Ember Rains (Book 1)

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Chapter 15: Date

“So much for something more pleasant, I’m sorry.” She said again.

“I asked and I would love to meet your brother. He sounds awesome.” I smiled over at her, glad that at least one man in her life she had been able to rely on.

To my surprise she smiled widely, “Yeah, he is. He’s an idiot sometimes, but loyal and always willing to do anything for me. He is constantly asking where I am, because he wants to come see us. He really wants to meet Ty.”

“He hasn’t met Tyler?” I asked, shocked.

“Nope,” Her smile faltered for just a second, “Tyler is so much like Trystan was at his age though. All the questions, that’s Trystan through and through. Always talking and normally joking. I have found very few things he is serious about.”

I was enjoying listening to her talk. She hadn’t spoken so much, in total, in front of me. The way she smiled and her eyes lit up. It was clear she had a strong connection with her brother.

“Well you should invite him to visit. Since your flight finally landed.” I suggested.

“I might…” Her smile faded. “I don’t know how long we are staying though, Richard. I don’t want to endanger anyone here, and eventually, people will follow me here.”

I didn’t point out that they already had. I also didn’t want to argue with her, so I ignored her last remark completely. Luckily, we arrived at our destination.

“Here we are.” I pulled over onto the side of the road.

I watched as she looked around, a hint of her previous fear reappearing on her face.

“There’s nothing here.” She said hesitantly.

“Do you trust me?”

‘Stupid question, she has answered it a hundred times in a hundred ways.’ Brooke grumbled.

This time though she hesitated, as if our conversation had made her question her answer.

“More than I probably should.” She finally admitted.

“Well that’s better than I expected.” I laughed and she shot me an incredulous look. “Come on. I won’t let anything happen to you, I promise.”

For a long moment she hesitated in the car. Finally though she sighed and climbed slowly out of the passenger door.

As I led her through the woods I was glad to see that she seemed comfortable.

“Can I ask you a question?” I asked suddenly.

“Sure.” She responded in a whisper.

She smiled slightly as we walked. I caught myself staring at the way the sun shone through the trees and glistened off her strawberry blonde hair. The red tones in her hair intensified natural pink in her cheeks. She was stunning and I couldn’t remember what I was going to ask.

After a minute she glanced at me and frowned, “What is it?”

’Smooth…” Brooke commented smugly.

‘Why didn’t you snap me out of it?’ I snapped.

Brooke was silent.

‘You were staring too.’ I clarified, annoyed.

“You seem pretty comfortable alone here with me, why is that?” I smirked, cocking my eyebrow at her.

‘Nice save.’ Brooke smirked.

To my surprise she chuckled. Her face lighting up and her eyes shone with a freedom I had yet to witness.

“You are in my turf now.” She shrugged. “I feel more comfortable in the woods.”

“We were in the woods that first day.” I pointed out.

She flinched slightly. “Yeah, I wasn’t doing really well. I was hurt and I was worried you or somebody else would hurt Tyler.”

I nodded and slid my hands into my pockets, I had known that. I still didn’t like thinking about it. I couldn’t help but long for the day that she trusted me. Not only with her own safety but her sons as well.

“What did you mean by this is your turf though?” I grinned arrogantly at her. “These are my woods.”

She smiled, “The last three years Ty and I have lived out in the woods. Honestly the last forty-eight hours indoors have seemed almost suffocating.”

She shifted uncomfortable, seemingly thinking of something unpleasant. For the first time since we started walking her smile faded away. She tugged at her sleeves awkwardly and let her head drop so she was watching her feet.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, unable to stop myself as I watched the pain flash in her brown eyes.

She took a deep breath and forced a smile. “Nothing, just thinking.”

She shrugged passively before straightening again. Her posture was no longer relaxed though and her expression was tight and pained.

“Please?” I asked, relenting to not ask again if she didn’t answer.

She just shrugged again. As we walked in silence I worried about the awkwardness around us growing unbearable. Luckily after another minute of walking we were there.

There was a rusty old trampoline in the middle of a tiny clearing surrounded by trees.

“Wow, that’s random.” She said, staring at the trampoline.

I laughed “I know right. The guys and I found it in high school and it sort of became our get away when we needed a break from training.”

“Huh,” she replied thoughtfully.

“Anyway, I brought food and drinks. I figured we could have a picnic.” I said, trying to sound confident. “Or we could still go to a restaurant. I just figured you would prefer this.”

She stared at me with that same confused expression she had worn after I bandaged up her side. I wondered why she was so confused.

“It’s perfect.” Her voice was suddenly quieter, more uncertain.

“Are you okay?” I asked and she nodded. “Okay then let’s go.”

I thought for a brief second about offering her my hand but was unsure how that would go over. Instead I gestured for her to go ahead before falling in stride with her.

‘Coward,’ Brooke grumbled irritably.

I ignored this knowing he wanted to feel her touch as much as I did.

We talked for hours until the quarter moon was high in the sky. In our circle of trees with no other light, the moon and stars shone brightly. The air smelled sweet and damp, as if rain was not far off, but the cloudless sky shone with millions of wonders untold.

As we lay only a foot apart and watched, we talked about things of little relevance. Learning our favorite foods and colors, allergies or embarrassing stories. I wished I could stay with her, like that, forever. I knew, however, that Tyler was waiting for her, and this perfect moment couldn’t last forever.

Just as I thought this my phone pinged with a message from Rowan.

“Avrily went to bed and Tyler wanted to go home so Rowan took him back to your place.” I informed Myra.

“Ty,” Myra sat up looking around as if the darkness had suddenly taken on a new meaning.

“Let’s go.” I said sliding off before offering her my hand.

It was time to get back to reality. I would probably have been disappointed about that, if she hadn’t taken my hand without hesitating. Once she was down she slid her hand away nervously, but I would take what I could get.

At her apartment complex I walked her to her door. After a second of hesitation she met my eyes. It lasted only a couple seconds, but that was a record so far.

“Thank you, I had a good time.” She said looking back at our feet.

“Thank you for coming.”

“I-I need to go.” Myra said, taking a step away from me.

“Of course.” I smiled gently down at her. “Tell Tyler I said hi and next time we can do something together the three of us.”

She hesitated frowning. She studied my face as if to find an ulterior meaning to these words.

Finally she nodded slowly before ducking her head and unlocking the door. I couldn’t help but notice she moved as if she was expecting to be attacked any second.

‘I want to kill whoever hurt mate.’ Brooke hissed.

‘Me too, but she needs us here more than she needs vengeance right now.’ I sighed feeling the repetitive nature of this conversation growing

‘I know.’ He sighed, responding to both my words and unspoken annoyance. ‘I’m sorry.’

‘It’s your nature.’ I shrugged as I headed back to the car.

I wasn’t going home though. Tonight I would watchover and be sure no harm came to my family.

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