Chapter One: part two

“That was delicious.”

“Thank you.”

Dinner was done; she was clearing the table as he sat with a satisfied smile on his face.

“That was probably the best rabbit stew I’ve eaten.”

She smiled. “You flatter me.”

He gave her a serious look. “No, really. It was.”

Anan gave him a curtsey. “Thank you. I use herbs that no one else knows how to find. That was probably the reason.”

Eloran smiled, but said nothing. She was in the kitchen, her back to him, at the fire, pouring water into two mugs. He watched her move around the kitchen, placing herbs into the mugs, and noticed she used different ones for each mug. It only took a little of his attention, though. Most of his attention was on the fact that he wanted badly to convince her to sleep with him tonight.

Anan was beautiful, but that wasn’t the only reason. She was kind, and treated him with respect. He liked her voice, the thoughts she shared, and her long, beautiful blond hair. As soon as she came inside, she took off the cloak. Her hair lay across her back in waves. Eloran shook his head. All right, perhaps it was mostly due to the fact that she was beautiful. She turned to him and smiled.

“Would you like some tea?”

“What kind is it?”

She came to the table and set both mugs in front of him. Anan sat next to Eloran and smiled, one hand on one of the mugs. It was mostly brown with red runes engraved in it. “This one will help you to sleep, but you will remember the dreams you have in the morning.” She moved her hand to mug with the blue runes. “This one will help you sleep, and though you will dream, you will not remember them in the morning.”

He frowned slightly. “Why would it matter if I remembered my dreams?”

Anan smiled warmly at him. “We are near the gateway between Finara and the human world. Your dreams may reveal the future, or may just be very odd. If you choose the red mug, you will remember. The blue allows you to forget. Your choice.”

Eloran looked at both the mugs. Dreams or no dreams? He looked to Anan. “They will both make me sleep?” He gazed intently into her eyes as she nodded. “What if I don’t want to sleep? I can think of far more pleasurable ways to spend an evening in bed, than simply dreaming.”

She smiled. “It is best for you to sleep, Prince Eloran.”

He looked at her in shock. “You know who I am.”

Anan smiled. Eloran realized that she smiled a lot and seemed to smile quickly. “You look like your father.” She reached out and touched the pin on his shirt. “You are also wearing your symbol.”

His hand went to the pin in surprise. He pulled the pin off and shook his head as he looked at it. “I didn’t even think about this. I wanted to travel incognito. I guess I did a very poor job of that.”

She placed a hand on his cheek. He sighed at her touch. “You will sleep Prince, so that in the morning, you are refreshed.”

Eloran gazed at her with a sly smile on his lips and a glint in his eyes. “I would prefer to stay awake with you all night.”

She laughed at his persistence. “Not tonight.”

They stared at each other as the words swirled around them. Not tonight, but maybe another time, was the implication. Prince Eloran nodded and looked to the teas. He picked up the red mug and held it up as if toasting her. “To dreams.”

She smiled. “To dreams.”

The Prince slowly drank his tea, watching her the whole time. Once the tea was done, they stood and she took him to her bed. He sat to remove his shoes, as she drew back a curtain to give him privacy. Anan went to the couch to sit and wondered if she would have any other visitors tonight.

Her house was one of the gates between Finara and the human world. If any Finarans needed passage, they would come through her home. With Prince Eloran here she would have to be careful. Though most Finarans were harmless, some liked to tease and play with humans, especially important ones.

Sighing, Anan settled onto the couch more fully and calmed her breathing. Though she would not sleep, she would meditate. In the end, it would be as if she slept, but she could keep her mind active enough to protect the Prince if she needed. The youngest of King Falk’s sons deserved nothing less.

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