It was midmorning by now, and the sun had shown throughout the cave, letting us know of its presence. We hadnít moved from the bed ever since Calder lifted me off my weak knees and gently laid me down after our kiss. I couldnít really tell you what I felt during the kiss because it all came out in a rush of emotion. I can tell you though, I felt relief among all of them; relief in knowing Calder is indeed attracted to me. Relief in knowing maybe this would work out. Maybe it was just the insecure little girl inside me, but I was always afraid of being pushed away. Just like my mother did.
Lying here now, I could still feel Calderís lips grazing against mine, and almost begging for more, even when he backed off after given the opportunity to explore me when my mouth opened. Calder lay next to me letting me doze every so often, never leaving my side. My head often nuzzled against his shoulder and our hands were always intertwined.
Waking up from a strange half asleep kind of nap, I lifted my chin to see into Calderís eyes. He was staring up at the rock ceiling gazing blankly up at the stalactites. I watched him long enough to count the seconds until Calder would blink. He never did. Breathing deeply in through my nose and then lightly out my mouth, I could smell the faint scent of ash. It was the smell heís carried with him ever since we rescued him, and its been slowly disappearing. Breathing in again I could smell fresh snow and pine.
Coming from fire myself, it was almost refreshing to smell something so cool. It was refreshing. The scent of pine calmed my nerves and gently put me back to sleep.
I realized the next time I awoke that it wasnít of my own accord. An arm that had been wrapped around me a while ago was now holding me like a strong python. I was confused as to why this was happening, and once my blurry eyes could see clearly, I found Calderís worried face pulled into a scowl. It was almost a fearful one at that.
He took in labored breaths like he was seeing something again, and he couldnít fight his way out of the memory.
It surprised me this time that he was able to call out my name, ìKenna,î but it was weak and pleading for some assistance.
I sat up on an elbow, loosening his hold on me, and leaned over him to break his eye contact with the hanging stalactites. “Right here. I’m right here, Calder.” Sitting up completely, and placing my hands on both sides of Calder’s face, I could feel his cool cheeks.
“I can’t stop it.” Calder was referring to whatever horrid memory he was having. Whether it was from hell or his past life I wasn’t sure.
“Then don’t try to stop it. Just let it play out.” I responded. “I’m right here.”
Calder started panting under his breath and his face twisted in panic. I didn’t know what was going on, but this remembrance was a bad one.
“Calder.” I called to him, in my most calming voice pouring my nymph ability to seduce into it as well. “Calder, I’m right here baby.”
“Keep talking.” He was calming but his breaths were shallow like he was holding something back. The way his body tensed...I suspected it was a memory from hell. Both arms now pinned to the bed by an invisible force.
I paused, not quite sure what to say, and then I told him about the time I would have nightmares. And the nights after, I would be too terrified to fall asleep. “And my mother would just ignore us all.” I finished, my voice as emotionally hurt as I felt. I’ve never told anyone how I truly felt. “And my sisters would comfort me. We were there for each other. Always.” I haven’t noticed yet that Calder had calmed down and was now holding me instead of the other way around.
I was so caught up in my own damn emotions that I jumped when he said my name. Not from a distance like he could only hear me. He was right there with me. “Come ‘ere.” He was looking at me with a knowing worried look.
I looked back, afraid of what he thought of me, now that I let myself release one of the worst parts of my past. It was always under lock and key in the back of my mind. Those memories never come out. Ever.
And they just did. And I was afraid, feeling vulnerable. I was not moving closer, but pulling away, Calder’s eyebrows pulled together. “Kenna, come here. It’s okay.” He wasn’t sure why I was pulling away.
I shook my head not sure what to do. I pulled away more and Calder’s hand shot out. I looked down at his thick perfect fingers and the big hand that wove itself through my hair. I looked up and watched as he breathed out of his mouth and his lips moved. Lips that played with mine. Lips I wanted to kiss again. “Calder.” It sounded like I was pleading with him.
“Kenna, Come here.” There was a demand to his tone, and I felt this pull in my chest to comply.
I came closer and as I did Calder reached out with his other hand to cup my chin, bringing my lips gently to his. He pulled away just enough to speak, and as he did his lips brushed against mine. “We’ll get through this. Together. Okay?”
I nodded my head, letting out a breath over his lips, and I could feel him shudder underneath me. I gave him a slow gentle kiss, providing him with the ‘thank you’ I wanted to say but couldn’t because my throat was constricted.
As we slowly settled back down, me resting my head above his beating heart, a trust started to bloom between us. Trust only mates could acquire. It was weak, easily breakable, but it was there between us, getting stronger every second from this moment on.
