Chapter 32 - Emmalyn
Emmalyn glanced warily at Kell as she rode beside him down the gravel road. They had left the forests behind and were traveling where they could be seen. She was grateful, but she was also terrified. Since she had met him his sole focus had been on getting her to his kingdom unseen. Now he had thrown that out the window.
They were leading a contingency of warriors, an amount so huge she couldn’t count them all. There had to be two hundred at least. And Kell had replaced his tunic and pants with full battle gear. It was definitely a sight to behold, and would place fear in even the hardest of men. His legs were encased in thick black leather pants. He switched his suede boots out for leather ones that buckled at the top. He wore a tight black leather jacket that showcased his bulk, and his hands were encased in black gloves. Kell wore thick brown leather shoulder pads strapped to his upper arms and matching pads that started at his wrists and traveled up to his elbows. He also wore a black leather tunic over the jacket, held closed with several thick belts. The last item was a huge menacing looking sword that hung from one of the belts and dangled from his side.
It was a scary sight, but it was the look on his face that gave her pause. The man was scowling, and it was the type of scowl that told you bad things were about to happen. All his warriors were dressed similarly, although not in as much leather as him, and all had the same scowl. Gone were the teasing and fun loving men she had come to love. In their place were men she barely recognized.
Emmalyn shivered as she wrapped her cape tighter around her. She wore a thick ice blue gown that was trimmed in gold lace. Her hair was still braided, but she had twisted it up around her head and held it in place with tiny gold clips. Her cape was black like Kell’s clothes, and it made the colour of her dress stand out. Apparently word had spread that he had gone off to retrieve the princess, and it was now up to her to play the part.
As they passed through small villages and towns people lined the streets to watch the procession. Kell nodded at a few, but otherwise kept his eyes locked straight ahead. He was clearly the Elemental Prince they knew him to be. Behr had instructed her to do the same, but she couldn’t. Emmalyn scanned the people, and if she caught their eye she smiled. They all wore expressions of disbelief each time she did so, and then they would slowly smile back.
As they moved passed another village, Behr moved up to her side. “You can’t help winning over everyone can you?” he chuckled, as Kell glanced her way and sighed.
“You are a princess, and the people are used to being snubbed by the royals. Yet you ride through the village and smile at them all as if they are all close friends of yours,” Kell smirked.
Emmalyn relaxed immediately and grinned at him, happy to see him lighter, if only for a minute.
“I don’t want them to think I am above them. I grew up just like they did, and I’m no better. And I don’t want them to hate me,” Emmalyn admitted. “I saw the looks both your men and my parents gave Seraphine, and I don’t want looks like that aimed at me.”
“No one could hate you,” Behr promised her. “You won us over before you even uttered a word. Kell is loved and respected, even if he is feared. You will be loved and respected as well.”
“Word will spread of how you favoured each villager with a smile,” Oryn added from further back. “And word will spread of your beauty. You will be beloved by all.”
Emmalyn grinned at him and turned back to Kell. “Do you think this will work? Taking the fight out into the open?”
“I’m not one to sit back and wait,” Kell reminded her. “I hope that by stepping things up and going after the ones I feel could be responsible, I will draw out the true enemy.”
“So you will remain in this form until we find them?” Emmalyn frowned.
She loved getting to know this side of Kell, and understood it was a part of him, but she needed the compassionate side too. He had fully explained to her what he intended to do, and she had agreed. She wanted this over, and he had every hope that this would end it. His nights would be hers, but during the day when they were observed, he wanted people wary of him.
“I love you my wee warrior,” Kell proclaimed as he moved Zephyr close to her side. “I am sorry we have to proceed this way, but I see no other way to handle this. I want the threat eliminated. I want to start my life with you without this hanging over our heads.”
“I know,” Emmalyn huffed. “But this dress is ridiculous, and it’s not at all me. I grew up in an apartment, not a castle. I went camping, not to balls. And Mathias taught me to fight and protect myself. What he did not do was teach me to curtesy and act all sophisticated.”
“Sophisticated?” Behr snorted causing Kell to shoot him a murderous glare.
