“Why do you still hide your face?” His voice was soft. “Do you still fear me?”
Her heart was racing. He was too close. She feared he would see under her hood. Thankfully, there was no glowing algae in this part of the cave. She knew he would be disgusted if he caught even a glimpse of her hideous face. He would leave, and she would never see him again.
“Please,” Lucia said. She tried to shrink as far into the cold cave as she could. “I can’t.”
His eyes searched the darkness for any indication of a face. There was pain in his eyes.
“Do you still not trust me?”
The words cut her more than she anticipated. Eris couldn’t understand. She’d moved on past everything that had happened when they first met. Only Father had seen her face, and he was revolted. If this man, who she had come to know and maybe even love, was appalled by her appearance, she didn't know if her fragile heart could take it.
“It’s not that I don’t trust you,” Her voice wavered. “I know what you will think.”
His eyes scrunched slightly, “I don't care what your father says about you.”
“Then trust me when I say I am a monster.”
He slowly moved closer. Lucia frantically searched for a way around his large figure. Escape was now necessary but mostly impossible. He couldn’t see in the near black. If she could simply get around him, she could get away. As if anticipating her move, he gently grabbed her shoulders, keeping her in place. The blood pulsing in her veins almost hurt; it was beating so fast. Even then, she couldn’t help being shocked at how gentle a man his size could be.
“Believe me,” He said. “I would never think you're a monster.”
Moving slowly, he raised his hand to touch her face. His fingertips grazed her cheek, making her wince back. All she could do was shrink away from him. He hesitated, not wanting to frighten her even more. There was silence between them, only the faint sound of dripping water down the tunnel. Could he hear the sound of her heart beating?
His hand moved again, slowly tracing the features of her face, her cheeks, to her nose, her eyebrows. With every touch, she tried to shy away. His fingers left residual blooms of heat on her cold skin. Eventually, he softly touched her pointed ears. She tried her hardest to hold back tears, but hot tears spilled from her eyes despite her efforts. He paused as it ran down her cheek, colliding with his index finger. With a gentle motion, he wiped it away.
“Lucia?” He asked, breaking the silence.
“What?” Her voice broke softly, tears still falling.
“You’re no monster... You're beautiful.”