"Let me guess, you ran away?" The dark figure asked. Though he was staring ahead, she could feel his eyes on her. Tamsyn squirmed on the cold cement, the snow falling serenely about her. The gentle white flakes melted as soon as they touched her creamy skin.
Her breath turned to steam in the air.
Tamsyn wondered what she was doing in slums, where winters were deathly cold and mice and men stole from one another. Then Tamsyn would remember the smell of smoke and burning flesh.
The death of everything she knew.
Tamsyn hit her head against the wall behind her. She stared up at the darkened sky, the snow falling as if nothing had happened. As if life would simply go on.
She knew had done a poor job of hiding her fine silk dress and low neckline that was favoured among the members of her station. Tamsyn knew that even if she had worn drab attire, she would've stood out like a sore thumb because it was clear she didn't belong here.
She rubbed the tops of her arms, attempting to defend herself from the growing cold.
"Don't judge me. I didn't have a choice. I, h-he –" Tamsyn faltered, she scorned her weakness. She had to be stronger now. She was seventeen after all. Practically a woman.
But whenever she thought of what she had allowed, what she had done Tamsyn knew she was done for, she was as good as dead.
"Look, kid I'm not particularly interested in your past and nor will anybody else for that matter. So keep it to yourself. But today's your lucky day. I have a proposition for you." The tall dark figure whispered, his accent was strange but Tamsyn put it down to his poor heritage.
He sat scandalously close to her. Tamsyn felt a warm blush rise to her face, as she told herself that he didn't really know that he was too close for comfort. He wasn't a gentleman by any stretch of the word.
Tamsyn studied him from behind her tawny tresses, his cobalt blue eyes glinting with mischief but also an age that didn't show in his young, chiselled face. Tamsyn guessed he would be no more than eighteen.
She would've called him handsome, if he wasn't a dirty street rat. Finally his words sunk in and Tamsyn glared at him with shock and offended.
"I am not a prostitute!" Tamsyn protested moving away from him. When he smirked at her with his poetic, perfect lips, Tamsyn felt anger and embarrassment well within her. All other feelings were blocked out by the absolute frustration she felt towards the street rat. The boy definitely didn't have the manners of a gentleman.
He casually seized her by the waist and pulled her back to him.
"I didn't call you one did I? You, society types always thinking street rats are after a 'good time'. You aren't exactly irresistible because you're rich. Though I must admit, you are pretty hot if you're interested." He had the nerve to grin rakishly and wink at her. Tamsyn pulled her hands into fist, fighting the urge to slap him.
"Why you wretched –" Tamsyn began, her wide green eyes flashing with anger.
Tamsyn thought she could hear her tawny tresses, crackle with the heat of anger. But she didn't care. If all this street rat had in the mind was to insult her then she would rather be somewhere else, alone with her nightmares.
She rose, ready to depart, when she felt a warm hand grasp hers. He was completely uncouth, daft and coarse. Tamsyn groaned in exasperation.
Tamsyn glared daggers down at him, refusing to take a seat beside him.
"I was joking. You haven't even heard my proposition yet, Peach. Now, I thought you were a smart girl what do you think your chances are in surviving this city without a big strong man to protect you. Because I can tell you now, it's next to nothing." He warned, looking up into her eyes as if he could read her every thought through them.
Tamsyn felt vulnerable as he continued to look at her, his eyes no longer containing any amusement. If she hadn't been staring at him so hard she wouldn't have noticed, the surprise that he quickly hid.
She looked down only to find their hands still entwined.
Tamsyn snatched her hand out of his, holding it to her chest. She wondered why such an uncouth stranger could make her feel so light headed. Tamsyn put it down to her irritation at him and lack of food.
"Make it quick, I have far more important matters to attend to." Tamsyn said airily, attempting to draw attention away from blush rising to her cheeks, her hand still tingling. She knew full well she had nowhere else to go, no one else to see. She was completely alone now; she took her seat beside him again.
He smiled at her, and Tamsyn was surprised that he still had all his teeth considering that he was a dirty street rat.
"Peach, do you have any idea what I am? Who I am? What it is exactly I do?" He inquired, his eyes searching. Tamsyn looked at him, she had no clue who or what he was. He looked like a street rat but he talked like a foreigner and ... he smelled like evergreen trees.
"How is this in any way a proposition?" Tamsyn snapped. She just wanted to get on with her life. No matter how different it was now, she just wanted to be left alone.
"Could you just shut up and stick to answering my questions instead of asking your own. This happens to be a particularly well planned out proposal." He pleaded. Tamsyn was taken aback. No one had ever spoken to her in that manner. She felt insulted but just a little intrigued by the strange boy.
She wrapped her shawl tighter around herself before answering. "Well, it's quite obvious you're a filthy ruffian who gets his way by breaking people's limbs because he has not the wit to persuade people any other way." Tamsyn smirked at him, full knowing she was being awfully unfair but she wanted one up on him.
