It has been a month since waking up back at home. A month is a day in Grenagon. My family has stopped asking if I am okay. Although almost always one of them is home to watch over me. I haven’t talked much to anyone. They would usually find me in sitting somewhere in the cottage, staring off into space. Today, I chose to sit outside the cottage underneath the soffit with a thick blanket wrapped around me. My mother and grandma are cooking inside.
The weather in my village seems to match my mood. It has been raining for the last week. Today, especially, it was raining heavy making the ground hard to walk on. The children, however, is enjoying this weather. Popping out of their homes to play in the mud and rain. Growing up in the mountains they are used to the cool, rainy weather, rarely catch a cold.
My eyes passed them to the open sea.
It seems that time has dissolved itself just like the shapeless heavy rain this week, gone and soaked into the ground. It passes me by without a moment to spare.
Raiden waited for me for so long but now it was my turn. It seems like everything around me was going on fast forward but time has stopped for me.
Each day the candle dimmed some more. I tried not to lose hope. I tried to grasp onto the fact that he has to be real but I couldn’t keep the candle from remaining unlit. I needed a sign. Something that will let me know he is alive and real.
My father appeared in my line of vision. Next to him was a young man around my age. They were both underneath a large umbrella.
When they reached the cottage my father and he ducked underneath the soffit. He shook off the water from his umbrella before closing it.
“Anna, you should be inside.” My father said.
“I didn’t feel like it.” My eyes were on the unknown man standing before me.
He has strong cheekbones and a prominent, straight nose. His hair was a medium length fade with a long top and extremely short sides. He brushed the top of your hair to the side giving it a smooth finish. My eyes flitted up to his brown eyes and caught him staring at me. It wasn’t a lustful gaze merely inquisitive and filled with silent appreciation.
My father cleared his throat gawkily before speaking, “I apologize, this is Niran, the village chief’s son. He was the one who found you unconscious.”
“It is nice to finally get to meet you, Anna May. Your father talks about you to me all the time.” He gave me a warm smile.
“Nice to meet you too,” I replied politely before standing up and walking inside the cottage.
I heard my father apologize to him about my behavior. I passed by my mother and grandma before entering my bedroom. I closed the door and opened my window. The damp and fresh smell of rain filled my bedroom instantly.
I sat on my bed and propped my arms on the windowsill. My chin rested on the back of my hands while I looked out the window. I didn’t want to talk or meet new people. My body was numb and the throbbing in my chest seemed to only grow with each passing day, making it impossible to breathe.
I closed my eyes and imagine Raiden’s face. I thought about our first encounter by his garden room. The way he chased after me when I tried escaping. The time we were eating together in the kitchen and him running after pigs and getting dirty.
I missed him terribly. The time that I spent with him seems to be so fleetingly just like when I was a child and he left me.
A knock at the door pulled my attention away. I slipped off the bed before I walked to open the door. There stood before me was Niran. He stuffed his hands into his pocket uncertainly.
“I know you want your privacy, but your mother has set the table. She was going to come and call you for dinner, but I offered.” He said with an apologetic smile and shrug.
“Why?” I questioned bluntly.
He gave me a half grin, “I wanted to talk to you.”
“Why?” I said again, narrowing my eyes on him.
He shrugged, “Because I want us to be friends.”
I continued to look at him because right now, friends are the last thing I needed. I wanted to wallow in my pain and let it kill me slowly. I am not in the mood to be nice. These people can’t give me what I want.
“I don’t need friends,” I replied in a blunt, condescending tone. If he felt it, he didn’t say anything. Instead, he shrugged, and his smirk grew.
“Then boyfriend?” He cocked an eyebrow.
I blinked in silent shock at his suggestive move.
He chuckled, “I’m kidding. You look about to gut me alive.”
“I was debating.” I neither denied or confirmed his idea.
I pushed passed him and walked to the small dining area by the kitchen. The table was already set up with delicious, hot food. My father called over Niran to sit next to him while my mother sat on the other side. My grandma sat next to my mother and I ended up sitting between grandma and Niran.
I picked up my small rice bowl and my chopsticks. I made a move for the stir fried bok choy that was drizzled with soy sauce and sesame seeds but Niran’s chopstick crossed over mine and landed on the one that I was aiming for.
I threw him a glance and he smirked back at me.
What was he playing at?
I moved my chopsticks away from his and aimed for some stir fried young pumpkin and chicken. My father broke the quiet air with some village businesses and daily gossips with Niran. I listened quietly while eating.
