Last Week, we published the first half of an original story from our very own Kristian! If you're familiar with FTF, you know that Kristian is the host of our very popular NerdPod program and also a regular on the One For The Girls Podcast. We're excited that she is sharing her awesome writing with the world and are just as stoked to release the second half of her story today. If you missed Part One or simply want to remember where things left off before diving into this installment, you can find it here! Now, without further adieu, here's Part Two of Talon!
Part Two: Realizations
Something in Katherine's chest tightened uncomfortably, the sensation crawling up her throat. Talon looked away and she could see his jaw clench, as if holding something in. "I get what you're trying to say, but I don't understand. Why would you leave?" She flinched internally, as she heard a hint of fear in her own words. His chest lifted as he took in a massive breath.
"Katherine," he sighed, and when she looked at him, he now seemed sad instead of anxious. "You don't know who I really am, but there is a reason I came from the Outskirts and it has finally hunted me down, so I have to leave the Kingdom." His lips pressed firm as a determined look set in on his face. "I will not put anyone in danger."
Following the bizarre behavior, this equally odd explanation sounded almost as if Talon was speaking another language.
"What do you mean, 'hunted you down?' What kind of trouble are you in?"
"I have men coming after me," he started, but she cut him off before he could finish. "Who would be chasing you that could threaten any of us?"
"Very unpredictable, cruel people who have been searching me for years, ever since I came here. They have just recently received more motivation to collect me." There was a thud out in the hall that drew Talon's attention momentarily, and his voice dropped when he continued. "Now I have to go to keep them away from anyone who is important to me."
Something outside the door scuffed on the wood floor and, all of a sudden, Katherine felt nervous. This was real, Talon was serious. "If someone is after you, why don't you just go to the Royals? They have charged your life to the Guard's care; we won't allow anyone to be hurt." He laughed, seeming a bit tired based on the way his head rolled back before he spoke.
"I'm doing this so none of you will have to be put in harm's way. I can't even guarantee the safety of the Royals, much less Guard members, while these people know that I am here."
"I desire to meet these people who you think can harm any of us," Katherine proclaimed, balling her fists in both frustration and angst. Talon relaxed a noticeable amount, a sad, heavy smile spreading on his lips.
"You're always trying to protect everyone Katherine," he laughed again, making her chest ache. "Always trying to be strong in every situation."
"And you're always snickering at me for it, just like you are now."
Katherine could feel her jaw starting to twinge from being clenched so tight, as her nerves became increasingly tense. "You can't leave, Talon -- it's a death sentence to go into the Outskirts! It was miraculous that you survived the first time! Have you even told the Royals about these people who are supposedly chasing you, to see if they can help find you shelter?" If she had been open to admitting it, she would have taken the sting at the back of her eyes to mean that she was on the verge of tears.
"The Royals have known the reality of my situation the entire time I've been here. It's the real reason they charged the Guard with caring for me." His eyes softened, their usual brightness returning. He stepped closer to her, leaving only an arm's length between them. "They knew one day I would have to leave and go back out there, so they made sure I was trained and prepared by sending me to the Guard. Even the Princess knew from the very beginning."
More noise out in the hall took his gaze away for a moment, but he returned to her, looking down with an expression she had never seen before. His gaze touched every inch of her face, making her cheeks hot. "I don't understand," she whispered, "how could they not have told us...the Princess, she didn't even try..." Katherine's fists clenched tighter and she swallowed hard, trying to reign in the surge of betrayal that filled her stomach.
"They didn't tell us; there must be a good reason," she said in a sure tone, trying to convince herself. "She's going to be angry with you for slipping out, you know that, right?"
Katherine sighed after a few quiet moments, realizing that her heart was racing like it was trying to escape her chest.
Talon laughed again. "I've already told her that I'm leaving, and she told me to come here and say goodbye to you." He took the smallest half step towards her, and she thought she might jump back from the electric response it caused throughout her body. Katherine was not sure if it was the highly emotional state she was in, but something about the way Talon was looking in her direction made her entire being feel like it might vibrate apart.
"I didn't need your goodbyes if you had to be ordered here by the Princess. I think it's stupid of you to leave and I won't condone it by telling you goodbye," she spat, her voice lacking conviction. There was a noticeable creaking of floorboards somewhere in the hallway outside her door. "I have to leave, with or without your goodbyes. I have to protect you and all the other people I love."
His words shattered something in her and she instantly remembered the day she had made a promise to him.
"You ASS," she snapped, hitting him in the chest, rage instantly consuming her. The surprise attack made him stagger back a step, his face confused. "You're telling me that four years ago, when I promised you on MY HONOR that you would always have a place here, you already knew you would have to leave?" Her chest now felt like it would explode as she realized his long, played out treachery.
"You TOYED with me!"
Katherine stepped forward and took another swing at Talon that he was now better prepared for. "You made me feel sorry for you, knowing this, and you let me make a fool of myself." This time, she tried an uppercut that he again dodged.
"Then you tormented me every day since. You've always wanted to do nothing but hurt me!" She balled up and pulled back, aiming for his face this time, a tear sliding down her cheek while a hurt she had never known unleashed itself upon her heart.
Just as her fist sailed through the air towards his jaw, he deflected it with his forearm and slipped in towards her body. Before she could step back, his large hands were cupping both sides of her face; their eyes met a moment before he pressed his lips gently against hers.
A whimper slipped from Katherine's throat, forced up by the liquid lightning that filled her body at the touch of his mouth. She had been kissed before, so she knew it was not inexperience that made her feel so on fire from his touch -- it was that his lips felt like they had been made to kiss her.
Talon's touch was soft and melted something inside her, making her feel weaker than she ever had with how perfect it was. Talon gave her two more small, gentle kisses while her mouth hung open in surprise before he pulled away and her eyes floated open.
He leaned down towards her and looked into her heart with his shining hazel eyes. "You don't know how wrong you are about me. I am sorry I never showed you, but I've always been in love with you, Katherine, and I will miss you more than you will ever realize." Before she could even catch her breath, he was rushing out of her door after one last kiss on her forehead.
The shock was still crashing through Katherine when the sound of two thunderous sets of pursuing footsteps drew her attention to the hallway. From her years of training, she was instantaneously ready to defend the man who was, at the most basic level of their relationship, one of her comrades.
The intruders were coming from the opposite end of the hallway that Talon had taken and she was prepared as they passed by her door. She dropped to the floor, sticking her leg out at ankle height into the hallway. A pair of boots hit her shin, but she bit down against the pain, feeling the person topple over her leg.
Katherine was on her feet, prepared for the second foe when he stuck his head around her doorframe. Her first hit was to his nose and, when he tumbled back, she followed. Hitting him once in the center of his burly chest caused him to bend to protect himself, which allowed her to knock the man out with an elbow to the top of his head.
The first partner of the duo was just starting to struggle up off of his belly when she grabbed his arms, dropping down to put a knee at the base of his head. She held his arms firmly behind him to her hips, announcing the trespassers' presence to all of the other Guards that had been roused from their beds.
As mentioned before, you can listen to Kristian on both NerdPod and the One For The Girls Podcast. Stay tuned for more original stories from her, soon to be posted here at forthefansmedia.com!
- Kristian (@itsmeKristianG)