-You know-said Kian one day while they were strolling in the city with his friends-you’re a very lucky guy, Shawn. You have wonderful parents but above all I’m thankful to your mom. She’s such incentive and wise woman.
-Well, we could visit her at the Institute; I’m sure she would be happy to see us. We could also see her new apprentices; there are many lovely girls working there-said Shawn with a mischievous smile.
-I’ve heard there’s even a cat-girl from Deneb, you know, the one that was with us on the Antares –winked Gavin.
Kian raised an eyebrow.
-What do you mean by cat-girl?
-Oh, it’s non-sense. It’s about the people from Deneb. They are not cats; they are humans with pointed ears and green eyes, bearing a slight resemblance to cats-said Shawn.
-And they say that the girls are passionate lovers-chuckled Gavin.
-And this sounds very much like school-boys’ talk-replied Kian. Let’s find your mom.
-I hope you’ll talk some sense into these two overgrown school-boys-said Mrs. Bryant, coming from the corridor. Gavin, don’t you dare to upset my girls. They work hard to complete their studies and they have no time for idle jokes-she then continued with an amused look in her eyes.
Gavin grinned, showing teeth.
-Yes, Mrs. Bryant!-he chuckled.
They followed her along the sunny passageway towards the huge greenhouses. The area of the Institute of Biology was almost endless. There were several glass domes scattered all over the place, recreating various habitats from different planets. Small cars were roaming on and on along the alleys between the translucent cradles of life. Mrs. Bryant was leading the team of young biologists who returned from the planet of Angels. They were working on the last connections between the plants and the small animals and the insects that maintained the rhythm of life inside the habitat.
When the young visitors entered the closely sealed doors leading inside the living area they were taken aback for a moment. It was amazingly real. Even the air smelled like on the planet. They were in a warmer, almost tropical section of the dome. It was fascinating in itself by the proportion of the vegetation. There were various shapes of leaves in different shades of green and crimson, melting in a dazzling pattern. There were huge flowers with complicated shapes hanging from above, radiating their heavy, spicy scent. There were insects resembling to butterflies zigzagging between the weaving of leaves, flowers and branches. The ground under their feet was soft and moist, crisscrossed by undulating roots, breaking their pathway trough dead leaves like snakes. It was magic.
Only the presence of the researchers dressed up in protective overalls suggested that they were in fact inside a lab. The three young men were dressed up as well in order to preserve the habitat intact from the influence of the outside world. Kian’s wings created some difficulties but in the end they could visit without problems.
Mrs. Bryant introduced them to some of her colleagues who were conducting different sections of the huge enclosure. Meeting a whole new domain outside archeology was captivating enough for them to forget about chasing the girls. Kian’s versatile mind read easily the intricate connections of Nature. He immersed in the pleasure of opening the gates of a whole new knowledge.
Shawn and Gavin enjoyed themselves in this “enchanted forest”. It was like taking a trip into a land never seen before, discovered through the lenses of a kaleidoscope.
Kian walked through all that beauty surrounding him with a sense of loss and melancholy. His young life had been consumed by so many fights and contradictions and he never knew all the beauties of his home planet. He has spent most of his life in the capital city and the only spot where he could hide was the rock above the sea. Kian walked along a pathway, lost in thoughts and loosing sight of his two friends.
Suddenly he became aware of his surroundings. He had the distinct feeling that someone was watching him. He stopped to look around, scrutinizing the intricate pattern of the forest. Right in front of him he caught a glimpse of twinkling green and glowing red. It moved away quickly as he’s got his eyes on it. Intrigued, Kian followed the elusive shape. It was a human, judging from the overall it was wearing. Cautiously stepping to leave the place undisturbed, he followed the hiding person. The wings were slowing him down in the tick greenery but soon the place opened into some kind of a meadow with a small pond in the middle.
The grass was thick and tall, spotted by colorful flowers. Kian spread his wings and took a flight over the place. The air was warm and there was a small breeze that ruffled the grass creating small ripples on its extensive surface. The girl almost reached the pond when Kian descended, cutting her escape route.
