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Chapter 24: She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not: A Dance with Shadows and Silent Whispers of Love

A moment of silence.

Michelle, let me walk you home?" said Alec, looked upon by three pairs of eyes.

'Thank God! The awaited words finally came out.'

"But I really don't want to trouble you," Michelle said coyly to him. Alec immediately smiled, "You won't, I would actually feel happy."

"Oh, if that's the case then problem solved. I am very much obliged for your help, Alec," she said smilingly, full of gratitude towards him, "Alright, we will take leave first," I said, inviting Nadia to join me in a corner of the room, out of their sight.

We walked towards a corner of the party room.

"Thank you for your help," I said, feeling that without his help, the mission would have surely failed.

Nadia giggled, showing her happy face, "You two are so mean," inevitably, I also let out a small laugh. This girl is smart and attractive.

My eyes were instantly drawn to her. She wore a silver butterfly mask that only covered part of her face. Her beautiful black eyes sparkled full of life, her beautiful sharp nose, sharp chin, and soft lips. Damn it all. I was attracted to her, I swallowed.

Nadia fell silent, her gaze fixed on me.

"Are you an angel?" I asked because I was half nervous, which made Nadia open her eyes wide and fall silent, I smiled, "Are you a superhuman who can steal hearts or make every man who looks at you palpitate?" I asked, softly looking into her eyes.

Nadia blushed, "N..no, I'm a copier, why?"

"Because you look really beautiful," I said, paused for a moment and continued, "And you just managed to steal my heart and make me crazy about you," I said softly and sincerely. Nadia looked wide-eyed at me and her mouth opened slightly to reveal her white teeth and tempting lips.

I..I'm sorry," she stuttered, her face blushing.

I softly recited a poem by Lord Byron to her

"She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that's best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes;

Thus mellowed to that tender light

Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,

Had half impaired the nameless grace

Which waves in every raven tress,

Or softly lightens o'er her face;

Where thoughts serenely sweet express,

How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,

The smiles that win, the tints that glow,

But tell of days in goodness spent,

A mind at peace with all below,

A heart whose love is innocent!"

"Don't," I whispered, "You can have my heart forever, because I willingly leave it for you," I said, moving closer to her body, and now I could even feel her heartbeat beating in sync with mine. Our hands were still holding each other and her fingers tightly grasped my fingers.

My blood was heating up.

"You are really beautiful, tell me you're not just an illusion because I will never let you go." Our faces got closer and she closed her eyes.

By God, I feel so lucky to be born at this time. If I have to kiss her now and find myself drowning in the nearest river the next day because perhaps her parents are a mafia boss or a general who will shoot me.

'Then by God, I will do it, with no regret for it.'

My lips gently touched her beautiful lips. I felt her warm and soft breath, her lips were sweet like forbidden fruit. Her intoxicating and soft body scent, I was stealing a kiss from an angel from heaven.

And enjoying heaven itself, Oh God, I never knew there was so much pleasure and happiness that You had prepared.

"You will kill me," I whispered quietly while stroking her chin and cheek with my fingers. My lips softly kissed her outer lips and the next moment her lips felt stiff and trembling, her hand gripped my hand tightly with a slight tremor.

Tentatively, her lips slowly parted, welcoming mine, allowing her scent and breath to reach me, instantly I felt so complete. Warmth and happiness flowed into me, a sweet sensation spread from my lips throughout my body, making my head ring with beautiful notes and my soul floated with joy, with all this pleasure I wouldn't mind dying right now.

Slowly I pulled my lips away from her, though I still wanted more. My eyes opened and I could see how beautiful those eyes were, shining with a light I had never seen in my life, eyes that seemed enchanted and intoxicated by desire, surrender, or trust.

'I will never be able to stop wanting her.'

"Nadia?" a woman called out, snapping us back to reality. I turned my eyes to look at the two women approaching, the same woman who was behind me in the queue before entering this place. The woman saw me holding Nadia's hand and immediately put her hands on her hips accusingly, "Don't tell me you also seduced her."

