My finger travels the curve of her brow, trailing along to her temple. When her mouth tips into a shy smile and that pretty pink top lip bites down on the bottom…it’s agony.
You know that Zeke out there? I point toward the door. That Zeke treated me like a body for hire. That Zeke is not my friend. That Zeke can walk back out that door and out of my life for good. My arm remains raised, finger pointing. I don’t need him.No! Be quiet! Stop saying my name! Oh my god, we were having sex last night and look how you treated me today. Y-You humiliated me by acting like I’m only your tutor!
Don’t tell me to calm down! You humiliated me out there. You’re a user and everything my friends warned me about. Did I listen? No!His hands dig deep into his pockets. I never said I was perfect.No, you said you were an asshole and a douchebag and a shitty boyfriend and I should have listened. I’m the idiot here for letting you lead me around. Me.
I’m glad you didn’t listen.A laugh begins in my abs, rises through my chest, and escapes my lips. Oh, I’m sure! You’re so glad I was dumb enough to ignore the warning signs!
Are you mocking me? His eyes narrow. I’m being serious.
Oh please. If this is how you treat someone you’re glad to have around, I shudder to know what you’re like when you’re not.It seems enough for Levi, because he addresses the crowd once again. This time, his voice is unnaturally loud, amplified by magic. "People of Stonehill, we have all gathered here today for one purpose. To witness the punishment of those who have wronged us, betrayed us, fooled us." He points to the castle, and the giant stone gates grind open. A company of guards lead two prisoners outside. At the front is a woman. Her hair black and blue. Her eyes green. Her ears long.
I rush forward, but Dean grabs my arm. He whispers in my ear. "It’s not her, brother. It’s not Arianna."I study the woman again. Her face. Her eyes. They are of Arianna. They are of the woman I love. But it cannot be. She is safe. She is at the palace. I look again, and as she draws closer, I begin to notice details I had not before. A lock of hair purple where it should have been blue. A freckle where there should be none. It is an illusion. A well done one. But whoever cast the spell did not know Arianna as intimately as I.
I scan the crowd, and behind Levi’s retinue of men, I see a familiar face, smooth but wise, his beard long and white. Kal. His eyes are sunken and dark. His posture slumped and weak. His white robes are long, but not even they cover the purple bruises on his hands. He was the one forced to carry out this magic. Forced into helping Levi.I turn my gaze back to the imposters. The man behind Arianna, the man who is supposed to be me, is an even better fake. His thick brown hair is mine, his eyes and nose are mine. Even the muscles of his shirtless body match my own. Kal knew me well, mentored me since I was young. It must have been easy for him to recreate me, and at the same time, unbearable.