HI! Can't believe I'm starting another story even though I just finished my last one yesterday. LOL.
Anyway, just wanted to give my thanks to the people who have been with me in my previous stories. You're awesome.
The idea of this story was given to me by a reader in my previous story (Loving My Dead Lover), Lost Grey Soul. I took the main idea and did some altering and stuff for the plot. All I'm going to say is, thank you for giving me this idea. I love it and can't wait to see how the story unrolls itself.
Well, enough of my chit-chat. Chapter one, here you go!
I squinted, trying to get a better view of the target. I absorbed its white feather, brushing against the green grass as it hopped around. Its ears, pale pink with red arteries clearly visible, moved as I pulled the string of my bow tighter, trying to decipher the threat it was facing.
"Stay," I whispered to thin air.
I let out the breath that I had been holding and stepped out of the bushes in which I hid in when waiting for a chase. The bush was an ideal place to do so, too, as it offered both a good hiding place and also a reliable source for snack. And not only was it thick and resourceful, it was near, but far enough to not be noticed, a water source, which guaranteed a daily catch as animals had to drink at least once a day.
I picked up my second catch of the day, together with a small squirrel that I accidentally stepped on my way to the bush, and stuffed it inside the leather game bag I had gotten when I just started hunting for the family years ago. It had cost me a whole deer for one, and so I decided I might as well put it in good use.
I hunted alone. I trusted no one, and my father took credit for that. He left my family, consisting of my fragile mom, my younger sister and myself, when I was only seven, forcing me to grow up faster than I should. He was the one who planted the seed of hatred and hostility towards men in me. I never trusted one ever since.
I brushed off the pine needles off my ragged pants and slung my bag on my shoulders. The sun wasn't setting yet, but I got what I needed to survive a day. So home I went.
But just as I was about to take a step towards the direction of my home, I heard laughter echo throughout the woods.
I froze. After all, I was breaking the law. Women weren't allowed to be in the forest, they needed to be home or be in someone else's home as slaves. Especially poor, under-aged girls like myself.
The laughter continued. But it didn't sound mean or arrogant, which was – more or less – how most rich people sounded near my place. I figured it was probably safer to slowly go out of the woods rather than staying there and wait for the person to come and catch me trespassing.
I ducked and stepped out slowly, freezing whenever I broke a twig or crunched dried up leaves. But just as I was about to plop myself inside the small underground tunnel that I dug to get to my hunting space, I heard the laughter again. This time, it was louder.
It sounded gentle, like a chuckle but not quite. It was definitely a male's, and without doubt was he someone friendly. His voice gave it all away.
But that didn't mean I was going to trust him for anything, if any.
I peered over a bunch of blueberry bush and found myself looking at a blonde man's back.
"You've got to be kidding me," he chuckled.
And as I moved to get a better angle at what he was doing, I realized that he wasn't anyone I knew. No one, absolutely no one, in my neighborhood had blond hair. None. Nada.
The guy, I saw, was trying to pat a rabbit's back in order to calm it down. But all his attempts only made it even more panicky and ended up scratching the poor guy's hand.
A giggle escaped my mouth, and I quickly clamped both of my hands tightly over my mouth. I froze as I wished silently that the guy hadn't heard me. But, of course, the gods weren't on my side.
The man stopped whatever he was doing with the rabbit and turned towards me. No, my bush, I guess, since I was pretty sure he couldn't look through the small gap between the vines.
"Who's there?" he asked in a stern voice.
I realized that the blonde was a teen, about a year older than me. Why was he there? Under-aged people weren't supposed to be in the forest.
"Reveal yourself!" he ordered. His voice sent shivers down my spine and I stood up groggily.
"S-sorry," I said at first, but hating the way my voice shook, so I started again. "Sorry." That's better. I had never allowed myself to look weak in front of anyone, especially boys. "I didn't mean to laugh at your…" My voice trailed off as I came to the realization that what I was planning to say could actually offend people. And, while I couldn't care less about what people think of me, I didn't need to offend someone I just met.
But the guy, as if reading my thoughts, finished the sentence for me, "Horrible skills of bonding with animals. Yeah, I know."
