Welcome back for the new instalment of All that I Can Be! <3 Before we begin, you might prefer to catch up:
As this is a continuous story, I recommend you read it in order.
Now, let’s begin!
Elena startled and jumped, and shrieked when her feet touched water. It splashed up her legs and left wet patches on her pajama trousers, clinging to the bare skin underneath as she had once done to her mother’s skirt.
“I didn’t mean to scare you. If I’d known I’d look so frightening I’d have worn something else.”
He didn’t look like the other men in her village. His clothes were more modern, his face shaved with a bit of stubble, and his hair was short and soft-looking, not dishevelled from a hard day’s work or slick with sweat or oil, like the boys her age liked to do.
“No, it’s not that, it’s—” Maybe her still startled mind was playing tricks on her, but his response made no sense. “Who are you?”
His smile was warm and amused. Underneath, there was something else and it made her uncomfortable. Something you only ever saw from the corner of your eye but that disappeared the moment you looked closer.
If she’d known he or anyone else would be here tonight, she’d have stayed in her bed.
“I’m the answer to your problems.”
His rich too-smooth voice made her heart race.
“I don’t understand.”
She couldn’t back away since the lake was behind her, but she could walk around it.
Anything to get away.
Anything to get closer.
“Don’t you?” He tutted. “I think you do. You mortals have this odd habit of thinking nothing will happen if you don’t acknowledge it already is.”
“I don’t follow.”
She didn’t like people who spoke in riddles. What was wrong with being clear?
“You called me, Elena Baciu. You don’t want to be judged. You want people to spare more than a fleeting glance at your paintings.” He grinned. “You want Ralu to kiss you, not that boy.”
Her heart hammered as her mind blurred and her skin chilled.
“How do you—”
“Know that? Oh, look! We’re already completing each other’s sentences.” He laughed, and it rattled her bones and churned her stomach. “I know because you reached out to me with everything that ails you. You want my help, but you’re too scared to ask.”
“Oh, yes.” He laughed louder. It both froze and warmed her. “Don’t believe me?”
She shook her head, worried what might come out if she spoke.
Because, truth be told, she believed him.
“How can I convince you? Some magic, perhaps?”
She gulped and nodded. In the stories, he always possessed terrible magic.
He held out his hand. She took a step away from him, into the water.
“It’s not a binding contract, Elena. All I ask for is a dance.”
Her favourite story flooded her mind, but her hand was already in his, and he led her out onto the lake. The water left magical ripples wherever they stepped, feather-light and soft like her blanket back home. Not a drop of water on her toes.
She couldn’t dance; she’d never learned how. With him in the lead, the steps came easy like she’d always known them.
“You are surprised to see me.”
She swallowed past her fear. “I’m surprised you look so…”
“Normal?” She nodded. “I only chose a form I thought you’d accept. Would you prefer a dance with Ralu?” He whispered right into her head. “Or would you prefer I match the image in your head?”
Anything but that. Elena shook her head.
“Then let’s discuss what I can do for you.”
His movements were as smooth as the impossible surface they swayed on. She’d always been a terrible dancer, stepping on toes and tripping over her own feet. In his hands, her movements were as easy as his.
She was amazed to find he smelled of lavender.
“I can give you confidence. I can give you strength. I can give you the life you cannot give yourself. All I want in return is your signature, a promise, and your soul.”
She couldn’t possibly agree.
“How? How would you do any of that?”
“How would you like me to do it?” He chuckled at a joke she’d missed.
“I want magic.” In the stories, magic fixed everything. It could save her, too.
“Then I shall give you magic.”
“To accomplish the things I can’t do on my own.”
Whatever magic he could possibly give her had its work cut out for it.
He grinned, and she caught a flash of something darker in the shadows of his dimples.
“Indeed.” He let go of her hands, and a feather and contract appeared in his hand. “Sign, if you’d please.”
“What’s the promise you want?”
“Meet me here every full moon. Dance with me, and report to me. I want to see you use the gift I’m giving you.”
She could do that. She’d sneaked out before, her parents would never know.
He handed her the feather and she signed away her soul. She thought it might hurt. But she didn’t feel anything besides a hint of giddy excitement.
“Then I bid you farewell until the next full moon. Don’t be late, Elena Baciu.”
She blinked and was back on dry land, in the same spot where he’d first made her jump. The devil had disappeared.
And as far as Elena could tell, she still had no magic.
End of Chapter Four
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All writing belongs to the author, Sarina Langer
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