Disclaimers: Mine, mine, all mine.
Sex: But of course! J I’d say pretty much NC-17 on this puppy, too, so don’t read at work.
Note: I decided to do a short story that was a wee take on one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride. You will see some similarities, and that is on purpose. Even so, the overall story is my own. Enjoy!
If you’d like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am or that I royally suck, feel free at: XenaNut@hotmail.com.
As You Wish
(NOTE: Just an FYI: for those of you who don’t follow the Academy of Bard’s Halloween Invitational, I submitted a novel called After Shadow. Go check it out!)
Flagley slowed his horse, peering through the trees until finally he came to a stop. The shouted orders could be heard echoing through the forest, and a cold trickle of sweat began to work its way down his back. He’d been traveling nearly a full day already, and it would take another night to get out of the dense woods.
This wouldn’t do. Wynton’s men had made their way into the forest already. The cave fortress was incredibly well hidden, and likely the men didn’t know the woods, but even still…. There was no way, no time for him to give warning to Conley and the others.
John froze, realizing he’d been spotted.
John kicked his mount into action as two soldiers rode at breakneck speeds towards him. They still had some distance to cover, but John didn’t wait around for introductions. He pushed his horse to his limits, knowing that speed and knowledge of his surroundings would be the only thing that saved his neck this day.
The two riders pressed on, one drawing a crossbow, gripping his mount hard with his knees so he could free his hands. It would be a difficult – if not impossible – shot, with all the trees and thick foliage, but he had the feeling the man they chased was one they were sent to kill.
The rider in his sights, he released the deadly arrow, growling as it hit wide, missing it’s intended mark. “Bugger,” he mumbled, preparing a second arrow.
John’s heart was racing in his chest as he used his intimate knowledge of the area to give him a distance advantage. He had heard the whistle of the arrow slice through the space he’d been but a moment before, and knew there would be more to come. He steered his horse left, then right, then left again, seeing up ahead one of the first bits of camouflage he’d ever set.
“Thank you, God,” he whispered, drawing his sword as he raced towards it. He spotted the vine at the last minute, nearly passing it. He swiped the blade at it, the vine snapping and a wall of vines and branches falling into place behind him. To the outside man, who didn’t know the forest well, it would look like a dense timbre, un-enterable.
The two riders were confused as suddenly their rider disappeared into the deep shadows of the forest. They slowed their mounts, looking in every direction and at each other.
“Where did he go?” the man with the crossbow asked, another arrow ready to fire.
The second man shook his head. “They say these woods ‘r haunted,” he said in a near-whisper. “Mayhap he was a ghost.” Deadly serious, he felt a thrill of fear tickle his spine.
His comrade rolled his eyes. “But a woman to believe in such tales.” He turned his horse around. “Let us head back before we become ghosts ourselves.”
No sooner were the words out of his mouth when he cried out in sharp pain, a hand coming up to his neck. A tiny dart was sticking out of the skin. A sharp whistle cut the air as a second dart flew out of the darkness, nailing it’s mark in the second man’s neck. Within seconds both men fell from their mounts, dead.
John watched, satisfied that he had hit his targets. With a quick jerk of the reins, he was off and galloping.
Mask firmly in place – though it served no real purpose now – Conley went about checking the battlements of the cave. Many had never been used in battle, as they had never been attacked there. No one really knew it even existed, other than Conley, John, John’s mother and any previous occupants. They had spent months fortifying it and making it a home. A home it had become, especially now.
The cries of Emily echoed off the walls, making Conley smile. Her whole life all she’d wanted was a family. Her mother had died when she was born, so there obviously was no relationship there. Her father had died years before, and she missed him terribly. He had really been the only family she could speak of. John and Agatha were the closest thing to it, now.
Conley had climbed up into the furthest reaches of the cave, where a small natural hatch formed. It let in fresh air, as well as served as a wonderful vantage point to check for any attacks, or to send weapons flying: arrows and the small hand-canon they’d gotten their hands on, for one.
Climbing down, heavy boots thudded hard on the stone as Conley dropped the last ten feet. Hands on hips, she looked around, trying to think of what else she could check. They were all but sitting ducks, and she knew it. John had been gone for two days now, and with the snows clearing, she knew it would be a matter of time before Wynton’s army showed itself.
