This is an excerpt from a short story, “Love’s Regret”
“Where were you hiding all this time?” he asked me on that unforgettable last evening.
We were sitting on the stone steps leading down to the old pond like we had been every evening this past one week. The murky pond was a far cry from the one with sparkling clean water in the old days with water lilies and a couple of lotuses. There was a dirty thin film covering the stagnant water now. The overhanging trees cast shadows that changed shapes with the breeze.
I laughed and turned sideways to look at him.
“Is it my fault you were short-sighted??” I asked him in jest.
What I saw in his eyes disconcerted me. I turned quickly away to hide my confusion. Regaining my composure, I added in a lighter vein,
“Princes don’t have time or eyes for commoners”
He grabbed my arm pulling me roughly towards him, holding me tightly. His breath was warm on my cheeks, his eyes piercing. I closed my eyes. I was afraid he would see in them all the secrets I had locked away long back when the Princess had entered his life. My arm was hurting me where he held on tight.
“Don’t ever say that again,” he said releasing me abruptly, and turning away.
My arm had angry red marks on them. He turned back, took a look and started rubbing the area vigorously, making the blood flow again.
“Sorry…” he said not looking up.
“It’s okay…” I said pulling my arm back. “It’s late, time for me to leave.”
“No!” he said roughly pulling me back to him.
Suddenly I was in his arms and he was kissing me. I closed my eyes, giving myself up to him. There was no resistance left in me. Not after all these years. A tiny tear stole from behind my closed eyelid and trickled down. When he felt the wetness on his cheek, he drew back, still holding me. I could feel his eyes on me. I kept mine closed. He called my name. It sent a jolt through me. He called me again. I couldn’t hold back any longer and fell sobbing on to his chest and he held me close.
“And you don’t ever ask me that again…” I managed to stammer.
“Ask what sweetheart??” he asked so tenderly that my breath caught in my throat.
“Where I was hiding…”
“I know… I was blind…” he said bitterly.
I hugged him tighter. We sat silent for a long time on the steps that led down to the old pond which held so many memories.
Even in that closeness the presence of the Princess loomed large between us, his Princess who waited for him in their faraway castle. Her thought made me uneasy. I stirred in his arms. He only held me tighter.
You will have to wait for the rest 😉