My heart pounded in my chest as I listened to his panting. Although he was worn out, he caught up to me and reached out, grabbing onto the sleeve of the shirt he’d given me.
I giggled as we tumbled down to the ground, rolling onto our backs. We drew in air, synchronizing our breathing. His bare chest rose and fell with each breath.
“You’ve gotten faster!” He glowed with admiration.
“I’ve had lots of practice.” I bit my lip.
“Oh, you don’t have to tell me.” He replied with a laugh.
“I won’t be happy, ” I declared, “Until I can run so fast and far that nobody can catch me.”
“What if I want to?” He asked in a husky voice, rolling over and propping himself up above me.
“Nope,” I smiled, “Not even you.”
“You mean especially not me.” He corrected.
“What do you mean?” I asked in surprise.
“You want to run away from me more than anything else in this world.” He said in a simplistic, unphased voice.
“That’s not true!” I said flustered.
“Your feelings for me, then. But I’ve got a newsflash for you, Princess.” He said defiantly.
“Oh?” I said with intrigue.
“I’ll chase you for as long as it takes, to the ends of the earth, until you finally let me in and trust me.” His voice was bold and determined.
He rolled away, pushing himself into a crouching position as I lay still and speechless.
“Seems like a lot of work for someone who told you they hated you.” I challenged him.
“You’ve always been a terrible liar, Titania.” He cleared his throat, offering me a hand up.
I took it, standing up as I chewed on my lip.
“What is so wrong about your feelings for me anyways? I think you’d fight them even without…” He gestured to where my wings would be, “This.”
“Strong feelings are a dangerous liability.” I explained, not bothering to acknowledge I had any for him, “They can’t be predicted or controlled, and I can’t risk that.”
James blinked, “Who told you that?”
“I don’t need anyone to tell me. They led my mom to drink, Silen to be…a freak, and me to nearly kill you.” I paused, glaring at him, “Tell me again why I shouldn’t think they are dangerous?”
“I didn’t know you felt that way.” James said quietly.
“It doesn’t matter how I feel,” I responded, “The only thing that matters is the truth.”
“And what is that?” James asked curiously, though there was a bit of jadedness in his voice.
“I’m a monster, even without this curse, and you deserve better.” I said sharply,”We should go.”
“Okay.” James muttered as he nodded, lost in thought.
We walked mile after mile watching as the sun dipped into the Western sky. The brilliant red color of the sunset shown through the trees, casting long shadows behind them. It was beautiful and breathtaking, though slightly eerie.
“What if,” James glanced at me hesitantly, “…Nevermind.”
“What?” I asked patiently, “You can tell me.”
He raised an eyebrow with skepticism.
“I promise I won’t get mad.” I told him, regretting my temperamental nature that caused him to pause.
“What if,” He began again, “What if you could learn to control this?”
“I thought I had learned to,” I threw my hand up in desperation, “You were able to touch my leg when I scraped it without a problem during training. But other times, you can just get close to me and I lose the ability to control it.”
“Hmmm…” He hummed, pulling at the nape of his neck.
“It’s not that I’m not willing to try.’ I assured him, “It’s just that I don’t want to risk thinking I have it under control and then be wrong.”
“That’s understandable.” He smiled empathetically.
“I…” My voice shook as we stepped over a fallen tree, “I don’t want to hurt you again. I’d never forgive myself if…”
“Titania,” He reached out to me, pulling me into his chest, “You aren’t going to hurt me.”
“You don’t know that.” I argued, angry with myself for losing my composure. Something about the sun setting always made me feel vulnerable.
“Well you stopped it last time, didn’t you?” He reasoned, “Surely you could do it again if you needed to.”
“James,” I looked into his eyes, swimming in their depth, “I had no idea if that would work or not. I’m not sure it will again.”
He sighed, brushing his hair back with his fingertips, “What exactly was it that you did?”
I pulled at the bottom of the shirt he’d given me, nervously twiddling the ends.
“Um,” I mumbled, “Well I told you I hated you.”
“No kidding.” He winked, his voice filled with amusement.
“Hey!” I yelled, pushing him with a playful shove.
He grinned back at me, recovering his balance with ease.
“I knew what emotion started the transformation,” I answered him, “So I tried to get rid of it completely, if only for a moment.”
“Well, it worked.” He teased, trying to keep the mood light, “A few seconds later and I would’ve been barbecued!”
I stuck out my tongue at him, “I don’t think you’d be as cute as charcoal.”
“Hey now!” He forced fake pain into his expression, “That was hurtful!”
I giggled as he dramatically held his hand over his forehead, opening one eye to wink before breaking his pose.
Jame protectively held his arm out, signaling me to stop. I looked ahead, focusing in on a log cabin with a brick chimney.
“Is that?…” I whispered to James, pointing towards the cabin.
“Yeah,” He confirmed, “Stay here.”
I obeyed, but followed him with my eyes as he stepped out in hesitation. He pulled out one of his throwing stars as he cautiously approached the cabin and flanked the side. He disappeared beside the back of it and I held my breath until I saw him emerge from the other side. Trees surrounded the cabin and a wooden deck with a small staircase leading to the door.
James put his throwing stars away as he reappeared on the other side, motioning me to join him.
“Welcome to our new home.” He told me, walking me to the door.
Part 1: The Words Unspoken, Part 2: Secrets, Part 3: Embers, Part 4: Titanium, Part 5: Scar, Part 6: Capture, Part 7: In Your Eyes, Part 8: Reflection, Part 9: Running, Part 11: Macaroni and Cheese, Part 12: An Open Door and A Squeaky Floor, Part 13: Interruptions, Part 14: Origin
Love what you see? Join the community!
Sign up for the Rebecca Lemke Newsletter to be in the loop about important announcements and community updates!
Thank you for subscribing!
Something went wrong.