Elemental Heir : Book 1 Of The Elemental Heir Series

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Chapter 5

Dawn would be here soon. If I was going to do something, it had to be now. Dristan was still asleep beside me, sprawled on his back, his bare chest rising and falling with each deep breath he took. His face, slack and peaceful, looked younger like this. Innocent.

My eyes slid down his lean, muscled body and landed on the key ring that was tied to his belt. One of those keys would unlock my handcuffs. The trick would be finding the right one. Silently, I slid on my boots, and pulled my cloak over my shoulders. I’d have to flee quickly once I was unbound. With steady hands, I reached for the ring of keys, careful not to jostle them or make any noise.

I lifted my wrists to the key chain and tried one of the keys in the lock. It didn’t fit. Damn. Each of my movements was silent and calculated. Thankfully, the sound of drizzling rain on the roof of the tent drowned out any sound I made as I shifted my weight onto my knees. I tried another. Still, it did not fit. I inserted the third key into the lock, and when it slid in with ease I sighed with relief. A spark of hope bloomed in my chest.

Carefully, I twisted the key. The lock made a loud clicking sound as the handcuffs sprang free. I held my breath at the noise, my eyes widening. Shit!

He moved with speed that did not seem human. One moment, he was fast asleep. The next, he had somehow gotten to his knees and grabbed me. He gripped my wrists, twirling me to face away from him, and clamped his arm around me. I was pinned, my back to his front. He pressed a calloused hand against my mouth to keep me from shrieking in surprise at his sudden assault.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” He hissed in my ear. His breath was hot against my skin and rose goosebumps on my arms. I wriggled against his iron grip and he tightened his hold on me. I whined against his palm, frustration bringing the sting of tears to my eyes.

“Stupid fool! Even if you managed to get out of this tent without waking me, do you think you’d make it five steps before someone spotted you? There are always guards on watch.”

He removed his hand from my mouth and turned me roughly to face him, knee to knee, as we crouched in the tent. He snapped the cuffs back into place on my wrists, the metal biting into the open sores.

“Damn you.” I whispered.

“You gods damned idiot.” He shot back.

Hot tears slid down my cheeks as I watched him bind me. My wrists burned against the metal. The spark of hope I’d felt for that fleeting moment died, replaced by helplessness once more. I felt my lower lip wobbling as I struggled to keep myself from sobbing.

His eyes snapped up to meet mine, those deep pools of liquid cobalt ablaze with fury. His nostrils flared, a low growl rumbling inside of his chest.

“I cannot protect you if you insist upon moronic suicide missions.” He growled.

“Protect me?” I breathed. “You are my enemy! You have signed my death warrant!”

He bared his teeth at me through the dimness.

“Enemy? I’ve risked my neck more than once to keep you safe.”

“To what end? I’m going to die anyway, as soon as you throw me at the king’s feet.” I lifted my chained hands in emphasis.

He stared at me. His brows were furrowed, the deep V between them visible. His eyes were two chips of black ice. He looked down at his hands, still clamped loosely around my wrists. His messy, dark hair fell across his forehead, nearly to his eyes as he stared downward. His face softened a fraction.

He seemed to be contemplating something, fighting some kind of inner battle. He gently brushed a thumb across the back of my hand and my breath caught in my throat at the sensation.

“I am not taking you to the king.” He whispered.

I blinked. I must still be asleep, having some absurd dream. He couldn’t have just said that.

“There are too many ears to speak of this in detail. But I am not taking you to the king, Brenya.” He lifted his gaze to mine, determination and sincerity shining in his eyes. “You are not going to die on my watch.”

I gaped at him, stunned. Shock and confusion buzzed inside of my skull like a swarm of angry bees. I did not respond for a long while, only stared at him, waiting to wake up. But I didn’t. And that meant that he had to be toying with me.

“Is this some kind of cruel joke?” I breathed, unsure if he’d even hear my wisp of a voice.

“It’s no joke.” His brows knit together, offense flashing across his tanned face.

“But... Why? And, and how?” I stuttered.

He gave me a small smile. A predatory smile.

“When the time comes, I’m going to slaughter every last one of these soldiers.”

“You can’t! You’re outnumbered, they’ll kill you!” My voice rose with the shock and hysteria settling in. He held a long, calloused finger to his lips, signaling for me to lower it.

I opened my mouth to ask more, but he gave me a stern look that had me clamping my lips shut.

“Too many ears.” He said again, tapping his ear, his voice hardly audible. “You must trust me. And you must obey me. Do as I say, when I say. When we’re out of this mess, I’ll explain everything. Deal?”

I nodded my head, my body numb, my mind reeling. He was obviously mad. One man against a dozen soldiers? He was out of his damned mind. He was going to die.

And so was I.

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