Zahra was concerned by the emotions that had so fleetingly crossed Adrian's eyes. Did he really find her attractive?

More imortantly...Do find him attractive?

As Zahra and Adrian walked along, they neared an arena. The sandy flooring of the arena was surrounded by marble pillars. Inside, for audience purposes, marble benches had been planted all around the arena. It was, without a doubt, a most perfect little arena.

"I'll challenge you," Zahra said, eyes twinkling. "I'll challenge you to swordplay!"

Rolling his eyes, Adrian responded in the negative. "No, Sara. I'll beat you - everytime."

"Why? I thought you were only a knight-in-training!"

Laughing, Adrian shook his head. "Maybe, but I've learned practically all there is to know about swordplay. Wouldn't want you to get hurt, now, would we?"

Just then, another figure appeared: the very person whom Zahra least wished to see.

The prince.

Snorting in disgust, Zahra took a step back. Prince Alexander's eyes flickered briefly over Zahra before focusing on Adrian. "Well, well. What have we here?" he asked, and there was no denying the confusion in his tone.

"She...tried to escape, sir," Adrian said, performing a perfunctory bow before turning to Zahra. "You should probably get back to your cell, miss."

Frustrated by the sudden formality, Zahra declared, "I'm staying."

"I'm afraid you can't," Adrian protested, but the prince cut him off.

"You can stay, but only if you promise not to try to escape until tomorrow."

There was a bit of teasing in the prince's tone, but Zahra was not about to show any sign of friendship toward the prince. He'd burned his bridges. There was no way he could ever gain respect in her eyes again. "How do you know I won't simply break that promise?"

"Because I thought your word might mean something to you."

"You're one for talking about honor," Zahra mumbled.

"Really, though, Adrian - we'd scheduled sword practice for this time. If you're to be promoted to knight, then we ought to sharpen your swordfighting skills."

Amused, Zahra looked up at Adrian. "I thought you knew all there was to know about - "

Adrian waved his hand. "That's enough," he said. Nodding to Alexander, he acknowledged the plans they'd made. "You're right. Let's get practicing." Winking at Zahra when Alexander turned away, Adrian mouthed to her, "Watch this."

"I'm watching," Zahra mouthed back, laughing inwardly. Nothing Adrian could do would make her admit respect for him.

Watching as Adrian and Alexander selected their swords, Zahra knew who she would be rooting for. Despite the fact that she would hate to admit to Adrian that she'd been on his side, she was disgusted by the prince and his foolish whims. Raising her head, she laughed. "I'm for Adrian," she called out.

Adrian winked again at her, but Alexander made no response whatsoever. Instead, he raised his sword. "Are you ready, Adrian?"

This should be good.

The End

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