a/n: thank you to all that reviewed! Wow, a hundred already? You guys are amazing!

And i'm about a week ate (sorry), but it's really long so that makes up for it right?

On a side note; one of you asked of Makira's ethnicity and yes, she is black. And Griselda is as well, though has a darker complexion.

I hoped that answer was satisfactory ^-^

And now chapter seven, enjoy!


"It's dreadful what little things lead people to misunderstand each other"

-L.M. Montgomdery, Emily's Quest


I never really took much consideration in how mundane walking was until I was forced to do it for five hours straight.

Yes, five.

Dominic was almost certain the guards would pursue me and wanted to be out if the country as soon as possible, thus coercing us into traveling hours on end without breaks. I understood his reasoning; once we were out of the country I would no longer be endangered for arrest, yet my body was an entirely different matter. It wasn't used to traveling such long distances, and my duffle felt as if it weighed two tons, digging into my shoulder spitefully. Night and Griselda never complained, marching ahead of me is easy, able movements, and not wanting to appear weak I kept my mouth shut, hissing quietly to myself as every step I took sent pain searing up my legs.

It was torture in its rawest form, yet I stubbornly kept my lips sealed.

I would not be a burden.

Another hour passed in much the same fashion, and I resembled a new-born fawn, legs unsteady and quivering as I strained to drag my body forward; but it had reached it's limit. I collapsed right in the middle of the trail, groaning as the sharp pebbles burrowed into my knees.

I was pathetic, utterly pathetic.

"Makira?"

Dominic dashed up from behind, kneeling so that he was directly beside me. I refused to meet his eyes, fixing my stare on the dirt between my fingers instead.

"Makira," he repeated, voice growing panicked when I didn't answer, "Makira what's wrong!"

"Relax Prince," I heard Griselda's gruff voice drawl. I chanced a glance up to see her and Night hovering over us, the woman donning her customary bored expression and the blond appearing mildly alarmed, "She's fine, just embarrassed."

"Embarrassed?" Dominic and Night echoed in unison. There was evident bewilderment in their tones and I wished that the ground would swallow me whole. Or at the very least, Griselda would stop talking.

Typically, neither of my requests were granted.

"She's embarrassed because she collapsed and didn't have the stamina to keep pace with us," the dark-skinned beauty deadpanned and my cheeks flared in response.

Has the woman ever heard of tact?

Dominic looked troubled, his dark brows sloping over his dazzling eyes in concern. I hated the way he was looking at me; like I was so fragile and insufficient. It made my chest ache and eyes prick, but I refused to show more weakness, raising my head to meet his expression with a firm look.

Don't you dare feel sorry for me.

It surprised him momentarily, but he seemed to give himself a mental shake, brushing it away then narrowing his eyes.

"You're tired?" he probed and I gave a barely perceptible nod of my head, still not wavering in my stare, "Why didn't you tell me? "

Because I didn't want you to look at me like you are now.

The realization was sweltering in my chest, roasting my body in a passionate cloak of helplessness. Regardless of not wanting to, I actually cared what he thought of me. When he looked at me, what did he see? Was it revulsion like Keeble? Or was it weakness?

I despised it. Why should I care if the prince thought I was pathetic?

He was nothing to me.

He meant nothing.

Yet I still felt the sensation of self-consciousness sweep over me, nearly suffocating in its intensity and willing me to tell him of my deepest fears. Instead, I chose to disguise my indignity, rounding on him with deadly eyes.

"I don't need your pity!" I barked, eyes no doubt flashing like the fire scorching through my veins.

The prince recoiled at my harsh tone, visibly startled at my abrupt explosion as he landed on his rear, blue eyes as wide as platters.

"I'm not-I wasn't..."he protested but was interrupted as I clamored to my feet, swaying slightly, and glowering at Night when he attempted to help steady me.

I knew I was being unreasonable, but I felt like I had something to prove to everyone here. They were all of noble status, and I didn't want them to feel sympathy for the poor, mistreated commoner with no family. I wanted them to see me as an equal, not a charity case, and they had to respect me to do so.

And weakness did not gain respect.

I shot a peeved look over my shoulder, disregarding the distressing quivering of my legs.

I was fine.

"You guys coming or what?"

