Yes, it's finally here. And I know that I haven't updated for a long time. I do have a good reason, though it's personal. I'm a bit better now. Anyway, thank you very much for your reviews! Love ya, love ya, love ya:
Emtec; LISA; pheboe; bubbles; leRoy; Youkoforever; me, myself, n, eye; Shokhida; Hiii; silentwriter22; shaz; rose; shadowed ambience; shopping; xl-twisted-lx; Cariwyn: Hehe, yeah. I meant from "A Happy Ending?" And I try to update at least twice a month, but as you can tell, I'm not really faithful to that. It actually depends on how much time I have or how motivated I am. And thank you! Pabo; shopping: Thank you so much! I hope so, but no, I'm not good enough. But thanks anyway! lady gwen: No way will I kill you! It's seriously fine. I understand. :-) Anyway, thank you very much for the support! Sirael; starliss-flower; Lady Emma; Hazelnuts: You lucky, lucky girl! Yes, I love horses, but I don't own one. Weird? Well, I am weird, no surprise there. May I ask a favour? If I have a question about horses, can I email you? Anyway, how long is this story going to be? Well, I was thinking of making this a three-part series. And I'm thinking of making the third title "Sacred Blood," but I'm not sure yet. Lol, you're the very first one to know that! And yeah, when I read that flame, I was kinda pissed at first, but then I thought, "Why be mad over something so insignificant?" After that, I pretty much had fun writing a sarcastic reply to her. I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm always full of sarcasm. Bad habit.; shopping101; QueenSabriel5; sonchika; blue-hello-kitty; CaptainFantastic; Elyse Bennet; bella; Lalaith; heatherika; wonderxwoman; fairypixie3; Kat; awaiting impatient person: Lol, you have so many interesting suggestions. I'll keep them in mind. Thank you:-); grl76; Gaerwen; Ginevra lily; starrlightlin7; whew!; sarah; Burning Twilight: Yup, yup, Thank You! And yeah, FB is supposed to have loose ends. Everything will be solved later on. FyAnnwn; jar4christ; CoNcReTeGiRl: Lol, you're hilarious. And sorry about the cliffhangers. ntabassum92; stubble96; dancrchick; Skeet; jaioublie: I changed the line! You're right, it did sound awkward. smartblondee; Crazayladay; Danna: Yes, yes, he will. Someday. Hehehe.; azurestarr; kkroonie; violingirl7; flammingirl; Kola-Pup; whiskeygirl; Vanessa-Black and Zabini; b2okworm1; The-Ever-Lazy-One; Basketball Girl; ChasesChick: Your email doesn't work. I tried replying to you, but it wouldn't let me send my message. Belle Quest; Eclectus: Hmmm… I don't know want to do with Jargins yet. caronee; slickchick650; secludeddark: You're okay with short chapters:-) And I'm so sorry for not updating any sooner! A Vision
If I missed you, then tell me. (smiley face)
ANNOUNCEMENTS (and whatnot):
1) Who is Ryder? Well, based on your reviews, half of you think it's Darrin, and half of you think it's the prince. This is killing me. I'm tempted to just blurt it out, but I can't.
2) A Happy Ending: two paragraphs done (unfortunately); Not For Me: eight pages done and counting; my other stories: nothing done.
3) When is DARRIN coming back? Um…my estimate would be never. Lol, just kidding. In a couple chapters or so…which doesn't really reveal anything.
4) I'm sorry about always leaving cliffhangers. It's a habit. Be warned: this chap has a cliffhanger…I think. Well, no, not really. I don't think it is a cliffhanger.
5) I lied. It's not Nalyan, but it's not Caelion either. Why can't I get Lucas's nickname for Tania right? Probably because it's an important part of the story…shhhh…
Chapter 8: Surprise, Surprise
It felt as if time itself froze. There was a collective gasp from the crowd, followed by the heaviest silence that ever existed. At least that was what it felt like to Tania. As she lay there, breathing heavily, the horrors of what would happen next—what they were going to do her—flooded her mind. The feminine features of her face were now out in the open.
I'm dead, I'm dead, I'm dead, I'm dead…
She stood up slowly and quietly. Each pair of eyes followed her every move. It was like reliving her life at Déoras, though this time, they were gawking at her for a different reason.
