Rhianna stared out the camper window as she waited for the kettle to whistle, then made her tea and went outside with the dogs to sit on her boulder at the edge of the path to watch the sunrise. Her boulder was enormous and sat about 20 yards from her camper; it guarded the opening to the trail that led to her special meadow. Rhianna often sat on the boulder to meditate and still her mind or just to watch the dogs and Stella play. She was missing Stella. She had been away at horse camp for almost a week, it was the longest they had ever been apart. Rhianna wasn’t sure that Stella should go, not after all that had happened with her father. Stella was conceived 12 years ago during a very passionate but short-lived affair. Her father was a very powerful wizard and Rhianna fell under his spell almost instantly. She couldn’t really blame him for that though, he was very honest and upfront about his intention, she deliberately chose to ignore what he said and fell for him, hard. When news of Stella was presented his energy ran cold, as did the relationship. On the night she was born, he held his daughter in his arms and gave her an amulet for protection and instilled it with his love. He set her to Rhianna’s breast kissed her forehead and left them. They didn’t hear from him again until 2 weeks before Stella was to leave for horse camp. He just showed up, out of thin air, no call no letter. Still beautiful and powerful but somehow changed. As if abandoning his daughter for her first 12 years had left him depleted and worn. Good. He certainly did not honor the Rede in “Do no harm”. Harm her he did and it came back to him thrice over. But he claimed he was here to make it up to her, to us. He wanted to be a Dad, to be a part of her life. Big sigh. Stella’s reception was cool and reserved. I hadn’t any time to prepare the poor child for this, I could have gotten her ready emotionally ready for him, perhaps I was thinking more of myself. It threw me. All the old feelings came flooding back like a tidal wave threatening to crush me. But they came with the hurt as well and the wisdom born with time and the love of the Great Mother. No, just because the tidal wave broke didn’t mean the rip tide would drag me out. I am in a better place now, a place of strength and confidence and fortitude that is a gift of raising a child alone. So Stella spent some time with her Dad and she liked him. If he stays around this may turns out to be a good thing, for Stella.
“What of us, Rhianna? Is there any chance for us?” He asked after he had been back for a week. “I miss you, us.” His voice softened as he reached out, touching her hair.
I looked away but his hand found my chin and steered my face back to his. I could never look into his eyes, so dark blue they almost appeared black with flecks of green like bloodstone. His eyes pierced my soul and read me like a book. “It’s no then. You won’t even try, for Stella’s sake?”
I laughed almost too loudly, “that’s priceless, Sid. For Stella’s sake, priceless.” I shook my head free from his grasp and turned my back on him. “You cannot possibly be that clueless. You’re a gifted clairvoyant, you should be able to see the wounds you’ve inflicted here, so tell me then, what do you see, Sid?” His head bowed.
“You’re right of course. If it is any consolation, I am truly sorry for all of it. It was the single worst act of selfishness I have ever committed in my life and I will regret it until I am dust and I will also work to make it up to the two of you for just as long.”
“Well, that’s great for Stella, I just pray to the Great Mother that you mean it, for me, I will pray that I can find forgiveness in my heart for you so that we can at least be friends, for Stella’s sake of course.”
“Of course. That is the most I can hope for I suppose.”
I felt pangs of guilt over hurting him, it’s not like me to hold a grudge but there was no way I was walking through that particular door again, and it wasn’t just because he abandoned us. I was a different person when I was with him, young, confused, weaker or more easily influenced I should say. He wielded power over me that made me feel small; I don’t feel small anymore. His power is no longer attractive to me; I don’t need it to feel safe. His time for me has passed. It’s as simple as that. Stella had no notions about her parents being together, in fact when Rhianna brought it up to let her know that it was not going to happen, Stella gave a perplexed frown as if her Mom had lost her mind and said, “Oh Mom, I like my dad and I am glad to finally know him but he is so NOT the guy for you!” The child’s wisdom stunned her. They embraced for a long time before Stella walked away to her cabin at horse camp. She had a deep love of animals that she shared with her mom and she was excited about getting to spend 2 weeks with horses. Rhianna wasn’t so sure. “You call whenever you want and if you want to come home it’s OK, just call and I’ll drop whatever it is and come get you.”
“Don’t be silly, Mom, I’ll be great!”
“I know you will I love you like the moon my beautiful star child”
“I love you like the Goddess loves us all, Mom, now stop fretting!!”
