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Posted: Jul 20 2009, 05:05 AM
Member No.: 1
Joined: 17-November 07
CHAPTER FORTY NINE
“Brr, I think it's going to be a hard winter,” Ayalet said as she let herself and Louis into her cottage. Although she had left a fire banked up in her stove its heat was feeble now that the dully red coals were buried under a mantle of grey wood ash. The inside was barely warmer than out and frost rimed the insides of the windows with intricate fern-like patterns.
She had eventually prised them away from the futile argument with Morwena over whether or not Louis would continue his dalliance with the arcane. Louis had promised to consider the matter after a good night's sleep. He was, he told her, quite exhausted and felt unable to think clearly. That was not exactly true; he was bone tired, but his thinking seemed clear enough. He was not particularly afraid of repeating the experience; at the time it had been a curious sensation, and separation from his body's hormone driven emotional chemistry had meant that he was, to all intents and purposes, utterly dispassionate. What he did fear, now it was over and he had learned something of the nature of what had occurred, was the worrying possibility that return was not guaranteed. He was also sensitive to Ayalet's more prosaic concern and he suspected hers was as much based on generations of dread respect for the castle in general and Mandragora in particular; as well as her more proprietary interests in himself.
Louis had no special reason to fear Mandragora but he was more than willing to allow Ayalet's concerns to add to his own reasons for avoiding any further forays into the void. All the same he felt the unscratchable itch of curiosity which demanded that he return to meet the old crone again. In spite of her hideous appearance, he had liked her, pitied her ... and — frankly — admired her.
“I'll get the fire,” he said and crossed the room to poke the ashes into spitting, crackling activity.
Ayalet lifted her kettle from the hotplate above the stove. “It's still quite hot,” she said. “It won't take long to boil again. Would you like some tea?”
“Yes please,” said Louis, picking up the thinnest splinters he could find from the wood pile to add to the fire. “I'll soon have this roaring. Er, is there anything to eat? I'm famished.”
“Only the bread and cheese Morwena gave me. Is that all right? I've had no chance to do any shopping for the last few days.”
“Bread and cheese: the food of the gods. Bring it on. There.” He stood and rubbed his hands together as the fire in the stove began to flicker into life, bathing the room with a dancing yellow light.
Ayalet leaned past him to poke a spill into the flames. “Excuse me, Louis. I'll just light some candles and I'll get right to it.”
“Please, call me Louie?”
She stopped and looked at him with puzzled eyes.
“It's what my mother called me. It is spelled L-O-U-I-S but it was always said as Lewis, not Louie ... all except my mama and she always called me her little Lewie except when I was in trouble and then it would be LEW-is!” He grinned at her disarmingly. “But that's just between us, okay? I don't want every Tom, Dick, and Harry taking liberties with new old name.”
She smiled back shyly and nodded before turning to light the candles. Louis followed her and put his arms around her waist from behind, pulled her close, mashed his face into her hair at the side of her neck. “You do realise that I think I'm love with you,” he half whispered. His mouth was just beneath her ear.
She shook the spill to extinguish the flame and dropped it on the table, turned in Louis' arms and bent her neck to look up into his pale blue eyes. “Me too.” She giggled. “I mean — “
He closed off her explanation by pressing his mouth to hers. His tongue searched her mouth, his arms compressed her fiercely against him. When they broke he said: “I've been wanting to kiss you like that for ages.”
“I've wanted you to ....”
He laughed. A short happy one. “Damn it, I don't think I love you. I know I do.”
“Oh Pe — Louie.” She blushed at her slip and buried her hot cheeks in his prickly neck, liking the mixture of pain and tickles and his warm geranium smell. She murmured something.
“Sorry,” he held her away from him a little. “I didn't catch what you just said.”
Her cheeks still burning, grew hotter. “It was nothing.” She dropped her eyes.
He shook her gently. “No secrets. What did you just say.” His tone was gentle and concerned.
“I said: will you stay here tonight?” She bit at her lip and her eyes stayed down, looking at the rough weave of Louis' tunic.
“Of course I will, if you want me to stay.” He stroked her hair.
“Not on the sofa ....”
“Oh dear, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have mentioned it.”
“Don't be silly. Of course I'll stay. I want to stay.”
The kettle began to sing. Ayalet looked up at him and smiled beautifully. “Supper?”
“You bet.” He let go of her slowly, letting the folds of her gown feed through his fingers until the last moment. “I'll get this fire stoked while you're busy. We'll soon be all toasty warm.”
Chapter One (for latecomers)
WHY DO THEY CALL IT AUTOMATIC, WHEN YOU HAVE TO PRESS A BUTTON TO START IT?
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Posted: Jul 21 2009, 09:06 AM
Where you at, Hon?
Member No.: 3
Joined: 18-November 07
Posted: Jul 27 2009, 07:53 AM
Member No.: 2
Joined: 18-November 07
Whew, I'm toasty warm already. That was really sweet.