Kahlan was the last living Confessor. Her family, her friends…all were lost to her now. She had felt a comfort knowing they were safe in Valaria and they would one day be reunited. Rahl had blasted Valaria to bits, killing them all in a matter of moments. Now, she felt completely vulnerable, as if a great weight were on her shoulders. Any justice from a Confessor in the Midlands would have to come from her and her alone. Richard could sense Kahlan's distress. He sat up late into the night watching her until she finally drifted off to sleep. Only then did he allow himself to do the same.
Kahlan awoke from her fitful sleep. Tears brimming in her eyes and overwhelmed with loneliness, she went to where Richard lay sleeping, kneeling down beside him. When she spoke his name, his eyes immediately came open. He propped himself up on his arm. "What's the matter, are you okay?" The look in her eyes told him she wasn't.
"Richard, I'm frightened."
He reached his hand out to her and she took it. "What are you afraid of?" he asked softly.
"I'm afraid something will happen to me and the Midlands will be left without the help of a Confessor. Forever." She lowered her gaze, adding "I'm afraid of being alone". He sat up, cross-legged in front of her, taking her other hand in his so he now held them both. "I know what it's like to be afraid, Kahlan. I'm afraid too. I'm the first true Seeker in a thousand years. Me. Richard Cypher. Hartland woods-guide. I'm terrified of making a mistake. I have made mistakes." He smiled at her. "You've seen them."
She smiled back. "But you've succeeded. Rahl is dead. You've accomplished your mission."
He looked up at her from under his brow. "I don't know that my task will ever be complete. You heard Zedd...this could be a time of peace, yes, or when…" he changed his voice to sound menacing "…new and unimagined evils rise up to steal the broken shards of power." She let out a lilting laugh, bringing a genuine smile to his face.
He continued on more seriously. "Responsibility is a heavy burden. But I know you. You're up to the task. You're a strong woman, Kahlan Amnell. And you have the Seeker to protect you. And you have me, Richard, to be with you. As long as there is breath in me, I won't leave you Kahlan."
Her thumbs caressed over his hands as they held hers. "You have a knack for lifting my spirits". Her smile warmed him. He could see that he had boosted her somewhat, but that she still clung to her uneasiness.
He moved to lay back on his bedroll pulling at her hands. "Why don't you sleep here tonight, next to me." His eyes caught hers. "I can better protect you that way."
She went agreeably. "And I won't be so lonely then either?" she teased. His only answer was to pull her close to him as they lay down.
Kahlan awoke sometime later. Night remained but there was a hint of dawn in the darkness. She was still wrapped in Richard's protective embrace. Her head lay on his shoulder, her face rested against his neck. She could tell by his breathing that he was asleep. She was content to lay there and feel his warmth. She gently nudged her nose against him, taking in his scent. He smelled like the woods he loved. Earthy and fresh, like moss. She wondered what he would taste like. She imagined he would taste woodsy somehow. Perhaps like an almond roasted over an open fire. With her face resting against his neck it would be so easy for her to find out. All she had to do was open her mouth. She scolded herself for thinking this way. But he smelled so good. And he was so close, so warm. She was already pressed against him. She could just open her mouth, quietly, quickly and see if he tasted like she imagined. He was sound asleep. He'd never even know. She held her breath. Before she could debate it any longer, she opened her mouth against his neck, allowing him to meet her tongue. She could taste the slight saltiness of his skin. She slowly brought her lips back together closing her mouth again. She felt Richard's muscles tense. If he had been asleep before, he was awake now. Rather than adding to her inhibitions, his tension only ignited her. Before she even realized what she was doing, Kahlan again unfurled her mouth against him, a bit wider this time, guiding her lips to stroke the length of his neck. She lost herself in the kiss, savoring the moment. She had dreamed of kissing him like this for such a long time. Richard's breath came faster, deeper. She wanted him to pull her to him but he didn't move.
Before she could even fully bring her lips to a close this time, she found them yielding to taste him more fully. Every fiber of her being hummed with passion. Her hands slid up the back of his neck, her fingers gathered his hair, twisting it tightly around them. She could hear Richard's ragged breathing, as a quiet moan escaped him. Consumed with tasting him, she pressed against him, her teeth lightly raking his skin as her lips came to a final close. She kept her face pressed against his neck, her fingers clenching down on the already tight grip she had on his hair. Desire coursed through her veins. She released the moan of longing she had fought to keep inside.
Richard swallowed hard. With great effort, he gripped her shoulders, moving her back just far enough to look in her face. His eyes and his words, fired with need, were gentle, but firm, "One more kiss from you like that and there's no going back." She knew he meant what he said. She could see the tenuous grip he had on his restraint was slipping. His body trembled trying to maintain control. He wished she would kiss him again, so he could set himself free.
Kahlan wanted desperately to surrender to her need. She could clearly see the passion in his eyes. She knew she only need kiss him again and he would ravish her, here and now. The thought excited her. It also frightened her. She never wanted anything more in her life, yet she knew the consequences.
She had only wanted to taste him, but once she'd started, she found it impossible to stop. She ached with need, she wanted him so desperately. She saw she was pushing him over the edge. She gathered her resolve. "I'm so sorry Richard" she whispered, lowering her eyes. He tightened his grip and spoke her name in a tone that forced her to look into his eyes. "Kahlan. Don't ever apologize for wanting me. For loving me." He understood her longing. He felt it too. She nodded her agreement. They looked at each other for a long moment. Kahlan finally spoke in a wistful tone "I'd like to have you kiss me like that." Still holding her shoulders, Richard slowly shook his head. "I'm sorry Kahlan, I may be the Seeker, but I don't have that kind of strength." She gave him a small smile. She lay her head down again but his time she put a little distance between them. He took her hands in his as he too rested his head. They lay for some time, looking into each other's eyes, holding hands. Kahlan's last thoughts before sleep finally took her, was that she had been right. He did taste like almonds roasted over a fire. Only better.