I hardly registered my actions from the moment the girl fell into my arms but when I came to my senses, the realisation of what I had just done hit me like a tonne of bricks. I was likely to be killed for even addressing those above me, let alone kissing one. And yet there I was, my lips pressed to hers.
“Sorry, I shouldn’t have done that” I said, pulling away in a bid to save my hide.
The girl turned her head, a blush radiant on her pale cheeks.
“I should go”
“No," she whispered, "I mean... I don't want you to leave"
"You don't find me repulsive?" I asked, looking at her a little curiously.
"I...." she trailed off, putting her hand to her lips. "I should leave" she said, moving past me.
"Wait..." I said and she stopped. "Can I at least have the pleasure of knowing your name?"
"Persephone Archer" I heard her whisper before she raced away.
The faint smile faded from my lips as I realised just who I had had the misfortune to lock lips with. Perhaps it wouldn’t have been such an offence to kiss someone of roughly the same class as me but with the young Miss Archer... I was a dead man for sure. I pulled the mask off my face, sinking to my knees a little as I all but begged all that was holy to spare me. I composed myself once more, sliding my mask back on and returning to the party, a stone resting in my belly.
I groaned as the sunlight streamed into my bedroom. With what little I earned I’d been able to afford a small three room bungalow but as of yet, I hadn’t had the time nor the money to buy some proper curtains for all three rooms. I’d sworn I wouldn’t drink at the Archer’s party but I’ll be damned if I didn’t touch a little wine after the whole incident with Persephone. I ran a hand through my hair, feeling a little groggy but it was nothing a cold splash of water couldn’t fix.
I laughed with my friends as we threw back a flagon of ale each. The three of us had the day of work and though they were both much older than me, they were easily my best friends. I’d never really had friends my own age so I suppose I had nothing to compare them with. One of them, Fin, nudged me. Fin was the eldest of the two and a notorious ladies man. He’d volunteered to teach me everything he knew but I’d kindly rejected the offer.
"Hey, Tam, look over there"
I looked over at what had caught his attention and saw a scared looking girl with the cloak of her hood pulled over her head. I vaguely caught her eye as she winced when one of the drunker patrons bumped into her on his way out. I wandered over to her kind of nervously, wondering if she was here to deliver my death sentence. She spotted me and moved, cuddling up to me. She was visibly shaking but all I could think was “what if someone recognises her?”. I led her over to the corner I’d been sat in with Fin and the other guy, Robert.
"Didn't know you had such a pretty girl, Tam. Fancy lending her to me for a while?" Fin said.
Persephone winced and buried her face in my chest. I’d... I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it.
"Back off, Fin" I warned.
"What's your name, girlie?" Robert asked.
"Um..." she hesitated. Please have the common sense to use a fake name. "Steph, you can call me that"
Robert hummed and I glared at him, positioning myself between Persephone and the guys.
"What are you doing here?" And more importantly, were you followed?
"I....." she trailed off, looking scared and turning her gaze to the floor.
"Never mind. You should get home"
A tear fell from her eye and splashed against the bar but she nodded anyway, turning to leave.
"Want me to, uh, escort you home, Steph?" Fin said and I rolled my eyes.
She flinched a little, glancing at me before shaking her head and looking at the floor again.
"C'mon, I'll take you home" I said softly but she shook her head again, more tears splashing against the bar.
She sped away from the tavern without warning and I cursed silently, heading after her.
"I mean it. It's not safe for a girl as beautiful as you to be walking around on her own" I said, blushing when I realised what I’d said.
"You don't seem to want me here so why are you worrying?" she asked, not slowing down and I sighed.
She spun on one foot, her fist colliding with my cheekbone.
I was rubbing my cheek, trying to massage out the ache when she grabbed me, pressing her lips to mine. Okay then... I kissed back, a little confused and she pulled away.
"Does that mean nothing to you?" she asked.
"It means I'll get killed if anyone recognises you"
"No one will here. This is the first time I've ever left the area around my house"
"There's still a risk, though. I'm sorry"
The tears started streaming from her eyes again and I instantly felt guilty.
“Please don't cry"
"I risk my parents’ wrath to see you and you're turning me away”
"How did you even know where to find me?"
I nodded a little. I hadn’t thought I was of enough importance for them to record my name but I suppose maybe they didn’t know about my roots.
"I guess I'll go home then" she said, turning to leave.
I sighed a little. "Wait"
"I..." I bit my lip. "Where can I meet you? It's too dangerous here"
"Here is the only place. Don't you get it? I go home I'll never get out again" she said and I bit my lip again. "Goodbye....."
"Don't go" I said, not entirely sure why I’d said it. Her leaving meant I didn’t have to worry about anyone finding out but...
"Then what do I do?" she asked, turning to face me.
"I... I don't know"
And with that she turned and walked away. Bollocks.