Heading back to the main room – and planning area – Conley sat behind the desk and brought out a map John had made years ago, when he’d first discovered the caves as a boy. She laid the map out flat across the desk surface, placing heavy paperweights at the two top corners to keep it from rolling back up.
She wiped her hands across the smooth surface of the parchment, eyes scanning the drawn caverns, rooms, tunnels and escapes of the caves. She wanted a backup plan for Tamara to get Rachel and Emily out, should John not get back in time, and something went terribly wrong. With the close quarters of the cave, and labyrinthine twists and turns – which Conley knew well – she could keep the men held off long enough for their escape, but not much else.
“M’lord?” Tamara said, entering the room and walking over to the desk. “You called for me?”
Conley looked up at her, surprised to see her as she’d been so focused on her task. “Aye. Please sit, Tamara.” The older woman did as bade. Conley tapped the map with a finger. “This is a map of the entire cave system here: all the hidden rooms and escape paths.” She pinned Tamara with an intense gaze. “Should something go wrong, or even if I just tell you to, I want you to get the princess and child out of here.”
Tamara nodded gravely, while secretly pleased for such trust to be put in her. “Aye, M’lord.”
“Come. Let me show you.”
Rachel rocked slowly humming as she looked down at the child in her arms. She’d been massaging her breasts over the past days, as Tamara had advised, trying to stimulate her maternal instincts. Milk was running very low, even as John had gotten them some days before he left. She had experimented, trying to figure out what would work best for both she and the child. A bit of milk had been released the day before, to Rachel’s shock and delight. It was nowhere near enough to sate a growing baby’s ravenous appetite, but it was a start.
She had the cloth saturated with the goat’s milk John had supplied, against her breast. Emily had both her nipple and the milk-soaked cloth in her mouth, and was suckling contently. Rachel had to admit it was a very different experience, and often hurt, but Emily was worth it. She already saw the child as her own, and intended to raise her as such. There was no reason Emily should have to know of her ill beginnings.
“Such a beautiful babe,” she whispered, caressing the smooth cheek as she watched her feed. She had now learned Emily’s habits and time-frames, and knew that soon she’d fall asleep, content to be rocked in the safety of her mother’s arms. “I love you.” She leaned down and placed a soft kiss to the child’s head.
Rachel carefully disengaged the now-sleeping child from her breast and brought her up into her arms, continuing to rock her as she patted her back, waiting for the burp to come, softly humming the entire time.
Conley stepped up to the bedchambers entrance, leaning against the stone archway. She watched for a moment, knowing she should move on, but unable to move. The scene was beautiful, even as she respectfully kept her gaze from Rachel’s partially exposed breast. Feeling guilty, she was about to push away from the stone and move on when Rachel spotted her.
“You need not leave, Conley,” Rachel said softly, not wanting to wake Emily. “Come.”
Conley entered the room, pulling up a chair to sit near the two. She watched the baby for a moment, an instant smile coming to her face, unbidden. “She is a beautiful child, M’lady,” she said softly.
Rachel smiled, nodding. “That she is.”
They were silent for a long moment, pretending that Emily held their fast attention. They had not spoken of the incident in the hot spring, and Rachel’s new knowledge. Truth be told, Conley had avoided the princess like the plague, convincing herself that it was simply readying things for the impending battle. Lying to yourself was the greatest sin, she told herself, but couldn’t bring herself to seek out Rachel’s company all the same. She was terrified of looking into those green eyes and seeing disapproval or hate. That night in the prison cell, when she’d saw both flashing through Rachel’s eyes, it had cut Conley to the quick. It had nearly made her give up altogether.
“Any news?” Rachel asked at length, interrupting Conley’s musings. She kept her gaze on Emily, unsure what to say or do. She had noticed that Conley had been keeping her distance, and she felt she understood why, and perhaps was even grateful for it. She’d needed the time to sort things out in her mind and reconcile her feelings from before with her feelings of late. She also had to reconcile the fact that not only was Conley alive, but the always-perceived he was actually a she.
