The drive to the cabin was a quick one. It was only two miles down the dirt lane and then a quarter of a mile walk into the woods. The cabin had been built in a place that Liam used to escape to whenever the stress of being a Guardian would get to him. It was his safe haven and he shared it with her.
“It’s more beautiful than I remember,” Saraid stated in awe as she looked around the lush field brimming with flowers of violet and many shades of pink.
“It does seem to have blossomed more doesn’t it,” Liam agreed.
Hand in hand they climbed the wooden stairs until they stood just outside of the heavy oak door. Liam fished around in his pocket, withdrawing his hand when he found the brass key to fit the lock.
“You had me worried for a sec. I thought maybe you lost it and that we’d have to go back.”
Liam’s head turned from side to side as he laughed, “I would shatter every window in this cabin to get you inside before I would take you back.”
She could feel her heart swell at his words. She could trust that he meant everything he said to her. He loved her more his own life, as she did him. They desperately needed this time together, so they could remember what it felt like to be singularly cherished.
“Ok, you go get in the shower first while I gather the firewood for the day. It’s supposed to be a cold night tonight.”
“Are you sure? I am more than capable of gathering wood too.”
“What kind of husband would go shower and leave his wife to gather the wood? No man that I would want to be.”
“Well then, have it your way. Don’t keep me waiting too long,” she teased, hinting at what she had in mind for their stay.
“I wouldn’t dream of it.”
Saraid made her way down the quaint hallway toward the bathroom, stopping only to grab a towel and washcloth from the linen closet. She turned the tap and waited for the flow of water to turn hot. She stepped in front of the mirror and released her hair from the ponytail she held high on her head and allowed it to cascade down her back until it lay just above her hips.
The room began to fill with a cloud of steam and the hairs on her neck stood up. She was alone, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was watching her. She walked to the window and peered outside. There was no one in sight. “Get it together,” she quietly chastised herself and squeezed the curtains closed.
She quickly undressed and stepped into the shower, the heat of the water giving shock to her cool skin. She let her head fall back into the falling water, saturating her hair before reaching over to pump a palm sized amount of shampoo into her hand. With her hair now full of the aromatic suds she felt magic. Not her magic, but it was a familiar magic. Someone was here in this room or very close.
She yanked the shower curtain open, leaving her naked figure completely exposed. The room was empty. The magic she felt was no longer there, but she knew she was not imagining it. She slammed the curtain closed to the shower and made quick work of rinsing the suds from her hair. After deciding it was best to not condition, she scrubbed her body with haste and stepped out of the shower, turning the water off only after she covered herself with a towel.
Examining every inch of the small bathroom, looking for any trace or sign of someone else having been there, she let out a huff when she came up emptyhanded. Then she saw it right there on the window sill, a small piece of neatly folded parchment. She crossed the room and retrieved the paper and began to slowly unfold it.
She’s running out of time!
Not wasting time to get dressed, Saraid raced out of the bathroom and out the front door in search of Liam, paying no mind to her state of dress. He was there on his way back up the porch, arms full of fire wood when he was nearly toppled over by Saraid. The look of fear on her face put his nerves on end and he allowed the wood to fall free from his arms to catch her.
“What is it?”
She handed Liam the note and added, “This was on the windowsill when I got out of the bathroom. Someone was in the cottage Liam, I could sense their magic.”
Liam’s body stiffened at her revelation and he immediately pulled her behind him, making his way into the house, his blade now ready in his hand. He was not pleased to know that someone managed to get by him without his noticing. If anything had happened to Saraid he would have never been able to forgive himself. He quietly sent a prayer of thanks to the heavens that whoever it was didn’t appear to want to hurt her. No, they wanted her help to save someone. What he couldn’t understand was why they were determined to stay anonymous.
“The house seems to be empty now. Whoever was here has gone now,” he tried his best to reassure her.
“I can’t sense them anymore,” Saraid added, “so you’re probably right.”
Liam pulled Saraid into the master bedroom and checked every inch before making her promise to lock the door closed behind him while he scanned the property to be sure they were safe. Saraid sat on the corner of the plush bed, picking at her nails with anxious fervor. Her heart was pounding against her rib cage as she fought against her instincts screaming at her to run after Liam. Afterall, they were stronger together right?
“I appreciate the concern, Princess, but it is my job to keep you safe.”
“Actually, it is our job to keep each other safe.”
“I’m coming back. There’s nothing out here.”
She felt the tension leave her body when she heard the front door open and she could hear Liam’s boots on the wood floor heading her way.
“It’s me. You can open the door.”
She jumped from her spot on the bed and rushed to the door to let him in, greeted by his welcoming arms and gentle smile.
“Next time we go together or not at all.”
She held him against her for a few seconds longer, determined to cherish every minute from that moment on. She felt his arms cross behind her, locking her in place before the world went grey around her.
“What the hell?”