“A-animals.” She defended.
Clucking in his cheek he murmured. “What about the people you don’t see?”
“Forever Knights?” She shook her head in confusion.
“And those we keep. Dragons, fey, creatures that only exist in your legends.”
“Is not that why they’re myths.”
Shaking his head he said. “Every myth is like a lie. Commonly based on a grain of truth.”
“Griffins, valkyries, unicorns...pigs that fly I suppose.” She snapped.
“I’ve never met a Griffin...or a flying pig.” He laughed.
“Unicorns?” She glowered. “Really?”
“A friend has one.” He teased. “In-fact he has the valkyrie too.”
“Sure he does.” She blinked rapidly.
“Are you really so arrogant you think man could make it through a single day without protection from creatures on countless planes?” He moved something on the ground with his foot staring down. “I tell you there’s an ancient evil and you question fairytales. The picture is so much bigger than that.”
Shoulders slumping she gave him a disheartened look. “How much bigger?”
“Depends on you. Do you accept your fate and fight as you have so many times before or do you run like a scared little girl?” He accused.
Her shoulders slumped. “I was hoping for a brain tumor.”
“Fearing one.” He corrected. Taking her hand he led her from the trees. “Pretend for just a minute that we are old friends.” His velvet voice turned coaxing. She immediately wanted to nod just because he said it in that voice. Than she promptly wanted to hit him in the face for making her want to nod at something so ludicrous.
“Why?” She asked sullenly.
“Because it makes it easier for me to explain. Did not we become friends over the last few months, did not we?”
Feeling his large fingers linked through hers and head waves emerging from where the palms joined she wanted to choke out more than friends but struggled to speak as he lead them up the front steps into the mansion
“Were you manipulating me?”
He gave a sideways nod. “In a way.”
“What?” She squawked.
He pressed a light kiss to her cheek. She stared at him through stunned eyes.
Shaking herself she asked reluctantly. “Did you just change the subject?” As she touched her cheek.
“Would you like another?” He offered pulling her into the Dining Room.
“No.” She hissed a bit too quickly.
Cocking his head doubtfully made her bite her cheek and her eyes wander to a far wall. His hand still linked with hers wrapped behind her back and he drew her close. His other hand wrapped in her hair. Before she could think to object his lips fell on hers.
She glimpsed a sudden fire billowing from the grate in the corner of her eye. It raged nearly emerging from the fireplace, blackening stones and climbing toward the mantle. Her body grew molten under the silken caress of his tongue coaxing her lips to delve in and savor every honeyed corner of her mouth. Taking her over.
Turning liquid in his arms she molded to him. Her legs were numb that arm behind her back held her up. Energy swelled from his warm body making every fiber vibrate with life.
She’d shove him away.
But it never happened.
Scalp tingling she realized her hair floated around them, caught in a mysterious whirlwind. When he released her she fell backward against his arm.
Unable to steady herself she collected her rapid thoughts trying to piece together some logic. Colors vibrated across her vision and shadows danced against the wall. Sounds she’d never before heard were faint and far away.
“Now, you’ll know.”
Letting her slide to the floor he withdrew his arms and with them, that molten heat. Falling in slow motion she fell back and landed softly on the floor as if surrounded by pillows. Lying at his feet she stared up at him wide-eyed. Turning abruptly made black cloth begin to materialize around his ankles and climb the air in thick wraps until it reached his shoulders, pouring over his shoulders like fluid. The hood lifted and rose over his head.
Than he was gone.
The air was calm and still as he’d never been there. Coming down the stairs her brothers were laughing.
She felt irrevocably altered.
He was gone but his voice lingered. “I’ve loved you since I lifted you into my arms and watched you give your life for ours. I’ve spent lifetimes at your side and learned about the kind of person we should all strive to be.” His sigh was like wind through the room.
“Do you know what true agony is Nora?”
Swallowing hard she stared at the ceiling oblivious to the concerned faces of her brothers as they shouted her name.
In place of a head shake she rolled her face to one side.
“No one has known true pain until he’s held someone he loves and watched them die a hundred times throughout history. You’ve had my heart from the beginning and it will be yours until the end.” His voice broke slightly.