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Book 2, Excerpt 5 -LATE-

Well, I did it again. I was so engrossed in other things (like going through edits my editor sent over to me) that I forgot to make this blog post. But I promised a post and I'm going to give you all one. So, here's the fifth exerpt from book 2.

"About time you two came inside!" Ryoko yelled at us as we approached, shutting down our conversation immediately.

I snorted. "Raikidan was being slow, like always."

"Me?" Raikidan half laughed. "You're the one wearing shoes you can barely stand in."

I wanted to laugh. He was right. We had taken forever to get up the stairs because I was so unstable in my shoes but he was the reason it took forever to just get to the stairs in the first place.

"Hey, I didn't pick out the shoes," I defended. "I was forced to wear them."

"Whatever you say, Butterfly," he replied.

I looked at Argus and blinked. "Argus, you okay? You look tense already and this party has barely started."

"I've been listening to what these soldiers have been mainly conversing about," he said. "It's all been the same topic. It's been about a violet haired woman whose innocent civilian identity is now in question."

I gulped. It would be my luck that the others would find out about what happened. Everyone looked at me. They weren't stupid.

"Why didn't you tell us?" Ryoko asked.

I sighed and looked elsewhere. "I didn't want to worry you."

"Please don't leave us again," she begged quietly. I blinked slowly. She knew me all too well. She knew my plan.

"She won't have to," Raikidan stated firmly. "We're going to fix it."

I looked at him from the corner of my eye. He knew something. I didn't know how I knew, but I had this weird feeling that he was hiding something.

"Well it's good to see that you actually chose to show up, Zane." I wanted to shoot myself at the sound of Zo's voice.

Zane chuckled and shook Zo's hand. "We've never missed one of these parties yet, we're not about to know. Though, a little more notice next time would be great."

"Yeah," Ryoko muttered. "Four hours to get ready was not enough time."

I snorted. "Not like you needed those Four hours. You spent two just on me which was completely uncalled for."

Ryoko wagged her finger at me. "Perfection takes time."

"Then what about you?" I shot. "You took all of five minutes to get ready."

"Years of practice," Ryoko justified. "You on the other hand, don't have that and need help. A lot of help."

Raikidan snorted. "Someone needs to get a reality check."

I laughed, although, Ryoko on the other hand didn't seem to find his statement as funny.

Zo chuckled. "Well at least I knew you're all enjoying yourselves already. Now, Zane, if I may ask, who is your beautiful date?"

Zane looked at Shva'sika, unsure if he should attempt her elven name again. With a smile, Shva'sika extended her hand in greeting. "Elarinya Lightshine. It's a pleasure to meet you."

Zo took her hand and planted a small kiss on it as if he were some sort of gentleman. "General Zo and the pleasure is all mine. It's an honor to meet an Elf of such status."

Shva'sika smiled kindly at him. "A rare find you are, General. Not many know my family name anymore."

"I've done a lot of traveling in my time," he admitted. "Though I must say, none have come close to comparing to your beauty."

I wanted to wretch and one look at Ryoko told me I wasn't the only one. I couldn't see how Shva'sika could stand it. She showed no signs of disgust at all as she spoke with Zo.

I looked around when the music softened suddenly and the lights dimmed. Several groups of couple moved onto the floor and began dancing.

"Shall we?" Zane asked Shva'sika.

"I'd love to," she replied with a smile.

I watched the two walk off. I had to resist the urge to laugh. Zane's shiny, bald head reflected the dim lights making him a tiny beacon. Ryoko, on the other hand, was more inclined to giggle.

Blaze was next to take his date away and then Rylan stole Ryoko away leaving Raikidan, Argus, Zo, and I. I watched the three couples float across the floor. It was interesting to watch. I had never really learned to dance even though it had been a requirement in the military. I thought it was stupid and no one wanted to dance with a monster like me so I didn’t see the point in learning.

I blinked when Zo offered me his hand. "I would be honored if you'd dance with me, Eira."

"I…I um…uh…" I couldn't think of anything that would be good enough to say no. "I don't think that's a good idea, Zo. I have two left feet."

Zo chuckled and kept his hand outstretched. "It's easy, I promise."

I sighed and reluctantly took his hand. Apparently the lack of dance ability wasn't a good enough no. I looked back at the two boys as Zo led me away. Raikidan looked at a loss and I didn't blame him. Like me, he had no idea how to dance so how was he supposed to help? My only hope was Argus. I gave him my best pleading eyes but he only returned my plea with an apologetic look. He wasn't going to help me. He was going to stick to his stupid code and I was going to suffer.

Zo pulled me closer to him and place my hands in the correct spots. I prayed to the goddess, as he placed his hands on me, he would keep his hands in the appropriate places. I knew I'd end up slapping him if he didn't behave.

He pulled me along as we began to dance. I stumble several times and became more and more uncomfortable by the minute. Not only was I being forced to dance with a man I hated, I was forced to over hear what the soldiers were saying about me. I listened as they compared me to rebel me.

"Relax, Sweetcheeks," Zo encouraged. "Just follow my lead and you'll be fine."

