to her, "Fine then. One month to show that you are better off marrying a turnip than you are marrying me."

Isobel smirks, her eyes glinting with the challenge, holding her hand out. "Deal. One month."

Austin takes her hand, "Deal." He would probably regret this.

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