Griselda didn't react, arms crossed over a modest chest and face as blank as a fresh sheet of paper, but her male counterparts were regarding me with uneasy expressions. I discounted them, continuing down the path and breathing in relief when I heard their trailing footsteps.

Just a few more hours.

I could last that long, couldn't I?


I buckled again twenty minutes later. This time however, Dominic caught me by the armpits as soon as my legs gave out, and I got the sense he was expecting it. Waiting for it even. I thrashed in his hold, but he refused to let me go, gesturing for Night to take my bag with the flick of his wrist. I clutched it stubbornly to my chest, yet despite my determination the burly man easily pried it from my feeble fingers.

"It's for ya own good Girly," he replied in response to my scowl, then proceeded to pile it over his gigantic sword, seeming not to even notice the few extra pounds.

I opened my mouth to scream, shout, do anything to get my duffle returned, but was quieted when Dominic promptly swooped me into his strong arms. I squawked at the sudden elevation, clutching instinctively at his shoulders so I wouldn't fall. I could feel his breath hit the side of my neck when he chuckled, and felt my insides twist disturbingly. His hands felt like they were branding my bare thighs, firm and smoldering against my skin, and I silently cursed Margo for persuading me to wear my only existing pair of shorts.

Geez. Even when she's not around she manages to screw with my life..

"Put. Me. Down." I demanded through gritted teeth. I was beyond embarrassed, unable to meet anyone's eyes as Dominic cradled me against his broad chest. Not only did I feel degraded, but I was also worried he might find me heavy. Keeble had made sure I knew I wasn't the thinnest person in the world, and although I was nowhere near fat, the insecurities negated to disperse.

He acted as if I hadn't even spoken.

"We should set up camp in another hour," the prince addressed to the others. They nodded, and soon we were moving again, Night and Griselda leading while the prince and I brought up the rear.

I seethed at the clear dismissal, attempting to free myself, but that only served for his grip to tighten. I growled in frustration, shoving against his chest in a fit of anger. He didn't budge.

Night turned his head to grin at us from over his shoulder, waggling his eyebrows at the scene.

"Feisty, aren't she?"

I spat in his direction, the spit landing just beside his leather shoes.

His grin stretched, hazel eyes twinkling in amusement.

"Traveling with you Girly will never be dull I'm sure," he chortled, ribbing Griselda with his elbow, "Don't ya think Sunshine?"

The look she sent him could frost hell over.

"Griselda," she snapped, evading his offending nudge, "And keep touching me and I'll rip your arm off."

The male shook his head snorting,

"Very interesting."

They continued to bicker back and forth, and I could steadily feel my temper begin to rise. They weren't taking me seriously dammit! And I refused to be carted around like some princess. I had power, I was deemed dangerous for crying out loud. But Dominic...

I chanced a glance at his face to see him looking straight ahead, a barely perceptible smile curving his lips as he watched his friends argue like school chldren. The sunlight made him all the more more stunning, shadowing setions of his face mysteriously while the rest was imlluminated like pure gold . It was almost too beautiful to watch, and I ducked my head before he caught me staring.

He treated me like an ordinary person.

But I wasn't. And I decided to remind him of the fact.

"Ow!"

His eyes shot to mine in confusion, yet he didn't drop me like I'd hoped. The bickering from his companions immediately ceased, both turning to his majesty for explanation, but he just smiled and waved them off. Griselda shrugged, continuing on while Night shot me a suspicious look, but eventually carried on as well. As soon as both their backs were turned I felt a sharp pinch to my upper thigh.

"Ouch!" I yelped.

Again all eyes were on us, and both Dominic and I produced award-winning grins, the facade dropping as soon as their attentions diverted elsewhere.

"Why'd you pinch me?" I hissed so only the prince could hear. He scoffed, narrowing his eyes down at me.

"Why'd you burn me?" He countered.

I crossed my arms, trying to seem authoritive, but knowing that since he was carrying me it wasn't nearly as affective.

"Put me down," I ordered, then threatened, "Or I'll cook you to ashes."

Dominic rolled his eyes, not the least bit fearful.

"Do your worst," he whispered flatly, "But if you think I'm letting you down it's not happening. You've already collapsed twice. You're body isn't up for any more, so quit being stubborn and let me hold you alright?"

I flushed heavily, as his mouth was right beside me ear, but managed to recover fairly quickly, shooting him a cold look.

"I'm not useless you know."