"I'm trying," I admitted. "I'm just…I just not good at this. Sorry."

He chuckled heartily. "Why are you sorry? There's no shame in not knowing how to dance."

I looked at him through my lashes. "I'm making you look like a fool."

Zo laughed. "Trust me, hon, you're not making me look like a fool. My company can and does, but you, you make me look good."

I wanted to gag. He was gloating about something that didn't exist. Instead I half smiled.

Zo frowned. "Something is bothering you."

"Bothering me?" I blinked. "Nothing is bothering me."

"You don't seem happy like you usually are," he observed.

I'm never happy you oaf. "It's nothing really."

"Eira, why don't you tell me?" he asked. "I hate to see you so upset."

Why did he sound so concerned? It was creepy. I sighed. "I'm just not good with crowds in small places."

Zo looked at me skeptically. "That's not what's really bothering you."

I wanted to smack him. He couldn't get the hint I didn't want to talk about it. "It's just the things the other soldiers are saying. They're talking about me. They're comparing me to someone and it doesn't sound good."

Zo smiled at me. "Don't listen to them. They're wrong."

Was Zo really that dumb? "Who are they comparing me to?"

"A rebel that was spotted last night." he admitted.

"Why are they comparing me to her?" I asked. "What did I do?"

Zo sighed. "They think you look like her."

I furrowed my brow. "That's it? That's their reason? They're comparing me to a trouble maker because we look similar?"

He sighed again. "You also share her name."

Shit. I knew I should have come up with a fake name. I looked down at the floor. "My parents named me because of the time I was born. We had seen peace in the village for so many years they felt my name needed to mean it. I never thought anyone else shared my name…"

"Just don't listen to them," he encouraged. "You're nothing like this rebel. She's cold and heartless which I know you're not. And the name thing can be a coincidence. It's a beautiful name and it suits you. Not to mention you admitted you dye your hair and Ryoko vouched for it. You have nothing to worry about."

I nodded. He really was dumb but I wasn't about to complain. The more people I could convince I was a civilian trying to get by in life the better.

"Besides, she doesn't wear leather and ride motorcycles."

Oh man… I was hoping he hadn't seen me that day. "I don't know what you're talking about, Zo."

"Oh don't be like that, Eira," he teased. "I saw you on the back of that bike with your friend. You seemed to be enjoying yourself."

I forced my face to flush. "D–don't tell anyone okay? I don't like a lot of people knowing."

"Guilty pleasure?" he guessed.

I nodded. "It's not the bike part. I drive that all the time."

He chuckled. "I get it. It's the leather. But if I'm allowed to say, you looked good."

I forced myself to blush more, instead of gagging, and averted my gaze. I didn't need any images of him fanaticizing about me for some odd reason running through my head.

"So, tell me about you're elven friend," Zo said, changing the topic.

"What about her?" I asked.

"How did Zane end up with her as his date?" he clarified. "How do you know her?"

"Oh, that's easy." I smiled. "Elarinya is a long time friend of mine."

Zo blinked. "I'm a little confused."

I laughed. "It's all right. I confused everyone else too when she showed up. Elarinya, Rai, and I lived in the same village. She's an old friend of my family's and acts like a mother to me when I need it and acts like a sister the rest of the time."

"So you remembered her after you lost your memory?" he questioned.

I shook my head. "It took me three weeks to remember her."

"I see," he mused. "What is she doing here now?"

"She's living with us now," I explained. "I bought a messenger hawk from a traveling caravan a few weeks ago and sent her a message about my progress. She was so excited and missed me so much she gained citizenship and now lives with us at the house."

"Your family is very lucky to be so close with a member of the Lightshine family," Zo commented.

I shrugged. "We’ve never seen it as anything special. I’ve always seen it as a normal thing."

"Practice in humility." Zo smiled. "An excellent trait to have. A trait the rebel you are being compared to doesn't share."

I wanted to sigh and leave. Zo was so stupid and I hated him insulting the real me. What he was saying about me may be true, but it still hurt. I hated who I was and his words only made it worse. I gulp when I felt Zo pull me closer to him and move his hand closer to my butt.

I pulled his hand back up to my lower back. "Please don't do that, Zo."

He chuckled and tried to move his hand again. "I'm not going to hurt you."

I sighed and moved his hand back to my lower back. "I'm being serious, Zo, stop. It makes me uncomfortable."

"All right, all right, s—"

"May I cut in?" I blinked when I heard Raikidan's voice. He was holding out his hand and waiting patiently.

Zo nodded. "I guess I don't have much of a choice. She is your date after all."

Zo moved away from me, much to my relief, and allowed Raikidan to take me by the hand. Zo retreated a little ways off but didn't disappear into the crowd of party attendees. He stayed near the dance floor and watched.

Raikidan put his arms around me and forced me to dance with him. I exhaled slowly. "Thank you for saving me from him, but can we not dance?"

Raikidan chuckled. "I'd like to have my turn with you now. Besides, it's the least I could do for being late and letting him take you. I shouldn't have done that."

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