They spoke on the phone several times since she left and Stella was having an amazing time. As much as Rhianna missed her, she was contented to know that her daughter was having fun. Rhianna sighed and got up from her boulder. She had a big stretch opening up to the sun absorbing the warmth allowing it to melt away any tension. “Good morning and brightest blessings Luthien, my queen”
“Oh!” She gasped, “I wasn’t expecting anyone so early and I didn’t hear you pull up, how did you get here, Riethwael, right?”
“Rieth. I am sorry if I startled you. I am an early riser and felt you may be as well?”
“I never told you where I lived, how did you find me?”
“Oh, I just asked around at the market, you are quite famous around here you know.”
I laughed nervously, “Yeah, I’m not so sure about all of that but…”
“If you need more time, I can go for a walk in the forest, your land here is so lovely I can return later if you like.”
“No, no that’s OK. You’re here now, would you like some tea or breakfast? I was just about to go in and make some food.”
“No. Thank you. That is very kind of you but I have eaten already, I would like to sit with you though while you eat if you don’t mind.”
“I’d like the company, Rieth, come in please.” He gave a small bow of his head as he walked forward and into her home.
“This is an interesting home you have, I can’t say that I’ve ever seen anything like it” he said looking around his brows furrowed. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking
“Well, it’s temporary and it’s nice that it’s mobile”
“You can move this?”
“Yeah, it’s an RV; recreational vehicle, like a house on wheels. You can drive it around and wherever you stop you are home. You’ve honestly never seen one of these before?” I asked incredulously “Where exactly are you from?” He was silent for some time as he pondered my question. Then he asked, “What is that you are cooking?” I stared at him blankly; he was seriously not going to answer my question. “Oh, um, it’s bacon.” “Bacon” he repeated slowly as if it was the first time he had heard of it. “Yes, bacon, you haven’t heard of bacon either?” “It smells very familiar to me, is it from an animal?” “Yes, a pig”. He walked over to the pan and the bacon fat snapped and a drop of hot grease landed on his hand. He pulled back and then smiled, “ah, tug (toog).” “Toog?” “Yes, that is what we call it” “Tell me about where you are from, Rieth.” I asked again hoping that this time I would get some response. “Oh, it’s like another world, far away.” His voice was distant and almost purposefully vague. I turned to him and looked directly into his intense emerald eyes, “please, tell me about it, I really want to know” my eyes and voice imploring. He returned my stare and I could feel how much he wanted to tell me, he had to force his head to turn away and break the contact. “Another time.” He stated simply. “Eat now, we have a busy day do we not?” “Yes. I suppose we do, but…” I protested. He stopped me short with his fingers on my lips, and looked at me intensely, “later, not now, I promise”. He saw my frown and smiled sweetly and repeated, “I promise Luthien, I will share everything with you.” He moved his fingers from my lips to lightly tuck my hair back behind my ear. “Please eat” My resigned sigh matched his only in relief. I would let it go for now. I ate my breakfast while he watched, it was a bit uncomfortable, but there was something so calming and reassuring about him at the same time. As I finished eating, cleaning up and feeding the dogs, Riethwael wandered through the camper getting an image of her life here. He picked up a photograph of a little girl, there were many of this same child, this must be her Stella he thought. She is beautiful, like her mother but there is something more behind the eyes, what is that? I wonder who fathered this child and where is he now? Rieth thought. How could any man leave them on their own? He didn’t understand, he opened his mouth to ask her the story and then stopped himself, perhaps it is a painful story or too personal, too soon to share? I kept looking at the photos, these look like her parents, friends perhaps wait, who is this? It was a man, tall, blond hair, dark blue eyes, he almost looks elven but not. He has magick that I can see but from where? “Who is this?” I ask not being able to contain my curiosity any longer. She walked over to my side, her arm lightly brushing against mine sending a shudder through my body. “Are you cold?” She asked. “No” I respond furrowing my brow as to look perplexed as to why she would ask that. “Oh, that’s Sid, Stella’s Dad.” I tried to hide the expression on my face, he was, it was not what I expected. “Oh?” Was all I said. She smiled, sensing my discomfort and watched me as I tried to sort it all out internally. “You would like to know about him?” She asked rather playfully. “Oh, uh, only if you want to speak of it really” I waved my hand dismissively and shook my head. She laughed, then took my arm “come on, let’s walk and I’ll tell you about him”. We left the camper and headed out on one of her trails. “How much land do you have here?” I asked to break the tension. “About 35 acres, more or less. Some of it is so densely wooded though that it is unusable, but that’s OK, there has to be a place for the wild to live.” I sighed. “Yes”, I agreed. “So you want to know about Sidney?” “Only if you want to talk about it, we could talk of something else if you’d rather.” “It’s OK actually, he’s been on my mind quite a bit as of late and he is so entwined with my Stella girl, perhaps it may be good for my mind to talk about it all.”
