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Helios’ Story: Mistresses and Paupers

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I had a habit of breaking the rules.

It wasn’t intentional – I was well aware of my status within the Puff Estate. Being a slave meant you were dispensable. Being dispensable meant performing your assigned tasks to perfection. But, how was I supposed to lie in bed when my mind was restless and the night sky whispered my name on every breeze? Where was I supposed to stow my curiosity when a fresh batch of scones had just escape the oven, summoning salvia to my mouth? How was a young man supposed to abstain from sexual relationships when surrounded by more than willing participants? And most importantly, how was a brother supposed to sit complacent when his sister was missing?

I slipped into the gardens unnoticed, fruity perfume clinging to my clothes, lipstick staining my collar. I was disheveled at best – shirt unbuttoned, pants unzipped – as I mulled over my partner. An adulterous and unsatisfied middle age woman willing to divulge rumors of a purple haired, golden eyed mutt: at a price. You might say I was selling myself for information.

I’d say I was killing two birds with one stone.

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The gardens were in full bloom that evening, spectacular colors dotting green walkways. I did my best to keep my footsteps silent in the dying light – heels planting firmly on the ground before rolling steadily onto the balls of my feet. It worked, much like it had in the past, until sniffling broke my concentration. In a hurry to locate the source, a twig snapped under my foot, sounding more akin to the bite of a whip in the still air. The sniffling ceased just as my attention settled on a bundle of pink; her eyes brimmed with tears, yet filled with dignity as they met my own.

“You shouldn’t be here.” Her voice was commanding, strong, as she straightened her back. She made no attempt to unfurl her knees from her chest, or to wipe the trails of wetness from her cheek.

“Neither should you.” I replied, unthinking as I buttoned my pants.

The skin between her brows wrinkled, lips tugging down in annoyance. The tilt of her head and the set of her jaw was adorable, “Do you know who I am?”

“I do,” She was Guava Puff, daughter to the man who owned me, “And I also know that your bedtime was an hour ago.”

“Bedtime!” Her voice cracked as she cried out, “I am twenty years old. I do not have a bedtime.”

“Your father seems to believe differently.”

She paused at that, pondering over my words carefully, “You won’t tell him, will you?”

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“If I did you would just snitch on me. Only, my punishment would be far worse than your own, milady.”

“Milady?” She squeaked, shocked, “That’s so… ancient.”

I laughed, allowing the tension to ease out of my shoulders at the sudden turn of conversation. Guava’s personal attendants spoke positively of the woman in private – that she was sweet and kind; though I had no personal experience myself. I had, however, grown up in the Puff Estate. As such, her beauty was of no surprise. I had seen her from afar copiously, though her dimples were enamoring up-close, “Yes, I suppose it is.”

“You know who I am but haven’t introduced yourself yet. A rather rude misstep for someone who speaks so politely.“

“Lady Puff, you can call me whatever you desire.” If there was one thing I had learned over the years, it was how to play their game.

“What’s your name?”

“Helios.”

“Then I shall address you as such.” Silence enveloped the two of us and, had she been anyone else, I would have made to leave. But she wasn’t just anyone – she was Guava Puff – which meant I would not be taking one step towards my bedroom until dismissed.

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Finally her legs stretched out across the dirt, pale pink skin cover by glossy sheer skirts. I noticed she wasn’t wearing shoes, her toes wiggling freely, “I suppose you are wondering why I was crying.”

“Not enough to risk asking.”

“Because it is not your place?” She asked, curiosity tinting her tone.

“If I were to speak freely,” I paused, silently waiting for her answer. It came as a nod, soft curls bobbing around her heart shaped face, “When ladies cry it is usually the fault of a lad. Women allow their hearts to run amok.”

“Oh? And how would you know such things? I would not think a man of your status would have much experience with the opposite sex.”

“I have enough – more than you, surely.”

Her cheeks flushed, her pink skin burning scarlet, “What do you know about me? We’ve never exchanged a single word before today!”

Her scolding left me with two options: Feigning regret, which would result in an apology from me and show of poise from her. Or I could continue to tease her, testing the boundaries between us. I decided the second option would be far more entertaining. At the very least I’d get to see her pretty little features scrunched up in anger.

