Loneliness came off of her in waves, but of course no matter how miserable she still looked the part of the most beautiful woman in the Dells.
"Fire," Garen's voice called her back out of her daydream state. "Are you listening?"
She was seated in Nash's office along with his younger brother, to whom looked very agitated with the orange haired woman. They had been discussing a fundraiser ball that would help pay for the damages inflicted by the war that had ended only five months ago.
"What in the Dells is wrong with you?" Garen asked her, frustration dripping from his words.
"Fire," Nash spoke to her softer then his brother. "Are you feeling alright?"
"Yes, I'm fine. When is Brigan coming home, again?" She asked.
After Archer's funeral Brigan left on need everywhere around the Dells except for King City. He had only been able to spend a few weeks with her in the five months since the wars end. She knew he was needed for the help of the rebuilding and rounding up with the outcome of the battles, but she had needs of her own. The man you love being away for months at a time didn't help finding the conclusion of that ache.
Garen gave an ungentlemanly scoff. "Of course, can you not go five minutes without speaking about him; let alone think about him?"
"Like you have any room to talk, you and Sayre are engaged and you run off to see her ever chance you get." Fire shot back at him lightly.
"It is not their fault the love they shared surfaced at the end of war. They've barley had enough time to explore their deep feelings of-"
"Yes, Nash. We understand, you are a true romantic. A poet. But at this very moment we need to keep our minds focused on important things at this moment. The debt of this kingdom, for one thing. We are on the brink of bankruptcy!" Garen exclaimed, throwing a stack of papers on the king's desk for dramatic emphasis.
"Garen, you make it sound like we are gamblers with nowhere to go but down." Nash sighed. His brother was at it again.
"Well what do you want Nash? Brigan was a fool to pay the soldiers so high in pay and the funds for the army were also too much for us to handle."
"We are not in debt yet, Garen. You are overreacting about something that hasn't happened yet." Fire told him.
"That doesn't mean it is inevitable." The youngest of the brothers gave a hard mutter before slumping deeply into his cushioned chair.
"Well," Nash finally said as he slowly stood out of his seat. "I believe that is enough depressing talk for one day, don't you agree darling?"
Fire decided not to say anything seeing as Garen was already agitated enough, she did not want to be the one to set his temper aflame.
"Fine, go. You can ignore this all you want, Nash. At some point, though, the kingdom will come crumbling down with no one to blame but yourself."
"And until that day comes, I think this is a good stopping point for the day." He gave his brother a cheeky grin before walking to Fire and holding his arm out for her. "Care for a stroll?"
She couldn't help but give him a small smile in return. "I'd love to, your highness."
The three silently exited the young king's office, but while Fire and Nash went down the right corridor Garen turned in the opposite direction.
"Garen, where are you going?" Fire asked, stopping to turn and look at the prince heading away from her.
"To my beautiful fiance, where else?"
She gave a small grin to his answer.
Nash pulled her towards the gardens, a swirling maze of vibrant green grass and the free atmosphere of nature. A slow, gentle breeze carried the scent of summer through the loose tangles of orange that were released from Fire's head wrap.
"How are you?" Nash asked suddenly.
"Fine." She said without looking at him.
"I know I've been gone a while, helping the kingdom and all, but I think I know you well enough to say something is obviously bothering you."
Fire said nothing, but evidently let out a sigh soon enough. Nash knew her almost as well as his brother.
"He will be back. He can't stay gone forever; not that he'd want to. Brigan is barley able to control himself around you anymore." Nash shot her a sideways grin, making her blush that almost put her hair to shame.
"Come now, no need to be ashamed. Love is nothing to feel embarrassed about, especially if you are only given a few days at a time to express yourselves." Nash said.
"Yes, it is hard with him being away all the time. It's a price I have to pay being in love with the commander of the King's army." Fire sighed.
Nash was about to say more, but was cut off by Fire quickly letting go of his arm and twisting around to face the direction of the palace's front gates.
That presence, she thought. He's back. Brigan.
As she sped through the garden towards the palace gates- Nash hot on her trail- she could all but hold in the deep, aching that spread like a wild fire through her whole being. Not only her, Brigan opened the gate of his need, love and want that had been stripped from her for weeks. Hanna reached her father first. Brigan swept her up and embraced her tightly.
"Papa!" Fire heard the child squeal as she turned the final corner that lead her to the thing she desired.
Fire could barley contain herself as she watched him greet his daughter and sister, Clara. She wanted to approach, to hug and kiss him for hours, but with his daughter and sister coddling him she knew she couldn't get close. The pull she was feeling was to strong to ignore and pretend she hadn't been waiting for this moment since he had left several weeks earlier.
