A Modern Fairy Tale Romance (Chapter 12: Flight of the Night) Show me what it’s likeTo be the last one standingAnd teach me wrong from rightAnd I’ll show you what I can beAnd say it for meSay it to meAnd I’ll leave this life behind...
A Modern Fairy Tale Romance (Chapter 12: Flight of the Night)
Show me what it’s like
To be the last one standing
And teach me wrong from right
And I’ll show you what I can be
And say it for me
Say it to me
And I’ll leave this life behind me
Say it if it’s worth saving me
Savin’ Me, Nickleback
FORMING a plan as soon as possible should be her top priority, especially after hearing from a psychopath who had implanted a bomb in the hotel where most of her loved ones were currently enjoying the time of their lives.
...At least that was what Anya Romans had thought as soon as she and Aidan returned to the hotel. Neither of them were prepared for this to happen, hence, had absolutely no idea where to began or what to do.
“Can’t this night get any worse than this?” Anya gulped on the mocktails that she had for probably, her sixth of that night, before discarding the empty glass aside. She was sitting on one of the chairs at the bar, watching as the party continued throughout the night, with music storming in the air, guests mingling with each other.
Some of them even took on the dance floor. Her eyes moved to the newly engaged couple was all but a wide smile on their faces, to each other and their honourable guests.
The night could not be any perfect than it already was ― without an exception that it might also be their last night on Earth.
Anya sighed again. Since their sudden encountered with ‘Mr. Motýl’ about twenty minutes ago, she had wanted to do nothing more but than get her hands on something ― anything ― that would released the increasingly frustrating rage that she felt deeply inside for the psychopath.
Initially, she had wanted to punch the walls, but Aidan, being the considerate jackarse butler that he was, had told her not to do so because if she had still done it, it would came out from her own money to pay the damage, and he would not lifted a finger to help her out.
That being said, off she went with the mocktails instead, while Aidan left in order to scout the areas the hotel, with a promise that he would be back.
Hmm, strange. I thought mocktails isn’t supposed to be alcoholic? Why the hell does my head feels so light-headed then?
Anya held one hand on her head. Her visions getting blurred by each minutes. As she made her way from the bar, passed through the people dancing on the floor and finally arrived at the balcony, Anya took a long deep breath. She held on the railing steel tightly as not to fall down from the balcony with all her might ― until she felt someone tapped on her bare back before turning her over to face him.
“Miss Romans, you’ve been drugged!” Aidan hissed lowly. He frowned deeply as he put one hand on top of her head.
The lightness in her head quickly disappeared.
Aidan lifted her hand off her head. Clearing his throat, he spoke with a stern voice.
“Do be careful with what you drink next time, Miss Romans. We can’t afford to be careless especially at a crucial time like this where the enemy might just be watching us from afar.”
“...Sorry.” Anya muttered and lowered her head in apologetically manners.
“You’re forgiven for now. But I must say, I’m shocked that you chose to mocktails of all the drinks they serving as your preference choice.” A crocked smirk appeared at the corner of his lips.
“Can’t hold your liquor much?”
“Humph!” Anya huffed. “I never drink anything alcoholic drinks before nor do I have any desire to drink at all! I don’t see what’s the fuss about why people got wasted over a bottle of alcohol anyway. Is it worth getting a massive headache the next morning when you wake up? Definitely not!”
“Agree. However Miss Romans, many drinks in order to bury their sorrows; because they do not wish to face their problems at the moment.”
Anya rolled her eyes and huffed again.
“My father had once told people who drink their sorrows away are those who do not have any self-respect for themselves. Problems should be face head-on and solved in a rational ways and with common sense and logic.”
Aidan rapidly blinked his eyes. It was very rare to hear Anya to talk about her deceased father whom she loved very much. In fact, Aidan was positively sure that this was the first time she mentioned anything regarding her father to him. He remembered there had been a time when Anya had opened up and talked briefly of her father to the Prince, but that topic was still very rare and hard to come out.
The fact that she casually told him about what her late father had once said made him felt something warm on his chest, though he would never admitted it.
Either that or maybe she was still a bit tipsy from drinking too much mocktails. After all, he still hadn’t gotten back his magic to it’s fullest to detect her level of soberness.
What he’d done to her was a basic form of magic ― so simple that he could do it in merely seconds with his eyes closed, and his hands tied behind his back tied to a chair while falling down the cliff.
Sighed, Aidan turned to look at the young woman who was narrowing her eyes at him with her arms crossed on her chest.
“So, the plan. How do you want to do it?”
