A Gift from the Goddess Chapter 45

Two years I’d been looking for her and yet it was like she had just fallen out of the sky, having been completely untraceable this entire time.

And the nagging I’d been feeling inside my head? I should have met Thea months ago. Aleric first introduced us before his coming of age, so they should have already been dating at this point.

I remembered that she hadn’t been allowed to attend tonight’s event however I couldn’t recall why exactly.

But she hadn’t shown herself even once this entire time I’d come back. And, as far as I knew, she hadn’t even shown herself to Aleric yet. And yet, here she was… Staring right up at me.

Like she knew who I was. My body immediately tensed up as I realised she must have found out I’d hired someone to track her down. That would explain how she had been able to avoid being found this entire time.

Well, I’d already worked out she had begun orchestrating my death from possibly years before it had happened. Her whole sweet, naive persona had been a charade from the beginning that I’d been too blinded by my jealousy to see.

So, needless to say, I knew she had it in her to be smart enough and figure out I was trying to find her.

But why would that stop her from meeting Aleric? No one knew why I wanted to find her except me. Was it because Aleric and I were closer this time? Did she feel threatened?

I could feel my heart racing just looking at her. Neither of us moved, just standing frozen in place with eyes locked knowingly. The tension between us was thick.

Aleric may have been the one to swing the sword and break me emotionally beyond repair, but at the end of the day, my journey to death had started because of her. Because she had wanted Aleric for herself… because she had wanted to be Luna.

Suddenly, Thea was the first to break eye contact. She turned around and started walking towards the exit, blending in with the crowds of people below.

But if this was my only chance to catch her then I couldn‘t let it go to waste. I needed to follow her. Maybe find out where she was living.

I quickly kicked my heels off, cursing my choice in footwear, and ran through the mass amounts of people, down the stairs, until I stood just below the balcony where I’d first seen her.

I had scanned every face I ran past, scrutinising them for any similarity to Thea… But none of them were her.

…She was gone.

I couldn’t see her anywhere and, without any decent sense of smell, I wasn’t going to be able t o track her either. She had completely managed to avoid passing me and maybe had even left

the party already by the time I’d gotten downstairs. Too many people had slowed me down as I had tried to catch up to her quickly. “F#ck!” I screamed, punching the tree next to me out of frustration.

I’d been so close. She had really been here. Should I have just let her go, watching where she went before I ran downstairs? Should I have yelled out to her? What would I have even said? ‘Hey, I think you killed me in my past life, stay there while I ask you some questions in case you’re going to try that again’?

I ended up waiting below that balcony for an hour, scanning the crowds for any sign of Thea, but she never returned. And the more time that passed, the angrier I became at myself.

Everything that had happened this night had been a disaster and I had allowed myself to become invested in the wrong things.

When I finally conceded she wasn’t coming back, I headed straight home. I was completely shaken by the entire encounter and knew there was nothing good waiting for me if I went back inside.

It seemed like an obvious choice that I should give the rest of the event a miss.

However, even once I returned home, I could still feel myself shaking.

But I didn’t feel scared like when I had seen Aleric for the first time. I didn’t feel like breaking down and crying, or even wanting to run away.

No… this time?

I felt pissed.

The next day I went to the gym before work to get my mind off everything that had happened. It was a public gym that had private rooms on the second floor, of which ranked members could use.

I usually had the room booked permanently out every day in the event I needed it; which normally was exactly the case whenever I had free time.

I was grateful for the space as usually the public area was overly occupied. Not that it was a major issue, just that having constant stares and whispers from other people always made a workout less pleasant.

“Knock, knock,” a voice suddenly came from the door. I had been hitting a punching bag for the last thirty minutes, imagining in my head that it was alternating between one of two people; one of those two being the very person now standing at the door.

“Cai,” I greeted, hitting the bag again but this time with excessive force. Just in case he didn’t get the hint from my tone.

I continued to train but his lack of a response was unnerving.

“What do you want?” I finally asked after he hadn‘t said anything. I straightened up to face him and wiped at the sweat on my forehead, completely out of breath. “Uhh…,” was all he said when I turned to him.

He shook his head as if trying to remember why he was here himself. “Right. I was hoping we could talk about last night.”

“Why the f#ck…,” I said between breaths, “…do you think I‘d want to talk to you?”

“Because I brought you a gift,” he said with that stupid charismatic smile, holding up a plastic bag with something inside.

I warily regarded it. “Come on, Aria. Just give me some time, please?” I exhaled, annoyed. “Fine.” I’d left my clothes and towel over by the door, and so I walked over to begin throwing it on over my work out skins.

“But for the record…,” I said, grabbing the plastic bag from his hand after I’d changed, “this is the shittiest gift wrapping I’ve ever received.”

He laughed. “Apologies, it was a last minute gift.”

I threw my backpack and towel over my shoulder, brushing past him to leave the gym, and walked across the road to where a small park was; all without even looking back once.

There was a large tree that was further in and mostly private. I sat myself down there under its shade and waited for Cai to take a seat on the grass next to me.

