Lucian?!” Liliana called out. “Lucian!” Her hands moved in front of her to gently push past the evergreen pine needles of the trees, lifting them away from her face. Water droplets from the morning’s shower rained down upon her like tears as they slipped from the waxy needles to spot her dress with little dark circles. Finally, she caught sight of him and ran breathlessly over, her bright pink dress swinging back and forth around her.
Lucian, for his own part, was kneeling down in a small clearing and appeared to be staring quite intensely at a small patch of the soft grassy ground. Upon hearing Liliana’s call, he looked up and smiled warmly at the sight that greeted him. Coming to a stop before Lucian Liliana’s cheeks were flushed red and she was smiling a wide breathless smile.
He stood, dusting off a bit of mud from his black trousers and chuckled at the sight of the child, so innocent and full of life, before him. “Bonjour Liliana, ma chère. I see you are in a fine mood this morning.”
Her smile widened. “Yes, very much so!”
His eyes alight with a humor that only he could ever understand over the simple meeting, Lucian strode to where Liliana stood a mere five steps before him, near the edge of the clearing. As he walked the long moorish grass parted and swayed in a slightly chilled breeze, whispering. Slipping his hand easily around the young girls shoulders Lucian lead her back into the center where he earlier knelt. “It is early yet for you to be in so joyful a mood…” He paused and glanced towards the graying sky before continuing, “And in such dreadful weather.”
She laughed, “But you like the weather…and it is never too early for joy if I am in your company.”
His lips quirked upwards ever so slightly, “That I do. I find the weather suits me. Mais…” his hand strayed to brush a stray curl away from her cheek, “Such a young product of life as you should be morning such depressing weather as this.”
“But clouds bring rain and rain is the water of life.”
“That it is ma amore, that it is.” He replied, thoughtful. “You truly are an amazing creature to be so young and innocent yet so old and wise. You are…unique, Liliana.”
The seriousness of the moment was lost upon her however as she swung her dress happily about her beaming, “Thank you!”
“Merci,” he corrected automatically with an amused smile.
Liliana frowned slightly in confusion before hesitantly attempting the foreign word, “Merci?”
Lucian nodded his head, “Oui, bien fait ma chère.”
Having long sense stopped within the middle of the clearing, Lucian turned and placed a gentle hand upon Liliana’s waist while staring intently into her eyes. For her own part, Liliana’s heart sped up and she found her flesh warm. Slowly, as if asking permission with his eyes but at the same time knowing she had no choice in the matter either way, he drew her body against his. Liliana felt her cheeks burn as, almost dreamlike, his lips drew closer to brush chastely against her own. At the last second, Liliana’s eyes drew closed, allowing feeling to take over.
The chilled wind had returned slightly stronger and was tossing her dark curls far out behind her while playing with the pink ruffles at the edge of her dress, causing it to flutter. Yet, with the death of the wind, it lay still once more. The rustle of the pine trees and meadow grass faded away. To Liliana there was nothing but his soft lips as they caressed her own and the heat of his body pressed against her chest. Then, as quick as it came, it was over and he was pulling away. Liliana found her eyes springing open at the sudden lost contact but the protest that was already on her lips died at noticing his hands remained firmly upon her waist and, for once, he was warm.
“Come,” he whispered, “I have something to show you.”
“What?” Breaking through the fog from before Liliana tilted her head to the side and widened her eyes slightly in what she hoped was a cute and endearing manner. She was rewarded with a chuckle. ‘Lucian appears to be in a good mood today as well’ she observed.
“You will see, but first…” he trailed off and lifted his hand to waive it lazily in a half crescent before her face, “…you must sleep.”
And her eyes drifted closed as she fell back. Lucian caught her easily and hoisted her into his arms, her head cradled upon his chest. With one thoughtful piercing look around the clearing, he turned back into the woods carrying his prize and vanished.
When next Liliana awoke she came to herself groggily. The first thing she noticed was that she lay upon something soft and warm. There was a light blanket on top of her; it was a type of rich fur lined with silk. Opening her eyes as her mind tried to think back and remember how she came to be in this strange place she found herself to be looking up at a beautiful ornate ceiling. Her eyes followed the contours of clouds, angels, and beautiful beasts from the far East, all expertly painted in rich colors and gold. She sat up to lean back against the dark mahogany headboard, carved in the same motif. Liliana took the opportunity to look around. To the left there was a wall of bookshelves that wrapped around the corner of the room to rest at a grand fireplace encrusted with precious jewels. To the right lay an ancient grandfather clock that appeared to work but peculiarly made no sound. The only other piece of furniture beside for the massive bed she lay in was a small leather couch. It was long, with no backing, more a large tall footstool than a couch.
Finally, her eyes came to rest upon the figure dressed in opulent white, his hair pulled back into an ivory clasp. He was kneeling with his back to her, poking at the fire and apparently unaware that she had awoke. Quietly Liliana set her bare feet onto the cold black stone floor, Lucian having apparently removed her stockings and shoes, and padded over to him. Just as she was nearing his side he turned and fixed her with such a piercing stare that it made Liliana freeze. But then his eyes grew warm and his smile comforting as he reached out his hand towards her. “Je suis désolé ma petite. It was a long journey and you fell asleep.”
“I don’t remember.” Liliana replied confused. Her head felt muddled.
‘Shhh…” he pressed two cold fingers to her lips.
Liliana paused and decided to try a new approach, “Where am I?”
“We are currently at my home. I wish to show it to you.”
Liliana frowned, “before…when we were in the woods…you said I needed to sleep. What did you mean?”
“It is only a simple parlor trick, nothing to trouble yourself over.” He grinned, amused by her question.
“Come,” he turned and beckoned her to follow.
Together they walked through Lucian’s home. It reminded her of a large extravagant Victorian manor although at times it seemed more castle-like. The display of wealth was spectacular. There were gems and precious metals, elaborately painted murals, silk tapestries, and large statues. And yet…every hallway, every room, was cold and empty. The emptiness made the high arched ceilings seem even higher. But the most unnerving part was the silence. It was unearthly quiet except for their footsteps and their occasional talking. Looking out the windows, Liliana noticed another peculiar thing. It was snowing. Yet, it was only the beginnings of Autumn, far too early for the dead onset of winter she saw before her.
“Where are we?” Liliana asked while staring out at the snowy court yard.
Lucian came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her. “We are…,” he said at length,
“far far away from anywhere you have ever known.”
Liliana blinked, “How long was I asleep?” She leaned back against Lucian’s warmth. ‘Usually he is very cold but lately he has been warm. How peculiar’ She reflected.
“Not long” Lucian replied while stroking her hair, “Not long at all.”
Photograh from Microsoft Clipart