Ten years later
The man was dressed in dark conservative colors so that he blended seamlessly with the night. His left hand was seated at the belt attached to his trim waist, an unstrung bow leaned against the sleekly muscled thigh of his right leg. His piercing eyes roamed the wide stretch of open land before him.
Lady Gillian was the title she’d borne when she’d lived within the walls of Luthoria. Few within the kingdom knew why Gillian and her father had been suddenly banished. The whole affair had been carefully dealt with; even the nobility had their secrets. However, secrets rarely stayed secret if more than one person knew them.
Exiled from Luthoria and unaided by servants she was forced to attend to chores that had once been far below her station. Retreating further into the cover the dark forest provided, he watched her.
He noted the weary look on her pale face and slight slump in her shoulders. At the first glance he would’ve described her as a woman defeated, try as she might, she couldn’t get a fire started. On what seemed to be a final attempt, the meager pile of dry wood began to crackle as the fire came alive.
Gillian’s fair oval face glowed in the firelight, her expression brightened with the small triumph. He smiled, reminded of his baby sister Nela. A decade ago she’d been slaughtered like livestock on Christmas Eve. The smile on Cyan’s face disappeared as though it had never been there.
The evening breeze had gathered momentum, defiantly lashing out at God’s other creations. Dark clouds materialized, partially obscuring the full moon. Closing his eyes, Cyan drew in a cleansing breath, he could already smell the rain. Unperturbed by the likelihood of a storm, he continued to watch her through heavy lidded eyes.
Staggering under the weight of a large pot and battling against the strong wind, Gillian made her way to a well. The light but full skirted gown she wore billowed about her legs. Having had more than just a glimpse of slender shapely thighs Cyan felt his mouth go dry. Disgusted by his reaction, he looked away until Gillian had reached the well.
After bundling her skirt between her thighs she bent forward, preparing to draw water from the muddy depths of the well. Picking up his bow, his fingers made short work of stringing it. He reached behind him. His fingers closed around the shaft of one of the arrows in the quiver on his back. Cyan moved out of the cover of darkness and held his aim.
He wouldn’t miss. With an arrow through her heart Gillian would be dead before she hit the ground.
Just then, an aged man stumbled out of the dilapidated cottage behind the well calling for Gillian. Cyan cursed fluidly as he was forced to retreat once again into the shadows to prevent detection. He lowered his bow as he dropped down next to a heavy oak tree and prepared to ride out the storm.
For now he would watch and wait, a shadow beneath the moonlight.