Chapter 13 - Kell
Kell left Emmalyn sitting comfortably on the blanket with some warmed up rabbit stew and dry bread. Torin remained by her side, wishing to check her wound once she was finished eating. Kell was hopeful that within the next day or two the wound would be healed enough they could remove the sling. When he himself had checked it the night before, a scab was forming. It wouldn’t be long until the stitches themselves would need to be taken out.
Oryn and Behr joined Kell as he traversed a small beaten down path through the woods, leading away from the small clearing they had stopped to rest in. It was evident they wanted a word, and Kell didn’t want Emmalyn to be within hearing distance. The conversation they just had, had gone better than he expected, and he didn’t wish anything to disturb the happy thoughts he had left her to. Emmalyn was surprising pleased her parents were alive and didn’t dwell on the fact she was lied to. She listened, she didn’t get angry, and she concentrated on the happy ending. Kell momentary considered that his wee warrior would make a good Queen. She possessed many endearing qualities that would gain the peoples favour. Kell wasn’t the least bit surprised that was the direction his thoughts were taking. Since he’d first laid eyes on Emmalyn, he found he was drawn to her. It would not be a hardship having her by his side for the foreseeable future, and he wondered if perhaps his pressing decision was already made.
“She took that well,” Behr commented the minute they hit a small break in the trees. Oryn nodded in agreement.
“She did,” Kell confirmed. “Although she was disappointed that we wouldn’t be heading directly to them.” Kell unfortunately had to explain to Emmalyn that at the moment it wasn’t safe to see them. Going there would draw the danger to their doorstep, and that was something Kell wasn’t willing to do. He had no idea who was out to kill her, and until he knew, he needed to play it smart.
“She understood,” Oryn pushed. “She listens with her head and doesn’t let her heart rule.”
“Not yet,” Kell smirked. “But she’s getting to know us better. I don’t think it will long before she’s ordering us around. She’s still healing and has the tea in her system. You saw her when she was fighting back in her world, she has a fire that is dimmed right now. Once that spark is lit again, she will no doubt be a ball of fire.”
“Maybe we should stock up on the tea,” Behr frowned. “Life would be easier with a compliant and docile female.”
“But the spark would be something to see,” Oryn countered. “A bit of fire and passion makes life interesting. You need someone that will test you once in a while, not someone who smiles and nod’s at everything you say.”
“I agree,” Kell stated as he scowled at Behr. “Would you honestly be happy with a submissive partner? I’d think you would tire of her and seek another.”
“Perhaps,” Behr admitted. “But it would be fun for a while.”
Oryn shook his head and steered the conversation back to the topic they all needed to discuss. “Why did you only admit her parents were alive? There are many other things you need to discuss with her.”
Kell leaned back against a tree and crossed his massive arms. “There are,” he agreed. “But she was beyond content. I had no desire to spoil that bit of happiness. Once I explain the rest, things will get tense. It isn’t time yet to tell her of the second reason I had for seeking her out.”
“So you finally made a decision regarding her, and your need to wed?” Oryn questioned.
“The choice is obvious,” Kell shrugged. “I refuse to marry Seraphine and there are no others of age to wed. I don’t care about the power a marriage to a princess will bring, I care about marrying someone that suits me. I need someone I can be proud of by my side, someone I can love, someone I can see growing with my babe.”
“You’re falling for the girl?” Behr questioned with a small smile.
“I am,” Kell didn’t deny. “I don’t like my hand being forced, but Emmalyn is someone I would happily consider spending a lifetime with. Even without this hanging over my head, I would choose her.”
“So we need to find a priest and get it done,” Oryn declared, causing Kell to grin.
“No,” Kell denied. “It can wait a week or more. The girl needs to be willing to marry me. It will only cause problems if I marry her without her consent, both for me and the realm.” Kell was pleased when both men considered this and then gave sharp nods.
“Time is of the essence,” Oryn pointed out. “I wouldn’t wait too long.”
“Are you going to let her in on the little fact that you can control the elements?” Behr questioned, bringing the conversation back around once more.
“I will, but again not immediately. I don’t want her afraid of me, but worry that will be the outcome,” Kell admitted.
