Chapter 3A

Gideon lifted her and climbed to the lower part of the cliff where Gina was staying as the sun rose in the east. Jewel looked around but couldn't find Francisko. She took a deep breath and paused for a few moments before opening her mouth to inquire. "What happened to Francisko?"

"He got lost in the river. I'll send someone to look for him when the sun comes up. Can you stand?"

She blinked and turned her gaze to the dark river, but there was no movement there. When she thought about what happened to Francisko, sadness crept into her chest.

"Jewel," Gideon said once more.

"Y-yes, I believe so."

Gideon eased her down. As the chill traveled down her spine, she felt the dry and cold ground on her feet.

She realized she had no shoes at that point. The man had taken her boots off earlier, and she didn't have the strength to stop him at the time.

Her heart was still pounding loudly in her chest, and she could still feel a slight tremble. The terror she felt had had such an impact on her that it made it difficult for her to breathe.

Gideon suddenly removed his jacket in front of her. Her brow furrowed, and her face creased. She shifted her gaze to the side and tightly closed her eyes. "Don't get naked in front of m-me!"

She heard a faint laugh from him. "Am I?" Gideon wondered.

"Yes, you're n-naked!" she exclaimed, biting her lower lip.

"You can see for yourself."

She inhaled deeply and slowly opened her eyes.

She looked at Gideon and noticed he was wearing a shirt and had his arm crossed across his chest. The man's lips curved into a small smile. His deep and enticing eyes were filled with amusement.

She averted her gaze from him. As the dew passed over her wet skin, she hugged herself. Jewel inhaled deeply and rubbed her hands against her arms. She bit her lower lip to stop her teeth from chattering. "Can we please go home? It's c-cold."

They were standing in the shade of the gemelina tree, and she was watching the man hang his wet jacket on the tree's low branch. 

He examined her from head to toe before lifting her on top of Gina. 

Her teeth seemed to chatter even more. The cold seeped through her skin, and she felt trapped in a freezer for hours.

"Hang on tight, I'll take you home," Gideon said.

"But it's c-cold up here," she grumbled, her voice shaking.

He let out a long sigh. "Persist a little longer, Jewel."

"And y-you don't want to..." She paused and shut her mouth.  She took another deep breath but ended up sneezing. It was bitterly cold sitting on horseback, and she was having trouble breathing.

She looked at Gideon, who was standing nearby, and wondered if he would ride with her and hug her to soothe the cold.

She shook her head and blinked. 'And why would he do something like that?' She mentally chastised herself. Gideon was completely unaware that she was in pain.

When Gideon spoke to the horse rather than to her, her face became even more perplexed. She sighed and turned her gaze forward.

She could hear birds singing in the trees as dawn broke on the horizon. The chill was still biting into her muscles as she rode on horseback. Gideon was walking slightly ahead, holding the horse's rein and guiding the horse in the right direction.

Her bite has nearly bled her lip. The surroundings became colder as time passed.

Perhaps it was the dew caressing her still-wet clothes.

In the cold, she could barely feel her fingers. Her legs and toes had also frozen. Cold tears streamed down her cheeks. She had shivered for the first time in the cold.

She was now kicking herself for not listening to Gideon. What caused her to become so defiant? The more people try to stop her, the more courage she'll have to do what is forbidden.

Gideon blurted out, "Jewel."


"Are you all right up there?"

"Well, Uhm... I-I'm dying?"

When Gideon stopped the horse, her hope returned. She cracked a small smile. Finally, Gideon must have heard her complaint. She imagined Gideon climbing up and hugging her from behind to relieve her pain.

She closed her eyes, pretending she didn't mind if Gideon climbed up. 'He should beg,' she thought. I won't let him ride with me unless he begs! '

A cold hand, however, gripped her leg. She was taken aback. She awoke dazed, looking down. Gideon was holding her leg and staring at her.

She clenched her teeth and fixed her gaze on Gideon. Gideon tightened his grip on her leg when he noticed her teeth chattering. She swallowed hard. What Gideon did seemed to dry up her throat even more.

Gideon took a deep breath and smiled. "Come down; I'll catch you."

Her lips drew apart. Did he ask her to come down? But what about the previous thing she imagined? She took a deep breath and kept her disappointment to herself. "W-Well, my l-legs won't move?"

Gideon locked his gaze on her for a few seconds. "Stay still."

She pouted as she averted her gaze. Fortunately, she didn't say what was on her mind. She would have embarrassed herself in front of the Mayor's son.

Her face contorted in bewilderment. Was she turning into an attention seeker for Gideon? She puckered her lips. No. Her future husband ought to irritate her.

Husband... Her heart raced wildly at the thought.

She was brought back to reality when she felt Gideon rub both of his palms against her leg. Her eyes widened, but her mouth remained closed. She then took a deep breath and closed her eyes tightly.

But she couldn't help but be curious, and she looked down on the man who appeared to be rubbing her legs seriously. She watched as his hand moved up her smooth and cold leg, then down to the five toes on her left foot. Gideon even drew a circle on her skin, causing her cheek to turn bright red.

'What is he up to?' she thought.

She opened her mouth to ask him, but she quickly shut it when Gideon began singing an unfamiliar song.

She fixed her gaze on Gideon's face. As he hummed a song, he had a small smile on his lips.

Jewel was dazed as her heartbeat quickened. Gideon's grip on her leg loosened, and she sensed his tenderness. Even though she didn't fully understand the song, it was pleasant to the ear, and she was drawn to listen more.

Gideon raised his head, and their gazes met. He smiled. "Are you still cold?" he questioned.

"Uh, not so much."

He nodded and continued to rub her leg while singing. There was something in his voice Jewel couldn't figure out.

She was able to move her toes after feeling the heat from Gideon's palms. Gideon, on the other hand, continued to hold her and touch her skin. 

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