Sequel to "The Choice". Richard and Kahlan look forward to their wedding but there is evil about looking to take the one thing they cherish above all else.
Richard held both hands out to Kahlan to help her up from the lake onto the shore. The water had felt warm enough while they were beneath its cover, but now the night air was beginning to make their teeth chatter. He grabbed the blanket they had left in the grass and, drawing her near, wrapped it around them. Bundled together, they dropped to the ground, Kahlan's light laughter at their clumsy decent filling the air. They were soon warmed by the blanket and each other's tender kiss.
They had returned to the lake, to the same spot they had first made love the night before. Richard had brought Kahlan back here this night, after his talk with Zedd confirming his discovery of his immunity to her power.
Having made love in the moonlit waters of the lake, they now lay on the grassy shoreline rolled up together in the blanket, as if in a loose cocoon, their hair still wet with water. Their faces just inches apart, Kahlan's eyes looked up to the sky, thanking the stars, while Richard's eyes roamed her face. He freed an arm from the blanket and propped his head, a smile on his face. "You know what this means don't you, Kahlan?"
She brought her gaze to his. Not sure where he was going with it, she slyly smiled back, "I'm sure I have no idea. What does this mean Richard?"
"Zedd said you must choose a mate, to continue the line of Confessors."
She looked at him with a happy smirk, waiting for him to continue.
"And I've told you you'll have no mate but me."
Kahlan's smile broadened. "That doesn't leave me much choice now does it?"
He touched a pointed finger to her nose as if scolding her, "No." he replied sternly, but with a smile in his eyes.
Those eyes fixed on hers and he leaned in close, his lips a breath away from hers, "Marry me Kahlan." The words caught her off guard. Even though she had suspected what he might say, once he actually said it, she found she was surprised. She blinked back the tears filling her eyes. She couldn't find her voice.
Still leaning in close, Richard held her gaze waiting intently for her answer. What he knew was only a matter of seconds seemed an eternity to him. His heart thundered in his chest, waiting for her reply.
Barely able to breathe, Kahlan answered in a whisper as the tears slipped from her eyes, "Yes, Richard. Dear spirits, yes." He immediately closed the gap of their lips, kissing her firmly, his arms wrapping around her pulling her even closer, holding her tight.
"Tomorrow then" he said. "We'll go into town and find one of the town elders. We'll ask him to say the words over us."
"Richard, how would feel about traveling to Holly Meade to be married? It's only a few days walk from here. I'd really love to have some familiar faces with us." Richard knew Holly Meade was the town where Martha and Rachel had settled. Martha had taken her boys and Rachel with her after fleeing the Queen of Tamarang. He also knew that with Dennee and the other Confessors dead, Kahlan would miss having her sister and dear friends with her.
He put a hand behind her head and smiled "yes, of course." He felt foolish for not having thought of it himself. "I'd really like that too."
They spent the rest of the night sharing plans for the future and making love in their cocoon.
Kahlan folded the blanket that had been their bed as Richard secured the Sword of Truth around his waist.
A feeling of happiness washed over him. It was hard to believe that just yesterday he feared losing her forever, that her duty as a Confessor would bind her to a mate she didn't love. Now, having spent the night together, they were off to be married. Richard shook his head, thanking the good spirits for their benevolence.
Kahlan too looked happy, radiant actually. He thought she looked more beautiful every time he looked at her. He took her hand in his as they made their way back to camp.
"Ah, the lovebirds have returned!" Zedd cheerfully teased at seeing them approach camp. He sat near the fire having a simple breakfast of porridge and berries.
Richard laughed at his grandfather's remark. "Not only have we returned, we have news, Zedd. We're going to be married."
A large smile spread over is grandfather's face. "Married! That's wonderful Richard. He gave an affectionate grip to Richard's shoulder and pulled him into a bear hug. He turned to Kahlan. "Come here child! Welcome to the family!" he hugged her tightly. She returned his hug with a glowing smile.
To Zedd's delight, three days later they arrived at Holly Meade just in time for the evening meal. They made their way to the village inn that now belonged to Martha. She had purchased it with the help of the pink sapphire Zedd had given her, compliments of Queen Milena, leaving plenty of gold left over for her and her children, which now included Rachel, to live a comfortable life.
"It's so good to see you again Rachel" Kahlan hugged her tight. "Where's Sara?"
Rachel beamed with happiness at seeing her friends again and ran to get her treasured doll, Sara, who she had left sitting on a nearby window seat.
Martha made sure everyone was settled comfortably at the large family table and served them all a hot meal of stew, bread and fruit. She was excited to learn of their plans and told them where to find the town elder who could perform the ceremony.
"Kahlan, what about a dress? Are you in need of one?"
Kahlan told her she hadn't thought about a dress. As was the custom, most women just wore their best. She planned to wear her Confessor's dress.
"Oh, please" Martha pressed, "let me take you to the town seamstress. She has the most beautiful fabrics. I'm sure she could make you a dress in no time. I'll even help her to ensure it gets done in the fastest time."
Kahlan looked to Richard. She knew he was as anxious as she was to have the ceremony. They had already delayed it by waiting to get to Holly Meade. He smiled with his reply "I can wait a few more days, Kahlan. I want you to have the dress if you wish it."
She squeezed his shoulder and kissed his cheek. "I wish it. Don't worry it should be done in less than a week."
"A week! Tell the seamstress she has 3 days, not a day more."
Martha's nod of her head confirmed to both that she believed it could be done.
Kahlan's back was against the door to her room, her arms draped over Richard's shoulders, his kisses along her neck, warm and inviting. He looked up into her eyes "Why did we decide to wait until we're married before we're together again?"
She smiled at his teasing. "It's just a few more days. It gives us something to look forward to."
"That it does." He kissed her goodnight. "I'll be right next door should you change your mind."
She smiled and gave him a little push with her hands. She twisted the doorknob behind her and slipped into her room.