Hailu – Leya Club
“Shame that Savai wasn’t there today,” Seri Dellan said as she and Celna approached the Leya Club.
Celna shrugged. “I don’t know what she could have done for me, really. How can someone take away nightmares?”
“No idea, but she would be more likely to have an idea than anyone else I know of.”
“You’re probably right,” Celna replied opening the door to the Leya Club.
“Welcome, Celna, Seri,” the manager said. “A bit of self defense is always a good idea.”
“Thanks, Elmar,” Celna said cheerfully.
A chill went through her as she saw Tilo already there. She thought about leaving, but Seri grabbed her arm to change her mind.
<He’s here!> Celna sent to her cousin.
<Prove you’re better than him!> Seri replied.
Yurit was there, thankfully. She drifted towards him, feeling grateful for his protective presence.
There was a hush in the room which caused Celna to look towards the door. A group of five had just entered the room. Two women and three men. One of the men had outrageous blue hair. On his arm was a young woman with purple hair. Celna guessed she was a similar age to the young woman. Thinking about it, she had to wonder if this was the couple who were married in the huge televised wedding for Derick Aiden only a couple months previously. The way she held her hand on her abdomen made her look pregnant. Celna barely avoided shaking her head.
The other couple were interracial, she looked Kri’enden, he Almaran. The fifth individual seemed pleasantly unattached. He was definitely nice to look at, burnished-bronze hair that would be very much admired here in X’lea. She couldn’t keep her eyes off of him, despite the jabs in her ribs from her cousin.
<A bit nicer than Tilo,> Seri shared. “Wasn’t he the guy with Davilla earlier?”
Celna didn’t reply.
The stranger’s eyes caught hers. He smiled.
Celna quickly looked away with a blush.
Elmar saved her further embarrassment. “What do we have here? A group of migrants?”
“You could call us that,” the blue-haired man said with a slight smile.
“If we decide to stay, we will give them at that time. We do not wish to cause trouble,” the blue-haired man replied simply.
<A group who do not give names!> Seri shared.
Celna was watching the unattached man again. <Please stay!> she felt her heart cry out. He looked at her again with that same smile. Had he heard her silly heart?
Elmar continued, “For the sake of our guests, I remind everyone that anyone may train here. Anonymous students and teachers are as welcome here as they are in Joton. All who train here have the same right to respect from everyone else here.”
“You are worthy your title,” the blue-haired man said with confidence. “I shall pass a good word to Joton next time we’re there.”
“I appreciate that. Any friend of Cruro is a friend of mine,” Elmar replied.
“Very well, you may call us Shadow,” the blue-haired man said.
“Shadows, unlike Cruro, I train all aspects of leya combat. While shaze is important, and the most fun aspect, it’s not the only one, nor the most important.”
“I will suggest some pairings,” Elmar said, directing the women to work with Celna and Seri, and the unattached man to Tilo. Celna didn’t notice much further.
“Hi,” the dark-skinned woman said to her.
“Nice to meet you. I hope you can give me a challenge today, my skills are rusting.”
“I am worried about hurting your little one.”
“My baby is more at risk from me being less-than-sharp with my skills,” Her opponent replied throwing a leya blast at her that knocked her off her feet.
A moment later, Celna was engaged in a fierce battle, not having time to worry about whether she’d hurt a baby or not. The woman threw blasts and walls with unrelenting speed, keeping Celna on the floor most of the time.
There was a chuckle as the unattached man offered her a hand.
Celna’s cheeks were burning as she grabbed his hand and he pulled her to standing.
“It’s okay, she usually beats me senseless too!” the man said. He smiled and Celna felt her heart completely swept away by this total stranger. She couldn’t speak. “Would you like me to teach you?” he offered.
Celna still couldn’t talk, so she just nodded.
“Do you have a name?” he asked as they moved to a padded corner.
“Celna,” she just managed to say, feeling the color in her cheeks.
“I’m Yavin,” he replied. “It’s nice to meet you. Now, I want you to throw your best at me.”
Celna could only think about the fact she didn’t want to hurt this man who already had possession of her heart. The next moment, she was on the padded floor.
“Come on, you’re going to have to fight me,” Yavin insisted, throwing more light blasts, just enough to keep her on the floor.
Celna’s cheeks were burning hotter, but she threw a larger blast back, just enough to let her get up. But his blasts got harder.
“Harder!” he goaded.
Finally, she got over being embarrassed and unleashed herself in a fury of blasts and walls.
“That’s better,” he said. “Now, let’s see you with a shaze.”
Elmar came over and handed her the weapon. “Does your shaze have a training setting?” he confirmed with Yavin.
“Of course. I won’t hurt the lady, don’t worry.”
“I get the feeling your comrades are at a much higher level than anyone else here.”
“The purple-haired lady defeated everything Cruro could give her from what I understand,” Yavin replied.
“That’s what I thought,” Elmar said.
“They might give us a demonstration if we’re lucky.”
“The young ladies probably shouldn’t,” Elmar said.
“They have no choice,” Yavin said.
Elmar nodded and continued.
“What do you mean by that?” Celna asked.
“I can’t tell you more than that – not without putting you in danger,” Yavin answered.
Celna nodded, worried.
“Try not to worry. Now show me what you have.”
She pulled the weapon from its scabbard. It blazed to life. She made a dumb stab towards him. Yavin easily knocked it out of her hand.
“Have you learned any shaze?” he asked.
She shook her head. “It scares me.”
“Come here,” he commanded.
Celna stood close to him.
“Who are you afraid of?” he asked into her ear. “Just think about him.”
Celna tried not to, but Tilo’s threatening message came to her mind. He was there now, she could feel him watching her with growing jealousy.
“I thought so,” Yavin said. “Look at me, I’m going to make him jealous beyond belief.”
“What?” Celna asked, looking up at him.
Yavin’s lips brushed hers.
Celna was shocked with surprise, but that was quickly overwhelmed by her desire for this man, so that the second kiss was eagerly met and returned. He didn’t have to push, her lips parted enough to let his tongue through.
Finally, the kiss ended. Celna would never be the same, she knew. She would never be able to kiss another man without comparing it to the one she had just shared with a complete stranger.
“Yeah, that was a bit more than I expected too,” Yavin said quietly. “He’s not the only one who noticed either. Sorry about that.”
“I’m not,” she barely managed to breathe, before he pulled away. She looked around the room at all the stares, especially that of Seri. Her cheeks reddened again.
But it was Tilo’s glare that stunned her. It was full of venom and hatred. She shuddered.
“I hope I haven’t made things worse,” Yavin said, putting a hand on her back.
Celna nodded, wanting to lean into that hand. She wanted to throw herself into his arms and promise to go with him anywhere he wanted to go.
Instead, she pulled away from him. She hurried out of the club, not sure where she was going. Her emotions were too much of a mess to be there a moment longer.
Celna’s wandering took her through the shopping plaza, crowded with vendors and customers. She didn’t see any of it though. All she could think of was the tantalizing kiss she’d just experienced. If she lived to be 1000 years, she would never forget that kiss. And to think that Tilo’s rage might be the consequence was frightening beyond anything.
Celna had broken up with Tilo for his constant pushing for a deeper relationship. Learning more about his father had convinced her to stay away from him. His behavior ever since had confirmed the validity of her fears.
Depressed, she bought an order of chips and sat on one of the piers, feeding the gulls.
Start over with chapter 1
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