First of all, the image isn't mine; courtesy of photobucket and whoever posted the image. If you want credit, PM me and I'll definitely list you down. Second, thanks to my unofficial beta Serapheana for helping me out through his whole thing. This was actually inspired by her story "Yes, Majesty?", so please check that out on her page! Enjoy!
It was dark out. Only the small flickers of rusted lamps inside a tavern were visible through the night's oblivion, but even those would soon go out. It was closing time.
"Miss?" questioned a young man as he carefully patted the unconscious woman before him on the shoulder, her head and her arms sprawled out over his smooth, glazed wooden counter. What was wrong with this woman? He'd just wiped it down, and now she had her filthy fingerprints and her wet slobber all over it.
He combed his fingers through his short, jet black hair and groaned. "Miss?" he repeated a bit louder and more sternly.
Her sharp olive eyes fluttered open at the sound of his rough voice, and she squinted to make out his image through her hazy vision. Who dared to disturb her? She'd already been awoken several times that evening, and now, she was fed up. When the water in her eyes finally dissipated, she grumbled at the man, who appeared to be a young, inexperienced bartender, and laid her head back on the counter. A child was pestering her? That wasn't worth her time, and it certainly wasn't any reason for her to wake from her slumber.
"Miss, please get up," he pleaded, looking round his tavern. The place was absolutely deserted save for her; this woman had stayed on that bar stool all through the night, drinking while she was awake and demanding more while she was asleep. With an exasperated sigh, he pressed his fingers to his temples and pondered what to do in such a situation. The woman just wouldn't comply. How could you get somebody like this out? And then it hit him—by force.
He paced back and forth along his territory until he finally worked up the courage to enact his plan. With a deep breath, he quickly burst out the short side door, rounded the side of the counter, and roughly pulled her up by her arms, dragging her out to the empty space away from the bar. She stumbled off the seat and caught her foot on one of the legs as she was lifted away.
"Ugh!" she shouted as she tripped into the arms of the stranger, both of them quite startled by the sound that followed. His mud brown eyes were wide with surprise, and her olive ones were sealed tight as her body trembled violently in his arms until the echoing clang of the barstool against the cream tile finally ceased.
"Damn," he murmured, tossing his drunken customer aside and dropping to his knees to check for damages. As he thought, there was undeniably a splitting crack across the center of one of the tiles. He furiously lifted the stool and slammed it back into the bar where it belonged.
"You stupid drunk!" he screamed, turning his gaze back at the swaying woman. "Do you see what you've done?"
Damn, he thought. He just lost another customer because of his temper.
"Ah, I'm sorry," she whispered with a light, sarcastic chuckle.
"You think this is funny, do you?"
"Relax, relax. I'll pay for it."
"You haven't paid for any of your drinks all night! Do you know how much money all this is going to cost? You—"
"I said relax, ya little bastard. I got it covered."
The woman reached into the bust of her silk, black corset and extracted a small pouch of gold coins, tossing it carelessly at the man. He scrambled to catch it and was immediately taken aback by its astounding weight. There must've been at least twenty coins in there, and he only needed about five to cover her costs.
"T-This is—" He began to pull open the drawstrings on the brown pouch to return the excess, but the woman shook her head and staggered towards the door. He tried to object once more, but by the time he separated the money, she'd already disappeared.
"Crap…" he mumbled as he tousled his unkempt locks and sighed, lowering his head down at the bag loosely held in his grasp. Suddenly, his eyes caught sight of an ornate crest embezzled in gold trim across the top, which caused him to fall back against the edge of the counter and drop the open bag. Perfect gold coins spilled across the tiles as his breath escaped him.
"Oh no… She couldn't possibly have been— No! My God… I'm going to be killed…"
Outside, the woman stepped idly along the cobblestone path, dimly lit by the low streetlamps, as soft yellow light illuminated her tired features. Without a doubt, she was a beautiful girl, no more than twenty-two, with naturally curled, chocolate brown locks and sharp olive eyes, greatly resembling the grassy green of the tall trees surrounding her. However, after her night purposed only for the sake of drinking away her pain, her skin had dulled and her eyes had formed unsightly red bags beneath themselves. She grimaced. Her tolerance for alcohol was still undeniably weak, but she would acclimate to its power quite soon; she planned to go back to that tavern every night for the foreseeable future. Not for the bartender, of course, but for the alcohol. She would learn to survive on pure alcohol alone.
She swayed slightly from side to side as her mind clouded with compromising thoughts—thoughts she knew her parents wouldn't approve of, but also thoughts she knew she couldn't help. A bitter smile spread on her lips.
