Chapter 1:


The Veil: Ideal World

He wrapped his arms around her waist, gently pressing his lips against hers. Yara froze, lips closed, waiting for it to be over. As Reid pushed his fingers through her hair, she couldn’t help but let her mind wander. Where had things gone wrong? How had she ended up here?

He pulled away, a hand cupping her face and in that moment, she knew she couldn’t hurt him. Not Reid, the only person whose shoulder she could cry on. The only person that took her side in every situation. She couldn’t imagine her life without him; they’d been friends for too long. And now, they were about to be more.

“How was it?” he asked, pushing up his black-rimmed glasses. A soft, pink hue had crept into his cheeks; it would only be a few moments before he was full on blushing.

Yara wasn’t sure what to do other than smile and nod. “It was nice.”

Reid touched her hand and looked away in an attempt to hide the reddening of his face. “I can’t wait to marry you,” he said.

Yara plucked a cherry tomato out from the basket and popped it into her mouth, chewing slowly. “Me too.”

They had both agreed that if they reached the age of thirty and neither was in a relationship, they would marry each other. But Yara had never expected that to become reality.

She had thought that a prince charming would come in and sweep her off her feet in her twenties but her job had kept her occupied and dating was like a jigsaw puzzle she didn’t have the patience to solve.

Reid was the comfortable choice. The smart choice.

Yara gazed at his soft auburn hair falling over warm brown eyes. A former athlete, his body was lean and muscular. It wouldn’t be hard to love him. He was what most would consider a good man; kind, thoughtful, and gentle. Plus, he only had eyes for her. And that was all that mattered.

Reid enclosed her hand in his as if it was a fragile piece of glass. “Remember that time when we snuck off to go to the beach? We were gone for so long that Lady Silver thought that we’d been trying to run away.”

Yara laughed. “We should have run away! Then maybe…”

“She was a bit strict but she really cared about us,” Reid continued. “I’m sure it was hard for her to manage the orphanage all by herself.”

Yara forced a smile, subconsciously digging her fingernail into the palm of her hand. “Yeah.”

She had been trying to run away. Visions of that woman had terrorized her dreams, her glassy gray eyes peering into her soul before drinking up all her energy. Yara had woken up every day feeling as if her limbs were made of bricks, her mind hollow and foggy as if her memories had been erased.

But that was until he had come into the picture. At least she thought it was a he. The blue mirage had kept her company in her dreams, the memories fading away as soon as the sun rose into the sky.

Those dreams also left her feeling exhausted but she preferred them to Lady Silver’s nightmarish visitations. At first she had thought the woman had passed away and was afflicting her in spirit form but Reid had already confirmed that she was still alive, though barely; she was residing in a nursing home in the countryside.

“I love you,” said Reid, dragging her back to reality.

Yara blinked rapidly, in an attempt to stop the tears from forming. Why did she feel like crying? Why did her heart feel so heavy as if it were about to drop out of her chest?

He held her gaze, and Yara felt as if she could swim in those deep, warm eyes. She could live forever embraced in his sincerity. But then she felt like she was drowning. She didn’t deserve his warmth. And since he was smart, he would find out soon. He would find out that she was a liar. A fraud. A woman that used people and didn’t know what she wanted.

“But do you love me?” Now his eyes were searching hers. Yara held his gaze for fear of what would happen if she looked away. What was he looking for? Was it deceit? Had he realized that she wasn’t as good of a person as he thought she was?

Yara felt a lump growing in her throat. She swallowed, for fear that she would choke. “Yes,” she said, trying to keep her voice from trembling. “I love you too.”

She watched as a wave of relief washed over his face. His muscles loosened and the crease above his brow disappeared as if her words had ironed them out.

The couple folded up their blanket and packed their leftovers into the picnic basket as the sky melted into a deep purple above the horizon. Yara stared out the window of the car on the ride home imagining what her life would be like if she just had the courage to chase after what she wanted.

She would have been a full time worker at her company instead remaining stagnant in her position as an intern. She would have paid off all her loans and bought a house by now. She would be married by now and to a man that was not Reid…not that there was anything wrong with Reid.

Lady Silver’s words rang in her ears. ‘You are a horrible little girl! Horrible and weak!’

As Yara’s eyelids closed, her troubled mind welcoming sweet rest, the outline of a male face materialized before her in a cloudy haze. At first she thought it was Reid, but the face morphed into one that she had never seen before. And the face did not look happy. 

Sui Mai Files