Astra watched him carefully from afar. Dionysus was interesting. He acted like a big flirt, but Astra wondered if that was really the case. He flirted so easily, with her, her sisters, other girls who had crossed paths with him…but did he mean any of it? Was it her on his mind, when he kissed her? Or, was he thinking of his next conquest? She was no toy, nor was she a fragile little girl. She loved deeply. She had run from him when he kissed her. She refused to speak to him for the rest of the vacation, but since they had been on rocky terms since the beginning of the trip, no one thought anything of it. She had to face it, eventually. After a few days, she was finally ready to talk to him. She smiled, remembering how he had responded when she asked him to talk.
“Astra Gray, you’re asking me out?”
“To talk, it’s not a date,” She clarified. But was it? What was a date? She hadn’t ever really been on one. She let out a small sigh. Dionysus looked so peaceful reading, she didn’t want to disturb him. But, it was now or never…
She wished her footsteps in the leaves weren’t so loud. They crunched with each step she took towards him. It was a wonder that he didn’t turn around at all.
“Huh? Oh, hey Astra. You’re here.” He smiled up a her, a genuine smile that tore her heart into pieces. “You look beautiful.”
“I look the same as always,” She mumbled.
“Yeah, you always look beautiful,” He commented. “You always will, to me.”
She could feel her insides being twisted. “Dionysus, j-ust stop.”
He let out a small sigh. “I knew this would be one of those awkward talks after a first kiss.”
“I…” She didn’t even know how to approach the situation. What would she say? “How do you fee-l about m-e?”
“I like you a lot,” Dionysus said. “I’d like to explore that. If you’ll allow me.”
She could feel the tears brimming in her eyes. She was about to do to him what Thad did to her. “J-ust like?”
He nodded. “You’re still young, but I’ve been around for hundreds of years. Love takes years to build. It’s not something…” He bit his lip looking for the right words. He liked Astra, he cared about her. But he was afraid of taking the next step. Love was huge.
Astra stared in shock at the man. What was he saying? She came here to reject him, and instead he was rejecting her!? “Dionysus…”
“Don’t get me wrong!” He added quickly. “I want to be with you. I care for you a lot, but love is a huge step.”
“It does-n’t matter h-ow long you k-now a person,” She mumbled. “Lo-ve is love, and you know it.”
“Astra,” Dionysus said. “Don’t be naive.”
“I’m not!” She stood up angrily. “I love someone else, I know that!”
“You love another man?” He frowned. “So, you mean to tell me that you came here to…Astra.” He let out a sigh and rubbed his temple. Two Gray girls. He wasn’t right for two Gray girls and of all the girls he had mindlessly fooled around with, Astra was different.
“I’m sor-ry,” She squeaked. “H-e’s different from y-ou. I feel at h-ome with h-im.”
Dionysus stood up. He didn’t know how to handle the onslaught of emotions hitting him right now. “What’s his name?”
“Audric Brainard,” She whispered. “I love him.”
“Of course. Audric.” Dionysus stood up and pulled out his phone. “It’s always Audric with you people.”
“What?” She asked. “What does that mea-n?”
“Nothing,” Dionysus stated. “But you’re wrong. You can’t love him.”
“I can, and I do!” She felt her confidence grow as she defended the man she was positive she was in love with.
“Maybe I said that wrong. What I mean is that it isn’t smart. He can’t love you back. He’s incapable.”
“No.” Her hand flew up to her heart. “He said he did. I know he does.”
“Do you really know who he is?” Dionysus demanded. “Honestly?”
“Of course I do, he…” She dropped her voice. He owned a castle. He did some forbidden magic and he took her in during her time of need.
“You don’t know who he really is!” Dionysus turned to face her. “Do yourself a favor and run far away before he breaks your heart. His line of work leaves no room for a significant other.”
“You don’t even know him!” She argued.
“Of course I do!” Dionysus was yelling now. “He’s my cousin, Astra. I know all about Audric. I know about the power he has and what he did to get it. It’s dangerous. Too dangerous, especially for a Gray.”
“No,” She murmured. “No. You don’t…”
He sighed. He wanted to reach out to her but he knew she needed to do this on her own. “We were born thousands of years ago, when things like seers were around. Rituals and none of this fancy electricity crap you have.”
