“Then why –”
“Why I let you take care of me?” His black gaze takes on a special glint in the firelight. “I wanted to feel your hands on me, of your own will. But my wounds didn’t need care. They’ll hurt for another few hours while they’re closing, but by morning I’ll be as good as new.”
“Kieran, you scared the life out of me.” I slap the napkins on the coffee table to mark my discontent at having been fooled. I stay soft-spoken though, not wanting to come across a drama queen jumping at the first opportunity to act hysterical.
“I scared the life out of you many times before, and for that please accept my apologies.” He props himself on his elbow with some difficulty, stretching out his other hand in an invitation.
“Come, lay here with me.”
The sound of his voice, dark and soft, seems to seep in through my pores. I square my shoulders, fighting the urge to obey.
“This needs to stop. You can’t go on numbing my will and playing with my head. If we’re to ever have a chance at a relationship, you’ll want me as myself.”
The haze of hypnotic obedience that made my lids heavy starts retreating, but Kieran’s intense black eyes still dazzle me without the input from his powers. The firelight sends a golden glow on his youthful features. He has the most beautiful face I’ve ever seen. I busy myself with arranging objects on the coffee table in an attempt to hide my weakness and hold my ground.
“Very well then,” he says and sets his other elbow on the couch, now sustaining his weight on both of them and displaying his naked body. He’s most certainly aware of his beauty.
“Shame must be a foreign word to you,” I whisper.
“If the sight offends you, feel free to cover me. There’s a long coat hanging on the peg by the door.”
He may be regenerating, but he’s exhausted, and so am I. I walk to the peg and take the coat. It’s so heavy it disturbs my balance, exhaustion rendering my limbs weak. When I reach the couch Kieran’s eyes are closed. The last thing he expects is what I’m going to do, I’m sure.
I sit by his side. “Will you make room for me, please?”
His eyes snap open in surprise. He draws to the rest of the couch, moving onto his side so that half the couch becomes available and enough for me if I lie on my side as well. I lower myself slowly and nestle my head at his chest, pulling the coat over us both. My heart races as my cheek touches him, his skin like silk over a hard-muscled body.
“I thought you said –” he whispers.
“I asked you to stop influencing me, determining my actions,” I interrupt softly. The heat grows between us. “I asked you to let me exercise my free will. And this is what I do with my free will.”
He kisses my temple, his lips dry and warm. “You were always resilient to my influence.”
“Really? It didn’t feel that way to me.”
“How did it feel then?”
“You often made a zombie out of me.”
“And yet you always retained the ability of defying me.”
“It was a struggle, like moving my legs out of quicksand. But sometimes I chose to sink in, because that way it was easier to put up with the things you did with me.” My voice breaks on the last words.
Kieran pushes one arm under my body, the other one curling around me from above. He presses me to him in a tight embrace and kisses the top of my head.
“I’m so sorry, Saphira. I deserve all snakes’ bites and much more for what I did to you. I beg for your forgiveness, and I’ll do anything to get it.”
“It’s not easy, Kieran. It will take time.”
“As long as you need. I have centuries, and I place them at your feet.”
A sad smile pulls the corner of my mouth. It’s fascinating how exhaustion makes you feel accepting of anything. “A terrible waste, all those centuries scattered by my grave. Unlike you, I’m fully human, my time is limited.”
The fire rustles in the silence as Kieran’s first tear drips on my temple.
Enjoyed this? Please let me know your thoughts in a comment. Stay tuned for a new episode on Tuesday and check out the prequel, Saphira, in the Christmas Story Book for Adults, available here and, if you’re in for a whole novel in the same genre, feel free to help yourself to The Executioner (Part I) 🙂