Cheryl and Garion sat in a tree near some papaya plantations on the north face of the palisade surrounding Ayefall City; it was away from the Main Road, where hardly anyone passed.
‘Happy birthday, pawpaw!’
There was a hollow niche at the base of the tree trunk, just below where they had recorded, weeks ago, the letters C + G, within a heart. When they could not meet, that was the point they used to leave notes and scraps to each other. Garion turned to slip his arm into the hole.
‘Oh, Garion! Thank you! … What is this? You… bought…? A gift, for me?’
‘Even better! I made it for you. Spent two hundred hours.’
‘I prefer the title of joker.’
The package was simple, made of newspaper; but it had been neatly folded around the present.
‘That’s beautiful, my love! Today, when I woke up, I found several luxurious gifts at the foot of my bed, inside expensive boxes and cartons, but I feel that this is the only one given from the heart! Thank you!’
The gift was a simple necklace: five colored pebbles stuck to a thin leather ribbon. The central stone was reddish, shaped like a heart.
‘Take a look at the other side of the stone.’
‘Is there something written on it? It’s very small…’ She brought the stone closer to her eyes. ‘C + G …! How romantic! I loved it!’
Cheryl leaned over and kissed Garion’s cheek. Then, she lowered her head and gloomily ran her fingers over the stones that Garion had polished to exhaustion.
‘What is it, pawpaw? Did something happen?’ Garion said.
‘Oh! Nothing! Sorry! I got lost in thought… lots of things running through my head…’ Cheryl put on the necklace, and turned to face Garion. ‘Lover, thank you for respecting me, and waiting so long…’
‘You are special to me. My future wife… take the time you need, I’m not going anywhere.’
‘Well. I think … I think I am ready. I don’t want to wait any longer.’
‘Are you talking about leaving home, or…’
‘No. The other thing.’
Garion stirred without moving, and then disguised his excitement by staring at Cheryl with a firm face. She rested her hand on his leg, dangerously close to his groin. She lowered her eyes a little, ashamed, and spoke a bit louder than a whisper. Garion felt the sweet-smelling breath of the papaya they had just shared.
‘My parents said they have a major appointment tomorrow. We can use this free time to … you know … I mean, if you want…’
‘I want to.’
They discussed the details of the plan, which involved Garion skulking some of the security guards and walls of the mansion where Cheryl lived, and climbing a tree which was growing near her bedroom window.
‘So, tomorrow, as soon as the sun goes down, I will meet you, right?’ Garion asked, more to confirm the event itself than its schedule.
‘Ah, you will meet me, sure…’ Cheryl tried to emulate a seductive voice, but her words were shaken. Her cheeks burned, flushing as never before. She approached Garion’s ear. ‘I’ll be wearing… this necklace.’
To be continued…