Chapter 18 - Kell
Kell woke early. He was eager to pack up camp and push for home. With assassin’s attacking them last night, he was eager to get Emmalyn somewhere more secure, somewhere he could better protect her. His home was impenetrable and was the only logical solution, he just needed to get her there. Emmalyn sighed, letting him know she was awake. The girl had draped herself across his chest during the night and curled into his warmth. It was another thing about her he cherished.
“It’s too early,” his wee warrior groggily complained as she shoved her face in his neck. Kell chuckled while tightening his grip and pushing up into a sitting position, taking her slight frame with him.
“Really?” Emmalyn grouched as she pulled back to stare up at him. “You had to do that?”
“I’m anxious to be off,” Kell grinned, as he eyed her arm.
After last night he hadn’t pushed for her to put the sling back on. It wasn’t necessary, and he knew she disliked it. But it brought a question to mind about her method of travel and how she wished to proceed.
“I’ll get the men to put together a light breakfast and have Torin remove your stitches before we get underway,” Kell explained. When she nodded, he continued. “With your arm out of the sling, I need to know if you wish a horse of your own? I can only assume Mathias taught you to ride.”
Emmalyn smiled at the mention of her protectors name. “I can ride,” she agreed. “Although I would prefer to ride with you,” she admitted with a pretty blush. “I enjoy riding with you, and even though I am quite skilled, I don’t believe I could keep up with your gruelling pace.”
“Gruelling pace?” Kell smirked.
“Yep,” she grinned. “You ride like the hounds of hell are at your heels. You fly through the trees at dizzying speeds.”
“Then you will continue to ride with me,” Kell confirmed. He had planned on keeping her with him anyway, but he needed to give her the choice. He was just glad she picked the right one.
Emmalyn sighed and looked shyly away. “I like to be close to you. It almost feels like a need. I’m lost when you leave my sight. There is no reasonable explanation why I feel this way, and I realize it’s silly, but it’s how I feel.”
Kell frowned at her, suddenly realizing it was the exact same way with him. Each time he had stepped away to have words with his men, he felt the same need to return to her. She was constantly on his mind, and he couldn’t help wanting her close. It was baffling. He had been raised knowing he was duty-bound to wed a princess, but not a soul mentioned there would only be one that was meant for him. Kell knew both he and Emmalyn had felt an instant chemistry when they met, and even now with it only being such a short time, they should not have been as close as they were. Also, Emmalyn easily accepted things that she should not have.
“Do you find it odd that we match so well?” Kell softly asked her, wanting her point of view on things. When she furrowed her brow in confusion he elaborated. “First, there is a definite pull between us. Second, there must be a reason they targeted you after your birth. Third, you have accepted your new life far too easily. Fourth, you recklessly court death by fighting at my side.” Kell would have continued, but she held up her hand to stop him.
“You think we are meant to be together?” Emmalyn questioned with surprise. “That there is a higher power at work. That we have always been destined to be together.”
“It seems to be the case,” Kell confirmed. “I can’t deny it, especially with all the proof. You suit me in every way, and several times I have had the thought that you were made specifically for me.”
Emmalyn nodded as she rubbed at her temple. “As I’ve explained before, I’ve always felt like I haven’t belonged. No one accepted me. But with you I feel different. I feel like I am finally where I belong.” Emmalyn jerked back as if something else just occurred to her, and Kell narrowed his eyes.
“What?” he pushed, needing to know what suddenly had her riled up.
“Our eyes,” Emmalyn practically shouted. “Why are we the only two with such odd eyes?”
Kell was furious with himself for momentarily forgetting that. “Jesus,” he cursed. He had so many questions, he didn’t know where to start. Someone must have more knowledge about what was happening between them, Kell just needed to figure out who. It could be his parents, her parents, the council, or any number of people. But one thing was for sure, there was a lot more at work here than what they had told him. Kell needed to think, and figure out what the hell was going on, but he didn’t have time. Emmalyn’s safety was his priority.
“We need to move,” Kell grunted in frustration. “There will be time to talk more and get to the bottom of things, but now is not that time. I need to get back to my kingdom. It is the only place where I can protect you without fear of an attack.”
“Can you honestly say I’ll be safe there?” Emmalyn whispered, and he knew it was hard for her to question that.
