They stood there staring at each other menacingly. The petals continued to fall from the trees sweetly and calmly. Complete silence surrounded us; I wasn’t sure what to do. Seconds ago I felt the urgency to flee from Kiran, but now I felt as though I must protect him; he clearly had the same instinct for me.

Confusion washed over me. Although I didn’t know who the cloaked man was, I could feel with every fiber of my being that he meant me no harm. A vague sense of familiarity flowed between the hooded man and me; his magic was very memorable. Despite the man’s peacefulness towards me however, I did recognize that he meant Kiran harm, and I refused to allow that to happen.


“Eden it’s time to wake up,” the hooded man said firmly, and I knew somehow that he was right. There would be no happy ending to this dream if I stayed.

“Please don’t be angry with me,” Kiran turned around to speak to me, his eyes pleading. With his back to his enemy, completely exposed, he gave me his signature smirk and leaned down to kiss my cheek.

I closed my eyes, feeling the magic turn to electricity, making every hair stand on end. Kiran’s warm lips on my cheek made me forget about the other man, the man that meant him harm. Such a small gesture, but his gentle kiss had me reeling with dizziness. The last thing I heard in the dream was the other man shouting a scream of rage; I felt Kiran disappear and knew that I could now wake up.

My eyes shot open and I felt the bed all around me. I was in my room, in my bed, striped comforter surrounding me, pillows piled everywhere. I took in a big breath to slow my rapidly beating heart. The dream felt so real, the forest so vivid, Kiran’s touch so authentic.

I touched my fingers to my cheek, and a slow blush rose to the surface. Usually my feelings for Kiran were so confused, but in that dream they were crystal clear. I smiled, remembering that in my dream his feelings were the same for me.

I forced my mind to remember reality, his crown, his girlfriend, and their betrothal. My smile disappeared and I slammed my head back down against the pillows. I covered my face with my arm and audibly groaned.

My dream was not only about a sweet moment between Kiran and I, it was about his betrayal. My dream was also about his desire to know something I knew I could never tell him, although I didn’t even know what it was myself. Finally, my dream was about the hooded figure that we'd met in the forest; the man that haunted me even in sleep.

Chapter Twenty-Six

“Good morning, Eden,” Aunt Syl sat at the kitchen island sipping a cup of coffee in her white pajamas. Her hair was a mess and she was wearing her glasses; it was such a comfortable feeling. I loved having breakfast with her in the morning; it was something we rarely got to do. “I’m surprised to see you up so early. Isn’t today Saturday?” she turned to look at the clock, and I knew her question was sincere.

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“Yes, today’s Saturday. I don’t know, I had the strangest dream and then I couldn't fall back asleep,” I rubbed my eyes feeling like I had had no sleep at all last night. “Have you been at the hospital?”

“Yes, since sometime yesterday…. or the day before. I can’t really remember anymore,” she yawned big, causing a chain reaction, and I yawned in response. “The days are starting to run together. Do you want a cup of coffee?”

I nodded my reply and she stood up to get a big black coffee cup from the cabinet. I sat down next to her seat and inhaled the aroma of the strong Columbian coffee she was pouring into my cup.

“Did you want me to make you something for breakfast?” she asked while handing me the hot cup and taking her seat next to me.

“No thank you, this is fine,” I smiled and looked over her shoulder at the newspaper she had been reading. While she may have been an expert surgeon, pancakes were a little out of her league.

“Hey, how are you doing with the whole Immortal thing?” she looked up from the business section of the Saturday morning World Herald and gave me a concerned look.

“I’m fine; I mean.… I’m coping,” I gave her a reassuring smile and contemplated my feelings. I hadn’t really thought things through; I’d just accepted everything at face value. I knew there were lots of things I needed to learn and sort through, but at the moment, all I could do was accept who I was and what I was capable of.

“Well, if you ever need to talk about it, I’m here,” she patted my back and kissed the top of my head. She was the reason I never felt the need to think about my parents until now.

“It doesn’t freak you out?” I asked, taking a nice long sip of the steaming hot coffee.

“Oh no, not at all. Amory and I have been friends for years, long before you came along,” she gave me a wink and I didn’t think I wanted to ask her any more questions about that.

“But you didn’t know my parents?” I wondered out loud.

“No, I never met them. Amory and I were—" she was interrupted by the doorbell. We both looked at each other and rolled our eyes; mentally calculating which one of us was dressed enough to answer the door. The familiar tingling of electricity pricked the back of my neck and a feeling of anxiety washed over me.

“I’ll get it,” I groaned, standing up and regretfully setting my coffee down. I made my way through the large chef’s kitchen to the front room; my slippers made a padding sound as I walked over the hardwood floors.

