Editor’s Note: This is the third chapter of The Lost Prentice, an online serial novel exclusively on the Baltimore Post-Examiner. If you missed the previous chapter please read it before starting this latest installment. Every week we will be posting a new chapter. Enjoy.
Miles had gone through his entire wardrobe. Twice. He had grown so frustrated with his lack of ability to make a decision he tossed on a pair of jeans, a black t-shirt, a pair of leather flip flops. He avoided the mirror, grabbed his keys, wallet and cell from the bowl and headed straight for the car without a second glance.
This girl had him trembling with fear. But she also had him giddy, and left him yearning for her laugh. Miles knew nothing about Gwen, and had learned little in the two moments they had spoken to each other. Yet she seemed to know his entire life story and his character. Miles didn’t like this fact one bit.
There was more to Gwen Keridwen and Miles was eager to uncover it.
He arrived at the eatery early and picked a table by the window and directly under a stream of light. Miles had already grown too fond of seeing her in the sunlight. He wasn’t quite sure if he was thrilled or uneasy about such a feeling. He was going to order them something to drink when he realized he had no idea what her preference of afternoon beverage was. Soda? Tea? Juice? Miles made a mental note to ask her, and ordered the two of them waters.
Strumming his fingers against the faux wood table, Miles stared at the door as if his life depended on this. He crossed his legs, uncrossed them. He began tapping his foot to the beat of the eatery music and then began jiggling his entire leg to the nerves bouncing around in his person. His heart beat was racing a mile a minute and it was making him too anxious.
To calm himself, Miles began to rapidly recite prime numbers underneath his breath. “2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37…”
The four occupied tables around Miles slowly began to dwindle to three, than two, to just one and then finally all were empty. Miles was sure his random outbursts of prime numbers he could recall in the thousands had frightened them away. But he didn’t mind. In fact he preferred it. He wanted to be alone with Gwen as much as they could be in a University eatery.
He had just remembered the prime number 2333 when Gwen walked through the double glass eatery doors with an easy smile on her face. Miles could swear he could smell her lavender perfume from across the room. Once again she was in white which happened to be in the form of a classic peasant skirt and a plain white tank which showed enough skin to have him salivating. Her smile grew wider at the sight of him and she quickly hurried over.
“I hope I didn’t keep you waiting,” Gwen said, taking the seat across from him. She placed her woven purse down on the floor to the right of her. “The buses were running a little behind.”
Miles couldn’t take his eyes off of her. She was glowing in the stream of light, exactly how he had fantasized about earlier. He loved the way the tips of her hair glowed gold; the way her eyes had turned to a bright amber in the sunlight. He loved the way her cheeks had a faint flush to it from her rushing. Miles could sit at that spot for hours and would never grow bored with just basking in Gwen’s undeniable beauty.
Her eyes lifted from her purse and into his emerald green eyes. Gwen blinked a couple of times and then a twinkle of amusement appeared within in them. “Yes?”
Miles took a couple of moments to regain his composure. He cleared his throat. “Ah, I could have picked you up.”
“It’s not a problem,” she said waving a hand of dismissal. “So what’s on the menu?”
“Perhaps some sandwiches?”
He ordered them some chicken sandwiches and continued to watch her, desperate to learn all of her quirks and habits. Gwen avoided his stare, by looking down at her plate and focusing on a stray piece of Parmesan cheese. But there was a small smile on her face. A mischievous one that had sparked Miles curiosity.
“Tell me what you’re thinking,” Miles said finally.
“Excuse me?” she asked, thoroughly surprised.
“You seem to already have a grasp on me but I’m still finding it exceptionally difficult to figure you out. And you seem to like that,” he decided.
“That would be a correct assessment. I’ve never been mysterious to anybody before and I’m actually enjoying it.”
“Mmm. So your thoughts?”
“I’m just wondering why you’re so desperate to get to know me so quickly.” She smiled and placed her fork down, finally looking up to meet his gaze. “I think even if I told you every single fact about myself, you would still be unsatisfied.”
“Fair enough.” Miles leaned back in his chair and rested his elbow on the top of the back. “But let me ask you this. What’s my favorite color?”
She had gone back to playing with the cheese and was smiling down at it. “Green. Like your eyes.”
