The hope I had for someone to save me came. That feeling of importance made me feel happy. But it all shattered as I opened my eyes to one thing, reality.
“Hey,” I heard a man’s voice mumble. Looking to my side with blurry vision, I find Lorcan. I frown for a second as I just stare at him. Lorcan had a worried crease on his forehead. Why was he here?
Moving my eyes around my aching face, I find Jonathan standing in the door. It was just Lorcan and Jonathan, no one else.
“Amari, can you listen to me?” Lorcan asked with worry. I nodded as I felt a throbbing pain in my head.
“What happened?” I asked with a raspy voice. Helping me up, Lorcan holds me. My entire body ached as I just got hit by rocks.
“Listen to me, Amari. I have something important to tell you, but it has to be now,” Lorcan said as he looks over his shoulders. Jonathan nodded and locked the bedroom door. I stare at him, worried. What was he doing?
“Amari, do you know what happened?” Lorcan asked as he held my hand.
“Yes,” I whispered.
“Do you know?” Lorcan asked again, this time with thin lips.
I know what he was referring to. When Maximus found me in the palace, and I had recently passed out. A doctor tended to my wounds. There was a moment I woke up, but no one except for Lorcan saw me. I had opened my eyes slightly as I watched Maximus and Lorcan talk. My eyes drifted to Maximus in an attempt to call for him but stopped once I heard him say that I was a pawn for him, that I was to die for him. Lorcan noticed me at that moment.
Hearing him say that hurt. I felt like my heart broke into pieces when the words left his mouth. Lorcan never made a move or let Maximus know I was awake. I was keeping it a secret just between us. That’s when, after I got back to the palace, I had decided.
“I know, you don’t need to say anything,” I whispered, smiling sadly. Lorcan held my hand, squeezing slightly. I smile at him as a strand of his hair falls on his face.
Even though his touch was icy, right at this moment, just like my stone heart, it felt like a bit of warmth. One I appreciate, even though he was a stranger.
“Tell me what you want, and I will do it,” Lorcan said, smiling.
“Why?” I asked him. Smiling, he looked at Jonathan. With a slight nod, he opened the door, and Devika walked in.
“Because we can’t let Maximus kill you. You’re innocent in all this, Amari,” Devika said, taking a seat on my bed. Glancing at Lorcan, she sighed. “We know what happened to you.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, panicking. Did they find out about my curse? Gripping the bedsheets, I lowered my head.
“We know your family abused you,” Lorcan whispered. Surprised, I look at him. How did he find out?
“No need to look at us like that. It was obvious,” Devika said, touching with her finger one of my scars. “This is all recent. Some others are old, but this one on your neck is the most recent. And they are not simple lashes.” I was feeling bewildered as I stare at them.
“But how?” I asked again.
“We know who sent the assassin,” Lorcan said, standing up, “It was your sister Celine.”
Celine? But why?
I lowered my head as I tried to calm my trembling hands. This heavy feeling weighed in my chest.
“No need to worry about that,” Devika said, holding my hand, “Now what we need to know is, Amari, do you want to leave?”
“Leave?” I asked, confused.
“Yes, my dear,” Lorcan said, kneeling, “Leave, go back with me, and I will promise Maximus won’t lay a hand on you. If you accept, I promise to give you the freedom and help you with anything you need.”
“But why you? I don’t even know you…” I mutter tearfully.
Silence fell in the room as I sobbed. Feeling a hand on my face, I look at the person. My vision was blurry, but I could see his honesty.
“Because I may be a killer, but I know when someone is innocent. And you,” Lorcan said, lowering his eyes and stopping on my chest, “You are way too pure and innocent in all this. So if you tell me, you want to come back with me. I promise to take you away, but for it to work, there’s something we have to do.”
“What is that?” I asked, brushing my tears away.
“Make you forget,” Devika said this time, “I will make you forget for a while, and once you are out of Maximus’ reach, I will bring your memories back.”
“Why are you all doing this? Aren’t you a friend? Ally?” I was still confused with all this. They barely knew me, so why insist?
With a loud sigh, Lorcan leans his head to mine. I tried to back away, but he handheld my head firmly to his.
Feeling suddenly dizzy, I close my eyes. Visions started passing by. It was Maximus and Lorcan with everyone else. I could see everything he was doing and saying. Feeling a throbbing pain in my chest, I push Lorcan away.
“Stop!” I begged him as I covered my ears.
“Shh, it’s ok,” Devika said, hugging me, “Calm down.”
Crying loudly, I open my eyes and recall what he said. I was a pawn all along, a shield, someone who needs to die for him. He never needed me. And will never do. I’m just something he can play with. Once he finds the opportunity, he will kill me. Just like my father, they all want me dead.
“Amari calm down, please,” Devika begged, making small circles in my back. My entire body trembles as my messy hair sticks in my face. I move my hair away, pushing Devika on the way.
“Why does no one wants me?” I asked loudly, “No one cares for me.”
“Who said that?” Devika suddenly said, lifting my chin. Her eyes full of anger, “We all here care for you. Even if we don’t know ourselves well, we do. Especially Lorcan and I.”
“W-what?” I stutter, not understanding her. “What do you mean?”
“For now, you don’t need to know. Now it’s time for an answer, Amari,” Lorcan asked. He looked at me with those gray eyes that hypnotize me. “Tell me, Amari, would you like to come with me?” he asked, offering his hand.
My eyes lowered to his thin hand. Long, slender fingers waited for me to accept. Would I take this chance? I knew I had nothing here. I would die eventually, but for now, all I wanted was a bit of freedom. To do what I never did and live peacefully with no worries until I die.
