If you’ve stumbled here first, click here to see the bloghop from the very beginning.
This time I am putting my hunk up at the top (tee hee) because that’s what’s most important, isn’t it? ;D There’s also a story, so scroll down and enjoy!
Bran dropped his bag in the corner of the little closet of a room they’d put him up in. The clock on the nightstand said 5pm. They hadn’t adjusted it to daylight savings. He checked his phone for the scheduled reminder of exact time of sunset. His muscles twitched with the need to make time move faster. Feeling restless and feverish after the hellride up here, went out to look for the bathroom, wincing every time his heavy boots banged down on the quaint hardwood floors.
“Oh, hello John,” the hostess said coming out of the bathroom. Her eyes were almost scared and the smile she attempted wasn’t even a little believable.
Who the hell was John?
Oh, right. Him. Bran nodded in wordless greeting. It was a ruse. It always was, he thought, tired of carrying it on.
Whatsherface stuck her hands into her pockets and hitched her shoulders up. “I was just putting up fresh towels. Everything’s ready outside. We’ll be starting at sunset.”
“Fine. Do you mind?”
“Huh? Oh! Yeah, of course. Ha-ha.” She moved away from the door to let him through, blushing bright red. Scurried away a moment later, embarrassed or scared. Bran didn’t care.
His hands shook when he splashed cold water on his face. Didn’t bother looking in the mirror, he knew he looked like crap. Hadn’t slept right for months, not since the dreams had begun. Bran was beginning to think he was possessed. Every night he closed his eyes and saw the same creature floating through his mind. She was beautiful, golden skinned with hair like strands of moonshine, eyes like the brightest sunrise.
She danced and smiled, beckoned with a crook of one delicate finger, then laughed at him when he hesitated to answer the summons. She was the reason he’d walked up to the table that day and scrawled a fake name on a contest entry form. It had been her hand guiding the pen, her breath by his ear as she whispered soundlessly for him to come to her.
He was starting to hallucinate her in waking and knew damn well that it wasn’t because of his lack of sleep. She was his fantasy and his ghost all at once.
And she was not human.
No human woman smelled like spring waking to life and had hair like rivers of spiderwebs
High-pitched, drawling voices echoed down the hallway. Bran gritted his teeth. The Southern Belle probably had to check her make up. He made a hasty exit into the early evening, keeping to the slightly cooler shadows.
Something whispered across the back of his neck and he turned. Nothing behind him except grass and trees. The sun dipped another couple of inches. He could see the shadows growing right before his eyes. When had it gotten so late?
The others were gathered around a fire, probably swapping life stories Bran would cut off an arm to avoid. When a breeze carried to him echoes of feminine laughter, his feet moved of their own accord towards the trees.
With each step the world got darker until by the time he reached the tree line, he could see stars twinkling above him. The moment he entered the sparse forest, night fell full and velvet black around him. Bran shook his head and looked around, clueless as to how he’d gotten there. The fire was a faint glow in the distance, voices nothing but a low hum this far out.
He frowned, ready to turn back, but his feet wouldn’t move. And when he smelled spring on the breeze, he was helpless not to follow the scent. Leaves rustled, grass hissed and crunched. He could hear creatures stirring all around him, but couldn’t see any of them.
He made his way by touch until his mind comprehended that there was light. Not light. Lights. Dozens of them, like fireflies flitting through the air, and bigger ones, like Aurora Borealis streaking close to the ground, in all the colors of the rainbow.
But the most beautiful were the ghostly, human sized glows of cool silver and candlelight warmth. They danced between the trees, spinning around each other, weaving between in intricate patterns that mesmerized Bran. He could almost see faces in those lights
Several smaller ones split off from the group to chase each other around him and soft laughter made his chest fill with warmth. Children. They were children. Their joy was infectious, and the open affection of the others filled the air with peace. Everything these lights felt somehow transmuted to Bran.
A couple of seemingly mismatched lights glided past him and the depth of their desire rocked him off balance. He reluctantly dragged his feet farther, passing a large cloud of silver, which turned out to be two so close they were almost one. Their love made him drop to his knees. It held the weight of centuries, millennia of devotion so strong it overpowered everything else in the vicinity.
None of the lights seemed to realize he was there. Except one. He knew that golden shade, had seen it shining out of immortal female eyes. Bran shoved to his feet, heart stammering in his chest as that light came towards him. Sunlight in the chill black of night.
And as she neared, she changed. Still glowing, but now from within a defined shape. Her bare feet made no sound over the dry grass, her translucent gown never caught on the vegetation. She came to stand in front of him, a gentle smile spreading those lips he couldn’t get out of his head no matter how hard he tried.
A question in her eyes. A choice. She waited for him to make it.
Bran reached out an unsteady hand to touch the smooth fall of her hair. It was even softer than he’d imagined. Her skin was warm, smooth and inviting. Her smile gentled when he cupped her cheek, but still that question in her eyes remained.
She was real. Not some dream or hallucination, she was real, and she was right in front of him. How was he supposed to ever let her go? How could she think that after all these months of wanting, he might not choose her?
Her smile dimmed. Be sure, her eyes said. There would be no turning back from this. Once he made his choice, he could never unmake it.
Bran understood. Not in so many words, but he knew what he was about to do would change his life forever. He dipped his head in a nod and she tipped hers up to meet him half way.
Shock stunned him his mouth touched incredible power, tempered in this graceful female form. Drink of my lips, her voice whispered through is mind. Taste eternity, take it within yourself. Take me.
He was helpless not to. She tasted of everything sweet the earth had ever birthed. She was life, and light, and both filled him now, altering the very fabric of his being. A wrenching tear from his finite human shell and then he was falling into the light. He was the light. And he was hers.
When at last he looked up, the world was bright with the rise of two suns and everywhere he looked, creatures of fantasy greeted him in dozens of languages he somehow understood. “Welcome back, my love,” his Liana said.
The once-human called Bran, the male called Brastias by right, breathed in deep of the scented air of his homeland. Far too long away from his world and his mate. He’d stayed away longer than he should have, risking everything to pass fair judgment over the human race. His people would want to know what he’d discovered. It was worth what he’d almost lost forever. “I… forgot,” he admitted, ashamed.
“I brought you back,” Liana said. “I always will.”
Brastias drew her into his arms, where she belonged, and where she’d been missing for centuries and silently vowed to never leave her side again.