Prince Raiden took me down several curved hallways before we stood in front of an arched doorway. A hint of salty sea breeze swirled around the air around us. It was slightly dark inside but when Prince Raiden took his first step into the room, the room lit up immediately. Multiple wall torches lit up with a light flame. A connected stoa covered walkway protected a rectangle hearth of water. The ceiling you can see what was outside these walls, sea creatures swimming in bright azure blue water.
“This place...it takes my breath away,” I whispered more to myself than to Prince Raiden.
His eyes scanned the room to look at what I was looking at it. For him, he might not see what I see. This was mystical to me.
He placed his hand at the curve of my naked back. My back stiffened upon contact not because I was disgusted with his touch. I was completely affected by it. Goosebumps crawled all over my body.
“Come.” He urged before guiding me to one end of the rectangle hearth of water. There were two steps that lead down to the water. He took one down and his feet were immersed into the water.
I followed him down. The end of my dress clung to my ankles as I did it. As soon as my feet were completely immersed into the water, a picture flickered before me in the water. It was like a projector playing a movie.
“You can see and hear them, but they can’t see or hear you.” He explained. “And Anna?”
I looked up from the projection.
“You have been here for four days. That is four months where your parents are. Time travels faster there than here.” He told me before stepping out of the water. “I will wait for you outside this room.”
My eyes dropped back to my parents. I sat down on one of the steps and watched. I saw my parents and grandma sitting outside their little cottage. They looked sad but the look on my father’s face. It brought tears to my eyes.
“It is my fault, Maya. I should have done more. We should have done a ritual.” My father whispered, his voice hoarse.
My mother started weeping. Her sobs coming out in short hiccups.
“She was our only baby. I wanted to see so much more, Don. I wanted to see her happy with kids. I wanted to hold my grandkids and tell them stories.” My mother cried her anguish.
My grandma reached out to pat my mother on the back to comfort her, “It was her time. She had to go and we all knew it. We knew it was going to happen.”
My father’s eyes were watering as he glanced at grandma.
“There wasn’t anything you could do, Don. We can try altering our destinies but, in the end, it is already set in stone for us. All we can do now is hope she is doing well.” Grandma interrupted my father.
He exhaled shakily and covered his face with his hands. For him, it was the hardest thing to show weakness. All my life, I have never seen him cry in front of me. He raised me with a harsh hand, but his heart was as gentle as a feather. I remember one time wanting a stuffed baby doll at one of the local markets. I cried and threw a tantrum. He scolded and spanked me right there in front of everyone. It worked, I stopped crying but couldn’t stop sniffling. Every time he looked at me my lips will quiver. At the end of that week, he came home from work carrying the baby doll in his hand.
I didn’t realize it then but now that I am older, I now realize the look in his eyes when he spanked me. It hurt him ten times more than it did me. It ate and tore at his heart. When he scolded me, I can see the hesitation and the urge to give in to what I wanted.
Seeing him in pain, broke me. Tears ran down my cheeks and I covered my mouth to prevent a sob from escaping.
I knew he was stopping himself from crying. He looked at my mother and wrapped his arms around her. She fell into his chest crying. He buried his face in her hair, but his shoulder shook.
The projection shook, and it slowly disappeared. I shook my head and was about to reach for them, unwilling to let them go just yet but I was stopped when a pair of large hands wrapped around my wrist. I followed that hand up to Prince Raiden.
I sobbed then, clutching at my chest. I cried because I didn’t get to say goodbye. I cried because I didn’t get to hold them. I cried because they were in pain.
I turned my attention back to the water, but there was nothing there.
What do I do?
Where do I go from here?
Would I truly not get to see them again?
Years of studying abroad and I only get to see them briefly only to be taken away again. It hurt like nothing else.
“Please leave me,” I whispered, needing to be alone.
“I can’t.” He looked torn.
“I need to be alone, please leave me alone! Don’t you understand?” I cried and stood up abruptly. The water protested at my sudden change. I shoved him in the chest with my hands. He didn’t budge. Instead, his arms came out and wrapped around me.
He pulled me back into his arms.
“No,” I whispered and struggle to escape his embrace, but he held on tight.
What is with this man? Every time he sees me, he hugs me, not letting me go.
“You have every right to be angry with me. Yell at me. Hit me. Do what you need to do.” He told me.