In retrospect, it actually made sense, Conley’s gender. Rachel thought back to the many moments they’d spent together a year ago. She remembered how tender Conley was, not only in his – her – actions, but also in her conversation and person.
“I’ve heard nothing, but feel the attacks will begin within the next couple days.” Conley was careful in what she said, as she didn’t want to alarm Rachel more than need be, even though alarm is exactly what she felt. She was anxious, and was doing all that she could to hide it. She gave Rachel a confident, encouraging smile. “We’ll be fine, M’lady. I’ve given Tamara instructions on what to do, should an attack come before John returns.”
Rachel studied Conley’s eyes, trying to look deep inside, beyond the color and bravado. “You’re scared,” she said softly. “Aren’t you?”
Conley thought for a moment, trying to decide on how to answer that very pointed – and accurate – question. Finally she decided on, “I’ll do all that I can to keep you all safe, Rachel.”
Rachel sighed, glancing down at the sleeping babe before returning her gaze to Conley. “I apologize for all the trouble I’ve caused you, Conley,” she said softly.
Conley smiled, shaking her head. “I don’t see it that way, M’lady. I’m glad I could help. Get you out of that prison Wynton had you in.”
“Yes, that it was. More so than I had even realized.” She sighed, sad memories rushing in. “I remember our wedding day,” she began, her voice distant and soft. “I knew then it was a mistake, and one I’d likely pay for with my life.” She met Conley’s gaze, a sad smile touching her lips. “Little did I know of how correct I was.”
Conley nodded. “I’ve spoken with Tamara. She has said she believes the intent was a slow poisoning, so at the end of the day, Wynton could claim natural death.” She sat forward in her chair, elbows resting on her knees. “What I do not understand is why? If Wynton wanted to kill you, why marry you?”
“The law of my father’s kingdom is such that should I die during marriage, and I have a sibling left alive, my husband would lose the throne, rather than take it over.” She smiled ruefully. “Years ago there was a rash of spousal killings for the throne. The new law was put into place to stop it.”
Conley chuckled, shaking her head. “So, why didn’t he just marry Allison?”
“He could not. I’m the eldest. My theory is he simply wanted to get to Allison,” she brushed her fingers across Emily’s face. “Especially with what I know now. Even so, I think it a matter of time before he would have murdered Allison, as well.” She sighed, fighting the emotion. “Though I guess no need for such now.”
“I’m truly sorry, M’lady. Your world has been turned upside down this past year.”
Rachel nodded. “Truer words were never spoken.”
“Well,” Conley said, slapping her thighs and she stood. “’Tis late, M’lady. We all should get some rest.”
Rachel nodded, sad to see Conley go. “Sleep well, Conley.”
“You do the same, M’lady.” Conley looked down at the baby, gently running her fingertips over the soft skin. “Sleep well, little one.”
Rachel watched her go, sadness in her heart, as well as a dark feeling of foreboding.
~~ FIFTEEN ~~
Lord Wynton looked at the map that had been hastily made by his cartographer of what he could make out of the densely wooded area. There were lots of cliff faces that were hidden. Some had been marked with cave openings, others had not.
“M’lord,” Dexter said, entering the nobleman’s tent and sitting across from him. “You called for me?”
“Yes,” Robert said, not looking up from the map. He was tracing a line across the parchment with his finger. He stopped, tapping an area. “Here. This is where we need to be.”
Dexter followed his line and studied the point on the map for a moment, rubbing his bearded chin. “You believe that is where the cave entrance lies?” he asked, unsure.
“That I do. We found the bodies of the two men here,” he pointed to another area where the two soldiers had been brought down with poisoned darts. “In these temperatures the murderer can’t be far from a home base.”
“We found hoof prints in the snow, M’lord. Doesn’t it make more sense that the murderer could have been trying to scout or check the perimeter? Perhaps he wasn’t close to the entrance at all.”
Wynton felt his anger beginning to build at being questioned. He glared at his second in command. “I’m tell you, Dexter, this is where we enter.” He slammed his finger down on his original spot. “Any questions?”
Dexter sighed and shook his head. “No, M’lord. I’ll speak with the unit commanders.”
