The Guild – Chapter 29 – Andrei

I wave as Kaitlyn rides off with the kings riding party. I’m sad that she got hurt, especially since I was trying to help her off the animal…  She was finally starting to get the hang of being on a horse. Honestly, though, it was a little irresponsible of the king to have us all go on a ride without knowing she hadn’t ridden before. I probably should have told her how to get out of the saddle before asking her to jump. Once again, I can’t help but feel it’s my fault.

I lower my hand and look at it with concern. I should have been able to heal her… Why didn’t it work? Ceph had been able to do half the job, but… Nothing happened when I tried to use my magic. Did it have anything to do with the fact that I still can’t hear the tick? It hasn’t returned yet, even after nearly a week. I turn to Ceph, who’s still looking after the riding party, a confused look on his face.

“What did I say?” He asks softly.

“What?” I have never seen him so unsure before. He doesn’t seem to be the type to question himself.

“She’s angry with me. What did I say? I don’t understand.” He says.

Oh man, has he never dealt with a girl before? Well, in his defense, Kaitlyn isn’t like most girls. I would have to say her fire magic has a lot to do with her personality. “I wouldn’t worry too much about it.” I try to comfort him. “She doesn’t like being bossed around. She’s stubborn and independent. She probably didn’t like being called a selfish child.” I say.

“I see. She’s a lot like Elias when we first met. Fire is wild and untamable. I should have expected that.” He turns from the party, giving it one last look.

“How long have you and Elias been friends?” I ask, following him as he turns towards the trees.

He doesn’t answer right away. “For many decades now. Being a Guardian keeps you looking young, but Elias and I first met maybe 50 or so years ago.”

“Wow, that’s a really long time. I thought you guys were only in your thirties!” I say with surprise.

“Yes, we were in our late twenties when we met. I was already a Guardian then. Elias came to be one soon after we met.” He reminisces. I wonder what their story is.

“Could you tell me how you met?” I press.

He looks at the ground as he speaks. “I don’t think Elias would want me to. At least not without him knowing first.” He says softly. His whole stature shifts as he speaks, thinking about the past. He sort of crumples in on himself and it strikes me as odd. I don’t push anymore, at least for now. I would like to know, but I can wait.

He steps up to the tree, the same one he had originally been trying to harvest for the potion earlier, before Kaitlyn’s accident. “It’s time to see what you know about time magic.” He says, pulling the branch down and analyzing the branch. There are no leaves on it at this time of year. I wonder how he is going to get a fruit from it.

“Time magic has many uses. What can you do so far?” He asks me.

“Well, I can sort up speed up my own movements, and time jump to the past. That’s all I know at the moment.” I sigh to myself. I should be more proud of my accomplishments, considering how I am self-taught.

“Really. That’s unfortunate. Well. This spell is very much like the one you already know; speeding up your own movements. Instead of working on yourself though, you are working on the time outside of yourself.” I listen carefully.

“This branch is out of season; It’s late November. The tree is hibernating until spring, but we need the fruit it bears in spring now. So, I want you to try and focus on the time around the branch like you do when you speed up your own movements. I assume you imagine everything around you slowing down and becoming thick, like water?” He eyes me from the side.

“Yes, that’s roughly how I think of it,” I affirm.

“It’s a natural instinct to, in-the-moment, think like that. I’m not surprised you know this spell already. This time, don’t think of your own body but think of the branch. Picture the time of the branch speeding up until spring.” He motions for me to take the branch. I’m a little nervous it won’t work, considering the healing spell just before.

I hold the branch in my hand. I look closely at the gnarled tips and the bumps that will bare leaves and flowers in the spring. I Imagine what it will look like. I’m not sure what kind of tree this is, so I can’t picture the fruit it will bear. I focus on the time, the molecules that surround it and imagine it aging. Spring, warmth, sun, life, energy… Time.

I feel a jarring pain in my chest and step back, releasing the branch of the tree. It snaps up and shakes. Ceph watches me carefully.

“What did you feel?” He asks with concern.

I hold a hand to my chest, where I felt the pain. I stare at the ground a moment before looking up at him. “I’m not sure… I did it like I normally do… But… Something felt off, and it hurt.” I tell him.

His expression darkens. “When you tried to heal Kaitlyn’s ankle, like I asked you to, what happened then?” He asks.

“Something similar. Maybe I’m just not recovered enough, you know, from jumping two people.”

