Jillian didn’t think anything of it until he wouldn’t stop staring. For five full minutes he stared. Normally she would just blow it off and continue doing whatever it was she happened to be doing. She was used to being stared at. Having the body of a goddess and the face of an angel tended to incite that sort of reaction from people—especially guys, and this one was no exception. But what made this particular experience so unnerving was that his stare felt…familiar. She was one hundred percent positive she’d never laid eyes on this guy before today so that made it extra creepy.
Ruffling her hair in a fidgety manner—a nervous habit—she cautiously approached the stranger. “Can I help you?” she asked cheerily, pasting on her best smile.
The guy cocked his head to the side and continued to stare. Jillian could see herself reflected in the dark lenses of his sunglasses and felt like crawling under a rock and staying there for the rest of the day, or at least until her shift ended.
“Sir?” she asked hesitantly when he remained silent.
He tilted his head back to a normal position and flashed her a dazzling smile, startling her with its brilliance. She blinked and found herself smiling back. “I’m looking for a gift for a friend of mine. An old flame, if you will.” He chuckled, like he was letting her in on an inside joke, only Jillian clearly didn’t get it. “We haven’t seen each other in years and I wanted to surprise her.”
Jillian had to fight back the urge to close her eyes and get lost in the sound of his voice. It trickled like warm honey over every part of her, soaking into her very core, making her shiver from the sheer pleasure of having heard it. “U-um, did you have something specific in mind or…?”
He breathed in and said, “I was thinking perfume would be good, actually.”
Jillian smiled and beckoned for him to follow her to the counter. “Then I believe you came to the right place. We carry the latest fragrances and even some that have gone out of circulation.”
“I already have a scent in mind, actually, so hopefully this won’t take much guesswork,” he said simply, grinning at her lazily. He still hadn’t taken off his sunglasses and Jillian so wanted to see his eyes. She had a thing about eyes. As long as she could see someone’s eyes there was a connection. Without that connection she felt like she was talking to a person without a face.
“Ah,” she said, a little stupidly in her opinion. “Let’s hear it then.”
He leaned across the counter, still grinning. Jillian took a step back out of habit. “I believe it’s called Stardust.”
Her heart stuttered in her chest for reasons unknown, and with a nod she fumbled around on the shelf behind her until her fingers closed around the familiar cut of a teardrop bottle, familiar because she wore the same scent and knew the cut of the bottle like the back of her hand. She then busied herself with wrapping the elegant little vessel and handed it over with a smile. “Here you are.”
He took the package, paid for it, and then slipped his glasses off. “Thank you, Jillian,” he said sweetly.
She gasped as soon as she got a good look at his eyes and she was pretty sure her jaw hit the floor. Never before had she been so glad that a guy walked away as quickly as he had, thus leaving her to gawk in relative peace.
His eyes were amazing; deep golden brown and fringed with the thickest, blackest lashes she’d ever had the pleasure of seeing on a man. But that wasn’t what had her jaw hanging slack. No, what caused that was the fact that his eyes had been glowing.
* * *
Darian smirked as soon as he stepped outside and tilted his face up, letting the blistering rays of the sun bathe his face. Placing the glasses back on his face, he set off down the street at a brisk pace. It wasn’t too long before he felt a familiar presence fall into step beside him. Still smirking, he glanced at Jinx. “You missed it, old man. She was stunning.”
Jinx chuckled and shook his head. “When is our lady ever not stunning?”
Darian’s smirk softened into a genuine smile. “True. But she’s still a baby compared to you and I. Time could dull her.”
Jinx arched his brow, a sardonic smile playing around the edges of his mouth. “Did I just hear the words time and dull coming from your mouth, and in the same sentence? Don’t tell me your getting all cynical because of me.”
Darian shook his head, mouth tightening in an unforgiving line. He and Jinx had been around for aeons. Possibly since time began. They weren’t really sure, though. When existence began to be counted in measurements things had become cloudy and unclear in their minds. Plus they had been busy world exploring, crossing galaxies and universes this tiny little planet’s inhabitants would never begin to comprehend. They wouldn’t even come close.
They’d been inseparable, as it should be. When two of their kind are birthed at the same time and so close to one another it’s almost impossible to separate them. And then they’d met Jillian, their Lady, and they called her such because she had such a regal bearing about her. She’d came along an immeasurably long time after Darian and Jinx, but they’d still been Young One’s by their standards even then. They’d witnessed births before, but none that compared to Jillian’s. They knew she was a Special One because her birth was slow to come, and while the majority of their kind just sort of burst onto the scene, those were also the ones who disappeared the quickest. But Jillian’s birth was just a tiny pinprick of light at first, so small you could hardly tell there was any light there at all, and then steadily she became something of brilliance. It took a long time, but they waited until she was ready. Until she was Jillian.