“What do you propose sweetheart?” Kell questioned, as he leaned over and wrapped his large hand around the back of her neck. Emmalyn reciprocated by leaning forward as well and placing her palms on his cheeks. Barely an inch separated them.
“I don’t mind the dresses I wore while we were traveling, but if I am to be by your side, I think I need to change it up,” Emmalyn declared with a smirk. “We need to show both the people and our enemies I belong with you.”
“We don’t want to give too much away,” Kell cautioned as he studied her, and she knew he was trying to figure her out.
“The way I dress will in no way give away the fact I have powers. I’ve seen Seraphine. I want to show she is not a match for you. I want to show I am instead.”
“And how would you like to dress?” Kell inquired, as his thumb stroked the back of her neck.
“Similar to you, only with a female twist. Maybe get me a black dress like the ones I was wearing before. I want it to be comfortable. I need to be able to fight in it. I want similar boots, and a vest or leather jacket to go over it. And maybe a sword like yours, but lighter and much smaller,” Emmalyn added as an afterthought.
Kell eyed her a minute, then used his hold on her neck to pull her in. She gasped as his lips slammed against hers and he ravished her mouth. It was a kiss that showed exactly how much he liked her idea. When he pulled away, she couldn’t help grinning at the man.
“Oryn,” Kell grunted. “Ride ahead and see to it. The next village is about two hours away. Tell the local seamstress to have it ready when we arrive. I want three similar dress, but in varying styles. Tell her that her time, and that of any others assisting her, will be handsomely rewarded. Make it clear it is for my love, and I will be indebted to her.”
“Of course,” Oryn replied with a grin in his voice. Then she heard a shout and the pounding of hooves, and she knew the man had left to do Kell’s bidding.
“Time and again you surprise me,” Kell whispered. “The day I stepped through that portal was the day I found my other half. You complete me Emmalyn.”
“As do you,” Emmalyn softly replied.
They separated and continued on, and Emmalyn was more relaxed now that Kell was in agreement with her. She had expected an argument, but Kell hadn’t even batted an eye. He simply ordered her wishes to be followed. It showed his respect for her, and she loved him for it.
As they neared the village, Oryn appeared on the trail with a large package strapped to his horse. He was grinning, and Emmalyn knew he’d been successful. She spurred Beauty on and raced to his side. Without a word he unstrapped it and dropped from his horse. She slid down as well and practically bounced with anticipation.
“I have all the items you requested,” Oryn grinned as he handed the package to her. It was heavy, and her small frame staggered from the weight. Then Kell was against her and giving her a steadying hand. She tipped her head back and kissed the underside of his chin in thanks.
“Help me get this monstrosity off?” Emmalyn questioned as she batted her eyelashes. She grinned when his eyes darkened.
“I helped you get that monstrosity on,” Kell reminded her, and she felt her cheeks warm with her blush.
“Right, maybe I should do this myself,” Emmalyn hedged, as she slowly backed away from him.
Kell grinned wickedly, causing her to squeal and run. His footsteps pounded after her, and she didn’t make it far before he scooped her up, package and all.
“I guess we’ll break here for a while,” Behr shouted after them, causing the warriors within hearing distance to laugh.
Emmalyn held on as Kell powered into the trees without a backwards glance. His strides ate up the ground until they broke into a clearing. Huge weeping willow trees surrounded it and gave the space a sense of privacy. The ground was covered in a mixture of bright green moss and grass, and tiny yellow flowers danced throughout it.
“How do you find these hidden gems?” Emmalyn questioned as she tried to take everything in.
“I travel a lot sweetheart, and I make it a point to remember such things,” Kell replied, as he set her on her feet and spun her around so her back was to him.
She felt his hands trail across her neck and down to the ribbons holding her cape together at the front. A quick tug and it fell to the ground. Then he was working the intricate ties crisscrossing her back. As each one gave way he softly kissed the skin it revealed. When the dress fell to join the cape, Emmalyn was a puddle of goo. Kell gently pushed her down and disrobed himself, before joining her. Then his hands were on her, massaging and kissing everywhere he could reach. By the time he entered her she was so worked up she exploded, bringing a deep growl from his chest. All she could do after that was hold on and enjoy the ride.