They stood there, looking at each other; she was trying to catch her breath, but she also tried to keep her composure. Kian watched her with genuine interest. She was slim and of middle height. With her slightly pointed ears, she looked like a kitten: the “cat-girl” from Deneb. She had oval face with small, rounded chin and delicate, pink lips. Her nose was slim and a little bit windy but her most remarkable features were her deep green eyes, like two leaves, speckled with gold and dark, velvety pupils. Her hair was cropped short on the neck with longer, rebellious strands on the forehead and was the color of fire.
He saw her blushing under his gaze and he realized that he has put her in an awkward position. It was his turn to blush and step aside.
-I’m sorry-he said. I’m afraid I startled you. I didn’t mean it. I’m Kian-he added looking in her luminous eyes.
-I’m Sheera-she answered holding out a hand. I know you. We were with the ANTARES on your planet. You’re famous-she added, smiling.
Kian laughed and shook his head in disbelief.
-I never thought I’ll end up being a rare bird. Please, can you show me out of here?I’m afraid I lost my track chasing you…no offence?-he asked.
-Oh no-she chuckled. I was the one who started all by sniping on you. I didn’t expect to be caught…
They walked around the clear pond talking; Sheera revealed some of the hidden secrets of that place and Kian was listening intently enjoying the feminine companionship for the first time after such a long time. They left the meadow and took a shortcut through the woods towards the place where Shawn and Gavin were waiting.
Gavin’s eyes rounded in surprise seeing Kian coming along with the Deneb girl. She was well known for her sharp mind and for her strong and independent personality. Many young men had found her attractive and tried their luck to conquer her heart but they all failed to meet her expectations. Walking along with Kian she looked softer and he looked genuinely interested in whatever she was saying.
Rebecca Bryant watched the whole scene from a remote spot and she made a mental note. Something was unfolding under their eyes, even faster then she thought. She was very pleased. She liked Sheera and she was fond of Kian.They looked wonderful together.
Shawn was secretly smiling. For the first time since they knew each other Kian was radiating and Shawn was happy to be part of this unexpected happiness.
Sheera was mesmerized. Kian proved to be even more wonderful at a closer look. He was gentle and considerate indeed. He was ready to make amends for his childish behavior when he followed her. He has been driven by curiosity but he ended up concerned that he might have unwillingly startled her. Sheera liked his genuine interest for her work and whatever she was telling her. She felt that this is addressed to the person she is and not to the tell-tales about the “Deneb-girls”. Their encounter was a dream comes true and she hoped that there would be more to come.
Her guess was right cause during the next weeks they met often in the” enchanted forest” where she took up the teaching role and he became a faithful apprentice. They also started to meet outside the Institute, walking or sitting and talking for hours on the hills surrounding the city. They enjoyed each-other’s company immensely.
On a pleasant, quiet evening they decided to spend more time out and watch the unfolding of the late-night show of the stars in the skies. Sheera was wearing a stretched top without straps. A boisterous evening-wind trickled her bare shoulders and she shuddered. Kian looked at her smiling softly and he protectively extended his wing around her. She turned to him, looking deeply into his eyes and they both lost themselves into each-other’s gaze. Sheera gently touched Kian’s face and he leaned closer. She rose to meet him and they kissed deeply, passionately until they lost breath.
On a spur of the moment he put his arms around her waist and took a flight. Surprised, Sheera held close to him, sliding her arms under his arms and leaning her head on his shoulder. She laughed when he whirled and dived with her into the warm ocean of salty air. He ported her to the shore and they landed on the sand.
-Thank you-he murmured cupping her face into his palms. I thought I could never love again…
They sat on the sand; she cuddled in his arms and his wings encircled them both. The sea breathed soothingly, the night-waves only gently rippling the glowing surface of the water that mirrored the star-showered sky.
Kian and Sheera sat there, diving into the enchantment of their feelings and the slow, swinging rhythm of Nature. Later, he flew her back to the campus of the Institute, putting her down on the small balcony of her apartment. He softly kissed her and took his way back to the Bryants.
He walked silently into the house and went upstairs. The door cracked behind him and Shawn slipped inside. He found his friend sitting in the darkness, leaning against the wall, eyes gazing dreamingly.
-I’m in love-he whispered.