“What do I do when-”
“You count,” Gwen said before he finished. “You’re obsessed with numbers.”
Miles took a couple of moments to be dumbfounded. “How do you do that?”
Gwen smiled wider but refused to meet his eyes. “I don’t know what you’re talking about Mr. Hunter.”
The two of them stayed quiet, Gwen playing with her cheese and Miles leaning back and watching her as closely as he could. Very aware of his gaze, but not bothered by it, she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
“Go ahead,” she said. “Ask one of the questions burning around in that head of yours Mr. Hunter.”
Miles’ grin was quick and easy. “I want to know why you wear white.”
“I can’t like the color white?”
“You could. But when you wear it, it’s almost like a uniform. It suits you.”
“Well thank you. That’s definitely a compliment. So, physics and chem major. What made you choose that?”
“It makes perfect sense to me. The numbers. The theories and laws. It all makes sense and it can all be explained. And I’m good at it.”
“Because you’re good with numbers.”
“That goes without saying.”
Gwen put her fork down and looked up at him with humor dancing in her eyes. “Do you believe in God, Mr. Hunter?”
Miles felt his gut tighten at this question. If Gwen was a religious activist who had the bible memorized to the punctuation, he wouldn’t have been able to handle it. “No, not at all.”
She laughed lightly at his answer. And even though Miles was now terrified this girl was already in a relationship with Jesus Christ, he couldn’t help but feel the need to be closer to her. He rested his arms on the table and leaned in.
“I didn’t think so. Because it can’t be proved by equations or a solid explanation?”
“Pretty much. Do you believe in God?” he asked dreading the answer.
“I don’t, no.” Miles internally sighed with relief. “But who’s to say there isn’t?”
Miles playfully narrowed his eyes at her. “What exactly do you believe in Gwen?”
Gwen leaned forward on the table as well so their faces were merely inches apart. He could smell her fruity lip balm which had him eager for a taste. But it was hardly the moment for that, so he kept his distance, much to his regret.
“I believe there are certain things that can’t be explained. Not with theories or your beloved numbers or even logic. I believe that there are things that are destined to be unanswered.”
She looked down at their hands which were brushing against each other. Miles had the delight of taking a large whiff of the lavender scent from her hair.
“You can tell me why we have hands and fingers. You can tell me how we use them. You can tell me how we’re able to feel the things we touch. You could probably tell me where the common gesture of hand holding originated from. But what you can’t tell me is why humans feel so compelled to hold hands in the first place. What you can’t tell me is why you and I seem to have this connection, this connection that both of us can feel. Yet neither of us have yet to have physical contact and we haven’t known each other for more than three days.”
Gwen’s smile was slow and sly as she began to trace patterns on the back of Miles’ hand, leaving a trail of raised hair.
“That can’t be explained in numbers, no matter how hard you try. And as for God, I personally don’t think there is one. But I do think there are…talented beings, if you will. These people can harness the energy in the world and change it into anything they like. Control it or manipulate. Depending on your definition of God or God-like, those talented beings could probably be in that category. Wouldn’t you agree, being a man of science? Don’t you have to have energy to make the world and all of it to exist?”
Gwen was still smiling and Miles was watching her in awe. “What are you?” he asked quietly.
She looked up, the same twinkle in her eyes. “I’m afraid that’s against the rules too.”
“Ah, your rules.” Miles leaned back into his chair to pull away from her. He was afraid he was going to do something drastic. “What other rules do you have that keeps you from getting close to me?”
“We just met. Getting close comes later. This is the time where we make small talk. Such as, your favorite book or color.”
“I rarely read unless I have to. It used to be green.”
Gwen laughed, sitting back as well. “Used to be?”
“Well I’m starting to grow fond of white.”
Gwen’s eyes glittered with amusement. “My favorite color is yellow. The bright sunflower kind. It just makes me happy and makes me want to smile.”
“I’ve noticed you smiling a lot without the sunflower being in your view.”
“Well that’s because you make me smile Mr. Hunter. And quite easily at that.”
“Glad I could be of service. Favorite flower.”
“Is that why you always smell like it?”
“I love it. The smell. The look of it. What it could be used for.”
