Welcome back for another chapter, friends! Just a quick word of warning that this chapter has received even less editing than the previous ones. I’ve had less time than usually, and I figured if something has to go it may as well be the thing I already don’t edit properly *shrugs* Not that I normally change much.
Still, I thought I’d mention it.
All that I Can Be is a continuous series and should be read in order. If you’re new or not yet caught up, please do so first.
Elena hated that her mother had sent her back to the market. One day she was worried about Elena’s well-being, the next she insisted Elena throw herself back into work to distract herself from whatever was troubling her.
If only her mother knew, she’d never have let Elena back near Ralu.
Or perhaps she would? The subject had never really come up, and Elena was not in a rush to force it.
The market was busy that day. For the first two hours, Elena was too busy counting correct change to keep an eye out for Ralu. When the crowd finally let up a bit, her basket was almost empty. Her mother would be pleased, at least.
When Elena finally spotted her, Ralu looked sad. And she was alone.
Getting a hair from her head could be easy, as long as no one else watched too closely.
Elena took a breath so deep she felt her chest tighten, and released it slowly. She could do this. One brief moment of bravery for a lifetime of happiness together.
She could definitely do this.
She walked over to Ralu. The moment their eyes met, Elena changed her mind again. She couldn’t do this to Ralu.
She wanted real love, not something fake from a bottle.
“Are you okay?”
Ralu shrugged. “I’m fine.”
Was it this easy for her mother to tell when Elena was lying? Ralu’s eyes were red, she’d clearly been crying.
“You don’t look fine.” Elena scanned the dwindling crowd for Ralu’s boyfriend, but he was nowhere to be seen.
“It’s nothing. Nicolae left me, but my grandmother is sure I’ll get over it, so I’m fine.”
No, she definitely couldn’t steal the girl’s hair to manipulate her feelings. She was already enduring enough, and Elena imagined playing with someone’s emotions like she’d planned to do put a fair bit of strain on someone’s mind.
Ralu’s had been strained enough.
“It’s okay to be sad when someone you love doesn’t love you.”
She blushed, and looked away. She hadn’t meant to be this honest.
Ralu nodded. “Thank you. I’m sorry, I don’t know your name?”
Elena’s heart jumped. “It’s Lena. Elena, I mean. Elena Baciu.”
Ralu smiled. For her. It was more than her heart could bear. “Thank you, Lena. I’m Ralu.”
“I should get back to the stall before someone steals our bread. My mother would never forgive me and then she’ll never let me take over the business. Not that I want to. Take over the business, that is, but still.”
She hated that she rambled all because Ralu had smiled for her and called her Lena. She excused herself, and hurried back to her stall.
At least Ralu looked happier now.
The rest of the day went quickly. She didn’t see Ralu again and she was no closer to loving her, but that she’d made Ralu smile had energised her. She’d talked to Ralu on her own, without any magic. It was something.
Elena was just about to wrap up when Ralu came over with two pasties in her hands.
Ralu smiled. “I wanted to thank you again, for earlier, but you’re probably tired of cakes by now.”
Elena couldn’t help her smile. “No, that’s fine. My Mum bakes savouries more than sweet cakes.” Her mother made both, of course, but everyone had a speciality and her mother’s were bread and rolls. Elena liked her mother’s cakes, but she recognised the wrapping on these. It made her mouth water.
Ralu sat next to her and handed Elena a pastry. To Elena’s horror, she then pointed to the paintings.
“Did you make these?”
Elena blushed and hit behind the red wrapping. “I’m not very good.”
Ralu shook her head. “No, they are nice! I like lavender.”
She almost choked on her pastry. “You like them? Really?”
“Hmh. The canvas isn’t very good, though, and the paints look cheap. My granddad paints. I grew up hearing all about it.”
“That must have been nice.” All she’d heard about was dough and correct proofing times.
Ralu shrugged. “If you like, I’ll see if he has any canvas or paints to share. They’re good stuff, you’ll like them.”
“Really? You’d do that?”
“Sure! That’s what friends are for, right?”
Friends. It was a start–
and better yet, she’d got all here all by herself.
End of Chapter 9
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All writing belongs to the author, Sarina Langer
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