It’s been a few days and Calder can’t seem to leave my side. Well to be honest I can’t leave his either. I turn around and find myself wanting to be held in his embrace. The way he watched me. It gave me this feeling. This feeling that left me desperate for more...more of him. More of his touch, more of that connected feeling we’ve harbored already. More of... him.
Feeling his eyes on me now a tingle ran down my spine, and I turn to stare right back. For the first time Calder isn’t the one to break eye contact. For the first time it’s me, while blushing at the same time; heat rising up my neck.
Calder does this slow sexy smile. A predator about to pounce on its dinner. We were getting ready to go to Paxton, and I was covering myself up again. Obviously I don’t go into the village the way I dress in the wilderness...anymore at least. Calder stalked closer and its like time slowed...everything goes into slow mo. His thick, strong fingers find my waist and he pulled my softness against his muscled torso. Our eyes never loosing their connection.
I had no idea what he was up to. “What?” don’t smile don’t smile. I was pursing my lips trying to keep a grin from stretching my face.
Calder made an animalistic sound from the back of his throat and responded. “I can’t help myself when you’re standing right there.” He indicated where I’m standing as he said this. “And stop puckering your lips or I’m going to have to kiss them.”
Okay, that’s just it. Throwing my head back I laughed, which subsided with a giggle...or two. Looking back at Calder now he had shock and an ounce of pleasure written all over his face.
“What?” I asked again.
Calder shook his head in disbelief. “I’ve never heard you laugh before. It’s beautiful.”
I giggled again, not able to hold it back. Great, either I’m getting giddy or I’m starting to find my girly, insecure side.
Calder smiles and rubs both thumbs in small circles against my bare hips. My skin tingled from his cool touch. I reached down to grab at his wrists and responded breathily, “If we don’t leave now we’re never gonna leave.”
Getting brave, Calder responded, “We can stay here. I don’t mind. We could cuddle and kiss and maybe even tease each other.” He finished raising his eye suggestively.
My eyebrows lowered. Was he just implying what I think he was implying. I looked back up at him, and with a force I had to dig up I pushed his hands away. “No, I promised Camira I’d go with her to Paxton, and you’re coming with.”
“I’m coming with because we can’t leave each other’s side.”
I raised my eyebrows and my eyes turned into slits. “Are you complaining?” I was so going to kill him ñ not really. Probably just threaten him ñ if he was.
Calder’s eyes widened. “No! Why would I be complaining?”
I turned my back searching for my two daggers. Always safe rather than sorry. “I really don’t know why you would be, Calder.” I responded, with a flat tone.
I went up to the mattress and ran my hand under it. “Where the hell -” I was going to be royally pissed if I lost those babies. I won them from a fight after all. My hand scrapped over a sharp edge. “Ouch! Dammit.” It was one of my daggers and I was careful to find the pummel, and grabbed it with my slim fingers. Lifting it up to the provided light from the caves mouth, I smiled. The sun hit the edge, making it sparkle. One down, one to go. I figured if one dagger was here the other was close behind. “Come on.” I felt a sudden rise of panic hit me in the chest. I can’t lose my baby. “Where the hell are you! Crap!” The last word was spoken on a tight whine coming from my throat.
“Kenna? What’s the matter?” I could feel Calder’s presence on my back now, and turned to see him over my shoulder.
“I can’t find my baby.” I was practically whining now, but there was an angry undertone to it.
“What?” He was so confused; I wanted to laugh again.
I did actually, but it was a hysterical one. I cannot lose one of my prized daggers. This is not happening today. Not to me.
I huffed and stood up again with my first baby in one hand, my anger flared and I grabbed the mattress to flip it over.
“Wait, Kenna!” Calder was unsure about my next move. He’s never seen me mad before. And yes, I’m not to the point of pissed yet. I’m so damn close though, it’s not even funny anymore.
After the pause to assess why Calder was so shocked I flipped the mattress over. It flew to the other wall and I stared down at what lie underneath.
I was pissed off. My temperature raised another couple notches and I didn’t care anymore if I shot fire out of my ass. Yes, that’s what I said...Fire coming out my ass. Or if steam came out my ears, for that matter.
Passing Calder with a death grip on my only found baby, I rushed down the cave to find Kaia. Rushing into her room before I was aloud in, I found her on the floor with her hands stuck in a mud puddle.
“Kaia, where is my other dagger!” I demanded, and my inner heat-o-mometer shot up another couple notches. At this point if I really wanted to I could let the heat take over my body, and I could produce some major destruction around here.
