I Need To Think
Snow surrounded Night Manor but managed not to crush it. Locking them in a dark fortress.
Sabine rose and veered into the Parlor. Cracking a shutter, she willed the snow to adjust enough she could see the grove where the creature had come from.
Now another set of glowing orange eyes, bobbed in the darkness as it emerged from the trees. Moving much as the first one had. Next to it was a huge man with pointed ears. Wearing only cloth over his groin and a strap over his chest. Such an odd shade of yellow-green that he nearly glowed in the dark. His eyes also glowed orange.
“It seem,” Okine remarked. Stroking the Sarabi next to him like a favored pet. “found wench.”
Sabine didn’t even notice she was whispering one name over and over. Calling for Chavias.
The strange glowing eyes of the taller, human-like creature turned suddenly toward the crack in the snow and seemed to see right through the crack of the shutter to see her. He threw his arm up as though blinded by bright light.
Lurching further from view of the window she released her white-knuckled grip on the sill.
But not before noticing more of the creatures meandering around the snowy hill covering Night Manor. Some rearing up on back legs to toss their snout in the air.
Blessedly the man grunted and backed up. Staring at Night Manor as though memorizing it he backtracked.
The four-legged creatures dropped to all fours to scurry after him.
“No!” Chavias cried. Jerking from his Knight Sleep.
I connected with her panic even in my Knight Sleep? His heart hammered in his chest.
Closing his eyes and drawing a steadying breath, he spirit-ran to Night Manor. Finding her there, crying out his name in the Parlor.
The Sarabi and Okine already gone.
That’s why he hadn’t come back to torture me in a few days.
The last session had been brutal enough he’d been bedridden and sweating for days.
Sabine pivoted but tears streamed her face and blocked her vision. She yelped as she bumped into his solid chest. Blinking blearily up at his dark face. “Chavias?”
His arms outstretched and she tucked against him. Wrapping his narrow waist and smothering her face in his chest as she jerked with racking sobs.
His dark eyes were wide with concern and lips parted in surprise. She’s terrified.
But asking me for comfort? I’d never thought that’d happen.
His arms automatically returned the tight embrace. Uncaring she was crying so hard she snorted, smearing God knows what on his tunic.
She’s a right to be!
“What can I do?” He asked softly, looking out the window at where the Sarabi had been.
Nothing now. Empty landscape.
She sobbed louder in answer.
“Come.” He turned her and guided her upstairs by placing a comforting arm about her shoulders. Walking beside her as she cradled her face in her hands still weeping. He fought the desperate urge to help her but was unsure what he should be doing.
“Are…you…angry?” She gasped out the words between sobs.
You’re safe! Why would I be angry?
“Because you disobeyed me?” He questioned.
“Are you upset?”
“Upset with you for wishing to get some fresh air?” He felt his puzzled look. “You merely wanted the comfort of the woods you love. I understand. I’m worried. Scared to death about what they’ll do to you. But not upset with you. How could I be?”
She nodded. Gorgeous eyes flooding and bottom lip quivering.
Good God. What woman looks beautiful weeping?
“I wish I could rage at you for not keeping safe, but I’ve come to understand it’s part of your spirit to be free.” He murmured. Wondering if he sounded ridiculously weak.
“Are you alright.” He set her on the edge of her bed and inspected her for injury.
She nodded brokenly. “Just frightened. And I was so worried about you! This is all my fault?” She asked brokenly. “Isn’t it? I brought them here?”
“They’re Radix’s.” He filled in leaning her side to side to lift her hair and inspect for scratches or bites that could quickly get infected. Then he knelt and lifted her skirts to her knees to lift her feet and inspect her calves. “And they were looking for you long before now.”
“They’ll tell him where I am.”
“Yes.” He nodded gravely. Standing, leather breeches creaking as he moved. His black tunic falling loosely about him.
She’s not hurt. Just scared near to death.
They’ll be coming for her soon.
“Yes?” He turned his head, sensing the importance in what she’d say. Feeling her fear, he persisted. “What?”
“I called for you.”
He closed his eyes in pain. “I know.”
That’s what woke me.
I should’ve been here. I was too weak. Too tired.
“How?” She looked surprised then understanding dawned. “Oh. Yes. Of course, you would.” She launched up to grab his tunic. “I’m so, so very sorry. I never meant to-I never would’ve-”
“Shh.” He caught her biceps and pushed her back to a sitting position. “It’s not your fault.”
I need you away from me so I can think.
