Open Heart releases THIS FRIDAY! Holy cow, it’s coming so soon! If you’re even a smidge as excited as I am, then, wowza, we’re going to have great fun! As I pointed out in yesterday’s post, Open Heart features a love triangle of sorts–not cliche, I promise, promise, promise. Until now, we’ve only heard Alex’s opinions on Dax, and, well, they’re kind of unidimensional. After reading yesterday’s romantic scene with Alex and today’s scene with Dax, who would you choose? Who do you think Simmi will choose? It won’t be long until Open Heart is here, and you can find out whether you got it right
“Can I tell you about Cassiopeia?”
“Yeah, sorry. I nodded my head, but I guess you couldn’t see me in the dark.”
“This better?” Dax moves closer until we’re less than a foot apart.
I swallow my rising heart and nod.
“Hey, I saw your head move this time, so I think we’re good. Anyway, let me tell you about her.” He continues toward the brook. “She was an incredibly beautiful queen, and she knew it, too. All day she’d go around and boast about how she was the most breathtaking woman in the entire world, more so than the goddesses and nymphs, even.”
I walk by his side, transfixed by the story behind the stars.
“Well, Poseidon didn’t like that very much, and he decided to punish Cassiopeia by sending a sea monster to attack her kingdom. A wise oracle told her the only way to save the kingdom was to make a sacrifice, and he instructed Cassiopeia to chain her daughter, Andromeda, to a rock on the edge of the sea to appease Poseidon.”
I gasp. “Did she really sacrifice her daughter to cover her own mistakes?”
“Of course she did. That’s what arrogant people do.”
We reach the brook, and Dax leans against the trunk of the tree and studies the star queen with a mix of awe and contempt.
“What happened next? How did she get her own constellation?”
“I’m getting there, promise. So, Andromeda is chained to a rock, and the terrible sea monster swims up, ready to make a feast of the poor girl, when who should arrive, but our hero, Perseus.” He turns to me and flashes a debonair smile, his white teeth pinpoints of light against the darkened horizon. “Perseus killed the monster and saved Andromeda, same as any good hero would have done.”
“So that’s it? Andromeda is saved, and Cassiopeia doesn’t receive her punishment?”
“Not quite.” He raises his hand and traces the shape of the constellation again. “One thing you’ll notice when you start reading mythology is that Poseidon has a tendency to get his way, no matter what. And since his sea monster was thwarted, he grabbed the queen and shackled her in the heavens.”
“That doesn’t sound so bad for someone who likes to be admired. He literally made her a star.”
“That’s the thing. Half the year, she hangs upside down in the sky, which is downright humiliating for the stuffy, dignified queen. As usual, Poseidon got his way, and Cassiopeia failed to escape the punishment for her vanity.”
I giggle. “Cassiopeia kind of reminds me of Ronnie. Too bad Poseidon doesn’t hang around Grandon. She’d be stuck up there in no time.”
Dax laughs, too. “That’s not why I told you the story, but, yeah, Ronnie would be asking for it if she lived in ancient Greece.”
I drop my head back and gape at the sky. “So why did you tell me the story?”
“Because of her daughter, Andromeda. She was every bit as beautiful as Cassiopeia, and never bragged about it. She was forced to pay for her mother’s mistakes, but the suffering didn’t last. When Perseus rescued her from the sea monster, they fell deeply in love and eventually married, though Andromeda had already been promised to somebody else.”
Heat rises to my face. The dark sky hides my blush from Dax. If I’m Andromeda, does that mean Alex is Perseus…or is Dax?
“She was rewarded with her own galaxy. Look here.” He traces Cassiopeia’s constellation once again. “If you follow the deeper part of the W out like an arrow, you’ll hit a big, blurry disc. That’s Andromeda.”
I squint while dragging my finger across the sky, but I can’t spot the galaxy. I keep tracing the W over and over again and drawing my arm out in attempt to find Andromeda.
“Here.” Dax comes behind me and puts one hand on my waist; the other wraps around my wrist and directs my hand straight to a white hazy patch of sky. “Do you see it?”
“Yes,” I choke, hardly able to hold back my excitement—he’s so close.
His energy wraps around me like the softest of blankets. I relax into his frame, using this star-gazing exercise as an excuse to get close to him.
“Beautiful? It’s hardly visible from here. Wait, let me help with that.” He releases his hold on me and steps back. No, not back—down.
I pivot to look at him, but he is so far away. Then I realize he hasn’t moved—I have. My toes dangle above the top of the giant oak tree that flanks the brook. Wind licks my face as I continue my ascent.
“Do you see better now?” Dax shouts from beneath me.
I look down, but cannot find him, and I continue to lift higher. I take a chance and try to turn and take in the full panoramic view. Dax must notice, because the next thing I know, my body is twirling in a graceful circle.
“Well? What do you think?” His voice is but a whisper though he shouts.
“Beautiful!” I yell down. Then, in a whisper, “Beautiful.”
Stars glisten playfully as they embrace me, welcoming me into their territory. For once I am a part of something gorgeous. I am gorgeous, too, because nothing about this moment can be ugly.
I reach out to touch my galaxy, but my fingers fall short. Its nearness is a trick of the eye—parallax. Dax must take my gesture as a signal, because I glide back to the ground. Sadness and awe strike me as my celestial friends fade further into the distance. A cloud wraps around my legs and pulls me down—Dax’s familiar aura.
He reaches his arms overhead and grabs hold of my waist, directing me back to the Earth. I feel like the lithest of ballerinas, like a princess, like Maria. The tips of my toes plant on Earth; the balls of my feet ground me fully.
Somehow my hands rest on Dax’s shoulders. Somehow his arms are still around my waist. Somehow his lips part mine, and I drift to the heavens again, though my feet never leave the Earth.
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