“Do what?” he responded.
“Always infuriate those around you.”
“Me, infuriate everyone?” his face a mask of innocence. “I was merely pointing out the advantages of teaching humans the art of healing with magic.”
“Come on, you don’t believe it any more than I do. You were just trying to get under Xander’s skin as usual,” I rounded.
“Question is, do I get under yours?” a grin tugging at the edge of his mouth.
“Yes, Fallen, as much as I hate to admit it, you do irritate me,” I sighed.
His cocky grin collapsed like a punctured balloon. “That isn’t what I meant.”
“Then out with it. I have little patience for riddles and am late for my next lesson. What is it you want?”
“I wanted time with you.”
Astonishment came over me. “If you wanted to speak to me about a concern privately, you just needed to say so. Xander would have left the room without you winding him up.”
“Where is the fun in that? Besides, he expects it of me,” he responded eyes twinkling with mischief.
“Fallen, what do you want?” my tone flowed with exasperation.
“Daeris, you are too young to work this hard,” he moved closer, his hand on my shoulder, “a walk in the woods would be a relaxing break and I just happen to be available to be your escort.”
“I can’t skip class," I said shaking my head, "people count on me to be where I say I will be,.”
“Daeris, how many students are in your class?”
“There’s only me, but Xander will expect me to be on time.”
“I’m not asking you to skip class, just tell Xander you are taking a break for an hour.”
“Daeris, we aren’t making a habit of this, it’s just a walk. Besides, when was the last time you laughed?”
I let out a sigh, maybe he was right. I had been pushing myself.
“Alright,” I agreed, “but only for an hour.”
The sweet scent of pine filled the warm afternoon air enticing me to breathe deeply. “I needed this,” I said exhaling, “you’re such a good friend.”
Fallen smiled and squeezed my hand, “I wish we could be more than that.”
“Fallen, we’ve had this discussion,” I warned, “unless you have acquired the mark we will only be friends.”
“I know,” he said stopping and turning toward me, placing his hands on my shoulders, “but I still don’t understand why everyone lets the ancients have so much authority when they lived long ago. What do they know of modern society?”
It wasn’t his sad, defiant tone startled me, but his words. Those were the thoughts rambling around my head yet I’d never spoken them.
“Daeris,” Fallen said stirring me from my thoughts.
“We will be nothing more than friends,” I said more forcefully than I intended, “you’ll do well to remember that!” Then spun around running for home.