Hey all! If you’re looking to comment for the blog hop/giveaway – that’s one post back. I will not be looking at comments here as entries, so make sure you comment on a post with the blog hop icon. Just trying to keep everything in order and not cross wires!
Now on to Tuesday Awesomeness.
So in response to all the awesome comments/death threats if I didn’t continue, I bring you more of Pike and Alyssa. I still have no title for this because I deserve to be lazy in some aspect of my life. And for whatever reason these two get going and my entries get really long. This week’s prompt was: Heart and while I was tempted to cheekily write some captain planet fanfic, I decided to give the people what they want! Happy Valentines Day! And as a heads up, I’m marking this as PG for some innuendo and mild language.
If you’re new, here is Part One
And remember, for lots more Tuesday Tales fun, visit the main blog here!
Alyssa had no concept of how long they fell, but when they hit solid ground her knees crumpled out from underneath her. It took a good long time for the world around her to stop spinning and she bent her forehead over her knees in the hopes that the position might keep her from depositing her lunch all over Pike’s feet. He deserved it, but she doubted she had it in her at the moment to aim.
“My apologies, lovely lass. I forget that plummeting through days and earth takes its toll on those who aren’t accustomed to it.” The faerie’s voice was composed and gentle. Alyssa was vaguely aware that he was kneeling beside her, one strong palm placed against her back to steady her. “It will pass soon enough, this I swear.”
If only I had the strength to punch him in the face, she thought. Or bite his nose right off. Her entire body had the awful tingly feeling of a limb falling asleep and from the way her stomach was churning she doubted if she’d ever eat again. Though she didn’t trust herself to speak, apparently her sentiment was clearly expressed when she raised her head off her knees.
“Ah, well it seems the fight is still in you even if the words are not,” Pike chuckled and continued to crouch beside her, rubbing her back. Steady warmth crept through her tank top to her skin wherever he touched. “Just breathe, my Alyssa.” His voice was so tender, so soft and full of concern that all she wanted to do was wreck it. The student darted to her feet and wobbled dangerously on her platforms, which only caused her vertigo to reappear. Her eyes snapped shut and she struggled to focus.
One thing at a time, she reminded herself. First get your bearings then focus on strangling him. When her insides stopped visiting each other Alyssa slowly opened her eyes and fixed him with a brown-eyed glare. “Let’s get one thing straight. I am not your anything.” It was amazing the words came out at all, and she was quite proud they actually sounded forceful.
Unfortunately all they did was brighten the faerie’s damn smile as he stood. “But you forget that you stepped into the faerie ring,” he reminded. “Therefore you do belong to me, to do with as I see fit.” Apparently immortals didn’t find anything offensive in trailing their eyes all over a member of the opposite sex. She followed his gaze down and cringed. Dirt and grime were ground up the front of her jeans and onto her skin where the fabric was shredded as a tribute to the eighties bands she clung to. Somewhere under the grit her knees burned from bruises and her fingers also showcased split skin covered with grime from where she’d reached out to subdue the impact of the fall. She already knew her black hair was already a fright; she hadn’t bothered to do anything with it after rolling out of bed that morning. And yet still Pike examined her as if she was a centerfold or a princess. Surely it hadn’t been that long for him…no one with looks like that suffered from an empty dance card, as it were.
“Stop it. Find somewhere else to look,” she mumbled and quickly attempted to brush the worst of the dirt off, to no avail.
“You need not be embarrassed, darling girl,” he chuckled. “You look just fine for a pleasant afternoon.” He paused and the glitter in his green eyes turned downright sly. “You look like you’ve just snuck off for a mid-afternoon tumble.”
The blush ignited up her neck and Alyssa tried so hard to ignore the explosion of…something that Pike’s stare did to her. It’s just residual vertigo from the fall. Or glamour. And you don’t have to succumb to either. All you have to do is keep your head until you can get out of…
Her thoughts trailed off as she took a good look around her. From the ground giving way and from what she remembered from childhood stories Alyssa had presumed they’d be in some sort of underground faerie burrow or hill. While the surrounding area was dark, she had fallen onto soft earth. A glance down at her toes affirmed that her boots had sunk into a fluffy bed of dark green moss that covered the ground where giant trees weren’t stretching tall and proud. Their branches arched gracefully towards each other and looked as if they merged together to form an interwoven canopy that obscured most of the sky, though the branches were so high up that it may have been her imagination. She couldn’t begin to tell how thick and vast those branches and their broad, vibrant leaves were.