“No.” He says dismissively. “That’s not it. I can sense your power like I can Kaitlyns. You are at full capacity. You should be able to perform magic.” He says undoubtedly.

I furrow my brow, confused. “Why then?” I ask. What else could it be?

He looks up at the branch thoughtfully and then folds his legs beneath him, patting the ground beside him with his hand. “Join me a moment.” He says.

I join him on the brown grass, facing the tree. “As time mages, we have the advantage of feeling our power at all times. Everything around us influences this feeling, and we, in turn, influence the time around us. It’s like a steady pulse, a beating of life that surrounds us.”

“The ticking…” I say thoughtfully.

“Yes. I don’t refer to it like that because there are no clocks in my time, but I have seen them and heard them in the futures I have jumped to.”

“I haven’t felt it since I arrived in Camelot,” I tell him. “What’s does that mean?”

“It could be a number of things. I can only speculate, but, It’s not common for a time mage to be out of sync with his magic. It can happen. I think that is your problem now. I want you to think about what it is that is holding you back. What is troubling you? Perhaps something happened before you jumped, or when you arrived. Something that could be influencing your magic. Just meditate on it for a while. We are in no rush.” He says beside me, leaning back on his palms and closing his eyes.

We sit there, motionless for what seems like hours. A chill wind begins to pick up but Ceph seems statuesque beside me, unaffected. Not a word passes between us. I don’t know what to think. This reminds of my jump to the native village, where I met the Guardian who taught me to meditate. His teachings come back to me now.  I don’t know what’s bothering me. I just wish Kaitlyn and I could get back safely, even though I’m ecstatic to speak with another time mage. But going back would mean facing ‘him’ again and I can’t do that to her. I won’t do that to her.

“Tell me your thoughts.” He says in a deep tone, breaking the silence.

“I…” I try to start. “I don’t want to go back. Not yet. I want to learn more from you.”

He frowns. “That’s not enough to block your magic. Other elementalists have the advantage of coexisting with multiple mages in their time of the same element. Time cannot exist twice in the same realm. But that can’t stop us from meeting at different times, like now. What else is bothering you?”

“If we go back, she will be in danger again. I can’t make her face that.” I admit.

He nods. “That’s the problem. Good.”

“How is that good? If I freeze like this, how else can I protect her?” I feel the heat in my voice rise as my anger bubbles to the surface. He’s not making any sense.

“It’s not your job to protect her from danger. Not only as a Guardian but also as a woman of the future. She is more than capable of holding her own. You are unconsciously stopping time, preventing the future from occurring. But this coincidentally also blocks your magic from and essentially prevents you from using any kind of magic henceforth. That is the consequence of stopping time”

I cock an eyebrow. “How would you know that?” I ask.

He looks at me, his face young yet his eyes reflect an age of wisdom. He pulls out his pocket watch and rubs the face with his thumb, it looks like it’s a habit as the watch cover is worn smooth. “Time is a difficult element to contend with. It is an element like no other. Everything in life, we understand through time. We ask ourselves ‘what if…’ and doubt time and memory. As a time mage, we can overcome time, visit the past and reveal the truth. Visit the future to make truth and stop time to escape truth. But we often forget we are still children of time. We cannot truly define time without experience and we cannot experience time if it is stopped. I learned this from a teacher I met. A teacher you can also meet. But she is not of time anymore. That is how I know”

He rubs the pocket watch with a thoughtful expression. “She taught me many things and she taught me this lesson most of all, a long time ago. Time is meant to beat, to pulse, like the waves of the ocean, the burning of fire, the erosion of earth and the blowing of the wind. It is meant to move. You have to face your fears and let those around you overcome their own in their own time. You cannot govern time for them.” He goes silent and lets the words sink in. The atmosphere has become thick with wisdom and I need to contemplate his words.

“I think I get what you’re saying.” I break the silence. I look over and see a small smile on his face as he pockets the watch.

“Good. I don’t expect you to lift your block immediately, these things, they take time. Emotions are tied to time in the same manner. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn in the meantime.” He stands up and grabs the branch again.

“I want you to watch carefully as I age the fruit on this tree. I hope you can acquire this skill in the future and I hope it is useful for you someday.” He holds the branch level with his face and I see the space around the branch shiver with energy. The empty leaf nubs turn to buds, leaves sprout, a flower bud forms and opens before my eyes in seconds and in another, a fruit grows from where the flower withers. In a matter of seconds, this single branch has bloomed and produced fruit and it’s not even winter yet.

“That’s amazing,” I say with disbelief.