“So… what could you have possibly gotten me to make up for that bullshit move you pulled last night?” “Well… I asked Myra what you like these days and she suggested this.”

I pulled out a small foam box from inside the bag that felt warm to touch. So, of course, inside contained the one thing Myra knew I was weak for; nuggets and fries.

“You brought me fried food to the gym?” I asked. “Are you telling me you don‘t want it?” He tilted his head slightly as he looked at me, almost as if he knew what my answer was already. I sighed.

Just because I was angry at him, it didn‘t mean I had to take it out on the food. And so, I started eating it, noticing the taste was even similar to the one from the cottage cafe. He either found a place just like it or went the extra mile to get it from the usual spot.

“Is that the necklace Myra gave you?” he asked, after watching me eat for a while.

I looked down, seeing that I’d thrown it on with the rest of my clothes like normal. It was more of a habit than anything to wear it these days and typically I didn‘t even notice it.

“…Yes,” I answered. Was this his attempt at trying to get me to remember the ‘good ol‘ days‘?

“So, are you going to apologise to me then?” I asked, pushing past the small talk before he managed to make me forget why I was upset.

“I assume that’s why you’re here since you’ve come all this way, seeking me out with a peace offering.” “Depends,” he said, lying down flat on the grass behind him, using his arms to support his be head.

The sun was shining through the trees and creating a shadow pattern across his face. Somehow the little bits of sunshine made his eyes burn brighter.

But I was more mesmerised b y the way the shadows moved every time the wind picked up ever so slightly.

“On…?” I prompted, trying to refocus back on the issue at hand. He closed his eyes, his expression becoming completely relaxed. “On whether or not you’re going to actually listen to me today.”

I felt a pang of guilt for a split second when I realised it was true that I had continuously cut him off last night. Maybe he really did have a good explanation? But it was a short lived sensation once I reminded myself about why I was angry in the first place.

If anything, it was another reminder that Cai had that way about him; that presence that always made me want to give in and forgive him, even if I didn‘t want to.

He was so stupidly charismatic with an energy that made me want to be around him. “How about you apologise first, and I’ll decide if I want to listen to you?” I asked, increasingly becoming warier at my own resolve the more we spoke. He smirked at my compromise before deciding to accept.

“Okay, sure… I am sorry, Aria,” he started. “I‘m sorry that I told you I had feelings for you.”

It wasn’t the exact wording I‘d been looking for but I suppose it was the same point.

I opened my mouth and was about to accept his apology, but he kept talking before I could speak

“…I‘m sorry that I told you I had feelings for you when I thought you felt the same way.” He suddenly opened his eyes again and met mine directly, making me freeze. “I’m sorry that I didn‘t just keep it to myself, or at least wait to tell you, so I didn‘t upset you.”

I felt my chest going fast. Was he just playing more cruel jokes on me?

“What are you…,” I started, unable to find any words to aptly describe what I wanted to say.” Why are you doing this? Is sleeping with me really that important to you?” He pushed himself up onto his side, using his arm to prop himself up. “Do you honestly think that’s what I‘m trying to do?”

“I don‘t see why not? What you‘re proposing is insane. It just feels like you haven‘t changed at all.”

“How would you even know, Aria?” he asked, getting annoyed. “I stopped all that crap as soon as I realised how I felt about you.

When I left the Winter Mist, it didn‘t take long for me to figure out nothing felt the same anymore. I still went around with girls, sure, but it was just… s#x. And then eventually that wasn‘t enough either and I just stopped completely.” “So why wait so long to tell me?”

“Because I’ve spent the last six months trying to find my mate,” he said, still sounding annoyed. “I figured if I found her then I wouldn’t need to worry about my feelings for you anymore.

But I didn‘t find her, Aria, and instead, the first glimpse of you I had in two years

was watching you dance with another man. And I realised in that moment that it wouldn’t even matter if I found her… because I just wanted you.”

I stared at him, caught up in what felt like real sincerity, and a part of me even almost believed him for a second But it didn’t last long.

…And I couldn’t stop myself from snorting in my failed attempt to contain my laughter.

“Aria! Seriously?” he asked, sounding hurt. I stood up and grabbed my bag, rifling through it for something. “I’ve got to get to work now… but here,” I said, handing him a handkerchief.

“I borrowed this from a girl I met last night. I believe, in her words, you were her ‘hot date’ for the evening? You two sure seemed close.”

He looked surprised yet confused, but he grabbed it from my hand to look at it anyway. “Try harder next time, Cai,” I said, still smiling. “Oh and… return that to Iris for me.”

I started walking to my car, thankful that I’d managed to get my license so I wasn’t stuck waiting around for a cab or driver anymore. “Aria, wait!” Cai said, yelling after me. But I didn’t stop.

I didn’t stop when my forced smile faltered immediately.

I didn’t stop when I threw my bag into the back seat and turned the car ignition. And I didn’t stop when I felt my eyes begin to tear up as I drove off.

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