After Demrin had gone, I found myself standing alone in the dark hallway, a mixture of emotions running through me.
First, there was shock and worry at Calla's kidnapping. I never knew that Adder could do such a thing to someone he was supposed to love. I could only hope that she would still be...alive. Surely he wouldn't kill her, would he? I would have gone with Demrin, but he had persuaded me to stay here, not wanting me to get hurt. I had scowled at that. After rescuing Jester from certain death from a one hundred foot drop, I was pretty sure I was capable of holding my own, but Demrin had thought otherwise.
Then there was the heartache. The pain at hurting Jester, the pain at losing Lukah and the pain at this whole situation. Somehow, a triangle had been formed, and someone was going to get hurt. I just wished I could fast forward time to see who it was.
When I returned to the room, I found Jester slumped in a chair with his head in his hands. He didn't even look up as I entered, which only troubled me more.
'Jester, let's get out of here.'
'What?' He finally shifted his gaze to meet mine. His eyes were rimmed with redness and a pang of guilt shot through me. I forced a shaky smile and grabbed his hand.
'Come on, let's get out of the house and explore the city. Our last date didn't go so well.'
'Maybe I could take you out tonight?'
'That sounds lovely.'
'But where would we go now?'
'Anywhere! But I have to get ready first.' I gave him a quick kiss and headed off to shower and dress. Precisely twenty nine minutes later, and we were on the streets of Paris, hand in hand. It was a gorgeously sunny day and for once I was feeling completely at ease. I wouldn't think about anything but the day ahead, spent with Jester.
It started off as a surprisingly fun day. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened so far and I felt myself genuinely enjoying it. Jester seemed happy as well, which pleased me, seeing as he had spent the previous few weeks miserable and worried. We had breakfast in a quaint little cafe and then headed off to do some shopping.
'Go ahead, I'll meet you there in a bit,' Jester said as we came to a stop outside a boutique shop.
'Okay,' I replied, a little perplexed.
The shop inside was small, but dazzling. Rows of clothes lined the walls, all looking vastly expensive. The artificial lights above me gleamed and reflected off the glass counter where a smart looking woman was now speculating me with mild interest. Dozens upon dozens of bracelets and necklaces and rings all stood proudly on a little stand, sparkling away in all their glory.
'Bonjour, puis-je vous aider avec quelque chose?' the woman stepped out from behind the counter. She was dressed in a pristine black suit and had silvery blonde hair tied up in a bun and a thread of pearls at her neck.
'Um,' I quickly racked my brain for any French that I knew but came up blank. 'I'm sorry. I don't, urm, speak French. Je suise anglaise? Is that how you say it?'
The woman smiled politely. 'I understand. We get a lot of English people in here.'
'Oh,' I laughed, embarrassed. 'So you can speak French and English?'
'Yes, it's a handy thing to learn. Especially when you work in a place like this. Is there anything in particular that you are looking for?'
'Oh I'm just browsing. It feels like I haven't been shopping in years. I may have to treat myself, I've almost forgotten what it feels like to be a teenage girl again. I'm going out tonight and I was just looking at the dresses,' I babbled.
She smiled, this time a little warmer as she nodded. 'I may have just the thing for a perfect night out. Is it romantic, or for fun?'
'Romantic,' I blushed.
'Follow me.' She led the way to the back of the store, where a row of dresses were hung. They seemed to range in colour, starting off in black, morphing into blues and greens, then to pinks and reds. It looked like a mini rainbow. She pulled out a black one, and when I saw it I instantly began shaking my head.
'I can't wear that, it isn't me.'
'Oh I think you'll find it will be. Just try it on, you have the right look for it.'
The dress itself was gorgeous, a strapless little black number that would stop just short of my knees and was made of clingy material.
'Okay,' I said doubtfully, taking it into one of the changing rooms.
It fit like a glove, but I was so used to wearing simple jeans and plain vest tops, that it felt alien and strange against my body. I turned to face the mirror and gasped lightly. I wasn't at all a self centred person, but it did look surprisingly good on me.
'Are you ready in there?' the woman called.
'Uh, yeah.' I threw back the curtain, revealing my new dress and she grinned.
'See? You look stunning! It really fits you well, shows off the curve of your hips nicely.'
'Your boyfriend will certainly love it, that's for sure.'
Maybe it was time for me to spoil myself a little, to feel pretty and feminine. Didn't I deserve that?
'How much is it?'
'Well it is one hundred and fifty euros, but I'm willing to make an exception. I can cut it down to one hundred for you,' she smiled fondly at me.
'Really? Oh that's so nice of you, but, I really cannot afford it.'
'Sweetie, you should spoil yourself once in a while. If you look good in it, what's stopping you from getting it? Money's there to be spent!'
What she said did make sense to me. I imagined what Jester would look like when he saw me in the dress, whether he'd like it or not. I'd never know if I didn't find out would I?'
'I'll take it,' I told her.
* * * *
The bag was clutched guiltily in my hand, the dress folded up inside. Now that I really thought about it, I could have spent the hundred euros on something else.
Like what? Some more jeans? my mind whispered sarcastically.
'Hey Ana,' Jester appeared in front of me.
'About time,' I joked. 'I was dying of old age here.'
'Sorry, I got held up,' he grinned. 'Looking forward to our date tonight?'
'Well, I got you something.'
'You did?' I gasped, the guilt quickly returning.
Without saying anything, he handed me a silver box. A part of me didn't want to look inside for fear of seeing how much he'd spent on me, but the better part of me was intrigued.
As I opened the box, I was struck speechless.
Inside, lay the most gorgeous bracelet I had ever seen. It was a silver chain bracelet that twinkled in the sunlight, dazzling me. A little heart hung off it, with tiny little diamonds lining the edges. My insides melted at the elegant scripture engraved into the heart. Ana, all my love, Jester.
'I wasn't sure, if it's too early to be giving jewellery,' Jester said quickly. 'I saw it, and the man was very helpful, he said - '
I interrupted him with a kiss, throwing my arms around his neck. He was startled, but quickly responded, pressing his hands into the small of my back, bringing me closer.
'Thank you,' I eventually murmured. 'It's beautiful.'