Nadia looked at the friend who had just arrived and, at that moment, gripped my hand even tighter, her head bowed. A flush of red could be seen spreading across her cheeks. My eyes drifted back to her, and a sudden realization hit me. Even though deep down, I desired her to the point I'd willingly die for her, here in this place, I was again a lie. She was a superhuman, a member of BtP, and no matter what, if I took off my mask now and she discovered I was just a servant...

'Would she still like me? Allow me to kiss her?'

Perhaps she would let me kiss her after I deceived her. But would that be fair to her? When she is still young and capable of getting a man far better than me. A superhuman with a much brighter future than a village boy, a servant who had deceived her.

'A regular human.'

"I'm sorry for being so forward," I found myself saying, as if coming to my senses and releasing her hand.

'This charade had to end.'

As Nadia was about to say something, I gently placed a finger on her lips, silencing her. "Forget about me," I said, my heart aching painfully. "I am a lie," I added and took a step back to kneel beside her and kiss the back of her hand, whispering, "You will always have my heart, Princess."

I lifted my chin to look at her. She stared back at me silently, her heart heavy. I stood up and turned to leave the party room, leaving her in the corner with her two friends. I clenched my jaw, swallowing the bitter pill of self-inflicted pain. The dream was over, and I had no choice but to return to reality, my life as a waiter and bartender, this place, the BtP, and their world that would never be mine.

At the door leading to the elevator, I turned to look at her one last time. Through the crowd, I saw her looking directly at me with innocent eyes. Her entire body seemed to be crying out with longing. The sharp pang of pain hit my chest, and I quickly turned around, heading into the elevator. I was only an observer in their world, never truly a part of it. Seeing too much, wanting too much, always ended in greater pain. The drama was over, the stage was closed, and the pain had left its mark on my heart.

Not long after, in Michelle's car driving back to Luminescia, I received a text message from Michelle on my cell phone.

"Jaime, leave my car with the Master when you go to work. Alec will take me to Headquarters tomorrow morning."

I did as instructed, left the car at Eve's Cafe, and took my motorcycle. The cold air and dark night, I needed it all to clear my thoughts and emotions.

"Nadia," I whispered softly into the night's silence.

A servant masquerading as a fake prince, finding his princess amidst his deception.

I traveled for about ten minutes on my rickety motorcycle, the wind pushing against me as sporadic droplets of rain began to chill my hands. Just moments earlier, the sky had been a clear, bright canvas, but now ominous clouds began to gather, rolling in with haste. Rain fell in a slow rhythm, every drop carried on the cold gusts of wind. Within three short minutes, thunder had begun its cacophonous symphony and the rain was falling with fervor.

Leaving the asphalt road behind, I steered right towards a narrow path leading to a small wooden house, some thirty meters from the main road. It was the sole structure in an area spanning tens of kilometers, a lone sentinel in the midst of the encroaching jungle. I quickly sought shelter on the porch to evade the torrential rain and opened the door to the storage shed where I usually kept my motorcycle. This 3 x 3-meter shed, apart from housing my motorcycle, was filled with an assortment of neglected items stacked haphazardly. After ensuring my motorcycle was securely parked, I swiftly shut the squeaky door of the shed and secured it with a large, cold-to-touch lock.

The rain was now a drumming chorus on the roof. Entering the house, I tossed my keys and wallet onto a small table in the living room. My gaze fell onto my nearly empty wallet and an involuntary sigh escaped my lips. I realized my savings were depleting faster than I had anticipated. I needed a financial cushion to tide over until my next paycheck.

The house I inhabited belonged to the Master. Constructed of sturdy wood with a tiled roof, it stood as a relic of the past. Decades ago, the surrounding land had been part of a plantation owned by the Master's extensive family. Unfortunately, the plantation had ceased operations long ago, and the house was left to endure the elements. This 5 x 20-meter house consisted of a commodious living room, a bedroom on the second floor, and a functional kitchen. The bathroom was separate, detached from the main house. Adjacent to the house was the shed that also served as my motorcycle's storage.

