Short Story: Owner of the Bank of Souls

Meg is dying–fast. There’s only one way for her boyfriend to save her. The Bank of Souls.

“Tomorrow it’ll come and tomorrow she’ll be dead!” Danner stood over my cot, all dark and shadowy, though the fireplace crackling behind him did cast light on one thing—his shining green eyes. Or I guess that’s two things technically. To the right of the fireplace, Birdie hunched, sunken and gray like the armchair he sat in.

“Well darn, Danny,” I coughed, “quite the inspiration.” 

He leaned over and softened some. “Shh, Meg, please, just rest.” 

“Well, according to you, I’m about to have plenty of that in eight hours—give or take.” 

His glistening eyes laid on me and though the darkness in my cabin’s living room obscured it, he curved his lips in a smirk—the same smirk he gave me at the prison courtyard before introducing himself as my future husband. But like my health over the last forty-eight hours, it quickly vanished. 

“All we can do is pray for dayligh’,” Birdie said, his voice hoarse.

“I’m sick of praying, Birdie!” Danner rose. “We’ve got to do something!” 

“You willin’ to go out there durin’ curfew and risk meetin’ the courier halfway?”

“I think my odds at taking a bullet are better than hers right now.”

“That so?” Now Birdie rose, wrinkled and still hunched, he managed to meet brawny Danner eye-to-one-eye. Like it did for Danner, the flames shined off Birdie’s single iris and only deepened the shadow in his crater of the other. “I know the odds, kid, and they ain’t good. You’re better off sittin’ your stubborn butt down and waitin’ for her medicine to come.”

 “Dad, please—” I shut my mouth. Birdie’s singular stare darted to me. Despite the warmth, a shiver tore through my bones. 

Birdie walked around Danner and slowly approached. “What did you call me?”

“Dad,” I said it lower, but stronger somehow. Of all the eighteen years he’d raised me, never once had I called him Dad. He never taught me to. 

A tear welled and he knelt beside me and laid his heavy, thumbless hand on my whole one—another friendly reminder from the dictatorship not to ever buy cow meat from the black market again. “Darnit, Meg. I told you what to call me.”

“God forbid, right? Even on my death bed.”

“You’re not gonna die, Meg.” 

“Just like Mom wasn’t going to?”

A tear escaped and he quickly turned away. My own eyes remained dry. I didn’t have the luxury of thirty years of memories. Not even a full twenty-four hours. I only had the reminder of the curse, the plague I was from birth. 

Danner returned to my side, soft again. “Do you want me to stay?”

Sweat dripped from my temples; heat, pain, and love will do that to you. “Kinda.”

He chuckled. “But I’ve got to do something, Meg.”

“Then kiss me.”

He grabbed my hand in his and whispered, “With this audience? I’ll really die before you do.”

“Romeo didn’t care.”

“Yeah, and look how that ended up.”

I sighed. “But unlike Juliet…I am really dying, Danner.” 

His head bowed and he kissed my hand. Hot tears landed on my skin. He peered up again. After what felt like eons, he slowly leaned in and pressed his soft lips to mine. Bitter sweet, like black coffee and milk. Another luxury we’d been deprived of for years. My aching muscles eased. My eyelids grew heavy. My breathing hastened. 

Danner recoiled. “Meg? Meg!”

“Meg!” Birdie cried out. Their loud voices drifted as my head throbbed. Burning stabs cut through my heart. I gasped and grabbed my chest. But I couldn’t feel my hand. Only my heart. The rapid slicing. From every angle. Cutting through my veins. Ripping at my arteries. My lungs squeezed in. A million pounds. I dropped back. This. Was. It. My odds. Maybe I’d meet. Mom.

 Finally. Say hi. Or sorry.

Blackness reigned.


“Meg!” Danner shouted, her lifeless, thin body like the weight of a child in his arms. He held her tightly. “Please, don’t do this. I need you.” Tears soaked his face. And rage consumed his heart. They did this to her. To her mother. To his grandparents. Their neighbors. Scraps and shackles. Crap hospitals. Criminalizing private anything. 

Birdie dropped to his knees and sobbed. “Meg, my Megan. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Danner shut his eyes. Meg’s face that day in the prison courtyard filled his mind. Still thin, but fuller. Her skin glowing with sweat and her dark eyes plain yet penetrating. Makeup was for rich girls. Not that she needed it. 

She sat against the iron gate, writing on a torn piece of bed sheet with a pen she’d stolen from an officer. She had wrapped the flashy pen in some bed sheet, too. Danner was the only one who saw her do it. 

