Meanwhile, after some time, covering a surprisingly large distance, the timid boy stumbles into an open area filled with stone floor and fragmented temples. Many half broken statues, bearing images of horrific creatures can be seen, still standing as though they were once worshipped. Clover sits to his knees among the abandoned ruins, crying amidst the eerie night.
Clover: (Gideon has his father, Kibishi has his job to do and Albion has his family elsewhere, but what do I have? The only thing I want to do is stay together – forever. If going to Valero means to leave Gideon’s side, I would rather stay in this big old forest for the rest of my life. Why don’t they understand, I don’t even know who I am. What will I do with myself once I am all alone?)
At that moment, Clover hears footsteps coming from behind. He turns around to see Gideon standing with the adult tiger – white as snow. The young boy shows a stern face as he looks upon Clover who now twiddles his fingers.
Gideon: Clover… what on earth are you doing, running so far away from the rest of us? Don’t you know it is dangerous to go off on your own?
Clover: Gideon, what are you doing here with Ramza?
The blonde haired boy strokes the feline while answering the worried boy.
Gideon: Ramza is accompanying me while I look for you and bring you back! The sad boy rises to his feet before stepping backward, refusing Gideon.
Clover: No, I won’t return. You’re only going to leave me alone in the end. You heard what Albion said about us all disbanding. When I tried to talk to you all about it, none of you disputed it. It feels like nobody cares – at all.
Gideon is slow to reply as he strolls towards Clover.
Gideon: Listen to me… Clover. We all care about each other and I’m sure none of us want to split up. I too wish we could all stay together – in some way. However, the realities of our situations are so complicated, it can’t be helped. Albion is not even from this land, stumbling here by accident and plans to return home with his brothers – once they’re found. Kibishi is only aiding me on my journey, yet he has his own vendetta against the Tetsue Empire who is keeping someone dear to him held captive. Finally my whole reason for travelling in the first place was to meet my father. We all have our own reasons that drive us forward. Unfortunately, they do not all coincide with one another.
Clover: But what if you don’t have any reason like that? The only thing I remember was being rescued by you. Now I have to face the prospect of being alone, without even knowing my past. Won’t you let me stay with you and your father?
Leaning against the side of a stonewall, Gideon replies while looking up at the twinkling stars.
Gideon: That would be nice and I am quite sure my father wouldn’t mind at all, however I would be lying if I told you that your presence wouldn’t attract bad attention.
Savior (Book Two)
Thanks to Kibishi’s help, Gideon was able to know the truth of his father. However, before they have time to accept his fate, Kenoke appears – bringing to light a sinister ambition.
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Perequin reached for the scalpel. With trembling hands she brought it to her side. The blade skittered across her stitches. Maybe she could wipe it off. Nothing else was in reach of her.
That sound filled her with dread. She screamed and drove the blade into her side, nicking it on the key. A wave of dizziness washed over her, the corrosive poison gnawed at her side. Blood poured over her hand, her grasp becoming slick.
Her fingers slipped on the blood-soaked key but she drew it out carefully. Her fingers, now numb from the poison, fumbled and the key slipped from her grasp. Desperately she felt around with her toe, trying to grip the key and bring it back to her lock. She caught the key on her big toe and started to lift it to her hand. The toe and hand met. She clutched at the key, but it slipped through her fingers, falling to the floor again.
She clenched her teeth. The wound bled freely, dripping down her thigh. She struggled and reached for the key again.
The room shuddered once more. A door appeared before her eyes. Screaming for her goddess’s forgiveness, she struggled, and, with a click, the iron maiden slammed closed.
“Game over,” the voice echoed in the stillness of the room.
She succumbed to his kiss, a kiss initially sweet intensifying to heady passion. His arms tightened around her. Her arms already raised to encircle them around his shoulders. She’d forgotten the feeling his kisses inspired, making clear thought challenging. She had to stop. Brad was her betrothed. She pushed against his chest, pulling her mouth away from his heated lips.
“No, Jared, I can’t.”
He pressed his mouth to the side of her neck moving toward her ear. “There’s no harm in kissing, Taryn.”
He was right. There was no harm in kissing if her promise wasn’t to another man. Now was the time to tell him about Brad. She weakened with the heat of his scorching kisses. A part of her wanted to tell him. Still, she hesitated. She was being unfair not to explain why she kept rebuffing his advances. Yet, it was equally unfair to Brad to allow anyone else to kiss her. “Jared, no!” She pushed away from him.
“Taryn…?” He outstretched his hand.
“No, I can’t!” She rushed toward the house.
Stunned into immobility, he stared at her fleeing form. What had he done? He pulled out a cheroot from his pocket, lighting and inhaling, completely baffled by her reaction. One moment she was on fire with the passion she was capable of expressing, and the next instant turned cold. Why did it matter so much? He had never concerned himself so in the past with women he pursued. If one lacked the interest, he simply moved onto another. This new concern was completely inconsistent with his character! Women had always been readily available. Women of all types and varying backgrounds. Taryn proved different. Refined one moment, a hellcat the next. Half the time, if not all the time, she deserved a sound crack across her backside. Something he determined she’d never received. Defiant and rebellious, she also displayed vulnerability. She was too damn confusing for his taste. She kept him totally at odds which was a new experience, and one he didn’t care for at all.