Sorry it's been so long! School continues to get in the way of writing, BUT here is another short update. I hope to have more by this weekend, but as I've lost the scene following this chapter that may be an issue. Anyway, hope you enjoy some sibling bonding. Rare happy times in Heartless.... Thanks and please leave any comments! -JC

Ch. 31

The air had a bite to it that set Braeden at ease. After two weeks of plains and valleys, the mountains were a much appreciated change of pace. They'd stopped in a small town in the foothills, and while Enohla assured that Braiden's Temple was near, Braeden hadn't spotted it. The town itself was just as he'd always imagined Tarin towns to be: lively and pleasant. Plants bloomed in every house window and trees rustled greenly in the slightest breeze. People greeted one another, genuinely glad to hear about so-and-so's family or whatever inane conversation sprung up.

The whole sight was enough to counteract the relief he felt at finally escaping the heat of the plains. Enohla seemed pleased with the place though, so he said nothing as he followed her into the stables. It seemed well kept by an older man and his son, who bowed to Enohla upon sighting her.

She waved them up hurriedly, cheeks red. "Please, that isn't necessary at all."

"It's not every day Lady Jerha graces our presence, now is it?" The elder smiled, finally straightening to take her horse. "We'll see yer horses get the finest care, Miss."

"Oh, well, thank you."

The younger boy went about unfastening their bags from the saddles so that the horses could be led away. "Where will you be staying? I'll take your things right over, sir."

Braeden glanced at Enohla, who blushed again, out of habit he thought, before giving him the name of the inn. The boy nodded, heaving the bags over his shoulder and heading out.

Enohla and Braeden soon made their exit as well, meandering down a row of shops.

"You do like Kai Maiori, right?" She asked finally, looking straight ahead.

"Sure."

That wasn't the answer she was looking for, so she fixed him with a hard stare. "You know what I mean. You took that bet with Asis so you could pursue her without ridicule."

"I wouldn't have been ridiculed either way, tesara."

"Yeah, but you would have had to admit that you like her and risked something. This way you can put it off on a bet."

"Since when are you so outspoken?" He smirked.

"Two weeks is long enough for me to finally see how you really are."

"And how's that?"

She tossed her hair, looking forward again, chin tilted up just the slightest. "You're a romantic hiding behind the mask of a cynic."

"How do you figure that?"

"You claim that you aren't anything but a murderer, but you save me a million times—."

"Two"

"—and I've seen the way you look at Kai Maiori, even when you're implying she's a whore." Enohla continued without a pause. "You only do that to keep your distance because the truth is you are scared of her."

He scoffed. "I think you're delusional."

"No, you're scared of her because you might love her and if you love her you'll have to admit there is love and that you've been lying to yourself, which you don't want to do because you see the world as black and white when love is color!"

"I see red, too."

She rolled her eyes, leading him into a clothier's. "Red is more than just blood."

"Sure, it's also rage."

"And roses."

"Which die."

"Passion."

"Nothing separates passion from idiocy."

"You're insufferable." She huffed, sifting through the racks of fabric. "And you will never get her until you give up your mask."

"No, I will never get her until I put on a Tarin one." He stroked his beard thoughtfully. "You know, tesara, do you think it's possible for you to teach me how to be one of you?"

"What?"

"Make me more like your kind for the Festival."

"Why would I want to do that? Kai Maiori doesn't deserve to be tricked."

"Ah, so you don't think you're able to trick her."

Enohla knew that was a bait, but couldn't resist. "If anyone could, I think it would be me. You just promise not to use her."

"I promise."

"Fine. And you have to promise to do whatever I say."

"Agreed."

"Okay, then it's a good thing I already decided what your costume should be for the Festival."

Braeden raised a brow. "Costume?"

"Of course. But before we can do anything, we have to get you measured."

"Measured?"

Even before the tailor came out with the tape measure, Braeden was beginning to regret this decision. Enohla had a critical eye and knew exactly what she wanted from him and how to get it. The day was spent with the girl giving the general orders that he grudgingly took and the night was filled with lessons on dialect to rid him of the Ikkere accent with which he spoke.

Just before she rolled over to go to sleep that night, Enohla sighed. "You know, this is a stupid plan. All you really need to do is apologize and mean it."

Braeden said nothing and soon enough was the only one awake in the room, including Sascha, who was curled at Enohla's feet.