Jargins was the one who broke the ringing silence. A stream of curses left his mouth. "A GIRL! I was fighting a GIRL! A stupid, pathetic WENCH!" he screamed crazily.
Then a quiet but commanding voice cut him off: "Yet she was still able to beat you."
It was silent once more, only it was tenser this time. Ryder always seemed to have that effect on people. He was commanding, intimidating, powerful. Tania didn't know whether he did it purposely or not.
Jargins glared at Ryder, though it was a weak glare because there was evident fear in his eyes. "This d-doesn't count," he stuttered. "I was…I was fighting a GIRL!"
"A fact that everyone is now aware of, so stop repeating it, you jerk," Tania muttered angrily.
Jargins's glare intensified once he turned to her. "SHUT UP!" he screamed, clenching his fists. "You little—"
A huge blow cut him off. The punch landed right on his jaw and knocked him unconscious. He hit the ground hard and stayed there, yet no one moved from their spot.
"Are you okay?" the hitter asked, turning to Tania.
Tania nodded. "Yes," she replied. "Thanks, Lucas."
Lucas smiled at her. "Anytime, Tania."
That was the first time her real name was said in public. There was more silence after that. Tania bit her lip and shifted from one foot to the other. Why were they still staring at her? "Well," she said, pulling her hood off, "I guess I'm going to…um…go."
No one responded. Tania nodded awkwardly and walked away.
The men parted for her as she walked through them.
A few hours later and the whole palace knew about Farvon's apprentice. It was seriously like reliving life at Déoras for Tania. Once again, she was being stared at, gawked at, and gaped at. It was so…so…infuriating!
The door opened, and Lucas entered.
"What do you want, Lucas?" Tania said wearily.
"It's time for supper," he replied. "Come downstairs."
"I'm not hungry."
Lucas shook his head. "I knew that that was going to be your answer. And Farvon did, too. 'crian," he said sternly, "just because everyone knows who you are now does not mean that you should mope and sulk for the rest of your life. So they know that you're a girl…but who cares?"
Her eyes widened. "Who cares?" she echoed. "Are you kidding?"
He shrugged. "Why let them bother you? Do you actually care about what people think?"
"I don't want to be made fun of," Tania said dryly. "And I don't want people gossiping about me, Lucas."
"Well," he replied, "there's nothing you can do about that. People talk, but you can't let it bother you. Just don't pay attention to any of them."
Tania sighed. "I'm just annoyed that it's happening all over again."
This sparked Lucas's curiosity. "What are you talking about?"
"Nothing," she replied immediately.
He shrugged. "Fine. Just come down for dinner. Show everyone how calm and aloof you can be. Do you know how much that will intimidate them?"
"Well, it will intimidate them a lot. So come down, all right?"
"Fine," Tania said with a sigh, "I'll come down."
"Good," Lucas replied, placing a brotherly kiss on her forehead and giving her a brief hug, "see you downstairs."
When he was gone, Tania headed over to her closet and randomly picked a dress. It turned out to be a dark red one; its style was similar to her light green dress, only this time, the sleeves were painfully tight. She let out unattractive grunts as she struggled to put it on. She succeeded in the end, though it took her awhile to tie up the strings at the back.
For the first time ever, she let her hair down. The dark brown waves barely grazed her shoulders. She was sure that a few ladies were going to faint tonight. Long hair was considered beautiful. She had short hair. Doing the math wasn't hard.
Finally, she managed to force herself out of her room. As she walked towards the dining hall, she met a few servants on the way, many who greeted her politely, but with a lingering stare. As Tania greeted them back, she was surprised to find how easy it was to remain…calm. Unaffected.
Thanks for your inspiring speech, Lucas, she thought with amusement.
Then she was by the doors of the dining hall. A guard was stationed on either side. She nodded to them, and they responded by reaching for a handle each and pulling it.
The noise that the doors made was too loud for Tania's liking, but since there was nothing she could do about that, she stopped cursing the loud doors and walked in.
Silence once more. People had stopped talking the moment she entered. Why was she ALWAYS greeted by silence?
No matter, she thought wryly. I'm used to it now, aren't I?
Yes, I am.
With this thought in mind, she raised her chin (almost in a defiant way) and made her way to the table. They followed her every move.