Not bothering to look at who it was first, I threw the door open, and sent a rush of cool air into the house. I didn’t know who I expected to see on the front porch, but Talbott Angelo was probably the last person I wanted to see. He stood in front of me, dark hair combed, green eyes blazing, holding a bouquet of pink chrysanthemums. My mouth dropped open.

“Hello Eden,” he said calmly, accenting each syllable to clean up his accent. I tried to mouth something in reply, but couldn’t make a sound. What was he doing here? “May I come in?”

I moved out of the way silently and allowed him to pass; this was so strange. I instantly regretted not asking Aunt Syl to answer the door instead.

He walked casually by me and then turned around to face me again in the foyer. I glanced through the door one more time, looking for Kiran or the mailman or anyone else to rescue me from what I expected was going to be a very awkward conversation.

“I am sure you are wondering what I am doing here at such an early hour. I apologize for not giving you advanced warning. I didn’t have much warning myself,” he smiled apologetically and I subconsciously covered my stomach with my arms, wishing I had a sweatshirt nearby to throw on.

“Prince Kiran sent me over this morning insisting that I made sure you were unharmed. I see that you are,” he cleared his throat and glanced back at the front door as if wanting to escape through it. I wished he would and wondered why he didn’t.

“What? Why? What is Prince Kiran so worried about? And why didn’t he just call?” Surely there was a student directory he could use to get my phone number. I flashed back to my dream and found it strange that after such a vivid dream of him, he would send someone to check on me.

“Prince Kiran was worried about your safety. When he woke up this morning he demanded that I personally check to make sure you were alright; he seemed to think you were in some sort of danger,” he shook his head a little, as if annoyed. “And I don’t know why, but he said it was urgent. However, I can see you are just fine,” Talbott continued to stand there awkwardly holding the flowers. Despite Talbott’s efforts to be nice, I saw glimpses of the side of him that hated me. I was reminded of how rude he was to me at Kiran’s club.

“Yes, I am fine,” I said sounding more defensive than I had intended. “I still don’t understand why he didn’t just call.”

“Prince Kiran has been forbidden from talking with you. He sends his apologies,” I couldn’t help myself and let out a small laugh. I could deal with the whole Immortal thing, but all of these royal rules and standards of conduct were an entirely different matter. Talbott shot me a confused look, but I didn’t have an explanation for him and so I stayed silent. “Do you have a message you would like me to relay to him?”

“Is this because of Seraphina?” I blurted out.

“Well yes in part, I tried to warn you,” he shook his head again.

“What’s the other part?” I asked, ignoring his ‘I told you so.’

“His father. You are a Witch, isn’t that right?” I nodded my head yes, feeling odd to have this conversation with someone other than Principal Saint or Avalon. “Kiran is not allowed to marry a Witch; he must marry a Medium by royal edict,” he said this with finality; I decided not to indulge Talbott by asking any more questions.

“Who said anything about marriage?” I grumbled under my breath.

“Eden, you must understand that Kiran has responsibilities; responsibilities that he has so far failed to take care of. He will one day become King and that requires discipline; you are only a distraction to him.”

I flinched from his words, and then instantly regretted looking weak in front of him. I was surprised by his boldness however; not many people were very open and honest with me. Despite my malicious feelings for Talbott, I could at least appreciate his honesty.

I noticed that Talbott felt bad for his harsh words and could no longer look me in the eye. He didn’t offer an apology and I half wondered if he was waiting for me to give him one.

“That is beside the point,” he cleared his throat and offered me the flowers. I didn’t take them right away, but glared at their pretty petals instead. “Eden will you please go to the Fall Equinox Dance with me tonight?”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I held back my laughter and eventually took the flowers from him, not knowing what else to do.

“I wish I was; please understand that this is Kiran’s idea.... no, Kiran’s order. I have been ordered to make sure you are protected this evening,” he clasped his hands behind his back and I saw a hint of his military training.

“Protected from what? No thank you, I will be just fine…. here…. alone,” this was ridiculous.

“Please go to the dance with me,” he softened his voice, but hardened his tone. “Kiran has ordered me to stay with you; but I am afraid that he is the one in danger. I need to be near him tonight,” Talbott looked down at the ground.

“You’re right, you do need to be near him, and you’re definitely not staying here with me. And I am definitely not going to that stupid dance,” the man in black passed through my mind again and a feeling of uneasy started to grow in the bottom of my stomach.

“Eden, you don’t have a choice,” Talbott said exasperated. “He’s the Crown Prince; you have to do what he says.”

“You are kidding me,” this was ridiculous. I was almost too angry for words.

“No, I’m not. Please be ready by seven,” he walked passed me and opened the door.

“What is going to happen to Lilly?” I called after him, fuming.

“I don’t know,” he replied softly.

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