I jumped at the sound of the voice hitting my head on the rock above me. I could feel the blood instantly begin to glide down my forehead. I was standing with my face to the stranger and my knife up in less than 2 seconds. Hearing him chuckle sent a wave of fury through my body.
“What is your problem?” I spat at him defensively.
It seemed to catch him off guard. He cleared his throat and his threatening tone returned.
“I belong here, the question is what are you doing here? How did you even get in?” He said looking me over clearly seeing my injury, now injuries.
It was difficult for me to see in the low light. The tunnel only provided a small orb that was mostly shining on his legs. Which seemed to be rather large. The shadow that was surrounding his body told me he was larger than my father, who was a good size man.
There was a flash of fear before my nerves instantly settled. I couldn’t tell if it was from my training, or I knew he wouldn’t hurt me. He sounded like he just wanted to give someone a hard time.
“Uh, Duh. I came in through the rocks, probably the same way you did unless you crawled through there.” I pointed to the tunnel. “Are you going to try to kill me or just bug me?”
A deep noise came from within him, but I couldn’t make out what it was. I could tell I was making him angry, but I didn’t care. I had been itching for a fight lately anyways.
“Woman, you have no idea who I am. Watch your tone.” He was emotionless.
“Do Not Call Me Woman.” I replied, irritated at the term. “My name is Aries. Call me that or bitch if you’d like. Not woman.” I all but spat the words.
“Aries.” He said as if he was trying it out. I wished I could see his face.
“And you are?” I replied still irritated. The blood had begun to drip down my face. I refused to move at all until I had some answers.
“Tadeas.” He forced before lifting his hands up in the air. I could hardly make out the motion, but I chose to take the opportunity to wipe the blood from my head.
“You’re hurt.” He pointed out.
“Yeah. Some asshole made me jump as I was crawling into a tunnel.” I replied.
“I will…” was all I heard before the darkness began to spin around me. I braced myself for whatever impact I was about to fall onto, but I was unconscious before I hit the ground.
As I began to wake, I could feel the slight pain coming from both my ankle and head. They had a paste of herbs and leaves around them. To my surprise my head was on something soft that smelt amazing. It was warm and smelt like the pine trees.
I opened my eyes blinking until my vision began to clear. There was light, it was dim from a fire, but I could see better than I had since entering the cave. My flashlight was next to me, my hunting knife was missing. I sat up quickly, immediately regretting my actions.
“What are you doing? Lay back down!” His tone slightly frantic.
“What did you do to me?” I groaned while searching for my pack and knife.
“I helped your body heal, now if you would just relax for a little while the herbs can do their job.” He spoke to me as if I was a child.
“Seriously, I need to know why you followed me into the cave and what your deal is. NOW.” I began to raise my voice as I spoke.
His chest heavily raised a few times as if he wasn’t used to people speaking to him like that. I could tell he was trying to not lose his temper.
“I told you, I am Tadeas. I am supposed to be in here. You are not.” He replied coldly.
“Well, I will be on my way then. If you would just return my knife and point me in the right direction.” I said sitting up again, slower this time.
Whatever he did with the herbs they certainly helped. As I moved, I was able to grab my pack and search the bag. Part of the medical supplies were missing. “understandable” I said to myself aloud.
“Why do you do that?” He spoke causing me to turn and face him.
In this light I could see him. He was definitely larger than my father who is 6-foot-2-inches. His body was more muscular as well. My father was always in shape even now that he is older, but rather slim. This man almost doubled his muscle mass.
His dark brown hair had subtle streaks of red throughout. His eyes were green with hints of gold. They were the most amazing things I had ever seen. Looking at him made my heart pound. His eyes were focused on mine as he held my gaze.
The scar on the left side of his neck was faded, the sight of it enraged me. I didn’t know why I was so upset about him being hurt. I felt myself begin to get lost in his eyes when my mind snapped me out of it.
“It’s a bad habit but I spend a lot of time alone. Or with children. Either way I am talking to myself most of the time.” I tried to deflect with a joke and went back to looking around for my hunting knife.
“You won’t find it.” He said almost chuckling.
“I want that knife back.” I said as my chest felt like it filled with fire.
“In time. I have a few questions for you first, Aries.”
Hearing him say my name again sent a wave of goosebumps across my skin, gaining my full attention. I didn’t know what I was doing. I sat back down returning my pack to the floor next to me. I noticed the object I was using for a pillow seemed to be some type of clothing.
“I’ll need to be going soon, I am sure the storm is over. Please get this over with.” I said trying to force myself to be unpleasant so he would let me go.
“How did you find the tunnel?” He asked formally.
“On accident, I just followed the path from the cave buried under rocks. The storm was bad; I just needed shelter, okay? Can I go now?” I kept my voice calm and collected.
“No.” No emotion detected in his response.
“Does this have something do to with those markings? I don’t even know what they are! AND I broke my cell phone so it’s not like I have proof!” My voice raised slightly as my need to go heightened.
“Do not raise your voice to me again.” He threatened.
Great now we are back to this… I thought to myself. I took a few deep breaths trying to calm my anger down. I had overcome so much lately this was not going to be the way I die, or the thing that breaks me.
“What do you do?” I could tell he was forcing himself to sound neutral.
“Right now… I am between careers. No! I am not some weird government agent.” I said in a huff.
“Do you want to see the other side of the tunnel?” He asked carefully.
“Is this some kind of trick?” I asked slightly confused.
“No trick, answer the question.” He instructed.
“Yes, I had a feeling it was beautiful. Like the kind of beauty that comes from books and movies.” I relaxed too much and began speaking as if we were friends.
“I will make you a deal.” He said as his corner of his mouth went up in a grin.
It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. The way his eyes lit up as his lips curved showed a different side to him. I smiled before I knew what was happening. I pursed my lips together before responding.
“What is it?” I said struggling to sound unaffected.
“Go on a date with me. I will show you after.” He tried to hide the anticipation in his voice, but I caught it.