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Chloe shook her head, making her earrings dance and he sighed, frustrated. “Why not, you want me to?”

She moved away, knowing it was foolish to stay that close to him and stood around the other side of the apple tree, watching him cautiously through the lush, green leaves. “I don’t trust you.”

“So?” He shrugged. “It is only a kiss.”

“Is it?” she asked and he opened his mouth to answer before being captured by the bright blue eyes, watching him like he would eat her if she made a wrong move. 

Suddenly he wasn’t sure.

He looked up to the boughs of tree, laden with apples, though small and far from ripe. He held one in his hand and she watched, open mouthed, as it swelled under his touch. He plucked it from the branch and held it out to her. “For you.”

She narrowed her eyes at him. “Are you the serpent or Adam?”

His eyes filled with confusion and she realised he wouldn’t know of such stories. She reached out and took the apple from him, feeling like Eve but taking it just the same. She bit into it and the flavour exploded in her mouth, at once, sweet and sour and crisp. “Mmmmm.” She closed her eyes, savouring the taste and when she opened them again he was watching her with longing in his eyes. She smiled and held the apple up to him. Holding her wrist he bent his head to take a bite; he never took his eyes from hers and she knew then, how much he wanted her. Maybe she was Eve? She wondered if it was just curiosity, would a human girl be different... or was it more than that?

He let her wrist go and she walked away further into the shade of the trees that edged the garden. She ate the rest of the apple, and though she didn’t turn she could feel his presence behind her.

“Why are you here?” she asked him, tossing the apple core carelessly into the garden.

He walked behind her, hardly making a sound as he moved, too elegant to be human. “The gates are forbidden, they have been closed for many generations but the Prince likes this world and there are none powerful enough or brave enough to deny him, so they turn a blind eye.”

She sat down on a fallen tree, wriggling carefully as the rough bark scratched her bare legs. “What does he do here?”

She saw that sly smile once again as his eyes filled with humour; he spread his hands and shrugged. “He... has fun.”

She pursed her lips, hoping she looked disapproving. “Oh, I see. Can’t he do that in your world?”

He laughed at that. “Oh, yes, certainly but...” he hesitated and she watched him, knowing he was deciding whether he should speak to her of such things. “In our world he is the Prince, one day he will be the King. There are those who would flatter him, indulge his every desire, others who would condemn him but here... here he is just a man.”

She raised her eyebrows at that, remembering the feeling of power that had radiated from him, surely that was as much of an enticement to give him whatever he wanted; with or without her gift of true sight. “Just a man?” she mused.

He shrugged again and sat beside her on the tree trunk. “Well, more so than he is in Alfheim.”

His arm brushed hers as he sat down and she suppressed the urge to move closer to him. “Why are you here then; for the same reason?" She gave him a sharp look from those vivid blue eyes and he wondered how she really saw him.

He shook his head. “No, not exactly.” He gave her a smile which made her think that it might not have been exactly that... but close enough. “I did the Prince a service; he was grateful to me and asked what I wanted as a reward so I asked him to bring me here.” He turned and lowered his head, planting a soft kiss on her shoulder. “I’m glad I came,” he said.

His eyes held hers and though she tried to look away she found it was impossible. “Why? Why did you want to come?”

His mouth brushed her shoulder again and she felt a liquid heat pool low down, making her part her lips and breathe too fast. “Because I have never been, I was curious, I wanted to meet a human, see your world.” His hand brushed the hair away from her neck and then fell, his fingers touching her so lightly it tickled her skin. They traced her collarbone and carried on down, stroking the skin between her breasts. He watched as she closed her eyes, blissful under his touch and leaned forwards, kissing her neck, smiling against her skin as he felt her hand at the back of his head. His hand moved again, cupping her breast and he felt her sigh as he raised his head and captured her mouth. 

She let him kiss her, kissed him back with just as much enthusiasm though Tante Marie seemed to be screaming in her head to make her stop. In the end she couldn’t ignore the warning and pushed him away, regretfully. She got to her feet, intending to put some distance between them but he moved just as quickly. He grasped her by the arm, not letting her move away.

