Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tori cups his face and kisses him gently. Tannr's arms slide up her back, pulling her closer as he deepens the kiss. She rolls her hips, making him groan. Her voice is soft, whispering against his lips. "It is enough that you love me for now, Coppertop. I don't feel so... broken when you are around."

Tannr gently holds her away, searching her eyes. The fires he loves are banked, mere embers in the emerald depths. "For now? Tori," It is almost as if he sees ghosts lurking in the darkness of her pupils. "Who broke you Red? Who convinced you of all this bullshit?"

She slides from his lap, setting the spray bottle on the dresser. Arms across her chest, Tori drifts to the window. She stares into the night beyond as if it could answer so many unasked questions. Tannr fits himself against her body, fingers lightly caressing the tension from her crossed arms. He watches their reflection, feeling, more than seeing, her slowly relax against him.

"Talk to me." His cheek rests against her spiky 'do. Moments pass with nothing but the sound of the rain as it begins to tap against the windows. Tannr doesn't push, just holds her, waiting.

The first flash of lightning brings the first words, almost lost in the roll of thunder.

"You can't bash his head against anything. He's long gone. More than a century gone. There are more ways to chain a Gargoyle than one would think."

Tannr watches as she seems to become lost in her own thoughts. "Just for the record, I don't love you for now." Her eyes jump to his in their reflection. "I love you for you. There is a difference. If I wanted a woman like Ike or... what's her name... Roxi? I wouldn't be here, with you, now." He wraps his arms around her waist. "Tori, listen to me. You are amazing. I don't know what happened, but you are not that image they fed you. Whatever your past love did,"

She cuts him off, the tremble in her voice not something he expected. "Not Rory. He didn't do anything but woo... woo what his father wanted." She takes a deep breath, closing her eyes before she speaks again. "His father wanted a Gargoyle, one loyal to their House. He couldn't bribe any, couldn't buy anyone's service. So he sent his youngest son into the hills to find a Gargoyle egg or a young female to bring home. Rory found my sister and myself working on a song. He came back day after day until I finally gave in to his advances. I left my true Kin for him, became his. His father pretended to accept me. We were happy. At least I was."

She opens her eyes, lost in the past. Tears slip from the corners of her eyes, making a slow path down the plains of her cheeks. "Rory left for battle. I don't even remember who they were fighting, or why. A few days later I came out of my stone sleep to find a very... curvy, very pregnant, woman in my home. Rory's father claimed her to be the true wife, while I was his creature."

Tori turns to look at Tannr, her eyes bright behind their wetness. "I couldn't go back to the Clan. I was carrying Rory's child as well." She wipes her eyes with the back of her hand. "Rory was my mate. I belonged to him, and through him, I belonged to his Father, the head of his Clan. To make a long story short, I was compared continuously to the human. In no way did I ever measure up." The pain in her eyes makes a lie of the firmness that has returned to her voice. "One night, while I walked among the smaller outbuildings, the homestead was attacked. I did what I could, but... "

She swallows hard, sniffing. "I did what I could Tannr. In the end it wasn't enough. So many dead, so many gone, Rory's other wife, Meghan, taken... I went after them, but it was too close to dawn. I followed as I could, but had to go to  stone before I caught up. The trail was gone by the time I woke that night. A storm washed away all traces. What I did find was Meghan, She had been used, beaten, and left behind. I got her back to the Clan, but it was too late. She and the baby died before next light.

Rory's Father blamed me. I was their curse. I couldn't leave. Rory was my mate. We were sworn." She shakes her head, biting her lower lip. She moves from Tannr's arms, aware of his stillness, hoping, against hope, that he would no condemn her for what she confesses next. "About a fornight after the attack, we got news of a rider. The man told us that Rory's body was being brought home. I stayed only long enough to see that it was truly him. That night I left, heavy with the child that we had created. I sought out a Brownie who was reported to be able to open the Veil between this and the world of Shades."

She sits on the edge of the bed, laughing bitterly. "I found the Brownie. With his help, I stole Rory and called his shade. The truth he told me... He was a dutiful son, he had bedded Meghan only to provide his Father the heir he was looking for. He claimed me to give his Clan a higher standing. He did not love me. Oh he had great affection, but..." She looks up at the ceiling, refusing to meet Tannr's gaze. "As for our child, he wished we had never conceived." Tears flow freely as she turns her face to the window, looking anywhere but at her lover. "Our son was born among the cliffs of the Highlands. He died before the turn of the season, as so many of our young did."

Tannr slips to his knees, taking her hands in his. "Tori. Red, look at me." She turns unseeing eyes his way. "Red." When her eyes meet his, recognition dancing in their depths, he kisses her hands, keeping his eyes on hers. "I don't want you for what status you can give. I don't want you to be anyone other than you are. There isn't an inch of you I would change. Do you think my family cares that you are Gargoyle? You've met them. Hell, you've fought beside them. As for us... that's between us. You are the woman I want to curl up with, the woman who's lean frame fits perfectly in my arms."

Tori's head bows, tears falling silently. Tannr gathers her into his arms and lays them on the bed, just holding her. His hands stroke softly, caressing her gently. Laying his cheek against hers, he rocks slowly.

"I can't fix the past Red. That's up to the Gods... I deal with what's in front of me here and now, and that's You. Don't you get it yet, Red? There isn't anyone I met that comes even close to you."

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