Authors: Kat Lilynette
Tags: #coming of age, #princess, #teen, #sword sorcery
Morning,” I responded
sleepily. It was just as I feared. After the past two nights, it
felt completely normal to wake up to him – like I was were I
I've prepared breakfast
for you. Come. Eat,” he said as he walked to my bedside.
I looked up at him, a bit shocked that
he wanted me to try and get up. As I shifted my weight, to my
surprise, the pain in my leg was almost completely gone. I turned,
sat on the edge of the bed, and looked up at Emoren's smiling face.
Did he really want me to try and stand? With my wound, I knew I
would probably never be able to walk correctly again. There's no
way I would be able to stand so soon.
It's all right. Try to
put some weight on it,” he said as he put his hands out to assist
I took his hands and carefully put all
my weight on my uninjured leg as I rose from the bed. It still
surprised me how soft his skin was to the touch. I stood there,
standing on one leg, holding his hands, feeling a little nervous
about trying to put weight on my injured leg.
I slowly eased my other foot to the
ground, applying a small amount of pressure. It didn't hurt. I
looked up at Emoren and smiled in amazement, his stormy-blue eyes
just a bit higher than my own. Not sensing any pain, like a fool, I
immediately tried to stand normally. I gasped as a sharp burst of
pain shot through my calf, sending me crashing into Emoren's
well-defined chest as he caught me in his arms.
Gently now,” he said
softly as he supported my full weight with the strong arms he was
wrapping around me.
As he held me, helping me regain my
balance, I could feel my breasts pressing firmly against his tight
torso, and the anxiousness and racing in my heart that I had felt
before, returned to me like a flood of too much sunlight. I could
feel my cheeks become completely flush. So much so, that I knew he
could see it. But, as he helped me over to the table, he just
smiled sweetly at me. I was glad we were both pretending that I
wasn't blushing like an idiot.
Are you not eating?” I
asked as he sat me at the sole chair of the table.
It's all right. You eat.
I'll have some later.”
He wasn’t going to hear any arguments
from me there. I don’t know if it was because of the medicine or
what, but I was as hungry as ever.
I made something for you
I looked up at him curiously, my mouth
full of another meal he had kindly prepared for me. He reached just
outside the tent's entrance and pulled in a hand-made, wooden
crutch. Looking proud and pleased with his creation, he held it up
triumphantly, as if it was the famed sword Excalibur.
Are we going somewhere?”
I’m not sure what he was so impressed by, the ring that was still
glowing on my finger was far more impressive than that
painful-looking mess of sticks and rope.
There's a spring, not far
from here. I'm taking you to it today.”
I sat there staring at him, chewing my
food, trying to figure out what this was all about. I wasn’t really
looking forward to trying to go anywhere on that crutch.
It'll be good for you to
work your injured calf a bit,” he said as he leaned on the crutch,
sporting the calm, regal demeanor I was quickly growing used
I guess it made sense. As fast as my
leg seemed to be healing - thanks to the mystery medicine - getting
the blood flowing through it would probably help. I nodded in
agreement and turned back to the plate of breakfast I was
Plus… you need a bath.
You're really starting to stink up my tent,” he quickly added,
smilingly playfully at me.
I froze, and my face went full crimson
with embarrassment as my mouth dropped open. I guess it must have
been just the reaction he was looking for, because he immediately
started laughing. I looked up at him, and I couldn't help but smile
and giggle at his cute, amused expression. He was right though,
with everything that had happened, a bath was long
You sure know how to talk
to a princess, don't you?” was the pitiful retort I came back
He just smirked at me. He and I both
knew, out here, I wasn't the Princess of Ashborne, I was just a
girl. A feeling I was quickly growing fond of in his
I have to meet with
Belafor for a moment. You enjoy your breakfast. When I return,
we'll head to the spring,” he said, the smile never leaving his
In the short time I've known him, he
seemed to be happy watching over me like he was. I had no idea what
I had done to deserve such kindness. My whole life, I always felt I
deserved the opposite. Aside from Gentry and Penelope, I wasn't
used to people being this way toward me, least of all the men in my
world. I felt somehow... special.
Emoren,” I stopped him
just as he was lifting the tent's doorway. He looked back over his
shoulder at me, his stormy-blue eyes peaking out from just beneath
his dirty-blonde hair. “Thank you.”
He just smiled and nodded
appreciatively before leaving to meet Belafor.
As I finished my breakfast, I sat
there, waiting patiently for Emoren to return. The tent seemed
bigger in the daylight. I glanced around the room, hoping to get
some insight into just who this man was I was becoming so taken
Aside from the table I was seated at
and the cots we slept in, he didn't seem to own much. His dark
colored cloak draped from one of the wooden posts of the tent, his
crossbow and pouch laying near his bed, and a makeshift book rack
that contained quite a few old-looking, unmarked books.
By the looks of it, he spent much of
his time reading. I wanted to know more about this man that seemed
to intrigue me so. I was sure I could learn something about him if
I knew the different types of books he liked. Just as I stood up
and was about to try and hop my way across the room, I heard Emoren
reenter the tent.
Ah. You're ready to
I smiled and nodded.
Put this on.” He pulled
down and handed me his Shadowbark cloak. The black of the hood went
all the way down, gradually changing into a dark, forest green at
While Belafor and I are
the only ones who know you're here, and it's unlikely any of the
Shadowbark would recognize you, it's probably best to avoid any
Hmm. You're right,” I
said as I tied the cloak around me.
