Some of you may recognize this from Arrens’ blog…
Mid-afternoon, Loreli sat in a chair before the window in her room. She had returned early, not feeling well. After sleeping most of the morning, she was feeling better, though not one-hundred percent, yet. Her daggers and belt lay abandoned on the table where she’d dropped them upon her return. An unfolded letter and another half-penned lay before her.
The room was small. Consisting of a bed against the right wall, the small table and chair by the window and an easel in the corner. The easel was currently empty of a canvas, but brushes and paint bottles awaited use on the end of the table nearby.
She’d left the door cracked and there came a light rap on the frame. She turned to tell the visitor to come in, but the words died on her lips. Jaylen Sunshade was every bit as attractive as she remembered. Today he wore his dark hair loose to his waist, leather jerkin open over a white linen shirt and leather pants that did not leave a whole lot to the imagination.
“Jaylen?” Loreli asked, disbelief plain in her voice.
Her uninvited guest grinned and stepped into the room, closing the door behind him. Stupidly, Loreli thought nothing of it. All she could focus on was Jaylen and his eyes on her. There had always been heat between them, apparently that hadn’t changed.
“What are you… how did… how did you get in here?” Her voice was weak, lacking its usual command. That too, had always been a constant between them.
“I walked in the door, of course. Told the guard I was here to see you, let me right in. They seem to like you around here.” He stalked towards her, and she found herself unable to think straight.
“And… how did you… know here to find me?” She asked, her mouth had gone dry. It was a stupid question. Loreli knew it and so did Jaylen.
“Well now, that’s a silly question, honey. You know as well as anyone, we can find out anything. Besides, it’s not like you’re making an effort to hide.”
Jaylen was so close to her now. He reached out, taking her chin in has hand. “Since I was in town, Shaw suggested I come see you. Icecrown is awfully lonely since you left.” He tilted her face up and kissed her. When she didn’t fight back, he tangled his hand in her hair.
Loreli felt dizzy. She wanted to embrace him, take him right there. She had missed him. Then suddenly his words sank in. She tried to jerk her face away, but his hand in her hair held fast.
“How much?” She asked.
“How much, what?” His lips still brushing hers, as he spoke.
“How much…” she grabbed his wrist, forcing him to let go. She shoved him hard and he stumbled backward, “… is Shaw offering on my head?!” She spat.
Jaylen’s amorous expression grew dark as he got to his feet. Suddenly he lunged at her and they crashed into the table. Brushes snapped, the paint bottles and ink well shattering on the floor. Jaylen recovered first, Loreli’s slighter form cushioning his fall. He grabbed her wrists and dragged her to her feet, slamming her into the wall, pinning her with his body. He placed his mouth close to her ear, his voice a low growl.
“It’s quite a large sum, honey. One I’d love to collect. However,” He shifted just-so against her, “I’d much rather have you back.” His grip on her wrists was vice-like and starting to hurt. She was mentally cursing herself for letting him get this close. Her mind was racing, grabbing and discarding options like a drowning man, grasping for the hand of his salvation.
“Shaw won’t take me back.” She said, shaking her head. Keep him talking, come up with a plan. Feign interest.
“He would.” Jaylen bit at her lower lip and she fought not to turn her head in disgust. He continued, “You’re close enough to our friend the Headmaster every day. Take him out and Shaw will overlook everything you’ve done.” He paused, making sure she was paying attention, “He’ll even forget about Channi.”
Loreli went very still, all plans of escape chased from her mind by his words. Could she really trade Arrens’ life for Channi’s safety? Loreli thought to keep her daughter safe she’d do anything. Not this; for too many reasons. The fact that Shaw and his organization couldn’t be trusted was just one of them.
“Unless, you think you can’t do it.” He challenged.
Loreli barked a laugh, “I could do it. Better than you could. But I won’t. No deal.”
Jaylen shook his head, “Too bad.” His final kiss was violent, painful and bruising. In an instant he’d grabbed her daggers from the remains of the ruined table and drawn them across the sides of her thighs. The cuts weren’t deep enough to server muscle, but the pain still dropped her to her knees as she bit back a cry. He was now armed, and she wasn’t. A shout for help would bring his wrath down upon her.
Jaylen tossed the daggers at her feet. Loreli blinked in surprise, trying to think past shock and pain.
“Aren’t you going to collect your money?” Loreli gasped.
“Oh, I intend to. But you know me; I look forward to the game.” He paused in front of the door, “Also, I always did enjoy the sight of you squirming.” He opened the door and left, closing it again behind him.