“Lavandula augustifolia is said to keep away parasites. You grow them in your garden so they can keep away the fleas, the moths and the mites. You can also use them in cooking.” Her eyes flicked down to the table as she recalled the recipe. “I love to use them on salmon. You use the lavender in the vinaigrette and in the marinade. It hardly has any taste but mixed with all the ingredients, it has a special effect on the eater.”
“It also works wonders in jam with kiwi and honey. A couple of raspberries to really juice it up. Of course you can only taste the fruits but without the lavender, it wouldn’t become the Elixir of Happiness. Which it’s been known for since medieval times.”
“Elixir of Happiness?”
“It’s served to newlyweds.”
“You’re not making any sense.”
She finally looked back up to him, the mischievous look back in her eyes. Miles stomach clenched with lust.
“I know,” she said, her gaze darting back and forth between the two of his eyes.
“Do you like being aloof to me?”
“I do, yes.”
“What if I started being aloof to you?”
She let out a short and quick ha. “Impossible.”
“Oh?” asked Miles, raising a brow.
“You’re very easy to grasp as I’ve said before. You have a temper problem,” she added suddenly, as if she had no control of her own speech.
“Not angry like you get pissed off at everything. You’re just wound too tightly,” Gwen said, looking deeper into his eyes. “But you’re the kind of person that gets angry for your friends or family. You’re very protective of them. You use that aggressiveness to their advantage.”
Gwen kept right on staring, making him feel violated. “There’s just so much energy inside you that it explodes into anger or sexual frustration.”
Miles choked on his sudden intake of breath. She threw her head back, laughing loudly which rang throughout the entire eatery. A couple of other men heard the wonderful sound and started watching her eagerly. Miles threw them all a dirty look but they all failed to notice him, too enthralled by the beautiful woman sitting across from him.
Gwen paid no mind to any of them, pleasing Miles. “I’m sorry for being so blunt,” Gwen said calming down. “I’m sorry. But that’s why you’re going running. It’s not because you’re suddenly too vain or unable to be satisfied. So stop being so hard on yourself. You just have too much inside of you.”
Miles was flabbergasted. Everything Gwen has said has been spot on. Like she had known him for years. Yet, this was only their third encounter.
“Who are you?” asked Miles.
Gwen smiled. “Me? I’m Gwen Keridwen.”
The rest of the lunch was nowhere near as odd as the first part of it, which Gwen secretly loved. They spoke of their favorite books and movies which—surprisingly—they had much of those in common. Music was another story. Miles preferred the hard metal and rock while Gwen preferred the oldies and classical music. They eventually agreed to disagree. After which, they decided it was time to get back to the real world. And shockingly enough, it was nearing six in the evening.
“Holy crap! We’ve been here all day!” exclaimed Gwen.
“Wow, I didn’t even realize it,” Miles said shaking his head. “How are you getting home Gwen?”
“By the bus-”
“Gwen. Please let me take you home.”
“Nonsense, It’s only a fifteen minute ride-”
“Gwen, for my own peace of mind. Let me take you home so that I know you’re safe.”
She watched him for a couple of moments, and then a warm smile appeared on her face. “Alright Mr. Hunter. You may assist me home. But only that. You are not permitted to enter the grounds in anyway.”
Miles laughed and held up his hands in surrender. “I only wish to escort you.”
“Fine. You may give me a ride home.”
He reached out for her hand and she took it instantly—without any hesitation. Miles felt his heart flip in response. Her hand was so much smaller compared to his monstrous ones. And together, palm to palm, it just felt right.
Miles found her house thanks to her precise directions. The neighborhood was a small cozy one which was cast in an orange glow, thanks to the setting sun. He parked in front of the house, which made him feel like he was in the middle of the old unmarked roads. But at the sight of her house, all his worry vanished,
It was a simple yellow townhouse with a bright red door and was surrounded by an old white picket fence. To the right of the house, was a massive willow tree which gave the house a whimsical atmosphere. Metal wind chimes dangled from the porch. To the left side of the yellow house was a garden filled with flowers and vines of all kinds, adding to the beauty and whimsy.
“This is your house?” asked Miles.
“Yes. Well it’s Zelda’s actually.”
“Zelda? I thought she was your older sister.”
