The following week was spent in many different places, visiting cities, mountains, even lakes. Hana’s head was spinning with all the new memories she gained, and before she knew it, twenty-five days had passed. The fear in her heart was growing steadily. Whenever she remembered that only five days remained, her hands became clammy, her breaths shortened. It felt like someone had pressed fast forward—the past weeks had gone by so quickly she couldn’t understand that they were over already.
“Sweetheart,” a low voice said, drawing her attention. She turned around to see Kāi standing in the hallway. His dark-green hair was unkempt, hanging into his eyes that glowed eerily.
“Hello, Kāi,” she said and smiled faintly. It was easier to deal with her predicament when he was around. He had become an anchor to her that kept her from drifting away. Thanks to him, she cherished her life more than ever. Within only twenty-five days he’d wormed his way into her heart. She didn’t want to let go of her life anymore. It was hers.
“How are you?” he asked as he came closer, halting in front of her. His hand brushed a loose strand of her brown hair behind her ear. He was frowning, scrunching his brows in worry.
“Fine,” she replied evasively. “You’re earlier than usual,” she then added to change the topic.
“I have something special planned. This time, I’ll take you to the other side of the world where it’s night right now. You should wear something warm since it’ll be very cold.”
Intrigued, her eyes widened. “I wonder what you’re up to,” she said before she walked to her bedroom and opened the wardrobe, getting her warmest winter coat and a scarf. When she walked up to him, she let out an amused chuckle. “So you’re telling me to dress warmly when you are wearing a cropped jacket? Kāi, are you serious?”
He sported a dark green version of his usual outfit that matched perfectly with his hair color. “Demons don’t get cold. And also, don’t you like it when I dress like this?” he smirked confidently. “Do you think I wouldn’t notice all the looks you’re throwing me?”
She felt like a little kid that was caught with a hand in the cookie jar. Shifting her weight from one leg to the other, she avoided his mischievous gaze. “I… I can’t help it, okay?” she muttered. “You’re such a tease, Kāi .”
Amused at her sheepishness, he ruffled her hair and gave her forehead a little peck, intending to fluster her. He succeeded.
“What was that?” she stuttered.
“Y-You know what I mean!”
“No, why don’t you enlighten me, sweetheart?” he asked. This guy was too damn good at playing innocent considering he was a demon.
“Why did you suddenly kiss me?” she asked under her breath, flushing when he laughed.
“Because I felt like it,” he replied and shrugged. “I can’t help myself when you’re that adorable.”
Today, he really was intent on making her heart flutter. This flirtatious idiot never stopped. Ever since they’d shared that passionate kiss in Venice, he had been particularly keen on being close to her, to the point where she could even label his behavior as clingy. Not that she minded his proximity—it was just very hard to keep her feelings in check when he was all over her.
“Are you ready to go?” he asked and she nodded. He embraced her delicate body. His magic engulfed them and within a heartbeat, they switched their location.
The first thing Hana noticed when they reappeared somewhere else was the cold. It was freezing, the temperature forcing her to pull her scarf up a bit more. She tugged the sleeves of her coat over her fingers to protect them a little while she looked around. The snow beneath her boots crunched when she walked a few steps. It was dark, almost pitch-black and she could barely make out the outlines of the trees surrounding her. The quiet here was calming, a stark contrast to the city noise that she was accustomed to.
“Where are we?” she asked and turned back to Kāi. She could barely see him and squinted to make out his face in the darkness.
“In a small forest in Alaska,” he replied as if it wasn’t a big deal. He always treated his amazing teleportation magic so nonchalantly. She found it insane to imagine that she’d landed on the other side of the world in a second, in a place where it was dark and colder than where she was home. Hana bent down and touched the snow, watching as it melted in her hand.
“Did you want to show me the snow?” she asked confusedly.
“No, silly,” he chuckled and took her cold hand to warm it up. “Look up.”
She did and what she saw made her jaw drop. The starry sky wasn’t just a dark blue plane as she had expected. Swirling rainbows made of colorful light moved over the dark backdrop, looking magical. At first, she couldn’t pin down what she was seeing. Only after a while, she realized that those were the Northern Lights.
Since she’d never laid eyes on them in person, she was enthralled, the spectacle capturing all her attention. Neon green faded into red, glimmering and blurring in such a fascinating way that it seemed like magic. This had to be one of the prettiest spectacles nature had to offer, and she had a front-row seat to watch it. Undoubtedly, Kāi had chosen this spot on purpose since there were no distracting city lights anywhere near them, nor were they bothered by other people.