The meat-head sat in his cozy desk chair, writing in the new prisoners on his clipboard with an old, red-feathered ink pen. He prided his penmanship—refusing to use the government provided tablet. Meg had been eyeing the pen the whole time she waited in line. By the time she was third, she feigned the most believable sneeze attack you’d ever seen. Everyone panicked—not wanting to catch the latest pestilence—even Meat-Head. He sprang from his comfy chair like someone jammed a dagger through his cheeks, dropping his pen and notepad. Meanwhile, Meg stumbled forward, still sneezing, and slapped her hands onto the table. As she turned around, she swiped the pen and slipped it into the back of her pants, her sneeze explosion finally ceasing. 

Meat-Head was so disturbed he’d called in backup and took an abrupt break from his post. 

And that’s when the thought hit Danner and he just knew it. He knew one day he’d marry that crazy girl. And he had to tell her. 

“I saw what you did.” Danner opened with.

She stopped writing and looked up at him with those eyes. “And?”

He smirked. “And I’m your future husband.” 

Meg huffed, but then smiled, too.

Danner opened his eyes. And gently pulled Meg away from his chest. Her mouth hung open slightly. But now she was dead.

A knock rattled the front door.

 Birdie continued sobbing as Danner carefully laid Meg on the cot and then rushed to the door. He opened it. Night masked the surrounding woods up to the porch, but a ray of moonlight snuck through the trees and onto a brown paper box on the doorstep. Danner glanced around. The courier couldn’t of disappeared that fast. Danner grabbed the box, slowly, before shutting the door and locking it.

Birdie looked up, his face wet with tears and snot. He frowned at the odd package as Danner scanned it. Not the Black Market’s usual white, imitation government box with realistic insignias and a fake return address.

“Who’s it from?” Birdie finally spoke.

“Doesn’t say.”

“Then don’t open it. Could be a bomb or something from the Regime.”

Danner clutched the box, his eyes traveling to Meg, her skin paler than ever. He strode from the room and into the half kitchen. He snatched a knife from a drawer, set the box on the counter, and then sliced the tape that sealed it. 

As Danner opened the box, Birdie stepped into the kitchen. A clipboard with a paper lay at the bottom. 

“What the hell is it?”

Danner slowly removed the clipboard and read the crimson printed words:

I, Danner Adam Mitchel, on this sixth day of September, year 2033, hereby choose to pledge that in the place of Megan Marie Blackwell, I shall offer my life in exchange for hers. 

Danner’s heart pounded. Beneath a line with an empty space, cursive writing spelled: Anticus Mordem, Owner of the Bank of Souls.

Danner looked inside the box again. A red-feathered pen lay in the center. 

Birdie rushed to his side and grabbed the clipboard. As he read it, he shook his head. “What kinda sick bast—”

Danner clasped the pen and snatched the clipboard back, then walked out of the kitchen and into the living room. Meg still lay there. Her skin now yellowing. Danner approached her. He suddenly remembered what he’d stowed in his left pocket. A ring he’d traded five batteries and a week’s worth of flour for. A six month’s wage. He had the proposal all planned. 

He’d built a small table from two of his dining chairs and set it in his backyard beneath the best looking tree he could find and then sprinkled it with purple flowers—her favorite color. He was going to cook wheat pasta for her and then ask the big question. But before he could, she got food poisoning from spoiled berries and now here they were, two days later. 

Danner reached in his pocket and removed the ring. Rose gold. Plain but beautiful, like Meg. Lifting her limp hand, he slid the ring onto her ring finger. “If this works, I’ll see you on the other side, Juliet.” He gave her one more kiss before pressing the red-feathered pen on the empty line and filling it with his name. 

A pang thrust through his chest. He staggered before hitting the floor. 

“Danner!” Birdie dropped beside him and began compressing his chest. “No, you ain’t goin’, too, kid! C’mon!” He pushed down hard. Over and over.

“Dad?” Meg’s voice. 

Danner’s chest seared at the sound and he forced himself to look at her. Her skin shone its normal pale, kissed with red. Her dark eyes alive—and terrified. 

As she jumped out of the cot, Birdie stopped compressing. “Megan? But…”

Megan took over. She pumped and pumped. Pressed her lips to Danner’s. Breathed out. Pumped some more. Breathed out…

“No, no, Danner, don’t you dare!” She cried as she pressed harder. 

The pain spread until it swallowed. And Danner gave his life.


“No!” I cupped Danner’s cheeks. His eyes were open. But distant. I touched his neck. Nothing. I slowly scooted away. What kind of nightmare am I living? I died only to wake up to this? No. It isn’t real. I’m still dead. Maybe this is hell. My punishment for killing Mom during labor. 

“Meg.” Birdie smashed my dark hopes. He held out a clipboard, his hand trembling. 