I couldn't help but to laugh at this. He didn't seem so bad, after all.
I took a good look at him again, taking in his neat but not formal attire – I had issues with people with formal attires, as that meant they were from the Class, a place where rich and arrogant people live in – his slightly ruffled blond hair and, this last thing about him really stood out, his green eyes. None of the people from my valley had green eyes. Most of us were grey-eyed, but there were some exceptions where we had other colors of eyes. Like, for instance, mine were hazel brown. But never green.
"What are you doing here? Under-aged people aren't allowed to be here," I asked in a more authorized tone, wishing that he wouldn't realize that I was under-aged myself.
But it was me we are talking about, here, and my luck was never not rotten.
"That question goes for you, too, then," he said, and I cursed under my breath. "Moreover, you're a girl. Even a grown woman wouldn't be allowed to be here."
I gritted my teeth, hating the fact that he was differentiating girls and boys. I always resented sexist pigs like him.
"I," I said in an annoyed tone, and I didn't bother to hide it, "happen to be putting food on the table for my family. Whereas you… I don't even know what you were trying to accomplish, playing around with bunnies like that."
He shook his head, as if in pity, and I clenched the lower limb of my bow, which I had slung on my back together with the sheath of wooden arrows and my leather bag.
"That," the blonde pointed towards the animal he had been playing with, "happens to be a hare, and not a bunny. And I wasn't 'playing around', as how you said I was. But rather, I was trying to increase my skills to endearing an animal."
God, if there is one thing that I hated more than sexist pigs, it would be a know-it-all.
"Well, you're not doing a good job, then," I remarked.
One of his brows shot up slightly, as if asking me to demonstrate why I was any better. Which was fine, really, since I was pretty good with getting along with animals. You know what they say, know better of your prey before catching them.
That was my words of wisdom, by the way. I never heard anyone saying that aside from me before.
To prove that I was better than him, I walked towards the rabbit – I mean, hare, according to Mr. Smarty Pants – and stopped about a yard away from it. I leaned down, took out a half-eaten carrot from my bag – used as bait to lure animals into my snares – and extended my arm towards it. The hare hesitated for a while, but then it gave in and nibbled on the carrot.
Slowly, I sat down, cross-legged, and carried the brown-furred animal onto my lap to enjoy the rest of its carrot. My hands swiftly rubbed the space in between its ears and it grinded its teeth, signaling me to continue petting her.
I turned towards the blonde with a smug smile on my face. Much to my dismay, he didn't look surprised or envious, which would make me feel so good, being able to make a know-it-all envy like that. Instead, he looked as if he had expected it from me, which wasn't all that bad, but wasn't as good as envy.
"You need do it slowly. What you were doing just now, patting it by surprise, that triggered its defense mode, resulting in it attacking you," I said, my hand still rubbing the hare.
"I see…" he murmured, his eyes observing the hare on my lap.
And he kept on staring.
And he kept on staring.
"Can you stop staring? It's…" I hesitated to say this last part, but oh well, "…uncomfortable."
He shook himself out of his daydream and apologized for his rudeness. Pretty kind, if I may say so. You don't find gentlemen like him often around these areas.
No! What was I thinking? He wasn't a gentleman, or else he would've known better than to stare in the first place.
I rolled my eyes, moved the hare – you know what? Curse that hare business, I'm going to call it a bunny because I can – onto the grass beside me and stood up, brushing myself off of all the dried grass that the rabbit brought onto my lap.
"Anyway, get out of the area. The usually have a check on the land at three," I said before walking past him and disappearing behind the bushes.
"I'm Usui, by the way!" I heard him shout just before I stepped in the tunnel.
I sighed and shouted back, "I don't give a crap, by the way."
I knew that I was acting super rude, but I couldn't care less. By then, I just wanted to get out of the place to have a good nap.
I know, it sounds terribly like the Hunger Games. But no, I did not copy the Hunger Games or any other books. I had this idea for the first chapter even before I read the Hunger Games, and I always thought that girls who can do archery are awesome.
Anyway, please review! (Lol, that's like the thing that I always say in the end of a chapter. :p)