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[personal profile] cloudsriser

When she woke up in the strange bed with the strange young man lying next to her, she wondered if she was dead and in heaven. Because the last thing she remembered was seeing the dragon coming toward her, blue mist pouring from its mouth. She passed out, or fell asleep, she couldn’t quite remember which. The only thing she was certain of was she’d been petrified, then dizzy, then drifting off into the next world—perhaps dying.

It made sense that she was dead, and whoever the young man was, perhaps he’d died too and they were destined to keep one another company for the rest of eternity. She had to be in heaven, because he was by far the most attractive guy she’d ever seen in her entire life. Or maybe he just seemed to be because when she realized how sore her body was and how much her head still hurt, she decided there was absolutely no way she could be dead. I’m breathing. I’m hungry. I’m cold. Dead people don’t feel these things, do they?

She sat up, slowly regaining her bearings. When she moved, the guy sleeping next to her stirred. He opened his eyes, dazzling, amazing, blue eyes, and as they settled on her, they became even more vibrant and vivid. How is such a blue even possible? It’s like…magic.

“You’re awake!” For some reason he was excited about that.

Tai gave a slow nod. “I am. Where…who…what?”

“A lot of questions,” he said. “I’m not sure how to answer those, to be honest. Which one to start with. Um…I’m Darien.” He held his hand out for her to shake.

She did so, hesitantly. “Tai…”

“I know!” He winced. “I mean, nice to formally meet you. Oh boy, where do I start?”


“Not sure where the beginning is,” he admitted.

Tai exhaled a heavy breath. “Okay, how about where I am.”

“My apartment,” he said, then quickly added. “In Oceina City.”

“And I got here how?”

“I brought you.”


“The Ceremony Island,” he whispered.

She swallowed. “So that wasn’t a dream? All those rituals? That…thing…coming to eat me?”

“N-no, not a dream. But—”

Panic set in at what he’d said. He took me from the island. “I have to go back!”

“What? No!”

“The dragon will be upset, it’ll—”

Darien placed both of his hands on hers, snapping her attention to him. They were so warm—so calm. Their gazes met and he took in a slow breath. She found herself matching it with her own. Together, they exhaled. “Better?”


“Okay, because I need you to listen to every word I’m about to say.” He closed his eyes. “I promise, the dragon is not going to hurt you, or anyone on the island. You’ve done your part, and you’ve done it well.”

Her lower lip trembled as she was flooded with relief. “Does that mean I can go home?”

“No.” He shook his head. “That’s not going to happen, because the people of the island, the priests, don’t understand what the dragon truly wants from the sacrifice. His goal has been achieved, but they won’t realize this. If you go back, they’ll brand you a traitor and execute you because they’ll think you disobeyed.”

Tears pooled in her eyes. “So then what am I supposed to do? What’s the point of all this?”

“I…” He brushed a tear away with his thumb. “You…you’ll stay here with me.”

“My brave rescuer?” She laughed. Still, it’s not like he had to. Maybe what he’s saying about the dragon is true, and it didn’t want to eat me. Either way, that monster ruined my life and this guy doesn’t have to keep helping. He could have left me there on that rock to fend for myself.

“Nah, I didn’t save you from anything. Especially not some big scary dragon.”

It’s not home, but I can start over. I’ve been given a second chance. I can’t squander it by being so afraid of living. She gave his hand a squeeze, hoping he understood just how grateful she was. In an attempt to be sultry, she lowered her voice some. “Are you sure about that?”

“What? Y-yeah, of course. I can’t save you from a dragon if—”

Tai’s gaze was fixed on his lips. Why does he talk so much? I must be awful at flirting if he’s not picking up on this. She leaned forward to kiss him soundly, or tried to. Due to her lack of experience, it didn’t quite go the way she’d planned. Awkward, unsure, she was definitely making a mess of the whole thing. To her relief, he opened his lips ever so slightly to return the gesture though she could tell by the way his entire body went rigid that he was surprised by the action.

He also didn’t quite seem to know what to do either, but she wouldn’t say the kiss was unpleasant. Just more…pure than she was expecting. That made it all the more better. It was far less mortifying than him being on another level would have been.

After their lips parted, he relaxed his shoulders, exhaling sharply. “Wow. That was…a lot more awesome than I imagined.”

“That so?” She smirked, keeping the distance between them minimal.

Darien nodded. “I’ve been wanting to kiss you for a while.”

“You mean the whole ten minutes I’ve been awake?”

“Longer than that.”

She felt heat rise on her face. “I must have made an impression while I was unconscious.”

“Yeah…I mean, what? No! You don’t understand, see—”

“I’m not mad,” she said softly. “Far from mad. I’m relieved that you were the one to save me. You…you seem good. Like, your heart is good. That makes this easier.”

“What easier, exactly?”

Tai pressed her body against his, the blankets covering her slipping away. She realized then she was still in all of her ceremonial garb. Makes things a little easier, I suppose. “Being here. Being with you.”

“It’s scary, I get that, but like I said, I promise you’re safe. Whatever I can do to help, I will.” He swallowed as she touched her nose to his. “A-and…um…what are you doing?”

“Trying to be with you.”

“But I’m right here.”

She sighed. “No, Darien, I want to be with you.” Why do I have to spell it out? Oh God, he’s not interested. I’m making an idiot out of myself. Still, if she backed down and showed remorse, she’d look even more stupid. Better to hold her ground. Tai wanted to live. I didn’t get to with Alex. Decent guys probably don’t come around a third time. We can build a new life together. He promised he wouldn’t ditch me. This is a new life. A new me.


“Y-y-y-yes? I hope that’s what you’re trying to say,” she purred.

His piercing blue eyes narrowed, and for a moment she worried she pushed him too far. Underneath her body, she could feel him quaking. “A-are you sure?”

“I am.” Tai started to cry. She hated crying, even more so that she was doing it while she was supposed to be seducing him. “Look, if you’re not—”

He silenced her with a kiss. This time it was much slower, confident too, like he was savoring every second of it. She certainly was. He rested his forehead against hers after it ended. “This. I’ve dreamed of this for so long.”

“Of what, exactly?”

“Having you in my life.”

Swoon. Even if it’s probably just a line. Wow. If his goal was to ease her mind, and make her heart go pitter-patter, he succeeded one-hundred fold. She lie back on the bed, pulling him with her by the back of his neck. That happened in a movie once, and it was just as sexy to try as it had appeared. Or maybe it was simply because the young man before her was the embodiment of tall dark and handsome. And mysterious to boot. No, I’m definitely not wasting my chances anymore.

And she didn’t.

When it was all said and done, she didn’t feel as disgusted with herself as she initially thought she would. There was a brief moment of doubt that crept into her mind, but it didn’t last for long. Darien wrapped his arms around her and nestled his nose in her hair. That was all the reassurance she needed. He was the right one.

As she drifted off to sleep, she thought she heard him whisper “I love you, Tai.” But she was a lot more tired than she anticipated, so it was hard to be sure.
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Cloud S. Riser

September 2017

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