Sample Piece | Firecrossed Huntsman

Kasper could have sworn she was doing it on purpose.

He propped himself up on his elbows and forced his eyes open, only to snap them shut as the sun dazzled him from the parted curtains. It was just his luck to build their little cabin such that the sun poked through the trees every morning and blinded him. He had offered—discreetly—to switch sides with Anne in the bed before, but she was smarter than he was and refused. Apparently, her side of the furs was much too soft to relinquish so easily.

Still, going blind each morning was worth sharing her bed in the first place. Kasper tried again, this time blocking the white-yellow glow with his hand as he shuffled backwards to rest against the headboard. There was no trace of the sunrise left, so he had already missed the early morning creatures and their foraging—he would need to down an elk or two to make up the difference later in the day. As far as he knew, there were no other huntsmen this far out into the woods, so competition was scarce at best. The people in the nearby city would pay good money for tanned hide and fresh venison to warm their bellies.

Kasper stood, bare as a mountain and just as immovable. Twenty years of hunter-foraging might not have provided a rigorous academic knowledge, but they had rewarded him with the physique of a stonemason's most treasured creation. From outside, he could hear the usual humdrum of insects and flowing water, accompanied by the occasional salmon leaping up the small cascade by the cabin. From the sound of it, Anne was playing with their daughter outside, which meant only the gods knew where their son was.

Once he had dressed in his usual linens, Kasper wandered around to the back of the cabin, following the voices as he went. His hearing had yet to fail him, and found his wife sat at her spinning wheel, thread travelling through her fingers at quite a speed. He was more a man of raw strength than delicate touch, although she would disagree—at least in their privacy.

"I thought you were going to the market this morning?" Kasper called out to her as he made his way to her seat. He had offered to clear space inside for her to spin her threads there, but she preferred to watch the water rather than the fire.

"That was my original plan, but you simply refused to wake." She raised her chin as cupped it in his broad hands and kissed her. Even after ten years, the sensation still sent a spark across his nape, from one strong shoulder to the other.

Their daughter—Nora—was picking flowers by the riverbank. Even under Anne's watchful guise, and where the largest danger was smaller than a coin, he could feel the instinct to bundle her up and keep her close beginning to surface. For someone that regularly fended wolves off with little more than a dagger and his voice, he had a particular weakness when it came to his own family—he had thought becoming an uncle would have made him feel at ease around children, but all it had done was make him even more conscious of his own.

Ten small fingers slid onto his thighs from behind him and he tensed, crouching down to crane his neck backwards as Anne's fire-licked hair trickled onto his jaw from above. Even sat on the floor, he came up to her navel. It was a good thing his virtue was his strength for, unlike his brother, he had neither the man's silver tongue nor his patience for the stupid—both valuable assent in the banks, he was sure.

Anne interwove her soft hand with his and gestured for him to stand as she started to walk back towards the cabin, only to end up pulling against his outstretched arm. He gestured back to Nora over his shoulder, but Anne waved him off.

"She'll be fine, Kasper."

"You know I don't like to leave her out here." His eyes pleaded with her.

"And yet Robin is alone, exploring the woods." Anne raised an eyebrow.

"He knows to stay out of trouble."

Anne eyelids fluttered as she tried to make sense of her husband, mulling it over in her head. His unwavering care had always been one of the things—amongst many—that she admired about him, despite how overprotective he could be at times. Realising that it would distract him, Anne called out to her daughter and asked her to bring the collection of threads inside. Nora hesitated until Anne bargained that she would pick her some silver orchids for the flower crown she was assembling when she went into the city.

As soon as Kasper had shut the door behind himself, he spun on his heel and locked his mouth with Anne's lips, pushing her backwards until she was resting against a support column. She retaliated by digging her fingers into the base of his neck and pulling him closer to her.

He pulled back, "Have I been keeping you waiting?"

She nodded before scampering into their room, but before he could enter, she shut the door in his face as the lock clicked. He rested both hands against its surface—one he had carved himself—and exhaled slowly, the heat in his stomach growing.

"Do you want me to pick the lock?" He tried to look through the keyhole.

"You don't know how to." She replied through the oak door.