His eyebrows nearly sky-rocketed into his hair-line.

"Never said you were," he quipped.


We set up camp at sunset. As soon as we set our things down Dominic and Night scampered off to 'take a piss', though I suspected they were just looking for an excuse to get out of helping with dinner, leaving Griselda and I to prepare everything. I lighted the fire with ease, then helped Griselda peel and chop the various meats and vegetables. She hadn't spoken a single word to me since the trip began, and I started to wonder if she dislked me.

Not that I cared or anything.

But I could at least try being friendly since we would be traveling together for who knows how long.

"So..."

She didn't even glance up from the pot, depositing a few chopped broccolis into the broth before standing to relocate herself on the opposite side of the fire. I bristled at the action.

Could she get any ruder?

Squaring my shoulders, I stared her down, waiting until she reluctantly met my eyes before speaking.

"Do you have an issue with me?"

I knew I was being forward, but then again, so was she. Even now, she wasn't bothering to hide the fact that my presence disturbed her, top lip curled as she busily sorted the meat.

"Yes," she replied bluntly, vindictively. And I couldn't fight the instinct to flinch.

Well, damn. Somebody's painfully honest.

I swallowed the biting remark that was on the tip of my tongue, choosing instead to approach the situation from a more mature angle.

"Why?"

She cut her eyes at me, irritation clear as day in the liquid brown pools. Her fingers tensed around her dagger conspicuously, and to my surprise I felt warmth gathering in my own fingers.

What?

Were we going to fight or something?

Not that I was against the idea, and that threw me more than anything. It was like the dragon inside me was just itching for a brawl, and I had to forcibly reign myself in before I did something I'd regret.

Like kicking her ass to Timbuktu.

There was an uncomfortable silence in which we both watched one another. Waiting. Expecting. Preparing. The tension was weighing me down, stifling almost, and finally, after five excruciating minutes, I caved.

"Well?" I pressed, "Are you going to tell me or not?"

She continued chopping.

I knew when I was being snubbed, yet something inside me just wouldn't let this go.

What did I do to her?

I'm pretty sure I've never even seen her before this morning, so what could she possibly hold against me?

I began stirring the stew absently, noting how she tracked my every movement like I was a criminal.

And suddenly, it clicked.

"This is about Dominic, isn't it?"

Her slicing became more vigorous, but still no words.

"Is it?" I demanded, "Do you not like him paying attention to me?"

Not that I liked it either, but I wouldn't be persecuted because of it.

The chopping ceased abruptly, and she stuck me with an indignant look.

"No you imbecile," she barked, seeming insulted, "This has nothing to do with your beloved prince."

Beloved?

"Then what?" I insisted, deciding to brush the comment aside. It wasn't true, so why should I let it bother me?

She shrugged, snubbing me yet again.

"Figure it out."

I blew out an exasperated breath, resigned to ignore her. If she wanted to be that way then whatever. I had better things to dwell on.

Like where the hell were Night and Dominic.

It did not take this long to use the bathroom.

Another thirty minutes passed without speaking, and I occupied myself by sharpening my knife. I could feel Griselda's stare on me, but didn't acknowledge it. I'd had enough of her bad attitude for one afternoon.

The pot boiled raucously between us, emitting whiffs of sweet smelling fruits, veggies, and supple meat. I could feel myself salivating when the aroma hit my nose, stomach gurgling like a ravenous beast.

Griselda scoffed at the sound.

"Typical."

I glowered at the woman.

"Well excuse me for being human," I retorted snarkily, directing a pointed glance in her direction, "Not all of us can be emotionless robots like you."

She laughed; a severe, grating sound that shouldn't leave anyone's mouth.

"See? That's your problem, "she sneered, and "You're too soft, you'll never make it to the Fire Country with that mindset".

Heat was scattering throughout my body at a startling rate. I was nearly sweating with all the strain I was having keeping the flames at bay.

One more word and she's toast. Literally.

"Oh yeah?" I snapped, some of the passion seeping into my tone, " And just who are you to decide this? As a matter of fact, why the hell do you even care?"

Her eyes flashed dangerously as she inclined across the fire, the flames nearly licking her skin, but she didn't seem to notice, attention solely on me.

"I care," she snarled fiercely, "Because you made my home town look bad with that little collapsing stunt 'princess.'"