I took it. Read the words. And Danner’s signature. 

I shook my head. “This isn’t possible.”

“You…” Birdie’s voice quaked, his blue eye wide. “You died. I—I saw it. And then Danner signed. Dropped to the ground.” His body shaking, he muttered the rest. 

My heart raced. Beside Danner lay a red-feathered pen—exactly like the one I swiped from that tool at the prison. I snatched it and then noticed a rose-gold ring on my wedding finger. Oh my God.

I clasped my mouth. My head thrashed as my mind swirled. This is hell. A living hell. 

I closed my eyes. Tried to breathe. To think. What would Mom do? Dumb question. I’d never know. Birdie forbade asking about her. And he never brought her up. She could’ve been a dream this whole time. A good dream. Not like this. I took another deep breath. And opened my eyes. 

I looked at Danner. Gone. Somewhere else. But I wasn’t ready to let him go. 

I ripped the paper from the clipboard and shoved the feathered pen in my back pocket. As I stood to my feet, Birdie did, too.

“What are you doin’?”

“I’m going to find this Anticus Mordem guy. And make him bring Danner back.”

Fantasy Friday: “The Academy’s Royal Resident and Rival” – Through Elisena’s Eyes Part 2, Chapter 3 (Short Story)

I know it’s not Friday again. I’m working on it. Feel free to let me know what your thoughts are on the story so far. Ugh, that rhymed. Check out the previous chapters here. Happy reading!


A glowing white orb pulsed above me. With a low hum, its gentle pace mirrored my heartbeat.

“Elly,” Javin’s strained voice said, and his prickling anxiety itched my skin. He sat in an old armchair next to the bed I lay in, covered by ivory sheets. My closed umbrella leaned against a small, wooden end-table. An open window on the back wall revealed nearby orange trees brightly lit beneath the afternoon daystar.

“How long have I been unconscious?”

“An hour.” Javin leaned over and brushed aside a strand of frizzy brown hair from my forehead. “What were you thinking? Why didn’t you have your umbrella open?”

“How’d you know I didn’t have it open?”

His eyes narrowed and anger’s stinging heat rubbed against my cheeks. “Eldin told me.”

My face burned. “How long was he here?”

“For as long as he could stand me.”

Lying’s rapid pulse harassed my knees. I sat upright. “Be honest, Javin.”

He sighed. “He was here until Miss Alesia made him go to second lesson.”

Now my stomach knotted from my own emotions. Eldin had to be told to leave me? He probably just felt bad for me like usual. This isn’t the first time I had a breakdown in front of him. “Well,” I said, “you’re not the only one who pities me.”

Javin sighed again. “We don’t just pity you, Elly. We care about you.”

“Because I’m weak and pathetic.”

The smoothe warmth of compassion stroked my back. “You’re not weak or pathetic. Except with a sword.”

I huffed. “No more than you are obnoxious and creepy with the girls you like.”

“Listen, sis’, one day I’ll find a girl who’s adventurous enough to soar over the mountains with me in a roto sack.”

“And one who’s brave enough to put up with your creature stench.”

“Hate to break your nose clamp, but you’ve often smelled just as bad.”

As Javin laughed, I back-handed his chest. “Only while working in the farm for a few hours.”

His laughing dwindled and a blend of concern’s hot swell, caution’s soft rub, and love’s heart-encompassing warmth emanated from him. His eyes faded to lavender. “You know I love you, Elly. And I just want what’s best for you.”

“You mean what’s best for your sanity.”

“Mostly, yes.” He rubbed his dirty-nailed hands against his thighs. “I don’t think Eldin is the best for you.”

I glared at him.

“But I don’t think he’s the worst either.”

I raised an eyebrow and my heartbeat quickened, causing the white vital monitoring orb above me to flicker. Javin glanced at it and then took a long breath.

“Did he…say something to you?”

Javin lowered his lavender eyes. “Maybe.”

I tossed the covers aside and jumped to my feet. “What did he say?”

The door opened and a blue-eyed, dark-bunned woman in a white dress bustled into the room. She stopped beside me and pressed a warm hand against my forehead before slowly moving her palm from left to right in front of my face. She dropped her hand and smiled. “You are all better now.” She looked at my umbrella. “I suggest you keep that open during all of your lessons.”

I gave a nod and grabbed it.

“And that you get something to eat.”

I stiffened as the dull pang of a headache pushed against the back of my skull. I could maybe have a few sweet-stems for midday meal. But at the moment, eating didn’t matter more than finding out what Eldin told Javin. I clipped my umbrella to my back and scurried from the room, Javin trailing. “What do you have for second lesson?”