“Ah, right.” Aidan took out a piece of neatly folded paper from his pocket and showed it to her. “I’ve looked around the hotel and drew a map to the potential areas Motýl might had implanted the bomb.”
Anya listened attentively.
“Judging on how tall this hotel building is created, and based on what was said by Motýl, I suspect that the bomb would be implanted somewhere located in―”
“The dungeon!” Anya suddenly spoke up. “That’s where most bombs were implanted. You know cause, it’s the easiest spot to plant... No? Well at least that’s what they always shown on television!”
Aidan cleared his throat. “Very cute, Miss Anya. Unfortunately, that’s a no. The bomb that I’m referring to, is actually implanted right in this very ballroom.”
“What?!” The young woman shrieked loudly.
When she realised how people were staring strangely at her, she lowered her head in embarrassment and moved to another place, with Aidan followed behind her.
“You’d better not be kidding me about this. I swear that bastard will pays for this!”
“I kid you not, Miss Romans. Motýl had said it himself the bomb is be somewhere in this room.”
“When the hell did he say that?”
“Clearly, you weren’t paying close attention to his words earlier.” Aidan shook his head in disappointment before guiding them to the corner of the room where it was much quieter for them to discuss.
“‘The stage was already set’, which clearly refers to the ballroom. ‘The characters have been cast’, which refers to the guests, and finally, ’all it was left was a big ‘bang’ of an applause’, which could only means―”
“The stupid bomb. Damn it!” Anya clenched her right fist and hit it against the walls.
“Now that we know where the location is, the next thing to do now is to evacuate the guests without stirring any troubles and causing chaos in the process. The problem now; is how will we manage them all in let’s say ― in about an hour? If I could use my magic, this would only takes me a minute or so to get the job done, and afterwards, perhaps you could ‘thank you’ kiss me.”
“Does this really looks like a good time to be joking around to you? We are in the middle of a crisis here! People will die if we don’t figure out something in an hour!” Anya fumed and gritted her teeth. “Of all the time to lose the magic that you were so damn proud of, why must it be now?!”
“My apologies, Miss Romans. You’re absolutely right. We should remain focus on the mission.”
Anya tapped her finger on the cheek when a realisation suddenly came to her.
“How badly is your condition without using magic anyway? I mean, you did cast a spell on me to get rid of the lightheartedness just now, right? That being said, it’s not like you have completely lost your abilities, is it?”
“Did I say that I would lose my magic completely? As far as any of us concerned, my magic has merely being reduced to a beginner’s level. Mind you, I can still cast moderated-level magic but not the high-level ones.”
Anya nodded. “I see. Then how about a hypnotise spell? Do you think you can do at least something like that?”
As soon as those words left her mouth, a wide grin began to spread on the butler’s lips.
“As Milady wishes.” Aidan spoke in a low seducing voice that left her goosebumps.
Lifting both hands in the air, facing the big crowd, time suddenly stopped and people froze like statutes.
“This milady, is what you called ‘Time-Out’.”
“You’d literally stopped the time!” Anya gawked unashamedly and in awed at what just happened.
“Yes.” Aidan subtly wiped the damp sweat that was slowly forming on his forehead with the back of his gloves. “I could do this for an hour, the longest. If you have anymore ideas, Miss Romans, the time is now.”
The young woman quickly nodded before rushing through the frozen crowd, carefully not to touch or pushed them as she went by.
“Miss Romans? Where are you off to?”
“I’ll be right back! I just need to get someone― oh where the hell is he!”
Meanwhile, Aidan stayed where he was, waiting for the young lady’s return. He could clearly hear her swore profanities on the other side, though he could hardly see her due to the still crowd.
Sighed, Aidan wiped the sweats from his forehead again. Strange. Usually, he wouldn’t sweat this much when using a moderate level magic.
Still, Aidan had to remind himself the night when His Highness had made that inconsiderable deal with that bastard Zennon, to have his magic abilities to be taken ― stolen― away from him, there was something else that he’d neglected to mention to Miss Romans that might affected their current mission: the condition of his health might be jeopardised depending on how much magic he consumed.
In order to perform Magic, it requires one’s life force. The power of the magic is also depending on how much life force it consumes. That’s the bittersweet life such as magicians, and even more so as the Gran Mago. No magic is done without heavy consequences. Aidan smirked bitterly.
Blinking his eyes as he looked up, Aidan recomposed himself when the young woman returned ― half-dragging her still young uncle with a broad flirtatious and handsome smirk plastered on his face. Aidan had to bite his inner cheeks to stop himself from chuckling. No doubt the detective was flirting with the single ladies.