John was still shivering, even as he sat next to a massive fireplace, a dancing fire within. He took the cup of mead offered him by one of the servants. He gave a nod of thanks and then took a long sip, sighing as the strong liquid warmed his insides. He stared into the flames for long moments, grateful to have finally arrived at Rachel’s girlhood home, though he was somewhat anxious to speak with the King. He hoped the meeting would go as good as planned. He had some bad news to deliver, and wasn’t sure how the Regent would react.
“So, you’ve returned,” came the booming voice of the King. The large man walked across the room to the chair that matched John’s. He said down and looked at his guest, sizing him up. “You’ve returned half-frozen, half-starved and alone. What news?”
“May I speak plainly?” John asked, holding the warmed mead between his hands. At the King’s nod he began to explain. “We found Rachel, Your Majesty. She had been drugged for many months, near death. We whisked her and her woman, Tamara out of the house and managed to get to our hideout before the storms came.”
The King was silent, stroking his red beard as he listened. He was growing more disconcerted with each word.
“During our travels, we ran across a servant boy of Wynton’s, murdered before our eyes by three of Wynton’s men. The boy was dispatched by myself and my partner, and it was discovered that the boy carried a baby. The child of Allison. Though not certain, it is believed that the girl died giving birth to the child.”
“Where is the child now?” the King asked, the news and fates of his two daughters just beginning to sink in.
“She is with Lady Rachel, Tamara and my partner, Your Majesty. Safe.”
The King looked at the blonde man with skeptical eyes. “Why are you here without my daughter and grandchild, Mercenary? If you’ve come to ask for more-“
“I’ve come to ask for an army, Your Majesty,” John interrupted, needing the King to understand just how dire the situation had become. “We lost precious time because of the storms. There was no way the women and child would have survived such harsh snows had we continued on here. They are safe, or at least were when I left them three days ago.”
The King felt relief, as he saw nothing but truth in the man’s brown eyes. “What has happened?” he asked, voice deathly low.
“Wynton has brought his entire army into the valley to attack us. He wants the girl back at any cost. This is no longer about his wife, Your Majesty. This is about pride.”
Rachel shot up in bed, the nightmare still fresh in her mind. She had seen a horrific battle, and watched as Conley was cut down, holding her blood-soaked middle as the life drained from her.
Heart racing, Rachel looked around the chamber, a lone torch burning at one end. Tamara was sound asleep on her cot, as was Emily, lying in the make-shift crib that had been fashioned. She took several deep breaths, trying to get her pounding heart to still. She threw her legs over the massive bed, a strong need to see Conley and make sure she was okay.
The corridor was dark, but Rachel had made the trip enough times to the hot springs now that she no longer feared the dark. She knew each crag where not to step along the way. The dim light of the torch Conley kept lit throughout the night loomed up again, acting as a guide to bring Rachel the rest of the way. The warmth from the springs also met her skin as she neared.
Rachel entered the small chamber, her eyes immediately going to Conley’s still form. She had kicked off her cloak covering long ago, her body splayed out comfortably on the small cot. Rachel smiled, noting one leg hanging off the cot, the foot resting on the stone floor. She sat on the edge of the cot, gently bringing the leg back up and placing it next to it’s twin.
Conley let out a heavy breath and turned her head, now facing Rachel. The princess looked down at the beautiful face, which she now wondered how she ever could have seen as handsome. She brought a hand up, using the lightest touch ass he traced the dark brows and down along a smooth temple. Worry lines began to gather between the closed eyes, and Rachel used a thumb to smooth them.
Conley’s eyes slowly slid open, blinking as she tried to get her focus. She was surprised to see Rachel sitting at her bedside, and even more surprised to feel her fingers on her face.
“Are you alright, M’lady?” she asked softly.
Rachel nodded, unable to take her eyes from Conley’s. “I had a nightmare and you were killed. I had to make sure for myself you’re okay,” she explained, her hand coming to rest on Conley’s jaw.
“I’m alright, M’lady.” Conley smiled. “Not dead, yet.”
