“No, follow my lead, Cassandra.”
I nodded my head and looked down at my feet. Zach was teaching me how to dance since I had forgotten how to in the last nine years. In the last hour I had stepped on his foot eight times, tripped over my own feet ten times, and caused Zach to trip three times. I knew I used to always be a klutz, especially while growing up, but I never thought it would come back to haunt me. I was counting in my head as Zach and I danced around the room, making sure not to trip or step on him. Phillip and Rogue had decided watching us was more fun than spending time outside on their day off.
I looked at him, finally getting the simplest of all dance steps down.
“Okay, I’m going to spin you out, then pull you back in, okay?”
I nodded my head just as he spun me out then pulled me back in so my back was to his chest. His arms were lying over mine, and our hands were at my waist. I could hear him hum as he swayed us from side to side, turning in circles. He twirled me till I was facing him again, setting us in the beginning position.
Zach looked into my eyes while he slowly leaned in. I closed my eyes and waited for whatever he would do. I felt him move away, causing me to open my eyes to see him looking conflicted.
“Um, that’s good for today Cassie. Why don’t you go enjoy the rest of your day off?”
I nodded my head and walked out, leaving him there confused by what had just happened.
I sat outside on the garden swing that sat among dozens of flowers. The place made me feel like I was in another world. I kept thinking about how Zach seemed to have almost kissed me. I had been kissed before but it was because another servant was going to be requested for a night’s activity and needed help learning to kiss. I messed with my heart locket while thinking of why in the world he would want to kiss me.
I sighed and simply swung while watching the clouds. I closed my eyes as a breeze picked up, blowing my hair away from my face. I heard the click of a camera going off and looked over to see Zach holding a camera.
“Sorry, you just reminded me of…” He shook his head, throwing the thought away. “Never mind.”
I nodded my head and looked back down at my feet. I had decided to change into shorts and a loose tank top after practicing with Zach for Wednesday’s event.
I noticed Zach had also changed into something more comfortable to be outside in. “So, how did you learn so much about photography, Miss Richards?” Zach asked as he sat down next to me, looking over the photos he had taken.
“Um, at my last house, I didn’t finish school even though I was so bright, so as a gift they sent me to finish off my senior year of high school. Then they paid for me to do some classes at the community college a few miles from the house they lived in.”
He nodded his head and set his camera down on the ground carefully. “I went all the way to Virginia for my classes. My father sent me away saying it was for my own good.”
I could see the emotion flash across his face; he hadn’t wanted to leave New York to take classes that he could easily take here. From the stories John and Philip had told me, I’d learned that Mr. Addison wasn’t a kind man, even to his wife and children. Philip had told me the Addisons had five children including Zach. I took Zach’s hand to show him he should keep going on.
He looked at my hand then back at me. “He really sent me away because I was attached to my youngest sister and he was worried I would care more about her than taking over the family business. See, she was sick. She had a heart defect, and the doctors couldn’t even figure out what was wrong. For the first three years of her life, I was the one that sat with her at night to make sure everything was alright. I was the big brother.” He sighed and shook his head. “My father sent me away and the first month I was gone and no one was watching her closely enough. Her heart failed.”
I looked down, almost worried about showing the pain and sadness I felt for him. I couldn’t do that, so all I said was, “I’m sorry.”
I looked up and noticed he just shrugged. “It was five years ago and you have no reason to say sorry. You didn’t even know her.”
I decided it was time I left and headed back in for the day. I got up and turned to him. “I think I’ll go back…” I could see the pain in his eyes, like no one had listened to how losing his baby sister had made him feel, as if he was forced to not feel, just like me. So I sat back down.
“Why don’t you tell me what she was like?” I smiled lightly, hoping it showed I really did want to know. In return, he smiled back and started telling me about how energetic she was, even with her condition.
I was curled up in Zach’s lap, by his request, while he read me Greek Myths, something I usually read to myself. But after talking with Zach about his little sister – who I found out was named Lizzie – I realized how much he missed reading to someone. It was our time in his study anyway, so I didn’t mind. In a way, it actually felt good to have him read to me.
“… So as the seasons changed, the Greeks knew Persephone was home safe away from Hades and his evil of the underworld, and so spring was given and the harvest could continue once again…”
I curled up to Zach more. Of all the myths, the ‘Rape of Persephone,’ as it was called, made me feel even more lost because I didn’t have a mother to help me out of trouble. Mine had left me on the front steps of an orphanage to fight for my life. I felt his free arm wrap around me more and hold me against his chest. I looked up at him and met his green eyes. The fire next to us lit his dark eyes only slightly but it was enough to make them seem almost as magical as the garden outside.
“Cassie…” He slowly leaned in more. I watched him before feeling his lips cover mine. I closed my eyes and slowly leaned into him more, pressing my lips against his.
I could hear the book fall as he tangled his fingers into my hair, holding me close against him. The feeling that came over me was one I’d never felt before, and it felt incredible. Till I realized something and pulled away. I looked at him as my heart began to speed up and his hands laid lightly over my cheeks. I quickly got up and went up to my room, ignoring the feeling in the pit of my stomach that what I just did was wrong. And I don’t mean the kiss, but running away from him after.