23,764 words! Still on track and five days ahead, just where I like to be.
I was so distracted by my new Sherlock Holmes mystery game that I forgot to upload yesterday’s excerpt. Whoops! As a side note, I had the opportunity to make this scene romantic, and I wrote it both ways, but I decided against it. I needed Kain to be a pillar of strength for Nim, and not confuse her further. I still might choose to include him in a bit of a love triangle in the future though, we’ll see. 🙂
Without further ado. ^-^
“Kain, where are we going?” Nim inquired for the hundredth time. He was being maddeningly vague and it was driving her crazy. Though she couldn’t help but feel her excitement rise as he merely gave her a mysterious smile.
“Be patient, we’re nearly there.”
Nim sighed half-heartedly. Tromping through the grounds in the middle of the night wasn’t exactly how she had planned her evening, but it was a thrill, and Kain always had the most amazing surprises.
With the promise of the big reveal in store, Nim determinedly plodded on, barely keeping up with Kain with his long stride. He was even taller than Tavya.
Down a steep hill with roots and brambles tripping at their feet, Nim couldn’t help but notice they were getting further and further from Hyrum’s estate.
“Hey, Kain.. are you sure this is safe?”
“Have no fear, sweet lady, for I shall protect you.”
Nim rolled her eyes.
“You sound like Lucian.”
Kain slowed and looked at her.
“What’s up with you and that guy anyways?” He asked, suddenly serious.
Nim was caught off guard by the sudden question.
“I don’t know what you mean. King Ulric assigned Lucian to be my bodyguard, and a messenger should I need the king’s assistance. So I’m stuck with him, whether I like it or not.”
“And do you like it?”
Nim was exceedingly puzzled by Kain’s shift in attitude.
“He’s nice enough, but I hardly know him.” She cocked her head up at him. “What’s this all about?”
“I just don’t want anyone protecting you but me.” He mumbled. “Well.. and Tavya of course.”
Nim laughed and Kain shrugged, embarrassed.
“Don’t tell her I said that, she’d have my hide.”
“Yes she would. Definitely.”
The two of them dissolved into giggles, immediately lightening the mood.
“Ah, we’re here. Take off your shoes and close your eyes.”
Nim could hardly see anything in the dark anyways, but she followed his instructions anyways.
She felt Kain’s hand take hers and gently lead her forward.
“Keep them closed.” He added, taking small steps.
Nim nodded, barely able to contain her anticipation.
The night was quiet, the air still and fragrant, with the sounds of small insects buzzing in the mangrove trees. She felt warm water splash up against her bare feet. They must be at Barrow Bay, near the port of Shorewick, down the hill from Hyrum’s hillside estate.
Nim slowly opened her eyes. Then opened them wider.
The entire bay was glowing a luminous blue!
She wiggled her toes in the sand and the water glowed at her feet.
“It.. It’s beautiful!” Nim exclaimed, mesmerized.
Kain smiled, pleased with her elation.
“The residents have nicknamed it the Glimmering Cove.”
Nim knew there was probably a rational explanation, but to her it seemed just like magic. She began to twirl in the surf, creating artistic glowing blue ripples and spirals in her wake.
“When I saw this, I knew I had to show you.”
“Thank you, Kain. It’s absolutely wonderful.”
He kicked off his boots and joined her in the water.
“Will you dance with me?”
Nim nodded and took his hand while he placed the other on the small of her back. She hadn’t had much opportunity to do a waltz in a while, and was a little out of practice.
Together they danced, spinning in the water, the luminous blue light following their steps.
They stopped dancing and Nim stared up at Kain, feeling a little lightheaded.
“Thank you for tonight. You reminded me that there is some beauty left in the world.”
Kain smiled, his amber eyes meeting hers, then he leaned forward and kissed her hand.
“Anytime, my dear Nim.”
Nim glanced at the glittering bay once again, reluctant to leave it.
“We should get back before Hyrum sends out the dogs to find us.”
“You’re right, this would be terribly difficult to explain, my stealing you away in the dead of night. How scandalous!”
He grinned as he tugged on his boots and held out his hand.
Nim giggled and slipped on her slippers, then followed him back into the night.
Unbeknownst to them, someone else was watching, green eyes like those of a cat, gleaming in the dark.
They parted ways at the side entrance of the house, and Nim nimbly crept through the window, while Kain shuffled through the door, trying not to make a sound.
They tiptoed to the stairs when a presence behind them made them jump.
“And where have you two been?” Tavya inquired sternly.
“Tav, you scared me!” Nim gasped, her heart having skipped a beat with fright. “I was with Kain.”
“Yes, so Lucian informed me. Doing what, may I ask?” She lifted an enquiring eyebrow. Even the formidable warrior was cowed.
“I took her to the bay, to see the Glistening Waters.” Kain admitted truthfully.
“The bay? At this time of night?”
“Yes. Nim was perfectly safe, I never left her side.”
Tavya sighed at his noble protestation. He was a capable protector, that much couldn’t be denied, but it was unwise. Still.. the children deserved at least a little joy, and the luminous bay was the exact sort of thing that would make Nim happy.
“Very well. I’m glad you’re both safe. But next time tell me before you go galavanting off, alright? You gave me quite a worry.”
“Yes, Tav.” Nim nodded guiltily.
“Alright, off to bed with both of you.”
The two trudged upstairs and went into their individual rooms.
Tavya made her way to the foyer and sank into a chair with a heavy sigh.
“Nim?” Hyrum inquired knowingly, handing her a glass of brandy.
“Yes. She was with Kain. They went down to the bay of all things.” Tavya took a sip of the amber brandy, swirling it in the snifter. “How do you do it, Hyrum?”
“Hm? Do what?”
“Deal with children crossing into adulthood, you’ve raised both Alois and Kain. Nim is just starting to bloom as a woman, and I recognize some of the struggles I went through as a youth in her. I’m trying to keep her from making the same mistakes I did, yet allow her the freedom to grow into her own person. But it’s hard.”
Tavya stared moodily into the bottom of her glass.
“And now I’ve got Lucian to deal with too. Honestly, who makes a sixteen year old boy a palace guard then sends him away on a perilous quest? Boggles my mind.”
Hyrum gave a throaty chuckle.
“Oh I have my theories.” He said mysteriously.
Tavya gave him a dark look but he wouldn’t elaborate. She finally gave up.
“In any case, I had enough trouble with them, but now there’s the added pressure of an impending marriage when all this is over and dealt with. So now Nim, who never had time for romantic notions before, is thinking about weddings and children, and I’m absolutely no help at all.” She concluded with a huff.
Hyrum patted her arm sympathetically.
“You’ll manage. I had no experience as a parent either, then Kain, and later Alois were practically dropped on my doorstep.”
“Like us.” Tavya interjected wryly.
“I do seem to collect strays, don’t I?” Hyrum quipped. “I had to figure out how to raise them myself. I like to think I’ve done a good job, though other parents might disapprove of the skills they’ve mastered.”
Alois was a clever, streetwise thief while Kain was a skilled fighter.
“Don’t sell yourself short, they’re a credit to you.” Tavya said.
Hyrum tipped his chin.
“Thank you. And Nim is a credit to you as well. Lucian.. well, I’m sure you’ll figure him out eventually. Boys aren’t quite so complicated as girls at this age, I hear.”
“So I remember.” Tavya said snidely.
She rose and bowed to her host.
“Thank you for the brandy, and the conversation. But I’m bushed, and I need my beauty sleep.”
“Never.” Hyrum winked and Tavya grinned.