“I know you like your tea with two sugars, that you sleep with a light on. I know dozens of men have come here desiring your hand only to be rejected. I know that your father isn’t forgiving or understanding. I know you’ve healed wounds he’s inflicted.” The words streamed from my mouth, the sentences weaving together, and her facial expressions did the same. Disbelief to embarrassment to sorrow but never the anger I had anticipated.

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Slowly, as if she had forgotten I was present, she tottered onto her bare feet. Her hand raised, steady where her legs hadn’t been, and I closed my eyes in response. Her hand met my cheek without pain, no snap of skin slapping skin. Instead her thumb outlined my jaw, “You’re right. I am crying over a boy.” By the time I dared open my eyes again, tears had already begun to spill over. How was one supposed to react to their superior crying? Instinct told me to hold her, but even the briefest of embraces could send me to the gallows, “But not because he broke my heart.”

And she was gone, skirts whooshing through the gardens before I could fathom a reply.

I had broken many rules over the course of my enslavement.

But falling in love with Guava was unintentional.

A.n: So, during the heir vote Helios and Lux were my favorites but I’ve decided that Lux winning doesn’t mean that his story has to be told solely through flashback conversations with her. It might take a small amount of mystery out of Lux’s generation (as you now know that Helios is, indeed, alive) but oh well. I wanted to tell his story, at least a little. I don’t plan on this being more than five or six chapters though. :]

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Chapter Two: It’s Foggy at Best

We were given blueprints of a pawnshop that was nestled into the corner of a street just a few blocks from our own. It was rundown despite being owned by a wealthy man, its appearance inconspicuous among the neglected neighborhood. Hiding in plain sight, no one would suspect that a goldmine of government information lay buried in its basement. Applesin’s instructions were clear – in and out, don’t be seen, seize whatever we could get our grubby little fingers on. If caught, we would not be recused. Any traitors would be tracked down and punished.
Mixen did not tolerate snitches.

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After the briefing, Windsor was pulled aside. Tacha went back to his card game and Rosaline pretended to be busy. I knew I should follow their lead, busy myself with some mundane task until Windsor returned, but I had never been good at quelling my curiosity. Instead I waited until the door closed, concealing my advance, before hastily pressing my ear against the door.

“It’s been years since someone’s tried to contact her.” Even muffled by whispers and wood, I could distinguish Windsor’s soft voice from Applesin’s. The girl they were referring to was a mystery to me – Rosa and I were both orphans, no had ever tried to find either of us.

“Now is not the time to become complacent,” Applesin warned, “And your other job?”

“It’s going… good,” I could picture Applesin’s scowl at Windsor’s hesitation.

“You’re running out of time, good won’t cut it for much longer,” Shuffling punctuated the silence before Applesin continued, “I need results, Windsor. When I entrusted you with this job you said-“

“I know what I said and it hasn’t changed.” I found my eyebrows arched in astonishment. Windsor had never interrupted Applesin before. Hell, no one I knew would even entertain the idea of interrupting Applesin. He had saved us, all of us, in one way or another.

“Then do it.” The inflection coloring Applesin’s tone was that of a dare and no farewell was given as the sound of footsteps reverberated through the walls.

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I didn’t want Windsor to catch me eavesdropping so I did a quick about-face, practically throwing myself onto the floor next to Rosaline, as the doorknob began to turn. My face was flushed, breathing heavy, but Windsor’s brilliant red eyes took no notice. Instead they flared with determination, his voice darkened by anger.
“We’re going tonight.”

And there was no room for arguing.

*

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The night air was heavy, humidity causing my chaotic curls to frizz and stick to skin. The only lights illuminating the desolate street were rusting streetlamps, their aura flickering inconsistently. I chewed the inside of my cheek as my sneakers scuffed concrete, eyes down and hood up. Windsor had taken it upon himself to sneak inside the pawnshop while Rosa and I played look out on opposite corners. There wasn’t much to look out for though; police rarely patrolled this part of town. If a crime happened here, at this time of night, the victim would more than likely be a Mutt. We weren’t worth the tax payers’ dollars to serve or protect.

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My eyes fell on Rosaline’s thin form as she shivered across the way. Limited lighting made distinguishing her facial expression tricky, but when our eyes met there was no mistaken the worry. She didn’t have to say why. Windsor had been inside for thirty minutes now, much longer than our anticipated completion time. I dragged my gaze away from hers and focused on the pawn shop composed of crumbling bricks. There was no movement inside the dirt stained windows, just the eerie stillness that came with night.

