Temptation

Most of the time, Richard tried to pretend Cara was his sister. His emotionally scarred, wickedly intelligent, absolutely gorgeous sister.

After all, Richard was in love with Kahlan, there would never be anyone else for him, their souls were joined together in a beautiful rainbow of wonderfulness, and as soon as they were absolutely, one-hundred percent done with all this saving the world stuff, they were going to go live in a cottage somewhere, with a white picket fence and a gorgeous rose garden, and he was going to make Kahlan Confess him so they could be together forever and have lots and lots of adorable little baby Confessors.

Richard didn't think he was being too conceited to think he was the best mate for Kahlan around, either. His continued survival alone (however much it was really due to Zedd, Kahlan, and Cara protecting him with their lives) already put him far ahead of most of the strong, capable men left in the Midlands. Furthermore, he was ready to lay down his life for Kahlan or any children they might have in an instant, and she hadn't even Confessed him yet.

Eventually Kahlan would realize the truth: Richard would far rather live as her slave than never able to see her again. And if she didn't take him as a mate, when they were done with this quest, he doubted he would see much of her, as her duties as Mother Confessor would take precedence.

Or perhaps they would die together in the course of the quest, hopefully after having successfully completed it. Even that would be better than living without Kahlan.

Nevertheless…Kahlan was untouchable, unavailable (only for now, Richard promised himself). More than a kiss terrified her, lest her power claim him.

Sometimes, he found himself noticing Cara as more than a sister or friend. He remembered the nights they'd spent cuddled together in the alternate future where Rahl and Kahlan's son ruled. He remembered what she'd said then, and he watched her across the fire, thinking there was more between them now.

And knowing, knowing that if he ever asked, she would love him in the one way Kahlan couldn't. And not because he was her Lord Rahl.

Was it wrong to delight in the knowledge that Cara loved him as surely as Kahlan did? Richard thought it was, but sometimes…sometimes he wondered how wrong it would really be.

Mord'Sith weren't much given to displays of affection. Sometimes Richard thought about just giving Cara a hug—nothing wrong with that, they were friends, weren't they, and that was what friends did.

Sometimes he'd look into those beautiful green eyes, which softened whenever they met his, for all she would deny it if asked, and he would feel himself want her. Would feel his resistance start to crumble.

But then he would look at Kahlan, and remember that she was the only one for him, and that it was his brother, Rahl, who had believed it was his right to have more than one woman, and that he was just grateful for Kahlan's love. And he could never hurt Kahlan by being with Cara.

And he would picture that cottage with its white picket fence, and when Kahlan asked, "Richard, what are you thinking about?"

He would answer, in all honesty, "You."

But that didn't mean he didn't think about Cara. After all, anyone can be tempted.