She didn't relish the thought of being less than equal to him. But Tamsyn knew that was silly, as an heiress she was far above him in any every way, why was she working to please him?
"Is that what you think, Peach? Do you base your every thought on how things appear to be or do you actually care to take a deeper look? Are you just another petty little girl with your eyes open but seeing nothing at all?" He retorted, his blue eyes alive with emotion, flickering from contempt to something else.
"I beg your pardon, but I am a lady and you needn't speak or look upon me like that." Tamsyn retorted, she glowered at him but refrained from saying anything else.
She bit her tongue. Hard.
How dare he speak to her with such contempt when he was clearly below her and... completely dazzling?
Suddenly his eyes became gentle again, soft pools of emotion. Tamsyn felt dizzy from the boy's mood swings. He had the inane ability to throw her off balance and she didn't like it one bit.
He smiled at her fragilely. Tamsyn couldn't help but feel suspicious of his motives.
He seemed to debate something as he pulled a hand through his soft, windswept blue-black hair. Tamsyn found herself wondering what his hair would feel like as she replaced his hand with hers and other completely outrageous things.
"Tell me your name Peach." He demanded, out of the silence that grew between them. Tamsyn was shocked out of her daydreams and fought to gather herself.
"Lady Tamsyn Devere, heiress to the Devere fortune." Tamsyn answered automatically. She looked up and down the street, watching as very few carriages past by.
It was getting late and it was almost deserted. She began to ramble in her mind, attempting to forget that she had uttered the name that brought horrible thoughts to mind. She didn't want to remember, but it was the only way she could keep her family close to her.
"Well I am Devlin Everett, heir to nothing and king of no one. Pleased to make your acquaintance, my lady." Devlin broke into her daydreams. He stood up and bowed mockingly at her and she couldn't help thinking how handsome he looked.
He plopped back down. Tamsyn studied him from under her lashes, her eyes straying to his lips as he smiled self-mockingly. Tamsyn tried to hold onto her outrage at his ways but, she couldn't help herself. He was utterly charming... for a coarse, uncivilised wretch.
Devlin gave her another of his searching looks.
Devlin leaned into her, his warm breath fanning her elegant neck. Tamsyn nearly melted to the spot. There was something about this boy that seemed to get under her skin, whether it was to aggravate her or to weaken her resolve.
She leant away from him, despite herself. Tamsyn had been trained from childhood how to behave around a male be it a gentlemanly lord or a filthy street wretch. She simply did such things out of instinct.
Devlin persisted anyway.
"My lady, I'm afraid that I must be this close. I do not wish others to hear what I have to say, nor do you, I should think." Devlin whispered into her ear, his lips lightly brushing it, sending the most exciting tingles down her spine.
She shuddered, as his honeyed voice tunnelled into her skull.
Devlin chuckled, and Tamsyn felt her face go a deep red. She cursed her pale skin for its treachery. She waited for him to continue, she did want to know about this strange boy who called himself, Devlin.
"I am not what I seem. In fact, my lady I am not even from this age. I was born in the year nineteen ninety three and when I left to find you it was twenty eleven." He moved away, doubt fluttering over his face. Tamsyn stared at him wild eyed for a second, before schooling her face an emotionless mask.
Devlin frowned at her.
"Doesn't that shock you at all?" He insisted, his beautiful face searching hers.
Tamsyn debated about how much she should tell him, whether she should pretend to believe him or not. She didn't trust Devlin, despite the strange pull she felt towards him. She gazed at her dress in an attempt to keep her secrets from being revealed to this relative stranger.
"I know it sounds insane, heck if the roles were reversed I would've thought you had a few screws loose. But I'm not crazy, Tamsyn. I swear it. I'm from the year twenty eleven and only if you believe me can I tell you the rest of the tale. That is all you get, two options, to believe and be dragged into something bigger than yourself or get on with your sweet little life." Devlin touched her hand.
Tamsyn looked up into his eyes and knew it was a mistake. Those were not the eyes of a crazed lunatic but the eyes of a boy who was extremely tired for his age. One who understood what life was and what it wasn't.
She looked away quickly.
It was crazy but she believed him. No matter how crazy it sounded, Tamsyn knew he was telling the truth. She believed him and she didn't understand why. Deep inside something about what he said clicked. It made so much sense that there was just no doubt whatsoever, especially after the events of the night.
"I don't think you are insane, Devlin." Tamsyn murmured under her breath, looking at the ground beyond her feet. She could feel his eyes on her as he observed her.
"So you believe me? Say the words Tamsyn." He challenged, his voice changed. It was no longer like soothing water. It was like harsh seas and storms.
"I believe you, Devlin. I don't know why, but I can feel it in my bones that you're telling the truth." Tamsyn replied honestly looking into his bright blue eyes. His lips went into a grim line.
"I guess this means you passed. Take my hand and I'll show you what you have chosen for yourself."