I had hardly dialed Darius’ number, when he took the call.
He seemed very worried.
“Maggie, it’s good that you are calling! Is everything OK with you? Are you all right?”
I explained that considering the circumstances, I was okay. Then I informed him of our whereabouts and that we would be staying here for a few more days. I also added that my powers, belonging to the ‘House of Warriors’ seemed to be manifesting slowly.
This information earned me a concerned undertone on his part.
“Do you need help? You know that I am always there for you. I can also come to Norha, if you need me. ”
I dismissed this idea quickly.
“No, that is not necessary. I think I have it under control.”
Darius burst out laughing. “Besides, you don’t want to be disturbed either. Every minute you spent with me, means a minute less to squirm with pleasure under James.”
“Darius!” I replied indignantly.
He laughed even more and I rolled my eyes with a grin. To be perfectly honest, he was absolutely right.
“Good Sis, then get back to me in a few days and have fun. I’ll also use my time wisely in Amie’s arms.”
Surely he winked mischievously at these words, otherwise he wouldn’t be Darius.
“Bye, brother dearest!”
“Bye, Maggie! And don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, either.”
With this, I ended the conversation.
My eyes automatically wandered back to Malachy, who was still absorbed in his conversation.
I put my mobile phone in my pocket and got out of the car. Then I walked up to him, hugged him and leaned my head on his shoulder. He hugged me tight with his free arm and kissed the top of my hair, before continuing to speak into his mobile.
I overheard a few bits of conversation. Apparently there were some things to be sorted out, including Soraya’s funeral, but Andre seemed to be taking care of it, with the help of Daina and Darius.
My thoughts wandered back to Darius. Not only had my life completely changed in the last few weeks and months. His too had been turned upside down, as well.
He came from a completely carefree life, marked by endless parties and women, to a life in which he was the head of one of the most powerful Clans of the Aristocracy. As if that wasn’t enough, he also took care of important matters together with Daina, so that I could be alone here with Malachy.
I owed him.
Malachy ended his call and put his cell phone back in his pocket.
“Well, darling. Now I’m only there for you.”
We had to cross a small stone bridge, which was also paved, to get to the center of Norha. Below us, a small, calm river flowed steadily through the village.
I stopped for a moment, held onto the railing of the bridge and enjoyed the view. The small town seemed enchanted: idyllic, romantic and so peaceful. When I let my eyes wander, I saw a huge waterwheel, which was attached directly to a residential building in a small arm of the river.
I waved Malachy closer and asked him to look in that direction, but had to hold my hand over my eyes as the sun was blinding me. Malachy came closer and didn’t take his eyes off me for a second.
I was getting impatient and jumped up and down slightly nervously, because he did not comply with my request to look at the waterwheel.
“Now look over there! Isn’t that beautiful?”
Malachy seemed to eat me with his eyes. “There is nothing more beautiful, than what I see in this moment.”
His statement made me chuckle. I felt free and carefree like a teenager.
We continued straight ahead, past some small half-timbered houses, that had flower pots filled with red begonias hung in front of every imaginable window, until we reached a large market square.
From here Malachy led me down a side street to a small café, which had positioned chairs and tables in front of the entrance. Ivy, which was artfully trimmed into a round arch, grew around its entrance and windows and formed a great contrast to the white-painted exterior of the house.
As we approached, I recognized a print on the window next to the entrance. It was a Pop Art picture of a woman holding a coffee mug to her lips. Under the picture was the name of the café: ‘Lady Norha’.
The interior of the café was a wild mix of living room and feel-good atmosphere, including comfortable upholstered furniture and a modern bistro.
I liked this place right away.
Malachy entered the cafe in front of me and then waited for me to catch up with him.
“Where do you want to sit?”
I let my eyes wander through the comfortably furnished room, until they got stuck to a kiwi-green two-seater.
“That looks cozy.” I nodded my head in the direction of the padded seating arrangement and headed straight for it.
When Malachy hesitated for a moment, I turned to him. There was a sad expression on his face. I went back to him and took his hand.
He nodded silently.
“We don’t have to eat here. We can go elsewhere, too. This won’t be the only café here in Norha, will it?”
“No, we’re staying here. It’s not the only café in this tourist town, but it’s the one with the best breakfast.”
When we were seated next to each other on the two-seater, I asked him about his hesitation, again.
“Have you been here often?”
He smiled lovingly at me.
“Often is an exaggeration. I’ve been here a couple of times with Sophia. Norha and Chalet ‘Eleonore’ were her thing, her retreat from the aristocratic world and it’s rigid conventions. Whenever I visited her, we ate breakfast in this café. Here we were just James and Sophia, not heirs to the throne.”
I turned a little more in his direction on the sofa and put my hand on his knee while looking at him encouragingly.
“What happened to Sophia? The way you speak of her, you two seem to have been very close.”
At this question Malachy seemed to drift into his thoughts and look right through me. Apparently, it was a subject he was reluctant to talk about.
“You don’t have to answer the question, if you don’t want to.”
My words seemed to jolt him out of his stupor and he looked at me like he had just come back from a long journey and was seeing me for the first time. Reluctantly, he shook his head, as if trying to shake the thoughts out of his head.
Then he surprised me, by quickly placing his hands on my cheeks, hugging my face tightly and giving me a long kiss on my mouth. After he let go of me, I looked at him perplexed.
He said in a firm voice: “No more secrets. I want it to work out for us and the first step in that direction, is not to keep secrets from each other.”
I looked at him and nodded my head monotonously.