A wave of dizziness rattled her brain and she leaned against the closest tree. The trunk was so large it was like she was leaning up against a wall, though its bark was smooth and soft against her back. Insect droning and animal chittering provided ambience music, though she didn’t see anything living except her, Pike, and the trees. “Where are we?” Alyssa whispered, and even her cynicism couldn’t prevent her from expressing awe. She couldn’t help it; she felt like a child next to such colossal natural giants.
“Almost home,” he assured her. No more did he look like a misplaced figment of her imagination. No more would he appear invisible to anyone else but her, she was sure. His breeches and tunic matched the setting perfectly, leaving her to play the part of the weird-looking outsider. “Although I can travel between quite easily, it’s impossible to land indoors; we can only go from nature to nature,” he murmured, pressing the flat of his hand against the bark near her face. She sidestepped the gesture and almost bit out a scathing comment, but all Pike did was pat the tree with gentle touches of his long fingers. His face softened into an expression that was childlike and loving, and for a very brief moment Alyssa almost wanted to stand closer to him. Almost.
His braid whipped against his back as he turned on his heel and stretched. Muscles shifted under the close-fitting shirt and she ground her teeth. Don’t look. Don’t give him the satisfaction. He’s just messing with you. Do. Not. Look. At. His. Butt. Somehow she stayed strong, but she couldn’t deny that half of the art majors she knew would have killed to paint him as some hero on the cover of an epic fantasy book, even though the giant trees deceived perception and made them both look pixie-sized in comparison. Just keep the conversation going and look for a way out, the logical part of her brain reminded the ache in her chest that hadn’t been used in a long, long time.
“But we went through the ground. Shouldn’t we be in a cave?” she asked and hurried to catch up when the jerk just started walking. Apparently he was that confident that she’d follow.
“Nay. It’s amazing how much you mortals get wrong about us,” he chuckled. “Faerie doesn’t exist in hills or in certain spots per say…it’s everywhere. Think of it as always being in existence, right up next to the world you know. Sometimes things cross over. You just have to know how to sidestep from one place to the next.” Pike was testing the strength of a large, winding system of tree roots that stretched up as high as a small car; the gnarled tendrils that made up the mass were as big around as a tractor tire. In one swift leap Pike was on top of the mess of wood and vines, his hair trailing a copper slash behind him. With only a raised eyebrow he leaned down and offered her his hands. Although the mass looked like it might provide foot holds, there was no way Alyssa would have made an attempt to scale the thing on her own in her boots. Although it was her nature to fight against his assumptions her arms automatically reached and Alyssa promptly found herself whipped straight up into the air. For a split second she felt gravity start to claim her and then Pike’s arms were clamped around her waist, stopping her fall and tugging her to safety beside him.
If she stepped back she’d fall, but he had brought her right up against him. She was so close that her forehead brushed his collarbone and she could smell the sweet scent of whatever he used to cover sweat from his exertions. The tunic was softer than it looked and the tattoos on his biceps were now framing the sides of her face. Too close, her mind screamed. Too close, her heart thudded. “Back the hell off, pervert,” her mouth growled.
Instead he tipped his forehead down and chuckled. Wisps of auburn hair that had snuck out of his braid tickled against her face. “Pervert, is that some sort of love name in your world?”
Her mouth opened and shut itself. Alyssa had no idea if he was putting her on or not with that comment, but there was no way she could touch it without the conversation turning into something she wasn’t ready for. “Let’s just get out of here.” Pike shrugged and kept an arm around her, guiding her over the mess of roots and vines. She’d assumed they would just hop over, but it appeared to be an actual path. A loud squawk made her jump against the faerie’s broad back and she snarled a curse at his chuckle. “So how do you cross from one world to the next?”
“That would be secret magic, my love.” No one’s voice had a right to sound that effortless while trekking through a forest. “Besides, you couldn’t escape if you wanted to. I won you fair and square. You are mine unless I grant you freedom and I don’t intend to let my betrothed go.”
Alyssa had been careful not to catch her heels in spiking leaves that reminded her of plant-like versions of the fans Madonna had used in her Material Girl video. They were everywhere, jutting out of knot holes and rotting weak spots in the wood, but now she definitely had reason to stand stock still. “Your what?!” No. He was supposed to give me a reward. All I ever did was help him and I didn’t even mean to! I was supposed to get rid of him and get on with my life!