Five more minutes, I decided. I’d give Windsor five more minutes before going in after him.

My eyes kept drifting towards the vacant windows until my feet were soon following suit. While there shouldn’t have been any danger lurking inside the diminutive building, Windsor could have hurt himself. It seemed unlikely that the robust male would make such an amateur mistake but the thought wormed its way into my brain and I couldn’t shake it.

I hesitated at the back door, the brass knob cool in the palm of my hand. Tacha had stayed behind, laptop in hand, in order to override any security measures that the shop may have in place. However, Tacha had no way of communicating with us. He only had the plan to work off of and, according to the plan, we shouldn’t be here. Would the alarm still be disarmed?

Windsor was family, one of the only individuals I could count on. Applesin had been the one to find me, the first memory I could recall before the fog started, but Windsor had been the one to make feel welcome. He was the one to teach me how to steal when I was nine – how to keep my head low, steps even, as I fled a crime scene. He had been the one to demonstrate how to avoid the police when I was eleven and our freedoms were stripped away due to law. At sixteen, Windsor was the one who showed me a smart woman had the upper hand on any man if she wasn’t afraid to use her body.

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Leaving Windsor behind wasn’t an option.

I opened the door; eyes clenched shut, half expecting the silence to be shatter by shrill alarms. Thankfully, my ears were spared the agony and I was engulfed in darkness as the door clicked shut behind me. “Windsor?” I whispered into the void, but my hushed voice received no response. Steps small and tentative, I tried my best to visualize the blueprints, heading straight for where the cellar should have been.

The floorboards groaned under my feet, crying with every displacement of weight, until a hallow thud floated through the quiet. I froze, blindly running my hands along the dirt caked wood. My nose scrunched up as the dust built up under my nails, clinging to skin. Smooth metal disrupted the coarse wood proving that my hunch had been correct. The cellar door flung open with a single yank and I peer down into the abyss with curiosity. The darkness mimicked the night sky; the sole exception: pale rays of light streaming in from under a closed door. I used them to my advantage, tip-toeing down dilapidated stairs until sturdy ground took its place. Windsor’s name left my lips, cut short by an itch in my throat. I pressed forward, ignoring my cough and the dust coating the air, opening the door with zero hesitation.
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There were bookshelves inside; tall and wide and filled to the brim with thick, aging covers. They coated three walls of the cellar and Windsor was scouring one, eyes narrowed against the shadows, a single candle in hand. Relief flooded my system, shoulder relaxing, as a quick scan of his stature signaled he was unharmed. The feeling was fleeting, the back wall coming into view as I approached. Instead of bookshelves, pictures lined the dank bricks. Pictures of Mutts.

Pictures of me.

There were a dozen or so, and while I varied in age, there was no mistaken they were of me. My eyes were wide, yellow, innocent, and always no older than nine. As if in a trace, I stepped closer, imprinting the images to memory. There was one in particular, one of me and three boys, that demanded my attention. We were all close in age, all of similar color, all mutts. I closed my eyes, desperately trying to recall the memory the image was provoking, fighting through fog into sandboxes and laughter, when fire coursed through my temples. A strangled cry escaped my throat as the vague image was consumed in gray, the burning piercing through any coherent thoughts I might have formed.

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“Lux. What are you doing down here?” Windsor. I could feel his hands on my shoulder. His touch did nothing to quell the pain; instead his fingertips on my skin coincided with the fire exploding within my temples, piercing my consciousness. I felt concrete skin my knees as I fell, body wrenching in pain as I tried to create space between us. Tears poured down my cheeks, coughs punctuating my screams, until the pain left as suddenly as it had come.

My eyes fluttered open, vision blurred by tears and darkness. Windsor was standing over me, confused, “What was that?”

I didn’t have an answer for him. When I tried to remember the past the fog had always been present; the pain dull and throbbing. Never this serious. Then again, I had never been so close to remembering something before. Even now I could picture the scenery, feel the sun on my skin and the sand in-between my toes.

“Nothin’.” I muttered, clambering to my feet. My knees stung, cut up and sore, but I ignored them, “What took ya so long?”

Windsor took the topic change in stride, “There was a lot more to shift through than I thought. I think I found something, though.” For the first time I noticed Windsor had a myriad of books under his right arm.

