25. Together Again (Part 5)

 

The princess and the pirate dissolved into a fit of laughter. “Your men sure are… compelling,” she wheezed, clutching her stomach.

“Ha! I think you mean compulsive.” He rested a hand on her shoulder, “Now, my fair lady, tell me, might there be any ‘tastes of home’ that you are craving?”

She took a one-eighty view of the many delicacies of her hometown, “Um…” Her eyes locked on a baker’s table at the end of the street, “I know just the place!” Taking him by the hand, she flew through the throng of people. “Back when I was young, when my mother first became ill, we sold one of her famous dessert recipes to a baker’s wife in order to pay for her medication. I wonder if they still use it? I’d sure love to taste my mother’s cooking again.”

The baker’s table stood grandly before them moments later, decorated with more desserts than Levi could name and enough sugar to give a man diabetes by just looking at it. Decorative cups of chocolate fluff and tiny, pink cakes topped with raspberries graced the booth alongside apples impaled upon wooden sticks and encased in a thick, red candy coating. An assortment of miniature pies and cookies also made their debut with style. The sight of the display made Levi’s mouth water and his teeth ache at the same time.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” Hataru asked the portly woman behind the table, “do you have any of your strawberry shortcakes left?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, dear,” the woman cooed, “Just sold the last one to a little boy a few moments ago, I did. Come by my husband’s bakery tomorrow, and I’ll make sure we have some more!”

Like a delicate flower cut at the stem by the florist’s sharp blades of death, the princess drooped. “Is that so? In that case, I think I’ll have one of those peanut butter cookies. They were my father’s favorite.”

“Alright, and for you, sir?” the corpulent woman’s flesh jiggled when she turned to Levi.

“Ah, the same for me please.” He traded her the payment for the bag of cookies. Handing one to the princess, the pirate sympathised, “I’m sorry they didn’t have what you were looking for. We can stay till tomorrow if you’d like, anything to make you happy.”

“Oh, no, Captain. I’ll be fine. I don’t want to make all your men wait for me. Thank you, tho─OH!” Hataru walked straight into a man’s muscular back. “I’m so sorry, sir! I wasn’t looking where I was going! I… I… I know you!”  

Drawing the attention of a gaggle of gossips in the street with his lofty stature and striking features, the man stood erect with a look of amazement equal to that of the princess. His auburn hair, feathering out like a regal crown atop his head, was collected in a spruce ponytail at the nape of his neck, accentuating his warm, brown irises. Though she was certain she had never seen his face before, a voice of recollection told her that she had, maybe years ago or maybe in a dream. However, it was not this hint of familiarity that revealed his identity to her, but his dapper blue jacket trimmed with gold. “Prince Tarin, is that you?”

The End

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