XXIX. Attack on Bandits
"Well, we're here to save your future sister-in-law. That should count as something," Magnus said before they were putting on their battle gears. Will was putting his custom-made arrows into the quiver before he slung his bow across his back.
"And if we did succeed, what do I get from this adventure?" he asked before James turned to look at him.
"You will not be dead by my hands, that's the deal," he said as Will was blinking his eyes at his brother. He never thought that he would be looking at James, who was known to be a notorious rake, to be a brooding bastard.
That was his mask, not James'.
"Okay, quiet. We're here and I think from the last time, they might anticipate that we ambush them. But this time, I will not have that kind of plan. We have to get them from the trees and they will not be guessing where we are," Magnus said as they were looking at the smoke that gave away the location of the bandits.
Seriously, did they learn anything from last time? Perhaps nothing.
"I got that covered. You guys better make sure that we will be home before the sun is rising," Will said before he went climbing onto the trees and looked out for potential bandits among them. Then, Magnus and James got to work.
Magnus will be moving in from the left side of the camp where Will will be making from the right side of the camp. They will be shooting arrows from the trees and James will sweep in to locate Darla.
But first, distraction.
During his time in Hamptor, James picked up some interesting skills from his colleagues and one of them was making bombs. Now, he brought one of the bombs that he made back in Fiktown and set it up. After that, he flicked the switch and everything went south.
There was shouting and the bandits were running around. Magnus shot the special arrow that indicated where Darla would be. She was underneath the carriage before the leader was making his way to the center of the fight.
James slipped under the carriage as he was putting his hand on Darla's ankle. He pulled her to get out under the carriage. But she shrieked instead. Then, James put his hand against her mouth, only to be bitten by her.
"Tarnation," he cursed before Darla was turning to look at him. James was looking at the woman that made his heart beat faster as her amber orbs were shining under the dim light from the fire and explosion that was happening.
Lady Darla Lockwood could not have been more beautiful.
Then, she did something that James would never expect her to do. She pulled him down and kissed him on the lips. James was shocked to respond at first before he grunted and kissed her savagely. It was having an unexpected present from the ball.
Darla was being bold as she was roaming her hands and was about to get James to be one with her when he refused and shook his head.
"Not here, we have to get to Red Cast first," James said before he was pulling Darla out from under the carriage and went out of the bandits' lair. James was holding her hand tight for he refused to let her go.
They were at the rendezvous point when Magnus and William were jumping from the trees as they were storing their bows and smiled when they saw Darla.
"My lady, I hope you are well," Magnus said before Darla nodded weakly.
"We should get a move on. I don't want to stick around when their leader escaped," Will said before they were moving to mount their horses and went back to where they came from. Darla rode with James as she was hugging his cloak tightly to her body as he put his hand around her waist, securing her in front of him as they rode hard to go back to Red Cast.
Darla must have been falling asleep when James pulled the rein and turned around to look at his brothers. He had something to say as he knew that they should not be making their way to Red Cast after this traumatic experience for Darla.
He was just looking out for Darla, his future wife.
"I think it would be a good idea for me to set out for Fiktown. We will be settling down at the manor. You guys go ahead to Red Cast and I will meet you there when Darla is well enough to travel," James said as he was looking at his brothers.
Magnus and Will glanced at each other. Then, Magnus cleared his throat.
"Would that be the best course of action?" he asked James before he was looking at his brother.
"Yes," he replied without a doubt. Will was just shaking his head before he was smiling at James.
"Good thing I am not like both of you. Well, I will be off to Hamptor then. I will see you guys at Summer Solstice," he said before he was turning around and headed out for Hamptor, not wanting to make it to Red Cast where his grandma would be plotting for his marriage.
"So, I will be setting out for Red Cast all by myself? And don't you think you need to consider Darla, James? She will be—"
"I know what I am doing, Magnus. I don't need your advice," James snapped before he took a deep breath and closed his eyes.
"I know that you worried about Darla and me but we will be fine. You don't have to worry about it. Perhaps you should return to Casey as soon as possible," he said before Magnus was staring at him. Then, his older brother nodded.
"Be careful," he said before Magnus whipped his rein and left for Red Cast at an impossible speed. James stared at his retreating figure before Darla was stirring in front of him.
"Don't worry, my love, I will take care of you," he said before changing his direction to move toward the Flemington Manor in Fiktown.
Darla stirred when she opened her eyes slowly. She was looking at the chandelier that was being lighted by candles before she was looking at the person that was putting logs into the fireplace. Darla turned around to look that she was not in her usual chambers or anywhere that she knew.
But she knew who was at the fireplace.
"James?" she asked before he turned to look at her. She was moving backward as Darla was trying to sit against the headboard. James left the fireplace before he was helping her to sit properly and wrapped the coverlet against her laps.
"Water," she said hoarsely before James was pouring some water from the pitcher into a glass and handed it to her. Darla emptied it in seconds and as for another. James poured some more before she gave the glass to him.
"How are you feeling?" James asked her as he was holding her hands. Darla was smiling at him as James was kissing her knuckles.
"Thank the Lord, I thought I would never see you again," he whispered before Darla furrowed her eyebrows.
"Why? I thought you would be happy if I'm gone," she said before James snapped his sapphire orbs to her face. Then, he frowned.
"I would never ask of that for you," he said before James released their intertwined hands. Darla missed his warmth already.
"Why not? It would get you out of this unwanted betrothed and you would be living as a happy rake—"
Everything ended as his lips were claiming hers. Darla did not know how to react before she was pulling James by the nape on top of her. He straddled her laps before his hands were holding her face closer to his. Darla can trace the stubble on his face.
James broke the kiss before leaning his forehead against hers. Darla opened her eyes slowly as she was looking at her mortal enemy. Since when her feelings for James as her mortal enemy evaporated and left behind another feeling that would make her insides squirm with delight whenever she saw him?
This was a mystery that Darla was determined to discover.
"You would think I would love to get out of this unwanted betrothed," he said as he locked his sapphire orbs against hers. Then, he released a deep breath.
"But what if," he swallowed, "what if everything changed now? What if I want this betrothed between us to work? Give us a chance?" James said as his fingers were tracing her sides. Darla shivered from the sensuality of it.
"Are you saying—"
"I love you, Darla darling. I don't know when I started to see you as a woman," James chuckled before he shook his head.
"No, I have always seen you as a beautiful woman from the first moment we met in Scatterford when we're children. I did not know what I felt at the time and I was scared to let it show. That's why—"
"That's why you're mean to me. Calling me ugly," Darla stated before James sighed.
"And the endearment Darla darling was supposed to annoy you. But then," he turned to look at her before he was leaning forward.
"But then?" Darla asked as James smirked.
"But then, I have always known it was a compliment for you, even you think otherwise," he claimed her mouth in a slow, tender kiss that spoke the volume of his love for her.
And nothing seemed perfect than this, Darla thought as she smiled in that kiss.