Chapter 12 - Emmalyn
Emmalyn sat comfortably on the blanket Kell had laid out for her and peered up at the warriors that surrounded her. Whatever Kell had to say, it must be important to warrant this much protection. The rest of his men had moved away, so it was a clear sign Kell was only willing to disclose the information to a select few. She eyed the warriors and saw the resigned look in their eyes; it was clear to her immediately that they weren’t the least bit surprised by the coming conversation. That made her realize they knew exactly what he was about to disclose. Emmalyn sat up straighter as she looked to Kell. He nodded, pleased with her attention, then he began to talk.
“Do you have any memories of your parents?” Kell questioned as he studied her, obviously curious about her reaction.
“No,” Emmalyn admitted. “I don’t have a single memory of them. All I know is that they died when I was young and they placed me with Mathias. He was a close friend of theirs and he was chosen by them to raise me if something happened to them.”
“What do you know of them?” Kell pushed as he dragged his hands through his hair. “Mathias must have told some things over the years.”
She smiled as she remembered what Mathias had shared. “My mother looked a lot like me. Only where I’m easy going and care free, she was regal and proud. She dressed immaculately and there was an air about her that drew people in. She was instantly liked, and she was friendly to everyone she met. My father was more like me, except in looks. He was carefree and easygoing. He craved adventure and was always jumping into things feet first. Mathias assured me he wasn’t reckless, he just enjoyed life and made sure those around him knew it.”
Kell smiled at her description, and two his men chuckled, which confused her. It seemed they agreed with her and were remembering things about them as she talked.
“Did you all know them?” Emmalyn questioned curiously, craving any information they might have. It was exciting to think these men might know things about her parents that Mathias didn’t. Kell nodded and answered for them all.
“These are my closest men,” Kell admitted as he waved his hand to include them all. “Where I go, they go. They’ve trained with me and been by my side since I was a young lad. I’ve had the chance to share time with your parents on many occasions. These men have been with me each time, and because of your parents generosity, they were treated as equals and included in those conversations. They know your parents almost as well as I do.”
Emmalyn was pleased with his answer. It was wonderful to know they all liked her parents, and it was a relief to know how kind they were. She kind of got that impression from Mathias, but to hear others confirm it, was something she would treasure. She gripped her locket with her good hand and closed her eyes, momentarily calling up the pictures inside by memory.
“Is that a locket?” Behr questioned as he leaned closer to inspect it. She opened her hand and held it higher so he could see.
“It’s the only pictures of them I have. Mathias said someone took them just before they died. I never take it off,” she admitted.
“Can we see it?” Behr gently asked, and she smiled up at him, proud to show it off.
Carefully she dropped the locket back down so she could see the clasp easier. Then she clicked the snap and opened it delicately. Mathias had warned her it was an antique, so she always made sure to be extremely careful with it.
Behr sucked in a surprised gasp when he saw it. “That’s truly amazing. The craftsmanship that went into painting it is extraordinary. The detail takes my breath away. It looks just like them.”
Emmalyn pulled the locket back and shook her head. “No,” she denied. “It’s a photograph taken with a camera, not a painting.”
Behr chuckled as he too shook his head. “I do not understand what a camera is sweetheart, but that’s definitely a painting. It’s the only way we can capture a moment in time. The most talented artists are commissioned to paint the few who are privileged enough to have it done.”
Emmalyn looked down at the picture and studied it. The cracks and age of it made it difficult to see clearly, but she’d always assumed it was a photograph. She knew the world she was now in wasn’t as modern as hers, the horses and old fashioned clothing alone made that exceptionally clear, however the thought of it being a painting stunned her. She looked at Kell for confirmation, and his nod told her it was the truth. That simple lie hit her hard, and she wasn’t sure how to feel about it. It was one more thing to add to the long list of things that disturbed her.
