{1} Leander

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He couldn't believe he was doing this. Had he really just walked away from the only life he'd known? Leander grinned realizing this was very much real and not a dream. And it felt amazing. Nudging the horse beneath him a bit faster, the breeze rifled his dark hair. He'd rode hard the past four days, his joints aching and horse tiring but still he felt renewed, regenerated. By this evening he should be at the glade. The thought tugged the corners of his lips up pulling on the greying whiskers of his beard.

After Arabella returned from Radoran, the elf capital, looking better than she had in years, he knew the time had come. Even then it had taken him a few weeks watching the queen and her children settle into a new routine to ensure he was right. Or maybe it had taken him those weeks to build up the courage to take the next step. Either way, when he approached his long time charge a few days ago requesting a formal dismissal from service, she hadn't seemed one bit surprised.

"It's taken you long enough, Leander." He watched the red-haired beauty laugh as she placed her hands on her hips.

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Oh, don't try that with me. Who do you think I got my stubbornness from?"

"Not me, if that's what you're implying. That's all from your momma, Little One." Arabella's broad smile slipped a moment before she threw her arms around Leander. He hugged her back, holding her close for a moment before placing a kiss on top of her head.

"I'll miss you."

"And I you. Adrianna would have been so proud of you. Don't ever forget that."

"I won't." Arabella turned to leave but smiled back over her shoulder. "Tell Selphie I said hello when you see her." She winked before leaving him alone shaking his head.

He couldn't believe the cheeky girl he'd raised hadn't even asked where he was going but simply told him to bid Selphie happy greetings when he saw the farling woman. Laughing at the memory, he wasn't surprised. Arabella had always been headstrong and willful. One of the reasons he'd waited so long before departing. Call it training or loyalty, whichever you like, but he'd made an oath to her dying mother to ensure Arabella was safe, well, and seated on the light fae throne. Now she was queen, her children were born, her husband even more in love with her than ever, Leander knew his oath had been fulfilled. Had he left five years before when she took the throne of Laz-Rooke, she would have been alright. He realized while he criticized Selphie from running from her feelings, he'd done the same just in a different way. He hid behind loyalty and oaths, honor and service, until one day he woke up and looked in a mirror.

He'd spent his life serving others. Growing older. Too old. Being a mortal in the mystic realms had its disadvantages. His life was fading faster than all those around him. If he delayed any longer, he wouldn't have anything worth offering someone like Selphie. His heart raced faster wondering if she'd finally have him. Would him showing up at the glade unannounced declaring his love for her finally break her defenses she'd held in place since the moment they'd first seen each other? It felt like only yesterday he'd seen her, dark braids, violet eyes, downturned lips and knew. He'd known from that first minute she was the one for him.

Finding out Selphie was a mystic seer, a magical being more powerful than almost any other in Votierra, hadn't fazed him. Nor had finding out she was almost three hundred years his senior ever take a couple decades. All he wanted was a life with her, one she refused to even fathom. A few times, she'd come close to lowering her guard. There'd been the time at Lux-Mindon she'd asked him not to give up on her. But since then, she rarely afforded him anything more than a smile when he'd been lucky enough to see her.

He was going to change that though. Change it or die trying, he thought with determination pushing the steed on beneath him. He had nothing to lose now. No master to bid his obedience. No home to return to. No family waiting. He was his own man. And it was time to show Selphie exactly who he was. Leander, former protector of Arabella, queen of all light fae, wasn't someone to say no to. A grin tugged his lips up at the thought. She wouldn't be able to resist him this time, he thought as the forested view changed to a more familiar sight. Dismounting, he walked directly towards the glade and the woman he loved. It was past time to let her know exactly how he felt.

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Here it is

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Here it is... the short story I've promised you since Book 1 of The Vale Series! It's about time we get to see a bit more of Leander and Selphie, huh? Be sure to let me know what you think by clicking the star to vote and dropping a comment below! ~SJ xoxo

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