And so two became three and the bond forged between them was stronger than most and Jinx and Darian took her to new places and old places, their favorite places and found a few places she could call favorite, too. The three of them had been inseparable until they’d lost her, and to this day neither of them were sure how it happened. They’d been laughing together one minute and the next she was gone. Without a noise or a warning. She was just no longer there. Immediately they’d begun searching for her, both agreeing they wouldn’t stop until they found her or they no longer burned.
And suddenly they found her. But she was without memory of what had been. She was living a human life now, and they both knew it would be a hard line to swallow when they told her what she really was, what the three of them were and things that had been, but she was their Jillian. She would know deep down they were telling the truth and hopefully it would be enough to jog her memory and they could continue exploring new things and witnessing the birth of universes.
He was startled from his musings by Jinx’s soft question. “Sorry,” he said, laughing shortly. “My thoughts kinda got away from me for a second.”
Jinx’s hand landed on his shoulder, strong and unyielding and they slowed to a stop on the busy street, Darian staring intently at Jinx with his soft expression and glowing blue eyes. Jinx smiled then and gave a reassuring squeeze to Darian’s shoulder. “Stop worrying about what’s to come. We’re Forever One’s remember? Even if Jillian’s memory doesn’t return we’ll be together. We can stay here on this planet for as long as it takes.”
“But what if this planet ceases to exist and she still hasn’t remembered?” Darian asked desperately.
Jinx’s smile brightened if that was even possible. “Then we should be content with the memories we have and the new ones we’ll make.”
Darian swallowed hard. “I don’t want to leave her.” His words came out lost and breathy, like he was on the verge of crying.
Another thing that came with the whole immortality bit (in his and Jinx’s and Jillian’s case anyway) was that when one of their kind fell in love there was no stronger feeling or force in existence, and it would continue long after they’d burned out. Jinx and Darian were blessed to be Best One’s as well as Forever One’s, which is why they’d stick together until they no longer Were. But in Darian and Jillian’s case, aside from being Forever One’s, they were Destined One’s as well, and their bond was strongest of them all.
* * *
The next day found Jillian staring at the gorgeous guy from yesterday, only this time he was accompanied by a slightly taller man who exuded a quiet strength beneath an easygoing nature and open, friendly smile. Jillian was floored by how beautiful they both were (and by the fact that the guy she’d been thinking about all of yesterday was back in her little corner of the store), but her gaze remained focused on the shorter one. He was wearing sunglasses again but nothing could keep the memory of those glowing eyes from her mind.
She felt her heart slam against her ribs in time with their steps until they were at the counter, the taller one smiling softly at her and she noticed his eyes glowed as well, but they were a dark, cobalt blue. The guy with the sunglasses was a bit more subdued; almost tense, actually. “Hello again,” she said perkily, directing her attention to him, hoping to cheer him up. It broke her heart a little to see him like this, especially since he’d been so warm the day before. “Did your lady love not like the perfume?”
“I haven’t given it to her yet,” was his response. “I have to do some things before I can get to that.”
“Oh,” Jillian said lamely, not sure what to say to that. The taller man rolled his eyes and shook his head before nudging his friend in the side with his elbow, getting a glare for his trouble. “You’ll have to excuse Mr. Pessimism here, he’s a little grumpy today because he forgot his morning cup of sunshine. What he meant to say was that he took quite a shine to you the other day and simply had to come back to see you and find out if you wanted to go for coffee or something equally appropriate that may or may not lead to an exchange of numbers and the promise of a second date.”
Jillian blinked and felt her face go hot as she looked at Sunglasses Guy—oh this was ridiculous! Taking a quick breath, she said, “Coffee sounds great, but only if you give me your name because I can’t go another minute calling you ‘the guy with the sunglasses’.”
A bark of laughter erupted from his mouth, giving Jillian chills much like hearing his voice for the first time had.
“Darian. My name is Darian. And how about tonight?”
She smiled. “Tonight sounds great.”
Finally, the sad look on his face disappeared and he was smiling again, only happier looking than yesterday. Jillian felt as though she’d swallowed a jar full of butterflies and after they’d made arrangements to meet up at the local cafe around 7:30, an hour after her shift ended, which gave her enough time to go home and change, she actually did a little victory dance, uncaring of the shocked and curious glances she got because of it.