Finally, the King himself spoke. "Ah, Tania!" he said pleasantly. "How nice to see you! Everyone, this is Tania, Farvon's apprentice, whom you have heard of for sure. And I'll have you know that I am very proud of her. She will be a great warrior"—at this point, the King's voice had gone from pleasant to strangely commanding, as if he was daring anyone to contradict him—"and she shall continue her training, female or not. Is that clear?"
There were nods and murmurs. Tania met the King's eyes, and he smiled encouragingly at her. She smiled back and mouthed a thank you. King Charmont was extremely powerful. It was nice to have him on her side.
She took her seat beside Lucas. On the other side was a girl her age. Her blond hair was done up very stylishly, and her pale blue dress was nice and fashionable. No doubt that she was a noble. Only the most important people dined at the King's table. It made Tania wonder what she, a mere apprentice, was doing there.
Dinner was surprisingly pleasant. It was as if everything completely changed the moment King Charmont gave his little speech. People were actually being cordial towards her. It was shocking.
The dinner table was long and full of people. Therefore, it was natural that the table should hold more than fifteen conversations. That was what happened during most of the time. Yes, most. During the main course, the numerous topics of conversation suddenly turned into one: Ryder.
"It is a shame, really," said an earl (or was it a duke?). "I thought he was going to stay for the tournament."
"Ryder doesn't need to prove himself," another said with a laugh. "He is already a legend."
"It is too bad that he already left," Lord Someone said. "I wanted to have at least one duel with him."
"Well, it's good that…"
"Wait," interrupted a voice from the table. "Ryder already left?"
Everyone turned to Tania. Tania, realizing her rudeness, blushed and muttered an apology. "Forgive me. I didn't mean to interrupt."
People smiled at her. The man she interrupted even released a chuckle and said, "It's all right, my lady. And yes, he left. We all saw him leave on that black stallion of his. He said he couldn't stay long because he had matters to deal with over at Ayortha."
"Oh," Tania said, frowning visibly, "all right."
"Did you know him well, Lady Tania?" the girl beside her asked.
Tania was startled to finally hear the girl speak. That was the first time. She smiled and shook his head. "No," she replied, "I did not know him well."
The girl nodded and remained silent. The conversation about Ryder ended there. After a brief pause, people went back to their separate conversations. Tania found that she had no one to talk to. Lucas was busy talking to the man next to him about the upcoming tournament. So, naturally, she turned to the girl next to her.
"I'm Tania," she said, trying to sound as friendly as she could.
Even though the girl gave her the tiniest smile, it reached her emerald green eyes. "I'm Aryel. My father is the one over there," she said, nodding towards the direction of the King. Tania turned and noticed the man sitting next to Farvon. He had the same green eyes that Aryel had.
All of a sudden, the doors opened, and a girl slightly younger than Tania came rushing in. Her long, curly hair looked a lot like the King's. Could this be the Princess of Kyrria? How surprising if it was. Her hair, though beautiful, was unruly, and she had sweat pouring down her face and neck. Her dress, though elegant, had soot on them.
"Eileen!" Queen Ella said in disbelief. "What did I tell you?"
"I'm so sorry, Mother!" Eileen replied, sounding truly remorseful. "I was outside and I lost track of time…"
"We'll have a talk later, Eileen," the Queen said firmly. "For now, take a seat."
Princess Eileen was about to do so when her vivid brown eyes suddenly met Tania's. A look of shock and wonder appeared on her face. "It's you!" she cried, quickly heading over to Tania's end of the table (and no doubt forgetting what her mother just asked her to do). "Are you Viper? Tania? Or whichever!" She paused and took a deep breath. Tania supposed that the girl had a lot of energy. "Are you Farvon's apprentice?"
Tania shot her a strange look. "Um…yes?"
The girl's eyes widened. "Oh…WHOA!" She looked at Tania as if she was a war hero. "It's so nice to meet you! I'm Eileen! Well," she said with a roll of her eyes, "Princess Eileen, but if you don't want to run out of breath, then just Eileen! After all, saying two extra syllables is so tiring, isn't it?"
"I suppose so…"
"Forgive me if this is too forward of me, Tania—oh, I'm so sorry! May I call you Tania?"
Tania was still confused. "Sure…"
Eileen smiled at her. "Thank you! Anyway, I'm so sorry if this is too forward of me, Tania, but perhaps we can meet up tomorrow and train together?"
