Short Stories: Apple Orchard

From my upcoming novel, Tranquil.

Lysan had saved her from obscurity. He had whisked her away from a life inside of a tower, protected her, watched over her when her brother could not. He was good to her, but this life never truly felt like hers. She was constantly being painted and plucked and shown off to the public.

“Did you see?” The news often said, “The Lord’s son is dating an elven woman. The Windsor family cannot possibly be as racist as everyone claims.”

Every time the media claimed that it made her chest ache, her inside squirm. She was nothing more than a prop for Lysan’s father Leonard Windsor to win the upcoming minister election.

“Lady Avalon?” Lysan’s bodyguard, Faron says, rapping on her doorframe. Avalon sucked in a sharp breath.

The man was so gorgeous he was almost hard to look at. He wasn’t conventionally handsome, or so she thought. He was sort of hulking, muscular with short brown hair that sat atop his head in a mess of curls if he let it grow too long. His body was covered in scars, including several deep ones on his neck and face. Avalon was head of heels in love with him.

Lysan had his place. She was grateful to him for saving her. Or for at least thinking he saved her. But Faron actually saw her. She was more than a prop to him and maybe that’s how it started with Lysan too, but that isn’t the way it is now.

“Faron,” she said, her whole body softening as he looks at her. She could live in those brown eyes forever. “Are you here to take me to the apple orchard?” She asked.

He quirks a smile at this, making the scar on his upper lip more noticeable.

“Apple Orchard” had become sort of a code between the two of them. There was no apple orchard on the grounds of the Windsor mansion, not really. There were a few apple trees and the first time she had seen them, she’d thought they were an orchard. Lysan and his father had gotten a good laugh out of this, but she had spent her entire life in a tower with other magically inclined people, what was she supposed to think?

This was the first place she had actually spoken to Faron. After living in that tower for so long, she spent a lot of time outside. She was an elf after all, it was sort of their thing to commune with nature (and unfortunately, be magical). He’d been picking some apples from the tree, a soft smile on his face. When he turned and looked at her, his face open and soft she knew she was done for.

The “apple orchard” was the first place she had ever spoken about the tower. Where she talked about all of her resentment for her mother, for her brother, and how she’d felt so caged her whole life. She even felt caged now. He felt caged too.

It was the first place he had touched her hand, ran his fingers all the way from her wrist to her shoulder. Where he cupped her face, their voices lowering to whispers, eyes half-lidded. Where he kissed her.

He offered her his arm, that same coy smile still on his lips. “Let’s go to the apple orchard.”

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