I stood there in what felt like a trance. I didn’t know what to feel since there were so many emotions washing over me. Did that actually happen, or was it just a dream? Am I dreaming? I must be because there is no other way of explaining what just happened, especially since he walked out of the kitchen like what just happened was normal.
The kiss was so soft and gentle yet emotional. His lips were soft and warm. It put me at ease, which I never thought was possible since I’m generally a workaholic and don’t know the meaning of “slow down.” I want to feel that again. That calmness, comfort if that’s what some would call it.
It wasn’t until I felt a tap on my shoulder that I came back to reality, and I wouldn't say I liked it. I turned around and saw Lily standing there with a look of shock on her face.
“Aren’t you supposed to be baking?” I asked her as if nothing happened.
“Don’t even think about acting like nothing happened, Elianna!” She shouted as she walked over to the now cool chocolate chip cookies.
“Yes, do explain what just happened because that didn’t look like a “we’re just friends” kind of thing,” Ara commented, smirking.
“I would, except I don’t know myself,” I replied, string some batter.
“That’s what they all say,” she muttered, rolling her eyes. I glanced at the front and saw Arun and Ismael talking. Both had their backs to me.
Suddenly, Ismael turns in my direction, causing me to look away from him, but it was too late. I could practically feel him smirking at me, and the expression on Lily and Ara’s faces only confirmed it.
“Hey, Ellie, can you bring these cookies to the front?” Lily asked smirking. I was about to tell her to ask Ara to do it, but she just so happened to be washing the dishes. How convenient.
“I guess,” I reluctantly said, grabbing the tray of cookies and walking towards the door.
“Have fun!” My best friend called as I walked out to the front room.
I gave her a nervous laugh before almost bumping into Ismael.
“Are you okay, Ellie?” Arun asked, concerned.
“Absolutely fantastic,” I replied before swatting at Ismael’s sneaky hand, trying to grab a cookie. “Not for you, vulture.”
Ismael pouted and took the tray away from me to start restocking the shelves. I couldn’t help but space out again, but it didn’t last long because I heard Lily’s voice.
“If you’re done gawking at Ismael and daydreaming, we could use some help in here!”
My face immediately became as red as a tomato, and it didn’t help that my adoptive father and the guy who kissed not even five minutes ago were looking at me when I raised my head. I scoffed at both of them as I grabbed the empty tray and marching back into the kitchen.
The rest of the day was just a continuous cycle of Lily teasing me about what happened that morning and awkward conversations with Ismael. I was almost happy to go home until I remembered that he lives with Lily and me. Since the two of them left about an hour early, I had to close the bakery.
I unlocked the door and stepped into the house. It was oddly quiet, even though I could have sworn that they left an hour early, so where could they be?
“Lily!” I called as loud as I possibly could.
“Ismael!” I shouted, walking into the kitchen. There was no reply. That’s weird; they should be here by now. Maybe they went to the store. I thought, but then it occurred to me that they never go shopping together. Doubt begins to set in my mind. It was just a kiss, nothing more, even if I wanted it to be.
I’m dragged out of my thoughts when I hear the door open. Lily walked in with Ismael coming in a minute after her.
“There you are!” Lily said in relief.
“I told you that she’d be here because she forgot,” Ismael said with an, “I told you so” expression on his face.
“Forgot about what?” I asked.
“Ehtele’ mele,” Lily said, “Poor Ismael has been waiting for you.”
My eyes widened. “That starts today?”
“Yeah, why do you think Ismael has been courting you?” Lily asked.
“Well, I thought he was romantically interested in me,” I replied, crossing my arms.
“He is, and he wants to celebrate the beginning of spring with you,” Lily said with a gentle smile.
“Let me change,” I said, walking up the stairs to my room.
Ehtele’mele is a time where our romance level is at its highest and is also known as Sheelala or Springrite. It occurs on the first full week of spring, and during this week, we spend time with our significant other, and in some cases, couples become promised or married.
I slipped into my emerald dress and brushed my hair. “Lily!”
She came racing up the stairs and into my room with a look of concern. “What’s wrong, are you okay?”
“Can you braid my hair?” I asked.
“How do you want it done?”
“A small braided crown,” I replied. She nodded and went straight to work.
After a few minutes, she was done. I looked into the mirror at my reflection. You would think that I would wear red the whole week, but it just isn’t me. I turned around and Lily gave me a smile.
“Are you ready?” She asked.
I nodded and began making my way down the stairs. As I approached the halfway point, his amber eyes came into view. While most men would look at their fiance or wives with lust, Ismael looked at me with nothing but love.
As soon as I reached the bottom of the stairs, he held out his hand and I took it gladly. The second our fingers touched, everything around me faded away and all I could see was him. I was so captivated that I didn't even realize that Lily was speaking to me until she snapped her fingers in front of my face.
"Well, if you two are do gawking at each other we better get going because my date is waiting for me," she said, heading out towards the carriage with Ismael and I closely behind her.