Ezra ventured just one last question. "Were you afraid?" she asked quietly.

She was half hoping that he would admit fear like the coward he was; half hoping that he would prove to be arrogant bastard that he was certain to be. He did neither, taking her question at face value. "Fear, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. I would be lying if I did not confess to being fearful, for I feared being found a traitor and a spy. It was a primal feeling that controlled my every move—I admit to playing a rather stiff role of cabin boy aboard the Red Lantern. However, I had to keep a cool head to do my job well, and that gave me courage to continue doing what I was doing." Alec turned to open the doors behind him but a hand upon his shoulder gave him pause. He glanced over his shoulder, squinting slightly into the glare of the midday sun.

Ezra felt her lips buzz in anticipation at the sight of that profile, so devastatingly beautiful, and already so familiar. "Thank you for your honesty," she murmured, feeling the soft breeze lift strands of spun gold from his shoulders, making them dance lightly across the back of her hand.

Alec marvelled at the way the sun created a spectrum of colours within the midnight black of her hair, savoured the warmth of her hand through the fabric of his tunic and appreciated the creamy swell of her breasts peeking from behind her low neckline.

It was so blessedly quiet for a minute, both of them got lost in the possibility that was suddenly before them. A bird screeched overhead and the moment was gone. Alaraec mutely berated himself for getting distracted over such a thing—he was a Prince, educated at Court, after all; he was supposed to have better manners than that—and so was too busy to notice the heightened color creeping up his companion's neck and into her face for the third time in short order. Ezra looked up to meet his eyes just about the same time Alec pried them away from her bust-line, and they were trapped in another moment of painful, awkward silence, unable to look away.