“Let’s get out of ‘ere.” Windsor didn’t bring up my fit again or the collage, for that matter. Neither did I. Not because I wasn’t curious, the fact that the Resistance had been watching me as a child chilled me to the bone, but because I knew Windsor didn’t have the answers.

I’d have to find them on my own.

*

A.N: Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry it’s been so long since my last real entry. I ended up cutting this short just to get it out to you guys. X_X

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Special: Red Like Roses

A.N:  This special is just lyrics and pictures. If you want to listen to the song, you can do so here.  However, the lyrics do not start until about a 1:30 into the song.

__________

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I couldn’t take it couldn’t stand another minute

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couldn’t bear another day without you in it

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all of the joy that I had known for my life

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was stripped away from me the minute that you died

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to have you in my life was all I ever wanted
but now without you I’m a soul forever haunted

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can’t help but feel that I had taken you for granted
no way in hell that I can ever comprehend this

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I wasn’t dreaming when they told me you were gone

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I was wide awake and feeling that they had to be wrong

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how could you leave me when you swore that you would stay

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now I’m trapped inside a nightmare every single fucking day

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It’s like a movie but there’s not a happy ending
every scene fades black and there’s no pretending

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this little fairy tale doesn’t seem to end well

there is no knight in shining armor who will wake me from the spell

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I know you didn’t plan this

you tried to do what’s right

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but in the middle of this madness
I’m the one you left to win this fight

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Red like roses
fills my head with dreams and finds me
always closer
to the emptiness and sadness
that has come to take the place of you

*

If anyone has any questions about the special, feel free to ask below.

I know the song format can be a little confusing but hopefully ya’ll like it.

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Halloween ’13

“Yes, I win!” Remy’s declaration was painfully loud as he jumped to his feet, ornate chair clattering behind him. Kobi’s face twisted in annoyance, sigh slipping through thinly pressed lips, and I found myself grinning. The friendly game of dominoes had turned into a bet between the three of us and, though I hadn’t won, it was always amusing to watch Kobi sulk upon defeat.

“Hell yeah!” I held out a hand for the teenager and his rosy eyes brightened as he brought his own down on it. Our high five reverberated through the room, causing the skin between Kobi’s eye brows to wrinkle.

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“What do you want?” It came out begrudgingly, but Kobi always kept his promises.

Remy’s gaze darted between the two of us, mischief running wild in his wide eyes. My gut flopped in response but I held my tongue as the teenager schemed. His usual requests upon winning a bet were for his brother to spend time with him – movie nights, a game of basketball, and help with his homework – but tonight the glint in his eyes left me wishing I had stayed out of this bet.

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“I want to host a Halloween party,” I let out a whiff of air as his voice greeted my ear. I could deal with a Halloween party.

Kobi’s expression mimicked my own, softening at the young man’s request, “I’m sure I could arrange something-“

“-And I want you and Lux to attend in matching costumes.”

“What!” Our cries mingled together, mouths agape. Kobi and I casted a sidelong glance at each other. I had never celebrated Halloween before, not that I could recall at least, but going to a party in similar attire seemed like something couples would do. Kobi and I were about as compatible as a balloon and a porcupine.

“No.”

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“I think I just puked in my mouth a lil bit.” I muttered, which earned me a chuckle and glare, respectively.

“It’ll be fun.” Remy elongated fun, as if he could convince us if he held the final syllable long enough.

“It’ll be a headache.” Kobi retorted. His expression held no humor, features sharp and serious.

“You don’t have a choice. You lost the bet.”

There was a moment of conflict before Kobi stood, “Fine. Lux can choose the costumes. I don’t have time for this frivolous game.” He left it at that, his departure cold and swift.

I, on the other hand, regarded Remy carefully. The teenager was fixing his chair with a smile playing at his lips, shoulders pulled back and confidence oozing from his pores. I hadn’t know the pink ‘bow for long, three months at best, but his behavior was usually diminutive around his older brother – so different from the demanding attitude he had just displayed. It had taken me by surprised but most of all it had made me suspicious.

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He met my gaze, that victorious smile still in place, before sitting down, “Soooo, what are you going to go as?”

I pursed my lips at Remy, “Don’t know. Somethang scary.”

“My brother doesn’t like the macabre,” I gave Remy a blank stare, completely ignorant to what the hell macabre meant, “Gore. My brother doesn’t like gory things.” He clarified.