All the rage I held splashed out like a tidal wave, hurtling over my senses and striking me dumb.

She was from the Fire Country?

She bowed mockingly.

"Nice to make your acquaintance your majesty," she yapped, even adding in a little twirl and sarcastic curtsy, "You're pathetic. You'll never inherit the throne."

I was tingling from head to toe, numb from shock of the revelation and her blatant display of disrespect. And despite feeling affronted, three words echoed through my mind, leaving little room for much else.

Inherit...the throne?

Of course the boys would choose that exact moment to come barreling from the woods. Griselda smoothly reverted to her seated position, face not betraying any hint of what just transpired.

While she presented her everyday 'I don't give a shit' expression, my jaw was practically unhinging.

The little fraud!

"Man!" Night guffawed, ruffling a meaty hand through the shorter male's hair. Both remained blissfully immune to the heavy atmosphere as they struggled through the condensed greenery. "You shoulda seen ya face!"

Dominic grunted, removing the appendage and attempting to fix the chaotic mess Night created atop his head. Dark locks entirely obscured his eyes, spiking in haphazard directions and sticking up at the back.

In short, he resembled a hedgehog.

"My face?" he challenged, raising a perfect brow. He shoved his hair back so he could give the other man a incredulous look, "You nearly pissed in your own eye when you saw it!"

Griselda wrinkled her nose prettily.

"Do I even want to know?"

Night beamed, whacking his friend on the back, cackling when he released a startled yelp of pain.

"Nicky-boy here got spooked by a skunk on our potty break!" he crowed.

'Nicky-boy' rolled his eyes, telepathically communicating that Night was full of shit.

"No," he denied, wincing as he kneaded his shoulder, "Night tripped over a skunk and almost got us sprayed. We practically ran a marathon to lose the little beast."

Griselda sniggered.

"Smooth Big Guy," she jeered, "You should join the circus."

Dominic chortled at her sardonic tone while Night sulked, looking to me for sympathy only to frown at my shell-shocked visage.

"You alright Girly?"

Realizing my mouth was still hanging open, I snapped it shut, shooting a sharp look at Griselda before giving the blond a tight-lipped smile.

"Just...peachy," I managed to grit out.

And startled as hell.

He stalked towards me, crouching to squint suspiciously at my forced smile. Our noses were nearly touching, and I leaned away so that he wasn't so close.

Ever heard of personal space?

"Really?" he commented, voice loaded with skepticism. He lifted a finger to point at my mouth, "Cause that smile looks creepy as hell."

I could feel my eyebrow ticking.

"Yes Night," I barked, patience rapidly dwindling, "I'm fine. Really."

I heaved at his large chest, not that it did much. The man was like steel.

"Now back out of my space." I ordered.

His countering grin was lecherous.

"Ooohh.." he rumbled, voice dipping, "I like 'em sassy."

He then proceeded to trail a single digit down my cheek, making my face burn in a mixture of mortification and ire. My jaw clenched on instinct, struggling to control the build-up of pent up fury.

This guy obviously wanted extensive, third-degree burns.

"Night..." I warned, but before I could scorch him he was shoved out of the way by a sheepish Dominic.

"Forgive him," he apologized, giving the man an admonishing glance, then leaned in further to murmur, "He gets hornier than usual when he's hungry."

I crossed my arms, struggling not to be overwhelmed by the prince's proximity. Unlike Night, his presence was naturally seductive, and I could feel my cheeks darkening when his sinuous lips brushed my earlobe.

Thump.

Thump.

Thump.

The sound of my heart was almost thunderous, and I knew I had to get away before I lost control and burned the entire campsite down. Or worse: Dominic realized how flustered I was.

"I noticed," I managed to croak. I shot up as if I had sat on a porcupine, scuttling over to the pot so quickly I'm sure I'd left a dust trail.

Yes, I'm a coward. Sue me.

"Soup's ready, let's dig in everyone!"

Dominic's face was unreadable as he scrutinized me, and I fidgeted when I realized his azure eyes were staring in my direction for a much longer time than necessary.

"Yes!" Night cheered, practically knocking me over with his enthusiasm to fill a bowl. I glowered at the back of his head, not that he noticed since he was too busy slurping like a famished camel.

"I saw that 'princess.'"

Griselda's quiet statement sent chills down my spine, stomach sinking as she fixed her gaze pointedly in the prince's direction.