"Sit down. You two can continue your conversation later." The King's voice was firm and filled with authority. Tania actually became scared for Eileen, but the princess seemed unperturbed by it.
"Yes, Father, I'm sorry," she merely said, without faltering. Then she turned to Tania. "May I talk to you later, Tania?"
Tania nodded. "All right."
"Thank you!" With that, the Princess of Kyrria walked to her seat in a proper, princess-like way (but Tania could have sworn that the girl was actually mocking it), and sat down beside her mother (who leaned over to whisper something in her ear). Throughout this whole process, the princess acted as if she was unaware of everyone's eyes on her. Tania found herself impressed.
The moment Eileen sat down, everyone resumed to normal conversation, as if her coming late and looking inappropriate for the table was part of a daily routine.
After dinner, Tania was waiting with Aryel by the doors. She still had to have that conversation with the princess, who was currently talking to her parents, while Aryel was waiting for her father, who was talking to Farvon.
"You're probably wondering why everyone here accepted you so quickly," Aryel spoke up, breaking the silence between them. "I know it seemed as if we were shunning you at the beginning, but really, we weren't. You just caught us off-guard, that's all. Farvon never trained a girl before, and people never expected him to."
"Well, yes," Tania replied. "I am a bit surprised."
Aryel smiled. "The answer is right there," she said, nodding towards the royal family.
Tania frowned as she watched the King and Queen have a discussion with Eileen. Then it dawned on her. "Eileen?" she said. "It's because of Eileen?"
Aryel chuckled. "Yes," she replied. "Eileen is just like you. She rides war-horses and trains whenever she can. She has had that attitude since she was very young. Of course, people were bothered by it at first, but now we're used to it. That's why not many are bothered by you. I guess you can say that Kyrria is less uptight about the roles of men and women."
"It is odd though," Tania said. "Eileen is a princess…"
Aryel burst out laughing. "Yes, she is a princess, but she can't help being who she is, Tania. Plus, with the influence of her brother…"
"Jaeden?" Tania cut in. "Prince Jaeden?"
"Yes," Aryel said, with a mild blush on her cheeks, "Prince Jaeden."
"He wasn't at the table, was he?"
Aryel shook her head. "No. He's in Ayortha right now. You have heard of the tradition right?"
Tania nodded. "Yes. Spending a year in each other's court."
"But he's coming home the day after tomorrow. His year there has recently ended."
"And what do you mean when you said, 'Plus, with the influence of her brother'?"
Aryel looked at her confusedly. "You've never heard of Prince Jaeden?"
Tania shrugged. "I've heard a little about him."
"Well, he is an extremely skilled warrior. But before being devoted to the arts of combat, he was the most mischievous boy to ever walk this kingdom. When Farvon volunteered to train him, the King and Queen readily agreed. The Prince was ten years old at that time." She grinned. "After that, the palace finally became safe. Prince Jaeden spent most of his time training. I guess you could say that that was his…outlet. And he really excelled, Tania. He is considered one of the best warriors in Kyrria."
"Will he be competing in the tournament?"
Aryel smiled. "Yes, finally. This year will be his first time."
"How come he never competed before?"
Aryel shrugged. "I have no idea."
"Tania!" interrupted a familiar cheerful voice.
The girls turned and saw a grinning Eileen. Tania wondered if this girl was always happy. It seemed like it.
"Good evening, Eileen," Aryel greeted politely. Then she said to both: "I must be going now. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Bye, Aryel!" Eileen replied. When they were alone, she turned to Tania. "I must say that I admire you. I mean, come on! Farvon is your trainer! He never got the chance to train me because he was far too busy. You are lucky, Tania."
"Yes," Tania said with amusement. "Even now, I'm still surprised to have him as my mentor."
"Jaeden trained under his guidance," Eileen said, frowning pensively. "And do you know how good he is…?"
"I have a small idea," Tania said with a shrug.
"Well, he is amazing!" Her thoughtful frown turned into another grin. "I think he's better than Ryder, but of course, sibling love could be affecting my way of thinking," the princess said laughingly. "Anyway, if it's all right with you, can we meet up tomorrow and train together?"
"Sure," Tania replied. "What time?"
"How about noon?"
"Noon it is."
"Great!" Eileen exclaimed. "Meet me in the main garden. It will be just the three of us!"