“And you just relayed how reasonable and understanding she was with the information you shared about her parents. She may surprise you,” Behr pushed.
“True,” Kell conceded. “But I want to remain cautious. It is something I don’t wish to share with her just yet.”
“Again, I have to remind you time is of the essence,” Oryn pushed. “It may be a lot to spring on her at once, but you need to make her aware of them soon. Women like honesty, they do not like finding out things were withheld from them.”
Kell nodded but didn’t waver in his decision. The girl was strong, but one could only take so much. She needed time, and even though they had none to give her, Kell needed to make sure he found some. And they also needed time alone. Time without his warriors surrounding them. Time for her to get to know him as a man and not a leader.
“Oryn, ride ahead and see if you can find a village close by. Then discreetly find out if it has a small inn. We can ride for another couple hours before stopping for the night, but it would help my situation if I could provide Emmalyn decent accommodations for the night. She needs a real bed, a hot bath, and a good meal,” Kell ordered. “She needs to know my thoughts are on her, and that I’m thinking about her comfort.”
“A smart idea,” Behr grinned. “I’m sure she will appreciate the effort. The men can camp close by and some of us can get rooms that surround yours. A few extra coins for the innkeeper should keep his tongue from wagging about the warrior prince he has residing inside.”
Kell grinned as he turned and led the way back to the clearing. He had a plan for this evening, and it was a good one. His thoughts remained on his wee warrior as he pushed through the trees. He was looking forward to spending some time alone with her. He would make it clear they would be sharing a room and a bed, but he would give her time to adjust. There was no point pushing for more if she wasn’t ready, no matter how much he wished to enjoy her.
Kell cleared the trees and found Emmalyn sitting on the blanket where he had left her. He nodded his thanks to Torin and motioned the man away. When she looked up at him and he caught her eye, he gave her a small smile.
“I’ve sent Oryn ahead to see if he can locate an inn,” Kell informed her. “I think it’s time you got a proper nights rest and a bit of pampering.” At the word pampering her brow scrunched up in confusion. “A hot bath, a real bed, and a delicious meal,” he clarified.
“Oh, that sounds wonderful,” Emmalyn grinned. “But please don’t do that on my account. If it puts everyone in jeopardy, I’d be happy to continue camping along the way.”
Kell chuckled at the hopeful look on her face and ignored her practical words. “I’m sure it wouldn’t, but I could do with some pampering myself,” he lied.
She seemed relieved by his words, and nodded as if she was considering his comfort as well, before letting in too easily.
“Okay then, I’d like that,” Emmalyn finally agreed, and Kell has to bite back the laugh that threatened to escape.
“How is your arm?” Kell questioned in an attempt not to laugh.
“Torin said it’s healing nicely, and he hopes to take out the stitches in a couple days. He also said I should be able to remove the sling tomorrow. I’m still to be careful and he still wants it kept dry, but it’s a relief to know I’ll be free soon,” she grinned.
“Free?” Kell questioned, causing her expression to change to one of apology.
“Not hampered by this ridiculous sling. It’s a cut, not a broken arm. It makes no sense to have it wrapped up so much,” she clarified, causing Kell to lose his easy going attitude.
“It’s a deep slice made by the blade of a sword,” he growled. “You’re damn lucky you didn’t lose the arm. Both Beatrice and Torin have got you wrapped up so tightly because they understand I’ll take their head if they don’t do everything they can to see you on the mend.”
“You’d take their head?” Emmalyn accused as she paled slightly.
“Sweetheart, I have been tasked with seeing you to safety, and I take that seriously. When you meet your parents, I wish to have you stand before them without being on your deathbed,” Kell angrily admonished.
“I understand,” Emmalyn apologized immediately. “I don’t mean to question you, I’m just at my wits end. It’s frustrating not being able to do the simplest of tasks, and I’m not good at sitting around and not being able to do my share.”
Kell softened his features, crouched down beside her, and brushed a tendril of hair from her face. “You’re not a burden, me and my warriors are happy to be doing things for you. You should take advantage of it while you can,” he smirked.
Then Kell winked at her before turning and sauntering away. They had an inn to find, and it was time to pack up and see to that.