Right, of course. Kobi didn’t like anything that was remotely fun. If Remy and I would let him, he probably would come to the party in his usual suit and tie, “Isn’t that the point of Halloween? Ya’know, to get scared and stuff?”

Remy shrugged, “It’s more about dressing up and having a goodtime. Eating candy, watching horror movies, bobbing for apples, pumpkin carvings.”

“So no zombies?” I asked, barely able to keep the disappointment from my voice.

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“No zombies. Kobi would never agree to that.”

“What would he agree to?”

Remy’s smile finally faltered, voice small, “I have no idea.”

*

I tried to argue my way into a zombie costume for a whole week before I finally moved onto other ideas. Serial killers. Mutants. Vampires. Victims of a violent crime.

Two days until Halloween and Kobi had dashed every single costume idea I had come up with. I was on the verge of telling Remy this bet was impossible, that Kobi would rather bite his own tongue off than parade around in leather (his own words), when the teenager had suggested that we compose a list of costumes. It beat barging into Kobi’s study every fifteen minutes, which is the approach I had taken, and also gave me a chance to hear tamer ideas.

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Watching Kobi’s stern gaze wash over my childish handwriting made me uncharacteristically nervous. I imagined that’s what most people who sat in this chair felt when meeting with the CEO, but until now I had never felt this way. The butterflies dancing in my stomach caused my legs to begin an incessant rhythm, fingers fidgeting on the armrest. His expression gave no clues to what he was thinking and I wondered how his employee’s didn’t go insane.

“Remy helped you with this list.”

“What made cha think that?”

“I highly doubt you want to dress up as a mermaid for Halloween.” He peered at me over the college-rule paper, expressionless.

“Yeah… no.” I grunted, running a hand through my wild curls. There were plenty of costumes on that list that I really didn’t care for – fairies, mermaids, royalty – but Remy thought it was worth a shot.

“Come here.” Kobi motioned me over, putting the paper down on his desk.

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“Why?” I asked, eyebrow raised.

“I said come here.”

“And I asked why.”

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“You are obnoxious.” Kobi’s jaw was locked, teeth clenched.

“Back at cha buddy.” I quipped, nerves completely gone as we settled into our usual banter. I enjoyed getting a rise out of Kobi, perhaps more than I ought.

“Will you just cross out the damn costume ideas that you don’t like.”

I grinned, triumphant, even if Kobi’s explanation had been snappish and bossy, “Why didn’t you say that in the first place?”

Kobi closed his eyes as I strolled over, his shoulders relaxing as his chest heaved a mighty sigh. The CEO’s desk didn’t have a spec of dust on it, empty except a container of pens and a file of paperwork. Snatching up a pen, I made my way down the list, eliminating ninety percent of Remy’s hard work. Once I was done, Kobi did the same. He bend over the paper, silky locks falling into his pale pink eyes. Kobi was handsome, I couldn’t deny that.

“That leaves us with… elves.” He seemed unsure about this choice, as if he was still debating whether or not an elf was an acceptable costume.

I only had to glance at the sheet of paper to see he was telling the truth, “Elves, huh? Can I have a sword? Or like, a bow? That would be sweet.”

“Are weapons the only reason you’d want to be an Elf?”

“And pointy ears. Those are cool too.”

“You are such a child.” Kobi complained, finger tips touching his temples.

*

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Kobi took care of the costume preparations or perhaps he just hired someone to make them. Either way, I barely recognized the women who stared back at me through the mirror. My bright yellow eyes were lined with charcoal, eyelashes thickened and elongated by the magic of makeup. I ran a hand through my straightened and styled hair, the velvet locks a foot or two longer than they had been a few hours ago due to extensions. The most impressive part of the ensemble was by far my elf ears; I couldn’t even tell where my skin ended and the plastic began.

Pink flashed in the mirror and I spun around to greet Kobi’s entrance with an arched brow. He stood tall, picture perfect posture, the spitting image of what I’d imagine a High Elf to look like. The he held himself screamed of arrogance and grace, hair freshly trimmed and medieval attire adorning his fit figure. My gaze froze at his ears, pointed and pierced. There were so many metal appendages attached to his ears I was taken by surprised. I never thought the pink ‘Bow would approve of piercings – even for Halloween, “Digging the jewelry.”

He reached up, fiddling with one of the barbs of metal before shrugging, “Remy suggested it.”