“This man is heavy!” Anya huffed and patted. “I mean, I know he’s packed with muscles and all, but damn he’s super heavy!”
“Why have you brought your detective uncle all the way here, Miss Romans?”
“I want you to hypnotise him!”
When Aidan didn’t reply and simply stared back at her as if she had grown another head, Anya rolled her eyes and explained.
“Okay, listen to my plan. We can always modify it later, but here it goes: You know that Josh’s here a detective, yes?”
“Well, I thought if we could hypnotise him into ordering everyone to evacuate the building due to something urgent ― say, police related stuff? Let’s make it that he’d received a phone call from his Boss stating they’d suspended a bomb is implanting somewhere in the hotel. Thus, ordering him, an off-duty officer, to evacuate all residents of the hotel to a safer place? I dunno. I’m just playing around with my thoughts here. But it goes something like that. What do you think?”
“I like the idea, Miss Romans. Really, I do. However,” Aidan tapped one finger on his smooth chin. “Getting your uncle into this mess will put his career on the line. You have to admit this idea of yours does has loop holes, and if things go wrong, it will backfires on us and your uncle’s career, given if he survives this ordeal. I hope you are well aware of all of these. Are you sure you want to take such a huge risk and heavy responsibilities?”
“Like I’ve said, I’m just playing it with my head right now. How about you? Do you have any other ideas we could use of? Anything that might help at all?”
Aidan closed his eyes and thought for a while. His mind however, argued that her less-than-perfect plan might be filled with loop- holes, but even so, the idea itself was good enough. The question was, would she be brave and bold enough to carry out the responsibilities should the plan backfired?
While Aidan was contemplating with the idea, Anya was starting to be impatient and distressed over the matter.
“If you have something to say, then spill it out! Even if it sounds stupid, just say it!”
“It’s nothing, really.” Aidan shook his head. “I say we don’t waste any more time than necessarily and let’s just go ahead with your idea. If there are loopholes along the way, at least we have the time to recover. Will that be fine with you, Miss Romans?”
“W-Well, if you say so.” Anya shrugged, and then looked at her still uncle. Worries filled in her eyes at Aidan’s words. If they failed in this mission, everyone will die.
Gripping her fist, Anya rapidly shook her head.
No, think positive! We have to make this work! Like Aidan said, if there are loopholes, we have time to recover. We still have― roughly an hour and forty-five minutes left. There’s no room for any doubts now.
Taking a long deep breath, Anya did what none of them would ever thought of: reaching out one hand to the butler, much to his own surprise, she gripped a handful of his white shirt in her fist. Her face was red either from embarrassment or angry, Aidan couldn’t tell.
She was scowling deeply too. When she spoke, her voice tightened.
“I don’t,” Anya clenched her teeth. Breathe in and out.
“Listen. I don’t expect you to have my back on this. Really. You could have just scooped the Prince and Marian away and get the hell out of here with your magic tricks and whatnot. But, there are people who mean the world to me here. And it’s not just my mum, uncle, Steven or even Emma either! It’s everyone in the ballroom!”
Anya’s face grown redder from the extreme emotions she was currently having. She wasn’t the type of woman who could easily talked her emotions or feelings out to someone, let alone that someone was Aidan Timbell, a man whom she began to trust a bit more each day.
Nope. That one was Emma’s area. Hell, even Marian was even more in depth with her feelings, no matter how much of a reserved, shy and silent type of person she was. To been forced to talk about her feelings like this was a torture in itself.
Anya was about to speak again when she felt a long, rough hands caressing her left cheek, thus, stopping her from speaking.
“I get it.” Aidan stared at her with a gentle look and a soft smile. A rare look ― one that made her heart skipped a beat.
“Now then.” Anya blinked her eyes rapidly and shook her head, snapping her out to whatever trance she was caught a moment ago. Aidan straightened his back before offering his hand.
“Shall we get down to business then?”
“Right!” She stuttered. Taking a long deep breath, Anya exhaled and kept her mind fully focused on task at hands, instead of the tall handsome butler beside her.
“HE will be okay, right?”
“He will be just fine. Trust me, Miss Romans.”
At the snap of his fingers, Josh and the others were jolted back to life as time began to move again. His once charming smiled faded at the sights of the two figures standing before him. He recognised his niece instantly, but the man standing beside her, not so much.
He had seen him before. Where, he couldn’t remember.
But wait! Why the hell was he doing outside in the courtyard? What happened to the ladies he was having so much fun flirting and chatting with?
“Anya,” Josh forced a smile. “Please tell me I didn’t do anything stupid? Why am I doing outside?!”
