I know it’s not Friday. This week was hubby’s birthday and I needed two days to recover (no, not because of alcohol. I’m pregnant peeps and don’t drink.) We went to the aquarium and I epically failed by forgetting to bring the stroller so our one-year-old was VERY difficult. He cried. Then I cried. Everyone but my husband cried that day. But, after a prayer break, it got much better. It appears I have to be extra prayed-up for special days since the enemy always attacks double on those days. I’m figuring him out. But I digress. Here’s chapter two of part two of Through Elisena’s Eyes. Here’s part one, chapter one if you haven’t read it yet. Happy reading!
Do not stir up love before its time.
The swirly, glowing scarlet letters engraved the door to Courtship. Vines and puffy pink flowers layered the wooden exterior, and a robust amethyst stone dominated the center.
With my umbrella closed and clipped onto my back, on came the swarm of extra-awkward emotions. The rapid throb of anxiety poked my skin; excitement rubbed warm and cold on my forehead; and lust’s hot tingling consumed my chest. I snatched my umbrella and opened it with a trembling hand. “Elisena Dillion.”
At my quiet declaration, the amethyst stone swelled with light, and the door opened. Pounds of flowery-sweet aromas slapped my face. I coughed as I walked inside. Bright blossoms filled multiple planters against each wall, and mini flower pots decorated every desk, occupied by a few giggling girls and many nervous boys. At the room’s front, tall candles and an ivory vase overflowing with flowers adorned a massive desk.
Gripping my umbrella, I skittered to a desk in the back and sat down. On my left, a blue-haired girl wearing a colorful headpiece and spectacles held up a huge, open book entitled: Advanced Dragon Taming.
I smiled. I wish I had something as effective to hide behind.
“This is quite a small academy, isn’t it?” Thrine’s voice made me jump. I turned to my right as she set her carrier atop a desk. Eldin stood beside her. Eyes peering downward, Eldin sat in front of Thrine and then set his gaze to the room’s front.
I tilted my umbrella to the right. At least now only his calve and tapping boot burdened my peripherals.
A four-foot explosion of multi-hued petals burst before the colossal desk. A tiny woman with fuchsia ringlets and a matching dress appeared. She stood atop the colorful foliage. “Welcome, future brides and husbands!” She curtsied. “I am Lady Meltmoore and it is my absolute pleasure to train you in the ways of love!”
The blue-haired girl beside me flipped a page in her book.
“Young dragon tamer in the back, please come forward.”
The girl peered from behind her book, her magnified, teal eyes blinking.
“Don’t make me wait, dear. Tardiness is unattractive.”
Pulling her shoulders back, the girl slapped her book shut, tucked it beneath her arm and strode to Lady Meltmoore’s side.
“Now you.” The preceptor pointed at a slump-shouldered boy with black bangs masking half of his face. Lady Meltmoore curled her finger, beckoning him. He pushed his squeaking chair back and scuffled to the blue-haired girl’s side. Even hunched, he stood nearly two feet taller.
“Now, I want you to introduce yourselves to one another.”
Blue-hair shot her hand out. “Surta Ragnild.”
Slumps arched his hand and gave hers a weak shake. “Layne Locklin.”
After he released, Lady Meltmoore glided behind him. “Again, and this time, try to impress Miss Ragnild.” She clasped his shoulders and yanked them back, making him five inches higher. As many classmates laughed, I lifted my umbrella and snuck a glance at Eldin. Thrine’s yellow-painted nails softly scratched the back of his neck. Planting his elbows atop his desk, he leaned forward. She dropped her hand and angrily tapped her fingers against her carrier.
Why was he being cold? Or maybe he didn’t care for public displays of affection. Or, he felt nervous being around the romantic companion he hadn’t seen in almost a year. I slowly arched my umbrella to the left, allowing half of me to be outside of its force-field. Anger hammered against my back while embarrassment’s hollow churn inflated my gut. Thrine’s fierce emotions trumped Eldin’s, making it highly difficult–and painful–to try and read his heart. I straightened my umbrella and focused on the awkward trio at the front of the room.
Layne cleared his throat. “My name”–his voice thundered as blue light waves flowed from his mouth, making the room quake and knocking over several pots–“is Layne Locklin.”
Surta gawped. Lady Meltmoore clapped her hands and a batch of colorful petals burst from them, raining on Layne and Surta.
“You may return to your seats.”
As they hurried back to their desks, Lady Meltmoore continued. “First impressions are the stepping stone, the building block, to any relationship. Indeed, a failed first meeting can be reconciled later on, but if you absorb these lessons on courtship, your failure rate will minimize immensely. Now you!” She pointed straight ahead–at me. Scrunching my forehead, I touched my chest.
