Chapter Forty

Shiloh slowly stretched in bed as she yawned softly. Pulling the bed curtains apart, she made her way to the balcony.

"No, bad dog!" yelled Preed.

Shiloh looked down to see Preed chasing Finland who had one of Preed's boots in his mouth.

"Come here! Give it back!"

Shiloh covered her mouth with one hand and giggled. She spun around and headed back into the bedroom and closed the balcony door.

Finland spurted around the garden, dragging Preed's boot in his jaws. Wagging his tail, he darted through the bushes with Preed lunging in after the dog.

Running to Finland in her black long sleeve shirt and denim shorts, Shiloh whistled until Finland bounded to her and dropped Preed's boot into her hand.

"Give me that!" shouted Preed before hitting the ground where Shiloh was standing.

"Not if you catch me," she said coyly.

Preed quickly turned onto his side before Shiloh jumped over him, her ankles barely escaping his grasp. He rolled back to his feet and ran after Shiloh around the walled garden.

Finland yipped and wagged his stubby tail excitedly while watching Shiloh wave Preed's boot in the air and laughing at the perturbed Akrennian.

Laughing around the garden, Shiloh pushed the iron gate open with her free hand and kept running.

Preed sprinted faster toward Shiloh who was going around the stable in circles.

Jazira and Sultan neighed as they watched Preed close in on Shiloh. Thrashing their heads back and forth, they continued to whinny and dig their front hooves into the dirt.

Looking behind her, Shiloh noticed that Preed was nowhere to be found until she felt someone tackle her to the ground. She clamped her hands on the bony shoulders and drove them down.

The Akrennian pushed Shiloh off of him and had her in a full nelson hold.

Shiloh's foot forced Preed's gut in as she tried to free herself. Her fingernails lightly scraped against Preed's ribs, and she felt Preed's arms slip out from hers. She looked over her shoulder to see Preed covering his ribs.

"Are you…?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.

"No," Preed answered bluntly, turning his back on her with crossed arms.

Shiloh reached over to poke his ribs, but Preed inched forward away from her. "Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure! Stop asking!"

A smirk slowly grew on Shiloh's face. Shoving her fingers onto the Akrennian's arms, Shiloh quickly moved the tips of her fingernails over his ribcage.

The only response that escaped Preed was a raucous laugh. "No! Please, stop it!" A huge smile brightened his face.

"I knew it!" said Shiloh happily. "You made too obvious!"

Preed continued to laugh as Shiloh ticked his stomach.

Falling on his back and tears about ready to stream down his face, Preed felt his sides beginning to sore as he continued to laugh. "How about you?"

"You'll never find out," said Shiloh before Preed's fingers attacked her stomach. She laughed loudly as she was slowly forced to the ground and saw a big smirk on Preed's face.

"No, stop!" laughed Shiloh. "I'm gonna pee!"

Preed made his fingers go up her ribs and under her armpits.

"Stop it! Stop it!"

"Not until you give up," said Preed.

"Never!"

Preed continued to tickle her as Finland barked at the two of them. He could see Shiloh's smile grow the longer he kept it up. Had he ever seen this happy before?

"Please stop!"

"Do you give up?"

Shiloh tried to cover the spots Preed was tickling her at with no prevail.

"Give up! You have no spots to hide!"

"All right, all right!" shouted Shiloh with delight. "I give up! You win!"

Preed pulled his hands away and allowed Shiloh to catch her breath. Picking his boot up and putting it on, he caught a glimpse of Shiloh's wrists which had thin red marks on them. Shiloh's hair looked as if it stood up on her head as she laid in the grass. He laid beside her and watched one or two birds fly over them.

"I need to leave this afternoon," he said without turning his gaze in Shiloh's direction.

"What for?" replied Shiloh.

"Well, it's a pretty dangerous mission where I have to take out a group of Raztut rebels who might be hiding in Hivoir Trench which isn't too far from here. He tends to be heavily armed and have four or more bodyguards with him at all times."

"I'd like to go."

"No." Preed stroked Shiloh's hair. "I can't-"

He cleared his throat. "This world can't afford to lose you. You're the future."

"Do you think I honestly care about that? I want to go."

"You can't go, dear."

"Why not?" Shiloh's body was now supported by her elbows.

"Because…" Preed got up and began to walk back to the house.

Shiloh followed after Preed. "Because what? You're scared that I'll die?"

"Shiloh… you can't go. We're leaving it at that." He opened the gate and proceeded into the garden.

Shiloh stood there for a moment before looking at Sultan.

The black stallion stared at her inquisitively as Shiloh went up to him.

"Feeling up to riding today?" she asked while she hopped over the fence and climbed onto his bare back.

Sultan jumped over the fence and galloped into the forest.

A/N: I'm sorry for the lack of updates. Stupid school I.I I'm going to bust my ass to get the updates up and running again.