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I forced a smile, smoothing out my leather dress, “I figured.”

There was a moment of silence, neither of us knowing what the say to the other, until Kobi eyes fell onto my bare feet, “Where are your shoes?”

“I didn’t like them.”

“You cannot go to Remy’s party barefoot.” Kobi pointed out, as if I should have already realized that.

“Why not? It’s in your big old mansion anyways.”

He opened his mouth to argue but stopped in his tracks, pressing his lips closed with a small scowl. Smoothly, without any hesitation, Kobi held out his arm, patiently waiting for me to take him up on his offer.

“You came over here to pick me up?” I asked, slowly linking my arm in his. My room was on the opposite side of the mansion, as far away from his quarters and office as he could possibly shove me. The only reason I even had a residence to call my own was due to Remy pleading and a bet between the two of us that had yet to be resolved.

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Kobi nodded, gazing down at me as we began walking down his pristine hallway, “A gentleman always escorts their date to the party.”

Date?

Had Kobi not been leading, I would have stopped in my tracks. He said the word so easily -like us going on a date was completely natural – that my head began to feel a little light; heart beating a little faster. I held my tongue, not wanting Kobi to see the unease his words caused, and kept my head held high as we arrived at double doors.

The ballroom was always magnificent.

It was marble and chandeliers; large windows lining the two story room to let in moonlight. Tonight, however, the fancy decorations and tables were replaced by pumpkins and cobwebs – Halloween decorations adorning every facet of the room. Most of the people in attendance were Remy’s age, teenagers with raging hormones and far too much money. Then there were Kobi’s servants, diligently handing out horderves and manning contests and booths. There was a section for pumpkin carving, an archery booth, a pie eating contest and a tub filled with water. I stared at the latter, confused as to why some teenagers were dunking their face into the basin, hands tied behind their back.

“Bobbing for apples.” Kobi’s breath tickled my ear lobe and my heart jumped in response.

“What?”

“You’re staring at those kids, right?” He asked, gesturing to the sight I had been gawking at mere seconds ago, “They’re bobbing for apples. Whoever can get the most apples with their mouths in a set amount of time wins.”

“Wow, that’s…. amazing.” I whispered. I had never seen anything like this before and had definitely never participated in any of the many activities that revolved around Halloween.

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Kobi snorted at my pure amazement, “Just like you to get riled up over child’s play.”

I ignored his snide comment, instead freeing my arm from his and leaning against the second story railing, “Can we play one?”

“Do whatever you want, I don’t care.”

“But you’re my date,” I threw the word back at him, “wouldn’t it be rude to leave me on my own?”

The sound of laughter and music filled the silence between us before Kobi sighed, resigned, “Fine. One game and then we are done.”

“Yay!” My excitement was swallowed by the commotion as I lead us into the fray.

*

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I watched with baited breath as Kobi drew the string of the bow back, eyes narrowed while he concentrated. Despite Kobi’s reservations about participating in embarrassing activities, he sure seemed to be enjoying himself. He released the string, arrow soaring through the air before embedding itself just outside the bullseye mark. A second arrow soon followed suit.

Perhaps archery hadn’t been the proper game to make a bet on. I had assumed that the pink ‘Bow would be rubbish at all of the activities and had, instead, just picked the one he would be most likely to agree to without a fight. However, as Kobi’s final arrow made its home in the bullseye, I realized that had been a mistake. It was obvious Kobi had done this before.

“Why didn’t ya tell me you were good at this?”

Kobi shrugged, handing the attendant back the bow, “You didn’t ask.”

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I knew I was frowning as Kobi stepped to the side, allowing me my turn. I didn’t know how to properly hold the bow, let alone load it, and Kobi’s chuckling only served to infuriate me further. Determined, I attempted to copy Kobi’s stance before I released the arrow. It only made it a foot away from me before crashing to the ground. Damnit.

“Need help?” Kobi called, mirth shaking his six-foot frame.

“No.” I spat back, loading up my bow once more.

“Keep your back straighter and move your hand down a little more. Pull the string tighter.” I followed Kobi’s instructions begrudgingly before letting the arrow go. It whizzed right past the target, dinging the expensive stone wall behind it. Surprisingly, Kobi made no comment on that.

Instead, as I turned around, he was smiling, “Next time look at where you want the arrow to go, not at the arrow itself.”

