24 - Love, Blood, and Ice

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Fye stayed in bed, drifting in and out of sleep, dreading the moment when she would have to get out of the warm blankets and let the cool morning air take her.

Xander said he loved her!

His words echoed in her head, exciting her—and terrifying her.

Did he mean it? If he didn't, why would he have said it?

Because he wants to get under my nightgown, she answered herself. And he is too close to succeeding.

She thought about his arms around her, the way his lips felt against her skin, the warmth of his body next to her in their bed.

No, she couldn't give in.

Even if she loved him, too.

I love him! The realization hit her sometime between wakefulness and sleep, and she wasn't sure if it was real. Maybe she dreamed that she loved him.

What did love feel like? Was it the tingles? Was it the way she always wanted to know where Xander was and what he was doing? Was it the way his smile turned her insides into mush?

When her eyes were closed, a shadow fell over her. No! She still had at least another hour before she had to get up. She opened her eyes to tell Xander to go away—just in time to see the dagger hurtling toward her.

She moved—but not quick enough. The blade plunged into her shoulder, just under her collarbone, sliding between two of her ribs and sending pain across her body. Warmth gushed out of the wound.

Her assailant reclaimed his dagger and raised it to try again—but Fye didn't squander a second. She dodged the next blow, throwing herself off the bed and onto the ground. She captured one of the attacker's legs between her own, tripping him. He fell on top of her, and she took the opportunity to reach for the dagger's hilt. But he was too fast. The blade skimmed her face, skirted across her neck, and then sliced into her shoulder again. Blood flowed from the fresh wounds.

With a roar, she jerked the dagger from his hand—just as his hands closed around her throat.

Nope. Not going to happen.

She plunged the dagger into his gut. He stiffened, made a gurgling sound, and fell.

With a mighty heave, Fye shoved him off her, and she latched onto the edge of the bed, hoping she would be able to pull herself up. Her strength failed her.

She stayed on the cold ground, trying not to focus on the blood pouring from her wounds.

She heard hurried footsteps from outside. Someone had heard her yell. Well, this was going to be embarrassing.



"Drink the wine," Ayla said again as she cleaned the wounds in Fye's shoulder. "I'm going to have to stich then, and—"

"No, milady," Fye said with a shake of her head—an action that made her slightly dizzy. She shivered in the cold morning air that surrounded her bare skin. "I need to be sober for this afternoon."

"Fye, you can't think that you're still going to participate in the—"

"I am, milady." She inhaled sharply as Lady Ayla inserted the needle into her flesh.

Footsteps sounded from outside, and in an instant, Xander and Reuben were in the tent, their expressions almost identical. Rage. Shock. Worry.

"Satan's hairy—"

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