“Yes, my mysterious umbrella-yielding young lady. Please come forward.”
As my peers whispered and snickered, Lady Meltmoore’s big eyes scanned the boys. “Have we any volunteers?”
Strangling my umbrella stick, I rose and walked to the preceptor’s side. Several boys sank deeper into their seats while a few yawned loudly. The slick-haired boy seated in front of my desk said, “Maybe if she lost a little weight first.”
As my cheeks burned and prodigies laughed, Surta crossed her arms. She focused on Slick-hair. A large double-sided mirror appeared in front of him, displaying him with large yellow fangs, furry ears and a wrinkled snout. He recoiled and scrambled out of his chair.
Surta smirked. “I think many girls should also be afraid of how hideous you are on the inside.”
A handful of girls applauded. Despite my still-burning cheeks, I managed to smile. Usually, only Javin defended me and–
Eldin rose from his chair and walked toward me. With each step closer my palms moistened and my empty stomach knotted and ached. Lightheaded from the lack of food and Eldin’s constant presence, I inhaled slowly. Fainting at this moment in front of his dearest would not only be embarrassing, but it’ll seal my fate as having no friends outside of family except Eldin. And with how he’s been acting around me today, another “odd” display and I’ll lose him entirely. As Eldin stood at my side, Thrine glared and straightened in her seat. With her cropped, green hair and yellow eyes, she looked like a poisonous dawn blossom, beautiful but ready to kill.
“Well…” Lady Meltmoore smiled at Eldin. “Handsome and brave. This one has already made a good first impression. Wouldn’t you agree, ladies?”
Many girls nodded or voiced their agreement.
“Now, dear”–the preceptor circled me–“how necessary is this umbrella?”
I tightened my slippery hold on it. Eldin’s glistening purple eyes met mine. If I could somehow drown out Thrine’s wrath and everyone else’s toxic emotions, I could see into Eldin’s heart and maybe get a better understanding of his unusual behavior around me. Taking another deep breath, I pressed the button on my umbrella stick. It snapped shut. A horde of emotions pounced on me; excitement, amusement, boredom, apathy, annoyance, curiosity, anger, rage…I winced.
“Elisena, focus,” Eldin whispered. His gentle yet fierce gaze locked onto me, steadied me…
Frozen, I drew in another long breath and concentrated on his shining irises. The wrathful shoves pummeling me from Thrine lessened like a tiring fighter’s punch.
Lady Meltmoore peered over Eldin’s shoulder. “Ah, so you two already know each other. Well then, rather than an introduction, young man, how would you ask Elisena to a romantic outing?”
Sweat dropped down my temple. What kind of horrible joke was being thrust upon me? I didn’t come to the Academy to be tormented by a lost love.
A new sensation rose from the barrage of others; a warm wind. It caressed my cheeks and brushed my shoulders…
Interest…romantic interest. I swallowed, my throat scratchy. Did I read him right? Maybe he was acting for the sake of Lady Meltmoore’s inquiry. Or maybe it came from someone else’s heart.
Eldin spoke. “Elisena Dillion, I’ve known you since before permanent memories of you settled into my mind. Though seldom, I’ve seen you smile and I’ve watched you cry.”
The warmth turned hotter and the gentle wind strengthened, sweeping over my face and chest. My lightheadedness worsened.
“And though I’ve tried, I’ve never known how to figure you out, but”–he smiled–“I’d like to start. So, will you allow me the privilege of getting to know you better? You can choose a place that won’t put Javin in his grave.”
Despite the tears in my eyes and ever-growing muscle weakness, I chuckled. “That would be nowhere, but he doesn’t need to know.”
“But he’s your stalker. You know we wouldn’t be able to hide for long.”
“But, you also know I can handle him.”
My mouth fell open, remembering his scuffle with Javin in our barn. As much as my brother annoys me, seeing him get beat up isn’t something I like to witness.
Now Eldin chuckled. “I’m messing. I think my only option would be to win him over, too.”
I shook my head. “You know that’s impossible.”
“Maybe.” His smile faded and his tone shifted to a more serious one. “But it’s worth a try.”
Whiteness invaded the sides of my peripherals. As Lady Meltmoore’s floral claps assaulted my ears and nose, wrath slammed into my gut. I stumbled. Thrine rose from her desk and marched to the door. Another emotion crashed into my chest, knocking the wind out of me. Heartbreak.
The white fog clouded my vision as strong arms cradled my waist. Gasps and Lady Meltmoore’s frantic voice faded. Releasing my umbrella, I closed my eyes and like that day at the marketplace back home, once again, I fell prey to unbridled emotions.