He curled a lock of my hair about his index finger and tugged lightly. I looked up at him, wincing at the sudden ray of light that shone down in my eyes as a breeze blew the leaves of the bush aside. "You worry too much, my dear," he said softly, "Where other's have laugh lines, you have lines of anxiety." I blinked at him, uncertain if I should be insulted or not.
His bare chest was warm against my cheek despite the coolness of the breeze blowing through the spring afternoon. "I think it will rain soon," I said in a lame attempt to change the topic. His eyebrows rose slightly and he turned his peridot green eyes from the bit of hair curled about his finger to my face. The sunlight seemed to glow in his hair where it fell in dappled pools from the leaves over head. I wondered what again was the reason why we were snuggled up beneath the eves of a shockingly large bush.
I wondered why it was that he insisted that I be dressed in the finery that he gave me and he looked as though he was ready to go help his men plant fields. At the thought of planting fields, I could feel my cheeks start to grow warm. The night before he had insisted that we steal away to bless them. I didn't think much of it until he started taking off his clothes when we reached the ploughed earth. One does not argue with fertility deities, especially when they consider you a fitting person to assist them in their ... duties.
That field was a short ways away from where we were laying. When the wind freshened and blew from the west, I could smell the fresh turned earth. The scent mingled with the smell of sap and musk that always seemed to surround him. It was a dizzying thing to breathe in. "Rain is good," he rumbled, dropping his hand down to his chest just before my eyes.
"We'll get soaked," I said peevishly, failing to keep my annoyance with the concept out of my voice. He laughed and tightened his hold on me with his left arm. Pressed hard against that muscular body, I couldn't help how my breath caught in my throat and the beginnings of molten heat pooled low in my body. A sudden burst of panic rolled through me and I started to attempt to move away from him. I shivered as I suddenly wondered if all of this was just my deluding myself.
His right hand slid over to cup my left cheek and slowly, irresistibly, turn my face up toward his. The strength in his arms both told me I could not flee and that I was safe from all harm in this little hidden place. His expression turned from wry amusement to something solemn. Panic rose up stronger in me even as I found myself unconsciously molding myself to the contours of his side. "You can not out run your heart, little dove," he said quietly, "Your clever mind can not out wit it either."
"I'm not trying to run away," I squeaked. His full lips made a wry smile as he gave a little, seemingly thoughtful nod, attempting to wear his most solemn expression. I gulped nervously. His thumb passed slowly over my lips. "Really," I said, sounding a little to rushed to be earnest.
"Shall I chase you?" he said, that wry smile growing slowly into a fierce grin.
I swallowed nervously. He moved his hands to just beneath my armpits. He lifted me easily and pulled me slowly against his gloriously perfect body, making me think of how he did so the night before with out such niceities of clothes in his way. The branches of the bush shifted and parted as he brought me to where I was face to face with him. I lay half over him, held scant inches from him.
I stared into his eyes, scarcely able to breathe as a firestorm of feelings lashed at me. Terror, delight, lust, and relief all warred within me and I realized much to my horror he could see this plainly on my face and in my gaze. Words failed me. No clever little remark, no sarcasm to be my armor against his attention. I had nothing to say but two little words. Those, I breathed in a small voice, "Oh dear."
Slowly, he lowered me so that I lay against him. "The hart will always ride," he said quietly.
"I didn't mean..." I started when he thrust his hands into my hair and pulled my face down to his. His kiss managed to crush the air out of my lungs even as I gave a shuddering gasp of delight. Slowly, he kissed me and filled my body with that slow heat that put languor in my limbs and made my heart pound.
He broke the kiss just as I began to see little stars behind my eyelids. He pressed his face against my right cheek. His beard rasped softly against my skin. "You have always been like the hind," he whispered, "no matter how much you would deny it. Fleet of foot and graceful, gentle and mild.Try as you may, I will not leave. The hart does not leave his hind."
At his quiet words, something within me broke and I gave a sudden sob. My cheeks burned with shame and I tried to bury my face against his shoulder. A hand tightened in my hair and he slowly lifted my head so that he might gaze into my eyes. "As wounded as you are," he said solemnly, fixing me with that intense look that managed to pin me into place every time, "I will not leave you alone. Not now, not ever. You are not alone, not any more."
I tried to look away and he pulled me down into another kiss. Where his first kiss had been slow and controlled, this was hard and burned with intensity. I could feel my lips bruising with the force of it. Somehow, I knew, this was where I was supposed to be. The panic and terror beat against my awareness but he drove them away as he deepened the kiss. Suddenly, I felt as though I was drowning in pure sunlight. The air tasted of his kiss and ripe wheat. The fight bled out of me as he held me and softened his kisses. I put my face against his chest and wept. I couldn't say why. Perhaps it was relief. Perhaps it was happiness. But his arms were strong and we were well hidden from prying eyes.