I came to, standing up. Romulus's hands were on my waist - he had obviously caught me as I'd fainted. I glanced down at them and up at him meaningfully. He hurriedly let go of me.
"Why do I keep fainting?" I wondered.
Romulus shrugged. "Perhaps it's because you're an Earth-dweller."
I looked around. I was at the mouth of a cave. The rock was dark grey and looked hard rather than crumbly as some rocks are. I turned. Behind me I saw mountain peaks - made of purple rock with snowy caps and sparse vegetation - and below me, for the platform of rock I was standing on jutted out of the surrounding rocks a few hundred dizzying kilometres above the ground, a narrow valley ran between two of the distant mountain bases with a thin stream of (Earth) sky blue water winding its way towards a hilly area where there grew lots of grass and more plants in the middle.
I turned back, feeling light-headed from the thin air of the altitude, and saw Romulus leaning against the cave looking relaxed and content.
"Why did you want to bring me here?" I questioned.
Romulus smiled. "Great view."
"But why bring me?"
"Well, like I said, you might want to check out the other available guys before you tie yourself down."
"Why would that matter to you, though?"
"Hm, I personally think the Intertwining of Fates is a pretty serious thing to go through with. Very permanent: you could ruin your life doing it too early."
"That doesn't tell me why my decisions matter to you," I pointed out.
"No, it doesn't," he said, grinning. He straightened up and approached me. "Can I ask you something, Tilda?"
"Don't call me that! How d'you even know that's what my name is?"
"I was in your mind. I picked up a little more than what you did with Peter in the gardens."
"You should have ignored it."
"Oh you go and ignore something you're surrounded by then if your actions are so perfect."
I crossed my arms. "What were you going to ask?"
"Have you never considered getting with someone not so angelic as Peter?"
I felt uncomfortable. "Peter said he'd be anything for me. And, as I told him, I wanted our relationship to be like a dream. I imagined ... pure souls and doves. Peter did try to be alluring."
"Pure souls and doves? Did you never want to imagine black panthers? Don't you find the dark is hard to resist sometimes?"
I was startled by how close he'd gotten.
"N-no," I stammered, slightly frightened by the intensity of his eyes.
"D'you want a taste?" he asked.
I shook my head. My heart was hammering in my chest, I was sure I wasn't getting enough air and my skin felt frozen.
"Maybe later," he said, almost amiably. He stepped back and turned to the mouth of the cave. He threw out his arms.
"Welcome to the Caves of Nuki!"
He started off at a brisk pace, not even checking to see I was following. I walked slowly but when the tunnel began to twist and turn, I ran to catch up with him.
Very soon, it was pitch black. I walked into Romulus as he stopped. I felt him turn and he whispered "Scary, isn't it?" It was. The darkness seemed to opress all my senses and I got the feeling it was physically pressing in on me, so much so that I couldn't breathe properly. A few seconds later, there was a single flame in the blackness. It seemed to float in the air but when my eyes adjusted to the tiny source of light, I could see Romulus was holding a lighter.
I realised I was very near one of the cave walls in a very narrow space. Romulus was so close we were breathing on each other and could feel each other's body heat.
"Well, this is cosy, isn't it?"
I could faintly see his face. He was smiling.
"Oh gosh, is that why you brought me here?" I asked.
"No, we are going to see some crystals at some point. I just thought you might like to reconsider the offer I made outside."
"No," I said, shaking my head furiously to emphasise my point.
"Tell me one thing that really puts you off me."
"You controlled my mind," I replied, almost instantaneously.
"I can use that in a good way, too."
I suddenly felt inexplicably relaxed. It didn't faze me that I was in a dark cave with a lighter as the only source of light. I was still anxious about Romulus, thankfully, but I was much calmer. My heart was slowing in my chest, my breathing was becoming more regular and I didn't feel so cold.
"Thanks," I said, surprised and grateful.
"You see, the characteristics of the dark aren't always dark. And I can be like that too. There'll be times when you're chilled to the core just thinking about me but I can be a thrilling and pleasurable experience too."
"I love Peter," I told Romulus. "Even if you were wonderful too, I wouldn't betray him like that."
"Yeah, but it's danger and mystery which really ignites a flame of passion. You might get bored by Peter."
"I'm a simple person."
I looked up into those navy eyes. There was no scepticism in them, just curiosity. I felt like he was searching my face for an answer - wait, he could be probing my mind.
"Are you reading my thoughts?" I asked.
Romulus shook his head.
"Well, I am simple. I appreciate things in life: I write poetry..." I trailed off, suddenly unsure of myself. Most of the poetry I'd written had expressed longing. Longing for something I didn't have. My life was better than other people's, lots of others'. If I really was simple, I would be satisfied with what I had rather than desiring something so badly I cried about it.
"So you never wanted something you didn't have?" Romulus asked.
I couldn't answer him.
"Don't you find the prospect of mystery and darkness enticing?"
He'd asked me something similar before but this time I couldn't answer.
Romulus leant down and kissed me.