Beginning in the Middle
Her smile radiated as she caught sight of him and their eyes met. Gaeladrial gave him a warm hug and a genuinely pleased greeting. Pleasantries were exchanged and the two seamlessly fell into step with one another as they began to walk and talk.
Eduard noticed that no matter the time period, they always came together and picked up wherever they had last left off, and the thought brought a small smile to his face as he watched her animatedly explain something that had happened in their interim.
Usually he listened intently, but today, he was generally distracted by her presence and nearness. So he watched her talk, his gaze steady and intent upon taking in every detail of her.
Gaeladrial’s face was pale and smooth as porcelain, framed by long red tresses that brushed over her shoulders with every movement of her head. Bright, blue eyes gazed into his own, their contact only briefly broken by occasional glances at the cobblestone street beneath and before them.
Theirs was a friendship spanning a number of years. How many? Four? To Eduard, it seemed she had always been a part of his life. Younger and more spirited than himself, Gaeladrial brought a comforting levity to his life. Though they had much in common, she always had a fresh point of view, ways to look at things he had never thought of.
Radiating joy and warmth, this woman was never far from his thoughts.
Eduard blinked, startled from his revelry and brought back to the moment. They had stopped. He noticed they were at their destination, the Howling Man Tavern. He reached for the handle to open the door for her.
A jolt of something akin to electricity coursed up his arm as she put her hand on his and guided it away from the door.
He met her gaze questioningly.
Smiling at him, a simple gesture that brought him a warm, comforted feeling, she said, “Before we head in to eat, I wanted to say something.”
Even though his hand was no longer on the door, her’s was still on it. The man squeezed it and did not release it as she spoke, studying the look of her fingers entwined in his.
“In your absence, away in Duskhaven, I realized that I missed our conversations.”
A smile touched his lips. “I too.”
She flushed a little and continued. “And the more I thought upon it, the more I realized I did not just miss our conversations. I missed you.” Her eyes fluttered back up to his and locked.
“I was wondering if you missed me also?”
His throat suddenly dry, the man did not trust his voice, and could only manage a nod, feeble as it seemed.
“Enough to kiss me?” she asked him, her blue eyes searching his.
He nodded again, but despite her small, smooth hand in his larger ones and the revelation she had just hinted at, he felt frozen in place. Unnamed feelings washed over him, incapacitating him.
She was still smiling and watching him. Suddenly, but slowly, she raised the hand not covered by his own two and brushed his cheek lightly with fingers that felt like feathers across his skin. More of that strange electricity that seemed to accompany her touch today raced through him as she leaned forward.
The man leaned forward also, and their lips met. Her’s were soft and embraced his slowly at first and then more fervently. He enveloped her in his arms and pulled her slender form against him. The longer they embraced the more he felt he would drown, and his lips released her’s in a quiet but long-drawn gasp for air. The sudden rush of breath made him light-headed and he suddenly felt he was not protecting her with his arms, but holding on for his own sake.
She rested her forehead against his chest and whispered, “I have been wanting to do that for a while.”
Stroking her hair and resting his cheek against her head, the man replied, “I have been wanting to do that since we met.”
The response was a fierce hug around his midsection, her hands finding purchase against his back.