FOREVER KNIGHTS: #14 Broken Birds

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Reading My Words

“I am.” She leaned back on her haunches, scooting to face him as she beamed.

He watched her cautiously. “What are you about, woman?”

“You were writing about me, weren’t you?” She snaked a hand around to snatch the journal from his limp grip. Retracting it back to her at lightning speed. Leaping lithely to her feet, she danced from his reach. Holding the dark volume triumphantly aloft.

She’s stealing my journal even as I write in it? Leaping from the chair he twisted to face her in an animalistic movement.

“You’re fast.” She breathed. Eyes widening and hand lowering as she was confronted with the beast. Making his eyes burn yellow and his shoulders lift as he drew quick breaths.

Calm, Boy. He willed himself. Trying to bring his temperature down. Steadying himself he turned sideways to eye her in his peripheral. Did I frighten her?

His eyes went back to gray and he forced a hand through the straight black hair that’d escaped his tether. Standing ramrod straight facing the fire, made his silhouette loom over her.

“I hadn’t realized how huge you are.” She said softly.

He gave her a quick look. How had she missed it? It’s usually the first thing people notice about me. Despite himself he felt his chest puffing at the compliment to his masculinity. He towered over most men.

Only Acharius and Mardichi have me beat.

“You must speak your mind here.” He ordered. Shifting slightly. Badly wanting to know what she was thinking as her gaze lingered over him.

Afraid? He worried.

“Few men can claim such impressive height.” She murmured.

Damn the girl for feeding my pride. He nearly laughed at his own idiotic response to such simple words. Feeling a surge of confidence.

She reached to catch a thick lock of his loose raven hair, burnished with brown lights from the fire, smoothing it back with the rest and wrapping it around his tether in what seemed a very intimate gesture. His facial hair was smooth in the sharply cut goatee framing his mouth. His eyes shined in the darkness, so dark a gray they looked onyx in the shadows. His broad shoulders were draped in clothes seeming more a necessity than a comfort.

“You must tell me what you’re thinking!” He commanded.

“I’m wondering if you’re more at home wearing nothing at all.”

I’d no idea ladies of her ilk had such thoughts!

He groaned in his throat. “Damn Woman! Are you trying to drive me to madness?”

If so, she’s succeeding. His aura was as untamed as the ferocious critters roaming the Warwood bordering Nightway.

“You’re an untamed thing.” She said so gently he couldn’t take it as an insult. “You’ve the ferocity of the critters of Nightway. But you seem like you want tamed to the hand of a woman.”

“I’d do much to have your hands on me.” He grunted without thinking.

Noting her shocked look.

He cleared his throat. “I apologize. I meant no disrespect. Please continue.” He tucked his hands behind his back to seem less threatening and nodded toward her.

“I saw a deer yesterday. It reminded me of you.”

A deer? Why a deer?

“It crept through the frost laced trees the morning past.” She continued.

“I remind you of deer?”

“You move cautious like you’re always watching for a threat. You seem harmless but can fight to protect. Wild. But gentle.”

She makes being a deer sound less insulting.

“You speak like poetry.” He remarked. Face soft as he marveled at her.

“I never knew what it was to desire a man.” She whispered. “I heard other ladies speak of it. But didn’t know…” She unwound the tether in his hair. Freeing it so she could knead her fingers through it near the back of his neck as she stood at his side.

She’s saying she desires me? He blinked stunned eyes. Stepping around to face her and moving closer, intrigued. Looking down at her intently.

Who are you? I’ve never met a woman like you.

I don’t deserve to even know you. Not after all I’ve done! He hissed through his teeth. Catching that small hand kneading his hair, and roughly throwing it away.

“What are you about?” He roared, rearing back and tossing his head like a wounded animal. Knocking over the chair he’d been sitting in and toppling the little black inkwell. The room vibrated with his violence as though a caged beast prepared to attack.

“What did I do?” She looked heartbroken. Soft features showing her shock. Her hair was pulled back from her face and hung in a loose braid over her shoulder and down to her waist. The white satin dress she wore draped her arms, exposing her shoulders and upper chest before tapering to her narrow waist and then flaring naturally over the curve of her hips. The cloth flowed so naturally it sent his mind whirling.

Easy to picture her shape beneath it. He realized. Imagining how that bountiful flesh would feel under his callused hands.

“I guess you are as dangerous as you say.” She threw over her shoulder as she strode from the room.

Ouch. He blanched.

I’ve hurt her.

“Sabine!” He called. Impulsively chasing her into the corridor. “Sabine, I-I’m sorry!” He apologized pleadingly. Catching her arm to spin her around.

Looking at him a moment, her face expressionless. She suddenly jerked the book from his reach as he turned her.

