It didn’t take long for me to go see Simon again after our first encounter. It probably would’ve the day after, if it hadn’t been for my father finding out about my accidental standing up of Casper.
“How could you have done something so stupid, Seraphine?! Where the hell were you?!”
I sighed heavily. I tried not to roll my eyes.
“I don’t know, I was…”
He cut me off before I could even finish my sentence.
“Did you forget what this could do for our family?! What could you have been doing that was so important for you not to show up?!”
A very small smile came to my face as the thought of Simon fluttered through my mind… but I wasn’t quick enough to wipe it away before my father noticed.
“Do you think is funny?!”
This time, I didn’t stop myself from rolling my eyes.
“Listen I just lost track of time, I didn’t mean to…”
My right cheek, now with a red handprint on it, stung as hard as his words.
“Don’t you dare defy me like that again… you’re lucky I was able to get him to agree to meet at the end of the week. If you ruin this for our family, you will never hear the end of it. Am I making myself clear, Seraphine?”
I breathed in as calmly as I could and replied, my voice cool as ice.
He gave me a stern look before heading upstairs to bed, leaving me in the middle of the kitchen.
I waited for the bedroom door to slam shut before whimpering silently, wiping the tears from my eyes and lightly feeling my cheek. He may as well have taken off a few layers of skin with how hard he had hit me.
I stood up and dampened a rag and scrubbed my face hard, trying to match the redness of my right cheek on the left. If I ran into any of my siblings or my mother, now they wouldn’t get suspicious.
After scrubbing my face, I headed upstairs to my bedroom. I was hoping I could slip in without anyone noticing me, but then…
I turned to see my brother, Davwin, emerge from his and my other brother, Graser’s room. He looked up and saw me about to head into my room. His expression shifted when he saw how red my face was.
“What’s up with your face,” he mouthed at me as he gestured towards my face.
This was how my siblings and I would communicate with each other if my father was asleep or we wanted to make sure he didn’t hear us.
I made a scrubbing motion with my hands and mouthed back to him, “Washed my face too hard.”
Davwin wasn’t buying my excuse but still gave me an understanding expression.
“Please be careful, Seraphine,” he mouthed back while crossing his arms across his chest and patting his fist over his heart three times.
I smiled. That was our secret way of saying we love each other.
“I will be,” I mouthed back as I crossed my arms across my chest and patted over my heart three times.
And with that, we both returned to our rooms. I fell asleep dreaming of those lovely brown eyes I would hope to see again tomorrow.
“That cloud kind of looks like a grung, don’t you think Seraphine?” Simon asked me as we gaze up at the clouds from laying underneath our tree.
I tilted my to the side and squinted at the cloudy shape.
“I don’t know about you Simon, but I don’t see a grung. I see a tiefling.”
“What? No, that is clearly a grung.”
I shook my head and smirked.
“Nope, a tiefling. Look at the little horns coming out of its head.”
Simon took my chin in his hand and turned me to face him. He began “inspecting” my eyes, smiling to himself.
“Are you sure you don’t need some glasses, little darling?”
I stuck my tongue out at him and giggled. Then I realized how intensely he was staring at me. He brushed some of the hair from my face.
I noticed that he suddenly looked quite nervous, blushing and eyes locked on mine.
He exhaled and took my face in between his hands.
“Could I… could I maybe kiss you?”
Well, now it was my turn to blush… but I just smiled and nodded.
He smiled and pulled me closer before gently kissing me.
It was sweet and wonderful… and I saw fireworks. The moment his lips touched mine, a fire surged through my body. It was like being out in the cold for so long and feeling the sun on your skin again for the first time.
It was the perfect kiss. Although it was over far too quickly.
Simon pulled back gently, smiling and tracing circles against my back.
“Well, I don’t know about you, but that was the perfect first kiss.”
He took the words right out my mind, I thought to myself smiling. Except one word stuck out to me.
“Wait a minute, wait a minute. You can’t tell me that was your first kiss… was it?”
Simon shrugged and smiled, looking deep into my eyes.
“Yeah, and man, am I glad it was with you.”
I must have been blushing because he just smiled and kissed me quickly again.
“I don’t know if you know, but being an exile doesn’t exactly let you meet a lot of people often… so I don’t have a long list of lovely ladies who I’ve luckily kissed their lips. You are the first.”
Now I was pulling my headband over my face to cover my smile.
He took my headband and pulled it back up, smiling down at me.
“Your face is far too pretty to be hidden, my dear. Now, shall I walk you home?”
