As an apology for my absence here, I’ve decided to post an excerpt from a project I’ve been working on for some time now. Currently I have three works-in-progress (WIPs) that I jump between, primarily so I can avoid writer’s block. As I work 65 hours/week between multiple jobs, my free time is limited, so I don’t have as much time to work on writing as I used to. But don’t worry, I’m still plugging away!
And now, onto the excerpt!
The man tosses his shirt aside and splashes more water over his head and shoulders. Rivulets snake down his back, dipping and rising over the ridges of muscle until they disappear beneath the waist of his pants.
“Are you going to spy on me all day?” The unexpected sound of his voice startles my attention back to his face. His focus is on his hands in the water. “Or do you plan to come down at some point?”
My pulse jumps, and without thinking, I ask, “How did you know?”
“Saw you earlier, swinging around up in the trees. Thought if I built a fire, you might stop by. Spotted you on my way back from getting wood.”
I frown. “You saw me? How?”
He has yet to look at me. Standing, he snags his shirt from the ground and uses it to wipe water from his face and neck. “Night vision goggles. Couldn’t sleep, so I came out to keep an eye on the woods. Saw you go by a couple of times. Figured you might do a third lap.”
An unsettled feeling falls over me, and not because I have no idea what night vision goggles are. I’d thought him oblivious before, but it seems I hold that title today.
It’s the first day of the Delving, and already I’ve had a blatant lapse of judgment. Father would be disappointed. As usual.
Remembering who this man and I are to each other, I shift my weight on the branch, ready to move. “You shouldn’t have come here.”
His gaze finally lifts to mine. It’s just as intense as when he stared me down during the ceremony. I swear there’s a hint of amusement in his expression now, but it could be a trick of the morning light.
“There are a lot of things I shouldn’t do.” He finishes wiping the water from himself, then wraps the shirt around the back of his neck, holding onto an end with each hand. “Have yet to let it stop me from doing them.”
Sounds familiar, Micah would no doubt say while giving me a pointed look. I push the thought aside. I don’t want to have anything in common with this man.
“Even when they could cost your life?”
“Especially then.” He roughs his hair with one hand, spattering water across his shoulders and the ground. “A little danger keeps life interesting.”
My free arm comes to rest across my knee. “If danger is what you seek, then you have found more than enough here.”
He tilts his head a fraction. “Are you insinuating you are dangerous?”
A scoff bubbles up my throat, but I swallow it down. Physically I’m no match for him–that much is clear from his build. I’m not sure how he would fare against Micah, who probably has half a foot on this man. Then again, I’ve seen prey defeat predators more than twice their size through will and ingenuity. The confidence this man exudes leads me to believe he would be a difficult match for anyone who challenges him.
“To you? Yes.”
He takes a few steps toward me. The branch I’m perched on is out of his reach, but a nervous twinge pinches my stomach as he draws closer. I force myself to stay still as he comes to a stop, not quite below me, but near enough I could fall on him. Firelight illuminates parts of his face, and there’s definite amusement in his expression.
He takes a moment, assessing me, though his gaze doesn’t leave mine. The corner of his mouth twitches. “I’ll take my chances.”
We stare at each other for a minute, neither of us willing to be the first to look away.