If I leaned forward, I could just see her dark hair as she slowly rode up the steep path. She moved steadily. She knew I was here. She probably knew I was watching her too. She seems to have this ability to know whenever I'm near. No matter what, she always knows. Crouching down I re-entered the cave and waited. I could have come out to meet her, but I knew she didn't expect me to.
I'd found the cave a few days ago. I had been looking for a place off the main trails. This was perfect. It was high up the side of a mountain, well protected by trees with a small stream running nearby. The entrance was small and well concealed. The cave itself was actually quite large. The ceiling was high enough to allow even a tall person to stand.
The sound of hooves had stopped. In my minds eye I could see her dismounting to begin the climb up the narrowest part of the trail. That was another reason I had chosen this particular cave. After rounding a large boulder the trail became too treacherous for a horse. The only way was on foot. With her added height the climb would be more difficult due to the low branches that lined the path. She wouldn't care though. If they got to be too bothersome she would just use her sword to clear them away. In less than a candle mark we would be together again. Just the thought made my pulse speed up.
I've been away from her for a week this time. All the other times have been only a day or two at most. I closed my eyes and tried to calm myself. I already knew it was useless. The tension is burning through me. Soon she would be here with me. Soon.
It is still quiet outside. Had she chosen to chop through the brush I would have heard the snapping of branches by now. I can imagine that she will probably have some scratches on her arms by the time she gets here. For a moment I wonder if she'll be angry that I've chosen such an inaccessible place. Only for a moment. I can almost feel the smile from here. She will likely find my choice quite humorous.
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if she ever became truly angry with me. I've seen what she is capable of. I have done things that she's killed others for, yet she's never raised a hand to me. She promised me that she never would. She will allow no harm to come to me for she fears that would break my spirit, and that she does not want.
I can hear the rustling of branches now. She's almost here. I'm trembling from head to toe now.
I'm still sitting just inside the cave. At the moment I doubt if my legs will hold me up. I take a few slow, deep breaths to try and calm myself. It helps, a little.
A quick movement at the cave entrance and she is here. She is standing just inside the entrance watching me. "Gabrielle," she calls softly. I don't answer, or look at her yet. She doesn't seem to mind. Her posture is relaxed and she is content to wait. She can see the trembling. She knows I am overwhelmed and need a moment to collect myself.
I finally come to my feet when she calls my name again. I can hear the laughter in her voice. She finds my lack of composure amusing. I move to stand in front of her, still unable to meet her eyes. She cups my cheek and tilts my head up. Our eyes lock and I forget to breathe. We stand like this for an eternity until I remember to draw air again.
"Did you miss me?" she whispers as she wipes away a tear with her thumb. I make no attempt to answer as she leans in and kisses me. I close my eyes as her mouth takes possession of mine.
When she breaks the kiss I am breathless again. Eyes still closed, I lean into the hand at my cheek and hold her forearm for balance, as my knees threaten to buckle under me. She always affects me this way. She has always known just how to touch me. She can make me so wet, it takes everything I have not to beg. This is a great source of pride and amusement to her.
She says my name yet again and I open my eyes. I drop my head and focus on the forearm I am still holding. Not a scratch. This does not surprise me. She shifts slightly and her hand is now tangled in my hair.
Stepping closer she said, "It will be dark soon."
She brings up her other hand. I already know what she holds. There is no need for me to look. With a soft click, she places the collar around my throat. The attached leash runs to her fist.
She turns to leave the cave. With a slight tug on the leash she says, "Come, Gabrielle. It's time to go."
"Yes, Conquerer," I answer. Stepping out into the fading day, we begin the downhill trek to meet the waiting Royal Guard who will escort us back to Corinth.