“This is the orchard.”
I followed her over the grass, along the rows of apple trees.
“It’s beautiful,” I said, tucking my hair behind my ears. Like everything else in this strange land, it was. She looked at me over her shoulder and smiled, her ice-blue eyes warming to the colour of the sky.
“I help to tend it,” she explained. “Everyone says there are no other apples like these.”
We stopped walking. She reached up and plucked an apple from a branch above my head, then offered it to me. I felt like Eve in the garden of Eden, but I took the shiny red apple and bit into it. The sweet nectar of the flesh ran over my tongue and down my throat. “This is really good,” I said as I chewed, perfectly aware of my bad manners.
Her smile widened, and her eyes warmed even more. “You really like it?”
I swallowed. “I do.” I took another bite, unable to stop myself.
Her hands clasped together at her front, pressing her simple dress to her slim body. An image of modesty. “I’m glad.”
I felt good that I’d pleased her. After swallowing, I said, “What is this place?”
Her shoulders sagged a little. “It’s a place your kind have long forgotten, a place of peace, where magic still exists.” Her eyes met mine. “Do you believe in magic?”
The question hit me hard. “Sometimes.” It was the most honest answer I could give.
She held out her hand. I took it. “Close your eyes.”
I did. And I felt something warm rush up my arm and to my heart. I felt like a bottle someone had poured warm water into - except I hadn’t known it was cold water inside me to start with.
Then a warm sensation on my lips. Hers. We kissed, and it was amazingly perfect. My head spun in a way I hadn’t known it could.
When she pulled back and our eyes locked once more, I said, “Okay, now I believe in magic.”
She smiled, her eyes dancing all kinds of shades of blue. “That was just a taste - I can show you real magic, things that your world has forgotten how to believe in, if you can trust me, come with me.”
I hesitated only a moment. This was the adventure and excitement I’d longed for all my life. Screw the world. “Okay, show me everything.”