He closed his eyes, resting his forehead on the cold surface, "…I could break it down."

"Only if you want to break your shoulder as well."

He conceded with a sigh and whined against the wood, his red blood aflame. She had always been good at tempting him even before they had married. It had been her own inquisitive glances from across that tavern that captured his attention all those years ago.

Just as Kasper was beginning to seriously contemplate a running start, the lock clicked again and he felt himself twitch at the sound. He placed a hand on the handle and turned it, not knowing what to expect. The door's hinges did not creak as he opened the thing, revealing that he had kept her waiting for far too long indeed.

She was lying on her stomach atop their furs, entirely naked. She had shut the curtains and lit the two candles mounted on the wall—their light was shallow and hid much of her figure from his gaze, not that it was a mystery to him at any rate.

"Are you going to come in, or would you like a moment?" She drew her voice out into a whisper, like a fisherman casting their line. He took the bait and more, stepping into their dimly lit room and locking the door with the familiar click. He sat on the edge of the bed as she climbed up his back, scraping her fingernails across his skin underneath his top. He placed his hands on hers and lifted the linen over his head in a swift, practised motion, dropping it on the floor—not where it belonged, but that hardly mattered.

His trousers were the last things to go and, before long, both were clawing at each other's bare skin. She drew her teeth up the crook of his neck and he responded by nipping at her lip. The first time they had lain with each other—right under her father's nose in the city—she had been anxious. He was a large man in stature, and no less in the flesh, but he had revealed to her a gentle touch that was quite unexpected for someone who passed his empty moments killing bears or felling trees. Since that night, she had grown accustomed to him.

She nestled a hand into the hair across his chest and pushed him downwards onto the bed, pinning him in place. Her hands ghosted over his muscles, tracing a line from his throat to his manhood, where she set to work. He clenched his teeth as his skin flared and the heat in his abdomen grew with each movement she made. He had not realised he was pining until she stopped to look him in the eyes and a blush spread across his cheeks.

He pulled her close as he sat up on the bed. The low light highlighted the contours of his strength and the marks where he had scarred from fights or falling from things. Her skin was blemish-free, save for a single gash on the outside of her left thigh, received when he had been too slow to ward a crazed boar away from the cabin. She had made sure to savour the time spent carving its flesh for stew.

She moved to ruffle his light hair playfully, but he had a different idea in mind: as she lifted her arms, he grabbed her wrists—she jumped—and pushed her backwards onto the bed, baring her front as she lay helpless on her back, prey in the hunter's trap.

He lowered himself to her and she felt the tickle of his chest against her bare breast. She moved to nestle into the furs as he lined her collarbone with his kisses before bringing his hips to bear. She felt that vital part down at her own and bucked forwards, uniting them as they had done so many times before.

His breath hitched in his throat as she ran a hand along it. There was a certain mystery to him in his eyes, as if there were more to explore. She cupped his face and whispered his name, increasing his tempo, much to their twin delight. He was strong, there was no denying it, and with that vitality came endurance—a desire to keep them safe, fed, and happy.

Their rhythm began to falter as they grew closer and closer together. She grabbed the back of his head as he leant down into her neck and gasped into his jawline, salt-pricked and burning, as he grew faster and more desperate for release. It was a few moments until his strength finally failed him and he cried out. The wave came over her as well, leaving them gasping for air in the throes of pleasure.

He all but collapsed next to her as she rode the surge, still clinging to the furs. Once her vision had cleared again, she turned to see his great chest heaving, dotted with little jewels of their lovemaking. He cupped her head in the crook of his arm and ran a hand down her shoulder, comforting her. She pulled herself into his side as his breathing returned to normal.

"I… f-forgive you…" She said, throat dry.

He looked down at her, "For what…"

"…waking up too late." She closed her eyes and allowed the faintest smile onto her face.

He gave a chestly laugh and stretched forwards, sitting upright. His spine made a clicking sound that set her teeth on edge, "I think it w-was worth it."

She joined him, breath having returned to her, "Oh, really?"

"Gods be good, I might need to fell a few more trees these coming months."

She stared at him until he placed a hand on her stomach and grinned, wolfish and pure.

Gods be good indeed.