6. Worried Heart
“No one will be here, so be sure to return later,” my mother said as she handed me a basket. I peeked inside and nodded back at her. “And be careful, Mila. I know you’ve been in the woods a couple of times but be careful.”
“I will. Now may I go?” I asked, smiling at her. My mother looked worried for a reason, and it’s been bothering me.
Since she knew about the king’s suggestion, she’s been so against it. Even today, she woke me up early and made me go on my daily walk.
“I’m leaving,” I said and waved goodbye.
My shoes crunched on the dried leaves as I made my way into the lonely forest. I smiled as I listened to the early morning birds chirping. It was gloomy, but I still could enjoy the day. I hope Zion doesn’t come. I would feel bad if he waited for me; after all, my mother and sister leave for the plaza, and no one will be home.
I let out a sigh and walked towards the waterfall I found last time. But, I still had to explore that place and maybe take a bath?
My mind started wandering to ideas. I had a long day ahead, so that anything would be good. I kept my pace steady, enjoying my surroundings.
I started humming a lovely song when I heard a rustle behind me. I stopped, frowning at the noise. But, unfortunately, the woods were vast, and there wasn’t that much of an option to hide.
I shrugged my shoulders. Maybe a bird?
An hour later, I finally reached the small cliff where the waterfall was. A smile spread across my face. It was breathtaking for the first time. There were trees along the river; birds chirped and flew close by, while some deers drank water from afar. I followed the same trail from before, steady steps as I jumped over the rocks that went all the way to the waterfall.
“Yes,” I mumbled as I stepped on the last rock and let out a breath. My hair ruffled as the wind passed by.
Stepping away from the water, I get myself to work. I search for my blanket in the bag and start setting my things down. My basket is on the side with the snacks and drinks. Once happy with my small arrangement, I removed my cloak and neatly laid it on the side. I turned and looked around me. It was peaceful, perfect for meditation and testing my powers.
I needed to strengthen my healing powers. Taking a seat, I reach for my messy hair and start braiding it. I hummed to a tune while I kept my eyes closed. I seriously wanted a bath on the clear river. Would it be a good idea, however?
I smiled like a freak and opened my eyes.
“Yes, there’s no one,” I muttered while standing.
My slim fingers started undoing the small corset in my dress. I let it fall to the ground and remove the rest of my clothes. No one would see me, so there was no need to hide. Walking to the water, I step into it. I flinched at the coldness that touched my skin.
“Ok, this might not be a good idea,” I said, walking deeper.
Taking a deep breath, I let the water cover my entire body. Then, a few seconds later, I catch my breath.
“Ok, that’s fucking cold,” I mumble.
Seriously, there was no one except the few animals that roamed the zone and me. There was no way someone would come all the way here.
I chuckled at that thought and started swimming around. I felt free.
My eyes moved up to the gloomy sky. Then, biting my lower lip, I recall Zion, the sinner.
My heart ached for him. I barely knew the man, so how come? All I knew about him was through rumors, so seeing him approach me had me curious. I bit my lip harder. Though my mother told me not to see him, I wanted to.
I let out a groan and turned over. Then, getting underwater one last time, I inhale and disappear, making the noisy river calm once again.
I took a few minutes to practice my breathing and relax my body. I was occasionally taking tiny breaths with my mouth. Then, I practiced the fish technique. Well, that’s what I called it. First, I would put my lips near the edge and take a breath. Then, once ready, I would continue swimming underwater. It was something I enjoyed.
I moved around the water when suddenly something grabbed me from behind. I opened my mouth, scared, making some of the water enter my nose.
I coughed while pushing whatever was holding me from behind. What the hell was it?
“MILA!” a familiar voice called. I snapped my head around angrily and pushed the person away.
“W-What the F-Fuck!” I coughed with my hand on my chest. I rubbed my face and looked at the unexpected guests. “Zion?”
Zion looked worried, even pale. His eyebrows furrowed. Why was he here?
“Zion!” I snapped. He snapped out of whatever trance he was in and slowly lowered his eyes.
I frowned and followed his gaze. My face burns as I crouch back into the water and cover my bare body.
“Fucking turn around!” I snapped at Zion, who just blushed and kept staring. “ZION!”
I hid my face in the water, waiting for him to turn away. Then, splashing some water for him to react, he abruptly turns, tripping on something and falling back into the water.
“I’m sorry,” Zion whispered. I could hear the embarrassment.
“Why are you here? Have you been following me?” I asked furiously.
