As were the last two letters of the Alphabet Game, this story is dedicated to my bestie, Jo-Anna.
Just so you know the deal, I am going to add to this weekly. Don't have more than a rough plan, but I kinda know where it's going to go. (I am a die hard pantser...I write by the seat of my pants.) ;)
The couple should be familiar to those who read my Alphabet Game, they were featured in "Y is for Yours" and "Z is for Zethan."
Hope you enjoy their full story and will check back as it develops. Comments encouraged!
Erron ran. Tears streamed down her face, blurring her vision, but still she forced one foot in front of the other. Moving forward. Her chest heaved. She wouldn’t get away, and he would probably punish her for trying to flee him, but…she had to try. She couldn’t deal with her father anymore.TO BE CONTINUED...
She was done with his flippant moods, his heavy hand…and his rapes.
Since Erron had turned thirteen or so, and started developing breasts, he had…taken what only a wife should be expected to give willingly.
Making it into the market center, she continued on. But where would she go, really? Erron glanced over her shoulder, skittering around shops displaying their wares outside in the warm spring morning. Stalls and tables were crowded as people perused or bartered.
A man cursed as she bolted around him, then another small group of three, making them jump apart. She ignored them, keeping her legs in motion though they burned, calves throbbing as her muscles flexed.
Erron dashed through an alley and down an almost empty street. She was moving toward the outskirts of town now, nearing Lower Dalunas—not the best part of the Province. But the prospect of brothels and less than reputable taverns didn’t scare her more than her father did.
She was tired. Her chest burned and her heart pounded, but she couldn’t stop now. Feet faltering, she stumbled. Her line of vision wobbled and the edge of her shoe caught her skirt. Down she went, throwing her hands out just in time so she wouldn’t land on her face. Pain shot up her wrists as they absorbed the impact of her body and her knees smarted because her dress was not padding enough on the hard ground.
“Are you all right?” The male voice made her shudder.
Where had he even come from? She’d not seen anyone when she’d entered the alley.
Erron tried to nod. Had her head even moved? Her thick blonde plait fell forward. Loosened wisps against her face tickling her cheek and forehead.
“Here, let me help you.”
Brown hide boots entered her line of sight, then a hand. It was large and calloused, but something made her want to take it. She lifted an aching wrist off the ground and placed her shaking hand into his. Warm. His touch was warm and firm. Strong.
She looked up as he pulled her to her feet without effort. Brown. All she saw was a dark gaze that made her stomach flip.
“Are you hurt?” he asked. Dark brows drew together as he studied her and Erron couldn’t find her voice. His handsome face held a concerned expression. No one had ever looked at her like that before. Tears pricked her eyes.
He was tall and lean, dark hair shaggy and in need of a trim. He wore a leather apron over his tan long sleeved linen tunic and brown breeches. Whatever his trade, he was a hard worker.
Erron yanked her hand from his grip and looked away. “I’m fine. Thank you,” she whispered.
She jumped as his fingertips brushed her jaw. He gripped her chin, turning her face back to him. Erron needed to get away. She didn’t know this man. But when she met the dark brown eyes, she fell into their depths. Her heart skipped a beat and she froze in place. He wasn’t hurting her. She wasn’t afraid of him. His touch sank into her, warmth spreading down her neck and into her shoulders. The gesture was casual and comforting…and wholly unfamiliar.
“Why are you crying?” he whispered. Erron blinked. Her tears were still flowing? How had she been unaware of that? “Are you injured?” he repeated.
He studied her face, those brows still tight, expression concerned.
“Erron.” The raised voice made her tremble. Her rescuer’s hands fell from her face and his eyes pulled away, settling on what could only be her father. She didn’t turn, but she sensed him behind her. Her body shook.
The man in front of her noticed. He said nothing, but his gaze went over her shoulder and then back to her face. Could he sense her fear? Would he act on it? Erron chided herself. No one would save her.
“Jarek? What’s taking you so long?” Another male voiced asked. Its owner stood in the doorway to her left. Most likely, it was the back entry of a shop.
The man was an older version of the man before her, his hair with streaks of gray, but his face just as handsome as his son standing in front of her. He was wiping his hands on a linen cloth, irritation etched in his expression.
“Coming, Father,” her rescuer responded without looking away from her.
Her own father stepped up to them, his fingers biting into her upper arm as he grabbed her. She took a step back because he’d pulled her off balance. Erron winced.
“Erron, come along,” he ordered, his tone gruff.
Her face flushed and she refused to look at him. She had the urge to swallow hard. “Thank you,” she whispered to the man who still stood by her as she shivered in her father’s grip. Her stomach roiled.
“Is everything all right?” the older man in the doorway asked, taking a step toward them.
Her father chuckled and Erron bit back a whimper. “Yes. My daughter and I were in the market and I sent her to look for the blacksmith, do you know of one?” The lie fell from his lips, light as always, and very convincing.
The older man relaxed, but her rescuer did not. He continued to stare at her. Erron shifted on her feet, her face hot. It was like he could see through her.
“Yes, you’re not far from the blacksmith. He’s the next street over, but all the storefronts are on the opposite of the alleys. This is the back end.”
“Thank you. Let’s go Erron. It’s always like you to get lost.” The slight admonition held the promise of violence.
“My son and I run the finest tanning shop in the Province if you’re in need of anything. Jarek here makes the best deer hide boots around. Better than any cobbler.” He slapped his son on the back and Erron’s father gave a very false smile. Jarek’s gaze still burned into her.
“We’ll keep that in mind.”
“Please do. Good day.” The older tanner inclined his head. Erron’s father did the same in return. She didn’t miss the glare he sent Jarek’s way. He must have noticed that the younger man had not stopped staring at her.
“Good day,” she muttered in return. Jarek’s instance gaze never faltered, though he did return her gesture.
Her father yanked her away from the alley, and away from Jarek. Her stomach somersaulted. She would never see him again. That…felt…wrong. Why?
Tightening his grip, her father’s step quickened. As his stride was much longer than her own, he was dragging her, his fingers digging in even more. Tears stung her eyes, but she refused to shed them for him anymore this day.
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