It was just her and him, engulfed by calm nature and soft snow.
“You’re smiling,” he mumbled, reaching out his hand to caress her cheek. It was hard to tell what went through his head at this moment.
“Of course I am! This is amazing, Kāi,” she said, leaning into his touch. The warmth of his hand on her skin was a pleasant change compared to the cold air. “I always wonder how you come up with those ideas—I would have never thought of watching the Northern Lights, but… but they’re gorgeous!”
“I’d say I know quite well what you like,” he said, his voice dropping to a husky whisper. “Hana.”
A shudder ran down her body. She subconsciously moved closer to him, allowing him to wrap his arm around the small of her back. His body was warm despite the cold, proving that he was anything but human. He smelled of ash and fire as if he was made of flames. Since his origins laid in hell itself, it would not surprise her if this was actually true…
Hana raised her chin, meeting his light-green eyes. They glowed a little, his iris tinted with red. The colors reminded her of the Northern Lights above them. So breathtakingly beautiful—she was hypnotized. As he cupped her cheek with one hand, he used his other arm to push her towards him abruptly. Pressed up against his body, feeling his defined abs on her stomach, she was overtaken by heat that was so unlike the cold temperature of the night.
Her heart was palpitating in her chest. The desire to kiss him and to be closer to him manifested within her, urged her to move. She stood on her tiptoes, laying her hands on his chest. It was more than obvious what she wanted, and he decided to grant her wish.
Kāi ’s soft lips covered hers. Thousands of tiny butterflies took flight within her stomach, making her sigh contently. Heat flooded her as he deepened the kiss, swiping his tongue over her lower lip and entering . She responded to each of his touches with fervor, melted in his arms. An intoxicating mix of joy and want bloomed within her. She sparkled with happiness. Smiling into the kiss, she enjoyed the feeling of being with him.
Their lips parted when he let her take a few deep breaths. As he watched her with half-lidded eyes, she found him irresistible. She wondered how she’d ever been able to refuse him when they’d first met—she must have been out of her mind. It was ironic that he was able to make her this happy. A demon, a creature that was supposed to kill and destroy, had helped her find joy in life. No matter how unusual their story was, she loved him and she owed the world to him.
“Keep smiling,” he breathed lowly before he dipped his head to peck the upturned corners of her lips. “I like it when you smile.”
“It’s all thanks to you,” she said quietly. She had rosy cheeks from the cold, and her eyes were glimmering like the stars above them. “I’m having so much fun on these trips, and I’m looking forward to every one.”
He grinned cheekily and winked at her. “Then why don’t we have some more fun now?”
She didn’t know what exactly he meant, but judging by his sly expression, it was something silly again. He scooped up some snow. Her face was frozen when he threw it right at her, hitting her arm with the snowball.
Kāi started to cackle loudly, bending over in laughter. “Y-Your face… is priceless!” he howled.
She narrowed her eyes. “You just wait, I’ll give you payback! You demons are so mean!”
He teleported a few meters away from her, still cackling loudly. Despite the darkness and thanks to his loudness, she could easily tell where he was. Grabbing a handful of snow, she formed a ball and hurled it in his direction.
A satisfied grin spread over her lips when she hit his face. The snow stuck to his hair and cheeks, making him look like a weird snowman. “I got you!” she sang and promptly took more snow for a new snowball.
“Hey, that was unfair! I wasn’t prepared!” he yelled sulkily.
“Wasn’t that the whole point?” she chuckled. “I wasn’t prepared either!”
She didn’t pay attention to the warning signs her body was giving her. She didn’t notice her shortening breath, the alarming stinging in her head.
Hana laughed, forming another snowball to throw at him. Her hands were cold and wet from the snow, fingers turning red. She barely saw Kāi under the dim light of the moon and had trouble aiming at him. He yelped and avoided her snowball by teleporting a little bit farther to the right. It crashed on the ground and shattered.
As she smiled and walked towards him, she suddenly faltered and stumbled. Dizziness hit her unexpectedly. The pain was sharp and sudden, piercing her head. Her knees gave out instantly, and she fell on the cold snow. Groaning in agony, she clutched her head. She couldn’t see clearly anymore, her surroundings blurring. Nausea overcame her, made her lose her sense of orientation. She lost control of herself, hating the numbness of her limbs, the ache in her head, the inability to get up.
The buzzing in her head easily drowned out Kāi ’s frantic voice. It was blocked from her mind completely. She was alone with her pain.
“N-No, not… yet,” she gasped, curling herself to a ball on the forest ground. Her breathing became uneven in panic. No matter what she did, she couldn’t m