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12/Bitter Sweet

Nash leaned against the door frame, arms crossed and a boyish grin revealing a dimple. His eyes gleamed with initial excitement then ventured lower until they were hooded with lust.

I could feel the heat snake up my neck and into my cheeks. The robe was partially open and immodest in design. My hands gripped the lapels together firmly. “I-I didn’t bring anything else to wear.”

Woken from his trance, Nash vaulted into the room before the door closed. His hand snaked around my wrist and held fast as he roped me into his embrace. I pressed my burning cheeks into his neck. Nash chuckled at my attempt to hide anything from him. Gently, his fingers lifted my chin until our eyes met. “You are beautiful no matter what you wear.”

His gentle touch went south in a caress from my cheek down the length of my spine. The intimate contact drew the breath from my lungs. We had joked and fought on the week long ride, flirted a little sure, but this was another level. We gravitated towards one another in every aspect, connected on a level I never had with anyone else before. In reality he was still a stranger, but when he was near it was like fighting a strong magnetic pull.

“Jessica.” My name had never sounded sweeter from lips so wicked. A whimper was all I could muster. We moved jointly until I was pressed between Nash and a wall. His palms cradled my face. A viable current drew our lips together in sweet release. His fervor defined my compliance. In this moment, he was sovereign.

An impatient knock broke the spell we were entangled in. We pulled away breathless, a smirk weaved into his lips. “Michael isn’t convinced yet. We’ll be in the garden if you need me. It can stretch miles from the house, so send someone to get me. Will you do that beautiful?” I nodded still lightheaded. His lips pressed to mine in a chaste kiss. “Anything at all and I’ll come running. Sleep well; I’ll see you in the morning.” Nash ducked briefly to sweep me into his hold. He delicately placed me in the bed and kissed my forehead. The rhythmic knocking ceased when Nash opened the door. A brief glimpse showed the two maids I had seen earlier were at the door holding clothes and a glass of water.

The taller of the two dipped in a curtsy as Nash left the room. The shorter in stature stayed in the doorway watching Nash with envy. Jealousy spurred my words. “Did you need anything else?” I regretted my words the moment she jumped and looked pitifully to her coworker.

An apology was on the tip of my tongue when one of the maids shoved the cup of water forward into my frame. Drops of water soaked into my plush robe. Her stormy features made me retreat further into my room.

As one laid out my clothes, the other gathered the dirty towels from the bathroom. I rested the cup on the nightstand. An awkward standoff only prolonged their stay. They seemed to be waiting for me to do or say something but I was at a loss.

“Um, thanks?” I sat on the edge of the bed fidgeting with nerves. The shorter of the two maids approached with purpose. She handed the cup to me once more. Under her insistent gaze, I took a sip which emptied half the glass. “I’m good, thanks. Can I have some privacy?” The two maids took a few moments of pause before leaving with a curtsey.

Sluggish limbs pulled through the robe and into the new clothes. It was a thick cotton two piece. Warm thick blankets cocooned around me blocking out the chill of winter. My last conscious thought in remembrance to Nash’s kiss.

An ever constant change in the scenery caught my attention first. There were wolves and men dead one fraction of a second and standing the next. Fists rose in the air mid strike, then limp on the ground some attached to bodies while others weren’t. I stood at the edge of the mountain, dense forest to my back. The sound was deafening then silent aligning with the scene before me. Bare arms slick with blood constricted around my form. I struggled to no avail. Apologies choked on his sobs. “Please forgive me, please.” I recognized his voice.

“What have you done Nash?” My own voice foreign in the sudden deadly silence.

His crushing hold vanished within another flash of the vision. Staggered steps turned my body at the nagging pull behind me. Nash’s betrayal simmered under the new wave of shock and heartbreak. A man’s feral form crouched over Nash’s lifeless body a glint of something in his hand.

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