“What about your parents?”
Gwen turned from the car window to look at him. She was smiling but there was sadness in her eyes. And with just that look, Miles knew she didn’t want to talk about it.
“Never mind,” Miles said quickly. Then he sighed. “Here you are. Safe and sound.”
“Thank you. I appreciate it very much.”
“You’re very welcome.”
He stared at her for a couple of more seconds, just taking in all of her beauty. Her cheeks flushed at the intensity of his gaze. “Gwen,” he said finally. “Would it be too much if I asked you if I could kiss your cheek?”
“Not at all.”
Miles unbuckled his seatbelt and ever so slowly leaned in. He feathered his fingers over her jaw, careful not to rush it. She smiled as her eyes fluttered closed. Then still as softly as ever, he brushed his lips gently against her cheek bones.
It was like a monster had been unleashed.
He wanted to have all of her, take all of her. He wanted to drag her to the back seat and taste her till he suffocated and drowned in her. He wanted to kiss and caress till she was trembling under his slightest touch. He wanted her screams of pleasure to bounce off the metal frame.
Miles jerked back, worried Gwen had sensed his burst of lust. She was still blushing and her eyes were still closed as if she noticed nothing. “Well, goodnight Ms. Keridwen.”
Gwen opened her eyes and Miles was surprised to see them lit with passion. She blinked a couple of times and then cleared her throat. After only a brief second of hesitation, she flashed him a charming smile and said her goodbyes. Then she swiftly opened the car door and sauntered out.
She walked up the path feeling shaken, but not in an unpleasant way. The light brush of lips on her cheek had caused her bones and muscles to ache with need. Luckily, Miles pulled away when he did or she would have assaulted him within his own car.
Gwen closed the red door behind her and pressed her face into the crack of the door. As if that would somehow make her feel closer to him. After a couple of private moments, she turned around and yelped. Both sisters were standing with her in the hallway. As well as her closest friend Owen and his fraternal dove winged sister.
“Well?” asked Evie, her eyes slightly disapproving.
“He’s amazing,” Gwen said, feeling her heart dissolve to mush.
Evie’s brows shot up. “You just met him.”
“I don’t care.” Gwen walked passed the three of them and tossed her purse onto the coffee table. “He’s different.”
“Different how?” demanded Zelda, her arms crossed in anger.
“He finds me interesting. He loves hearing me talk. He likes the way I look, the way I sound, the way I laugh! Zelda! The way he already feels for me is remarkable! Wonderful! He might not fully understand it yet, but he needs me!”
“He’s a Normal,” growled Zelda.
“Orpheus wouldn’t like that,” added Evie.
“Orpheus isn’t dating him-”
“Dating him?! You’ve been on one lunch date with him!”
“I don’t care if he’s Normal or not!” Gwen shouted, trying to make her point clear.
Zelda’s eyes flashed with challenge, instantly striking fear into Gwen’s heart. “You don’t care that he’s a Normal?” asked Zelda. “That he’s nothing but human? Alright then. Tell him. Tell him you’re a Subtle. Better yet, tell him you’re an Enchantress who has psychic abilities. Don’t forget to tell him about our magical powers and us casting spells. Tell him Subtles are in an everlasting war with the Vulgars who are currently in the lead! Tell him we’re being hunted because our parents were their worst adversaries! Tell him we live with twin Fairies—one who’s Dryad and one who’s a Sylph. Tell them our parents and the parents of our best friends were murdered-”
“Please,” begged Gwen, her eyes glossy with emotion. “Don’t bring them up.”
Zelda closed her eyes, her heart breaking at the fond memory of their father. But she cleared her throat and got back to business. “Are you going to tell him?” demanded Zelda, the ice steel returning.
“I don’t know!”
“And why don’t you know?”
“Because he could hate me!” screamed Gwen. “He could not want anything to do with me once he finds out what I am! He’ll never want me again!”
“Which is why we never deal with Normals,” Zelda said, her tone sounding satisfied with their conclusion.
Gwen burst into tears, ran up the stairs, leaped into her bed, and wept. She only lifted from her pillow when her green handed friend patted her head and handed her a purple hyacinth—which of course meant that he was sorry.
to be continued…