“Here,” He passes me the bright red apple. “We should only need the one. There are 2 other things we need. They should be just beyond the edge of the forest. Will you join me?” He asks. I don’t see why he does though, of course, I’ll help. I’m almost certain Kaitlyn and Elias will have a great time back at the castle, with them both being fire mages, or rather, Guardians.

We trek a ways into the forest, scanning the ground for a kind of mushroom. After kicking around some of the fallen leaves we find what Ceph’s looking for. The last thing he needs is some sort of berry, which blooms just after a January snowfall. I get to witness Ceph again manipulate the time of the plant hiding beneath the duff of the forest until it produces a warty looking brown berry. He gathers a cluster of them and places them within a small pouch at his waist.

“There. We’re finished. We should start heading back before night falls.” He leaves the forest, the fields surrounding Camelot glimmer in the late afternoon sun. The castle glows almost white in the distance. We’re maybe a good three hours walk from the castle walls.

“This way,” Ceph calls from my right. I see him looking at the ground at a set of hoof prints.

“Why are we following these? The Castle is that way.” I point.

“We can’t leave the king’s horses out here in the wilds. We’ll need them to get back. We may have forgotten to tie them up while we foraged.” He adds.

“Ohh,” I forgot about the horses. We find them grazing on a nearby patch of not yet brown grass. Before long we’re racing towards Camelot and Kaitlyn. I hope Merlin can make this potion quickly, for her sake.

    ~*~

    We leave the horses at the stable for the hands to take care of. Ceph’s strides are long and quick and I find it hard to keep pace with him. I don’t get why he’s in such a hurry. I jog to catch up with him as we wind our way through the castles passages until we are at Merlin’s door. It’s stands ajar, but Ceph lets himself in.

I peer around Ceph’s tall figure and spy Merlin and Eli standing by the fire in deep conversation next to a cot where I can just make out the edges of Kaitlyn’s dust-covered skirts. A spike of worry flashes through me and I push past Ceph in a rush to see if she’s okay. It seems to take forever if only I had my magic I could get there faster.

I fall to my knees at the edge of the cot, startling both Merlin and Eli. “What’s happened? Why is she… asleep…” I stammer to a stop. Why is she asleep?

Merlin answers, “She came in here, in hysterics.” He sighs. “I couldn’t make heads or tails of what she was going on about and I couldn’t have her tearing up my workspace, so I gave her a sleeping draught.”

He turns to Ceph, who now stands behind me, casting a shadow over the cot. “Do you have the ingredients?” He asks Ceph.

“Yes, we were able to get them all. Is she… Alright?” He asks.

Elias answers, “Don’t worry. She’s okay, just sleeping.” I glance over my shoulder and see him looking up at Ceph, a hand on his shoulder, smiling.

Yea… just sleeping. I put my hand on her arm, tracing circles while I watch her sleep. She’s so peaceful when she’s asleep. I look down at her ankle, shifting her skirt a little to see it better. The swelling doesn’t look too bad. I wish I could’ve helped her more. What’s got my stomach all in knots all the time? I don’t get it. What if I never do?

I’m distracted by Ceph and Merlin setting up to make the potion. I hear a clatter of glassware and the thump of books being stacked. Merlin stops and calls me over.

“Here, take this,” He passes me a bowl, “And this, and pound that till it’s dust.” He instructs, passing me a mortar and a dry leaf. I take the stuff with a frown. “You want her to get her magic back, don’t you?” He asks. “Then hop to it!”

I sit at the table, grinding the leaf while they boil and steam, crush and chop the other ingredients. Soon, an array of colorful smoke and fluids adorn the table. I hand Merlin my powdered leaf and he smiles. “That’s more than plenty.” He dumps half the powder into a bowl with a red liquid, followed by the brown berries Ceph aged, and the chopped apple.

“Now we just have to let this all simmer for a few hours and she’ll be right as rain.” He beams. “It’s getting late now. Andrei, why don’t you take her back to her room? I will… overlook it, should I find you still there.” Merlin turns to Ceph and Eli, “Shall I have a room made up for you two?”

Ceph pauses, thinking before he answers. “Well, we have the room at the tavern…”

“Oh, but Ceph, he just offered us to stay in the palace!” Eli whines, “Besides, I’m worried about Sis. Can’t we stay?”

I watch with amusement as Ceph gives him a narrowed gaze. “I suppose it’s alright then. I’ll tell the tavern owner we’ll not need the room any longer then.” Eli’s face lights up.