"I don't know you're talking about," I rebuffed, but she just gave a secret smile, uttering,

"Oh, but you will, and soon."

Was it just me, or was everything about this woman cryptic?

She snickered beneath her breath at my obvious confusion, ladling her own bowl and joining Night by the fire. The latter instantaneously launched into an animated rant while the former rolled her eyes, yet you could tell she was still listening by the way her lips would occasionally curl in amusement. Apparently she didn't despise the warrior as much as she let on. The whole scene was making me nostalgic, memories of Margo and I flashing through my head.

Not even twenty-four hours, and I was already homesick.

"You sure you're okay?"

I swiveled my head to see Dominic, a bowl in each hand and a bothered expression. I sighed, expecting such a reaction. He seemed to always be in tune with how I'm feeling. It was almost creepy, yet obnoxiously endearing.

He was such a worry-wart.

Ignoring his question, I raised both brows, gesturing to the bowls and inquiring,

"You that hungry?"

He frowned at my evasiveness, yet didn't press the issue, another thing about him I was coming to expect. No matter how curious he was, he never pried.

"No..." he trailed as if I were slow, pushing one towards me, "One's for you of course."

I took it tentatively; face warming when he grinned kindly at me. We settled with the others near the fire, enjoying the temperateness of the flames and the delicious food filling out bellies. At one point Night had upraised his bowl, soup dribbling down his chin as he proclaimed,

"To an amazing journey!"

Dominic chuckled, bumping his bowl against his, while Griselda pretended he didn't exist. The blond turned to me eagerly, and I couldn't help humoring him. He was actually rather pleasant when he wasn't hitting on me.

"That's the spirit Girly!"

I laughed.

Darkness descended upon us fairly quickly, and we all prepared for bed after sleeping arrangements were settled. Griselda, predictably, didn't want to be anywhere near Night, and Dominic adamantly denied the man's request to sleep by me (thank God) so I ended up between Griselda and Dominic, Night on his other side.

It was actually fairly uncomfortable at first, since I barely knew them. Not to mention Griselda and I still had unresolved issues and Dominic's presence always made me uneasy, but eventually, I drifted off.


"Duck...duck...dragon!"

Five year old me squealed as I was chased by a eleven year old boy. He caught me easily, scooping me into his arms and pretending to gobble my arm. The other children giggled at the sight, shouting things like,

"Princess Makira got caught by the evil dragon!"

"Oh no!"

"I'll save you Makira!"

The last was declared by a toddler, hair a wild array around her round face, and massive eyes the color of moss.

She launched herself at the boy's leg, holding for dear life as he pretended to shake her off.

"Help me Maya!" I shouted, laughing when the boy lifted me above his head, mouth wide like he was attempting to devour me whole, "Hurry or Anthony's gonna eat me!"

Maya scaled Anthony as if he were her own personal tree, and soon the other children had joined in, a torrent of tiny bodies clustering around him until he couldn't hold any more weight, and we all toppled to the ground un a giggling heap.

"What in the word is going on here?"

The stunning woman was standing in the doorway, hand propped on a slender hip as she regarded the tangled mass of bodies.

"Mama!" Maya and I shouted in unison, game easily forgotten as we barreled towards her, nearly knocking her off her feet with the vigor of our embraces. She smiled, patting both our heads with a tenderness only a mother could possess.

"Hello sweethearts," she greeted in her rich accent, it was like melted honey, washing over our ears like a sweet caress, "Why are you and your friends attacking your brother?"

Maya and I shared a mischievous glance.

"Because he was the dragon!" I exclaimed.

"Yeah!" Maya added, "And he was tryna' eat Makira!"

There was a low growl from behind us, and we shrieked when we were both bundled into said dragon's arms.

"And now," he breathed, voice taking on a faux menacing quality, "I'm gonna grind both your bones to make my bread!"

There were screams all around the room as the game continued on. I peered over my brother's shoulder, grinning at my mother who watched us with a peculiar look in her jade eyes. I couldn't quite name what it was then.

But now I knew; it was love.


I awoke to an aching in my heart, and a smack to my face. I groaned, sitting up to realize Dominic was basically on top of me, his face burrowed in my neck, and one of his legs draped over mine. Far too tired to feel embarrassed, I gently budged him back over to his bedding, rolling my eyes when I saw he had also managed to kick his blankets off.

