Welcome to installment #16 of the Chasing Shadows – Making Amends series. For more information or to read the previous scene, head to this page.
Mujur grabbed Kecil’s wrist and lengthened his stride. Progress would be even faster if he carried her on his back, but he resisted the urge to do so. As defensive as Kecil was about her physical attributes, he doubted she’d appreciate the gesture. Still, he wouldn’t allow her to delay his mission. He was as eager to return south as she was. But if Kecil was planning to join Nenek’s village, she’d be in for a surprise. A matriarch willing to kick her grandchildren out of a clan, was likely to accept an outsider such as Kecil.
There was always Berani’s little clan. Though Kecil was small, worthless she was not, and despite her fragility, she was adorable in a spicy sort of way.
Mujur would enjoy the honor of protecting her every day… mating her, running his hands across her silky skin, tracing his tongue over her nipples, filling her—
“Wait.” Kecil tugged free. She smoothed a white strand from her forehead, revealing roots darkened with sweat.
Mujur wanted to tangle his hands in her hair, breathe in her scent.
His thoughts were interrupted by the screech of the wild cat.
He searched the trees and tried to keep his frustration from building to an explosive level. As much as he wanted to find the penanggalan and destroy it, the cat was quickly gaining precedence.
“Where are you taking me?”
Mujur snapped his attention back to Kecil.
Arms crossed, hip jutted to the side, it was hard to believe she didn’t have the body to match her bold attitude. “Where are we going?”
Where was he going? Even now an invisible thread pulled him north, pumped him with urgency. Just a little further, an inner voice which was not his beckoned. Kecil would never understand what compelled him to continue northward. By the Great Spirit, he didn’t even understand. He gave Kecil the simplest answer. “To find the penanggalan.”
She frowned. “How do you know where it is?”
“Then how do you plan to find it?”
“All the trees in the rainforest couldn’t hide the penanggalan from me.”
Kecil pinned him with an unwavering glare. “You led me astray.”
Mujur flinched at the accusation in her voice. “I did not. You’re not safe alone. Not until the penanggalan is dead.”
In his mind’s eye Mujur saw Kecil covered in blood, face as pale as her hair. Panic formed a hard knot in the pit of his stomach and rose until it gave his heart a hiccup.
Kecil turned her back on him and headed the way they’d come. As she passed a tree, Teman descended the trunk and fell in line, his lumbered gait barely keeping pace with her.
“I’ve not lied to you,” he called.
“I don’t care.”
He caught up to Kecil and danced a sidestep. “Have I caused you harm?”
Her head jerked to him, eyes wide before she faced forward. “No.”
“Have I let harm come to you.”
“No.” Purpose filled each of her steps.
“You don’t trust me.”
She stopped and for the longest time stared straight ahead before turning to him slowly. Her shoulders sank as she met his eyes. “I do trust you.”
“But you run?”
“Not from you,” her voice lowered to a whisper.
Mujur ran a hand down her arm.“I won’t let the penanggalan get you, but I can’t protect you if I don’t know where you are.”
Kecil dropped her gaze. “I know.”
“Then stay with me.” The pleasure Mujur took from simply touching Kecil’s skin left him unsettled. His focus should be entirely on easing her fears.
“You can.” He gripped her forearm, willing truth into his words.
“You keep me from duty.”
Duty. Honor. Integrity. Those concepts Mujur knew all to well. He tilted her chin until he had her eyes in his sight again. “Give me a week… a week only. I’ll take you anywhere after that.”
“I might not have a week.” Kecil’s eyes glistened as if one wrong word would send tears spilling over.
“Three days.” Mujur received only silence. “You said you trusted me.”
Kecil pulled her chin from his grasp and turned her head to the side. “Fine.”
The win left him feeling more like a loser than the victor, but it was a small sacrifice if it meant keeping Kecil safe.