“What is it? Did I do something wrong?” 

She looked into his eyes, wanting to believe what she saw there but knowing it would be foolish, never trust the fae. “No but...”

“But,” he pressed as she hesitated, his grip on her arm loosened and he took hold of her hand.

She didn’t answer and changed the subject. “You wanted to see something of our world didn’t you? Isn’t that why you came?” She pulled at his hand, so he would follow her into the house. “Well you’ve only seen my garden so far, let’s go to the village.”

She grinned at him and he shrugged. “As you wish.” He was surprised to find he didn’t much care about seeing this world, unless he could do with her. The thought made him a little anxious but he was here for such a short time, best make the most of it.

They walked into the kitchen, cool and gloomy after the heat outside, and she picked up a T-shirt, pulling it over her head. Smoothing it down she noticed him frowning and laughed.

“Disappointed?” she teased and he stepped closer, moving like he would kiss her.

“Yes,” he admitted as she darted away, grabbing her car keys and heading for the front door.

“Come on then,” she called over her shoulder and they went out into the dazzling sunlight once more. She got into her car, a shabby old 2CV and she watched in amusement at he stepped towards it, glowering like it might attack him.

“This is a... car?” he queried, wrinkling his nose.

“Yes it is, so get in and I’ll drive you to the village.” He pursed his lips, giving the car a considering look and she rolled her eyes at him. “It won’t bite.”

With deliberate movements he opened the door and sat inside. “It smells funny,” he complained. “Dirty.”

She huffed, scowling at him. “I only washed it yesterday!”

“No... It’s the metal; I’m not used to it that’s all.” 

She turned the key in the ignition and he started a little before grinning at her. 

“It won’t make you sick, the metal I mean?” she asked, the last thing she wanted was him throwing up in her car.

He shook his head but didn’t answer, transfixed by the movement of the gears and steering wheel as she maneuvered them away from the house and down the lane. She drove them the short distance to the village, past fields and farms. The windows were open and she glanced over to see him watching the countryside speed past as the wind blew his hair. She felt a strange sensation in her heart as she realised he would be gone by this evening. She couldn’t bear the idea she wouldn’t see him again. She parked in the village feeling tightness in her chest at the thought, even though she scolded herself and knew it was ridiculous. She knew nothing about him had known him for a few hours and yet... he was literally the most magical thing that had ever happened to her.

“What is it?” 

He put his hand over hers and she looked up. She hadn’t realised she’d just been sitting there, silently staring out of the windscreen. She smiled at him and shook her head. “Nothing. Are you hungry?” she asked and he shrugged. “Well I am, let’s get something to eat.” 

She got out of the car and they walked through the village and she watched his eyes fall upon everything with delight. The church bells rang as they made their way down a narrow cobbled street and the pigeons that roosted in the rafters flew up, circling the spire. He stopped to watch them and then looked over at the little walled gardens that backed from the houses they passed. They turned a corner where the ancient timber framed buildings leaned towards each other over their heads, as though they were whispering secrets. The shutters were all closed, painted jaunty shades of blue and red, with geraniums scrambling from window boxes and Brokk trailed his fingers over the plants as he walked, turning the colours from red and pink to blue and purple.

“Stop it!” she scolded. “People will notice.”

He grinned at her, quite unrepentant and snapped his fingers. The pigeons still circling the church spire wheeled and descended on them. He waved his hand as they landed, and the flock of tatty grey pigeons was replaced by tiny hummingbirds, glinting blue and green in the sunlight. They flitted around Chloe, tugging at her hair with their long beaks, their wings beating even faster than her heart as they darted about her like she was some strange type of flower. She ran to Brokk and implored him to stop before someone saw but he just laughed and swept her in his arms turning her around and kissing her. “I thought you liked my magic?” he chuckled as she wriggled away from him.

“I do, oh I do but stop, stop, s’il te plâit!” she pleaded, glancing around the empty street fearfully.

“I’ll stop if you kiss me.” 