Mumbling beneath my breath, I tucked the blanket just beneath his chin, about to pull back when he latched onto my wrist.

"Makira?" he asked groggily.

Okay, now I was embarrassed.

"Yes," I answered reluctantly.

He frowned from half-lidded eyes, propping up on his elbows to stare at me. I avoided his eyes like the plague.

"What were you doing?" he whispered.

Thank God for the dark. He couldn't see how red my face had probably gotten. I snatched my hand back before he could feel the evidence of my discomfort, squeaking a pathetic,

"You…uh…kinda rolled on top of m-me."

Silence except for Night's heavy snores for a while and then,

"Sorry, I tend to move around a lot. I woke you didn't I?"

Yes.

"No," I lied, "I was already up and decided to..er…tuck you back in."

My cheeks burned further as those words left my mouth, cursing my brain for not filtering before I spoke. There was a tender touch to my cheek, and my eyes snapped to the man beside me in bewilderment.

"Wha-?"

I never got time to finish my sentence. There was a soft pressure on my cheek, striking me speechless as I watched the prince pull away with a satisfied expression upon his handsome face. Sunlight did him justice, but the ethereal light of the moon made him almost god-like in perfection.

"Thank you."

The rawness of his voice was driving me over the edge, and I struggled for a change of topic to disperse the passionate atmosphere.

"I have a sister," I blurted.

He jumped from me like I was on fire.

"What?" he echoed.

"I have a sister," I reiterated slowly. He had a strange look on his face, pale as if he'd seen a phantom, "I had a memory while I was sleeping, her name was Maya."

He wouldn't look at me, suddenly fidgety as he twisted his blankets.

"Oh yeah?"

I could feel my brow puckering at his strange behavior.

"Yeah…" I replied, and then more assertively, "Are you okay? You look like you've seen a ghost."

I watched his Adam's apple bob jerkily.

"Fine," he quipped, "Just tired. We should both get back to sleep."

His back was to me immediately, and I could only stare as he flopped on his side without as much as a goodnight. What the hell was that about? I shrugged, mirroring his action and lying down as well, my back to his.

One minute he was thanking me with a kiss, and the next he wanted to end the conversation at the mention of my sister.

Maybe he regretted kissing me?

That was most likely the reason. He was just too nice to say it straight out.

I sighed, wondering why I even cared. I mean, it's not like I fancied him or anything. And sure, I found him attractive, but who didn't?

It means nothing.

Nothing at all.

I told myself that as I stared at the motionless form of Griselda. It didn't even look like she was breathing she was laying so still.

I exhaled.

Sweet dreams.


When I awoke the next morning everyone was already up and about. I saw the boys conversing by the extinguished fire, while Griselda was busily packing away her sleeping bag. She cut her eyes at me when I sat up, rubbing at my crusted eyes.

"Finally through with your beauty sleep 'princess'?" she queried patronizingly.

I ignored her, stuffing my blankets into my duffle and pulling out a towel and toothbrush. She scowled at my lack of reaction, silently seething as I stalked in the direction of the river. As I passed Night and Dominic snapped their heads up, the blond whistling while the prince swiftly averted his eyes.

"Nice bedhead Girly," he chirped, winking lavishly, "It looks like you had a wild night of epic sex. Always hot."

"Definitely." Was my flat response that made him chuckle. I peeked at Dominic to see him resolutely looking in the opposite direction.

Was I really that disgusting?

Irritated with myself for letting him get to me, I continued on my way.

Who cares if he finds me gross?

He's just some stuck-up, spoiled, monarch!

When I returned from freshening up we started on our way. I made sure to keep plenty of distance between Dominic and I, walking beside Night and enduring his endless rambles on topics ranging from the best restaurants to eat at to the best moves to try in bed. Whenever he would get too graphic however, I would hear Dominic's pointed cough, and though I was grateful for his help, I never acknowledged him once.

Minutes transformed to hours, and soon my body was starting to fatigue again. I knew it was only a matter of time before my legs gave out, but kept pressing on. There was a firm hand on my shoulder six hours into the walk, and I scowled when Dominic motioned for me to get on his back.

No way Jose.

"No thank you," I snapped, and tried to keep walking but was stilled when his fingers curled around my bicep in an iron grip.

