“What is there for you to lose? Just let me help you, and we both get something out of it.”
The guy who was too good-looking for his own good and for my own comfort said earnestly. He was beginning to sound very convincing, which alarmed me a little. Just a moment ago, I was very certain that this was a bad idea. But now that he was here and explaining the situation in his own pretty words, I was beginning to doubt my decision.
Although I kept an uninterested look on my face, and I hoped was doing a good job, I was actually more or less just staring at him. I hate to admit it, but I was a bit starstruck. I had seen him on TV before, but never in person.
“I’m telling you, it’s a win-win situation for both of us. Don’t you agree, Leah?”
I wondered if he kept his shiny dark-blond hair a tiny bit too long on purpose so he gets to do his sexy “hair pushback” gesture. And I was curious about how many hearts he broke with those clear blue eyes.
It was no wonder Ryder Reece was a celebrity. If he didn't become a Rhombic, he probably would've made a name in Hollywood nonetheless. Being so gorgeous, he could have easily become an actor or a model.
I might even dare to suggest that he looked like a younger and hotter (if that was possible) version of Thor.
I remember this day very well because I have never imagined seeing the infamous Ryder Reece looking this desperate. In fact, I never expected to meet him in person like this, period. After all, he was this hotshot Rhombic who reached one of the highest floors inside the Door.
He had a chiseled look that still retained his boyishness. There was something innately dangerous in him, yet he also had an innocence about him that was very attractive. He was both the bad boy you wanted to date, and a good boy next door who you couldn't help but fall in love with and marry.
“Umm, Leah, are you listening to me? Did you hear what I said?”
Ryder asked, but I ignored him.
I instantly formed a dislike toward him, because I was Leah Nowey, the weird girl who became the weakest Rhombic there ever was. All Rhombics had a Power value of 100, but not me. It was well below the “normal” level, and the only reason I was allowed to continue hunting like this was because I kept it a secret.
Well, a secret from everyone except Virpal Bansal, the CIO of the Rhombic Association Center. I told her in confidence and by no means was I asking her to help me. But it appeared that she took this matter into her own hands and sent me a powerful Rhombic, Ryder Reece no less, to “teach” me how to battle.
Listen, I don’t like handsome guys in general. Their hotness makes me feel uncomfortable. Maybe it was ridiculous to be thinking about this because it was crystal clear Ryder Reece wasn’t here to ask me out, and he never will, but I’m just putting it out there.
I like "normal" looking guys. I’m not exactly a girly girl, but I still want to be the pretty one in the relationship.
And the fact that he sounded so nice didn’t help either. In my short yet long 16 years of life, I have learned that nobody will ever do you a favor for free. They always made it sound like what they were offering was in my own interest, but they were all lies.
I’m sure there were people out there who were genuinely caring, but it was just safer to assume they are fake at the beginning before learning more about them.
I finally opened my lips.
“Listen, I already refused the offer. Didn't you get the message from RAC?"
I was so glad my voice sounded normal and nonchalant. Ryder shrugged his broad shoulders and replied.
"Yeah, I did, but… I thought I could meet you in person and try to change your mind. You see, I'm pretty good inside the Door, so I can…"
Pfft. "Pretty good"?
Was he actively trying to annoy me now? He was considered one of the strongest Rhombics in the world, so his fake modesty was laughable. The more he talked, the more he was proving my prejudice against him to be correct.
And no, if any of you are thinking, “Oh, this is gonna be like Pride and Prejudice”, you can stop right there.
It’s true that I have a humongogiantic pride, and Ryder Reece was both handsome and rich. But I’ve seen the photos of his previous girlfriends, and I can tell you without an ounce of uncertainty that this guy was never going to fall for me.
And even if he did, I wouldn’t be into him anyway.
Plus, this world certainly wasn’t made of pretty ballgowns and nice gentlemen on horses like in Pride and Prejudice. This was the real modern world plus an infinite number of ugly monsters since the mysterious structure called the Door appeared all over the world.
I didn't want to waste my time or his. I was finally getting stronger, and I wanted to keep up with my progress on my own without any interruptions. And most importantly, I couldn’t have him find out about my secret.
So I raised my hand to stop him.
"Listen, Ryder Reece, I know who you are, and I know you’re 'pretty good'."
I used the air quotes, making sure he got my sarcasm.
"But I really don't need your help. I can do this on my own, so thank you for your offer, but no thank you."
"I know you were marked months ago, and isn’t it true that you still haven't even reached the 10th floor…?”
Ryder murmured knowingly.
Ahh, there it is.
Didn't take him long to bring up my embarrassing weakness to get what he wanted. Indeed, I’ve been a Rhombic for a long time, but I was still stuck on the sixth floor hunting these damn trolls. But what he didn’t know was that I now had Gomi, and that although progressing slower than the other hunters, I was getting stronger.
Before I could give him some sharp response, which was my specialty, I heard an angry roar.
Ugh, it was another troll. We both turned around to see a standard-sized ogre flailing its sharp stick at us. It was time to get back to work, so I was about to summon Gomi when Ryder blocked me.
Stepping closer toward the monster, he flashed me a boyish grin that probably worked magic on a lot of girls and announced.
“Let me show you what I can do. Leah Nowey, I’m going to change your mind.”