When I first moved in, the house was in a state of disrepair. The roof leaked, doors were damaged, and wild creatures freely roamed its premises. However, the wooden flooring was still solid, a testament to the age-hardened timber from which it was crafted. The Master, in his generosity, had arranged for the house to be renovated as necessary. Of course, I was the one to carry out the task using his provided materials.

To me, the house was perfect as long as it didn't leak during the rains, and the electricity supply remained uninterrupted. There was an abundance of clean water, thanks to a reservoir that once catered to the needs of the plantation. The living room housed a small leather sofa, a modest table, and a long leather couch - my personal favorite. The central room boasted a vintage 21-inch TV, a faded carpet, a computer desk, and a used computer. A simple kitchen and a wooden dining table made up the back of the house.

I found the house extremely comfortable. All the furniture, once a part of Madame's old house, was well-preserved and functional, especially the kitchen utensils which found a new home in my small kitchen. As I opened the back door to use the bathroom, a crack of thunder sounded, and the rain intensified, with gusty winds accompanying it. In the backdrop of the heavy rainfall hitting the roof, I could vaguely hear the distant roar of crashing waves.

After a refreshing shower and change of clothes, I prepared a warm cup of orange juice in the kitchen. Sinking into the long leather couch, I picked up a book from my small table. It was an engrossing story about DNA and genetics that I had started reading the previous day.

Reading a book after work while enjoying a warm beverage was my routine. I had little interest in television, preferring the slow, imaginative exploration that books offered. My life revolved around my job at Eve's Cafe and my books. This simple, steady life had been my reality for many years.

The next day, I woke up around noon, still sprawled on my bed with a mind in turmoil. All night, I had wandered in the abyss of my thoughts, trying to return to normalcy, attempting to purge my memory of lingering sentiments. However, after countless futile attempts, I was no closer to forgetting.

My heart still ached for her.

Yet, the same question relentlessly tormented my soul, "If she uncovers the truth of my existence, would she still find it in her heart to love me in return?"

***

In the semi-darkness of a room steeped in mysticism, two figures, their identities concealed behind grotesque demon masks, conversed in hushed whispers, hidden from the world's gaze. The room was enshrouded in an eerie gloom, sporadically disrupted by the flickering glow of scarlet candles casting restless shadows onto the antiquated stone walls. A rich tapestry, illustrating an ancient battle between demons and humans in red and gold threads, adorned one wall. A formidable ebony table sat at the heart of the room, its surface scattered with arcane symbols that glowed a somber crimson in response to the secretive dialogue.

One of the masked individuals broke the silence, their voice unnaturally distorted by their demonic disguise. "There's been a leak. The BtP intelligence discovered the bomb we planned to plant at the masquerade party. They've implemented fingerprint scanning in response; our access is now barred, and a second attempt is off the table."

"Do we have any leads on who discovered the bomb?" the other figure queried, the menace in their tone mirroring their mask's gnarled grin.

The reply was tinged with uncertainty, "I can't say for sure, but there's been chatter about a woman named Michelle, referred to as 'The Mimic'."

The questioner leaned in, their mask now merely inches away, "Has the situation been addressed?"

"Our field agents are closing in on Michelle. I expect updates on their progress soon," came the response.

The demand was issued in a cold, stern tone, "Expedite the progress. Kill, torture if necessary."

"Understood," was the clipped reply.

"Two weeks from now, we will unleash chaos on the city. This time, we're going all out. It will be an event of unprecedented magnitude, the likes of which they've never seen."

As the conversation concluded, the room returned to its previous state of uneasy silence, the air laden with the ominous promises of forthcoming destruction and chaos.


CREATORS' THOUGHTS
Adam_Aksara Adam_Aksara

Dear Immolat,

Thank you! Your gift of the Power Stone means the world to me. It's more than a simple stone. It's a symbol of your support, a beacon for my creativity.

Your act of kindness has truly inspired me and adds meaning to my work as an author. I can't express how much I appreciate your support.

I wish you a life full of happiness. May your days be as joyful and as inspiring as the support you've given me.

Thank you once again, Immolat. You're a real gem.

Best wishes,

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