To make sure she had time to think clearly, he kept his distance and slept in one of the palaces spare rooms. It had only been one night, but the time apart killed him. His mind continuously replayed the past events, trying to make himself believe that it was going to be fine. Folding his arms behind his head, Richard stared up at the ceiling and began following the smooth carvings that went across the room. He was fascinated by the detail; though it was completely different than that of their room, he found it beautiful. The design of the palace always took his breath away and he was grateful to have the opportunity to experience it.

Closing his eyes, he shifted beneath the blankets, finding it difficult to remain still as his mind went to thoughts of his wife. He could still feel the warmth on his neck where her lips had been; feel the dampness of her tongue against the hollow of his throat. Rolling onto his stomach, he pushed his face into one of the pillows and let out a soft moan. What he wouldn't give to feel her against him once again. Growing more frustrated, he crawled out of bed and walked to the window. She was standing in the tree line, her white dress making her stand out as she looked up at him. From the smile on her face, he knew that she had been waiting for him to take a glimpse out of the window.

Pulling on his shirt, he rushed from the room, eager to hear her voice again. The palace was quiet, every step he made echoed loudly, but it failed to slow him down. When he finally escaped the walls, he took in a deep breath of the fresh air and quickened his pace. The instant he saw a piece of her dress, he slowed drastically in an attempt to make it appear as though he hadn't run the entire way. Pushing back his hair with his fingers, he licked his lips and stepped into her view.

Turning her head, she met his eyes and moved away from the thick, tree. "You weren't at breakfast."

"I wanted to make sure you had time to think." He stepped closer, doing his best not to touch her. "Did you?"

"What you asked me to think about is not simple," she said quietly.

"All right."

Grabbing his arm, she stopped him from leaving. "I said it wasn't simple, I didn't say I was unable to do it." Turning him to face her, she brought her hands to his chest and smoothed her palms over the fabric. "You look like you had as much sleep as I did."

"I didn't sleep much."

Nodding, she took a step back and lowered herself to the ground. "Me either." He hesitated for a moment before sitting down next to her. "You were right," she told him softly, looking at the grass around them. "It was something I should have thought about." She gave him a small smile, instantly easing his pounding heart and racing mind. "You did betray me, but not in the way you believe. You left, Richard and that hurts more than anything." Turning her attention to the smooth bark of the young red maple tree beside them, she took in a slow and almost silent breath. "I came back to our room that day," she whispered quietly. It sounded like it was a secret; that she was ashamed of her own words, but he said nothing. "I was going to apologize for..."

Returning her eyes to his, she leaned back. "You were already gone. My husband had left and I heard it from my handmaiden. You didn't betray me by thinking that you had been with her. You betrayed me when you left and took her home with you." Taking another breath, Kahlan closed her eyes for a brief moment. "Then you returned."


"You chose to come back. Even after what you thought you had done, you came back. Knowing that it could destroy everything, you still came back and tried to fix it. All I could think about last night was that you came back." Her smile was warm and comforting, matching the wind that blew past them. "You chose to come back and what could be more important? You had the chance to leave; to be with Anna, but you came back."

"I came home," he said in a quiet, breathless whisper.

Coming to her knees, she moved toward him and removed every inch of space between them as she crawled onto his lap, a knee on either side of him. "The look in your eyes when you came back was the same one you had when we first left Hartland." Richard shifted his body beneath hers instantly, bringing his hands to her hips as she leaned forward. "You meant what you said about being home; it took me a while to see it."

Her face was half an inch from his; he was sharing her every breath. He couldn't get his mind to focus on anything other than the lines of her face, the scent of her skin and breath and the warmth that radiated between them. Slowly, he dragged his hands from her hips to her cheeks. She closed her eyes to his touch, enjoying the small motion of his love. There had been times before when words failed him and all he could do was touch her and in those moments, he knew she understood completely. When she opened her eyes, he lowered his hands to hers and squeezed them tightly in his; being his promise to be with her always.

Nodding, Kahlan smiled and pulled back. Keeping her eyes on his she took most of her weight of off her knees and lowered herself onto his legs, pushing down against him with a soft moan. Her desire for him was more than clear, but was laid out before him as she connected their lips roughly; kissing him the way he had her when they were in the Meeting Hall. They were alone in the trees at the back of the palace; no one would be along to stop them.

******The End******