Chapter 34

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THE bonfire was spectacular, as always.

Lily was happy to see everyone looking so much happier than was usual now—even Iressa smiled. Arlo had even hired a band, so there was lively music. She'd danced with Venix, Arlo and Adrian, and even a few other men who'd asked her.

As the dance ended, she stepped away from her partner with a smile, walking towards Vena and Iressa. She reached them just as the next song began.

"You're having fun!" Vena yelled, grinning.

Lily could still barely hear her voice over the music. "I am! Why don't you dance?"

Vena shrugged sheepishly, her face illuminated soft orange in the flames. "Can't! Two left feet!"

Lily laughed, turning to Iressa, who was grinning. "What's that?" She asked, pointing at Iressa's cup.

"Try it!" Iressa said, pushing the cup into Lily's hands.

It was a glimmering, maroon liquid, looking almost like blood. Lily shrugged and took a sip, the sweet yet spicy taste engulfing her tongue. "It's good!" She yelled, passing it back to Iressa.

"Let's go over there!" Vena yelled, gesturing to a more secluded area, where they'd be able to talk in peace. Lily nodded and followed her, the music fading behind them.

"That's a relief." Vena sighed as they reached. "My throat was getting sore with all that shouting."

Iressa nodded. "Mine as well."

"I'm glad Arlo held a bonfire," Lily murmured, studying the still-dancing group I the distance. "We needed it."

"We did," Vena said, giving her a smile. She looked at the dancers again and grinned. "Ven and Ada are enjoying themselves, it seems. Look!"

Lily turned and laughed. It was a slower song now, and Venix had taken Ada as his partner. The two were swaying slowly, their foreheads nearly brushing.

"How much time do you think it'll take them to admit their feelings?" Vena said, laughing.

"They seem oblivious," Lily said, twisting her lips. "But I think it'll be soon. What do you think, Iri?" She turned to Iressa, who was still looking at them. "Iri?"

Iressa started, turning to them. "I—I think soon."

Lily locked eyes with her, seeing the pain and torment beneath Iressa's happy façade. She nodded, smiling gently. "Vena, you?"

"I don't know, my brother can be very dull in these sorts of things," Vena said, shrugging.

"I wonder how Adrian will take it," Lily said, grinning as she imagined Ada's overprotective brother's reaction.

"Oh, by the way," Vena said, arching an eyebrow. "You and Adrian?"

Lily blushed. "What? No, it's nothing like that."

"We saw you dancing. You seemed pretty close," Vena said, grinning. Even Iressa looked at Lily expectantly.

Lily shook her head. "We're just friends. We both love other people."

Iressa tilted her head to the side. "Tell us about your husband." Her question was gentle, and Lily knew she could avoid answering if she didn't want to.

She sighed. "Hosun was... well, he was the most dutiful man you could ever meet. He had a lot of responsibilities, but he always had time for me. We were a team. Hosun and Jade."

"Jade?" Iressa asked, arching an eyebrow. Realization seemed to come over her a moment later.

Lily nodded. "Technically, I'm Jade-Lily. Arlo just asked if he could call me Lily when he met me, so now everyone knows me as Lily."

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