Once I’m seated, he mounts up behind me and we set an even pace across the grasslands.
“So…Ronan…” I might as well get to know him. “Do you live far from here?”
“You were out hunting?”
“How far are we riding?”
“Really?” I turn around in the saddle, leaning back to look at him. “Am I bugging you with all these questions?”
The corner of his mouth lifts. “No.”
“Okay, then.” I face forward again. “So you know about us? The other world?” I can barely contain my excitement.
“You probably have a million questions for me.”
“Oh.” I’m silent for a moment, fidgeting with the pommel on the saddle and doing my best to shut myself up. I’m babbling, and I know it, but getting this guy to talk is like pulling teeth, and it doesn’t help that those piercing blue eyes of his keep…looking at me. At least when I’m faced away, I won’t get flustered. Much.
“You know, I always believed in magic,” I confess to him. “Everyone thought my grandad was crazy but I always believed. And now here I am, in a magical land!”
“There’s no magic here.”
I turn around so quickly, I nearly unseated us both.
“What?” I squeak. “How is that-aaaugh!” I’m sliding sideways off the saddle and Ronan catches me, pulling me up tighter against him.
“You were saying…?” He’s looking right into my eyes.
“What?” I sound like I’m out of breath.
“What?” he repeats.
“You were saying something,” I say.
He shakes his head, as if to clear it. “No, you were. About your land.”
“Actually, I was talking about your land,” I say, facing forward as he flicks the reins and we start moving again. “The magic was taken in…” I struggle to remember how he phrased it, “…the Rending? Are you all right? How have things been here?”
I look back over my shoulder again. “Good?”
“That’s it? Just…good?”
We ride in silence for awhile, and finally I’ve had enough.
“You know, you could be a little more welcoming.”
Ronan’s brow knits into a frown. “I’m taking you to the castle.”
“I mean…I traveled here from another land. I used magic to come here. Don’t you want to know more about me?”
I turn around with a sigh. “If I’m bothering you, you can just say so.”
His arm tightens around me slightly.
“Bothering me?” His words hang there for a moment. “You’re not bothering me,” he says quietly.