Rachel shook her head. “No. You are not dead, and you will not die on me during this battle. Do you understand, Conley?” her voice was firm, her heart pounding in her chest.
“Aye,” Conley whispered. She covered Rachel’s hand with her own and turned her head to lay a small kiss on the palm. “I understand, M’lady.”
A shiver was sent down Rachel’s spine from that kiss. She lost her breath for a moment. “There’s something I want to tell you,” she said, running the fingers of her other hand through thick, black hair. “I am so sorry for what happened, Conley. It killed me to know you had been with Allison-“ Conley tried to speak, but Rachel put her fingers over her lips “Let me finish. I understand what happened, and I’m not longer angry. But at the time, I knew I had fount my heart, and it was ripped out that day.” She felt the sting of tears behind her eyes and tried to blink it back. “Then my heart died when I heard you were killed.” She looked at him with the love in her eyes she had fought so hard against. “I think you took the best part of me with you.”
Conley shook her head. “I do not agree, M’lady.” She smiled. “The best part of you is sitting right here, and is in there feeding and caring for Emily.” She placed a hand over Rachel’s heart. “She’s in here. Very much still alive and well.”
Rachel covered Conley’s hand with her own, and moved her hand from her heart to her left breast. Conley stared up at her, surprised. Rachel held her hand there, the nipple immediately responding to the warm touch of Conley’s hand. They both gasped at the sensation.
Conley was about to remove her hand, but was held firm. She looked to Rachel for explanation. “I hated that you were with Allison. I hated it because you were supposed to be with me.” She squeezed Conley hand, which in turn squeezed her breast. She gasped a bit at a small amount of pain from trying to breast feed.
“Sore?” Conley asked.
Rachel nodded, but didn’t release Conley’s hand. She leaned down, their faces not a hand’s length apart. “Conley, anything could happen during this battle, and I don’t want anything to happen to either of us without this.” With that, she bridged the gap between them and kissed Conley. The kiss started out soft and slow, but quickly built and deepened.
Conley released Rachel’s breast and used both hands to pull the princess on top of her. The kiss never broke as Rachel rested her weight on her forearms. She was amazed at the wonders of Conley’s mouth, and the feel of their bodies pressed together. Never in her life had she experienced anything so wonderful.
The kiss broke breathlessly, Conley’s body and soul on fire. She looked up at Rachel, who’s long hair had fallen all around them like a golden curtain. “I’ve missed your kiss for so long, Rachel,” she said softly, her hands resting on the princess’ lower back.
Rachel smiled. “I love the way you say my name,” she said. “You’re never allowed to call me ‘M’lady’ again. You must always call me Rachel.”
Conley chuckled. “I’m not sure how the King would view that.”
“I don’t care.” She kissed Conley again the broke away, looking down at her. “I want to be with you, Conley. The way you were with Allison.”
Conley looked at her, wanting to make sure Rachel was sure of what she was asking. She saw nothing but love and intense desire and need in her eyes. She smiled. “Well, at least you know I can’t get you pregnant.”
Rachel smiled, though it vanished. “I wish you could.”
Conley was surprised by the passion in the kiss Rachel delivered, which put an end to any doubt she might have about making love with Rachel. She maneuvered them so that Rachel was lying on her back on the cot, Conley hovering over her. She insinuated one of her legs between Rachel’s , making the princess gasp at the contact. Conley looked down along Rachel’s body, seeing her chest heave with every breath,
She leaned down to kiss Rachel, the kisses slow and meant to enflame. As she kissed her, her hand ran down along Rachel’s side, using her fingers to slowly pull up the princess’ sleeping gown until callused fingers came into contact with hot skin. Rachel sighed into the kiss, her hands working their way up and around Conley’s neck, and finally into her hair, holding her into their heated kiss.
Conley broke the kiss and broke totally away until she was on her knees on the side of the cot. She helped Rachel remove her gown, leaving the blonde nude and waiting. Conley stood up, working to undo her pants when Rachel sat up, stopping her.