Gulping, I close my eyes and firmly nod at him. Taking his hand, Lorcan brings it up to his lips and kisses it slightly. His cold lips leave a tingling sensation.
“Good, my dear,” Devika said smiling, “Now don’t think, and don’t worry once you are back. You will be free.” Devika whispered as my eyes drooped. I felt my entire body heavy as she put her finger on my head. Feeling an arm around my waist, I fall back.
The cold breeze grace my body. The gray sky gives signs of possible rain. I stood staring at the birds passing by that headed straight into the forest that stood outside the balcony. My body felt heavy. My mind felt empty.
This place looked too empty, just like my heart.
Hearing a sound, I just stand and stare at the forest. What might be behind those trees?
Voices I didn’t know whispered on my back. Why was I here? Who was I?
“Amari?” someone called. I looked over my shoulder. A tall figure with red eyes looked at me. Who was he?
He had a look of disbelief on him. Did he know me?
“Amari?” he called again, but his voice just turned numb in my head. Crooking my head, I stare at him. He looked conflicted, even hurt?
“Who are you?” I asked as my voice sounded raspy. “Who are you?” I asked again. He stuttered, almost like he was about to faint.
A man with silver hair approached him. I saw him whisper something in his ear as he leaned over and grabbed his neck with his long nails. The man with red eyes pushed him as he yanked my arm. I felt my body move, but I felt no pain.
“You’re joking, right? Tell me, Amari!” the man retorted. Who was Amari? Was that my name?
“Enough, Maximus,” the woman with black hair said, making him let go of my arm. She hugged my shoulders as I stumbled backward. My body swayed as my eyes lowered to the floor.
“How could she?” the man asked, frustrated. I lifted my eyes and met his. Flinching, he averted his eyes. Why was he acting like that?
“Come along, child,” the woman said as she dragged me back in. I turn my head, looking at the man with red eyes. I could see him struggling with himself. Why did I feel the need to go to him?
Seated on an armchair, I stare outside the window. It was raining, and thunder would occasionally make its sound somewhere in the forest. It felt calm, peaceful as I watched the raindrops slide down the glass.
“Here, have some soup,” the woman with black hair said as she set down a tray. I gaze at the thing. I felt no need to eat. “You need to eat,” she whispered as I looked at her.
Grabbing the spoon, I taste some food. I felt nothing, no taste.
“We should leave soon,” she suddenly said as I stopped.
“Where?” I asked curiously.
“Home,” she smiled. I turned my head away and kept staring outside.
“Will it be like this place?” I asked her. Reaching for the window, I move my finger slowly, drawing something on the humid glass.
“Like this place?” she asked, confused.
“Yes, where everything looks gloomy. No color, no life. It looks sad,” I murmur.
“Oh,” she whispered, “No, it’s different. You will see.”
Nodding without looking at her, I continue drawing.
Once I have eaten a little. The woman with black hair leaves. I grab a paper and start doing some sketching. My hand moved on its own as I made lines up and down, side to side. It was like I was in my world. Like I knew what I was doing all along.
Hearing a creaking sound, I stop and turn my head. Near the door stood the same man with red eyes. He seemed like he wanted to say something, but his lips just opened and shut. Ignoring him, I continue sketching.
“What are you doing?” he asked as he moved closer.
“I don’t know,” I answer him without paying him too much attention.
It was the third time he had come over today. He would go and sit on the chair. Just look at me and then leave.
“Um, do you…” he muttered but stopped. I stop my movements and look ahead of me. Quietly, I wait for him to continue. Some seconds later, I continue sketching. He said nothing.
How long has it been? I don’t know, but he has been seated for a while. Setting the paper down. I look back at the window. The storm was stopping. Without another word, he stood up. I saw his figure moving. Leaning my head on the window, I look up.
Feeling something on my thigh, I lowered my eyes, glancing sideways. The man with red eyes was kneeling. He had a hand on my thigh and a small box on the other. I look outside again. What was he doing? I don’t know. Did I care? No.
“This, I… Amari, I,” the man stuttered. Closing my eyes, I fall asleep.
I was feeling him stand. I open my eyes lazily. He set the box down and turned to leave. Closing my eyes again, I hear the door to the bedroom shut.
“Ready?” the woman with black hair asked, smiling. I nodded and started descending the stairs. My eyes move around the place.
This place was gloomy.
From afar, I saw several faces staring at me. Some sad, some happy. Who were they?
“We are leaving,” she said as I turn and look at the man with red eyes staring at me. He looked sad, but why?
As we started walking, I slightly frowned. The light of the day was bothering me. My head still hurt. Covering my eyes, we stopped when the man with silver eyes approached us.
“Ready?” he asked, smiling at me. I just stare at him. After exchanging some words, he left us. The woman with black hair helped me get in the carriage. As I was about to take the last step, someone grabbed my arm. I moved my head to look at who it was. It was him, the man with red eyes.
Moving my eyes to his hand, I frown.
“Let go,” I said. I don’t know where those words came from. But his touch bothered me.
“Amari listens, please,” he said.
“I don’t know you, so what’s there to say?” I uttered. He slowly let go of my arm. Watching his hand fall to the side, I turn and step in. As the doors shut and everyone got in their places. I look one last time outside. My eyes stopped where he was standing. Hearing the horse wine and the carriage moves. I swear I saw him whisper something. Instinctively, my hand moved to the window. Leaning, I look at him as my mind finally feels free. Gasping, I feel two hands on my waist.
“Sleep Amari,” a voice said near my ear as I close my eyes and fall asleep.