This time, I was the one to kiss his smile.
“Yes you may, Simon.”
He grabbed my hands, helping to pull me up to my feet. Once we gathered up our things, we started walking back to my house.
After about five minutes of walking, Simon slipped his hand into mine, and I made sure to hold onto it tight.
Just at the edge of the woods, we slowed our pace until we stopped. Simon wrapped his arms around me tight, pulling me into a hug. I didn’t hesitate in hugging him back.
“Are you sure you have to go meet with Casper tomorrow?”
I sighed and pulled back to look at Simon. His face was painted with disappointment, but his eyes showed he understood that I had to.
“Trust me, it’s the last thing I want to be doing. But I told my father I would meet with him. And that’s all it’s going to be, is a meeting. Maybe when he realizes Casper and I don’t hit it off, he’ll let me have more of a say in who I want to be with.”
At that, he smirked and kneeled down to wink at me.
“And who do you want to be with, my dear Seraphine?”
I pretended to think hard about it before pecking his cheek.
“Why you, my dear Simon.”
He smiled and then return the favour by pecking my right cheek. I sucked in my breath in pain as his lips touched the nearly invisible bruise from the night before. Thankfully, he didn’t notice. I don’t know what I would’ve said if he had.
Before he left, Simon kissed my lips softly one more time.
“Well my dear, I look forward to when I’ll get to see you again. Stay safe in the meantime.”
I smiled and drew a cross on my chest.
“I promise Simon. The same goes for you, okay?”
He chuckled and gave my shoulder a comforting pat before heading back to his tree.
“Don’t worry, I’m always safe.”
I rolled my eyes but couldn’t help but smile at Simon as he strolled back into the woods. As he disappeared from my sight, I sighed at the thought of having to spend an evening with Casper. Maybe I wasn’t giving him enough credit… maybe he wouldn’t be as bad as I thought he’d be.
“I must say Sera-Lynn, you’re quite lucky your father persuaded me into giving you a second chance. What you pulled at the fountain was very unladylike. It’s not the way a woman should behave,” Casper said from across the table of our local tavern.
I sighed to myself as he kept going on and on. I was wrong, I thought to myself. He is worse than I thought.
“Umm, Casper? It’s Seraphine, not Sera-Lynn… you know, in case you didn’t hear the first time. Or the second, or third…”
“Tsk tsk tsk…”
Did… did he just ‘tsk’ me?
“Your father told me you have a little problem with respect… We can work on that.”
I tried my best to smile through gritted teeth and nodded. Before I can even ask him a question, he cuts me off.
“So what do you do with your life Seraphina?”
I sighed once more. At least he is getting closer to my name.
“Well, I’m a scribe and I also am a bard, so I play music and sing on the streets or sometimes here at the tavern. What about y…”
For the first time of the evening, Casper laughed out loud.
“Wait, I’m sorry… you think that could make a living?”
I stared daggers at him. Hmm, he sure sounds familiar right now… no wonder my father chose him.
“Well, I don’t care as much about what it pays. At the end of the day, it’s what I love to do.”
He chuckled again and took a sip from his water.
“And here I thought it would be a challenge getting you to stay at home… you’re practically unemployed already.”
I struggled against the urge to take my glass and smash it on his hand. Instead, I proceeded to take a sip from my drink. Right at that moment, I heard a now all-too-familiar voice.
“Well, good evening.”
I looked up and see Simon standing above my table with a platter of ale. I was so shocked in seeing him that I choked on my drink, spraying it all over Casper. Casper furiously turned to Simon.
“Do you mind, peasant?!”
Simon looked Casper up and down and smirked.
“Right sir, how silly of me.”
Simon then turned to face me and gently dabbed my chin that was dripping slightly with a small cloth.
Both Simon and I turned looking startled at Casper, who was now fuming mad and had smacked his hand on the table.
“I meant dry me off, you idiot!”
Simon smirked again and chuckled.
“Oh, so I’m now an idiot? I guess you decided to give me a promotion. Well, either way…”
He tossed the cloth right in Casper’s face and grinned.
“I think you are quite capable of drying yourself off… milord.”
At that, I couldn’t help but giggle. Casper turned his attention to me with practically smoke coming out of his ears.
“It’s not funny, Seraphine!”
That made me laugh even harder.
“Wow, I’m impressed. That’s the first time you got my name correct tonight. If I had known all I had to do was spit water in your face, I would’ve done at the start.”
