9- Home and Horns
A blink, a gust of wind, and warmth met Leanna’s skin once more. A retreating breeze dragged away the echoing remnants of her scream as her gown danced around her legs in a few rustled sways. The sprigged muslin settled against her dampened skin, and then there was silence.
The world, that had taken to a violent turning on its axis—to Leanna, anyway— lurched back to its normal rotation, affirming a seemingly irrefutable truth. They’d arrived at the circus.
Leanna did not open her eyes, however, distrusting wholly of this new world around her. What if it was all an illusion and this ground beneath her was but a thin sheet of ice? A shiver curled down Leanna’s spine, coaxing her closer to the silky lapels of the man who held her, regardless of her fear of him. He'd told her not to let go, and heaven help her, she wouldn’t.
But with fear compromising her sight, and knowing she could not hold Finvarra forever—as he had also told her never to embrace him again—Leanna stretched her remaining senses as far east as she did west. The smell of sawdust and paraffin wafted past, scored only by that of Finvarra’s scent lingering around them like a morning fog. Patches of faint conversation bled through the pores of the canvas, but no howling winds were heard.
One last shred of doubt kept Leanna’s eyes bound to the blackness of her doubts.
Lifting a foot, Leanna tapped the floor sharply. That was unfortunate as she had no shoes, and the floor was very hard. Leanna hissed a quiet curse. Finding enough proof in her observations, by sheer force of will, she peeled back slowly and blinked the world into focus.
Finvarra’s chest met her eyes first. The crystal necklace cast a faint rainbow against his pale shirt that waved with each of his breaths. Lifting her lashes, Leanna met the blue pools of her captor, gazing at her in perfect gravity.
He was quiet a moment.
“You sure you’ve no relation to the Banshees?” he murmured finally.
Leanna pressed fingers to her lips knowing how very loud she’d screamed, and no doubt in his ear. “I do beg your pardon,” she started through her fingers. “I didn't mean...”
A sudden the curtain rustled sharply, staying the rest of her words.
Leanna turned to the agitated gruff voice— to Tomas’ immense frame blocking the afternoon light streaming in from outside. He crossed the second layer of curtains and stopped. The sheer fabric draped over his frame and softened the intensity of his approach, adding to this monstrous man a dreamlike quality.
Dusky brown eyes fixed instantly on Leanna. They flicked to Finvarra and awareness washed over the urgency in his face. “Forgive me for interrupting,” he rumbled hastily. Tomas lowered his head and took a futile step behind the sheer curtains as if their jealous fingers had drawn him back into their embrace.
Suddenly mindful of Finvarra’s arm around her, of their hearts chest to chest, Leanna shifted away, forcing Finvarra’s arm from her waist. As if he’d kept all warmth at bay, when his hand fell away, a wave of heat consumed Leanna with a vengeance. She turned her face away toward her shadow against the sidewall to hide the furious flush.
“You’ve interrupted nothing,” Finvarra said after a moment, his careless timbre carrying around the room. Setting Leanna’s carpetbag down on the chair before his desk, he whirled a careless hand for Tomas to enter. “Though I suppose introductions are in order. Miss Weston, this is my trusted valet, Tomas.” Finvarra then motioned coolly to Leanna. “And this is the magnificent new tightrope walker, Miss Weston, my Lhiannan shee.”
Leanna’s eyes narrowed at the sound of him, at the hints of a soft accent in the melodic way he spoke Lhiannan shee—a easy, delicate breath, as if narrating a dream. The last of it faded into a quiet sigh that warmed Leanna’s blood.
“A pleasure,” Tomas rumbled lowly as he moved through the curtains. There was no anger in his voice.
Leanna lifted her eyes to the muscled man who looked to be chiseled of the darkest onyx. The scarlet of his ornate vest against the purple shirtsleeves complemented the reddish undertones of his skin, a direct contrast to Finvarra’s snowy complexion. His bald head was smooth, in no way matching his ruggedness.