“All of it,” she said softly, tugging on the hem of the black shirt Conley wore. Conley flushed deeply, as she’d never been naked in front of anyone before. But, she could deny Rachel nothing. She swallowed her pride and whipped the shirt off over her head, surprised to feel soft hands against her skin. Rachel was kneeling on the cot and beginning to work on the bindings that held her breasts captive. Once they were free, Rachel looked at them, tentatively bringing a hand up, touching the soft underside in wonder.
Conley wasn’t sure what to think, and felt a mixture of final acceptance, and discomfort, as she’d never felt totally comfortable with her femaleness. To take her mind off it for a moment, she pushed her breeches down, allowing them to slide down long legs and pile on the floor. She stepped out of them, leaving her completely nude, save for the leather straps that held on her phallus.
Rachel’s attention is brought to the leather phallus, her eyes drifting over it, somewhat afraid. She and Robert lay together only once, and that was the night of their wedding. He was rough and the coupling was painful. Though Rachel does not feel Conley would be as rough, she was still anxious.
“It’s okay,” Conley said, pushing Rachel back down to lie on the cot, following suit. Once Rachel was lying down, Conley began to explore her body with fingers and mouth.
Rachel began to relax, her eyes falling closed as Conley kissed and licked along her collar bones, her tongue dipping into the hollow Rachel’s throat and then working it’s way up. Rachel moaned softly as the hot mouth moved to her neck, her head falling to the side to allow more access.
“Oh, Conley,” she whispered, feeling as though she were being taken to heaven with the simple touch of the woman on top of her. Her body was responding to every touch, every kiss, every whispered or breathed word. She was on fire.
Conley had never felt anything like it, in all the times she’d been with a woman. The feel of Rachel’s skin against her own was magical. She could die at that moment and be alright with it. Pure bliss. The taste of Rachel’s skin, the feel of her responses, the way their bodies fit together…
Instinctively Rachel’s legs began to open, inviting Conley inside. Getting the idea, Conley positioned herself, moving up to kiss Rachel, long and deep, meanwhile reaching down between their bodies and Rachel’s legs and taking hold of the phallus. With careful precision, she guided the firm leather inside, using her hips to push all the way in.
Rachel concentrated on the feel, so different from her time with Robert. She looked into Conley’s eyes and saw so much love there. It made the sensations that much more potent as Conley began a slow, even rhythm. She leaned down and kissed Rachel, slow and deep.
“I love you, Rachel,” she whispered against her lips.
“I love you, too, Conley,” Rachel whispered back, drawing her in for another kiss. “With all my heart.”
As their bodies moved together, Conley knew in that moment that no matter what happened - if she were killed in battle, if the King had her executed, or if she lived on and never saw Rachel again - she would know that for a moment she had found true happiness. She knew that in that moment, with the woman she loved, she had found peace for the first time in her life. She just hoped it would be enough to last her the rest of her life, no matter how long that would be.
Rachel’s eyes slid closed as pleasure began to burn a slow path through her, a flame banked with every touch of Conley’s hands, mouth and the slow rhythm of her hips. She let out a long, slow sigh, her hands drifting down along a smooth, strong back until she felt the firm roundness of Conley’s butt. She ran her nails along the skin, feeling the leather straps that held her ruse in place. Conley shivered at the touch.
As Rachel’s head reclined back as pleasure filled her, Conley took the opportunity to taste more of her throat. She ran her tongue up along the graceful column of pale skin. She nipped playfully at the skin, arousing a moan from the blonde. Rachel’s breathing was quickening, her movements beginning to match Conley’s, instinctually urging Conley to move faster as her pleasure rose.
Rachel had never felt such pleasure before, as Robert’s coupling was nowhere near what was happening to her in that moment. Her brain seemed to stop functioning as a haze took her over. The world receded to Conley and the pleasure. Surprised at her own actions, Rachel grabbed a firm hold of Conley’s butt, urging her to increase her speed and thrusts. She raised her knees, moving her hips in tandem with Conley’s, helping to being them both to the pinnacle.
Conley could tell Rachel was close, so picked up her pace, returning her mouth to Rachel’s neck, nuzzling her as she made her way to her mouth, initiating a searing kiss. Soon Rachel had to break the kiss, unable to breathe as her breaths came faster and shorter, the heated pleasure racing through her running an intense course straight between her legs and exploding in a cry of ecstasy. She gripped Conley’s flesh with a talon-like grip, her body convulsing and trembling.