Zion turned his head, his cheeks blushed.
“No!” Zion said, averting his eyes. I raised my eyebrow. Did he think I’m stupid?
I scoffed and turned my back to him. I needed to grab my cloak and cover my body. Water splashed around as I frantically rushed out of the water. I could hear movement behind me. Taking a glance over my shoulder, I find Zion with his head down but following me. My eyes darted down his wet chest and lowered south until I almost choked.
I looked away and felt my cheeks heat.
“Fix that,” I mumble.
“What?” Zion asked as I threw him a glare, making him lower his head again.
I picked the cloak and quickly wrapped it around my body. I took a seat and stared at Zion, who toyed with his hands.
My nose scrunched at the sight of the glove on his hand. I wanted to ask him, but my eyes moved back to his bulge.
“Could you fix that thing!” I groaned. Zion frowned but realized what I meant.
Zion’s eyes widened. He turned around, my eyes still lingering on his body. I could see every muscle flex on his back as he moved his arms. What was he doing, I didn’t know? But, honestly, I just wanted to see him shirtless?
Zion cleared his throat as I snapped my head. Our eyes met for a second before we both looked away, embarrassed.
“Are you telling me why you are here?” I asked him.
“Sorry, I was passing by,” Zion mumbled.
I held my head and chuckled. Was he serious? Passing by?
“Zion, no, King Zion,” I said sternly, “I don’t know if you think I’m stupid, but I know when someone is lying, and you are giving yourself away with that face.”
He looked taken aback by my rude remark, but it was the truth. Untangling my wet hair, I sigh and lean against a log.
“If you have a reason for being here, please tell. I want to be alone,” I retorted.
Zion sighed and sat down. His legs crossed while his right hand ruffled his hair.
I followed his hand movement. The tiny water droplets were sliding slowly on his face before falling to his wet pants. Unconsciously, I moved my eyes to his small bulge. A slight blush spread up my ears.
Gosh, he looked fine.
I licked my lips when Zion cleared his throat.
“I came to pick you up,” Zion explained.
“I think I declined your brother’s offer,” I pointed out.
“I know, but….” Zion trailed as he scratched the back of his head.
What did he want to tell me?
“Listen, Mila, I… I want you to come to the palace,” Zion blurted out.
I blinked and then chuckled.
“You want me?” I said, putting my finger over my chest. “No, my answer is no.”
“Mila, please,” Zion begged, but he suddenly winced. His right hand grasped his left arm. I frowned in confusion.
Zion continued, wincing. I kept my eyes on him, ensuring he was fine, but things didn’t go that way. Sweat broke on Zion’s chiseled face. He even looked paler than he was. Worried, I crawled and held his arm.
“Zion, what’s the matter?” I asked as worry crept into my chest. He looked bad.
“I-I’m fine,” Zion muttered. He was having difficulties breathing.
“No, something is wrong. Tell me, and I can help you,” I tried to explain, but he pushed my hand away. Why was he stubborn?
I kept my worried eyes on him, studying his reactions. I knew the forgotten king suffered from his sins, but I barely knew of the story.
I bit my lip as questions and questions moved around my head. What was wrong?
“Zion, please,” I said and reached for his arm.
I yanked my hand when I felt something hard. It was like that time on the market. There was something odd that I couldn’t explain. Then, without asking for permission, I grasped his arm. Zion looked at me in shock.
“NO!” Zion yelled while he tried to stand up. It was in vain before he fell back onto his buttock.
“Stop it, you stubborn man!” I ordered him, and Zion stopped moving. His emerald eyes met mine, and for a second, I saw pleas for them.
That made my heart skip a beat. Then, shaking my head, I look back down at his arm. I needed to know what was wrong. I reached again for his hand, but Zion yanked it again. It was making me annoyed and frustrated. Couldn’t he understand I was worried about him?
“Stop backing away!” I furiously said and straddled him.
Zion looked shocked as I sat on his lap and grabbed his arm. This time he didn’t fight me, just kept staring into my gray eyes.
I quickly pulled the black glove that covered it away. My chest immediately ached as I looked at his stone hand. What was this?
Pants made me lose my composure, and I moved my eyes to his black shirt. My hands quickly darted to it and pulled it open. I gasped as I looked at him in shock.
“Zion…” I muttered.
Zion scowled and looked away. His messy, wet hair covers parts of his face as I shift my eyes back at his chest.
“I’m a monster,” Zion whispered in pain.
I had no words. All I could think of was how was he even alive if half of his chest was made of stone?