Halfway through my bowl of rice, I made another move for the bok choy but then again Niran’s chopsticks crossed over mine. I clenched my teeth and this time threw him an angry glare. I knocked his chopsticks away from my bok choy and picked it up quickly before he could take it.
“It’s been a while since I met your mother, how is she doing?” My mother jumped into the conversation.
“She’s doing well. My father and her are away on a few important meetings. They are away from home. It is just me right now.”
Niran was the only son to the village chief and his first wife. The village chief had multiple wives and many children but Niran was the firstborn from his first wife. He will be inheriting his father’s important role in the village.
“Why didn’t you go with them?” My father asked.
“Father wanted me to stay behind and take care of businesses here in the village. Besides, I just came back from studying abroad. It is nice to not travel and just be at home.” He replied with another smile.
“So, Niran, what did you study when you went abroad?” My mother asked.
“I studied business administration and management and a minor in marketing.” He answered. “I want to improve education in our village and hopefully bring in more businesses.”
I felt his eyes on me and by instinct, I turned to look at him. He gave me another soft smile when he caught my attention.
“I heard you also went abroad to study.” He mentioned.
I nodded, “Architecture.”
“That’s a brilliant major. I love a woman with intellect.”
I snorted, “Don’t you mean, you love a woman who is obedient and does everything you want?”
My mother gasped and my father choked on his food that he was chewing.
“Anna, where are your manners?” My father spewed as soon as he was able to speak again.
I shrugged, “I am just saying. Most men in this village prefer women who are younger, less educated, obedient, and a good housewife.”
My father opened his mouth to say something but Niran raised his hand to stop him. I glanced at him and he still wore that soft smile on his face.
“I am not like other men, Anna. If you put it that way then I must be one of a kind because I do not need an obedient, young, and less educated wife to make me happy. I just need one wife who will stand next to me with the same ambition and goals in life. In fact, if you get to know me, I am actually pretty nice and cool. If you haven’t fallen for my exterior charms, you will for sure fall in love with me once you get to know me.” He said boldly.
My parents cleared their throats and looked at every corner of the room but at us. I narrowed my eyes at Niran. He was making his intentions clear to my parents. He was not here mainly on business. He was here to court me and now they know. I wanted to punch that smile off his face.
I sat my chopsticks down over my bowl, “I just realized, I have some readings to catch up on. I am afraid I’ll have to be excused from this table before everybody else. I apologize for my abrupt leave.”
My parents’ eyes made their way back to me. Grandma was snickering next to me. I stood up from my seat. I walked to my bedroom without looking back. I moved to slam the door close behind me but was abruptly stopped with a foot in the doorway.
I looked down and then back up to see who the culprit was.
“What do you want?” I didn’t stop the irritation in my voice.
“A date,” Niran smirked.
“No.” I snapped.
“Then I am not leaving. In fact, since it is raining outside, I’ll ask your father for a room to stay- “He turned around as if he was going back to ask my father for a room to stay in. I stopped him by speaking up.
“Why are you doing this?” I released the door.
“You are a smart woman, Anna. You should be able to connect the dots. I want to go out on a date with you. It must mean I like you.” He retorted.
I clenched my teeth in annoyance, “Does it look like I am interested?”
“No, but that won’t stop me.” He said with a shrug. “I’ll pick you up soon for a date.”
He turned around and walked away. I scoffed at his back before glaring at his disappearing form.
Who does he think he is?
I slammed the door shut and made my way back to my window. I sat on the bed and looked out the window again. Niran can try but no one can replace him. My heart has been long gone from my body. It is with him.
Grenagon Prison, Grenagon
There was a slight reprieve from the constant assault of torturing methods. The guards are on a shift change. I collapsed onto the ground. My body was exhausted and was brutally beaten. Blood soaked the cold ground around me. My skin throbbed in pain with each breath I took. Every guard that came in always asks the same question.
“Are you admitting defeat?”
I inhaled sharply and closed my eyes. I allowed my mind to relive the moment that I had Anna underneath me in bed. Her soft willing body, sweet lips, and addictive taste. It was a numbing agent to the pain I was feeling on my skin.
Loud commanding voices pierced the air and through my thoughts. I opened my eyes slowly, blinking to see who it was. The bars to my doors were released from its power. A second later, the door opened. A large shadow form appeared in my line of vision. It looked oddly familiar.
“Prince Raiden, we are here to rescue you.”