I hid myself in the shadows of the woods. I don’t know the way. I don’t have a map. I can’t allow myself to ask anyone. Just my intuition pushes me forward. I take it’s lead and follow. 

Few days so far so good. The only thing I fight here on my way is the weather. It is hot and humid. As much as I prefer to hide it even from myself, my thoughts wandern back to him.. I still smell his “oaky moss” and feel his touch lingering on my skin. Why do I keep remembering him?

I hear running water and sure, my feets turn that way. 

  • Don’t dare to appear on a cliff today. 

I warn myself before I reach the edge of the woods and take in view. It’s a waterfall. Gorgeous! It runs down the mountain’s wall and wildly jumps into wild river waves. They are white and with some bubbles. They jump and rush energetically creating an unexpected roar to my ears. I cover them with my palms until I adjust to sound.

I see a man next to a wild stream. He tries to cross it and jumps from stone to stone in this wild river. He seems familiar. Oh, no way it’s HIM! Broad shoulders, hair and face. It’s him. Really him for sure.

I hear brunch break, but can’t tear my eyes off of him.  He slips and goes down the wild water stream quickly. 

  • NO!

River brings him together whenever it runs. His head hits one of the stones and one more. He doesn’t get up. My heart sinks down my stomach. 

  • Eirikrinn!

I move toward him shouting, but he doesn’t move. 

  • Eirikrinn! 

His body flows with the bubbling river, his head and back meeting stones. They are not sharp, but it looks like each meeting is a hard landing. The river makes a slight turn and there is an edge! One more waterfall on the way?!

I speed up and reach for him, but the stream is too quick. I can’t catch him. I growl in frustration. 

The river takes his sacrifice, but I am not ready to surrender. I run along the river and bend over the stone. My fingertips grab him and take a hold. He slips. Damn!

I make a run forward one more time. Big stone and a strong brunch next to the bank. I bend over again and grab Eirikrinn’s body. He is unconscious. The stream is wild and very strong, threatening to take us both along. He slips slowly from my hold. I dig my nails deep into him, but he doesn’t react. I pull him out of the running hell. Feet by feet he becomes heavier as his body leaves the water. We are both on the steady ground. Without much power left I pull him once more and fall backward. His body lands on top of me. 

  • It’s not how I dreamed to meet you again, Eirik.

I chuckle at the thought and wipe the water from my forehead. With each sip of air my breath comes to normal. I look around.

  • Where is Porir, huh?

I stand up and look around, but he is nowhere to be seen.  

  • Looks like, just you and me then..

I kneel next to Eirikrinn, check his wounds, they are healing. I stroke his head, lush hair, his cheeks and contour his lips with my fingertips. Lust finds his way to me. I try to avoid it, but my eyes scan his body. He is still unconscious. I blush even now from the thoughts in my head. They and rising arousal are here. I brush them away, but they come back and hit even stronger. He is healed, but stays unconscious. Way too long. I know, I have to leave. Those awakened feelings toward this man are no good use to me, but how to leave him here alone.. We stay like that for a while.

He was badly hurt. He is healed now, but still not awake. Worry stalks me. 

Sun’s rays flash between the leaves and I tremble. I grab Eirikrinn’s armpits and drag his heavy body to the woods and place him on the moss-lawn. 

We stay well covered in the shadows. I sit, lean against the tree and hold him in a hug. Day passes by and the moon peaks his face out. 

  • Why are you not up?

Fear fulfills my body. With each passing hour I press him harder to my chest. His breath is shallow, he starts trembling. My panic rises. I lay him down on moss, bring wet cloth to his forehead and collarbone. His lips start grasping for air. I smash my lips on his and blow air into his lungs. Doesn’t look that helpful. My finger makes a deep cut on my wrist. I angle it and drops find his mouth. 

  • Stay. Please, stay… Stay with me. Don’t leave.

My wrist is held to his lips. I hug him again, kiss his temple, stroke his hair. My tattoo under Richard’s ring starts to shine, brightens and spreads, makes the shape of.. what is it? eagle? branches? lilys? It burns my skin! Ah!.. Stop it! Ah!.. I shake my hand and it stops. I exhale.

Moments pass by. Why is he not up?

I remember my father. My blood didn’t work or at least not quickly enough. Will fate repeat? Fear comes back to my heart and rings in my ears. I close my eyes and press my bloody wrist harder to his lips.

I snap my eyes open when two sharp fangs enter my skin and all my worries instantly disappear. I close my eyes. This time from relief. He sucks greedy, then lighter, then stops. 

His lips brush my lips and enter in a gentle kiss. I feel a pair of strong hands take me into such a familiar embrace, his breath moves my hair. I am dizzy. Not from the blood loss. He drank not so much. It’s from happiness and sudden relief. He is here, he is saved, father’s fate didn’t repeat. His scent and gentle touches envelope me. Thousands of little butterflies fly in my chest. And all I want for me to be stuck here forever.

Continue reading chapter 18