This place is not how he remembers it, but for once it is a welcomed change. Suddenly he hears a noise behind him. Spinning around, eyes searching for danger, he finds her standing across the small courtyard staring at the river. The sun had nearly set hours ago, the sky beginning to turn from pale lavender to midnight, and the river glows a deep vermilion – gold, the water clear and shining. The sound of the river is the only thing he hears, her feet moving as if she is dancing in the cool liquid, the breeze rippling over her lithe form. She is wearing a white cotton dress and her hair is pulled loose and loose over her shoulders, a few stray strands framing her face. All he can see of her face is a pair of wide, sparkling eyes and the white of her teeth. The moonlight seems to set her skin aglow as it illuminates her face, casting strange shadows against her cheeks and cheekbones. She is not smiling, or making a sound, and it occurs to him then that he has never been anywhere else as beautiful as this. She is the most beautiful girl he has ever met and the fact that she is standing here in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night, in the middle of them, brings a sharp pain in his chest.
He looks at her, unable to tear his eyes from her face, and he can tell that she sees the look in his eyes. He feels the heat rising in his cheeks and realizes that he has been caught staring at the most beautiful girl anyone has ever seen. He quickly turns his attention back to the river, to the dark water that bubbles in its depths and the shadows cast by the light of the moon. A small breeze moves the dark hair on her shoulders and he takes a few steps forward, just enough to touch his fingertips against hers. It takes a second for her to realize that he has touched her, to stop dancing as he takes in her dark eyes, bright grin and bright lips. Then her eyes slip shut and she smiles, a real smile, full of warmth and promise.
He is still standing beside the river. He knows he shouldn’t stay, knows he should go, but he can’t leave her here alone. She needs him. She needs him like he needs to get through the night, to be able to fall asleep to the sound of her voice in the dark stillness of his room, to feel her arms around him. He wants to stay, wants to stay by her side for as long as he can.
He has never been more certain of anything in his life.
He drops his cigarette in the dirt then steps back into the shadows of the trees, keeping watch over the girl who has made him feel so incredibly alive.