Tania paused, wondering if the Kyrrian princess could count. "Um…three?" she said awkwardly.
"Yes, three," Eileen said. "Jaeden is coming home tomorrow, early in the morning. Mother and Father don't know. It's supposed to be a surprise. Is that all right with you, Tania?"
Tania frowned. "Yes…it's…fine…"
Her mind was saying otherwise. NO, IT IS NOT! TRAIN AND FIGHT WITH THE PRINCE! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!
But the Kyrrian princess didn't know that.
When Tania woke up the next morning, she changed into a dress (Viper's outfit had become meaningless now) and went down. The palace was in an uproar. Servants were running around, frantically doing something here and there. It didn't take long for her to figure out that Prince Jaeden had probably arrived already; hence, the shocked and unprepared servants.
She was crossing the main garden when a group of five noble girls suddenly called her. Tania headed over to them with an obvious frown on her face. No doubt she was surprised for receiving attention.
"Good morning," she greeted politely. She had met these girls before, but as Viper.
"Good morning, Lady Tania," a pretty redhead said. She giggled. "My, you sure surprised us. But somehow, I already knew. I mean, I knew there was something wrong with you from the very beginning. So when I found out that you were a cross-dresser, I was only mildly surprised."
Tania put on a fake smile. "All right…"
"Anyway," said a blond, "you know that partner of yours…?"
"Yes. Him. Is he wealthy?"
Tania could hardly believe her ears. She stared at them, then coolly said, "No."
"Oh," she said flatly. She exchanged disgusted looks with the other girls and wrinkled her nose. "Then I pass," she announced airily.
Tania scowled. "He already did that to all of you a long time ago."
She walked away, her blood boiling at a dangerous level. I can't believe them! They are the SHALLOWEST girls I have ever met in my entire life! Lucas is better than them! They should be thankful that I know how to control my temper!
And because she was so lost in thought, she didn't notice a young man look at her curiously with his piercing, forest green eyes as she passed right by him.
Still fuming, Tania headed over to the stables and released Aurel from her stall. The grey-speckled mare seemed very happy about it. She tossed her head excitedly as Tania mounted.
"Stupid noble girls," she mumbled to herself.
They galloped off. Stable boys and other servants jumped out of the way as she rode towards the eastern gate. Once they were outside the palace walls, they rode through the forest and down Araven Road.
A few minutes later, they reached the base of the cliff, where there was a section of River Lucarno. The peaceful sound of the flowing waters barely managed to soothe Tania. She dismounted, then groaned out loud after realizing that she had forgotten to bring weapons to practise with. She had been too angry to think rationally. Well, she was still angry.
Great! she mentally screamed. She sighed, collapsed wearily on the ground, and closed her eyes. The reddish leaves felt hard and crispy beneath her back, but she didn't care. She was still thinking about those noble girls.
I can't believe those girls had the nerve to say that! So they disregard Lucas just because he's poor! ARGH! Unbelievable!
Five minutes didn't even go by when she suddenly heard approaching hoofbeats. She didn't open her eyes or budge from her spot, but she did let her guard up.
Great. Disturbance. Just SPLENDID. When am I going to get some peace!
She raised an eyebrow when she heard the horse stop only three metres away from her. The rider dismounted, and her wariness increased. Finally, when she heard the new arrival approach her slowly, she opened her eyes and sat up quickly.
Green eyes. Forest green eyes. Tania found herself gazing speechlessly at them. They were intense, yet they revealed no emotion. But the colour was beautiful. It was such a rare green…yet she could have sworn she had seen it before.
The stranger's voice snapped her out of her reverie. "Am I intruding?" he asked. Though his voice was gentle (contrary to the aloofness in his eyes), there was also a smirk in it.
Tania, realizing that she had been ogling him like a love struck idiot, refrained from slapping herself. All right, so what if he's extremely handsome? He could be serial killer! Looks don't tell everything! Snap out of it, you stupid, stupid…
"No," she said through gritted teeth. "Do I know you?"
He smiled. "Maybe not." He sat down next to her, making sure that there was appropriate space between them.
"Well," Tania said, a second after he took his seat, "I must be going." She stood up and dusted her dress.
A frown appeared on his face. "Am I really that intimidating?"
She raised an eyebrow. "No. I just have…a previous engagement."
