Chapter 1

The world lay still in its midnight slumber. Deep purples and blues wove themselves into the black velvet skies. The moon shone her silvery beams upon the earth below, illuminating the shadow realm with diamond light. Everything softened in the moonlight, as if veiled in the dream. The warm eastern winds blew across the crystal studded sky and through the deserted streets of the town nestled at the foot of the hill. In shadow's illusion, it looked dead.

He looked down on the village, a dark predator leering onward into the darkness. Demytri crouched in the shadows, enveloped by a curtain of wind blown hair. His ice blue eyes sparkled by the light of the full moon. He sniffed the crisp air, taking in all the sweet scents of his new found surroundings. Sweet spice and something strangely familiar that he couldn't quite place filled his nostrils.

Sharp pain shot through his hollow chest, the remnants of shadow emotions left their misty trails in his mind. Lonely. Centuries of solitude had left its mark on an empty heart. Duty and honour were the only companions he had ever known. He knew no other way, yet this strange feeling nagged at him constantly, always eating away at the pit of his stomach without remedy.

Demytri wrapped his strong arms around his knees and hugged them. Physically incapable of feeling temperature, he still felt cold. Throwing his head back, he howled his anguish to the dead skies.

Inara leaned over the fake marble counter and sighed. Icing was the hot spot of the town, and the last batch of teenaged boys who came in on their lunch breaks to goggle at her, had left. The tables and booths were sticky from the remnants of the parlour's famous sundaes. It was barely past noon and already her work load seemed mountainous. Sweeping stray wisps of hair from her face, Inara proceeded to wipe down the tables and push in stools. She smiled wearily over the care worn ice cream counter she spent her days serving behind. This ice cream parlour was her home, at least, the closest thing she had to one. It was a friendly, family owned business the whole town knew and loved. The owners had taken her in as a teen and she was still determined as ever to earn her keep.

Candy colours surrounded her. Soft, cheerful pinks candy stripped with white and pale greens coated the booths with joy and innocence. The white and black checkered floors were always swept clean, save for the occasional adventurous cherry. Icing was a little candy dream off the corner of mainstreet.

Ianar's work dress matched the d├ęcor perfectly. The cute pink serving dress matched the wallpaper's candy coloured theme. The collared neckline was cute low and the skirt was hemmed halfway up the thigh so it was little wonder why the boys always came to stare. Her raven locks were brushed back into two neatly braided cinnamon rolls on either side of her head. Her uniform was designed to be as cute and innocent as the parlour's theme but Inara made her attire into any man's fantasy. Any man would stop and stare as she walked down the road. She never noticed any of it, she would merely laugh at anyone who suggested it.

She hummed softly to herself, swaying slightly as she fixed up a chocolate milkshake for a customer; a mother with a shy, young child. Smiling at them over the counter, she added the finishing touches of whipped cream and handed the glass to the little girl. This was her life and she was content with it. She loved the friendly smiles and the atmosphere Icing was famous for. She didn't mind working long hours late into the night. At times, she couldn't imagine her life without her ice cream scoop in hand, but she was lonely. It had set its roots into her foundation, whether she admitted it to herself or not.

The bell over the front door rang as a tall, blonde man entered. Inara smiled at the familiar face and wiped her hands on her apron.

"Finished early Ken?"

"Just wanted to see your smiling face baby." he winked.

"Stop being such a silly goose. What'll you have?" Inara smiled patiently although the smile didn't quite reach her eyes.

"You."

Inara rolled her eyes.

"When will you give in and marry me sugar? Why can't you be my real girlfriend?"

"I don't love you Ken." she stated firmly.

The man sighed and ordered him his ice cream, making sure he touched Inara's hands flirtatiously as she handed his cone.

"Dinner with me tonight hunn." he said as he headed towards the door. "I'm cooking you something special. I'll pick you up ok? No is not an answer."

Inara shook her head, smiling as the door slammed shut. Ken always made her feel special even if she couldn't return his love. Smiling happily to herself, she didn't notice the dirty blonde teen, leering at her through the window.