Welcome to installment #14 of the Chasing Shadows – Making Amends series. For more information or to read the previous scene, head to this page.
The wehr-tigress was one more burden to his list of responsibilities, yet Mujur had no choice but to take her with him. He couldn’t abandon a female to the perils of the rainforest. It was one thing for a wehr-tigress to hunt alone in a territory patrolled by her people, which was dangerous enough, but for one to wander so far from the clan who protected her was another story.
He only wished he could escort her back to her village, but he couldn’t go near it without the risk of exposure. Not when her clan hunted him for murder.
For a fracture of a second, the dead woman’s face flashed before his eyes. She’d begged him before she’d died.
“Please.” Her last word as the life had faded from her eyes.
This small frail creature before him was like her—helpless and easily broken. Only the fierce determination which waxed and waned in her green eyes explained how she’d survived for so long. He admired her inner strength, but in the deadly rainforest, it would only protect her so far.
As long as the wehr-tigress remained under his care, he would keep her safe. He wouldn’t fail her. One death on his hands was already too many. He would fulfill his promise and deliver her to the southern village—Opah’s clan.
The binturong hissed when Mujur held out a hand. He suppressed a return growl and said, “Come.”
The wehr-tigress stared at him with distrust, rebuffing him as she’d done before.
Never belonging anywhere, Mujur had long grown accustomed to rejections. He forced a smile. “If I wanted to do you harm, I would have already.”
She stroked her binturong a few times before taking a deep breath, then she reached out and placed her hand in his. He pulled her to her feet and reveled at how his hand engulfed her tiny one so completely.
So fragile, so delicate. He couldn’t help but want to protect her. One such as her should never know pain.
As she drew closer, he noticed a discoloration running from the bottom of her ear to the top of her breasts. Barely discernible, but there nonetheless. Like a beacon, it drew him. It stood apart as if outlining her erogenous zones of her exquisite flesh. He reached out to brush the back of his hands against her nape.
She jerked away and splayed her hand over the markings. “I’m not defective.”
The words echoed in his mind before they registered. “Defective?”
“I’m not.” She lifted her chin.
He cringed at the defiance in her voice. Wehr-tigresses were too few to discard because of a birthmark. Though a blemish to some, he wanted only to trace it with his tongue. “Of course not. You’re beautiful. A wehr-tigress worthy to be cherished.”
A flush colored her cheeks and added a shy allure.
“Call me Mujur,” he said.
He chuckled softly. “A fitting name.”
She snatched her hand free of his, and the fire returned to her eyes. “I am capable.”
So defensive. “I didn’t say you weren’t. Kecil-kecil cili padi.” Small but fierce.
Her mouth opened then snapped closed.
“Are you ready?” He held out his hand to her again.
She hesitated only a moment before she slipped hers into his.