"It's a pity, the prince is not around. He has effectively missed the opportunity to ride with you, Maru," Paris whispered against my ear.
We were paired for the hunting party since my supposed-to-be partner, my fiance, was once again unavailable to join.
I was wrapped securely in Paris's arms as Paris's horse galloped towards the forest.
"I'm sorry. You should not have been obliged to be his replacement," I said, feeling the warmth of his breath fanning my ears and my neck.
Paris is an expert seducer, a master of the game of desire. There was no way, no way an innocent victim can possibly escape.
That was why the stupid villainess fell for him, and went crazy trying to make him hers. But I have the upper hand, for I know how it ends.
And yet every time my back comes in contact with his chest, and his thighs touch my legs, I feel like I'm about to lose my mind.
He chuckled as I became aware of the hard object unashamedly making itself felt whenever it brushed with my dress.
"I'm sorry, for the inconvenience. But you must know, I simply have no control as to how my body reacts," he whispered, like it was supposed to be a secret between us.
"We have two choices, we can wait for the other pairs to notice, or we can go faster and avoid the awkwardness of having to explain ourselves," he laughed melodiously as I felt my cheeks become hot.
"What should it be, Maru? Do you want to wait for the others, or to run with me instead? Away from these uptight role models, hmmm... where it's just the two of us," he teased me even though I don't know how to answer.
"Please, Paris," I said, trying to maintain my distance but being pulled back to his chest despite every attempt.
"Silly, do you want to fall instead?" he argued even when concern was in his voice.
"Why do you hate me so, Maru," he whispered against my ears once again, his steady arms never losing their grip.
"I don't, I don't hate you Paris. How can I hate my dearest friend?" I asked innocently, not knowing what it is he really meant.
"Do you know how much I hate that word? I'm not your friend, Maru. I never was, and never will I be," he said as we rode faster, gaining distance away from the crowd.
Then, when we were far enough, he said the words, "Freedom, Maru... that is what being with you always has been for me."
At that instant, my heartbeat was faster than the horse's hooves. And I was lost in the feeling of being in his arms.
Why do I want to tell him that being with him is freedom as well for me?
Why can't I remember the reasons why I need to stop myself from falling for his wicked deadly charms?
We reached the top of a cliff, and he helped me out of the horse, his arms dangling me in the air as if I were nothing but a doll.
"Hey, let me down, Paris," I pleaded as he laughed seeing me at my state.
"In that case, I shall need for an exchange," Paris said, his mischievous smile revealing a sinister plot.
"What do you want?" I asked desperately, wanting to get my feet down the solid ground instead of the uncertainty of being dangled in the air.
"A kiss, Maru. I demand a kiss, in return," Paris smiled wickedly, aware of how scared I am.
"I'm engaged. I'm to be married, to the prince, no less," I told him, my words angry and rational.
But then, just like I pushed his buttons too far... His bright eyes turned murky gold, and his face which was a minute ago too joyous, now... clearly angry with that scowl.
He let me down on the ground, and without any warnings, he claimed my lips for himself.
It was my first kiss, in this world and even in my past world as well. I justified my inability to run away by thinking that I was frozen in shock as I felt his lips on mine.
He slowly opened my mouth to him, his expert tongue became like a key that unlocks my innocence.
His kiss was angry, punishing, and almost cruel. Refusing to give me a minute to think, and instead claimed something he knew was not his.
And I, the silly and stupid villainess felt the feverish heat our bodies shared as he invades my mouth deeper.
I tried to push him away but my mind is hazy, all I can feel at this point is the fast beating of his chest against my hands.
What am I doing? I must change my destiny! I must at all cost prevent the villainess's death! I don't want to die again!
As if cold water doused me, I finally managed to push him away. His face was confused as he asked, "Don't you like it? Did you not like the kiss, at all?"
I shook my head, hoping that I can lie as well as he does, "Why did you kiss me, Paris? You have no right! No right at all!" I shouted the words, desperate for anything else but a realization that my body responded. I wanted that kiss.
"Why did you disrespect me with that kiss? You are my dear friend, Paris!" I shouted the words, hoping that by doing so I can masquerade the flushing of my cheeks to be one that stems from anger.
Paris laughed bitterly as his fox-like eyes melted me from the sheer anger that seethed through him.
"A dear friend, is that all I am to you? Then explain to me Maru, explain why you look at me the way you do. Why do I see in your eyes a replica of the fire ignited within my soul every time you are near? Why do you want me, Maru, exactly just as much as I want you?"
The fox has cornered me in place, he can see through my facade. That I am sure, as his every step towards me became like a threat for me not to move at all.
Like he won't tolerate another one of my lies. Why did it have to be like this? Why am I being played helplessly by his skillful hands?
No, I won't let him. I won't let myself fall prey to him. So out of desperation, I ran until I reached the end of the cliff.
I realized, this is exactly the place where the villainess will meet her death, in Paris's alternative love story, that is.
I looked at the grand falls below me, and gulped down in fear... but his steps are getting closer.
My mind screamed that I must not let him reach me, no, I can't let him reach me. If he touches me even once, in my state, I know I won't survive.
So I jumped from the high cliff and felt myself falling towards the endless stream of waterfalls.
The cold water touched my skin, trapping me in its ice-cold embrace. I closed my eyes in utter surrender. I don't know how to swim.
This has to be my end. And yet I felt myself resurfacing the waters as two steel-like arms carried me to shore.
I opened my eyes weakly, just enough to marvel at the beautiful sun.
No.... it was his eyes after all.