Chapter 42 - Hands of Comfort

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Hello my friends! For some of you, this chapter is new, while others of you read the old version. I hope that it lives up to everyone's expectations, and I especially hope it is better than the previous version posted back in 2016. I wrote this series specifically for this scene (and a couple others that will come along in later books).

This chapter is especially dear to my heart. I can't tell you how many times I've re-written it to get it right, both back in 2016 and now. That being said, I would hate to prolong your wait any longer, so let's get started. Oh, and I apologize in advance that I was not able to prepare any discussion questions for today. :( Sorry!

Thank you all for your support! I love you guys so much and I could have never gotten this far on my writing journey without you.



P.S. This chapter is 5,000 words and one of my longest.

Kastali Dun

Claire gazed upon the aftermath of Talon and Reyr's wrath. Of her six captors, Eagle alone remained standing. He did not give up so easily, or perhaps he knew what awaited him in the keep's dungeons. In that case, a quick death would have been better. Were he a smart man, he would have fallen onto his own blade.

"It is over, Eagle. Lower your weapons." Talon and Reyr prevailed, shoulder to shoulder, with their Sveraks pointing directly at him.

While this was happening, Claire's gaze wandered around the room. Bodies and body parts were scattered across the dirt floor, blood was spattered everywhere, and the air had a heavy metallic scent. The head of the decapitated man named Morgan sat less than ten feet away from her with unseeing eyes wide open.

Her gaze lingered too long on his gray face. Her stomach lurched and vision darkened at the edges. She closed her eyes tightly and waited several moments, taking deep breaths. The effort was sobering, and her mind felt a little clearer afterward.

She opened her eyes just as guards appeared to collect the dead. Verath and Bedelth also entered to escort Eagle and Tark away. She did her best to collect herself in the meantime. She had only just wiped her mouth when Reyr and Talon were beside her.

Reyr crouched before her while Talon stood beside them. She couldn't bear to look up at Talon, so she kept her gaze level with Reyr's. Without pause, he took her head in his hands and affectionately kissed the top of her hair. More tears blurred her vision. "No need to cry," he said, cooing. "You're safe now." His eyes were so soft, so full of love, that her heart clenched with pity. Something had changed in him since their last meeting.

Before she could respond, he took a knife from his belt and eagerly sliced the ropes on her wrists and ankles, then removed the gag from her mouth. She was free at last. She wiped her eyes on the sleeve of her dress and focused on pulling herself together.

"Let me have some time with her, Reyr." Talon rested his hand on Reyr's shoulder. "See to the the others."

Reyr stood, nodding briefly at Talon. "At once, Your Grace." Then he rushed away.

Now that she was alone with Talon, she anxiously looked at his boots, avoiding his gaze at all costs. She was so ashamed of the mess she had created. All of this was her fault. Regardless of her befuddled mind, despite her inability to think clearly, there was no escaping the deep regret pooling inside her. It flowed in like torrents of water, filling her up entirely. What she had said before fleeing—the cruel comment about his failure to find a mate—couldn't be taken back. Rivers only flowed in one direction. A person couldn't simply scoop up the water and put it back.

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