She stared at him in shock. He wasn’t that old, he couldn’t be. Not even her grandfather was that old! “Audric and I were both up for leader of the elven tribe. Audric was supposed to be the one voted in. But he did something…terrible.”
“What did he do?” She couldn’t believe her ears. “I need you to explain from the beginning.”
“I can’t!” Dionysus covered his face. “No one is allowed to even speak of him. If the council found out, they’d have me eradicated right now. He is bad news, Astra. Listen to me.”
She held her arms tightly around her chest. She didn’t know if he was telling the truth or not, but she knew how she felt. “I…I don’t care. Whatever he did, he can be redeemed. he’s not dangerous. I was with him for two years. He’s a good man, you just don’t understand.
“And you do?” Dionysus demanded.
She shook her head. She didn’t even say goodbye to him. The urge to run away was too strong, and so she ran. As far as her legs could possibly take her.
She found herself in front of the red car in her dad’s garage. She could take it and run away. She never had the opportunity to learn to drive, but how hard could it be? She’d just have to drive far away. She needed to see Audric again. She needed to tell him that she had made her decision. She loved him. She knew he did.
“Your thoughts are running rampant dear. Calm down.” It was him! She could hear his voice in her head once more. Audric! She called out to him. Listen to me! “I can hear you darling. Take a deep breath.”
“You left me,” She mumbled out loud. “Why did you leave me?”
“I had some important things to take care of,” He answered. “You shall be forever safe.”
“What did you do?” She asked. She wanted to know about his past, everything.
“You need not worry about anything, my love.” His voice was so comforting. She wanted to be by his side. “If you truly love me, as your thoughts scream, close your eyes and picture me. I shall appear.”
Of course she wanted to see him. She shut her eyes tightly and thought of him. His lilac hair, his porcelain skin, the beautiful scar across his face that told a story she didn’t yet know. She loved all of it.
“I’m here,” He let out a small sigh of pleasure. “I’m really here. That means you really do love me.” He pulled her close to him and held her. “Astra, you’ve made me the happiest man alive.”
“I’m the happy one,” She whispered. “I get to be with you.” She reveled in his warmth, the warmth she had dreamed about for years. Finally, she was in his arms, where she belonged. “I thought, you left me.”
“Never, even if you would have chosen my cousin, I would have been there watching you. Always.” He stroked her short hair. “Don’t give me that look, I know he spoke to you. I can hear your thoughts remember?”
“You and him are thousands of years old? How is that?” She tilted her head.
“I know it’s too much to ask of you to forget about the details. But for now, for your safety we will have to discuss this another time. You have to come with me.” He held his hand out to her but she didn’t take it. “Is something wrong?”
“You don’t want to see your cousin?” She asked.
“We’re not related by blood, but by family name. At least we were until he changed his clan tag to Blaze. He is one we cannot see again, where we’re going contact will be limited with this world. Especially now with the deal I’ve made with a certain man.”
“I don’t understand, you said if I loved you, you would be free of the curse, and I could return to the castle but leave whenever I wanted. I’m not ready to leave my family yet. I can’t.”
“Turns out the curse had been annulled a long time ago thanks to a very persistent time traveler. I shouldn’t be thanking him, because the circumstances surrounding his actions are less than idea, but I am thankful to be able to be with you.”
She shook her head not understanding. “Who?”
“It’s not safe here,” Audric stated. “I can overpower a lot of people, but prying ears is not part of that. Important information cannot leave my lips here. It is safe only to utter my words of love to you.”
“My dad’s lair,” She said suddenly. “My dad’s lair has a seal. Not just any magical seal, but both he and my grandfather casted it. It has kept Altiere out. There shouldn’t be another threat.”
“But there is,” Audric said. “You know little. It is most safe or you to not ask questions.”
“That’s what Dionysus said, but I…” She was putting her foot down. No more little submissive girl. She wasn’t running away from her family in the midst of war, especially not knowing the extent of what she was dealing with. “I must know. I have to. It concerns a lot of people I care about.”
He let his arm on her shoulder fall limply to his side. It should have been easier with her. He thought Astra was different. He could not possibly drag her down the road he was headed. Was it foolish of him to think she’d stay blind to his dealings forever? He could not protect her from the truth and that’s what would hurt her the most. “Let us go to your father’s lair then.”
As you guys can see, Audric won by a landslide! You guys are in for a really interesting ride with him! Thanks for voting!