Figure out what to do.
“You know that it is!” She cried. “What are we going to do?”
Before he could answer she wailed pitifully. “I’ve betrayed you! After all you’ve done for me and your many kindnesses. What a fool I am!”
His brows drew together as he knelt before her to ask softly. “Sabine, how have you betrayed me?” He asked softly.
“I didn’t listen.”
He studied her. Her skin was perfect porcelain. Her eyes as round as a dove’s and as blue as a summer sky. Her hair was a white cloud of snow waving over her shoulders. Her lush mouth was beckoning enough to wake the dead. Chavias gut tightened.
If Radix gets his hands on her. Chavias knew all the evils Radix would do to her. And have done to her.
Until she’s as dark as he is.
Chavias was nearly quaking with rage and fear. I won’t let that happen!
“You went outside, Sabine. Twas’ all.”
She eyed him from beneath lowered lids. “What was it?”
“A minion. A Sarabi.”
“It was the most hideous thing I’ve ever seen.”
He nodded. An apt description.
“You called to me for protection?”
She gave a confused nod.
He couldn’t help the sad smile that crossed his face.
She cares for me. Trusts me at least, on some level. That thought touched him to his very core.
“I don’t understand?”
“In all your life, have you ever trusted anyone enough to ask for help?”
“Then shouldn’t I feel privileged, honored at the implication?” He offered her a hand up. His was large, brown, and callused. “Do you trust me, Sabine?”
Her eyes moved rapidly over the floor as she considered the question. Finally, she lifted her gaze back to him with widened eyes. “I do.”
“Chavias!” She leapt to her feet. “What’s going to happen to you? Soon Radix will know you’ve been protecting me. What will you do?”
She’s right. He’ll kill me. I’ve always known he would when he caught me. But suddenly Chavias was less resigned to it.
With their telepathic link, Radix would already be aware she was here and would soon be getting word of the exact location and information about her.
Then he’d find out about Night Manor. That it’s mine and I acquired it right before she vanished.
Sighing his shoulders fell. “It was only a matter of time.”
“No.” Her eyes were wide. “You’re not saying what I think…”
“My concern is not myself, Sabine. Never has been. We must make certain you’re safe.” He gave her a long look. “And I know of only one who may protect you.”
She looked up at him. Question on her face.
“I have to find Sebastian.” He turned to leave the room muttering. “Only he might listen…”
Unlikely as it may be.
He may kill me for asking. He’ll think she’s a spy.
Or that I’m leading Radix to WaterRose.
“I’m sorry. It’ll wait.” He said from the doorway. “You must rest.” He turned and leaned against the doorframe to watch her tuck obediently beneath the coverlet. “I’ll keep you safe. I’ll find a way.”
Seeing she was shivering he walked over and straightened the coverlet over her.
She watched forlornly as he passed the foot of the bed. “Don’t go.”
He froze. His back to her.
I never thought I would hear her say that. Not to me…It was like a punch to the gut. Forcing himself forward, he made his way to the door.
“Chavias don’t leave me again. I just want to be where you are. I feel safe when you’re here.”
I can’t be here.
You can never count on me.
“Come back here and lay with me. Please.” She pleaded. “I’ll fall asleep if you’re with me.” His step faltered, and his back straightened.
Sighing heavily, he returned to the opposite side of the bed. Climbing under the coverlet with her. Boots hanging over the edge as he scooted as close as he could.
She eased her body back until her back was against his chest.
His face automatically fell to inhale the smell of her hair. He held her in the crook of his body. “You don’t make being a gentleman an easy task, sweet Sabine.”
She smiled softly as her body relaxed against him.
Not taking me seriously, apparently. He sighed. Lying there a long while. Torn.
When her breathing deepened, he carefully slid his arm from beneath her and eased from the bed. Silently crossing the floor and out the door to walk the corridor. Involuntarily tossing a last look back at the woman sleeping so soundly.
I want to be laying with her. I don’t want to go. He yearned to return. To lay at her side until Radix slit the throat of his wretched body.
But some things are simply not meant to be.
So why was it so painful to consider. He knew what’d happen if he sent the voluptuous little blonde into the care of Sebastian.
No man could resist her. He saw her perfect features in his mind’s eyes and knew the awful truth. I’ll lose her.
It’s for the best. Chavias stared at the floor, pained as he rounded the banister to take the stairs. She’s composed of light. Whereas I’m made of darkness…
I’ve nothing to offer such a woman. He reminded himself, brokenly.