The door closed behind them with a soft click. Light from the setting sun cast long shadows on everything in Alek’s room, much like wormlamps did, but in bright oranges and yellows, not green.
But Deryn wasn’t focused on any of that.
She reached for her prince’s hand, feeling his fingers slide into her like pieces in a puzzle. “Finally,” Deryn whispered, “Some time to ourselves.”
“Mmhmm,” Alek agreed, studying her features in the dim light. She pulled him in close, leaning in for the kiss she’d been wanting for days. The curve of his lips fit on her with a sort of—
“Aleksander!” Volger’s voice called from the hall. Alek pulled back with a start, face pale.
“Mr. Sharp?” Deryn could hear Dr. Barlow at the door to her room, to the left of Alek’s.
“Blisters!” she cursed, searching frantically for an escape route before the count could come barging in. She rushed silently to the balcony, judging the distance between Alek’s and hers.
“They’re like our parents,” Alek groaned, following her. He bit his lip when he realized her plan, but didn’t say anything. He knew by now she could make the jump, easy.
Deryn turned to face him, surprised. “Parents? Barking annoying ones, then.” She climbed up onto the solid stone banister, holding out her arms for balance.
“Very much so,” Alek said from behind her. “You can have them,” he added with a wicked grin.
Deryn shook her head and leaned down to give him a quick kiss, and then leaped quickly over the open space and on to the safety of her own balcony. Her feet connected with the ground in a solid thump, and she turned to give her prince one last, fleeting glance “Dummkopf,” was all she said.
As she raced to open the door for Dr. Barlow, she heard him call softly, “Love you, too!” and smiled.
Tada! If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please bring them to my attention.