* * *
Things were not going as planned. They’d had their coffee and were now taking a stroll around the park because it was “such a beautiful night out. It’d be terrible to let it go to waste,” or so Jinx had said. Darian wanted nothing more than to drown him, but he resisted—just barely, and only because he was currently talking with Jillian about constellations.
Feeling his stomach twisting in knots with how wrong this could go, he fell in step beside them, Jinx on her right and Darian on her left. He took hold of her hand in the same way he always did and held his breath, waiting for her to pull away or glare at him. When she did neither and grinned at him instead, he felt himself relax a bit. Jinx caught his eye and gave him a conspiratorial wink.
“So…where to next, my lady?”
Their pace slowed and she looked up at him with a frown. “What did you call me?” she asked softly.
Darian felt his mouth go dry, thinking he’d said the wrong thing at the wrong time. “I called you my lady.”
She let go of his hand then and Darian shot Jinx a nervous look, but Jinx shook his head and held up his hand to the side. Not yet he mouthed and so Darian stayed where he was.
“Why does that sound so familiar?” she whispered, staring at the ground as though the scattered gravel could give her the answer she sought. “You keep tripping wires in my head. Everything about you seems so familiar but I can’t place it. As soon as you came in the store yesterday, I felt it and it’s been driving me crazy.” She brought her head up and stared at him intently in the dim light of gloaming. “Do you feel it, too, or am I going crazy?”
Darian smiled, feeling hope bubble up within him once more. “I feel it, too. But better than that, I know why you feel it.”
He leaned down then and took her mouth in a gentle kiss, softly nipping at her plush lower lip with his teeth. He stepped back then and watched her, watched as she blinked dazedly up at him, then squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head from side to side slowly, causing her riotous red curls to spill around her shoulders with each movement.
“Wow,” she breathed. “You are quite the kisser.”
Darian felt like screaming.
“But then you always were.”
His eyes shot wide and he stared at her as though he was seeing her for the first time. He stared at her the way he had when he saw the final moments of her birth and she was his.
She smiled brightly at him, stepped closer and wrapped her arms around him in a tight hug. Long moments passed wherein he just held her and breathed in her scent.
Jinx cleared his throat, breaking the moment and Darian looked up to see Jinx’s face split with the biggest smile he’d ever seen him sport to date—and that was saying a lot. “Are we going to stand around here the rest of the night, or finish exploring that nebula we were at before Jillian disappeared?”
“Yeah. About that.” Darian looked down at Jillian to find her grinning sheepishly. “How did it happen?”
She shrugged daintily. “Would you believe I tripped?”
Darian burst out laughing. “Over what? A speck of dust?”
Jillian laughed nervously. “Yes. Actually.”
Jinx and Darian looked at her incredulously. “How is that even possible?” Jinx asked.
“I dunno, but it happened.”
“How did you lose your memory, then?”
Jillian pursed her lips before saying, “I hit my head on a newly birthed star and fell down here. Next thing I knew I worked in a little boutique selling perfume.”
Darian looked at her suspiciously. “Did you–”
She grinned cheekily. “I knew it was you the moment you walked through the door.”
“Jillian! Do you know how scared I was that you wouldn’t remember anything about me? About us?”
She pouted and kissed him quickly. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t going to let it go on for too long, though. If you hadn’t said anything when you did, I was planning on bringing something up. I just wanted to play for a little bit. Besides,” she said, flipping her hair over her shoulder. “who is this ‘old flame’ of yours?”
Darian felt his jaw drop. “You can’t be serious!”
She arched her brow. Darian sighed and procured the tiny bottle of perfume from his jacket pocket. “It was you, Jillian. It was always you.”
She took the fragile bottle from him and smiled sweetly. “Thank you, Darian. It’s my favorite.”
He pulled her against him and breathed in her scent. “I know.”
Before things got too heated, though, Jinx butted in again. “Um, guys, before you get carried away, what do you think about leaving now, hmm? We’ve got a lot more places to be, light to give, wishes to grant.”
“Oh, alright,” Darian said, and the three of them began to glow until they simply were no longer there.
* * *
Somewhere on Earth, a little girl sat on her bed looking up at the stars through her window. She gasped when three stars suddenly appeared where there hadn’t been any before, one of which shone brighter than the other two, but they were no less brilliant.
Smiling, she whispered, “Star light, star bright….”
(c) Brianna Somersham