Chapter Three

The next day, the three travelers once more set out through the dark and treacherous forest. Jasmine walks a bit behind Tao and Dar, gladly letting Dar lead for now.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

Jasmine jerks her head up and sees Tao standing beside her, a warm smile on his face. She shakes her head. "No, not really."

A disappointed look crosses Tao's face. "Oh. Well, okay then." He starts to walk back towards Dar but Jasmine grabs his arm.

"Tao, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to sound rude or anything."

Tao smiles again. "Hey, it's fine. I mean, of course you want to be alone with your thoughts…after what happened yesterday." He looks down a little. "I…I just wanted to talk to you is all. It doesn't have to about that, if you don't want ."

Jasmine can't help but smile. Tao is such a nice person that just seeing him makes her feel better. "I'd like that Tao. I'd like that very much."

"Cool. So, what do you want to talk about?"

"Tell me more about yourself. I mean, you know all this stuff about me but I know hardly anything about you."

"Um…okay. Well, I was born in Xinca…a town quite a ways from here. I'm an Eron…one of the last of my kind." He twists his green ring around his finger. "You see, my people were almost wiped out by a cult of priests you saw us as evil or something like that. A few of my people managed to escape and now their scattered around the world. I didn't even know about it until I returned to Xinca, was imprisoned and nearly beheaded."

"My goodness! How did you manage to get out of that?"

Tao smiles. "Dar saved me…and Arina."

"How exactly did you and Dar meet exactly, if you don't mind me asking?"

"I don't mind at all. You see, Dar saved me from a group of Terrons and we've traveled together ever since."

Jasmine nods. "Ah, I see. That's really interesting." She nervously twirls a strand of hair around her finger.

"That's cute." Tao says.

"What?" Jasmine says, taken off guard.

"The way you, twirl your hair around your finger." He mimics the movement.

"You noticed that?"

Tao nods. "Well, yeah." he looks away quickly. "Does…that make you uncomfortable? Do know that I noticed that?"

"Well…no, not really." Jasmine looks at him. "I like it actually."

"Jasmine, I…"

"We're running out of sunlight." Dar announces, interrupting what Tao was about to say. Jasmine looks around, noticing this as well.

"Right then. We'll rest here for the night." She sighs, feeling slightly disappointed.

Jasmines eyes fly open all of a sudden. Something had woken her up but she could remember what it was. Sitting up she sees Tao sitting in front of the fire, his back turned.

At first, she just sits there, watching the enticing way the light from the fire danced across his golden brown skin. She would've watched him further but he turns his head suddenly and smiles at her.

"I didn't wake you, did I?" He asks, glancing at her.

Jasmine shakes her head. "No. At least, I don't think you did." She gets up and walks over to him. "What are you making?" Sitting down, she motions to the bowl in his hand which is filled with a purplish paste.

"What, this? Oh, it's nothing. Just a few plants and herbs mixed together." He replies, dipping his finger in the paste. "Here, taste."

Slowly, Jasmine places her mouth on Tao's finger and sucks off the paste. "Hmm.." She mumbles, completely aware of the look that crosses Tao's face when she does this and then removes the finger from her mouth "That's good. What is it?"

Tao shrugs. "As I said before, just a mixture of different plants and herbs that I found in the forest."

Jasmines raises her eyebrows slightly. "I didn't know you could make food out of plants."

Tao smiles. "Not many people do. It's just a matter of mixing the right ingredients together."

Jasmine grins. "That's pretty cool." She leans forward all of a sudden. "Tao…what do you think of me?"

Tao looks confused. "What do you mean?"

She inches closer. "I mean, what are your feelings towards me?"

He nervously digs underneath one of his fingernails. "I…like you, Jasmine. I like you a lot." He says finally, looking at her. "I've been trying to get up the nerve to tell you that since we first met."

A smile brightens Jasmine's face. "Really?"

Tao nods. "Yes. When I first saw you, I thought you were the most beautiful girl I'd ever lain eyes on."

Jasmine blushes. "Well, I thought you were pretty cute as well."

Tao grins. "Awesome." He barely has this out of his mouth when Jasmine leans forward quickly and kisses him lightly on the lips. "Um…wow." Tao says.

"You liked that?" Jasmine asks, looking at him nervously.

"Very much." He says, laying down the bowl and cupping her face in his hands. He kisses her this time, their lips parting and tongues meeting. Her hands wrap around his neck, pulling him closer, while his arms go around his waist.


Jasmine and Tao both turn their heads and see Dar standing a few feet from them, smiling at them.

"Um, Dar. I can explain." Tao says, separating himself from Jasmine, a blush creeping up in his face.

Laughing, Dar holds up his hand. "Don't bother. I knew the two of you like each other."

Jasmine and Tao exchange glances. "You did?" Jasmine asks, shocked.

Dar nods. "Yeah…it was kind of obvious." He smiles. "If you two ever want to be 'alone' just tell me and I'll leave." This statement causes Jasmine and Tao to blush. Dar shakes his head. "I'm going back to bed. You two behave yourself's." He walks back over to his mat and lays down, quickly falling back asleep.

Jasmine looks at Tao. "We should probably do the same."

Tao nods in agreement. "Yeah." They both stand up. "See you in the morning." Tao says.

"Okay." She steps forward and kisses him lightly on the mouth. "Sweet dreams." Smiling, Jasmine walks back over to her mat and lays down, while Tao does the same. Closing her eyes, Jasmine can't help but think how great life has been every since she'd left home.