I kneel before Kaitlyn, still sound asleep. I hope she wakes up soon. I slip my arm under her neck and the other under her knees. Bracing my legs, I lift her with ease; she’s really light. I hold her close, slipping between Ceph and Elias and the cabinet against the wall. I turn at the door and nod to Merlin. “Thank you! I guess… We’ll just wait in the room. I don’t know when she’ll wake up, but can you have the servants bring my dinner to her room?”

“I will see to it.” The older man nods, “I will take a look at that ankle later this evening as well.”

“Thank you,” I say again. I leave the room and walk up the stairs to Kaitlyn’s door. I fiddle with the handle until I get it open and head in, laying her gently on the bed. I notice some books laying on her bed and begin to stack them so I can make room for her legs. I casually glance at the titles as I gather them. They seem to be about old fairy tales and myths. I wonder what could be considered myth in a time of legends. I put them on the table, keeping one for some light reading.

Moving back to the bed, I untie her shoelaces and gently slip them off her feet, leaving them at the foot of the bed. Then I crawl in next to her, propping myself up on some of the many pillows and crack open the book.  The writing is clean and fancy. It must take a long time for books like these to be written. Printed text wasn’t invented until around the 19th century.

I catch a glimpse of movement by the foot of the bed and spy a cat leaping onto the covers. I suspect it’s Rhoan. He looks at her swollen ankle and shifts into a brace, hugging it gently. “Can you still speak as an inanimate object?” I wonder aloud.

“Unfortunately for you, yes.”

I roll my eyes. “Figures.” I suppose I’ll never get used to him. I will admit, at first he was intriguing but now I find him a nuisance.

I turn back to the book and lose myself between the pages for an hour or so as the sun dips below the horizon and the room grows dim. I don’t bother to light the torches. I’m maybe halfway through the book when Kaitlyn finally stirs. She sits bolt upright, eyes wide and body rigid. She looks around, briefly confused until recognition downs on her face.

“Good evening gorgeous.” I hum, closing the book and laying it in my lap.

She turns, eyes still wide, and blinks a few times. “You’re back. When did you get back?” She asks.

“While you were dreaming,” I joke, leaning in and placing a kiss on her lips. I linger a while, waiting for her to return my kiss. She does, after a moment of hesitation. I smile against her lips and pull away to gaze into her confused face.

“Oh… I don’t remember falling asleep. Sorry…” She mumbles with a blush.

“You don’t have to worry. Merlin said you were frantic, so we started the potion and then I brought you here to rest. He said he’d be by later to look at your ankle. Dinner should come soon. How are you… otherwise?” I ask her, twirling a lock of her hair around my finger.

She smiles, relaxing a bit. “Better, now that you’re here.” She glances over my shoulder, “Oh, I almost forgot. I have something for you.” She rolls over and moves to stand up.

“Wait, you shouldn’t be walking on your ankle! Be careful!” I raise my voice, pulling on her arm gently as she rolls off the bed. I do wonder what it could be she so urgently has to show me.

Kat stumbles, catching herself on the foot of the bed. “Woops.” She chuckles.

“Are you sore?” I ask, sliding off the bed and pulling her up.

“I forgot.” She smiles, trying to reassure me. She takes a wobbly step away from me and gingerly hobbles to the desk, looking through the pile of books. She pulls out one from the pile and returns to the bed. “Here. I thought you might like this.”  She says, handing it to me.

I take the leather bound journal in my hands and flip through it. It’s blank, a new journal. The cover is embossed with vines and leaves. It’s got real craftsmanship. “Wow, thank you,” I say in awe. “It’s… beautiful. Where’d you find this?” I ask her curiously.

“I looked in the library first,” She says, her voice jumps a little but she moves on quickly, “but I ended up asking Merlin for it. He seems to have a bunch.” Her cheeks turn pink, “He said they’d bring something to write with to your room. I promise I’ll try not to read it this time.”

I laugh, “It’s alright, I don’t mind, you are a part of this jump. I might want your thoughts later when I write about this.” I will have to write my personal thoughts in code.

She purses her lips, “Are you sure? Your little anecdotes are the best parts, you know. I don’t think you’d write the same if you planned on me reading it. What if you read the parts you want my opinion on, to me?” I think over what she’s said. It makes sense… My journals need to be as accurate as possible. It’s always been my goal to accurately record the truths of the history I witness.