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“Right.” Loading up my final shot, I mentally checked everything Kobi had asked of me before keeping my gaze steady. This time when I released the string, the arrow stuck into the outer ring. A rush of adrenaline flooded my system and I found myself jumping in excitement. Laughter brought me back to reality. Despite my small accomplishment I had still lost the bet.

In contrast to my prior euphoria, my shoulders slumped, mouth clamped shut as I returned the bow to the booth, “I suppose you want to leave.” I sighed, gazing longingly at the rest of the festivities.

“No, we can stay,” He stated, “I’ll claim my reward later.”

I was at a lost for words as I stared blankly at the CEO. His gaze was softer than usual, pink eyes bright with warmth. He looked…strikingly handsome like that, the corner of his lips pulled up into a smirk.

I tore my eyes away from his large form before anymore inappropriate thoughts could form, “Can we play another game?”

“If I must.” He punctuated his agreement with a sigh but this time he was the one who entangled his big hand with my smaller one, leading the way through the crowd.

*

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“Cha got something on your face.” I teased Kobi, whose face was more purple than pink at the moment.

Tonight was one of the best nights I’d ever had. Kobi allowed me to indulge in everything I wanted to do – pumpkin carving, bobbing for apples, and even the pie eating contest. He hadn’t just been a bystander, either. The CEO always joined in after a few choice words. If I hadn’t know the man better, I would have said he was enjoying himself.

“Me? You should see yourself.” Kobi shot back, though he had already produced a handkerchief to wipe away the evidence from his mug.

My grin was so wide I was half worried my face might rip in two, “Well, yeah. I was all in that pie. I did win the contest, after all.”

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Kobi’s retort was cut off by the sound of an alarm. He fished into his pocket, silencing his phone with a flick of his wrist, and all traces of warmth faded from his face. His eyes darkened, jaw stern, as he returned the mobile device back to its home. He was in work mode – the only mode I had even seen him in before today, “I have to go.”

Something inside of me physically hurt at the sudden change but I couldn’t tell what, “Sumthing happen at work?” I asked even as Kobi began to plow through the crowd without me. I followed behind him, oddly sad at his lack of attention.

Once we were in the hallway, Kobi’s brisk pace slowed, “You do not have to follow me. Enjoy the party.” He called over his shoulder, not bothering to make eye contact. I could tell he was trying to brush me off, rid himself of my presence, but like hell if I was going to make it easy.

“I thought a gentlemen escorted his date to and from the party?” I clamored.

He paused at that, laughing self-deprecatingly, “Guess I’m not much of a gentleman.”

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“What the hell?” I yelled, “Why do you always do this?”

Kobi turned, eyebrows raised, and I knew what he was going to say before he even said it.

“You let me in only to turn around and slam the door in my face! Ya can ask for help, ya know? If you’re in trouble or have too much work or… or… what are you laughing at?” Kobi had fallen into a fit of laughter halfway through my rant, which was more than a tad bit distracting.

“S-Sorry, it’s j-just your f-f-face.”

“What?”

A deep breath allowed Kobi to speak coherently, “It’s hard to take you seriously while your face is covered in pie.”

“Shut up.” I glowered at Kobi, trying hard to not let my embarrassment show.

“Let’s get you cleaned up, then you can resume yelling at me.” He sighed, taking out his already dirty handkerchief and gently wiping away the residue clinging to my skin. I closed my eyes, allowing Kobi to work, until the soft cloth was replace by smooth fingertips. I opened my eyes to Kobi’s pinks, his head tilted, lips inches from my own.

“What are you doing?” I whispered.

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“Claiming my reward.” His lips slid against mine, a ghost of a kiss, before he pulled away. He held out his hand for me, as if nothing had just happened, “If it’ll make you stop nagging me, I’ll bring you back to your room.”

I reacted slowly, linking arms with Kobi, unsettled by how my lips were still singing after our brief kiss. If Kobi wasn’t going to make a big deal out of it, neither was I. I didn’t want him to think he had any kind of effect on me, “Don’t you have work to do?”

“I do,” Kobi stated simply, “but I’m starting to learn that it’s easier to just give you what you want. Results in less headaches.”

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*

Happy belated Halloween! Sorry this is a day late, I had to work on Halloween otherwise it would have been up. 😀

Hope you all enjoy it (it’s much longer than I expected).

Also, this is sorta cannon. 0_0