Dull pain throbbed across my skull, marring the otherwise dark insides of my closed eyelids with sporadic splashes of red. A metallic taste coated my tongue, iron laying its heavy tinge across my taste buds.
Cracking my eyes open, I let a sliver of morning light stream in. I tentatively sat up, taking in the unfamiliar surroundings; I was interred in a bed made from desert-bear skins and pillows stuffed with ostrich feathers.The sheets were a muted brown colour and slightly rough in texture, blending perfectly with the unfamiliar carved wooden surroundings of what I assumed was a wagon. I lifted my hand to my head. The moment my fingers made contact with my bandaged skull, daggers of blinding pain overtook my senses.
I fell back into my sheets with a pained gasp.
My limbs fell limply to my sides, and I lay there, looking around once again.
Suddenly, a movement from the side of my makeshift bed caught my eye. I turned, to find the General sprawled across the sheets. My heart leaped, my hand flying to my mouth to cover an involuntary cry of surprise. What was he doing in here?
Several silent moments passed, as my pulse gradually returned to normal. He was lying with his head on his folded arm, using it as a pillow whilst the rest of his body sat in the bedside chair. His black locks were strewn haphazardly across his face, curling gently into the curve of his neck. Streams of morning sun floated into the wagon from a tiny window high on the wall, and as he stirred, the rays hit his face directly. My breath caught in my throat as I stared in awe.
The golden hue of the General’s skin positively glowed in the light, long eyelashes curling gently onto chiseled cheekbones. The light from behind created a halo as it filtered through his hair. It was as if he were a snake charmer, and I the usually vicious desert cobra was drawn to him helplessly.
My fingers stretched out with an innate need to feel those waves. Were they as soft as they looked? Would they slip through my fingers as soon as I touched them?
Leaning forward, I tentatively skimmed his hair with my fingers. Ah! The curls were softer than a babe’s first hair, thick and rich to the touch. I repeated the movement again and again, as if in a trance. My fingers moved to his lips, thick and luscious.
The second my skin made contact with his, his eyes sprung open.
I froze, arm rigidly outstretched as he stared up with me with obsidian eyes.
He sat up slowly, brushing stray hairs out of his face with a calloused hand. It was only then that that I realized what an absurd situation we were in.
Blood rushed to my face, embarrassment heating my ears.
Oh Lord why was he still staring at me like that. I struggled to compose myself into a remotely dignified position.
“You are a Princess,” I chanted internally, raising my chin, “You do not get flustered,”
I scrambled ungracefully to the end of the bed. Dropping my feet to the wooden floor rising far too quickly for my body to keep up.
My knees buckled as I let out an involuntary screech.
Arms shot out at the speed of a striking snake, catching me around the middle, pressing me to a chest of muscle harder than the wood we stood on. He looked down at me with a smirk playing around his lips of sin. My mouth went dry.
Oh, No. No. No. No. Absolutely not.
I twisted in his arms, shoving at his chest with unexplained anger. Face burning, I wobbled out of the wagon and down the steps with as much dignity as someone in my position could muster.
Which, incidentally, happened to be very little.