Pierced in the Heart
I hated what he’d said to me. Hated that he thought one day he’d turn on me again. That he believed one word could change how he was to me. His name.
Eventually we were far enough into the woods that Van stopped. He turned a slow circle and gave a satisfied nod. “Here will do.”
I held my hand out for the bow.
He grinned and I was shocked at the way the smile changed his whole face. Making the corner of his eyes crinkle and dimples dip into his slim cheeks. Making everything about him seem easier.
Why didn’t I see it before?
The answer came immediately. Because I was afraid of him.
Because I didn’t understand.
But I felt like now I’d seen all the different faucets of who he was. Saw that he was changing into something, someone, quite different then the creature I’d first met.
The incubus who was nearly invisible whilst he hunted me.
I registered he was staring at me patiently. Holding the bow motionlessly.
“Are you done?”
“With what?” I blinked at him. Having wholly forgotten that he heard my thoughts as clearly as his own.
“Trying to decipher what I am and am not.”
I blushed and ducked my head in shame. “Quite done.”
“I’m ready to learn.” I wiggled my fingers expecting him to hand over the bow he’d made me.
He eyed me askance. Giving me a half smile. “Not a chance. You’re nowhere near ready.”
I deflated and curled a lip at him. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“What are you going to shoot?” His voice rose as he turned a slow circle pointedly.
“Why? What’d it ever do to you?”
“First,” He leaned forward until he was nearly nose to nose with me. “you listen.”
“I am listening.”
“To yourself speaking.”
I glowered at him. “You’re pleasant this morn.”
“You’re not listening.” He tapped his ear.
“Fine.” I crossed my arms. “What am I listening for.”
“Something to shoot.”
“Well, I’d gathered that!” I tossed my arms in annoyance.
He chuckled. “What do you hear beyond the trees? Beyond the leaves?”
“Why are you asking me? I asked you.”
Not pleasant at all this morn.
“I hear leaves. Branches. Things shuffling.”
“What makes you think it is fey and not a rabbit?” He challenged.
I paused as I mulled it over. “It sounds bigger. The branches moving are higher.”
He nodded in satisfaction.
A correct answer. Finally.
“It is not fey. It is a doe.” He corrected.
“How do you know?” I breathed.
“Smell.” He tilted his head up.
I did and caught the musky odor of the animal downwind from us. I gave him a wide-eyed look as understanding dawned.
“How do you know it’s not a buck?” I whispered.
“He has to guard them. Always on alert. His step is slower. More hesitant.”
I could hear the slight hooves now. A shuffle of leaves. Then another. I turned toward the sound to better hear it. Jumping slightly when I felt his cheek lean against mine from over my shoulder.
“She’s more careless. More trusting. She believes nature is on her side.”
“But it’s not.”
“It never is. She is only hoping.”
“So, what do we do?” I leaned my head back to eye him.
“We do what any man does. You aim for her heart.”
I sensed the double meaning but wasn’t completely certain it meant what I thought. He’s saying he wants my heart?
He did say he loves me. But I was in such shock from the innuendo, I hadn’t mustered words by the time he leaned around me to catch my fist. Shoving the bow into it with his other hand. Then framing my hands with his as he taught me how to administer an arrow and flex the bow.
His cheek was flush against mine again as we aligned our arrow.
Together we centered the arrow where the shuffling steps of the deer would emerge between two trees a distance away.
“It’s too far.” I whispered.
“Never too far as long as you aim correctly.” He turned his head to give my cheek a quick peck.
I gasped in surprise but before I could react, he let go of my hands which made me reflexively unleash the arrow. Just as I glimpsed the pale brown of her ducking head and shoulders emerge.
The arrow sunk into the spot just below her shoulder. Dipping into the soft flesh of the side of her chest. Piercing her through the heart. Making her stumble forward to one leg and then immediately teeter and collapse.
He hopped through the trees, swinging around one trunk to get a better view of the fair-sized doe we’d just toppled.
He whistled in approval. “Well done, Zyra.”
“You did.” He corrected. Dropping to a knee to pat her still shoulder. “Thank you for your meat, Sweet Girl.”
There was a strange affection on his face that I’d never seen him exhibit to another being.
Save me. On rare occasion.
“Why are you so gentle with her?”
His head shot up and his dark eyes turned on me. Surprised at my question. He looked back down at her and mulled it over. “Animals are always different.”
“Who, in all her life, has she wronged?”
My brow furrowed as I racked my brain but could think of no answer.
“No one…” I admitted.
“Then how could one ever harbor animosity toward her?” But he wasn’t looking at the deer.
He was looking at me.