"Vincenzo," she whispered softly.
"Why hello, little Colombina," a silky voice addressed.
The woman, somewhat dazed, looked up from her spot on the cool beach floor and perceived a handsome, built young man with medium, blonde tresses woven like gold on his head and crystal blue eyes sparkling brighter than sapphires. She immediately rolled her eyes and looked back down. Another one of those stupid perverts hoping for a good time? Just because it was nighttime didn't mean that all women were easy prey.
"Leave," she demanded as she refocused her eyes on the ocean's glorious waves, crashing up onto the beach and eagerly swallowing grains of sand and pebbles like a glutton.
"You seem upset," he stated, worriedly glancing around the barren beach. "Aren't you afraid to be out here alone? It's late now."
"Are you afraid to be out here?"
"Well, no, but—"
"Then why assume I am?"
The man simply chuckled at her sharp wit and took a daring seat beside her. She caught a glimpse of him from the corner of her eyes and shot a cold glare his way.
"Did I say you could sit?"
"You never prohibited it."
She scoffed indignantly and combed back her brown side bangs, only for them to fall immediately to the same position. He leaned over and swept the lock behind her ear, instantly receiving a fiery slap across the cheek. Again, he smiled.
"Don't touch me," she hissed.
"Yes, Colombina," he complied as his knuckles grazed his cheek's red, tingling flesh.
"And don't call me Colombina, either."
"Stop with the names. Hell, do you do this with every woman you meet?"
"Just the pretty ones."
"Ah, I see," she began with a nod like she understood him. "Disgusting. I can't stand your type. Just leave." Her stare fixed once again on the sea, she tucked her knees close to her chest and wrapped her arms around them for comfort. He tilted his head curiously at her.
"What's troubling you?"
"Nothing. Go," she sharply commanded again, this time without making eye contact. She would not turn back to the man. She wouldn't.
"I'd love to hear about it."
"But I wouldn't love to talk about it," she said tersely.
"Please, Colombina," he pleaded gently.
Scoffing, she broke down and turned specifically to scowl at him, a fire burning in her eyes and practically scorching the tree green color of her irises. What was wrong with this man? Did he ever give up?
"Didn't I specifically tell you not to call me that?"
"But I don't know your name."
"And you never will."
He laughed once more and reached for her hand. She irately slapped it away.
"What's wrong with you—"
"Vincenzo," he supplied.
"'What's wrong with you, Vincenzo?' That's what you were going to say, wasn't it? I just gave you my name so you could complete the thought."
"I didn't need your name," she grumbled.
"But now that you have mine, I need yours."
"Because I gave it to you, so now I have no name. Give me yours."
What? The girl fought to suppress her laughter, and although there was no sound, her body still shook and her lips quivered. Vincenzo grinned cheekily, satisfied with himself, as she quickly recollected her composure.
"And what if I say no?" she teased, a sly smirk still plastered on her face.
"You want me to walk around without a name? That's not very nice."
Without even realizing it, the girl had burst into laughter and nearly fell against his shoulder. Something really was wrong with him, she decided.
"You should smile more often. You're beautiful," he whispered kindly.
Suddenly, her laughter slowed, and she looked up at Vincenzo questioningly as he glided his hand to her cheek and stroked her soft, flushed flesh.
"Like I said, beautiful," he repeated gently. She started with a reassuring, cherubic smile on her lips, skillfully lulling him into a false sense of security. Her expression quickly transformed into a mischievous smirk as a brilliant idea formulated in her mind.
"And like I said, I hate your type."
The girl determinedly lifted her foot and kicked Vincenzo across his side, knocking him face-first into a pile of moist sand. Before he could even react, a frosty wave crashed onto the shore and engulfed his body, while the girl sat there and tried to stifle the chortle arising from her throat.
"You find this funny?" he asked, shooting up from the sand with clumps clinging to the side of his face and hair.
"Yes!" she exclaimed through giggles. Vincenzo's expression soured as he attempted to dust himself off, quickly finding it futile. The rough grains simply glued themselves to his hands or desperately seized the fabric of his shirt. The woman noticed a small mound stuck to his cheek and with a silent exhale, hesitantly reached forward to pick it off. He stopped and stared down at her, his sapphire eyes wide and his pink lips parted slightly with shock.
"Adelina," she stated with a soft, welcoming smile as she flicked the dirt off her fingers.
"H-Huh?" he stammered.
"You wanted my name, didn't you?" She smirked at him. "It's Adelina."
Colombina means "dove" in Italian, for those who didn't know.