Emoren held up the large cloth doorway
of the tent as he helped me limp outside. The campfire in front of
the tent where Emoren had prepared my breakfast was still burning.
There was only one other tent at this campsite. I assumed it must
I took in the forest air. It was ripe
with the fresh sent of nature, and the tall trees above us seemed
to stretch on forever. I could see the branches of the canopy
dancing in the breeze, as if they were playing with the sun,
letting rays of light slip through here and there.
In the distance I could see only few
other fires and campsites scattered about the woods – like a small
village. Really small.
I thought there'd be more
Emoren smiled. “Don't be fooled by
what you see. This is just one of our outposts. This entire forest
is our home,” he said as he positioned himself beside
As I put the crutch under my right
arm, Emoren lifted my other arm and placed it around his neck. My
hand seemed small, holding onto his smooth, muscular shoulder. He
put his arm around my waist and smiled at me as we began heading
behind the campsite and into the woods.
As he helped me along, he held me
without reservation, like it was the most natural thing in the
world for him to touch my body. And for some reason, I felt the
My whole life, I had always been
preserved for a royal engagement, and everyone in my life knew it.
It would have been uncouth for me to be so physical with a man,
regardless of my injury. Outside of battle, I'd never been so
physically brazen with a man before.
Don't worry, it's not
far,” he said as he guided me along an unmarked path.
After a walking for a while, we came
to a small clearing in the woods at the base of a large plateau
hidden within the forest. And there, encased in the trees beneath
the plateau overlooking them, as if it was a secret the forest was
keeping, rest a large, beautiful spring. It was surprisingly
secluded, with smooth, large rocks of green, blue and gray
surrounding the crystal clear, almost glowing water on all
Wow.” That’s all I could
say. I truly was astonished at what I was seeing. Never had I seen
anything like it.
I thought you might like
it,” he smiled as he sat me down on a large rock on the edge of the
I dipped my hand into the water. It
was warm to the touch. I was so captivated by the beauty of the
spring, that I didn't even realize my leg was resting casually in
Emoren's lap and that he had begun to remove my bandages. It was as
if that was completely normal too.
As the bandage came off, I looked down
to survey the damage. To my amazement, It had almost completely
healed. Aside from the light scarring, you could barely tell that a
blade had been through it only days ago.
He smiled delightfully as he glanced
down at the gently glowing, fern ring on my finger. “It heals the
outside much faster than the inside, but you'll be back to normal
in no time.”
I glided my hands along my calf. I
couldn't believe it. It was still tender, but it was healed enough
that I should be able to ride a horse. I looked up at Emoren as he
stood up from the rock we were sitting on.
I'll wait for you over
there,” he said, pointing just beyond the tree line of the
Hearing him say that, my heart seemed
to flutter nervously in protest. I stood up carefully, just as he
was turning to leave. I still didn’t understand why I seemed to
care about him like I did, or what the hell this battle going on
between my heart and mind was all about, but I didn’t want him to
leave… not again.
I stammered like a fool for a minute
before I finally blurted out, “Wait. Please.”
What the hell are doing,
You can stay…” I gave him
an order, but as I stared into those stormy eyes, I quickly
remembered that I wasn’t the Princess out here. “I mean- Will you
I hoped he didn’t get the the wrong
impression. I wasn’t about to let him into this spring with me, I
just didn’t want him to go. Thankfully, the understanding smile and
nod he gave me meant I wouldn’t have to explain that
Just- Um- Turn around!” I
demanded, waving my hand in a circle.
Of course,” he
I eyed him cautiously as I began
undressed myself, and as I glanced at the cloak and clothes I was
removing, I suddenly remembered that they weren't mine. Staring at
the back of his blonde head, I quickly realized that after bringing
me to his tent, he must have been the one who cleaned and dressed
Even though I knew he had already seen
me naked and that making him turn around was kind of pointless, he
didn't say a word about it. He just turned and stood there
respectfully, like a real gentleman of the forest, and it brought a
smile to face.
I quickly got myself into the warm
water. It was only about waist high in the deepest parts, but it
felt wonderful to finally bathe again. As I continued eying Emoren
to make sure he wasn’t peeking, I crouched down in the water and
covered my breasts.
You can turn around...
But only long enough to find a seat!”
As he took a seat on the rock with my
pile of clothes, he flashed me a playful smile that let me know how
silly he thought I was. It was a smile that said, ‘I’ve already
seen what you’re trying to hide.’ I pursed my lips and scowled back
at him before he turned back around.
Bathing in the spring was unlike any
bath I had ever experienced. I could stretch and float to my
heart's content. Bobbing around like a child, I forgot about
everything as the warmth of the water embraced me.
This must be what Penelope
feels like when she takes a hot bath
giggled to myself.
I looked over and saw Emoren just
sitting there quietly as I got way too excited about this bath. I
just stared at him for a few moments. There was just something
about him. From me being helplessly injured, to now bathing naked
behind him, he was the only man that I'd ever been this vulnerable
in front of. He was the first person in my life that I didn't have
to be the Princess of Ashborne with.
Knowing he was too respectful to turn
around without permission, I floated up only a few feet behind him,
where the water was a bit more shallow. He didn't say anything, but
he knew I was there.