Everything around me was bright. Colors danced over the treetops and lightning bugs floated past me as if they were little moving stars. The beautiful scene before me took my breath away.
I had never seen any part of the Community that was so beautiful. I loved the greenery of the rolling hillsides and the smell of dew in the morning, but nothing in our little woodland home could ever compare to the beauty of the colorful forest before me.
It was as if I were teleported to a new world, glowing vinery swaying in the wind and the colored leaves seemed to bow down to me as if they could recognize me as their Queen.
It took me a moment to realize I was dreaming, but I was not willing to attempt to try to wake myself up from this beauty. I had never been aware of dreaming like this, but it actually wasn't scary.
I looked down at myself, marveling in the dress I was wearing. The purple satin hugged my curves in all the right way, cupping my breasts and clung to my hips, though not in an uncomfortable way. The bottom brushed against my upper thighs and felt smooth and cool against my skin. By far, this was the most luxurious dress I had ever worn in my life. I ran my hands over the smooth material, smiling to myself at the contrast of color against my skin. Was this the kind of clothes I would wear when I went to the High Wall?
I stepped forward slowly, digging my toes into the soft moss that covered the trail in front of me. It smelled like rain and cushioned my feet like soft carpet. Everything about this dream felt real and surreal. The smells and feelings that surrounded me were so vivid!
I reached out my finger tips, brushing over the leaves as I walked, laughing softly as they tickled my skin. A butterfly flew past me, the fluttering echoed in my ear as it passed by my face, it's velvet wings brushing my cheek as if flapped past.
"Hey, come back here!" I called to the butterfly happily, dancing after it as it floated off in front of me. I followed its beautiful wings until I reached a small clearing, trees opening up to waves of bright green grass and thousands of fireflies danced across the sky. "Wow.." I breathed, surprised that my mind could even come up with something so gorgeous.
My eyes narrowed as I noticed a man standing out in the field, surrounded by fireflies. It was almost as if they were drawn to him. I could barely make him out from the distance away that he was standing, but I could see his blonde hair standing out against the colors of the sky above. It was almost as if he was glowing as bright as the fireflies.
"Hello?" I called out, cautiously pushing myself forward to walk toward the man. Why was there a random guy in my dream? "Who are you?" I called as I got closer, my eyes dialing in on his pale skin and cheekbones that could kill. His lips were full and pink and his eyes! The way his green eyes widened as I walked closer to him made my cheeks flush.
"I... I'm Paeris." He said softly, clearly surprised to see me. Was he surprised I was here? This was my dream, wasn't it? "You are beautiful." He said bluntly, almost as if he was surprised with the way I looked.
"Do I know you?" I asked this mystery man, tipping my head to study him further. He was wearing the same colored shirt as me and what looked like the same satin material, though his pants were pressed and black. His hair fell to his cheekbones and while his face only had a slight trace of stubble, there was a ruggedness about him that made my skin tingle.
"Not yet." He said softly, a twinkle appearing in his eyes mischievously. I shivered. "I was wondering when you would get here. I've been waiting for hours."
"What do you mean? You were waiting for me? But you don't know me.." I said, confusion threading through my words, my eyebrow peaking slightly. "What is this place?"
"Whatever you want it to be. Right now, I think you are seeking a safe place away." He smirked at the look on my face of silent understanding. "Rough day?"
"You have no idea," I let slip, feeling more relaxed here than I ever had before. Obviously my mind needed to check out - to disappear to a fantasy land with a beautiful man and recharge. I had to admit, the hot guy was a nice touch. I gave my unconscious props for the fine details. I studied him again, breathing out all the frustration that I had pent up throughout the day.
My sister hated me, Cage was clearly in awe with her, and I would soon be leaving everything I had ever known. The last couple of days had been horrible. Even after I had gone back to the training area to try and patch whatever relationship I may have had left with Allie, I came back to find Cage comforting her as she cried. The pang of jealousy and betrayal had been too much. The way he looked at her, brushed her hair away from her face and smiled was too much. My vision had turned red, my blood boiling. I had ran until I couldn't run anymore.
Even after I had returned to the house, I avoided my sister. I had taken a shower, skipped dinner, and went right to bed on the couch in my room. I let the Princess take the bed. After all, it would be hers after I left. The next day hadn't been any better. Even though Tarron had played the best friend game pretty well, Cage was all about Allie and I seemed to be a distant memory to the rest of the Pack.
"Ray, just breathe. Here, you can do whatever you want. You can talk to me about it." The man, Paeris, said kindly, extending his hand to me. "Or we can just lay here and study the sky. It really is beautiful." He offered gently, cocking his brow slightly as he waited for my answer.
This was my dream. I could do whatever I wanted.
I reached out my hand, brushing my fingertips over the soft satin shirt, marveling at the feeling of his hard chest under the soft material.
"Let's just lay here and watch the sky." I said slowly, pulling Paeris down to the ground with me by the front of his shirt. The smile on his face seemed sincere and understanding.
"You know, you have your whole future ahead of you." He said quietly, tipping his head to look over at me. "You're going to be a Queen."
"Yeah. Like that's what I want." I said bitterly, "I'm supposed to be a Champion. To be a leader of a Pack and be married and be a warrior."
"Listen to yourself. You are destined to be a Champion. To be a leader of the High Wall. To be a warrior, just not with your fists but with your leadership and decisions." Paeris turned onto his side to look at me, tucking his arm under his head. "And eventually, you will fall in love with someone who you chose and get married when you want." He smiled, almost knowingly.
"I can't just... drink tea and wear pretty dresses and party and tell people what to do."
"Then don't. Change the way things are." He reached out and took my hand, goose bumps running up my arms at his touch. "Make them see the Champion you are, Ray."