Five: A Maor Novel (Maor series) (34 page)

BOOK: Five: A Maor Novel (Maor series)
8.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub




Tastes like: A Chinese

Smells like: Candle-wax.

Sounds like: A wish,
whispered on a shooting star.

Feels like: The promise of

like: A lit sparkler.


The cool ring of white gold and diamonds slides onto my
ring finger and Tristan rises to embrace me amid a round of applause. He leans
back, grinning, but his smile fades as he takes in the pallor of my skin.

‘Are you alright?’

‘I’m not feeling so well,’ I eye the train of guests
moving toward us. I can’t hold the fake smile for much longer.

‘I’ll take you to lie down.’

‘No,’ I say quickly, ‘I think I just need a moment alone.
You stay and greet the guests, I won’t be long.’

He searches my gaze and purses his lips but nods. I slip
away down the back steps, away from the lights and people. The tears are
already burning my throat after only a few steps and I can’t get away quick
enough. I stop to pull the diamante sandals from my feet and increase my pace
down the unlit path.

The gravel is harsh beneath my feet but I move faster and
faster, until I’m running, kicking up stones in my wake. By the time I reach
the end of the path, I can hardly see the pavilion shimmering in fairy lights through
my blurred, teary eyes. I barely make it into the quiet haven before I collapse
to my knees and drop my head into my hands.

Each night I’d lain awake, listening to Kael’s breathing
in the room next door, hoping against all odds that he would fight for me,
rescue me from the destiny that had been dictated by others…love me. But he’d
just stood there.

I let the tears flow freely, and start when I feel a
warm hand on my shoulder.

‘Shaylee, what’s wrong?’

His voice sends a tremble through my body.

Kael moves in front of me and holds out both his hands
but I flinch away. He frowns, and kneels down in front of me, his eyes taking
in the streaks of mascara running down my cheeks.

‘Why are you crying?’ He cups my chin in both of his
hands and brushes the smudged make-up away with his thumbs.

‘I can’t do this anymore, Kael.’ I push his hands away
and lean back, unwilling to breathe in the musky scent of him. I can feel the
heat radiating from him, threatening to turn my insides to mush.

‘Can’t do what?’

I shake my head and stumble to my feet, ignoring Kael’s
outstretched hand and nearly tearing my dress in the process. I turn away from
him and stare out over the balustrade into the darkness beyond.

‘I have to leave. I have to get away from here.’

‘Why?’ his voice is sharp.

‘I just have to. I’m going back home.’

‘I’ll take you -’

‘No,’ I say, ‘not Nan’s house. I mean
: South Africa.’

The words are out even before I realize what I’m
thinking, but it’s the only viable solution. I’ll move back to South Africa and
pretend none of this has ever happened. I’ll pretend that I’ve never fallen in
love with Kael. I’ll hide, pick up the pieces and create a new life, somehow.

‘You know that’s not an option.’

‘But -’

‘I can’t let you leave.’

‘Then I’ll run away!’ I say desperately. ‘I just can’t
stay here, seeing you everyday -’

I hear the sharp intake of his breath, barely inches
behind me.

‘Do you really hate me that much?’

I give a bitter laugh and keep my eyes focused on the
darkness ahead.

‘If only it were that simple. I love you, Kael, so much
it hurts when I’m close to you, because I know you’ll never feel the same.’

There is a long beat of silence and then he spins me around
so quickly, I stumble against him. His eyes are a dark, almost olive hue as
they bear down into mine.

‘You think I don’t feel the same?’ he demands, digging
his fingers painfully into my shoulders. ‘You think it doesn’t kill me every
time Tristan touches you or that I don’t wish it was my ring you were wearing
right now? You think I don’t want to hold you and taste you?’

With a strangled curse, he takes my mouth with his. His
lips move with a hunger that stuns me. His hands touch the bare skin at my back
and wrap around me, drawing me tight against the heat of his body.

My arms wind around his shoulders and thread into the
hair at the back of his neck as I respond, trying to burrow closer into his
warmth and meeting his kisses with a deep passion of my own. My insides turn to
molten liquid and that familiar, deep ache begins to build, as it always does
between us.

I want to hold onto him forever, to let this golden heat
build and weather the crescendo that we’re building toward but Kael tears his
lips from mine and I’m left gasping for breath.

He stands, for a moment, one finger on my lips to keep
me at bay, breathing deeply with eyes closed. When his heartbeat has slowed a
fraction, his eyes flicker open and he looks down at me.

‘I love you, Shaylee, more than you could ever know. I
don’t know how it happened, it’s not even supposed to be possible, but you’re
my reason for existence.’ He pauses, and the spark of joy I’d felt at his
confession dims.

‘There’s a ‘but’ coming, isn’t there?’ I ask.

Kael nods once and the pain in his expression splinters
into me.

‘But… You’re the Chosen one. Your destiny is to fulfill
the prophecy and mine is to protect you so that you can. There’s only one way
to keep you safe, for sure.’

‘I can’t marry Tristan,’ I whisper brokenly.

‘But you have to.’

‘But I love

He shakes his head.

‘It doesn’t matter how either of us feels, Shaylee. What
matters is keeping you alive. That night, when the vampire attacked you -’ His
voice breaks. ‘I couldn’t face it if something happened to you again -’

I step forward quickly and press my lips against his again,
this time softly, pouring my heart into the kiss. His lips move against mine in
unspoken symphony, but then he pulls back again and puts me at arm’s length.

‘Kael, nothing’s going to happen to me,’ I try to
reassure him.

‘You’re right,’ he says, with a steely note in his
voice, ‘because I’ll do whatever it takes to keep you alive.’

My heart skips a beat as I see the resolve on his face,
but somewhere deep inside me, a hope begins to burn, a slow blaze, gaining in
strength as my own resolve solidifies. Kael loves me. He really loves me. And
now I know what I have to do.

I grab his chin in both of my hands and lock my gaze
with his.

‘And I’ll do whatever it takes to be with you,’ I
whisper and kiss him again. He gives in, kissing me back with such intensity
that the world around us ceases to exist and I know, no matter what tomorrow
brings, we’ll face it together.
I will
down Kael’s defenses. It may take me the whole of the year ahead but I vow,
silent and firm that by the end of the year, Kael will realize that his sense
of duty doesn’t stand a chance against the force of our love.

BOOK: Five: A Maor Novel (Maor series)
8.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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