“At ease, officer. ” Anya snorted, rolling her eyes. “You were so drunk you started to babble nonsense! Honestly, someone had to take you outside for a bit of fresh air before they called the security and get you thrown out!”
“I-I was?” Josh looked horrific. “Oh My God! Did I say something stupid to those ladies? I did, didn’t I? Daaamn it! Just when I had the chance, I’d totally blew it off! Why didn’t you stop me? You know I’ll act totally weird when I drink too much!”
“Regardless,” Anya handed over his mobile phone. “While you were so out of your comfort zone, your superior called. Cragon, is that his name?”
“He what? Shit! You didn’t tell him I was drunk off my arse, didn’t ya?”
“Will you relax? I didn’t say any of those things! I’d just told him you went to the bathroom for a while and told me to watch over your phone. By the way... Have you been gossiping about me with your Boss behind my back? He knew who I was as soon as I picked up the phone! ‘Oh, this must be the little minx Campbell kept on talking about!’”
Anya sighed impatiently. “Anyway, he’d left you a message. An urgent message. He said he would called you back, but there’s no time. So...”
Anya leaned forward and whispered to his ear.
“What... Did you say?” His tone was unusually deep, it had Anya freaked out.
“C-Calm down,” Anya backed away from the man who was a moment ago, acting ludicrously, to a strict no-nonsense law enforcement.
Josh took out two things from his pocket; his phone and police badge. He was busily dialling a number when he noticed the two of them were still there, looking at him.
“The hell are you two still standing there for? Get the hell out from this place!” Grabbing Anya by the arms, Josh dragged her all the way to the Hotel’s lobby, where there were two security guards were. Showing them his badge, he informed them what happened and proceeded by ordering them to inform the other securities about the problem while he called the SWAT team.
“You,” Josh pointed a finger at Aidan. “Stay with her. Make sure she stays outside. And you, no funny business. I mean it, Anya. You two had better be outside by the time I get back! Now MOVE!”
Anya could hear clearly what was happening inside: the music suddenly stopped, before Josh’s voice could be heard over the microphone. Initially, he apologised for the sudden interruption of the party to the happy couple and family members. Without wasting time, Josh got straight into the business. Using his professional detective tone, he calmly informed everyone what was going on and asked for their full cooperation in handling the matter.
As soon as Josh finished his speech, police forces started to storm into the room, guiding the guests to safety. Within minutes more people were evacuating to the Safe Zone Area ― a distance away from the hotel. With the helps and cooperation from the Hotel authorities, the security team and Josh’s successful instruction, the evacuation was a success.
By the time the last person got out, police forces, SWAT Team and ambulances were already standby outside the hotel.
Meanwhile, a distance away from the Safe Zone Area, Anya was peeking through a looped hole behind a few stacks wooden planks in the Janitor room. She watched Josh was talking to his a bald, marine-type, middle-aged man named Cragon, his Commanding Officer.
She and Aidan had sneaked into the hotel after the last person had evacuated from the hotel without being spotted by anyone. They got in through the back door, where Aidan had once again, used the’Time-Out’ so that the SWAT Bomb Squad team won’t be able to get in.
By the time Anya arrived at the empty ballroom, she was huffing and panting. Having forced to run while wearing the evening dress and flats that were not meant to run for miles really took a troll on her feet.
“Phase One completed. Hurray!”
“Is this not the time to be excited, Miss Romans. We’re not quite finished yet, mind you we still have to look for the bomb and defuse it.” Aidan said over his shoulder. He had long discarded his black suit and was now wearing only the white shirt with sleeves rolled up until his arms.
“We know the bomb is somewhere here. But it could be just about anywhere ― on the ceiling, floor, walls. We won’t have much time to search them all with just the two of us.”
“Right. So what do you have in mind? Any idea what kind of bomb our friend’s talking about at least? How did you know him anyway?”
“Motýl was from the same Guild where I came from. Back in those days, the two of us were both the top magicians of the ‘Magician Guild’ due to our matching abilities and strengths. Then one day, we’ve received news Motýl had turned his back to Excalibell. He’d betrayed the Kingdom and done something unforgivable; that was, joining the Demon King’s forces and became their top Magician. Fortunately, he’d lose to me during the fight for the ‘Grand Mago’ title, and had been since then, a pain in my arse. This is one of his challenges. Usually, I would have won this in a minute. It appears he likes to play dirty, so it seems.”
Anya clenched her fists, and bought it up in the air. “We’ll find the damn bomb, and I will shove that thing down to his very throat!”
