Born Immortal Chapter 38

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Hakon pulled his car into the clearing and shut off the engine, making no move to open the door or get out as Gunnar parked his truck beside him with Frey on the other side with Glin and Queen Elianna in his car. They wanted to have plenty of space for everyone when they got Arianna and headed home and they didn't know what they would have to face to get her out of her stone prison hidden beneath the shack.

Hakon grabbed Astyr's hand before she could reach for the door handle and pulled her back towards him.

"Astyr," he started hesitantly, a look of fear and pleading just creeping into his eyes, "Would you stay here in the car if I asked you to?"

"Why would you ask that?" she said softly.

Hakon brought her hand up to his lips and gently kissed it before answering. "Because I'm selfish," he told her truthfully. "I've lived four hundred years of my life without knowing what living really means. I never felt before that my very existence was tied so closely to another person, but I am bound to you now in a way that makes me more afraid of losing you than of losing my own life. I've rushed into battles before and thought nothing of what might happen, but I can't do that this time. I can't think about you going out there and meeting dangers that I can't even imagine without feeling a fear and fury so strong that I can't breathe. It's too much for me; I just feel like if you stay here where you'll be safe, I'll be able to get through this."

His eyes were burning with passion as he waited, holding his breath, for her reply. She reached up with her free hand and placed it over their intertwined hands, smiling up at him with unrestrained love in her eyes.

"I almost lost you, Hakon," her words were barely more than a whisper. "If you were to get hurt without me there, I don't know how I would get over that kind of pain. I need to be with you and I need to get my mother. The only way you'll keep me in this car is if you stay here with me. Otherwise, I'd really like to have you by my side because I'm going to go break down that door and get my mother back." Her voice cracked at the end, betraying just how deeply she felt about meeting the woman who had given her life.

Hakon leaned awkwardly over the center console and gave her a crushing kiss, letting go of her hand so he could pull her even closer. He pulled back before he let himself get too far carried away and pressed his forehead against hers.

"Fine, we go together," he said hoarsely, "but you stay beside me. Agreed?"

Astyr gave him one last, quick kiss on his lips as she agreed with a smile.

They got out of the car and Astyr joined her grandmother as Hakon and Gunnar got the small cooler out of the back of the car. They had brought more packets of donated human blood both for drinking before they attempted to rescue Arianna and for her to drink once they got her out. It was clear from Randy's memory that she was in very bad shape and they wanted to be sure she had enough energy to run if need be.

Astyr had to suppress a momentary urge to giggle at the sight of the powerful Alfar queen dressed in sturdy dark jeans with thick black boots and a utilitarian black jacket. They were all dressed similarly but on Elianna, the outfit seemed so distinctly out of place. It was like seeing a fine porcelain doll dressed up like G.I. Joe.

Glin, who had obviously not had the decency to not notice her encounter with Hakon in the car, was glaring at her, as usual. Astyr simply ignored him as she waited for everyone to finish getting ready for their trek through the woods to the spot where they were to meet up with her father.

When they all had everything they needed, weapons included, and the cars were all locked up, they moved off into the dark shadows of the trees, following Hakon who was leading them using his GPS unit. Astyr felt a shiver make its way up her spine as the darkness of the forest enveloped them completely.

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