Chapter 17 - Unexpected

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Rose appeared on a path in the middle of Concentina Avenue, a bright, white light swiftly vanishing around her. The street was quiet and cold, and rain lightly fell down over her. She looked up at the night sky, liking the way the drops softly hit her face. She had never felt the rain on her skin, and she loved it. Rose tightened her nude-coloured cashmere jacket around her as she waited near Giuseppe's Café for Derrick. The road and the shops were old and dirty and dark, just the way they had been the last time she had seen Derrick there, the time that had united them. Rose was not used to such filth, but for some reason, in that moment, she thought she could get used to it. She knew money wasn't everything. Love was everything. Her grandmother had taught her that, and she tenderly thanked her in her mind for that.

Rose was in the poorest and darkest part of town, but she was not afraid. She knew Derrick wasn't far, and she definitely knew she could protect herself if anyone or anything tried to harm her. Rose felt a depth of loneliness because she was never alone, and she was very eager to see Derrick. She couldn't wait to feel his warmth and see the light in his eyes. But she also felt fear of getting caught, and guilt. She had told her grandmother that she was having dinner with Caroline and that they would be out of reception range. And because Alyssa could feel how badly she wanted to go, and because she was the most beautiful, loveliest woman in Magika, she had let her go. Rose had felt, still felt terribly for lying to her. She wished and prayed that one day she could be completely honest with her grandmother and with her grandfather and that they would just be happy for her. But she knew that what she hoped for was a very long shot.

Rose was suddenly aware how cold her nose and cheeks and fingers were. Just as she pressed her hands down in to her deep pockets, the door to Giuseppe's Café opened, and a little bell above the door rang. Derrick stepped out after switching all the inside lights off and then turned a bronzed-coloured key in the keyhole, utterly oblivious to her presence. He waved his hand over the lock, and a navy blue light appeared out the palm of his large hand. Rose cleared her throat to get his attention. Before she could even blink, Derrick had whirled around, his arms raised and ready to attack. He grabbed hold of her, firmly attaching his fingers around her skinny arms with torture in his eyes.

Rose gasped, shocked, and Derrick quickly let her go, terrified by what he had almost done.

"Rose." Derrick panted. "I ... I ... I didn't know it was you," he continued apologetically. He expected her to run, but instead she embraced him, wrapping her arms tightly around the nape of his neck, her toes barely on the ground.

"It's okay. It's okay," Rose whispered comfortingly by his ear. She brushed her long fingers over his dark brown hair.

Derrick held her firmly in his arms. He loved the way she cared, loved the way she soothed him. His heart swelled with warmth, and he forgot his fears and all the bad memories of times when witches and terrible beings had snuck up on him during the war. Derrick took a deep breath before he reluctantly let her go.

"I'm sorry," he told her rigidly. "I didn't mean to scare you."

She grinned up at him with affection. She had been told that Derrick was not one to have manners, but those witches who'd said such things were wrong. They were wrong when it came to him when he was with her, and she loved him for it. "You did not scare me," she replied with a smile.

He smiled mischievously back at her, draping his arm securely around her waist. And they started to walk down the dark street. Rose's cheeks flushed. She could feel her entire body warming up, her insides burning for him to be closer. She felt at home and at peace in his arms. She felt loved. The rain had stopped, and the roads were dead—just the way Derrick liked it, especially now that Rose was with him. They could not be seen together.

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