I curled my hands into fists. Tears were still streaming down my face. I slipped my arms between us and pushed hard against his chest again to distance us, but he held on. Our power struggle made me lose my footing. I slipped on the stone step that I was standing on.
My eyes widened when I realized I was falling into the water. Prince Raiden lost his footing the minute I lost mine. We both fell into the water.
I was surprised at how deep the water was. I thought it would be at most five feet, but it was much deeper than that. My feet didn’t even touch the ground. I felt strong arms wrapped around me before lifting me up and above water.
I swam back to the stone step and pulled myself up. I sat at the edge and watched Prince Raiden pull himself up and out of the water too. His slicked his dark locks back and wiped the dripping water from his face before turning to look at me.
“Are you okay?” He asked.
I nodded and saw his eyes traveling down my body. My sheer skirt now clung to my legs like a second skin. He could see everything. The only thing that was hidden was my woman goods. I covered my upper thigh with my hands. It was useless but at least it covered something.
The gold around his irises glowed. He squeezed his eyes tightly as if he was fighting off an urge and then stood up. I watched him disappear behind a door. My eyes turned back to the water where the projection was.
A few minutes later, a towel appeared in front of me. I looked up to see that it was him.
“Thank you,” I mumbled before taking a hold of the towel. I stepped out and dried what I could of my body before wrapping the towel around my lower half.
“I have something to ask of you.” I peeked from underneath my eyelashes at him.
He nodded but his eyes again were its normal undecipherable shades. His hands behind his back. His emotions in check.
“Am I the only human mate in this world or are there others?”
“There are others.” He answered.
“You said you chose me...” My sentence dropped at the end. “But why me? I saw Aika. You must have female Dragons in this realm.”
“Yes, but I chose you.” He replied.
I remember what he told me earlier that I was his chosen mate. That I will be his in every way. I gulped just at the thought of being with him.
“You’re a Prince though.”
“And?” He makes it seems as if it was not a huge matter.
I shrugged, “You could marry a female Dragon and set me free before it is too late.”
“That’s not going to happen.” He replied without hesitation.
I glanced back at the water and then back at him.
“Can I see them again?” I asked him.
He looked like he was thinking about it. He was scrutinizing my face to see if this was a good idea.
“When I have time, I’ll bring you back here.” He offered.
Prince Raiden took me back to my room to change. I changed into a deep red chest wrap and a gold silk dress that pinned together at the waist. I needed to get used to the clothing here. It seemed this was the only style they have in this world.
I sat on the vanity stool in the bedroom I was sleeping in and brushed my hair. I looked into the mirror and thought about all the things that have happened. I am starting to accept the fact that I won’t be able to go back home but it doesn’t mean I will forget who I was.
I will stay for now.
I will accept my fate for now.
The door opened and in slipped Aika. She smiled at me, carrying another tray of food. I sighed and sat down the brush. My hair was dry at this point and falling in waves down my back.
“Milady, I brought you dinner.” She set it down on the table in the room.
I stood up and walked over, “Aika, how come I have only seen you and a few people? Is there no other person living in this place?”
She giggled, “Of course there is but you are in Prince Raiden’s wing. This wing is completely restricted and only he is allowed in his wing. You are the first person to ever set foot here.”
I frowned, “If this is his wing, then where does he sleep?”
“He is sleeping in the spare bedroom that is right across from yours as of right now,” Aika explained, she fixed the food on my table as she spoke.
“Spare? Where is his bedroom?” I questioned, picking up the spoon and fork to eat.
“You are sleeping in it, milady.” She gave me a weird look.
I glanced around the room and then back at her. I haven’t done much exploring. I realized I did more crying for the past few days than I did of anything else.
“Why?” I prodded further. “Why not put me in the spare bedroom?”
She giggled as if I was asking silly questions, “Because you are his only chosen mate. You don’t realize how important you are. You are the only woman who has slept in this bed.”
A heated blush crept on my cheek and my heart thumped in my chest.
“What do you mean by only? Hasn’t the Prince taken in other mates?”
She huffed, “Oh, you are clueless, milady. Prince Raiden has never taken a mate before. You are his first and probably most likely will be his only mate.”
“Aika, you may leave.”
My eyes snapped to the door and to my embarrassment, Prince Raiden was looking right at me. How long has he been standing there?