I didn’t think it was possible for Casper to get even redder, but he managed to do so. He stood up abruptly.
“I will not stand for such blatant disrespect…”
Simon ruffled Casper’s hair, towering over him by a good 2 ft.
“Not the most fitting line given you just stood up there, buddy.”
Casper swatted Simon’s hand away and started to leave.
“Come on Seraphine, let’s go.”
It took a moment for Casper to realise that I wasn’t following him. He repeated himself, a bit more strictly.
“Seraphine, I said come.”
I glanced up at Simon for a moment. He was looking at me and whispered so only I could hear.
“Do what your heart is telling you is right.”
I turned back to Casper who was staring at me impatiently like I was a disobedient child… then it hit me like a brick.
He was just like my father.
I slowly put on my best smile and stood up, starting to walk past Simon towards Casper. As I got closer to him, he looked so smug and pleased with himself, as if he just taught his pet a new command. Well, I’d show him a trick alright.
Once I reached Casper, I slowly placed my hands on his shoulders.
“I am so sorry for my truly awful behaviour tonight Casper. Is there anything I can do to earn your forgiveness?”
The biggest grin spread across his lips.
“Well, for starters, how about a kiss?”
Now it was my turn to grin.
“Close your eyes and get ready.”
As soon as he closed his eyes, I took my right hand off his shoulder and kissed it… then connected it to his jaw as hard as I could. He fell over to the ground, holding his jaw in pain and knocking over a chair in the process.
As he winced on the ground pain, I bent down to be closer so he could hear me.
“You may be looking for a wife, but I’m not looking for a second father.”
And with that, I stood up and walked out of the tavern, a little surprised but also happy with myself.
I had made it about halfway home before I heard a similar voice behind me.
“Oh good, I’m glad I was able to catch up to you. You are quite fast, despite having little legs.”
I stopped walking and smiled, turning around to see Simon standing behind me. I walked up to him to close the distance between us. I raised an eyebrow at him.
“Just because I am little doesn’t mean I’m slow, you know that right?”
He raised his hands in mock surrender and winked.
“Hey, I never said I had a problem with it. I like a woman who walks with a purpose.”
I rolled my eyes but couldn’t help but crack a smile at him.
Simon glanced back in the direction of the tavern before turning back to me.
“So Casper… he seems like a charming young man.”
I huffed and rolled my eyes.
“He’s an asshole is what he is…”
Simon nodded in agreement.
“Yeah… just a huge, massive, colossal ass-hole.”
We both started to laugh. Then Simon gave me a little applause.
“By the way, you have great aim, my dear.”
I smiled and took a bow.
“Why, thank-you Simon.”
As our laughter died down, a thought entered my mind.
“Wait, what were you even doing at the tavern tonight?”
Simon shrugged innocently.
“What? Can’t a strapping young lad such as myself get a job serving drinks at the tavern you just so happened to be at tonight?”
I looked at him with an eyebrow raised.
He sighed heavily.
“Alright, I’ll be honest… I was worried about you, and I wanted to make sure you were safe.”
I was surprised and a blush grew on my cheeks. He was worried about me? A huge smile spread across my face. I gestured him to bring his face closer to mine. He smiled and did so without hesitation. I placed both my hands gently on his face and kissed him like I had never kissed anyone before. He kissed me back, hugging me close with one hand, tangling his fingers through my hair with the other.
I pulled back slowly, still smiling up at him.
“How about you sleep somewhere other than your tree tonight, my dear Simon?”
He blushed and smiled, brushing the hair from the side of my face.
“It would be an honour to lay with you tonight, my darling Seraphine.”
I smiled and took his hand in mine, leading him back home. We both climbed up the tree and through my bedroom window, kissing each other all the way to my bed. It was a night I’d never forget.
I woke up the next morning with Simon’s arms wrapped securely around me. I turned over to face him and kissed him softly to wake him up. His eyes fluttered open and he smiled as he looked me up and down, as if he wanted to memorise every part of me.
“You know, I could get used to waking up next to you every morning like this, Seraphine.”
I smiled and kissed him one more time before sitting up and starting to get dressed. He followed my lead and got dressed as well.
After we both were dressed again, he led me over to the window, wrapping his arms around my shoulders, smiling and looking into my eyes.
“So my darling Seraphine, what shall we do today?”
Before I even answered, I was cut off by a harsh voice. We both looked up to see my father standing in the doorway of my bedroom, his face red with anger.
“You can start by getting the hell out of my house and away from my daughter.”