Her fingers fastened the last button of her cotton blouse, revealing the path that showed her breasts’ birth. The laces of her long, soft sleeves were enclosed in a bow. Daphne took the long green skirt and placed it underneath, positioning her legs in the middle and sliding it up to her waist. On closer inspection, it did not look so bad. The back of the skirt was crumpled. Her regular boots didn’t match much, but at least they did their best work. And taking a green ribbon, which must have been part of the skirt fabric, she pulled her hair up into a simple low bun.
Tonight, Queen Avina had invited her to join the others for dinner. A private meal in celebration of someone else. Who no one had the slightest idea who it was.
Daphne walked peacefully through the corridors.
Her heart was swimming in calm waters. Her mind was not.
Anyone would think that she would be in a state of sadness and tears after her conversation with Lorcan two nights ago. That would not happen. Although before going to sleep, she replayed that first kiss endlessly in her memory. Reconstructing every detail of the taste of his lips, his breath, and those eyes that constantly stalked her. Daphne had accepted the fact that there could be nothing between the two. At least that decision had been made by him, and she would not dare to pursue the affection of someone who did not want her.
Nor could she say that she was outraged by what Lorcan decided. After all, their relationship never reached a point where she could feel that way. She simply treated him with courtesy. When the two crossed paths, neither showed hostility nor talked much. Each behaved with apparent composure.
“Good evening,” The Lords turned to her as they heard her.
Daphne walked over to the table adorned with candlesticks and exquisitely decorated gold plates. The table and chairs where dinner would be served were close to a massive wall made of glass, protecting them from the darkness of the world.
“Good evening, Ragothara,” they all answered in unison. It was a fact that everyone knew who she was now.
How many times has she reiterated her dissatisfaction with the way these Lords were addressing her?.
She just decided to ignore it once more.
Her cheek was touched by a warm kiss from her brother.
“You look beautiful,” James praised her.
“Really?” Daphne looked at her outfit, really hesitating. “These clothes make me think that I am back in our time.”
“That’s why you look more beautiful. Although what you’re wearing is definitely of better quality than what you were using in the eighteen hundred”. James teased. And a smile spread across her lips.
“Who is Queen Avina’s guest?”
The noise of doors opening with little subtlety caused James not to finish his sentence. Everyone turned to those black shoes that now walked with unwavering confidence.
A pair of black shoes that belonged to brown eyes, thick lips, and equally muscular body as the rest of the men in the room, well except James.
Daphne watched the man with curiosity. His hair had a military-style. His silver suit was obviously too modern for this Kingdom’s style, suggesting that the stranger was spending his time in the Realm of the Mortals without a doubt.
The visitor stopped just a few steps away from Daphne and James and looked at everyone as if he was trying to find someone.
“I guess this time I’m the one who was on time, and she was late.” His voice was as thick as his broad shoulders.
“Excuse me, but who are you?” James dared to ask. “Ouch,” he exclaimed as Daphne pinched his arm.
The visitor’s eyes looked at her, amused. “I’m sorry for my lack of courtesy, gentlemen, miss. My name is Raven.”
“A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Raven.” Daphne was the first to say. Raven, haunted by his own curiosity, approached her and held out his hand. Daphne observed him, and with a smile that barely touched her eyes, she squeezed his hand. “I’m Daphne, and this is my brother James.”
Raven offered his hand to James, who also greeted him. Meanwhile, she looked at the five Lords, which in turn regarded Raven as their number one enemy with their usual grave expressions.
“What are you?” Raven’s question was straightforward. He knew exactly who the other five were, but he could hardly distinguish which Realm the young woman and her brother belonged to.
“Excuse me?” Daphne then asked with a frown.
“Which Kingdom are you from?”
“They are from the Kingdom Stop asking questions that don’t concern you, Raven.” Avina appeared with Lorcan at the entrance.
“Ah, Avina, why don’t you show a little kindness once in a while? I just wanted to know more about our guests.” Raven looked at Daphne and winked at her.
“Raven-” Avina said as she made her way over with Lorcan. “She’s beyond your reach. Don’t even think about it.”
“What are you talking about? I’m not trying anything.”
Daphne’s eyes fell into Lorcan’s eyes by default. A look that contained absolutely nothing.
“I see you’ve met my dear cousin Raven.” Avina addressed everyone. “Happy birthday, dear.”
“I came only because you begged me. I have been living so many years, and you still want to celebrate it”. Raven took her cousin’s hand and led her to the Royal chair.
“Didn’t you tell me that mortals celebrate their birth?” Avina sat down, and the others followed suit.
“You said yourself, mortals celebrate such a thing.” And as Raven spoke, and pretending not to pay attention, he sat down next to Daphne.
The food soon began to arrive. The smell of roasted meats, hot and spicy vegetables, freshly baked loaves of bread, and rose wine, awakened Daphne’s hunger as she devoured the dishes with her eyes.
“Here, Miss Daphne.” Raven dropped a slice of meat on her plate.
“Thank you.” She acknowledged it. But Raven hadn’t finished. Taking the jar, he poured the wine into her glass.
“Have you tasted our wine?” Raven asked.
“Yes, it’s delicious.” She said, taking the glass and bringing it to her lips. Only she was stopped by the clinking of Raven’s glass with hers.
“Cheers,” he said enthusiastically.
“Cheers,” she gave him a polite smile.
“Not again.” Avina was heard to say.
“What?” Raven pretended to be dumb.
And while Daphne attacked her plate with finesse, she hadn’t stopped receiving the unsettling gaze of someone else all this time. Wondering if it was him. But she didn’t dare look up. Taking another sip of the wine, her gaze involuntarily found Lorcan, who had not tasted a bite. But was more than full enough with the spectacle that was happening before his eyes.
Anyone might think he was comfortable, but no one really knew that inside, the urge to kill Raven grew by the second. The dragon-man had ignored Avina’s advice to stay away from Daphne, his mate, who looked as serene as he did and who seemed to approve Raven.
Lorcan just wanted to hold her hand and disappear from there. Where her attention would be solely directed to him. He was aware of being a selfish bastard. He couldn’t help but feel possessive of her. Although he was the one who finally made it clear that there would be no future for them together, he kept thinking about her and yearning for her with every fiber of his being.