“Going to cool off.” She spat. Rage making her eyes glitter.
If I can't, why should you get to? His lips whitened.
“I hear water that way.” She finished staring ahead.
And refusing to look at me.
“How, in that fool head of yours, can wandering off alone through Firoque territory sound like a fine plan? Especially when their king wants you badly enough to make offers to the realms for you.”
Her lips tightened and her eyes narrowed.
Itching for a fight. Bracing himself, his jaw tightened. He drew all the nasty remarks he could muster to the forefront of his mind.
And there are plenty enough to give her a taste of her own venom.
“Oh if you want a fight, My Dear, you’ve come to the right place!” He gave her a cold smirk and cocked his head. Waiting.
I've been waiting for this for a long, long time.
Than the shine vanished from her gaze and her eyes darkened with what could only be pain. Her lips relaxed and her shoulders dropped.
Utterly deflated, he stared at her in confusion. She's giving up?
When finally I thought I'd get to say all the things that've crossed my mind after all these years?
Of course she would.
She studied the ground. Before blowing out a long breath. “I’m going Scythe.”
Shoving his chest she passed him.
In another effort to flee me.
“Going where?” He called after her. "There's perilously few places to hide from me out here."
She said nothing. Didn't even look back.
Tossing his arms he said aggravatedly. “You’re giving up? You never give up on anything!” Momentary concern softened his features. “It’s not safe for you alone out here.”
She gave him a sideways glance.
He added softly. “Where are you going?”
“To bathe in the pool. To think.”
“What’s wrong with you?” Now his voice was overly harsh, as he attempted to compensate for his weakness.
Why worry for her? She certainly never worried about what'd happen to me after she left!
“This isn’t about you and me, Scythe.” She called over her shoulder. “It’s about my son.”
Feeling properly put in his place he quieted.
“And for that” She finished softly. “I’d endure anything. Even you.”
Swallowing hard, he watched her. Feeling pain slice through him.
Fool! He gritted his teeth at his own stupidity.
“Never again.” He promised himself under his breath. Watching her a moment, he considered leaving this mission altogether.
But I did give my word.
But despite the sting of her words, the knowledge she wasn't safe alone in these woods, forced him to stay with her. Moving silently through the trees he kept her in view.
When she stepped from her dress and began wading into the water, he drew a quick breath and ducked behind a tree. Pushing his back against it he tried to stop the vision of her body shining in fading light like a pearl, from permeating his mind. The soft spread of her hair reached like fingers as the water swallowed her curves.
Brushing sweat from his forehead and around his brows, he blew out a choked breath. Steam formed from his lips into the frosty air. He slumped against the tree, bow dangling. Trying to force her image to the back of his mind. And squelch the memories flooding his mind. Including the feel of her soft skin.
Feeling heat at his back, he leaned forward. Unaware of the silhouette he’d already burned into the tree bark.
A strange sort of calm pain began to seep into every fiber of his being.
I need to salvage my hatred.
Her words had cut him.
But she's right. She has a son out there in danger. And that trumps even my game of cat and mouse. He sat rubbing his face. Squatted against the tree trying not to think about that warm sensual body being lapped by ripples of cold water. He shook his head roughly.
Trying so hard not to focus on the sounds of her washing, he barely heard the slosh of her rising from the lake. Teeth gritted he stared at the ground. Fingers burrowing into the dirt, leaves and moss as he concentrated his control.
The ground quaked and trees budded with tiny new branches. Vines climbed from the dirt to wind around the trunks. Rolling from under the leaves and clambering over logs as they reached from where he touched the ground.
A bare expanse of leg moved into his peripheral.
He followed that long silky length up into the parted folds of her cloak. She stared down at him knowingly. Lifting her chin slightly she looked down at him.
No. We'll not discuss this.
And she can't know what's happening to me. Blowing out a long breath, he rose to stare down at her darkly.
Ask me and I'll surely put you in your place.
All shreds of his temporary weakness was gone.
Never. Never again will she destroy me.