Kaia stood up abruptly and spoke to me as if I were a little girl again about to explode. “Kenna, calm your self. I’ll help you find it, its fine.”
My nostrils flared and I waved the dagger, the one I found, dangerously close to her face. I must have stalked closer without realizing it. Kaia’s eyes widened quickly. She hasn’t seen me this pissed since we left mother years ago. “Kenna.” At this point my sister could do nothing but call out my name, and hope that I could calm down before anything happens.
I was getting so hot. I needed a release. It was building up quickly and I didn’t want to hold it back any longer. I looked around the room quickly, like an animal with rabies. The only outlet I found was the woman standing in front of me, tense. I grabbed onto her, no recognition of who she was clicked inside me. My hands grew hotter around her arms and a tear slide down her cheek. It sizzled away evaporating in the air around us.
Her face was turning red and I had no more control over my mind. I only thought of the woman in front of me, looking like an enemy and repeatedly flashed one word across my eyesight. KILL. KILL. KILL.
“KENNA!” A booming scratchy voice yelled at my back. “Kenna, stop!”
I turned; my mind only thinking of the other enemy that stood behind me. It was a large man who stood with his legs spread. A fighting stance. I forgot about the woman, who now stood gasping behind me, and focused on my next target.
He rushed to meet me in the middle of the room. That was different. It wasn’t right. Because of his rush to meet me I was thrown off my thought process for a minute, and I stared at the man in front of me.
He loomed over me, creating a large shadow. A threat. My hand reached out to grab his neck. The fastest way to kill your enemy...other than snapping their neck.
He grabbed my wrist before I could even touch his skin. Thatís fine; Iíll just use my other hand. I went to grab for his neck again. He snatched my wrist...again!
A strangled, frustrated scream came from my throat, but never escaped my lips because they stayed closed in a tight line, my teeth grinding together. I looked up into the man’s face. It was blurred with the furry and confusion that coursed through me. No one has ever been able to stop me. No one. Why him? What the hell? Why him!!
I started to pull at the restraint he had with his hands. He wouldn’t let go and was too strong. Whatever. It’s happened like this before. I pulled my knee up and planned to jam it where it hurt most.
The hulk standing in front of me turned his body. I made contact with his hip instead. Gahh!!! Who does he think he is!!
“Kenna! Kenna, Kenna....” A voice registered through me and it started out angry and began to get softer the more I struggled.
I looked up into the man’s face and found his lips moving. He was the one saying my name. How does he know my name? I wanted to know. And I was going to get the answer. Now.
Before I could demand an answer from him he grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled me in for a tight hug. I could hear his whisper in my ear. “Shhh, Kenna.” His voice was gravely, and a shiver ran down my spine.
“I’m here, shhh.”
I stopped struggling and began to relax in his embrace. Breathing evenly now, I could feel his heart thump as wild as mine under my ear.
He let out a breath, “We’ll find your other dagger. Its okay.” His voice was soothing, but the content of what he just said got through just fine.
I stiffened and my hands started to burn again. My body became ridged, and I started to push at the man who smelled familiarly like pine. I lost a dagger!
He couldn’t see me but he could feel the way I tensed, and held me tighter when just earlier he started to loosen his hold. “Kenna. Stop. Don’t do this.” He knew I was going to explode soon. How? He couldn’t have been my mate. Only a mate could feel what I felt.
“Kenna,” He mumbled and then started kissing down my collarbone and then up my neck. On instinct, when I wanted to resist, my neck stretched out for more access. He kissed up my neck, lingering long enough to flick his tongue out, and I moaned his name. “Calder.”
Calder? Wait! Calder? My mate, the man I would never hurt. Never even think about it. Oh my god! What have I done? Is he okay? Did I hurt Calder. Oh god, if I hurt Calder in any way...
“Yes, I’m here.” Calder mumbled, as he reached my jaw. He backtracked kissing the sensitive area behind my ear.
“Calder.” It came out as a question but ended as a demand.
He laughed under his breath and puffs of air cooled my neck as he nuzzled the point between my shoulder and neck. Calder was no longer holding me possessive-like and I took his chin in my fingers before he could lick me again. A needy feeling rushed through me as his lips came into view, and I brought them down on mine. Dammit, for the way he teased me. Calder had no right to do so. Or was he trying to bring me down from one of my heated temper tantrums?
We kissed until I could feel nothing but lust drive through my veins. And then I heard the gasp of my sister behind us.
We slowly pulled away from one another, and I gave Calder a questioning look. He shook his head, not knowing what had happened.