I went to the very next chamber and slid the rag from the handle. Entering the room and turning the lock behind me. I sat on the cot. Uncaring if it was dirty or not, I drew a knee up under my elbow and braced my heel on the edge of the cot. Putting my back to the wall so I could feel her in the next room. Sense her calm breathing and know of her presence.
I occasionally glanced down at my ring and verified that it still flared a red to match the collar I’d put on her to track her. Meaning she was close.
I had no intention of letting her get far.
I quietly plotted all the ways I’d bridge her walls and discern how to enrapture her as she had me. I was single-mindedly fixated on the girl.
I rubbed my finger and thumb together and leisurely whispered moon magic to send it cascading from between the shutters and seeping down onto the landscape to whisper around the tavern in strands which formed into bars. Building a cage that would only keep one being bound into this structure.
The one being I wanted.
I waited most of the day in one of the booths. Sipping ale and partaking of the meals as they prepared them.
Patience was not something I had aplenty, so it took some doing for me to sit there quietly.
Hour after hour ticked by painfully but it was all made worth it as evening descended and the shutters were closed. Candles were lit and the night crowd began filtering in.
Those that lived in the woods and the surrounding villages.
Those that need sanctuary.
Or are hiding from the crown. I should’ve known she’d come into view just as they did.
Crates were brought together and surrounded by ale barrels to make it sturdy, forming a stage. Something the bartender and his sons had clearly done before.
And with the rising of a crescent moon came the arrival of the woman I’d yearned to see. Her hair spun into a riot of curls and a wispy purple dress wrapped around her like silk. Barely concealing her form but making her so vibrant that she drew the eye. Impossible to look away from as man began pounding with a ladle on the barrel. Kicking the side now and then to create a different beat.
When she began stepping fiercely in tune. Arching her back and waving her arms in a mesmerizing dance, I found I couldn’t look away.
The hand which had been thoughtfully rubbing my chin dropped and my blue-eyed gaze locked her. Unable to draw away.
As she moved, she generated an energy that robbed me of all my senses. I could only think how beautiful she was. My ever-present lust was there, but with it was a penetrating fascination. A sense of awe that made me want to have her at my side. To declare to all that she was mine.
Without conscious thought, I found myself rising and strolling closer to the makeshift stage. Raptly watching my willow bride. Sway and thrust to the beat in a way that made her seem more like a bit of plantlife underwater than a woman on her feet.
When she stopped there was resounding applause.
Except for me. I couldn’t move. I’d never felt what I was now. I couldn’t even begin to define it.
When she finished I pushed through the other men.
Some objected but a single quelling look and they sensed the power I emanated. If they didn’t, I was well-prepared to war with them just now. Which is likely why they caused me no trouble in this instance.
I watched as the barkeep’s sons reverently offered her hands to lower her to the floor.
As she walked forward, the crowd parted for her. As if she were too magical to interfere with.
I stepped into her path.
She stopped. Her gaze lifting knowingly to me and her lips turning in a smirk. “I knew you’d come. Though I didn’t think it would be so soon.”
Knew I would.
I looked haughtily down my nose at her. “I arrived last night.”
“And you didn’t break down my door?” She said dryly.
She snorted. “I’d suggest you don’t. There’s a whole flock of men here that would cause you unrest for bothering me.”
Glancing around I saw the intensity on their faces. The raw rage that I was speaking to her and I realized that this was something more than mere fey beauty.
“You’re a temptress.” I charged.
I’d heard of them before. A rare creature, born every so many generations, that had the enigmatic power to summon the opposite gender like a moth to a flame.
It’s why I find her so irresistible.
Why I have such a driving need to ravish her.
“I know what you are.” I insisted.
“Good, that you’d finally figure it out.” She said dismissively. Walking around me.
“You can’t leave this place.” I warned her.
“Can’t I?” She lifted a perfect blonde brow. “Because you have me spellbound?”
How’d she know?
She lowered her head evilly and a slow grin turned her lips. “Do you suppose it will work, if you are dead?”
She slowly looked around purposefully. Proving that all the men in the tavern were now looking at me hatefully. Ready to cut me down at her merest command. And from the glazed look on their faces, I doubted that it would change anything if they knew my status.
It would be a while before the spell she’d cast with her dance, would wear off.
“You’re threatening me?”
She tilted her head grudgingly. Knowing admitting it would send me over the edge.
“So, we are at an impasse then.” I shrugged. Stepping to lean on one of the ale barrels as I inspected my square nails. Pulling out a small dagger to clean under them as I said pointedly. “Because I’m not letting you walk out that door.”