"Makira," he warned, "Just get on before you hurt yourself."

I could see Griselda pulling a face from behind him, clearly finding me pitiful, and my resolved strengthened.

"I'm fine," I quipped, and then added a spiteful, "And if I get tired Night can carry me."

The large man beside me stilled, hazel eyes wide.

"Say what?"

Dominic's gaze was unreadable, but after some time he gave a curt nod, brushing by me to continue the walk.

"Fine," he relplied, voice clipped, "As long as you don't exert yourself."

Guilt instantly flared in my stomach at his distant tone, but I studiously ignored it.

He thinks you're gross remember?

Yeah. I was actually doing him a favor for not letting him touch me.

There was a painful nudge in my rib and I shot Night a glare.

"Um, ow?" I hissed, "What was that about!"

His eyes held mine, expression disapproving. Apparently he wasn't pleased that I was snubbing his friend.

"I think you hurt his feelings Girly."

I scoffed at the idea.

Yeah right.

"He's a prince," I dismissed, "He'll get over it in like thirty seconds."

Thirty minutes later he was still the same. Griselda sidled up beside me, and I flinched when she prodded my arm, a knowing look on her face.

"You were saying?" she drawled, tittering beneath her breath as she sped her pace to match Dominic's.

God I can't stand her.

"Apologizing usually works," Night suggested and I glowered at his not so discrete hint.

"Okay," I grumbled, "I get it already."

I wasn't particularly fond of demolishing my pride, but if it got Dominic to quit being all moody and depressing, and Night and Griselda from grilling me I was willing to compromise.

A little.

I quickened my strides until I was right beside him. He didn't so much as glance at me, keeping his eyes trained on the winding path before us. I swore at his stubborness.

Grow up will you?

I groaned. Here goes my dignity.

"Dominic."

No response.

"Domonic," I adressed more forcefully.

He began to hum.

Okay, that is the absolute last straw.

"You asshole!" I spat, temper flaring. Night attempted to prevent me from exploding with frantic gestures, but I acted as if I couldn't even see him. I had something to say and I was damn well saying it!

The dark-haired male rounded on me incrediously.

"I'm the asshole?" he exclaimed, there was vein throbbing in his neck as he scowled down at me, "All I was doing was making sure you don't hurt yourself, again, and you treat me like I have some deadly disease!"

My mouth fell open at his audacity.

Me? What about him!

"You couldn't even look at me this morning!" I retorted, "I understand if you don't find me attractive, but don't treat me like Big Foot!"

Grisedla giggled.

"Big foot," she hooted, "Hilarious."

Her words didn't even register with Dominic and I. We were in our own little zone, eyes radiating heat as they bored into each other. I could feel his breath on my face, warming my already scalding skin and making my insides tingle. My head pound. My blood rush. It felt...

Nice.

Was an argument supposed to feel this thrilling? I felt more alive then I have in months.

It was like Christmas, chocolate, and free food all bundled in one nicely wrapped package.

Dominic seemed just as taken back as I, the anger and frustration that burdened his features instantly lifted, and he stared at me in wonder.

"Whoa," he murmured. I shivered as his breath flitted across my skin.

"Yeah," I agreed, short-winded.

We gazed into each other's eyes, unaware that each second we were drawing closer, and closer until-

"Guys, I hate to interupt you're moment or whatever, but I think it's about to rain."

I jumped at Night's booming voice, backing away from the prince hastily. He still seemed dazed as he followed the warriors gaze to the sky, which was a rapidly darkening grey. There was a flash of lighting, and I winced. Traveling through that was bound to be hell.

"We should find some place to stay for the evening," he mused, "Camping in this weather will only make us sick."

The rest of us readily supported that plan of action, changing course to where Night knew a nearby town was. As we walked Dominic replaced Night's spot at my side, bending his head to whisper,

"Trust me, you look nothing like Big Foot."

I blushed, hiding my face beneath my hair.

"And you are perfectly healthy." I responded.

He howled at that, and the others glanced back to see what had his majesty in stitches of laughter. Night grinned, shooting me a covert thumb-up, while the woman at his side rolled her eyes, but before she turned her head I caught the subtle curl of her lips.

Huh. Funny how people tend to misunderstand each other.


a/n: I'm cutting it off here, but trust me, next chapter will blow your minds!

lol, r&r please!

~Live and learn