Chapter 35

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A/N: HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

The journey to Emberwind was short. Too short for me to properly gather my thoughts.

How have you been? Would that be too distant?

Are you well? Would that be too insensitive?

There's just so many things—trivial, big, stupid, weird, random things—that I want to talk with Lucien about. I don't know where to start, but one thing is for certain.

I just wanted to tell him everything.

So when the guards turned us away and refused to give even Nero entry pass the gates of Emberwind castle, I didn't know how to feel.

My mind wandered as I blindly followed Nero back into town, farther and farther away from the gates. I didn't pay much attention as he guided me pass a few stores, slipped through narrow alleys, and entered into a crooked door in the wall.

"Nero, where are we going?"

He held a finger to his lips before tugging my hand to follow. We dodged a few trees and swerved around a few shrubs before stopping a good distance from a humble little garden surrounded by a large locked gate.

Nero positioned himself behind a few bushes and I followed suit.

"What are we doing?" I whisper.

Nero didn't need to answer when the sound of gentle footsteps on the damp grass sounded from the direction of the garden.

I turn my head just in time to see a beautiful lady walk out to set the tiny table sitting obediently inside the gate.

"Morw-" I call as I excitedly got up from our perched position.

Nero held me down with one hand on my shoulder, stopping me from going any further and attracting attention.

I didn't understand why he stopped me until what followed.

A lanky figure stepped out into the sun and made his way to the table. He didn't walk fast nor slow, just kind of drifted lifelessly across the green grass before briefly thanking Morwenna and quietly settling down.

A melancholic expression sat on his haggard, but still handsome face. Sitting meaninglessly with his shoulders dead stiff and his back pulled straight, he stared into nothing as the wind tossed his messy uncombed hair.

He looked well.

But that wasn't Lucien.

Not the Lucien I knew.

Lucien would hardly let a minute slip by without opening his mouth or at least thinking of something to play with, be it stuffing his stomach with all the pastries he could get his hands on or mutilating fruits on his plate.

This one didn't move an inch aside from heartlessly picking up a cup and taking a polite sip from it.

Lucien always had something interesting on his mind and his eyes would twinkle like emeralds when new ideas came about. He doesn't ever stare emptily into the distance like this.

Like the wind, he never stopped.

So I watched him intently, hoping with all my might that he'd do something to prove my suspicions incorrect.

Maybe we just caught him at a bad time?

Maybe he knew we were watching and was putting on a show to surprise us?

Maybe...Lucien...

Please just do something.

However, my prayers weren't answered as the long minutes turned into dreaded hours.

Only when the serenity of the pinkish blue skies dawned, did Lucien, who sat like a perfect doll, get up from his chair.

"Evelyn, he's leaving," were the first words that broke the silence surrounding us. I look over at an indifferent Nero. "If you don't catch him now, there probably won't be another chance."

I could feel my heart sink as I uselessly watched Lucien turn his back and tread aimlessly back into the house.

Even then, I couldn't find the willpower to move from where we hid.

There was only one other thought circling in my mind...what was it that he wanted to tell me that night?

I would've known had I not turned my back on him and fled with Alvena.

I didn't know a heart can ache so much to have someone turn their back on you. Though I knew the source of the pain, it didn't go away because in the end, I never did call out to him.

That would be the last time I'd seen him.

Sometime after returning to Argid, Niles and Liam came to visit. They were disappointed that not even the Pureblood could get through the heavily guarded gates of Emberwind. I didn't tell them about the rest and Nero played along.

Only when we were alone, did Nero's curiosity consume him.

"Why didn't you approach Lucien?"

A image of his turned back flashed in my mind, but faded as quickly as it came.

"I don't think he would ever intend for anyone to see him like that."

"Like what?" Nero asks with genuine confusion.

Of course. It's not just Nero.

In everyone else's eyes, Lucien probably looked the same.

It should stay that way in my mind too.

"It's nothing," I answer before leaning back in my chair and taking a relaxed sip of tea.

Nero shot me a suspicious expression, but gave up on prying me for more answers after recognizing that I didn't plan on disclosing any more.

"How'd you find him in the first place?" I ask him in return.

"I must've visited Emberwind a hundred times while trying to find you. How hard could it have been to find him?"

If Nero was able to track me while I was hiding, it shouldn't have been too difficult to find Lucien who wasn't even trying.

"There's nowhere I wouldn't go for you, Evelyn," he says. "And I hope there's nowhere you would go without me."

Nero was so genuine that I couldn't help recalling a certain someone.

I remember her telling me once—you only give your hand to someone you trust your life with.

Like many things, I didn't quite understand what she meant at the time.

But I do now.

And if I ever see her again, I also have something to tell her.

When there is someone you trust with your life, don't wait around for him to ask for your hand. Don't let him decide when to hold on or let go.

Extend yours first.

If he's the one, he'll take it.

And if he's the right one, then you never let go because he won't allow any reason for you to have to.

Nero's hand was warm against mine and I couldn't help but give it a tighter squeeze.

"I wouldn't dream a place."

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