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Matchmaker's Mansion: Ch. 12
Asha forced the knife through the apple. It’s juices squirted out, sprinkling her hand with stickiness. The two halves of the apple toppled onto their sides when she removed the knife and placed it to the side. Licking the droplets off of her hand, she observed the boys.
Ever was busy dropping chunks of beef into the stew they had formulated while Chase was cutting oranges beside her. Shay…she had no idea where he was and she was thankful for that.
“Uh, Asha?” Chase
said, looking at her with a surprised expression. She was sucking on her thumb, due to the apple juice she had gotten on it. Quickly, she took her thumb out, wiping it on her kitchen apron as she smiled sheepishly.
Chase smiled back and quickly spun around so that his back to her. He fiddled with something and when he turned around he had shoved a slice of orange in his mouth, the orange peel showing when he smiled on purpose.
Asha giggled at his childish act and crossed eyes. “Did you do that a lot when you were a kid?” she asked when he had spat the orange out. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, his eye wide as he focused on her, his blonde bangs draped across his face to cover the other eye.
His eyes clouded over for a moment before he cleared his throat and said, “Are you saying that I’m still a kid?”
Asha was confused for a moment how he had gotten that out of it, but went along with it and said, “Yup, that’s exactly what I meant.” She reached up, feeling like a midget as she stood on her tiptoes to ruffle his blonde hair.
He lightly touched her nose, pushing her back by applying more pressure, “You’re the one that’s still the same size as a four year old.” She was surprised by his comeback, and he laughed when he saw her face. Scrunching up her nose, she tried to look hurt, giving it up to laugh with him.
Chopping away at the fruit in order to fill a huge bowl of fruit salad, Chase continued to talk. His active yet random imagination flitted from the topic of art to clouds to flowers.
“If I were a flower,” Chase started, “I would be…a sunflower.” He started to peel another orange as he looked at her. “You look like you would be a violet.”
Asha considered his statement before saying, “Why do you say that?”
“Oh…I don’t know,” he shrugged. “Your personality just screams purple and your face has that…sort of” he motioned with his hands around his face to show a heart shape “look to it.”
“Chase,” Ever called over. Chase immediately turned in response. “Can you stir this for a while I go get the bowls?” Ever didn’t wait for an answer and just took off, disappearing around the corner.
“Yah…” Chase’s voice faded out, “Sure.” He left the oranges to peer down into the huge pot on the stove. As he stirred, he stared down into the stew in fascination as the chunks of meat and vegetables floated around. Asha went back to her own fruit, wondering how personalities could scream a certain color. But if they did, then she knew that Ever would definitely be a dark emerald. Chase would, of course, be a sunny yellow. And did she even have to think about Shay- she just had to look at him and she thought “black.”
As if on cue, a dark presence moved in next to her. Her muscles tensed as she watched Shay pick up the knife that Chase had been using. Silently, he started to continue Chase’s work. Asha watched him out of the corner of her eye, feeling as though his presence was overwhelming.
Her fingers in a flurry of nervousness, she reached for another apple and pressed the knife into it, but her wrist wobbled as she did and the knife cut off in the wrong direction. An exasperated sigh hissed through her clenched teeth and she pushed the hair that kept falling in her face back behind her ear. As she did, a line of blood appeared on her cheek.
Asha went rigid at the touch of a fingertip to her cheek. It felt as though sparks were jumping between their skin. She slowly turned her head, feeling him drag his thumb across her cheek, smoothing the blood off. But it didn’t come off, only tainted her pale skin further.
Her brown eyes fastened on Shay. As his thumb continued to run over her skin, his features seemed to loose the haziness that had been over them and he became crystal clear: his gray eyes seemingly lost in thought with a layer of fog over them, the black edges of his hair caressing the sides of his sloping jaw, and a stray hair stuck to the side of his slightly open lips.
Her eyes lowered to the necklace peeking out from beneath his skinny black scarf. The pendant looked like an old bottle-cap with the words “I <3 Vampires” on it, and a tiny little pink stone winked out from it's place on the heart. That was something unexpected.
When his thumb continued to stroke her cheek, she looked up into his dazed eyes staring fixedly at her. “Shay?” she said and he froze. His grey eyes blinked twice, thumb jerking away from her face. For the first few moments he rocked back and forth on his feet in nervousness, avoiding her gaze, but when their gazes locked again she saw the inner turmoil that had risen to the surface. With a groan, he turned straight around. His long stride took him around the kitchen corner out of view just as Ever was coming around.
Ever set his armful of bowls on the counter, looking back over his shoulder in the direction Shay had went. “Did I miss something?” he turned back to say to Asha.
“I’m not sure what you missed,” Asha said, in a daze herself.
“Ever, I think this is done,” Chase said with a bit of uncertainty mixed in his voice. He turned away from the stew to look at the both of them, but when he saw Asha he gasped. “Asha, are you bleeding?” He rushed over, staring at the spot on her face where Shay had touched her and searching her for any other wounds. “Aha!” he said, lifting her left hand in front of her face to show her the small cut on her finger. He whipped his head around in search for something to stop the thin line of blood inching down her finger, but not finding anything—he stuck her finger in his mouth. Shivers raced up her spine as she felt his warm tongue run over her finger, the cut hurting for the first time when his tongue touched it.
Taking her finger out of his mouth, he held it up, looking it over. “All clean,” he said. He looked past the finger to see Asha’s open mouth and wide eyes. His mouth formed into a goofy smile, but it didn’t last for long when he looked past her shoulder.
She turned to see what he was looking at. The kitchen door had opened and a group of boys filtered through. Boys of a variety of ages: a toddler, children, tweens, and a few teens who were close to Chase’s age.
Her eyes followed Chase as he moved around her to greet the newcomers. The smallest one of the group, a blonde haired-blue eyed little boy, he swung up into the air. Giggling with joy, the little boy poked Chase’s cheek. Chase grinned back, pressing his lips to the little boy’s neck to make a strange noise. Giggling even more from the vibration, the little boy spouted off a few words of nonsense.
The rest of the boys sat down at the long table, there being about twenty of them. Ever passed around the bowls of stew, and when he had finished he came to stand next to Asha. With her eyes intent on watching the boys, Asha said, “Who are these boys and why are they here?”
Ever sighed, feeling the tips of his spiked hair with his hand, a trace of a smile on his lips, “You’ve probably caught some of the hints from being here for so long, but we all live here. As for them,” he leaned back against the counter, “most of them are orphans, myself included. There are a few though that are the exception and still have family alive, Chase being one of them.”
Asha took her eyes off of the boys to give Ever a brief glance. “This place is more than just a matchmaking business, isn’t it?”
Ever gave her a sad smile, his hazel eyes reading deep into her own, “Oh yes, much much more.”