Kell suddenly moved to her side and took a seat on the blanket beside her. “It’s a beautiful rendition, and I’m pleased you’ve had it with you to remember them. It must bring you comfort, and I can see by the careful way you handle it that it means a great deal to you.”
Emmalyn sighed as she moved closer and placed her head on his shoulder. “Thank you,” she replied with some relief. She understood he must have felt her anxiety and was trying to settle her. She appreciated the gesture.
Kell gave her a few minutes to compose herself before he spoke again. “You must miss your parents very much,” he sympathized. “It must have been difficult growing up without them.”
“It’s hard to miss what you never had,” Emmalyn admitted. “My classmates would brag about the things they did with their parents and I never had that. They had them for all the important events at school and holidays, while I only had Mathias. He was wonderful, and I don’t want you to think he was anything less, but it was hard to not have that. I especially missed my mother. There are things that a girl needs a mother for, and I missed out on that.”
Kell gently placed his fingers under her chin and lifted her head from his shoulder. “I’m sorry, sweetheart. I can see losing them hasn’t been easy, but what if you could do things differently? What if you had the chance to see them once more? Would that make you happy?”
Emmalyn did not understand how that was possible, but the idea of seeing them again tugged at her heart. She would give anything to have that, but they were dead, the idea was absurd.
“It’s not possible,” she denied with a small amount of anger. “Why wish for something that can’t be?”
Kell smiled at her, and it was a smile that held a world of knowledge. Knowledge of things he knew, and she wasn’t a part of. She pulled her face back and knocked his hand away. As she studied him she watched his features soften and she knew whatever he was hiding was huge. She pushed herself off the ground and stood, a small tremble rippling through her tiny frame.
“What?” Emmalyn questioned with a hitch to her voice. She closed her eyes afraid of what he was about to tell her.
“You grew up believing your parents were dead. It was their wish you were told that to spare your feelings. They felt it cruel for you to grow up knowing they were alive and not be able to see them,” Kell explained softly.
Emmalyn heard him pushing off the ground to stand, but her whole body was concentrating on his words, and she was desperately trying not to fall apart. Two warms hands spanned her cheeks, and tears she didn’t even know she shed were gently brushed away.
“Open your eyes my wee warrior,” Kell softly requested. Emmalyn shook her head, deathly afraid to hope. She could feel Kell’s breath on her face as he sighed and knew he was bent down so they were eye level. He placed a small kiss on her forehead before he gave her more words.
“Your parents are alive and well,” Kell informed her. “And they are desperate to see you. It was them that sent me to the world you hid in, and it was them that asked me to bring you safely back to them.”
Emmalyn sucked in a huge breath as a sob ripped from her chest. She would have collapsed if Kell hadn’t moved so quickly and caught her. His arms wrapped tightly around her as he lowered them both to the ground and pulled her tight against his massive chest. She clung to him as she broke. She cried as his words slowly sunk in. The chance to see her parents again was something she couldn’t comprehend, but it was something she never thought she’d have.
“Leave us,” Kell ordered, and she barely noticed the men turning and backing into the trees. “Let it all out. I understand it’s a lot to take in, and I’m so terribly sorry you were made to believe they were dead. I honestly believe they did it out of love honey. You must understand the position your parents were in. They have lived also not being able to see you, and it has done damage. Imagine a parent not being able to watch their child grow. To miss out on all the milestones that other parents get to enjoy.”
Emmalyn thought about his words as she attempted to calm herself. Her sobs slowly turned into hitches, then they stopped altogether. She understood what he was saying, and she felt nothing but sympathy for them. If her life had been hard, theirs must have been harder.
“Can I meet them?” Emmalyn questioned, as she pushed away from his chest and stared into his eyes.
“Of course you can,” he grinned. Then he surprised her by leaning down and placing his lips against hers. The kiss was soft and sweet, and it took her breath away. She realized that Kell was beginning to mean the world to her, and it was a feeling she never would have had if she’d have stayed on her world. Things were changing, but with Kell and now knowing her parents were alive, it was a change she was embracing.