Hi guys! I'm so sorry I haven't updated this story in so long. Life has gotten so hectic. Anyways, we're back with Damien and Amar. It's the day after he took her away from the raid, and Amar is trying to come to terms with being isolated with a man she hates. Damien, on the other hand, is trying everything in his power to fight his own demons, and win the woman he loves. Please read and review, you guys make me smile!

9/10/17

Unexpected Desire Part 5

She felt hot and uncomfortable when she woke up. Her hair stuck to her neck, and the humid, morning air made her feel like she was suffocating; and yet, this wasn't the greatest source of her discomfort. Just before she opened her eyes, she became aware of a strong arm wrapped around her midsection, and a firm body curved around her own. She sucked in a breath, recalling everything that had transpired the day before. What she couldn't remember, was how she came to be wrapped in Damien Maddock's arms.

She was about to sit up when she felt his breath on the back of her neck, and then the softest touch of his lips on the crown of her hair. Her befuddlement began to ebb away, uncontainable fury taking its place. She sat up, tossing his arm roughly off her and standing up. She looked down to see those bright green eyes staring directly at her. She held his gaze, glaring at him. He simply smiled back. "Not a morning person, are we?"

"It's not the morning that's irritating me." She spoke through clenched teeth.

He came to his feet, stretching. "You were much more pleasant last night."

"I was sleeping." She said, slowly enunciating each word, as her irritation grew.

He smiled, devilishly. "Precisely. But we won't be doing much of that when we have a real bed." He glanced briefly at the pile of blankets on the floor, before bending down to fold them. Amar's face turned completely red at his insinuation, and she tried to hurry out of the hut. Just as she put her hand on the drape, she felt Damien grab her elbow. "Wait. Let me check the perimeter first." He said, gently.

She stood back and watched him peer outside, then slip out, quietly searching the grounds for anything amiss. Amar's brow creased. Did he think someone followed them? If that was so, why hadn't he checked last night? Amar's head tilted to the side, as a flood of memories came back to her. Maybe he had. She frowned, thinking. He disappeared for a while, leaving her alone in the hut—she looked down—after they'd stood in this spot, with their arms around each other. She remembered how tightly he'd held her, his arms trapping her against his body. But, she thought to herself, she had held him just as tightly. Then, he let her go without a word, disappearing into the night. She saw his face in her mind. His features had been drawn. His eyes dark and haunted. She had sat up for a time, but she must have fallen asleep before he came back. Her breath caught in her throat. He must have returned to the hut, seen her sleeping, and had lain down beside her. Her heart beat rose slightly with the realization that she had slept all night in his arms and hadn't known it.

She wasn't okay with that. They weren't lovers. She took a deep breath, calming herself. It was better not to start a fight, as she was stuck with him until they could get out of this mess. Yesterday's events were still circling in her mind, and she knew she was better off with Damien, than wandering around by herself, or with the raiders. He had kept her safe, after all. She looked around the small space, her eyes finding the shelf where the horse carving sat. Damien's words sounded in her head, I made that for him when he was born. Amar frowned. I lost my brother, but they never let me forget what happened.

Her heart hurt for him. He must have felt so alone, and she knew what that was like. She never knew her parents. She was an orphan. Raised in a home with other orphans until she was eighteen. At that point, you were given a small dowry and tossed out on your own. Amar had been alone for as long as she could remember. Maybe that was why she felt for Damien. That was something they shared.

"Amar." She was startled by the sound of her name. He was calling her from outside. "You can come out now."

She stepped into the morning light, feeling the sun warm her cheeks. She took a breath of fresh air and caught sight of Damien watching her from lower down the ridge. His arms were full of fresh fruit, wrapped in his coat. She threw him a puzzled look, but he just motioned her forward. She sat on the log she'd occupied the night before and watched him lower the coat to the ground. He picked one up, pulled a fresh handkerchief from his back pocket and rubbed the cloth over the fruit. He held it out to her. "Eat."

She took it, biting into it and feeling her stomach growl in earnest. She ate hungrily, while Damien began to sort through a pile of wood Amar had only just noticed. "What are you doing?" she asked.

"Checking to make sure this wood is dry" he answered, without looking up. "When you're done, I'll show you how to make a fire."

She frowned. It was an odd thing for a woman to learn, and she was just about to question it when an animal made a sound somewhere in the trees. Her head jerked to the side, seeking the source, and her neck pained in protest. "Ow," she said, reaching up to rub her neck.

He frowned at her. "What happened?" he asked, halting in his work with the wood.

She was surprised by the concern in his voice. "Nothing, my neck is just sore." Her eyes widened when she saw him stand and begin walking toward her. She drew back, but he placed his hands on her shoulders, keeping her in place. "What are you doing?" She'd gone completely still on the log.

