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Love and Starlight, Jasmine & Sophie
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The girl who worked at the candle shoppe looked up at him and slowly blinked her large grey-blue eyes.
“What did you say?” she whispered.
“I’m escorting you to the festival.” Darius smiled at her. “Don’t you recall? You promised me a dance.”
He watched the realization play across her features, from the memory of the words to who she had spoken them to. “I can’t dance,” she stammered.
“I’ll teach you.” He leaned forward on the counter. Her expression softened and he felt her gaze drag over his face, taking him in. He was close enough now to see the light freckles on her nose, the slight trembling of her pink lips, the heavy cadence of her breath—
There was a sudden terrible sound: someone clearing their throat. He didn’t even turn. He wondered if anything in this world could distract him now from the girl in front of him.
From the corner of his eye, he noticed the young customer from earlier walk up beside Vivian and grab her arm. “Viv, darling, I couldn’t have possibly heard that right. Are you hosting the Prince of Andúrigard?”
“Get out,” Vivian said. She did not look away from him. “Leave my shoppe. We are closed.”
“But Viv—” the girl protested.
Darius gave an annoyed sigh. He’d heard how these customers had been talking to her before he’d revealed his identity. Now they were pretending to be friends with Vivian to get closer to him.
“The lady asked you to leave,” Darius said, and because he was annoyed, added: “My guards are outside. They’d be happy to escort you, if needed.”
He could already hear Setviren’s lecture over threatening a wealthy citizen of Andúrigard…but it had been worth it to see the shock on their faces.
The chime of the door as the cruel girls departed brought him back to the present. “Thank you for staying open for me. I won’t be long.” He straightened and stepped back. He couldn’t keep staring at the girl, otherwise he might be tempted to do something even more rash. Instead, he turned his attention to the various candles lining the wall.
“I returned for more than just taking you up on your offer. I’m of a mind to purchase two gifts, and then something for myself,” he continued. It wasn’t a complete lie; he had wanted to get something for Carmilla and Khalid. And it certainly sounded better than the truth: he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her since he’d caught that damnable blue ribbon.
Her soft footsteps crossed the old wooden floors. “The selection is slim. We were very busy today with the festival, Your Highness.”
“You mean the stupid festival?” he said, then laughed. “Please, call me Darius.”
“Darius.” He wanted to memorize the way it sounded on her lips. Then she said: “I’m Vivian.”
He’d overhead her name before, but now she gifted it to him. “Vivian.” It sounded right in his mouth, and he liked the way she trembled as she said it, how she seemed as fixated on his movements as he was on hers.
“Is it true what you said?” Vivian asked. “There are guards outside?”
Darius looked out the window to where two of his Celestial Knights stood. “Princes don’t have the luxury of going anywhere alone.” It had been a miracle unto itself that Khalid had managed to get him out of the castle.
“They didn’t feel the need to accompany you in here?” she asked.
“Are you dangerous?” Darius smirked.
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