“Ah, there she is. Calla, come meet Han, Liona, and Calhan Lillaen.”
Calhan looks like his father, with curly blonde hair and a well-carved face. His eyes are his mother’s deep hazel. He stands as I approach. “Pleasure,” he says to me, bowing.
I curtsy. “Likewise.”
“And, please, call me Cal.”
“Cal. Very well.”
My mother titters. “Oh, my. Let’s hope we don’t get you two mixed up! Cal and Calla? Hm, that does sound quite romantic, though.”
She blinks. “Oh, sorry, love. Come, everyone, let us adjourn to the dining room!”
“Well, the treatment of the unicorns seems rather harsh to me,” Cal says, poking his fork into his chicken. “They’re really quite innocent. They only get feisty around non-virgins.”
“Hmph! Well, I think they are horrendous creatures. They should be exterminated!”
“Now, now, Liona.”
“One of those beasts crippled my only daughter, Han! I want those beasts wiped out of Faylen! Out of the world, even!”
My mother taps her spoon against her wineglass. “Pardon, but may I call for dessert?”
“Mm. What is dessert, Madame Tullier?”
“Dark Flame cake. It’s a specialty of ours.”
Cal instantly perks up. “Oh, I’ve heard legends about that Dark Flame cake! The taste alone can allow one to experience Starlife while still alive, just for a minute!”
Mother smiles. “Well, I suppose you’ll have to see for yourself.” She claps her hands, and a servant comes running from the shadows.
“Will you let Cook know that we are ready for the Dark Flame?”
“Certainly,” the servant responds, curtseying.
The lights in the room dim as Cook herself carts out the cake, with is bright with pure blue dragon flame. I hear gasps from all three of the Lillaens as they gaze in awe at the spectacular dessert.
The fire suddenly explodes, cueing a scream from Liona, then dissolves into the air, leaving the cake perfectly toasted and the guests unharmed.
Cook serves up the dessert with a toothy smile, her dark blue eyes sparkling with warmth.
When the Lillaens taste the decadent dark chocolate, tinted with a taste of tangy rasberry, all of them look as though they’ve died and gone to the Stars.
“Oh, my, this cake is absolutely splendid! You must give me the recipe.”
Mother smiles. “I’m sorry, but it’s a family secret.”
I slide my fork into my mouth with a dainty, princess-sized piece of cake on it.
“I don’t know, Torrin. Is this really a good idea?”
“It’s the only way, Calla.”
“What if we get cau-”
Torrin slips his fork between my lips, stopping my words with a mouthful of chocolate cake. “We’ll be fine. How can we get caught if we don’t remember doing anything?”
“And the only thing that can trigger our memories is seeing each other?”
“And...how will we do that?”
“Calla, don’t worry. I have everything figured out. We’ll be fine.” He kisses me softly, momentarily silencing any remaining worries.
I jump, nearly falling out my chair. Everyone is staring at me, wide-eyed.
“Calla, honey, are you still feeling ill?”
I touch a hand to my head, closing my eyes. “I...I suppose I am. May I be excused?”
“Yes, of course, dear.”
I stand, smoothing the light, iridescent pink skirt of my dress, and quickly leave the room.