“Knowledge,” I replied as we traversed into a small lobby with wooden chairs. Lowering my voice while we walked out of another door and into the corridor, I eyed Papa-twin. “What did Eldin tell you?”

A heavy puff of protection blew against my face as Javin spoke. “That I wasn’t the only one who would look after you.”

“Look after me?” I groaned. “Ugh, it’s like I have two big brothers. Wonderful.”

“Elly, I saw the way he looked at you while you laid there slobbering in your sleep.”

My neck burned as my heart jumped. “I drooled!”

Javin snickered. “Nah, I just wanted to see your reaction.”

I punched his bicep. “One day I’ll learn how to throw a solid punch and leave both of your arms bruised.”

“I’ll believe it when I feel it.”

I brushed my hair behind my ear and twirled my umbrella. “So…how did he look at me?”

Javin sucked his teeth, and discomfort scraped my calves. “I don’t want to be your little love mediator.” He straightened. “I take that back. I would like to stay right smack dab in the middle of you two until he proves he is more worthy than the Supreme Prince of Zephoris himself”–Javin halted. His mouth fell open. Confusion’s high ring buzzed in my ear. I snatched my umbrella and opened it before following Javin’s stare. My knees weakened. I swallowed as my heart raced. In the commons, above the cobblestone fireplace, etched into the wood, smoking letters spelled: Disappear like your brother, Supreme Prince. 

Sweat dampened my hairline. What did this vile message mean? Was this a joke? Did Supreme Prince Tane visit the academy? And what happened to Prince Nuelle?

Javin clasped my hand and pulled me to the right into the Hall of Enri.

“What are you doing?”

“Sending you home.”

“What?” I yanked my hand free.

Javin pointed back toward the commons. “That is why I didn’t want you coming here. I knew this wasn’t a good idea.”

“Well it wasn’t your decision to make.”

“But I was right, wasn’t I?”

“Right about what? We don’t even know what that message means.”

Javin’s voice rose. “That’s called a threat, Elly. And whoever was bold enough to burn that into the wall’s of Supreme King Nifal’s academy is dangerous.”

My hands trembled. Yes, the fact that anyone would have the nerve to vandalize the walls of this sacred place, this place of honor, instituted by the very maker of us all and threaten his son was terrifying. Whoever did this was either deranged, highly intoxicated, or just…overflowing with deadly evil.

Javin grabbed my hand again and walked forward. I shook myself free. As Javin slowly turned to me with nostrils flaring, I tried to steady my increased shaking. “I’m not leaving.”

“You’re not staying either.”

“I was invited to this academy by the Supreme King. How can I abandon this great call and honor after his very son has been threatened?”

“Because it isn’t your place to protect him, Elly! You’re not a Sentry!”

“I’m at a knight-building academy. I was called to protect our people.”

“Elly, look at me!” He pointed at the thin scar lining his eyebrow and descending to his cheek. “You can’t even swing a sword. Come on, you weren’t made for this so stop trying to be something you’re not.”

Squeezing my umbrella stick, I spun around and marched back into the commons.

“Elly, please.” Javin followed. “Will you listen to me for once!”

I mounted one of the stone platforms beside the desecrated fireplace.

Javin peered at me with glassy eyes. “Please, Elly. I can’t lose you, too.”

A pang struck my heart. Ever since Mother left, he’d become overly protective. He believed he had to cling tightly or he’d lose whatever he held onto. And he was right. He could lose me. I could walk onto a path I’d never return from, but in the end, that choice belonged to me, not him.

“Second floor.” At my command, the platform jolted into the air. Tears blurred my eyes as I looked down at Javin, staring up at me with the same face he had as he watched our mother fly away for good.

The platform rose through a rectangular opening in the ceiling and then stopped. The trumpet indicating the end of second lesson blared through the corridor. Doors on either side of me opened and prodigies poured into the hallway. Gossiping chatter filled my ears. “I can’t believe Prince Nuelle is at the academy.”

My heart skipped. So one of King Nifal’s sons was here. But why would Prince Nuelle leave his palace in Agapon and come here? Sweat moistened my back, making my tunic stick to my skin. Was the message in the commons true? Did Tane disappear? And if so, where to and why?

As I strode forward, a quiet stillness suddenly embraced me; a strong, immovable peace I’d never experienced before. It steadied my weakened knees and trembling hands and sparked something in my chest…hope.

I don’t know what my purpose is, or why King Nifal gave me this gift, but I have this feeling in my heart that the answer is right here inside these halls, waiting for me to discover it.

Read the next chapter HERE.


Fantasy Friday: “Courtship Class Catastrophe” – Through Elisena’s Eyes Part 2, Chapter 2

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.”

“You’re right.”

“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.

Read the next chapter here!