“Yea, you’re right. That’s a good idea.” I give her a smile, squeezing the notebook tightly in my hands. I’ll have to get started on this right away. “How’s your ankle feeling?” I ask as soon as I do, a knock comes to the door. A servant opens it, coming in with a tray of food, followed by a second servant with an another.

“You’re dinner my lady and my lord.”  The first servant curtsies after setting the trays on the table. She bob’s out of the room quickly followed by the other. I get a whiff of a meaty scent and my mouth begins to water.

“My, but that does smell good.” I grin hungrily. “Shall we dine together M’lady?” I ask Kat, joining her to the table with an offered arm.

She takes it with a laugh, “We shall.”

I lead her over to the table and let her arm go to pull out a chair for her to sit. Once she’s comfortable I take my own seat across from her. I remove the lid and am assaulted with the rich gamey scent of venison stew and boiled vegetables. The meal is accompanied by a fresh loaf of baked bread and thick, raw butter. There is also a goblet of wine and a pitcher for refills. I pick up the silver spoon and smile.

“Let’s dig in,” I say enthusiastically. I’m very hungry after the long ride.

As we enjoy the rich flavours of the stew, not a word passes between us. It’s not like I haven’t had venison before, but it’s not often I’ve had it simmered to perfection. I watch Kat as she takes small bites, timidly eating, like usual. I wonder how she can be so strong when it seems like she eats so little; a question I’m sure will boggle me for a long time.

I set my spoon down with a satisfied grunt. My plate polished, Kat has only gotten through about half her meal. I cock an eyebrow and smile. “Are you going to finish that?” I ask her.

She looks down at the bowl, “Not likely. It’s too much.” She says.

I put my elbows on the table and lean towards her. “Mind if I help you then?” I reach a hand slowly towards her bowl.

She looks up at me without moving her head, looking through her eyelashes. It’s alluring and I want to kiss her right here, right now. She smiles connivingly. My heart races and I feel hot. Why won’t she answer me? The wait is agonizing.

She licks her spoon, and sits back in her chair, “I suppose that’s alright. After all, you’ll need the strength, once you start training with armour.” She muses with a slight smirk.

I smile, retrieving my spoon and reaching across the table. “You’re not wrong there, but is that a hint of an implication that I cannot fight in armour?” I ask her.

“What?” Kat raises her eyebrows dramatically, though she can hardly keep a straight face, “I would never!”

“I think I recall a time, not too long ago when a similar such implication was made.” I press my finger to my temple in thought. “What was it now… You can’t beat me in a sparring match without cheating…” I look at her with a smirk, taking another spoonful of stew.

She half shrugs, “Well, if it walks like a duck…”

“I can’t believe you!” I sputter, finishing off her stew. At that moment, the door swings open and Merlin comes striding in with a steaming cup.

His eyes fall on us, “Ah, good, you’re awake.”

Kat turns in her chair and frowns, “Don’t tell me that’s the potion…”

Merlin glances at the cup in his hand and back to her, “Alright, I won’t. However, you do need to drink it.” Kat’s nose scrunches. I chuckle at her expression. This is going to be good.

I smile smugly from the chair as Merlin hands her the cup. I get a whiff of the potion, it’s not at all pleasant. I’m glad I’m not the one who has to drink it. Kat recoils from the cup, turning her face away. She takes a deep breath, holds it, and drink the whole potion down in one swift gulp.

“Uck!” She gags, “Damn that nosey creep…” The look on her face is priceless and I try to withhold my amusement.

Merlin chuckles, “You should start to feel the effects in a moment. By the morning, you should be back to your full power.” He informs her.

“How does it feel?” I ask. “Any different than before?”

She thinks about it for a moment. “Kind of tingly, and warm. I don’t feel like I’m going to freeze anymore.” She muses jokingly.

“That’s a start. I missed your warmth.” I tease with a wink.

“I understand your foot was injured earlier?” Merlin asks, kneeling in front of her as she pulls up the hem of her skirt. She holds out her right leg and Rhoan shifts back into a cat. Merlin rotates her foot slowly, assessing the extent of the injury. Then, he closes his eyes and his hands glow briefly. “It may still be sore for a day or two, but there won’t be any lasting damage.” He assures her as he stands back up. His voice drowns on about something.

I’m lost in thought, watching Merlin heal her like it’s nobody’s business. I wish I could have helped. I reflect on the cause of her sprained ankle and mull over what Ceph says… what’s really blocking me? I’m pulled from my thoughts by the sound of my name.