Fire stopped in her tracks and stared longingly at the beautiful man standing just a few feet away. She unconsciously let the feelings flow from her mind to his, making his head snap up and lock eyes with her.
He silently willed her to wait just a little longer.
I can, just not around you. I have waited to long to watch you dance around.
He sent her a sad smile. I wish I could carry you away and just hide for weeks, Love.
I know, She told him in his mind. I'll be in the green house, come when you are done greeting the others.
Fire felt the slight sense of dread and desperateness coming from him, but he locked it behind his brick wall of a mind and gave her a slight nod before prying his eyes from her's.
Fire sat on the roof of the small house Rowen had entrusted to her, staring at the stars in the dark sky above. She could see her guards, Musa and Neel, playing a game of cards in the light of their dim lantern under a tree outside her house.
She had been hiding out there for a good four hours, not taking the risk of leaving and running into Brigan and losing the last ounce of self control she had. So she had decided to sit on the roof and wait for him. She knew he would come there first, it was just what they did.
After another few solitary moments she felt him come up and seat himself behind her, wrapping her in his strong embrace so that she could lean into him. It felt right. Their bodies fit into one another so well they were meant to be lovers. No question.
"I've missed you." He whispered into her hair.
Fire said nothing, leaning into his warmth and closing her eyes so she could take in the feel of him for the next time he left.
All Fire was able to do without bursting into sudden tears was turn her face and crash their lips together. She had pulled her right arm from his grasp and pulled him closer to her while her fingers danced through his dark tangles. The kiss was just the tip of what they were feeling, but at this very moment it was all they had.
Brigan tightened his grip on her, deepening the lip lock as best he could in the current position they were in. Neither knew how long they had stayed up there, but it wasn't as short as they believed. Their next moves passed in a blur of Brigan letting Fire go to pull her back into their shared home and into their shared room, locking the door seeing as he knew Hanna might come tumbling into their room.
You're so beautiful. He told her.
Fire knew this, she'd been told all her life with her and her father's monster blood making them irresistible to any. Men and woman came for her from all over the Dells, monsters attacked for the chance at tasting her delicious blood that they craved for, but this man. This one man made her feel the true meaning of being told she was beautiful and not being persuaded by the spell she naturally sent.
I love you. I'm sorry I've been gone so long. I'll stay longer. I won't leave as long next time . . .
Brigan showered her in sweet words and gentle caresses. Fire knew he hated leaving; more then anything. He leaves his daughter, brothers and sister to go clean up a war he never wanted to happen. He leaves the woman he loves to go tell families that their loved ones died valiantly in the battle for their countries freedom.
Brigan looked into her bright emerald eyes and she into his deep gray that she knew he'd inherited from his biological father. Fire tentatively traced her fingers along his hard features, re-memorizing every little detail of this man before her. Then, softer then any kiss they had ever shared, Brigan placed a feather soft, burning passionate kiss against her perfect pink lips.
Fire desperately tugged at the leather armor that decorated his limbs, but after a few more tugs and no avail she gave a small whimper that vibrated through the light lip lock. Brigan couldn't help but let a smirk pull at the corners of his lips.
She freed the raw frustration and need she had been holding in for weeks, under her grasp she felt his muscles give a slight shutter at the sudden wave. Clothes were pulled from their bodies and flown around the room into messy heaps. Lips never parting, bodies pressed tightly beside one another and allowing the other to feel the trappings of their minds barricades.
Beauty, love, bliss, pleasure . . . The things they had craved in every second apart. Legs entangled in the thin sheets, the light haze of sweat playing tug of war between the heavy friction. Pale, tanned skin became pink with fingerprints and quiet moans changed to lazy, slow kisses.
Sleep enveloped itself like a gust of wind, allowing the lovers fall into a puddle and wrap themselves around one another before dozing; hearts beating as one, chest to chest.
Morning, long before the sun fully came above the tallest mountain in the Dells, Fire felt her eyes push out of the sleepy darkness. She let her gaze drift around the room for a few unknowing moments, but the sudden shift of movement behind her reminded her of hours earlier. Fire slowly turned so she came face to unshaven chin and handsome face of the man beside her.
His warm, husky breath tickled her shoulder as she laid on her back and basked upon how wonderful her life was. She remembered when she killed her father, the dull and empty pain she felt for weeks and was never filled again. When she began to see the true nature of Archer and the loneliness that came afterward. Once she found Archer, her best friend, dead and unwanted . . .