Conley wasn’t far behind, her own body exploding as she held onto Rachel for dear life, their bodies pressed together as she buried the phallus within Rachel’s depths. They stayed glued together for a long moment, both trying to catch their breath and bring the world around them into focus.
After a long moment, Conley pushed herself up, looking down at Rachel to see her beautiful, flushed face. She smiled, gently pulling out and moving to Rachel’s side. She gathered the blonde up in her arms, holding her close.
Rachel rested her head on Conley’s shoulder, pressing her body as close as she possibly could. Never had she felt so connected to another. She wrapped a possessive arm across Conley’s stomach. A burning question was eating at her. “Conley?” she began quietly.
“Aye, love?” Conley asked, running her fingers back and forth over Rachel’s arm.
“Was it like that with Allison?” The shyness in Rachel’s voice broke Conley’s heart.
She placed a soft kiss to Rachel’s forehead. “Nowhere near it, Rachel. With Allison it wasn’t about love. For either of us. ‘Twas about a need from her. It lasted mere moments.”
Rachel thought about that answer for a moment, and realized she believed her. She placed a small kiss on Conley’s neck before laying her bead back down. “Where did the scar come from?” she asked after a moment. “The one on your cheek.” She lifted her head, gently running a finger over the moon-shaped scar. “You said it was a fight.”
“And it was. Sort of.” She sighed, remembering the most horrible night of her life. “Wynton came into my cell, after I’d been arrested and convicted. I was shackled to the bench, and he decided to take his anger out on me.” She reached around Rachel, stroking the scar. “His ring cut my face.”
“I’m so sorry,” Rachel whispered, moving Conley’s hand out of the way and replacing it with her lips. She found his lips, the kiss quickly deepening and turning heated.
Conley grabbed Rachel, pulling her on top of her when they heard Emily’s cries echoing through the caves. Rachel pulled away, listening. She realized what she was hearing and gave Conley a quick kiss before moving off of the cot and quickly dressing.
“I’m sorry. I have to feed her.”
“’Tis alright,” Conley said, also getting up and dressing. She knew that with the situation being what it was – the situation with Wynton’s army, as well as the possibility of Tamara walking in on them – it was a much wiser idea to perhaps rest of the night.
Once Rachel had hurried off to get the baby, Conley decided to check on the cave and it’s surrounds, just to give her a solid peace of mind. She whistled softly to herself as she stepped out into the cold early dawn. The sun would be visible at the horizon within the hour. The temperatures were cold, her breath crystallized as soon as it hit the air.
She was about to head back inside when she stopped, peering into the dawn to try and figure out what she’d heard. Was it an animal? A hunter searching for it’s prey before the sun rose? Conley stepped further out until she was in the trees, listening, trying desperately to see where the source of the noise was coming from. It was the movement of branches and heavy footfalls on temperature-hardened snow. Lots of footfalls.
“Bugger!” Conley hissed, turning and running back into the cave. Her stomach was churning as she went to the pulley system that would place a heavy boulder at the mouth of the cave. Grunting as she fought with the ropes and heavy burden, finally the boulder rolled into place, blocking that as an entrance. From the sounds of the steps, she figured the army would be to the cave by dawn.
With little time - yet much to do to make sure Rachel, Emily and Tamara escaped unharmed – Conley felt pressure and panic. So this was it. The last stand. Pushing the morose thoughts out of her mind that insisted on parading past her mind’s eye, she rushed to the armory, quickly arming herself with a broad sword upon her back and a short, stabbing blade at her side. She slid daggers into her boots and belt, then ran towards the bedchamber with two more blades in her hands.
Unaware of what was about to happen, Rachel sat on the bed nursing Emily, Tamara was asleep on her cot. “Rachel, feed her as quickly as you can,” Conley said, doing her best to keep her voice calm. She didn’t want to frighten the two women anymore than was necessary.
Rachel looked up, shocked to see Conley standing in the entryway, armed to the teeth. “What is it?” she asked, instinctually holding Emily a bit tighter.
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