His frown was suddenly replaced by a tiny smirk. "Or maybe I really am intimidating you?"
Tania rolled her eyes. "Yes. How did you know?" she said dryly as she mounted Aurel.
The young man immediately got up. "I was jesting, my lady," he said. The corners of his lips were twitching, which Tania decided to ignore. Why was he still talking to her? Could he not see that she was in the worst mood?
"Do you really have a previous engagement?" he asked.
"I do!" she snapped, conveniently forgetting the fact that this previous engagement (with Eileen) was four hours away.
When Aurel began to trot, the man quickly mounted his dark brown stallion. Then he rode forward and blocked Tania's horse.
"What are you doing?" she said irritably.
He put on an innocent face. "I'm sorry, am I blocking you?"
She glared at him. "Don't be a child. Move."
"Look," he said, remaining exactly where he was, "how about introductions?"
Tania paused. Then she put on a wry smile. "Hi, I'm Cherry," she said bluntly. (Her thoughts: Cherry! What the hell?) She shook her head and pulled her reins to the left; her mare snorted and went around his stallion.
"Cherry? I don't believe you," he said, moving his horse forward once more and blocking hers.
"Well, congratulations, you're a good lie detector," she replied.
"Since we're giving code names here, you can call me Landon."
Tania snorted. "Whatever."
He scowled at her. "Why are you being so hostile?" he said, his voice now colder. Tania raised an eyebrow at him and manoeuvred her horse around once more.
"I'm angry about something, so leave me alone," she said, her voice also colder.
"It doesn't mean you should take your anger out on me," he retorted. He rode close beside her and observed the way she clenched her jaw.
"Will you please just leave me alone?" she said angrily. "Go to one of your women."
His eyes flashed dangerously. If had Tania seen it, she would have cowered. Good thing she didn't.
"Is that what you think of me?" he whispered, a dangerous edge in his voice. It brought shivers down Tania's spine, which surprised her. She turned and studied him for a brief moment, then bowed her head and mumbled an apology.
"Apology accepted," he said quietly. "And I am not that kind of man."
"I know," she replied. "I know. Anyway, I have to go." She was about to gallop off, but he took her reins, preventing her from riding away.
"I'll be seeing you later," he said, looking straight into her eyes.
She snorted once more. "Right. And how would you know that?"
He smirked. "I have my ways," he said pleasantly. Too pleasantly. He dropped her reins. "See you later, Tania."
"See y—WHAT!" Tania burst out. "What did you call me?"
"Um…Tania?" he said, looking confused. "That is your name, right?"
She glared at him. "Oh, you're very funny." She narrowed her eyes. "Who are you?"
He grinned roguishly at her. "Like I said," he said, green eyes twinkling, "you can call me Landon."
Ten minutes before noon, Tania changed into Viper's outfit, excluding the mask. Then she went down to the main garden and stood somewhere where she could be seen, but wouldn't attract so much attention.
She turned and saw Eileen heading towards her. She was wearing brown pants, a loose white shirt, black boots, and a black cloak. The people around seemed untroubled by it.
Tania grinned. I'm really liking Kyrria.
"My brother should be coming soon," Eileen said cheerfully. She drew her sword and handed it to Tania. "Like my sword?"
A smile graced Tania's lips as she admired the weapon. "It's beautifully crafted. Who made this?"
"Someone named Caelan," the princess said casually, which made Tania look up. She studied the princess for a while, then smiled, mostly to herself, and turned her gaze back to the blade.
"He must be very skilled," she said, imitating the princess's casualness.
Eileen burst out laughing. "Caelan is a woman."
Tania smiled. "Really? Then good for her."
"Though I don't know where she is now," the fourteen-year-old said thoughtfully. Then she shrugged and put on her usual smile. "Anyway, this may seem like a random question, but where are you from, Tania?"
Tania started. "Croel," she replied. "It's a city in—"
"—Venesia," someone finished for her.
Tania immediately froze. The voice just sounded too familiar. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no…
Slowly, very slowly, she turned around. And gasped.
The young man with piercing green eyes grinned at her. "Uh, no," he said amusedly. "Jaeden."
But of course, you guys already knew that, right? Green eyes said it all. And you know what ficpress and fanfic should have? Forums. I would love to talk to other authors/readers about whatever.