"Relax." He kneeled behind her, sweeping her hair off her shoulders. She jerked away, but he ignored her, gently probing her stiff neck and shoulders. Her body refused to relax, and each time his fingers moved over her skin she flinched, slightly. It felt unnatural to feel at ease around this man. She had spent so long avoiding him at every turn, and fighting him endlessly, after the "proposal." She tried to pull away again. "Amar," his voice came out slightly more stern. "I'm not going to hurt you. I promise."

She relented, allowing him to soothe the ache in her muscles. She was surprised when she felt the pain lessen and slowly leave her neck. She breathed deep, and realized she felt a lot more relaxed. She tensed up, however, when Damien's hands slowed and softly fell away from her body, only to be replaced by his lips. He pressed a kiss to the place between her right shoulder and the base of her neck.

Startled, she jumped, earning a small chuckle from Damien. She turned to glare at him. "I told you not to touch me." Damien's chuckle turned to full-on laughter. "Come now love, don't be modest. Especially not after we've already slept together," he said, with a wink.

She gaped at him, appalled. "We most certainly have not slept together!" She nearly yelled, jumping from the log.

He gave a little shrug. "Well, not in the most pleasurable sense. But I don't plan on waiting long for that, either."

Her jaw dropped, as she was utterly consumed with disbelief. Was he really still holding onto that delusion? One look at his straight-faced expression, and she had her answer. She shook her head, slowly. "You're insane" she said, her voice as cold as ice. She was standing a few feet away from him, but he easily closed the distance. She stood her ground, even as he came to stand less than an inch from her. His jaw clenched as he peered down at her, like he was fighting an internal battle with himself. She kept that defiant lift to her chin, the one that he loved. It was a challenge. One that he accepted, ardently. "Maybe. But I've never broken a promise." His hand came up to glide across her shoulder and her skin caught fire at his touch. "Not when I said, I wouldn't hurt you, and not when I said you'd become my wife."

She was speechless. She wasn't sure how long they stood staring at each other, but at some point, Damien stepped back. He dropped to the ground to resume his work on the wood pile. For several seconds, she stood over him, unmoving, while he remained crouched on the ground. Without looking at her, he said, "I need to go back to the village, and see what's happened. I need you to stay here."

With her fists clenched at her sides, she slowly asked, "And what do you expect me to do here while you're gone?"

He started setting up the fireplace. "You'll be safe here. I've checked the grounds, and no one else besides us has left tracks leading up here. No one followed us. I'll show you how to make a fire for warmth, and there's plenty of food there to last the day. I'll be back before late, tonight."

For a long time, she didn't speak. Then she asked, incredulously, "You can't be serious." But it came out more like a statement. "You steal me away from the village. Against my will, I'll add, and decide on your own that we'll be staying here until you decide it's safe. Then, you leave me stranded in the woods. Do I have that right?" She stared at him through narrowed eyes, daring his to argue.

He came to his feet, leaning toward her. "You're really not going to let that go, are you? Would you really have preferred I left you in the middle of all that bloodshed?" He waited for her answer, but she didn't say a word. "That's what I thought."

Amar took a deep breath, knowing she wouldn't win this fight, and conceded. "Alright. How long will you be gone?"

"A little more than half a day, I'd guess," he returned to a kneeling position, once again. "Now come here. Let me show you how to make a fire. It'll be cold, tonight."

She frowned as she sunk down onto the log. "It wasn't cold last night." Her brow furrowed in confusion.

He peeked up at her from beneath his lashes, and Amar was surprised by the sly look in his eyes, "I made sure you were warm last night," he whispered. He was close enough that he could lift his hand, and place it on her knee. She started slightly, but otherwise remained still. He smiled up at her, before removing his hand and gesturing to the fire pit.

He began to explain to her how to make a fire, how to stack the wood, set the ground, and how to spark a flame by quickly rubbing one stick perpendicular to the log beneath it. "That's all you need to know," he said, standing and brushing his hands clean on his pants. He looked at her, but she kept staring at the ground. He turned and went into the shack, reemerging with a hatchet.

He spun it twice, while staring at her. Then, walked over to the horse to check the saddle and reins. He patted the horse's large neck, whispering to it so softly Amar couldn't hear. She came to her feet and moved closer, so that she was standing almost directly behind him. "So you're just going to wander into town and hope that the raiders aren't waiting for you?" she asked, disbelievingly. She cocked an eyebrow, clearly cynical of his plan.

Damien turned toward her, with a wide-eyed expression, that left Amar puzzled. Before she could ask what he was thinking, he started chuckling. "You sound worried, Amar."