Aidan snorted softly at her comment. While he greatly appreciated her enthusiasm in beating Motýl, Aidan doubted very much she could lay a finger on the man, despite him being a weakling.
Aidan was about to open his mouth and say just that when he sensed something fast coming in their way.
“Look out! Anya!”
In a blink, Anya felt her body being pushed on the ground, with Aidan on top of her; holding her closed with one arm while the other held on to a sharp and deadly dagger that had aimed at her forehead, should he not pushed her down in time.
“My apologised, Miss Romans.” He got off her. Once he’d make sure there was no more sudden attack, Aidan helped her get back on her feet.
“Ouch!” Anya yelped, looking at her left ankle.
“Shit. I think I twisted it! Owh!”
Hopping on one foot until she found a chair nearby, Anya quickly sat down.
“I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. Go and look for that stupid bomb!”
Reluctantly, Aidan nodded. Though he was concerned of the woman’s twisted ankle, time was precious to them. And so, Aidan began walking around the area. He made sure that he didn’t wandered too far off, just in case the same thing happened to her again.
Not that he was able to think, Aidan’s mind began to analyse the situation; starting from the attack earlier. A trap trigger. He remembered Anya had been standing closed to him, at the same spot for five whole minutes without anything happened to her. That was, until she raised her hand in the air and―
Aidan’s eyes grew widened.
“Found anything?” Anya called out from her seat. She had just done rubbing her twisted ankle, and was about to stand up when Aidan’s suddenly shouted, “Don’t get up!”
That startled her.
“Whatever you do, do not get up from that chair!”
“W-What are you talking about?”
“There are very thin and fine― almost undetectable Spider Webs all around you. I didn’t see it at first, but I do now. These spider webs are trap triggers. If you touch it, another trap will be activated. It’s one of Motýl’s oldest tricks: the Spider-Webs Bombs.”
Aidan walked toward her. As carefully and as delicately as he could, he leaned forward and untangled the spider webs starting around her neck area.
“W-What are you doing?” Anya murmured lowly.
“Untangling these webs. What else?”
“Shouldn’t you be like, searching for the bomb?”
“Ah. That can wait, Miss Romans. This however, can’t be delayed any seconds.” Explained Aidan, simply.
Confused, Anya frowned and asked him to explain.
“Very well. These spider-webs are actually the bomb we’re looking for. Nano-bombs actually. After Motýl had joined the Demon King’s forces, he developed a way to combine the use of technology and magic. It started as curiosity, but later, he began developed an unhealthy obsession with it. One would have assume he’d discovered a way to come to this world, hence, enhanced his abilities as magician and scientist to create these nano-bombs.”
“Indeed it is. No matter. Once he’s captured, I’m sure His Majesty and His Highness would punish him severely for his crimes. The most they could do to him is imprisoned him for life. Now Miss Romans, do be quiet and breath deeply while I untangled these webs.”
Anya nodded mutely.
SEVERAL minutes had passed by in silence as Aidan had successfully and delicately untangled the spider webs from Anya’s neck. Currently, he was untangling the webs down to her waist.
Anya sat still nervously for two good reasons:
One, he was standing so close to her, she could practically feel him breathing on her skin as he untangled the spiderwebs delicately with his hands. Not that she seemed to mind, as it turned out. In fact, Anya didn’t mind at all. The only problem that she had with him closed up to her like this, was an urge to run her fingers through his soft hair...
Alright Romans. I know things have been a bit lonely since Ethan Carter hasn’t been around lately, but damn! Control yourself girl! This is Aidan we’re talking about. You know, Aidan de Butler?
Sighed softly, Anya cracked her neck to the sides.
Sitting still like this is making me losing whatever sanity I have left.
The second problem she was currently facing was the time it would take them to defuse the Nano-bombs.
Forty-five minutes left.
Anya wiped her damped forehead with the back of her hand. Tension was rising even though both were trying their best to keep calm as they possible could.
“I’m having a slight problem with the webs around your waist. Tell me Miss Romans, have you been losing weights lately?”
“W-What! W-Why...You! I didn’t ― how did― Gah! Don’t you know it’s rude to ask a lady how much she weights!” Anya’s face flushed deeply.
Aidan smirked. “Please don’t misunderstood my question, Miss Romans. The reason why I’m asking is because of your lightness when I’d carried you earlier. It seemed you’ve lose some weights compared to the other times when I’d carried you.”
“Of course. Why would I lie to you about such things? It made me wondered if you losing weights have something to do with the engagement party’s preparation or have you been busy with work that you seem to neglect your health?”
