Trapped in Fire
He was motionless. But the ground caught fire. Luminescing the meadow in the moonlight. Searing the clothes from his body. Until the scraps of fiber melted and slipped from his skin as though it was covered in fireproof oil. The fire spread down his arm in red and orange currents which ignited the kindling. Forming a ring around them.
Zuriena watched. Her head tracing the fires movement as it locked her in. She shrieked in frustration and hammered a fist to the ground before dropping her forehead to the dirt.
“Nothing to say now?” He asked.
“You’re appalling.” She muttered against the ground.
“I’m your husband. I’ve the circlet to prove it. And at this juncture I’m highly tempted to paste it to your crown.
“Don’t you dare.” She turned her head sideways to grumble dully. Defeated.
“Where has your fire gone?” His tone was taunting as he stood to gesture around them. Letting pants climb his legs and mold over his lean hips. He turned a full circle with arms out. “Has it been doused by mine?”
She groaned in aggravation.
He linked his hands behind his back and bent over to lower his face to hers. “Now, are you prepared to converse with me. Or shall I burn this entire meadow to cinders ’til you do?”
She slapped the dirt near her face.
Reaching down he scooped her elbows and lifted her to her feet.
“Get your hands off me!” She ordered bitterly.
I should run my hands all over her. He thought belligerently. His eyes roving her body as he considered the temptation. I have claim to her.
“Where have you been?”
“You know where I have been!”
“Hiding with these bandits?”
“Not hiding. Hunting.”
“Hunting what?” He asked impassively.
“My brother’s killer. I don’t know which one it is.”
“It’s the one that’s been the closest to you.” Mardichi said simply.
“It was not Brotus.”
“It is Brotus.” He said blandly. “He cut his throat and left him in the mud and rain to drown in his own blood. And he feels no remorse.”
Her lips parted in shock. Face stunned. “You read that in his mind.”
He nodded. Shrugging grudgingly.
“This is not simply your jealousy?”
“Nah.” Mardichi shook his head. “Were I jealous I’d just cut him from belly to beard.” He rumbled. Making the aggressive gesture.
“Why do you seem bigger than I remember.”
“Because I’m larger than one can simply imagine.” His chest puffed. “But I,” He leaned down to her again. “I remembered everything about you,” He pointed to her toes and gestured upwardly. “Vividly. Daily.”
Her face darkened. “Tell me why I should not just run through you to get out of here.”
“Because the fire is all the way around, in-case ye failed to notice lass.”
She ran frustrated hands down both sides of her face. “What do you want from me Mardichi?”
“More wee bairnes. More lust.” He roared.
Her teeth gnashed in fury.
“More love.” He whispered after giving her a long study.
“I stopped lovin’ ye.” She spat.
“Did ye?” His voice rose. “Do ye know me wee wife, tha’ every time ye’ve ever lied to me. Ye did so mockin’ how I talk when I’m annoyed.”
Her brows lowered. “What do you mean?”
“Precisely.” He pointed.
“I feel nothing for ye bu’ ’noyance.”
“Oh, do ye?” He asked loudly. His grin broadening.
“What is funny?” She snapped.
“Ye love me, woman.” He crowded her. She backed up trying to keep distance between them until he reached out and wrapped an arm about her back to drag her off her feet and against him. “Ye want me. Ye want to be near me.”
“Nay. I wan’ nothin’ to do with ye!” She shouted. Her eyes slid sideways and her mouth moved in silent thought before she grimaced. Fully processing her own words.
When she looked up at him in confusion, he was nodding slowly.
“Ye’re the ver’ devil!”
He grinned wolfishly. “Perhaps.” He fisted the hair at the back of her head and pulled it back to upturn her face to him. His mouth falling to consume hers. Deeply delving into her mouth as he pressed his lower body against her. Feeling the softness of her woman’s curves inciting him to growl into her mouth. He finally set her back from him. “Woman! You drive me mad.”
“Acel…” She whimpered.
He nodded slowly in satisfaction. “There she is.” He drew a slow breath. “Now,” He tapped a finger to her upturned, swollen lips. “Tell me why you left me.”
She drew her own quaking breath. And he felt her body trembling in his grip. She immediately began gnawing on her lower lip.
“There was a woman.”
“In the cottage?”
“I heard the baby.” Her voice cracked. “I saw the woman holding him. Her eyes were black as onyx and I could hear him gurgling, strangling. I saw black water rolling from his mouth.” She closed her eyes against the horrid image that speaking of it invoked.”
“Who was she?”
“I don’t know…” Zuriena sobbed. “He choked.”
“I shrieked and ran to help him…” She stopped speaking. “I couldn’t…”
Mardichi peered into her mind and saw the images she recalled. Horrified at the sight of dark oil seeping from the strangling babies mouth. When she ran over to help the Dread tossed tiny Liam back into his crib and caught Zuriena by the throat. Lifting her up so her feet flailed.