Kell dropped his head so his forehead rested against hers. “I don’t know,” he reluctantly admitted. “I’m afraid I’m not sure of anything anymore.”
Emmalyn’s small hands lifted, and he felt their warmth on his cheeks. “I’m sorry this is happening Kell. My coming here has disrupted your life and is causing you pain.”
“No,” Kell growled as he raised his own hands to her cheeks. “Your coming here has been the best thing to ever happen to me. Never think otherwise. You mean everything to me.”
A small smile ghosted her lips, and her her eyes closed. Kell instantly understood this was exactly where they were both meant to me, and he needed to tell her that.
“No matter what is at work here, whether it be fate, magic or destiny, I love you. And that is something I know in my heart. It’s definitely not because I’m being pushed in that direction. I’m a hardened warrior. I’m cold and ruthless, but you’ve brought out a tender side in me. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want you by my side in all things, and in all ways,” Kell declared as his eyes turned heated.
“I’m here to stay,” Emmalyn replied, her eyes turning heated as well. “I’m yours Kell, for as long as you want me.”
Kell could see she meant every word. The thought of marriage suddenly no longer angered him. It was time to take that step, and it would be Emmalyn who would be his bride. He was ready to fulfil his destiny. As soon as he had that thought he calmed. A sense of peace settled over him, and he knew it was the right decision. Kell pushed back a little so he could see her better and caught sight of Behr standing just beyond the edge of the trees. The warrior had his arms crossed and was looking on impatiently, and Kell assumed it was because he had news of the traitor.
“Goddammit,” he grunted, as he turned his attention back to Emmalyn. “I need to speak with one of my warriors,” he informed her. “It’s bad timing, and for that I humbly apologize. We will continue this conversation when I’m done. We have much more to discuss.”
Emmalyn frowned, then twisted to look in the direction he had looked only a moment ago. “Behr,” she sighed when she caught sight of the warrior. “I really hope that when we get back to your Kingdom you have locks on the doors, because these interruptions are pissing me off.”
Kell grinned at her as he shook his head. She always surprised him by readily accepting things and then making humorous remarks to ease his mind. “We have locks sweetheart,” he assured her.
“Good,” she huffed. “Now let’s go see what dire news he’s going to impart on us this time.” Then his wee warrior jumped nimbly to her feet and set off in Behr’s direction, leaving Kell no choice but to follow, or get left behind.
“You found him,” Kell announced before Emmalyn could get a word in. She wrinkled her nose in confusion and turned to look up at him.
“Found who?” she questioned as Behr gave him a sharp nod.
“The warrior that betrayed me and gave our location to whoever the hell attempted to kill us last night,” Kell growled in answer.
“Oh my god,” Emmalyn cried as she spun back to Behr. “Is that true?”
“It is,” Behr confirmed. “Although I didn’t find him, he found me.”
“Explain,” Kell demanded as he pulled Emmalyn tightly into his side.
“He sought me out and confessed. The warrior was riddled with guilt and shame. He came to me knowing it may cost his loved one her life,” Behr explained.
“Then we must help him,” Emmalyn interrupted. “I don’t understand fully what is going on, but it’s obvious the man didn’t betray you.”
Kell didn’t respond, because regardless the man did still turn traitor. He understood why, but that changed nothing regarding his actions.
“Take me to him,” Kell ordered, and Behr spun, immediately pushing into the dense woods.
They walked for only a minute before Behr pointed to a spot that had a small break in the trees. There stood one of his younger warriors, and he was someone that held a huge amount of potential. The warrior had proven himself over and over and had rose through the ranks quickly. None of the men had been surprised when he had been chosen to accompany them.
“Darrow,” Kell snapped, causing the warrior to jerk his head up. He was annoyed the man hadn’t heard them approach, but it was easy to see he was deep in his head.
“My lord,” Darrow greeted in return, as he tried his best to wipe the worry from his face.
Kell knew why he had been picked by the assassins, and he cursed himself for his stupidity. If Kell would have taken a minute to think, before rushing off to the portal, he never would have taken him. It was a move he should have anticipated. The warrior had only just married, and he was smitten with his pretty bride. Darrow constantly paraded her around to show her off, and he was almost ridiculous in his displays of affection. If Kell had been looking for someone he could threaten, Darrow would have been his choice as well.