His eyes were serious suddenly and she felt her stomach do a little flip in anticipation. “Alright,” she agreed, “but not here, not now.”

He nodded and suddenly the birds were just pigeons again. She watched them, scuttling around the floor looking dazed, and felt dreadfully sorry for them. It was cruel, to give them a taste of such colour and beauty and then snatch it away again. Never trust the fae. She shivered suddenly and turned her back on the birds. “Come on,” she said dully, walking away from him.

He caught her up and she could feel his eyes on her. “You’re angry with me.” She didn’t answer and he caught hold of her wrist, pulling her to a stop. “Why?” She bit her tongue, not wanting to argue with him. “Why?” he pressed and she turned on him, fury in her eyes.

“You can’t just change things on a whim, because it entertains you.”

She saw confusion in his eyes. “Why not?”

She clenched her fists and wondered if she could ever make him understand. “They are not toys for your entertainment, they live too. You have no right!”

He looked at her blankly, uncomprehending. “I didn’t hurt them.”

“How do you know?” she demanded. “You give them a taste of magic and wonder and then snatch it away again!” She felt tears prickle in her eyes and turned away from him, suddenly she wasn’t sure she was still talking about the birds. “Forget it.”

She walked away, shoulders set and he followed, confused by her anger. He caught her up again and took her hand. “I’m sorry,” he said and she looked at him, sighing.

“No, you’re not.”

He pulled on her hand, making her stop walking and stepped closer to her, kissing her cheek. “I am sorry I upset you.”

She nodded but said nothing; she didn’t know what to say. She led him across the street to a busy café. The scent of garlic and fresh herbs, drifted on the air, making her stomach growl and she looked around for an empty place. There were dozens of people sitting at the tables under big, burgundy umbrellas and the soft drone of their conversation mingled with the chink of glasses and clatter of knives and forks. He stiffened beside her and shook his head. “No, not here.”

“Why?” She looked with longing at a waiter scurrying past, bearing huge bowls of Moules Mariniere as the tantalising scent swept along behind him.

He held her hand tightly and she looked up, wishing she hadn’t as those eyes captured her again. “I want to be with you, not them.” She felt her heart do a little leap in her chest and cursed her own stupidity, he’d be gone tonight and she’d be left walking in dazed circles just like the wretched pigeons. “Please.” His voice was soft, cajoling but the truth of the matter was, she needed little persuading.

“A picnic?” 

His eyes lit up at the suggestion. “Perfect.”

“Well, we could go to the boulangerie and get some bread and...” She stopped as he shook his head and waggled his fingers at her. 

“Allow me.”

She smiled and nodded and tried not to notice the way the diners at the café watched him, hungrily, as they passed by. They walked down the ancient streets, over the medieval bridge and she led him along, beside the river until they came upon a secluded spot. The sun dappled the ground through the trees and it was quiet, save for the water rushing past, burbling over stones and splashing merrily.

He sat down, crossed legged on the grass and she marveled anew at how he moved, so lithe; more like a cat than a man. She stood watching him as he closed his eyes with a smile; enjoying the peace. “I like it here; there is a river near my home.”

“What’s it like, your world?” She knelt beside him and those eyes opened a little, watching her lazily through thick lashes.

“Much like this,” he paused. “Before I would have said, more colourful, brighter than this one but...” He tugged at her T-shirt with a grin. “Now I’m not sure that is true.”

“Don’t.” She bit her lip, and looked away.

“Don’t what?”

“Don’t do that, don’t tease me... pretend that it matters.”

He moved forward and cupped her face with his hand, turning her towards him. “It matters,” he said softly and her heart filled, making her fill dizzy. She wondered with a touch of hysteria if he thought her as colourful as the hummingbirds, as desire flamed and burned in her blood. How long before he waved his hand and she was left in the ashes of those flames, dirty and grey like the pigeons?

“You owe me a kiss.”

She stilled and wondered what she should do, maybe she should run? Staying here with him, alone... it would be foolish to pretend she didn’t know what would happen next. She opened her mouth but the words wouldn’t come... she didn’t know what to do.


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