|Winter Warm-up Blog Hop|
There was a stillness to the night that no longer frightened her. In the darkness, she'd found a light that had never been visible in the sunlit days. Smiling, she looked upward, absently counting the stars that sparkled in the velvety black sky. It was well after midnight now, and the crisp air was fresh and cool with frost. She held her position at the window for a few moments longer, then shivered when she felt a subtle ripple in the air, a barely discernible disturbance that meant he was near. She turned away from the wide pane of glass and reached out to pick up the heavy swath of dark wool that was her cape. A quick look around the spacious cabin assured her no one was awake, then she headed for the door, and slipped into the night.
The crunch of snow under her feet made her heart lift, and excitement began to pulse within her as a growing timpani of anticipation. She could taste the frost that coated the night air, and the icy breath of it on her skin was a caress that she loved almost as much as his touch. The scent of snow was thick, and the promise of a storm murmured to her, carried on the fluttering breeze. She pulled her cape closer and changed her direction, instinct guiding her footsteps.
She could feel his heart beating within her, knew he was as eager as she was to steal this precious time together.
She arrived near the frozen lake, and sat on the wide ridge that overlooked the sprawling valley. The stone was frigid, sparks of diamond-ice cast pinpoints of white fire into the darkness, bringing the rock to life with iridescent light. She shivered as the cold rose from the surface and wrapped around her, crawling over her limbs, then reaching inward. Yet she waited, allowing the warmth of her passion to burn deep inside her, it's furious heat stronger than any chill would ever be.
In the distance the song of a lone wolf pierced the silence, the slow, sonorous howl a dirge of sorrow. It struck her heart as a dagger, burrowing into her psyche, making her bleed with shared agony. She closed her eyes, let the tears trickle down her cheeks. She had listened to his loneliness for a long time, had shared it so intimately it was part of her.
She slid off the rock and looked toward the endless line of the forest. Moments later a shadow separated from the deeper shades of the towering trees. Her breath caught in her throat and the roar of her heartbeat was deafening. She dragged in a ragged breath, and bowed her head as he came to a halt mere inches in front of her.
She lifted her gaze and was snared by the lure of his eyes. Light shone deep within them, a trapped ray of purest sunshine that radiated a fire so intense, it could give life or take it away, as he chose. He was tall, flowing hair tinted with the silver haze of the rising moon, and the sharp angles of his sculpted features were cast in pale relief and shadows, making his expression fluid. Dark tendrils of silken hair lifted with the breeze, caressing his face with a lover's touch. Power and passion resonated from within him.
I brought you a gift, bella mia.
You are my gift.
He smiled. As you are mine.
He drew her close, and for a time, they were all that existed of life. The ethereal light of the moon's glow was being smothered by the blackness that preceded dawn when the howl of the distant wolf sounded again. She listened intently, then turned to her love.
They know I am gone.
Then it is time for you to go back, bella.
The pain brought tears to her eyes and she swallowed hard to remain silent.
When… He touched her lips with his finger, and smiled.
I will come to you again. When your heart needs me.
Then you will never leave me.
I am with you always.
He took a small box from his jacket pocket and placed it in her hands.
Merry Christmas, bella.
I have no gift for you.
Again, he smiled.
Your blood runs through my veins, bella mia, there is no greater gift–you have given me life.
She opened the small box and lifted a fine gold chain from the satin case, dangling from the intricate links was a crystal shaped like a seashell, its heart stained with a drop of blood. She looked up to thank him, and discovered she was alone again. Disappointment surged through her, followed instantly by loss.
Listen closely, bella, and I will never be far from you.
She looked at the shell and on impulsive, put it next to her ear. She smiled when the whisper of his voice murmured softly to her: I will never be far from you.
She put the gift back in the box and glanced at the sky. The inky darkness was fading, giving way to the relentless power of the rising sun. Movement drew her gaze to the edge of the lake, and she saw the wolf watching her. She turned to head back to her home, and the great white wolf came to her side. Her other guardian.
"Did he send you?"
The only reply, as always, was a low growl…
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