Apple Wine and Kisses
Zel and Geneva
If Zel had been told a year ago that he would be spending his days with a beautiful woman who enjoyed climbing on his lap and teasing him with kisses, he wouldn’t have believed it.
Hell, Geneva was feathering her lips over his jaw right now and he barely believed it.
Despite everything he’d gone through at the hands of the witch, Zel truly believed he had to be the luckiest man in Grimwood to have someone as beautiful and kind as Geneva choose to be with him. Every day with her he learned something new. Every night, she gave him pleasure and whispered words of love.
He’d suffered and bled for an evil woman who’d tried to control him and Geneva was his reward for surviving.
When he woke in the middle of the night, the sweat from dark dreams chilling his body, she was there. She reached for him with soft hands and held him close until he could breathe again.
His Geneva was an angel.
An angel who was nipping at his neck at the moment.
“I want to visit my parents,” she said, never quite removing her mouth from his skin.
Zel wasn’t surprised by her words. She’d been bringing them up more often recently and he knew she missed both her mother and father something fierce.
“We could take a week, couldn’t we, Zel?” She finally stopped torturing him with her sweet nips and kisses and sat up to peer at his face. “We have food set aside for the cold months and you bled for the well recently. A week isn’t too long. Is it?”
Hating the uncertainty in her voice, Zel sought the words that would reassure her. She was right. They had food and wood set aside for when the snow began to fall. The well had been tended to and wouldn’t need another offering for another month at least.
His silence came from somewhere deeper and he was working to push past it.
In all his years as a captive, he’d only stepped past the barrier of the witch’s land once. After they’d burned her body, he’d trekked out alone and crossed over the boundary that had kept him trapped for so long.
He’d wept when his skin didn’t burn with dark spells. He’d fallen to his knees and cried silently when he realized it was truly over.
When the storm inside him had passed, he’d picked himself up and returned to Geneva and his tower.
Leaving the land he’d spilled so much blood on scared him.
He knew what others saw when they looked at him. He was a big man, rough and silent. That someone like him would be afraid of leaving a place like this would be mocked by many.
Geneva had never once mocked him for the fear he showed her in the darkest parts of the night when twisted dreams of the witch rose up and tried to smother him. She’d held him close and whispered sweet things for his ears only until the darkness was burned away by her light.
Even now, he didn’t have to tell her how terrified he was. She just knew.
“If you’d rather, I can go alone and bring them back here.” Her voice was low and smile sad.
Zel shook his head. He knew Geneva was brave and strong enough to take care of herself, but he didn’t want her out there alone. He didn’t know if he could stand being in this place without her.
“We can leave tomorrow.” He felt her start at his sudden words and he swallowed down the panic beating at his insides. “I need to get used to the world out there.”
Instead of laughing and throwing her arms around him with excitement as he expected, Geneva cradled his jaw in her hands and pressed a sweet kiss to his lips. “I love you, Zelthin Grimm.”
He knew that with every fiber of his being. Why else would she stay with a silent, scarred man in the middle of an enchanted forest if not for love? Someone as beautiful and kind as Geneva could have her pick of anyone out there and she’d chosen him.
“We’ll bring back some of my father’s apple wine.” She smiled when his eyes darted to hers. “We won’t drink it until we get back, though. It’ll be our reward for completing our journey.”
Zel had only tasted her father’s apple wine once and the taste had been one he remembered fondly. It would be a reward he looked forward to.
“I’d also like to make sure my parents know the way to our tower.” Geneva smoothed down a lock of his ragged hair and brushed her fingers against the edge of his mouth. “With the well to take care of, I don’t imagine we’ll be able to get away often. Maybe next time they can visit us.”
He’d never considered that. Given the things that the witch did to trespassers on her land, he’d never thought of inviting people to them.
But the witch was dead and the land and tower were his now. The well was his responsibility.
Dipping his chin in a slight nod, he gathered Geneva up and tried to convey with touch how much he appreciated everything she did for him. All the tiny things she did to make his life easier and his dreams less dark soothed him.
She was his light and his heart. She made their small tower a home and she was working on erasing the terrible memories in the main house day by day.
Maybe, once they got back from their journey, he’d take her by the hand and lead her into the house and they’d drink her father’s apple wine by the old hearth. He’d work on replacing the bad memories himself.
He’d do it with apple wine and kisses and Geneva.
He doubted there was a more potent combination in all of Grimwood.
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