She thinks that’s what I’m after?

His eyes glittered with intensity. “Sabine, I didn’t meant to…” He swallowed what felt like a rock in his neck. I don’t care if she takes the journal.

I care I hurt her.

Pulling free she crossed the foyer and stepped around a wooden chair near the stairs.

Putting it between us. Warding me off. His hand fell to his side.

What’s she doing?

Seeing he only watched her, making no move to take the leather volume, she tugged the ribbon free and let it fall open over her arm.

He was still as a statue. Feeling sick. She’s going to read it? Right here. In-front of me?

“Shall I read what you’ve written?” She quirked a brow.

She’s teasing me?

The fire from the Dining Room grew brighter. Yellows and oranges becoming vivid. Candles on the walls bordering the foyer, which had been barren black wicks, now sparked to life.

She needs to know that she can’t play with me. It’s not safe.

“Are you doing that?” She gasped. Tilting her head questioningly.

I am a danger to her. She should fear me. He realized sadly.

“Yes, it’s me.” His facial expression was flat. “Are you afraid now?”

“No.” Her gaze skid calmly from the Dining Room behind him back to his shadowed face. “I think like a wounded animal, you attack when you don’t understand.”

Is that what I’m doing?

“You’re likely right.” He admitted. “You taunt me by putting a chair between us?” He gestured to it.

“To keep you at bay.”

From what?

Sifting through the pages she found the most recent and opened her mouth to read aloud.

She’s challenging me. He was unsure if this was playful or if she was testing his control to find out how awful he was.

It’s time I show her just how terrifying I can be. He leapt into the air and landed with one boot on the edge of the seat and the other on the high back. Tipping the chair onto two legs as he balanced. Making it hover in the air in that awkward position. Though he made it look effortless.

Eyes huge, she took a step back as the chair leaned toward her. Shock was written over her. “How are you doing that?”

“Balance. The key to warfare.” Lowering to his center, he jumped.

The chair clattered to the floor.

Chavias was a blur of motion.

Clothes shredded and fell off him as his body contorted, replaced by thick red brown hair. When Chavias landed it was on four massive paws. Blue-gray eyes feral yellow. He shook his back. Ruffling the fur down his spine.

“What? How-” She shivered as he paced before her.

Good. She should be afraid. His head whipped to watch her as she drew a slow foot backward.

One large paw lifted as he unhurriedly stepped toward her.

The volume slipped from her fingertips.

Frost crystallized every surface of the room. And along the hair on his back. Crackling over every surface and making the metal wall sconces creak and old wood groan in complaint.

She’s doing it. He loped at her.

She threw arms over her face and shrieked. Beneath one elbow she watched his approach. Tensing for the attack, she slammed her eyes shut.

He jumped high enough to snap jaws around her face. But didn’t.

She didn’t move again until sensing motion to the side of her and peered into her peripheral. Catching view of long masculine fingertips slipping from under the front of her skirts. Emerging from behind her, to catch the book inches from the floor. He retracted it between her ankles. Disappearing under her skirt.

When she turned, he was standing behind her, volume in hand. He lifted it and shook it toward her meaningfully. Tapping the cover with his pinky. Got it.

She sputtered. Shaking her head. “You-you-but you just-”

Was a wolf…I know.

“Breathe Sabine.” He whispered near her ear. Making fine hairs on her neck dance.

She shivered. Arms dropping to her sides as she accused. “You’re trying to scare me!”

That long-fingered hand cupped her chin to angle her face towards a high window on the second floor. Revealing the night sky outside.

His whisper caressed along her cheek. “You shouldn’t tease a wolf on a full moon night. That,” He released her chin to point at the window. “Makes me hunger for everything.”

She swallowed convulsively. Squeaking out. “I was merely jesting!”

His laughter was soft as he tossed his arms open to her. Thankfully wearing pants and a belt, though his scarred, bare chest was exposed to the moonlight. “As am I!”

“You scared me nearly from my wits apurpose!” Wrath was written over her face.

She didn’t find it funny. But I didn’t really intend for it to be.

She should stay away from me. Not try to seduce me!

“Indeed.” He admitted. Tucking his journal in his waistband. “What’s mine is mine.”

She merely blinked at him.

“Aside from that.” He tilted his head grudgingly before muttering. “You made me blush.”

Her face melted into a vibrant smile. “Ah, therein lies your bitterness!”

He was relieved to see her smile. Despite himself. Staring at her in awe before collecting himself.

“Mayhap.” He snorted. “What a precocious little temptress you are!”

She raised her eyes and met his troubled look. “What are you afraid of, Chavias?”

How can she ask me that, knowing I’d know not how to answer?

The room was silent as they stared at each other.

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