“It’s nothing.” Anya shook her head and sighed. “I admit these past few weeks have been tough on me. With Home’s, the preparations for this Engagement Party, and not to mention, the examinations coming up soon... So yeah, I guess you could say that I’m a bit stressed out.”
Aidan nodded. He didn’t say anything else after that and continuously untangled the webs and defused the bombs as fast as he could in silence.
Several minutes later, Aidan successfully managed to untangle the last strings of spider webs off her before Anya could finally moved away from the seat.
Standing up, the young woman stretched her arms and legs.
“That feels so much better!” Noticed the silence came from her partner, Anya turned and found that the Butler was staring at her.
“Nothing.” He coughed. “Well then, now that we’ve successfully defuse the bomb, it’s best if we escape from this place as soon as possible.”
“Impressive! Truly, I am!”
As soonas the words left from Aidan’s mouth, Motýl’s voice echoed throughout the empty ballroom.
Aidan pulled Anya closed to him when he sensed something was falling down from the ceiling. A thick grey and puffy smoked surrounded them.
“Like my little surprise?”
Motýl ― not in a flesh, but through a long mirror that magically appeared after the smoke had disposed. He was still wearing the same outfit, and the papillon mask covered half of his face.
“Truth being told, I would never expected you two to success to find the location of the bomb was, let alone, to defuse them. I must say, your name does live up to your reputation as the Gran Mago. Even without using your infamous magic, you still managed to get things done... Or perhaps the young Lady who is more useful to you than the previous one?”
There he goes again!
Anya gritted her teeth. She was just about to retort some of his words at him when she felt Aidan’s strong grip on her shoulders.
Looking up, Anya saw his eyes were unreadable and filled with malice.
Looking back at Motýl, Anya shouted, “Hey, you!”
Motýl tilted his head slightly to the left.
“Yea. I’m talking to you, papillon freak! Listen, I couldn’t careless whatever happened between the two of you in the past, but, the fact that you got innocent people I involved in your sick-twisted mind game is unforgivable! And let me tell you something else about this man!” she suddenly pointed at Aidan.
“He may be a stoic, nuisance, and bossy butler who likes to order people around, but if you ever, for a moment think that I would just stand here and let you continuously to insult him, you’re dead wrong, Mister.”
Anya glared sharply at Motýl.
“Only a coward insults his enemies. A real man won’t just stand there and watch from afar. If you have enough balls, then come over here and fight us like a real man does!”
The whole room fell into a complete deep silence. If a pin was to fall on the marbled floor at the moment, the sound would surely echoed throughout the whole ballroom.
It took Anya a minute to finally realised the reality of the situation.
Oh shit. What have I done?
Anya barely had the time to look up when she felt someone grabbed her elbow roughly ― Aidan. He was giving her the same malice glare that he had been given to Motýl earlier. It made her shuddered with fear.
But before he could say anything, Motýl’s mocking voice was heard once again.
“What a fierce little Devil you got there, Gran Mago.”
His voice snapped Aidan from trance.
Wordless, Aidan grabbed the young woman’s arm again, tightly this time, and began dragging her to the exit. All he knew at that moment was that they were done here. The bomb had been found and defused, and there was nothing else for them to be discussing about. They were continued to stay, they would only be playing in Motýl’s hands ― just like he’d planned.
As they were leaving the ballroom, Motýl’s chuckles echoed all the way and he stopped abruptly as they got closer to the exit.
“Better run your little legs off, lil’ Devil.”
Half of the ballroom suddenly exploded with searing white light. Anya didn’t even had the time to catch her breath before the shock wave hit them, throwing both of them forward through the hallway.
Heavy and thick smoke instantly filled in the hallway. Anya stumbled forward blindly when she felt someone was reaching out for her hand and pulled her closed.
She instantly recognised the scent of musky cologne he’d been wearing earlier, blended with sweats and... Blood?
As the smoke began to clear, Aidan wasted no time pulling her back to her feet and made a mad dash toward the exit where they had come from.
While running for their lives and approaching the exit, the sound of the explosive one after another was getting closer behind them with each seconds count. Rooftops began to collapse, walls crumbled, pillars dropped from out of nowhere, made their escape harder.
They had almost reached to the exit when Anya heard another explosion, very closely, behind them.
Anya got thrown into a nearby wall pretty badly. Winching at the pain of being forcefully hit against the walls, Anya forced herself to bear with it and tried to get away from there ― she nearly stumbled at the twist of the same ankle she had twisted earlier again.
Cursing at the pain, Anya gulped when she felt another wave of explosion heading toward her. Shutting her eyes and protecting her body, she prepared for the painful impact when she felt a presence stood closely in front of her.
