This week’s WIP Wednesday is from Trader Prince of Aleshtain, the second book in the Legends of Alcardia series. This is a scene from the most recent chapter I finished. Let’s take a look!
WHEN he strode into his room, the first thing he laid eyes on was Rhubhian’s drawings. They were scattered around the room, and the ones she’d done reflected a dark, haunted mood. Pained expressions, empty gazes, and screaming faces filled the pages. He swallowed and stepped past them, his gaze flitting around the room. Where was she? Her mind wasn’t in a good place judging by these drawings, and he didn’t want her trying to hurt herself.
The sharp weapons in his closet came to mind, and he hurried toward the other room and the adjoining bathroom. He was about to go into the closet when he caught a flash of bright red clothing in the bathroom. Stepping back, he stared at Rhubhian. She was huddled in a heap on the bathroom floor, her tiny body curving in on itself. Tear stains tracked her cheeks, but she was breathing slow and steady. At some point, she must have fallen asleep.
How long had he been gone? Now that he thought about it, he’d left her here alone for almost an entire day, if he included the night he’d spent at Ifan’s plaza. He hadn’t even considered how she might feel if he left. In fact, he hadn’t thought she’d care that much. But then, he had taken off after yelling at her for being so stupid. She must have been going out of her mind with worry, boredom, and guilt.
He walked into the bathroom and crouched down beside her, brushing her damp hair off her neck with a sigh. She stirred, and her long lashes fluttered against her cheeks before she opened her eyes and met his gaze. At first, confusion clouded her eyes, and then recognition dawned, and she bolted into a seated position.
Eras pulled back. She probably wanted her space. Maybe she was even angry at him for leaving her for so long. He’d be angry if he was in her position. But strangely enough, no trace of anger appeared. Instead, she flung her arms around his neck and clung to him, sobbing like a child.
This was new. Not that he’d complain. He liked having her close, and he liked her display of her humanity even more. While he’d prefer she weren’t upset or in pain, he was glad to see her opening up. Hopefully after the trauma faded from her memory a bit, she wouldn’t revert back to her previously closed-off self. He wrapped his arms around her and cradled her against him.
Her fingers fisted in his shirt, and he rubbed her back. Murmuring soothing nothings in her ear, he continued to hold her close and comfort her. She tried to say something past the tears, but the words came out garbled. He leaned back and brushed her tears away with a sigh. “I’m so sorry for leaving you alone for so long.”
She tightened her hold on his shirt. “You are angry at me…”
“No, No, I’m not angry anymore.” He took her face in his hands and ignored the tears dripping down his palms. “Rhu, look at me.”
To her credit, she obeyed more promptly than usual, but no doubt that was born out of fear he might leave and guilt over not staying put the day before. She didn’t say anything further, and he wished he knew how to convince her he was no longer angry. Frustrated, certainly. But not angry. In fact, now he mostly felt relief over her safety and guilty for leaving her alone. “I never should have left you alone. I never gave you the chance to apologize if you needed to or to tell you that I was only angry because I was so scared for your safety.”
She ducked her head as much as he would allow. “I’m sorry. I wanted to tell you yesterday, but you left so quickly, and I didn’t know what to do.”
He pulled her back into his arms with a sigh. “Rhubhian, everything is forgiven. In your position, I would’ve done the same thing, and you were never told you should stay put in the room. It’s my fault. I should’ve made sure you knew what I was expecting. Next time, I’ll make sure I do. But if you’re ever unsure, you put your safety first, you hear?”
She nodded and rested her forehead against his shoulder. “Why did you leave?”
“I needed time to cool off. But I didn’t think about how it would affect you. I should have, and again, I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry.”
For a while, she didn’t say anything. Maybe she wasn’t willing to forgive him. If it made her feel better, though, he’d bear that burden. He didn’t deserve forgiveness after the way he’d gone off on her before leaving her to stew in her own self-reproach with no way to fix anything. So, he just sat there and stroked her hair while holding her close until the slight trembling of her body stopped.
Finally, she pulled away and looked up at him. “I forgive you.”
He blinked. “You do?”
“You asked me to, right?”
“Then I forgive you.”
He sat there for a few moments in silence. Then he reached out and stroked her hair away from her face with a sigh. “You think I deserve it? Even though I was selfish?”
She shrugged. “You saved me. And…” She bit her lip. “And you were right to be angry.”
He stayed quiet.
“I’m sorry too.”
She understood her mistake, then? But maybe she didn’t. Who could say? She could be apologizing just to smooth things over. “Sorry for what?”
She cast him a look that bordered on rebellious. Eras crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes at her. The irritation dimmed, and guilt replaced it. “I’m sorry that I went after you. Even though you didn’t tell me to stay put, I still knew you wouldn’t like it. But I did it anyway.”
“I was… I was lonely, and I needed to get out of this room.” She ducked her head.
He reached out and tipped it back up. “You should have said so.”
Her gaze met his, and she swallowed. The sheen of tears glossed over her eyes. “Are you angry?”
He shook his head with a sigh. “No. No, I’m not angry.”
She didn’t say anything, and for once, he gave in to the temptation to peek into her mind. He found only pain, fear, and a tiny bit of hope. Hope that he might not be lying. He shook his head and reached out, gathering her into his arms. She tensed before relaxing. The time they’d been spending together every day and his kindness to her were paying off. At least she didn’t fear him. Only what might happen to her if he didn’t choose to stick around to protect her. He wove his fingers through her hair and pressed her head to his chest. “I’m not going to leave you, sweetheart.”
She shivered against him and sighed. “No matter what?”
“No matter what. After all, I did get you into this mess.”
Well, that’s it for this week from me. What are you guys working on? Feel free to share in the comments below! Is anyone doing NaNoWriMo this November, by the way? I am, though I’m aiming for 50,000 words total between the various projects I have going on, so I’m not doing it the traditional way exactly. So, what about you guys?