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by Terri Pray
Category: Erotica/Erotic Fantasy/Paranormal Erotica
Description: The changing of the leaves, or the burst of new life, brought them together. Ten days, twice a year, was all they had. Spirits some called them, fae said others. Either way Morana and Somarlier couldn't live in each other's world. All they had was the pleasure shared during the Equinox. Summer and Winter. This is how it was. This is how it had to be. For this is who they are...
eBook Publisher: Cobblestone Press, 2009
eBookwise Release Date: August 2009
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [50 KB]
Reading time: 28-40 min.
The leaves were changing. The deep green had shifted to yellow, orange, and a deeper brown, touching the edges of the oak leaves. The flowers were fading. Only the most steadfast, heartiest varieties would dare to put out any new blooms now. And when Morana turned her attention toward the distant fields, she could see farmers gathering the corn, wheat, and other crops. They were always busy this time of year.
She respected farmers, for the most part. They worked hard, tended their crops and animals, and respected the land--at least, that was true for the ones who didn't try every new chemical under the sun. The slow changeover to people wanting more natural foods had helped. The market encouraged farmers to try older, safer methods.
She helped encourage them, too, from time to time. So no one could truly blame her; not if they knew what she was. She shook her head and turned her attention back to the clearing, taking in the subtle changes in the ways the animals now behaved. Squirrels, gophers, and chipmunks scurried around searching for food to store for the colder weather. They burrowed into the earth, building caches, finding holes in the trees to store their supplies. Other animals hunted with a hunger that seemed to know no end, building up the layer of fat they would require for the winter.
It wouldn't be much longer before the earth would be ready for the first full touches of snow. Ah, the snow. She missed it. Even though it would soon be officially autumn, the weather was still too warm for her. Her instincts told her to leave, to return to where the earth was still wrapped in the chill of the winter months. To seek out cooler air, a place away from the heat that lingered in the clearing. But her heart had other ideas. It told her to stay, to wait, to endure, and that it would all be worth it.
This was her home, and she knew it well. The high mountains offered her both safety and memories. She'd traveled for weeks to find her way back here, and despite the fact that Somarlier had spent the summer only a few hundred miles away, she'd arrived well before him.
He was always late--which was another reason to either be worried or to tease him when he arrived. Summer fun always dragged at him and kept him by the edge of the ocean, watching humans play in the surf. She knew that would be the reason he was late, but she'd tease him anyway. Isn't that what women did with the men they loved?
Did she love him? Truly love him?
Yes. Until the last rays of the sun caressed the earth in a final sweep of light, heat, and pain. When that time came, she hoped he would be at her side, holding her, as they watched the earth be reclaimed by the Goddess.
She closed her eyes, her thick lashes brushing her cheeks as she took a deep breath and tasted the change of season in the air. It had become rich, magically-touched, and sensual. Here she would be safe. Here she could tap the magic long enough to spend perhaps four or five days.
This was her time, her world; and for a short time, she would share it with him. Just as she had before and would do so again, as long as they both had the ability to share their magic and protect this place for those few days twice a year.
A few short days among the changing leaves was all they would have for six months, when she would step into his world. A place on the beach, the ocean air caressing the protected cabin. She would be with him long enough to taste the spring before returning to the cooler temperatures that better suited her body. It would take their combined magic to be able to spend even this short amount of time together, but it was worth it.
It had to be.
Morana shook her head, her long white hair slipping over her shoulders as she looked around the clearing, her gaze lingering on the cottage they'd claimed as their own. Roses climbed around the windows. The lingering flowers, those few that had lasted this long, were white. The first frost would kill them, leaving behind rosehips for the birds, or for those rare few who could see past the protections woven about this place.
Some humans were strong enough, and there was always the risk that one of their own kind, known as immortals, dryads, elves, or spirits, would stumble into this special place. Her lush red lips twitched at the thought. How many names had they been given over the generations?
What they were truly no longer mattered. They would live forever, bound by forces of nature over which they had no control. Forces most human beings ignored. Their lives, their dreams, were tossed this way and that by changes in the world they called home.
They'd been doing this for less than a century Before humanity had developed means of transportation that permitted them to travel more easily from one end of the globe to the other, both of them had been forced to use their magic to go underground to avoid the change of seasons. So she had one thing for which to thank human kind: They'd brought Somarlier into her life.
Humans had their other uses, of course. She'd taken more than one into her bed over the years, though such liaisons were brief at best and never more than a simple relief for her body, a way to tide her over until she was with him again. The humans' touches and kisses did little more than provide her with a temporary distraction.
Spending too long with one human carried a risk she wasn't prepared to take. Not pregnancy, but something that would bring too much attention to her kind. The coldness that was a part of who she was could kill a human, a mortal, if she stayed with him too long. Each time she made love to one, that human became colder; his heart began to freeze; and his ability to feel faded until he was frozen inside.
A human being couldn't live with a frozen heart.
Her lover was of her people, even if he was a summer soul. His kisses, the feel of his hands as they traced down her back--she only had to close her eyes and she could feel his presence; just a memory, but her body thrilled at the image. A blessed coolness washed through her body and pleasure followed in its path as she remembered their meeting. She couldn't be certain how long ago it had been. Keeping track of the seasons was easy; the years as a whole, no. Those she tended to let slip aside.
Soon. He'd be here soon. She just had to be patient.
Morana walked to the cottage, pressing one hand against the wood as she opened the door. Firewood remained stacked in one corner of the large main room, a table sat on the other side, and the fireplace was left clean, with plenty of room around it so they could walk past or he could settle in front of the flames to warm up. A small kitchen, little more than a sink and a few cupboards, was set in an alcove off the main room. Not that they needed to cook, but a human might have complained about the lack of facilities.
The most important feature of the cottage lay through a simple door.
She brushed her hands down her jeans, wiping off the sweat. Part nerves, part heat, she didn't--couldn't--enter that room until he was here. It might jinx things. What if he didn't arrive this time? He might have found someone else, a woman more suited to his ways, one with whom he could share more than ten days each year. There were others of their kind around, and it made sense that at some point he might meet a woman who could be with him always.
When that happened, would he even send word to her?
Perhaps she was nothing more than what the humans called a booty call. The thought left her sweating, heat wrapping uncomfortably around her body until she focused and brought the chill back into her blood, chasing away the warmth.
Hadn't he asked her more than once why she didn't spend her time with another cold dwelling spirit? Perhaps one day she would find someone, but she doubted it. Despite the fact that he was her opposite, this man who crossed the world to be with her held her heart.
This man of summer sun and warm breezes, a spirit she should have shunned, turned her back on, or even found a way to destroy--and yet his presence allowed her to feel again. She frowned. Had she really stopped experiencing emotions before he'd walked into her life? For too long, she'd been left with nothing but the chill of the winter air, the ice that surrounded her heart and life. Nothing mattered except the cold, the snow, the winter, until his heated lips had first claimed hers in a kiss.