As effortless as anything Pike turned, that damned sunshine grin lighting up his face like a beacon in the dense forest. “You’re mine. I’m sure as anything not going to leave you to your own devices. Besides, there was no future for you in your world, even you could feel that. You need someone to warm that frozen heart of yours, to make it beat again in your chest,” he murmured, and though his eyes dropped to where her top had shifted over her cleavage his hands stayed on her shoulders.
“My heart is just fine. It’s safe,” she challenged.
“Nay,” he murmured, and with everyword he stealthily leaned just a little closer. “You feel more than any human woman I’ve seen, and your lot is warmer than mine. Large palms cupped her shoulders and squeezed her aching muscles. She fought the urge to squirm, the immediate, overpowering urge to run like hell. “But you’ve been wounded somewhere…or not encouraged to use your heart, so you’ve let it freeze in the hopes that you might forget it exists.” The sharp angles of his face had relaxed and though the shadows made him look wild and exotic, his somber expression bordered on tender. And then something shifted and the moment passed, the familiar glint returned to his eyes. “Perhaps all you need is the right man to warm it…among other parts.”
Alyssa’s eyes narrowed and her knee slammed up, aiming for his groin. As swiftly as she’d lifted her leg it placed itself down again. “What the hell!?” she squeaked
“That would be the spell. You shan’t be able to harm me or run away unless conditions are changed,” he breezed and kissed her on the forehead as if she’d done a good deed. “You’ll get used to it soon enough.”
Her skin glowed where his mouth had just barely touched her and her entire body felt as if it was caught up by a wind and cast in all directions at once. “My heart isn’t frozen! I don’t need you or any other arrogant jerk to save me!” I almost fell for it. Damn it, I almost fell for it! I should know by now that pretty words are just that!
He was walking again and this time Alyssa felt the prickling nudge that made her own feet follow. “Of course it is. It has been for a long time. Don’t you remember how you used to run outside to your own grassy area or curl up in your bed and cry and tell me all about it?” He glanced back over his shoulder and seemed genuinely confused that she couldn’t follow his words.
But the horrible, strange thing was that she had run outside when her parents were hard on her, she had fallen apart when she couldn’t measure up to the perfect image of her brother. She’d never been as competent as him, not when they were kids and he did better in school, not when they were older and he was the valedictorian and a football star and she was a middle school ugly duckling, not now when he was in medical school and she was…in a magical world that no one knew about. And when Adrian, the one guy in high school that would even consider going out with her…
No. We’re not going there. It was childish drama anyway and you don’t have to think about it because it’s never going to happen again. Besides, there were more important issues at hand.
“How did you know all of that?” she whispered. Pike paused where he was balancing on an incline, peering ahead.
“Almost there, and just in time for evening meal, it looks like. And I know because you always told me.” There was no hint of mischief in his forest eyes and besides, he couldn’t lie anyway, right? Alyssa hurriedly thought back to every invisible friend she’d ever concocted but still came up blank. Pike’s thumb ghosted over her lower lip and that smile that could be sunshine or horrific tease turned into something much gentler, much more somber. “You’ve always called me and I’ve always answered,” he murmured. “You’ve been my heart for the longest time, you’ve just never known where to look for me.”
She thought back to all of those nights after being ignored at school, all of those awful afternoons after being teased or picked on for not having anyone to ‘go with’ in middle school, those days right after—No, not going there, she amended. In secret, in her room she had pleaded with whatever forces that were out there to send her someone. She’d done the same when she was younger and just wanted to be understood. Could Pike be…No, not going there. Besides, he trapped you. He tricked you. He doesn’t want a love, he wants property, Alyssa reminded herself.
“We’re here,” Pike called and she forced herself to look to where he was pointing rather than try to kick him in the backside. It wouldn’t work, but it would have made her feel somewhat better. But all thought of revenge dissipated from her as she stared up ahead.
The root system they’d climbed onto grew into a great, large building that nearly stretched up to the tree canopy. At least she thought it was a building. While the root system trickled into something that looked like a barrier fence, the actual fortress looked to be an ancient trunk that had been abandoned when the tree had split and fallen for some reason or another. Leaves grew out of little twigs all along the smooth exterior wall and the dappled grey color went green with the moss that stretched over the craning twigs that stretched from the trunk and formed the roof. “It’s amazing,” she managed.
“It’s home. Our home, now. Lyndra Castle,” he murmured, and taking her hand Pike tugged her up towards the front entrance, beaming as if they were returning as man and wife instead of faerie and prize. She’d kill him the first chance she got
Let me know what you think and we’ll see if I can keep this going.