The Emerald Thief - 15 - Azel

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For a long time we just lay there, talking about nothing in particular, until his stomach rumbled. Loudly. We stared at each other for a long moment before both burst out laughing. With a grin he got up, got dressed, then looked back at me.

"Want anything?"

"No thanks," I laughed. "I'm gonna take a bath."

"Okay," he went to the door. "Be right back."

"Kay," I watched him go, then got up myself. I didn't really know what to think about what just happened, especially since I was leaving in a few hours, except that it had been amazing.

I went to pick up my under-dress and head to the women's bathroom, when I froze. There was a narrow, but substantial, gap in the drapes. We were on the second floor, but someone in the opposite building could have seen in. How could I not have seen?! How could I have been so stupid?!

As quickly as possible, I jumped into my dress, threw the silver wig on and ran down the stairs. I found Tyce next door at the bakery, at the front of the line. I did a quick search, but no suspiscious characters jumped out at me. I leant against a wall and waiting for him, my pulse thundering in my ears and my thoughts frantic.

What if someone had seen? I knew the eye dye was gone, I hadn't been wearing my wig. Unless the person had had exceptional eye-sight, all they would have seen was a free show of a black-haired girl... but still, there was a risk. Damn it!

"Hey," Tyce walked up to me. "That was a fast bath."

"Come on," I said quickly.

"Ok," he said instantly on guard. In the back of my mind I liked that I didn't have to put up with any annoying questions about what was wrong.

I took a deep breath and forced myself to calm down as we walked back to the inn. I couldn't act so suspiciously or anyone who might have seen would definitely be getting ideas. It was bad enough that I didn't have any eye-dye in. A couple of lean men watched us from a sofa in the inn's main room and I didn't like it. We had to get out of here.

I grabbed Tyce's hand and turned around. Ryder and Nix could get our stuff later, we had to get out. Only they were following us. Panic surged in my chest.

They knew it was me, they knew... they were going to take me back to him. No! I am not that defenseless thing anymore, I have the scars to prove it, I will not go back to that place.

I turned us onto a smaller street, much less people and stopped to face the men. They were dark haired and light eyed, brothers, maybe cousins. The older one stared directly at me, his eyes challenging.

"Why are you following us?" I demanded.

"I never thought our future queen would be whoring it out in a small town covered in scars," he laughed, his eye never once leaving mine. I swallowed my panic.

"Still, you never know," the younger one took a step forward. "She may have no choice Bran, this boy could be one of her kidnappers."

Tyce's hand clenched in mine.

"What the hell are you on about?" I forced my tone to take on a low-town accent.

"Don't play coy your ladyship," the man straightened.

He was an experienced fighter, I knew that instantly; but we could take him. I had no doubt that Tyce and I could fight our way out of this, get away from here and find a way to contact Draven later. I squeezed Tyce's hand once and took a deep breath.

I never even heard the man behind me until Tyce crumpled. With a gasp of shock horror I spun, shooting a hand out. By sheer luck, I hit him square on the jaw and he fell. The man I'd turned my back on for that split second was faster than I'd ever have thought. Before I could turn back around, my arms were pinned to my side and a white cloth was pressed against my face.

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