A warm body.
“A-Aidan?” Her eyes grew wildly at the man who had both arms stretched on both sides of her head and had his back facing the incoming explosion.
“W-What are you doing?! Run, you fool! You’ll be caught in the blast!”
Aidan smiled wearily at her.
“Aidan, move! You can still escape from here! I-I’ve twisted my ankle again so... Move dammit!”
Trying to shove him away, Aidan kept his ground and refused to budge.
“Let me protect you. Please."
Anya barely could heard him over the sound of the explosion before another blast hit them. This time it was far more powerful than the last one.
And then everything else turned to pitch black.
The young woman heard distinctive voice calling out her name closed to her ears. Her whole body was numb. She could barely opened her eyes even when the same voice shouted her name louder this time.
“Hey! You’re okay?! Anya!"
Horrible pain in her chest greeted her instantly the moment she could feel again.
“Uh...Urgh...” Anya muttered unrecognised words.
As her senses began to clear, Anya could hear faintly the sound of sirens.
Fluttering her eyes and opening them slowly, two things she saw immediately when she opened her eyes.
The first was Josh and a deep scowl on his handsomely worried face. The second thing Anya noticed was that she was outside and was surrounded by a group of medical team, hovering over her while she laid on the stretcher.
“Thank God! Oh, thank God that you’re all right!”
Josh gathered and pulled Anya into a tight embrace despite loud protests came from the medical team who scolded him.
Josh released her from his embrace, but kept both hands on her shoulders. He was going to give her a lecture of a lifetime she would never forget!
“What the hell is the matter with you? Did you NOT hear me when I said NO funny business? How on Earth ― what the hell were you thinking sneaking back into the hotel anyway?!”
“Detective Campbell,” A deep grunted voice spoke calmly behind him.
Captain Cragen Marshall ― the proud and reliable Commanding Officer of Hillview’s Police Department Major Case Squad. A bald man in his fifties, with a small belly. He had the look of a firm and no-nonsense Commander. But in reality, he was such a loving grandfather to a pair of two years old twin girls who fondly called him ‘Grandpapa’.
“May I please speak with Miss Romans alone for a while?”
“Sir, I got this.”
Cragen took a step forward and put one hand on the man’s shoulder, and whispered lowly.
“Josh, I know am very aware that this young lady is indeed a close relative of yours. Which is why, I must ask for you to stand down during the interview sessions. You know the protocols, don’t you?”
Josh swore under his breath. Reluctantly, he let go of Anya before stepping away.
“Hey,” Josh tapped Anya on her shoulder. “I’ll be around here if you need me. Just shout if anything happens.’kay, kiddo?”
Anya nodded slowly and smiled wearily at him. She waved her hand goodbye at Josh who left to get himself a cup of dark roasted coffee.
The medical team had already left Anya alone after being ordered by Cragen to do soon.
Standing on her feet from the stretcher, Anya nervously awaited for the Commander to say something. Half-expecting him to lecture her like Josh had done a while ago, what Anya never expected was Cragen suddenly smirked at her.
“My, my. So the sleeping beauty’s finally awaken without the kiss, I see?”
As soon as those words came out from her mouth, ‘Cragen’ suddenly poofed in smoke and was replaced by Aidan.
“My God... Aidan!”
Instinctively; Anya grabbed a handful of his shirt, pulled him close, and hugged him.
Aidan was shocked at first ― never before had he expect to receive a hug from the fierce young woman in the first place. However, understanding how they both had just cheated on death a while ago made him realised she must have wanted a sense of comfort, unconsciously.
I wonder if she will kills me if I wrap my arms around her? Well, one way to find out...
Wrapping his arms around her waist, Aidan tightened his hold and pulled her close. To his pleasure; she didn’t kill him.
They stayed like that together for a while before Anya decided to end the silence and pulled herself away from his warm embrace.
Aidan was having a hard time trying not to smirk at her flushed face, finally realising what she had done and was too late to undo it.
“I was worried about you. Especially after you’d pulled out a stupid stunt like that.” She spoke in a half-mocking tone.
“Really. Of all the crazy stunts you could have pulled. What were you thinking? You could have just escaped from that place, but instead―”
Aidan stopped her babbling by putting a finger on her lips.
Looking at her with a wearily smile, Aidan pushed the bangs of her hair to the side, before hugging her again, much to Anya’s great surprise.
“I’m just glad we’re both made it out alive. We’d nearly died, you know.”
Trying to control her rapidly beating heartbeat, Anya decided to ask.