“… Andrei!” Merlin shouts. “Aren’t you listening to a word I’m saying?” He asks harshly.

I snap out of my stupor and look at him, confused. “No, sorry. I was… Thinking.” I trail off. “I’m listening now, what was it?”

Merlin crosses his arms with a frown. “I said you may want to keep an eye on her, in case she shows any negative side effects from the potion. Fire magic can be temperamental. There’s no guarantee that she won’t get sick. The potion may also backfire. I would advise you to stay close until the morning. That won’t be a problem, will it?” He asks with a grouchy face.

“Side effects? I mean… I had this thing tonight… I really don’t want to cancel…” I catch Kaitlyn grabbing her spoon and duck just in time as she flicks it at me from across the table.

“What?!” I ask in mock surprise as I narrowly avoid contact. “You missed, that was pathetic Kaitlyn.” I shake my head in mock disappointment.

“I wasn’t actually trying to hit you.” She rolls her eyes, “I’m not Caroline.”

I gape. “What? What’s that supposed to mean? When engaging in combat your main goal has to be to hit the target. Don’t pick up a sword unless you mean it.” I tut, wagging my finger at her.

She stares at me, exasperated, “Andrei… That was a spoon.”

“Anything can be a weapon, Kat. You of all people should know that. Like my toothpick!” I pull the shrunken rapier from a pouch on my belt. It glints in the light. “This is the ultimate weapon.” I twirl it around my fingers, letting myself get a little carried away.

She shakes her head and laughs, “I didn’t realize you were so desperate to be beaten again.”

“I’m not. I just need a fair fight. That’s all.” I catch Merlin rolling his eyes and I snicker to myself.

“Well, I’m leaving. I’ll leave you two lovebirds alone. Don’t be late for your armour training tomorrow. It starts at dawn. He informs me.

My eyes go wide and my mouth drops open. “Dawn!? That’s insane! That’s even earlier than the sword training!”

“That’s because you have to polish it first.” He smirks. “Farewell,” he waves, leaving us alone in the room.

After he leaves I turn to Kat in shock. “I can’t believe him! Can you?” I ask Kat rhetorically.

“Yes. You don’t have a squire, so you get to polish your own armour. Especially if you’re going to dent it.” She smiles devilishly.

“You didn’t have to answer that. So you’re on his side? That’s an ungodly hour to wake up for training, especially when he clearly gave me the okay to share your bed!” I point out, hoping she’ll see reason.

She shrugs and walks over to the bed.

“Going to sleep already?” I ask as she starts to undress. I can’t help but watch as the material falls off her smooth shoulders and collects in a heap at her feet.

“It’s far too early for sleeping.” She hums. “We just finished eating, so I don’t think we should lay down… Much.” She glances at me over her shoulder. I catch a hint of a wink and growl softly under my breath.

“How are you feeling?” I ask genuinely, standing up and combing a hand through my hair.

“Much better now, thank you.” She says, undoing her hair.

I stand behind her and snake my arms around her slender waist, lacing my fingers together so she can’t escape. She’s warm to the touch like she used to be. It’s soothing to be in contact with her warm skin. I press my chest against her back and bury my face in her hair. I relax with the scent that is hers. I want her, and it’s like she knows this as she pulls away.

“What’s wrong?” I ask, confused.

“Nothing,” She whispers, turning to face me, bare-chested. I feel a blush creep up my neck and into my cheeks. She smiles knowingly. “You’re cute when you blush.” She says, touching my cheek with her hand and rubbing my stubble with her thumb. It tickles and I shy away but she doesn’t let me go. She slips her hand up my neck and into my hair, pulling my face down to meet hers.

Our lips meet and I let my eyes close. I revel in her taste, pressing up against her as she kisses back. It’s intoxicating. I want more. I open my lips and gently bite hers. I hope that wasn’t too bold. She hesitates but then I feel her smile.

We stand there locked in a never-ending kiss for what seems like hours until she pulls me towards her and falls backward onto the bed.

“I thought you said we couldn’t lay down yet?” I whisper, breaking the kiss.

She smirks. “I said ‘much’.” I see the hint of a smile in her eyes and I hungrily lean in to kiss her, crawling on top. Why is she so good at goading me into this? I love it. I’m not complaining. It’s just, now I want more, and that can get dangerous. I secretly want to hide her away from all the world and keep her all to myself. If only I could do that. If only…

“I love you,” I whisper on her lips.

“And I love you.” She breathes back.

 

By Kayla West

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