I creep through the trees, smiling with glee. It is broad daylight, but I have waited long enough for his touch and today has been dreadful in the least. Madamoiselle LeFarge asked me questions in French today, I forgot the words to the hymn for music class, and Ann wouldn't stop stepping on my feet when we were learning the quadrille. And I have some news pertaining to the realms that he must know.
As I round the bend to the lake, I hear something and dart behind a tree. Two voices, one male and one female, speaking in hushed whispers. "Where is she?" the female voice asks.
The male voice replies with a tone of repulsion. "I don't know. Why should I know? You should not be here-"
"You are expecting her! I can tell!" the female voice accuses. Who are they? Wait...I know those voices. I peek out.
"I am not. I have no clue where she is," Kartik says to Pippa. Pippa? Why is she here? "Now you really should-"
Pippa cuts him off with a kiss and I gasp involuntarily. It feels as if someone has violently punched a hole clear through my chest. Kartik and...no, it couldn't be. And yet, I am watching her kiss him. I cannot believe my eyes, but I have no choice. How can he let this happen? Has he no feelings, no consideration for others, particularly those who thought they were in love with him?
I step out of the open, not bothering to salvage my dignity as the tears flow openly down my face. "Kartik..." He pushes her away, wiping his lips desperately and looking disgusted. Then he spots me and a look of horror comes across his face. Pip is blushing and I should like to tear out each of her perfect little ringlets. She looks a little angel, but I know better than to fall for her innocent demeanor.
"Gemma, I..." He looks back and forth between us. I hold back a sob and run in the direction I came, feeling myself falling to pieces the farther I run. I lean against a tree, finally letting the full weight of the betrayal and grief overtake me. The bark is rough under my hands, but my face is slick with tears.
"Gemma?" I hear his voice. "Gemma!" He is searching for me. I will my heart to break quickly so that I may show him a strong and unfeeling face, but I have no such luck. He rushes to my side. "Gemma..."
I push him away. "Of all people, I care to see you the least right now!" He stops, not touching me, not offering to comfort me. Anger rises in my chest, but I swallow it down.
"How much did you see?" he asks quietly.
"Everything," I spit bitterly. "I saw everything."
"Then you will at least hear me out." I do not object. "You saw that /she/ kissed /me./ I am not at fault here!"
"She kisses you, and yet you have the impossible will to kiss her back!' I turn to him. "I watched everything, Kartik. Do you know how much it hurt to watch that?"
"She is trying to make you jealous! She found me because she knew she could use me! I did not want to kiss her. Miss Cross is beautiful, yes, but I am content with no one but you." His hand caresses my cheek.
"Do you mean that?" I ask in an uncertain, trembling voice. I do not know what to think about anything, about anyone, anymore. He leans down and kisses me sweetly. I feel the genuity at his lips, but I am still reluctant to return it.
"If I did not mean that, would I have come running after you the way I have?" I smile. "Gemma, I love you. The most desired woman in the world could not change that."
I reach up to kiss him ferociously. He chuckles and takes a step back to regain his balance. "Much better." And I am convinced. This was all just a misunderstanding. There is still Pip to deal with, however.
Speaking of the devil, I hear someone clear their throat behind Kartik. He whirls around, clutching me to his side in a manner that is both loving and protective. Pippa stands there looking as sheepish and embarrassed as I have ever seen her.
"I came to...er, apologize. My behavior was out of line to say the least. I should not have meddled. I don't think there is anything that could separate the two of you as it is." Kartik looks down at me with a look that can only be described as true love.
"I accept your apology, Pip. It is very humble of you to come to us." I nudge Kartik subtly.
"Yes. You are forgiven." He gives a not-so-convincing smile, but Pip cannot tell the difference. She is bright and joyful as usual once again.
"Thank you! I vow to never speak of this if you do." We nod eagerly. "Well, see you back at the school, Gemma!" Still as shallow as she came, she skips away in the direction of the lawn where the rest of the girls lounge for the few hours we have off today.
"Sometimes, I worry for her," I say as we watch her retreating figure.
Kartik turns to me. "No need to worry about anything right now." He kisses me and lowers me to the ground. "No need to think at all." And I allow myself to melt into his embrace for this brief time we have together.
Books » Gemma Doyle Trilogy Rated: K+, English, Romance & Drama, Words: 946, Favs: 2, Follows: 1, Published: 3-9-12