“Then how did we managed to ―”
“Over there! There they are,Marian! Miss Anya! Aidan!” A familiar voice belonged to none other than the Excalibell Prince as he and his fiancée ran toward them.
“Miss Anya, thank Goodness you both are all right!”
“Duke? Marian? How did the two of you know about...”
“When Aidan had informed us about your brief encounter with Motýl, he’d made sure that you have a backup plan ― us!”
“Huh.” Anya raised an eyebrow. “So then what happened after we got hit by the last blast?”
“The moment we saw the two of you running out toward the exit, Duke had used his magic to restart the flow of time and cast a barrier to shield you two from the last explosion, while I went and told your uncle that I might had saw someone coming out of the building a little while ago.” Marian explained calmly.
“But the last explosion had been very closed to everyone and thus, had caught us off our guards... To be honest, we weren’t quite sure if you both would made it alive because we weren’t quite sure if Duke’s barrier reached the two of you or not.”
“But you’ve made it through alive.” Marian stepped forward and threw her arms around Anya’s neck.
While still hugging Marian, Anya’s eyes moved from the relieved Prince to his Aidan. Instantly, she realised something was not right with him.
“Aidan, are you okay?”
Aidan waved his hand casually. “I’m fine, Miss Romans. Thank you for your concerns.”
“Liar.” Releasing Marian gently, Anya made her way toward the butler and looked at the wound on his abdomen that he tried so hard to hide.
“You obviously need a treatment. Excuse me! My friend here is hurt. Can he get a treatment please?”
Aidan was laying on the stretcher, with a deep irritating frown on his forehead. His wounded abdomen was bandaged and muscle strains on his right shoulder due to the blast earlier that was now leaving him handicapped.
Aidan would have easily healed himself, if given a choice in which he did not possessed at the moment. Duke would have gladly healed him but being a considerate and stubborn butler that he was, Aidan had politely refused his aid; stating that the Prince should not waste his life force on him and that he would be fine with the Other World’s traditional medical treatment.
So here he was, waiting to be carried into the white vehicle known as the Ambulance that would take him to a place called the Hospital to get further treatment. The medical team would like for him to get a full check up ― just in case the man suffered more than just a wounded abdomen and muscle strained.
Just then, Aidan heard a faintly giggles coming from his left. Anya watched him with an amusement look and a broad smirk. She had bits of scratches on her face and some bruises on parts of her body due to the many falls she’d suffered from her escapade moments ago.
At least her twisted ankle had recovered ― Duke had insisted that the least he could do was to heal her ankle that would cost him absolutely nothing.
Anya covered her giggles with one hand on her mouth, all the while shaking her head at the Butler.
“Does me being in this position amuses you by any chance, Miss Romans?”
“A lot, actually.”
Anya inhaled deeply and then exhaled. While watching the medical team hovering over Aidan when they treated his wounds while he vocally protested, was no doubt the hilarious thing she had ever seen, the young woman had actually been debating with something that kept on playing in her mind; regarding of something that the Butler had told her earlier tonight.
The question was, would she be daring enough to actually act on it? Let alone in a public place like this? What would Josh said if he saw to see her actually doing it? Oh God, the horror that she would be facing from his constant teasing would be the end of her!
“Miss Romans? What’s the matter?” Aidan’s voice caught her attention.
“You look as if you have something you would like to say to me.” He grinned. “By all means, I’m all ears.”
Even in the conditions he’s in, bloody butler still has the cheek to tease me! Bastard!
"Huh. As if I have anything to say to you!" Anya quickly turned her head to face the other way, not wanting him to see how truly flushed she was at the moment.
A minute passed between them in an awkward silence. All the while, Anya struggled to decide whether or not to do what her mind or heart told her.
Finally, she could no longer take the silence, Anya stood with her back straight. Turning her back her head to face at the handsome butler who had been staring at her with questions the whole time.
“Listen, don’t you dare take this the wrong way. I-I’m just doing it to show my gratitude... For saving my life back then.”
A flash of startled dark chocolate orbs looked at the woman as if she had finally lose it. Before Aidan could do or say anything, Anya hovered over him and ―kissed him, on the cheek. The whole process didn’t even lasted for a second before she pulled away, face completely in deep red and eyes looked anywhere but him.
Anya huffed and crossed her arms proudly.
“Like I said it was a ‘thank you’. You were the one who said it first back when this whole thing started ― so there!” Not bothered to wait for the man’s reply, she stomped away, all the while muttering nonsense under her breath.
Unknown to her when she’d left, Aidan already recovered from shock. One hand reached over to touch the area of the cheek which she’d kissed.
He let out a small smile.