Howl of the Carrion King – Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty
Surfacing

Bree came to three days later in the Shrine of Vardishal. Her belongings lay about the room, placed with obvious care. Tempest lay in her lap, sheathed. Someone held her.

“You’re awake?” Trevvis asked from across the room. “For real, this time?”

Bree smiled and nodded, sitting up.

Behind her, Santon stirred.

“What are you doing back there?” she asked.

Santon laughed and let her go. “Just taking advantage of you while you were unconscious.”

Bree remembered drifting, lost, but someone holding her, keeping her here, grounded. She had thought it was Trevvis but she had, apparently, been wrong.

Santon stood up. “You were delusional. You told Trevvis to leave, but kept mumbling for help.” He shrugged and rubbed his eyes. “And you were freezing. Someone had to keep you warm.”

“Thank you,” Bree said.

Trevvis frowned.

“Well,” Santon continued. “Best return to my many admirers. I’m sure they’ve been lost without me.”

Bree smiled. Santon nodded to her once, and left.

Trevvis sat in the corner, brooding. “He likes you, you know.”

Bree frowned. “He’s just a friend.”

“Sure.” Trevvis muttered bitterly.

“Besides, he’d rather be with every other woman in this camp over me.”

“And yet, he wasn’t.”

Bree sighed. “It’s not like that, Trevvis.”

“Well, you certainly enjoyed his company.”

“I wasn’t well.”

“Weren’t you?”

“No.” Bree growled. “I wasn’t.”

“You told me to leave you alone.” Trevvis said. “You didn’t tell him that.”

“You should have known that I didn’t mean what I said.”

“Like he did?”

Bree rose to her feet, suddenly angry. Santon had saved her! She had been drifting – lost in a sea of endless memories that weren’t her own – and it was him that had brought her back. Santon.

It should have been Trevvis.

“Yes!” she shouted.

Trevvis reached for her hand. “When you tell me something, Star Flower, I listen.” he said through gritted teeth.

Bree paused, sadly. “You should have known, Trevvis.”

“Known what? To ignore you?”

Bree rose her eyes defiantly. “It should have been you! You should have been the one holding me!”

“You wanted Santon!” he shouted. He stepped closer to her and waved his arm towards the entrance to the room.

“No! You let Santon do it, because you were afraid!”

“Afraid?” he scoffed.

“Yes. Afraid! I scared you, and so you let me go!”

Trevvis grabbed her by the arms fiercely and pulled her closer. “I was afraid I had lost you!”

Bree looked into his eyes and saw fear. He let go of her and deflated – sinking into himself. “I was afraid I had lost you to him.”

Bree shook her head. “You’ll never lose me, Trevvis. Never.”

Trevvis reached out to her and wrapped her in his arms. He leaned his head on her shoulder and sighed. “I’m afraid, one day, you’ll change your mind.”

Bree raised his face to hers. She kissed him softly on the lips. He kissed her back, desperately, pushing her back up against the gold-plated walls. His lips traced a line across her jaw, behind her ear, and then down her neck, to her collarbone. She gasped, ran her fingers through his hair, and pulled him down to her.

They made love there, in the Shrine, against the crumbling, creaking stone walls with the saints looking down upon them from their gilded perches.

Trevvis placed his head upon Bree’s shoulder when they were finished and ran his fingers across her naked chest.

“You are a hard woman to please, Star Flower.”

She shivered, still tingling all over. “Oh?” she managed to mumble.

He nodded and pinched her chest firmly. “Yes.”

“You’re lying,” she groaned in satisfaction.

“No. We should practice more often.”

She laughed gently and they fell silent. Content. Hours passed.

Eventually, Trevvis stirred. “What was it, Star Flower, that was wrong?”

Bree frowned and rolled over, burrowing her face into his chest. “I was hearing voices,” she began slowly. “Seeing things; memories that weren’t my own.”

Trevvis held her in his arms and rubbed her back gently.

“I was…” Bree paused, searching for the right word. “Drifting. Lost. I couldn’t sort myself out from everything else. I prayed to be saved. For the voices to stop. Someone’s touch anchored me in the present, in my body. Eventually, my mind came back.”

“Santon brought you back.”

Bree shook her head. “No, Trevvis. I thought it was you. You brought me back.”

He tightened his grip upon her. “I’m sorry, Star Flower,” he breathed. “It should have been me.”

Bree smiled. “It’s alright, Trevvis.” she said. But she was lying. It wasn’t alright. It wouldn’t be alright. It couldn’t.

Because Trevvis was right.

It should have been him.

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