Azriel's eyes were drooping as they entered the inn. It was almost past midnight and despite all that she had heard, she realized that sleep could no longer be kept at bay. Yet, all thoughts of sleep left her when Eva pulled her aside in the narrow corridor leading to their bedroom.
"Azriel, spend the night with Ashmeer. Whatever is left of it of course. He is in the adjoining room. Go now, you won't get this chance for a while again."
"I don't know if I can sister.....so much has happened and this is the last thing on my mind."
Eva smiled, "Exactly the reason why you should my dear. Go, let him love you. I know you are dying to do so." Before she knew it, Eva had opened the door to the very tiny room, that Ashmeer had occupied across theirs, and pushed Azriel inside. She fell on the bed immediately as there was no other place between the bed and the door. She lay quietly on the bed, which had an even more frayed bedspread than that of her room, and waited for Ashmeer to enter.
He came in a few minutes later and took a surprised look at her. "Azriel, what are you doing here? Why aren't you sleeping?"
Azriel thought for a moment but decided to tell him the truth. "It was Eva's idea. She felt we haven't spent any time together. We won't get more chances when we are back as well."
Ashmeer smiled, "Your sister is quite a minx, isn't she? I almost worry for the Duke of Ascan. How will he handle her?"
Azriel sniffed, "It seems you like her more than you like me."
He gracefully leapt on the bed, and stretched out beside her. She felt her heart beating faster as he reached out his arm and tucked her against his side.
"Ah! Azriel, I only want to think of you. You are in my dreams and in my thoughts all the time, and had things not been so chaotic I would have shown you how much I need you and want you. Unfortunately..."
"No....Ashmeer, show me now please. I need to be held and loved. My whole world has been turned upside down in the past few days. All seems lost. Give me something to hold onto. I am bereft and I have nothing...."
Ashmeers eyes darkened as he put his finger on her lips...."Shhhhhh, Little One....shhhh...not like this...."
He swiftly moved to kiss her hungrily, pushing her lips open with his tongue, and swooping down to explore corners of her mouth. Azriel clung to him, as his hands roamed all over her body. She felt alive and tingly all over.
Ashmeer's eyes were darker than she remembered and the golden flecks in his eyes were even brighter. She moaned in delight as he moved his hands across her shoulders, the nape of her neck, and further down to cup her breast. Oh, bliss was this!
They were entangled in each other's arms for a long time, Ashmeer's hands had pulled the sides of her dress down, and undone all her front buttons. He was trailing kisses down her and she kissed him back like a small hungry puppy. Her whole body was on fire, and she felt a strange warmth in her core, a wanting and a hunger she had never known before. She had no idea what she wanted but she knew that she wanted more of Ashmeer, more of his hands all over her, more of his lips on hers, and she wanted to feel her naked skin against hers. Involuntarily she cried, "Make love to me Ashmeer....."
He suddenly pushed her back. "Azriel, " he said in a husky voice. "This needs to stop. I can't do this to you. Not now. Not when you are most vulnerable and scared. I want this to be a better choice for you. Also, you must get some sleep. Tomorrow we leave here at dawn. I worry your father may not last that long and we have too much to do."
He tenderly helped her with her buttons and brought a coverlet for her to use. He tucked her in bed and said, "I will sleep in the stables Azriel. I'll come and wake you at dawn. We need to move then. Ill lock the door from outside. Sleep now my love, there is still time for us."
A tear trickled down her eyes," Ashmeer, don't leave me. Don't let me go. Please."
He caressed her cheek and said, "No, I will never let you go...I care for you too deeply Little One...sleep now." He left and shut the door behind him.
Azriel sighed and settled down into a troubled sleep, despite her aching need for him.
She awoke with a start just before dawn, a terrible lingering nightmare stayed in her waking consciousness. She had dreamt of Ashmeer getting lost in the blight, the mists swirling around him, even as she cried out to him to come back Then strong arms had held her and she had looked into the dark eyes of Duke Ashdeen as he held her and said, "Let him go Azriel...you are mine now."
She had woken with a sob in her throat, wondering what the dream meant when there was a knock on her door and she heard Ashmeer whisper, "Wake up Azriel, Eva and I are ready. It is time to go back."