With a tenderness the court ladies were sure to envy, the Elf closed the gap between them. His breath filtered down through her hair, caressing her forehead and increasing the pulse in her veins. A hand trailed along her chin, tilting her lips up to his. Moist and soft, his full lips parted slightly as they pulled her in. A dizziness assaulted her – sweet and powerful. Her heart sang in angelic chorus, triumphant and jubilant. But it was short-lived as he pulled away in earnest apology.
“Elven-Reih…” she gasped in an almost inaudible whisper.
“I can’t,” he muttered, averting her gaze.
She flung herself at him, bunching his shirt in her fists, forcing him to look at her. “Why?” Her eyes burned, threatening tears, begging for him to kiss her again.
Bringing his nose to brush her cheek, he released a long sigh. All too willingly, she welcomed his gentle caress, her own nose coming against the soft skin of his perfectly formed jaw. Her hands relaxed as he pulled her into a deeper embrace, their hearts beating together now in beautiful symphony. But he pulled back a second time.
“Don’t stop,” she pleaded. “I’ve never felt this way before. I don’t want it to ever end.”
“I think we want this too badly,” he said, taking her hands from his chest.
She laced her fingers through his, refusing to let him leave. “And what is wrong with that?” She was insulted by his words.
“We are pulled by the flesh,” he started, searching for the right words. His accent was thickening as passion entered his voice. “I’ve never felt this way about anyone, and it makes me afraid. It is but a taste, a reminder, of the promise of eternal happiness I glimpsed when you saved me from the tree.”
“What are you talking about?” He wasn’t making any sense.
“I don’t want to fail you,” he explained, playing with her fingers.
“Fail me?” She feigned laughter.
He exhaled. “I can’t explain it well enough. I experienced it when I hovered between life and death, a light and love so big that it promised to fill my every void. My love, no matter how great, will never match this surreal and eternal flame. Love you, this body can. But fulfill you, I’m afraid it cannot.”
Naidreyn untangled her fingers from his, turning to look over the balcony and across to the ocean. She wondered at his words, examining the waves as they sparkled with diamonds under the brightness of the sun. Closing her eyes, she allowed its warmth to kiss her. She knew this eternal and otherworldly love, catching her own glimpse of it in the nature that surrounded them.
“You don’t need to fill me,” she said at long last. Turning back to him with a joyful smile, she tilted her head up to the sky and twirled in a circle. “I know that I will never be completely fulfilled in this life. But that doesn’t mean that I have to deprive myself of the beauty and goodness that is reflected here between us.”
A look of longing swam in the Elf’s obsidian eyes, gleaming with hope. “But there is another problem,” she continued.
“I’m human.” Emotion caught in her throat and she looked away. “I will grow old and die while you outlive me.”
Elven-Reih contemplated her words and brought her to sit with him on a bench. Quiet came between them, as she lay her head on his shoulder. She feared speaking would ruin the moment, and wondered if he thought the same. His free hand played in her long hair, twisting and untwisting it affectionately. Suddenly she knew what she had to do, but it scared her. It could be a huge mistake, but it could be the only solution to their problem; she had to somehow become immortal. But no, she thought, it was too risky. Her mother would disown her and then the throne would never be hers…or maybe it could give her the power she needed to best her brother at this game.
She snapped up and out of her seat. “I have to go…go away for some time,” she said. She could tell he was confused. “I need to get some answers. It is very important and I am sure my parents would concede if they knew it was to the betterment of the kingdom.”
“But, who will go with you?” he asked, stepping up beside her as if offering his service. He brushed his fingers across her arm.
“I want this quest to remain a secret, so I should demand only the smallest escort of my loyal guard.” She was already making haste down the hall.
“Hold on, Naidreyn,” the dark Elf called as he strode up with silent steps. “You must take me with you!” he insisted.
The princess contemplated his offer, wanting so desperately for him to stay with her from this moment onward. But it might be risky, she thought. What if I am wrong about my plan and he disapproves. She knew that she’d be playing with fire and Elven-Reih was so pure and innocent, she feared he might not understand. I am chasing a Shadow, she told herself resolutely. If the Shadow Spirit can truly offer me power and immortality, what harm can there be? I am not evil, I can be good – yes, the first good Shadow.
Naidreyn imagined herself as an immortal being, free to love Elven-Reih for centuries to come. Her power would be an asset to the kingdom, an immortal Queen more powerful than even her mother, the Stone Bearer.
“I don’t know what you’re planning but this is certainly not the time to do it. Can’t this wait until after the coronation? You might be crowned Queen before the month is out.” Elven-Reih’s words were careful and calculated; he didn’t want her to leave.
“I wouldn’t be gone that long,” she assured him. “And besides, I’m not going far. I just need space and time to myself to investigate something.” She stopped and spun on her heels, flinging her arms around his shoulders. She had to push up on her tip-toes to fit her chin over his shoulder. “Elven-Reih,” she breathed into his pointed ear, “I’m in love with you.” There, she said it. It was real and now declared. It wasn’t just a feeling, it was a choice, a promise. “No matter what happens, I plan on loving you for the rest of my life.”
They kissed, and then he put a hand on her cheek. “I love you too, and I will love you into eternity.”
“Then trust me,” she said, knowing she could swear on their love.
Elven-Reih shook his head and groaned. “How could I refuse those big brown eyes?”
She kissed his cheek and bounced down the hall, her lover quick at her heels. She felt unstoppable; they would be unstoppable. History would boast of their love, strong as death, unyielding as the grave. Nothing would ever quench this flame, nothing!
This writing sample is an excerpt from Shadow Princess, the tentative sequel to my fantasy novel, Fantacy. Both novels are not yet available in print as I aspire to have them published in the near future.
As always, thank you for reading and God bless! ❤
Dedicated to my sister, Teresa. Thank you for being a fan of my fantasy world and its characters.