Monday, February 13, 2017

The Red Queen's Fight

Here's the second part of A Desperate Move. Neither of these were meant to be written, but they happened anyway. I had to know what happened next and the characters gladly told me. Forgive the raw writing, but that's not my focus as this was a just a practice piece.

I knew he would find me. He always did. It was one of the many things I loved about him, despite his being a controlling, untrusting, arrogant beast.
Not to mention, there weren’t a lot of hiding places in the palace where he grew up that he didn’t already know about. At least this one was completely private so we could fight and not worry about who overheard us. Because we were definitely going to fight.
I had been staring out the small window, watching the roiling sea, when I heard the loud creak of the door open and close behind me. I knew it was him and I had to force myself to hold still and wait for him to come to me.
I had stumbled upon this hidden room by accident when I was looking for something to wear. It was just off the Queen’s wing of the castle, hidden behind a wall of beautiful dresses. The room was cozy, with little furnishings except a large, extravagant settee by the fireplace and a bookshelf, full to the brim with books.
“Thaila,” Canton said from behind me. “I’m glad I found you, I want a chance to explain---” But I didn’t give him that chance. Having changed into my battle gear, I was free to attack him without the restriction of my skirt and corset.
I was surprised that Canton hadn’t noticed it first thing or he would have known what was about to happen. Even so, when I swung my leg at his torso, he managed to block it with minimal impact to his chest.
Still, the hit felt good and I immediately circled so I could take another shot. Canton frowned, but kept me in his sights, moving in a circle as well so I wouldn’t be able to sneak behind him.
“Thaila, stop this. I don’t want to fight you,” he said sternly. I hated that tone. So patronizing, like when my mother would scold me for doing something a princess shouldn’t do. My whole life I had been told what I could and couldn’t do. Why would I think it would be different in my marriage?
“You don’t want to fight me. You don’t want me to go with you. What about what I want? When does that ever come into the equation, or has that thought never even crossed your mind?” I asked him. His scowl deepened and he growled something incoherent.
“Of course, I think about what you want! But you want things I can’t---”
I lunged at him again and managed to strike him in the jaw before he grabbed my wrists and pinned them behind my back. This move infuriated me more than anything else. It gave him complete access to me and left me vulnerable.
He didn’t waste any time in taking advantage of my position and before I could so much as take a breath, his lips were on mine, searing me with their heat and intensity. I knew it was only a matter of time before I completely succumbed to my desire for him. I had to move now.
He started to push me toward the wall, one hand going to my hip and the other holding my hands back. I let him, as if he had already won me over, and just before my back hit the wall, I yanked my hands free, ducking away from his reach and kicking him in the back.
He slammed into the bookshelf, scattering books all over the ground, and grunted as he pushed himself away and turned to face me. I felt a satisfied smirk on my face. He may be immortal, but he still felt pain. And right now, I wanted him to feel pain.
There was a fire in his eyes that made my heart beat fast and irregular. I knew that look; he was done playing nice. Now he would fight back. Now I would be able to show him how capable I was of taking care of myself.
He wiped a drop of blood from the corner of his mouth in a slow, deliberate move, never taking his eyes off me. It was meant to intimidate me and in truth, it did. But that just made my anger burn brighter and I moved again before he could toy with me further.
He was ready for me, knowing I would grow impatient, and when I crouched to take out his legs, he tackled me to the ground, pinning me underneath the weight of his body.
I screamed in frustration and tried to lift my knee in a move that was low, even for me. But he pinned my leg with his much stronger one and I was immobile. Keeping my legs and arms restrained, he lifted his chest off mine so he could look at my face.
I glared up at him, daring him to say that this was the reason I couldn’t go. He stared back at me with the same intense look in his eyes that first captured my heart. A look I knew meant his entire world was focused solely on me.
“Thaila,” he growled in a low voice that completely undid me. “I know you’re upset and I don’t blame you, but you will hear me out!”
I continued to struggle against him, periodically testing my legs and arms to see if I could get one of them away long enough to do some damage.
I didn’t want to hear what he had to say. He embarrassed me in front of all those people in the courtroom and refused to see reason, even when he knew how much it meant to me.
“My reasoning for not wanting you to come along has nothing to do with your capability as a fighter,” he ground out, still struggling to hold me in place. “I know you’re more than capable of taking me on, you already proved that when you nearly succeeded in ending my life. But I can’t lose you, Thaila!”
This time I did stop struggling against him. We were both breathing heavily from the exertion of our fight and our quick breathes were loud in the silent room.
“Please. Listen,” he asked me gently. I was still wired and ready to fight, but I would at least give him a chance to try and explain his behavior. I nodded my head and he slowly arose, ready to pin me back down at the slightest indication I wouldn’t keep my word.
Which was tempting.
Reaching his hand out to me, I let him pull me up after him, but quickly turned back to the small window so his stormy eyes couldn’t try to persuade me to see his side of things. I wanted to hear his words, hear what was so important, he wouldn’t grant me this small thing I asked of him.
“Do you remember the day we fought together against the Green Kingdom?” he asked me.
“Yes,” I whispered.
“I can’t think of a time when I was ever more scared, than in that moment when I first saw you out there, fighting alongside all those men. The very sight of you knocked my breath away. You were fierce and strong and beautiful and more than just the princess who fought for her kingdom. The passion I saw in your eyes as you battled for the greater good of your people, was the moment I knew I wouldn’t be able to live without you by my side.”
He paused and I wanted to turn around and run to him. I didn’t. As nice as his words were to hear, it didn’t satiate my anger. I still needed to know why it was so important that I not be a part of this mission. He sighed when I didn’t turn around and I imaged him rubbing his goatee in frustration.
            “That feeling has only grown stronger, Thaila. As my wife, I’ve come to understand you in a way I only dreamed of being able to. Your kindness, your witty humor, your patience. If something happened to you…” he broke off as if the thought alone was too painful. I sucked in a deep breath, trying to control the emotions that were stirring dangerously close to the surface.
“If something happened to you, I would be a lost, broken man. My reasons for living would no longer be strong enough to keep me here and I would follow you to the afterlife and anywhere else you decided to go after that,” he finally finished. I had to choke back a sob that threatened to escape. The thought of him going through with that was too painful to contemplate.
I finally turned around and faced him. His dark eyes were shimmering in the low setting sun and his face was full of pain and anguish.
“So, that is my offer. If I agree to let you come along, and something happens to you, you agree to let me follow you, wherever you may go.”
I stared at my husband, so tall and strong, trying to imagine how I would live without him should the roles be reversed. I too would want to find a way to be with him again, no matter the consequences.
Suddenly the distance I’d put between us was too unbearable and I took several long strides to close it as quickly as possible. His strong arms were waiting for me and he scooped me into them the moment I was within his reach.
The electric current between us was still sizzling with heat, but this time a different passion ignited our furious kisses. He picked me up and I immediately wrapped my legs around his waist as he carried me over to the settee and laid us both down on the soft cushions.

 I knew I would have to think about his offer more seriously before making such a big decision, but right now, all I could think about was showing my husband just how much I couldn’t live without him.
                                     *Copyright Jayne L. Bowden*