She glowered at him. "Not in the least." Having grown exasperated, she turned to head back into the hut, and was caught off guard when she felt Damien's arm around her waist. He pulled her forcefully into his chest, and further still, so that she was folded tightly in his arms. Her first instinct was to pull back, to fight him off. But if she was being honest with herself, she was tired. She was so tired of fighting him, and tired of always being so guarded. The fight seeped out of her bones and she went limp in his arms, but he didn't seem to notice. She felt his steady breathing on her skin, as he buried his head into her neck. They stood there for a few seconds; Amar barely breathing as she waited for him to release her. It got to the point that she didn't think he ever would. Then, she felt his arms loosen, just enough for her to pull back and give him a horrified look.

Her brow furrowed at the look in his eyes. She could have sworn he looked, almost, scared. She quickly discarded the idea. Damien Maddock was far too arrogant to be afraid of anything. His hand rested at the small of her back, keeping her locked against him, while his other hand reached up to brush the hair away from her face. His fingertips lingered against her neck and face, stroking her cheek. Amar's breathing grew short. What was he doing?

He finally spoke. "Amar, if anything happens to me. If I don't come back by tomorrow morning, there is a village about a half day's walk north from here. Stick to the path, close to the trees, and eventually you'll reach it without having to make any turns." Her lips parted, but nothing came out. His thumb traced her lower lip, as his eyes followed the movement, and Amar was grateful to be released from his consuming gaze. "You are to go there and seek shelter. They're good, honest people. They'll keep you safe."

She looked at him, stunned by the sincerity in his voice. Their faces were just inches apart, and with his fingers holding her chin, Damien leaned in to press a kiss to her lips. She pulled back, and hurt flashed across his face. A second later, it was gone and he gently pulled her back, pressing his lips softly to her forehead. She allowed this, keeping her eyes on the center of his chest, directly at her eye level. He pulled back, and she heard him whisper, "Please be safe."

He released her, mounting the horse and, with one last look at her, spurred the horse into an easy trot. She watched him disappear into the thicket of trees, and only sat down when she couldn't hear the horse's hooves anymore. Her fingernails scraped the bark on the fallen log, as she curled her fingers, trying to ground herself. What just happened?

She couldn't fathom why she had remained motionless in his arms, allowing him to hold and caress her, almost kiss her. In all her life, she had felt nothing but loathing for this man. Since she'd declined the marriage, she'd felt cautious, hostile, and even fearful in his presence. Yet, lately she'd been soothed by his touch, and calmed by his gentle voice. She looked down at her feet in the grass, noticing the small, purple flowers budding in the dewy soil. She reached down and plucked one, spinning it between her fingers. She sat, her forehead creasing in concentration as she tried to sort through the last day, and ascertain why she suddenly felt so cold without Damien's warm touch.

Damien spurred the horse as quick as he dared, trying to make it back to the village, as quickly as possible. His heart was racing at a staccato. The thought of Amar sitting back at the hut, completely defenseless was enough to set his blood on fire. If something happened to her. He caught himself reveling in the feel of Amar's body close to his own. When she'd held him so tightly the night before, after he'd told her about his younger brother, his heart had nearly burst through his chest. She'd looked at him with such compassion in her eyes, saying It wasn't your fault. It was the first time he'd heard those words concerning the part he played in his brother's death. His parents had outright blamed him, and no one else knew the truth of what happened. For years, he'd shouldered the blame, without anyone to share his grief. Until Amar. She didn't blame him, and he loved her all the more for it. She could be his, he knew it.

After she'd held him, he had let her go and walked outside, because his skin felt like it was burning. Partly for a distraction, he checked the perimeter to be sure they weren't followed, and when he'd returned, he'd found Amar sleeping soundly on the floor. She hadn't even wrapped herself in a blanket. He touched her hand, and felt the chill on her skin. So he had lain down beside her, pulling the other blanket over them both, and gently wrapping an arm around her. She had stirred slightly, and then relaxed into his embrace. She probably didn't even realize that she'd been most of the night in his arms. But she'd slept soundly, peacefully.

She knew she was safe with him. He knew that. She just didn't want to admit it. But just now, before he left, she hadn't fought him. Well, not completely. He'd tried to kiss her goodbye, and she'd pulled away. It made him crazy not to claim her lips before leaving, but he settled for her forehead. He released a harsh breath, wanting so badly to feel her lips against his. Her arms around his neck, pulling him closer, even as he molded his body to hers. His feelings for her were more than an escapade for lust. He was truly, passionately, and inescapably in love with her. And even if it killed him, he'd prove to her that it was real.

Okay, I think I'll end it here. I have an idea in my head for what direction I want the next chapter to take. Hope you guys are enjoying this story as much as I'm enjoying writing it. Love you all, and hope you love Damien and Amar, too!

-Nicole