He trailed a finger down my cheek with his free hand. "But out of courtesy to you, I'm telling you what'll happen in a few short hours so you can prepare yourself."
"I'll never be prepared, Jaecar." I said defiantly. "And I'll never forgive you if you do this."
I felt the spark in my blue eyes that indicated I intended every hateful word.
"That much," He sighed. "I already figured."
I was shocked when Jaecar sat up and unwound a long length of rope from around his waist.
He's really going to do this?
I fought in truth then rolling onto my belly to try and crawl away. "You're not tying me up!"
He caught one of my legs and spun it across him, so I was flipped back onto my back. Grasping my sketchbook as my hand rolled over it. For some reason, it still felt important to me.
He lurched forward to hop astride my hips, rope in hand. Prepared to bind me.
I took his movement as an opportunity, and as he leapt up, I skid down between his legs before he could drop his weight.
Using my immense flexibility, to fold back onto my feet and lurch into a sprint.
My sketchbook thunked to the mossy forest floor. Abandoned as I ran. Steering along the wide creek. So frantic, I missed the narrow bridge.
He's gaining on me. He was large and fast. As one of the border guard, his body was well-honed to relentlessly run-down interlopers.
We'd raced many times before and I knew he'd soon be overtaking me if I didn't do something. Swiping up a heavy bit of wood I turned around and hurled it at him.
It caught him off-guard. Hitting him in the middle and knocking the air from him. Forcing him to pause and clutch his gut as he huffed for air.
I took full advantage of the head start and sprinted. Until finding one of my other favorite trees. An old cottonwood. I caught a low branch and tucked my feet. Swinging my body in an arc and into the hollow near the branch. Dropping down into the tree.
The hole was high enough above me, there'd be no getting me out of this one without my cooperation. Unlike the oak, this one was too narrow.
I liked spots like this where I could wedge in the tree by spreading my knees and elbows and then sketch from the tree window, unseen by any intruders.
I never thought I'd be hiding from Jaecar.
After a few moments of silence, I shimmied up the inside of the tree to just peer over the bottom of the hole.
He was standing in the grove. Slowly gazing at the trees. "I know you're here, Samantha. I'm going to find you. You can't hide from me."
Yes, I can.
"Don't forget who I am." He reminded. "I regularly rundown things far more formidable than you."
Not today, Jaecar.
"Come out!" He barked impatiently.
I jerked at the commanding note in his voice. Tempted to emerge. Sensing the consequence of his mounting anger would be high.
"I could be gentle with you. Kind. But if you make me work for it..." His voice trailed off. The warning in it clear.
I peered out the hole again and saw him slowly rotating to scan the trees. His black hair cut close around his ears and at the back of his neck. His vicious eyes alert as he searched around for me. Scanning horizontally through the trees. He was a large male. Broad-shouldered and tall he was built well for combat. His chest was large. Spanning wide and thickly muscled. Tapering to his narrow hips and the long length of his legs in the black pants.
But his movements were rigid. Purposeful.
He's angry. It was as apparent when he turned as it had been in that strange, rare note in his voice.
Just as his gaze reached my hiding spot, I crouched further down into the tree to hide from his keen study.
I carefully controlled my breathing. Forcing my heart to slow so I wouldn't draw his attention with its frantic note. A steady heartbeat in the woods is nothing of importance.
I was praying that he would soon have to go to the camp meeting he'd mentioned earlier. He can't search for me forever.
But I wondered how long he had. He'd neglected to say the time.
"Then it'll be you that suffers the appetite I've built in searching for you..."