This man, Brigandell, the youngest son of king Nax and second child of queen Roen. He helped Fire see past that and know she had a future ahead of her. With him. The promise to never leave her and love her forever. It was more then she knew how to expect.
Fire gently rose from bed, careful not to disturb the soldier, and reached for the large shirt she had pried from Brigan's body that night. After checking that it covered most of her thighs and pulling on a pair of her own socks Fire quietly tiptoed from the room. Going down the stairs, Fire made her way into the dimly lite kitchen.
Hanna and Tess were asleep in their rooms so she was left alone. She reached over and grabbed one of the apples her grandmother had set out the day before. Taking a knife Fire slowly cut the fruit into strips. As she sleepily chewed, she noticed the presence coming from behind her.
Sneaking up on me won't work, Brigan.
Strong arms found their way around her petite waste, nuzzling his face affectionately into the crook of her neck.
Come back to bed, Love.
I was hungry. She told him in a playful tone.
I could have gotten you something if you had asked. He told her, kissing the flesh of her shoulder hidden by his shirt.
You need the sleep, how long has it been since you actually slept a while night through?
It's not like I slept much last night anyway.
Fire slapped one of his arms that was still around her stomach, but a smile pulled at her lips anyway. Giving up, she put the apple back down-half eaten- and turned to see the prince that stood before her. Fire laced her arms around his battle scared neck and felt their foreheads connect.
They stayed in their arms for a while longer before Brigan finally spoke for the first time that morning.
"Ready to go back to bed yet?"
Fire let out a light laugh as she pulled his lips to hers in a chaste kiss. They smiled against the connection and gave in to the happiness that simple touch could bring. Brigan reached down and slowly rubbed the bare skin his shirt couldn't cover. Fire gave a little jump and he massaged her leg, but soon there was a THUMP and Brigan's face almost slammed into Fire's. They both turned to see Tess, gray hair astray, nightgown crinkled and a wooden spoon clutched in her tiny hand.
"You foolish children, there is a young child sleeping upstairs that happens to be your daughter, prince Brigan. You two can't just come down here acting like this is some free for all!" Tess scolded.
Brigan and Fire both felt their faces go red with embarrassment, Tess may have been right but that didn't mean she had to be so harsh with words.
"Now get upstairs before I beat you both." She warned.
Brigan clutched Fire's hand, pulling her up the stairs and back into the sanctuary of their room.
"I hope grandmother doesn't hold that over us for-"
Brigan cut her off by pressing his to her's and wrapped her in his arms once again.
"Brigan . . ."
"Hm?" He asked.
"Don't, you have to go see your brothers in a few hours to discuss-"
"I think we are going to stay, here, in bed. All day." Brigan stated.
"I have been gone for weeks, running errands for them. They can handle one more day without me. They have been doing it for months, they just need to expand my time a little longer."
Fire stared, wide eyed at her lover as he covered her in kisses and that sudden promise. Together. Alone. A whole day to do nothing but be together. That knowledge helped her give him a smile and respond to the loving touches.
Hours later, the sun now peaked high in the sky showing off the afternoons heat. Brigan was satisfied to say the least. Gazing at the beautiful woman held close to him, sleeping beside him and giving off a warm glow. He trailed his hand along her soft features, feeling calmer then he had in a long, long time.
But silence doesn't last forever.
Brigan's head silently lifted up to look over his darling's shoulder and at the window across the room. It was Nash, there to tell him he was needed for his and Garen's meeting about his latest travels around the Dells. He let out a soft grunt, slowly hauling himself out of the sheets. Brigan pulled on his pants and angrily stalking to the closed shutters.
Brigan, as quietly as he could, threw the window open and glared at the scene below. Tess was going about the flower beds around the house while Hanna and Blotchy played tug of war with a stick, again. His child needs to find herself some human friends. Nash stood below the window, hands on his hips and looking mighty kingly.
"Brigan, you were supposed to meet Garen and I two hours ago!" Nash yelled up at him.
"I'm taking the day off." Brigan stated blankly.
"You heard me," Brigan shouted, suddenly angry. "I am spending the day in the bed I share with the woman I love. The woman I have not seen in several weeks because you both needed me to go and scour our kingdom for after war trauma."
Brigan didn't want to hear his brother's objections. He swiftly closed the shutters and walked back over to his bed. Fire was still curled up, facing where his body had been before. As Brigan took his clothes off again and crawled beside his beautiful companion, Fire gave a small stretch and blinked up at him.
"What was that?"
"Nothing, Love. Just informing the king of my little vacation."