“You’re troubled?” concern rising in the timbre of his voice
“Not terribly, but it has been an interesting few weeks. You see, Sid and I had not been together for very long when Stella was conceived and I had allowed a false sense of our relationship to grow in my mind, so when he rejected her and walked away from us after Stella was born I was pretty wrecked. And angry. It took many years to process it all and then out of the blue last month he showed up and wants to be a family.” Panic. Why do I feel panic? Breathe.
“And this is something that you’ve wanted?” I asked
“Well, if it were 12 years ago I would have said yes, but now, not so much. A lot has changed, I’ve changed, he’s not what I want anymore”
“But you still display a picture of him in your home?”
“Well, he is Stella’s Dad, that will never change, they are developing a good friendship and I am happy for that. I pray that he has matured enough to maintain it. I will be furious if he hurts her.”
“So what of you and his desires for you? I asked pensively.
“Do you believe in giving second chances?”
“There are times and situations where, yes, I believe that one deserves a second chance.” I answered not sure what my point was as it seemed I was telling her to go back to him which is not what I wanted.
“Hmmm, so you think I should give him another chance, open my heart to him again?”
“Uh, you? And him? Oh, no, no, no, I was merely speaking hypothetically. Absolutely not, he should get no second chance with you. With someone else, sure, I believe that he should have a second chance with someone else.” Was that too strong? I wanted to be clear. I really didn’t want to have to do battle with the Sid character; he appears to have a streak of wicked in him. She was smiling as if my response satisfied her. That made me happy. It was a beautiful day. Walking through the forest, dappled sunlight streaming through the high canopy catching streaks of gold, red and silvery moonlight in her hair. She is watching me, trying to figure me out. I turn toward her and she smiled. I was planning on asking her a question but was struck dumb by her smile.
“Luthien” I whispered under my breath more to prove to myself that I was actually here and not dreaming that I was walking with her. She turned back to me “Yes?” I just smiled, turned and continued walking.
“Tell me about the house you are building” I asked.
“It is an earth-sheltered house, in the ground. We have not even started it, I am hoping to excavate the ground and get the berm in before Stella comes home. We will use the dirt we excavate to fill the bags for the walls.”
“Have you done this before?” I asked hoping she knew what she was doing and feeling like it was a shame that the trolls couldn’t help, they are really good at moving earth.
“No, but I’ve read a lot about it and talked with people who have”
“Are some of these people who have done this before helping?”
“No, unfortunately, it’s pretty much whoever I can convince to help for gratitude and food. Which is probably why I am still living in the camper.”
“You will have your castle, Luthien.” I reached out instinctively to console her and found my hand sliding down her arm to her hand, taking it into mine. I’ve walked with her like this so often in my dreams that it simply felt so familiar, so natural. She allowed me to hold her hand for a moment before the realization hit that she had just met me and it was too close, too personal, too soon. She let go and I allowed her hand to slip away. Be patient Riethwael, I said to myself.
Did I just hold his hand? Rhianna said to herself privately freaking out. What is going on with me, I’ve known him for all of one day, yet he feels so familiar and safe. I feel like I can tell him anything and share everything. This feeling is unsettling; I want him but it is too soon to have feelings for him, especially someone so different, foreign. I must get to know him better first. He is walking ahead of me always, scanning the woods, looking for danger? I wonder if the trolls are about, Rieth thought to himself. This forest, her forest is so beautiful and magickal just like her, I want to walk beside her but having her so close and not being able to touch her is so difficult, I hope she doesn’t think me rude. He is so natural here, like he belongs or like he could just morph into the trees and disappear. The memory of the tree outside her camper surfaced, strange. I continued to watch him as he walked, graceful, strong. I love the way his shirt hangs down from his broad shoulders down into his trim, lean waist, the way his pants sit on his hips, just enough butt to keep them up. I want to smell him from his navel up to his neck and around to the strong jaw line. He would allow it I’m certain but… BAM! “Oh, I’m sorry, I must have been day dreaming” Oh dear Goddess, I walked right into him what a klutz. He turned quickly and caught me in his arms, laughing.
“It’s OK Luthien, it happens to me all the time” his voice sweet and reassuring.
Can I just curl up in his arms right now? My thoughts leading me dangerous places.
“Want to share? It must have been quite captivating, you really slammed into me” his smile was playful, teasing.
I realize that I have not moved from his arms, I really should move but I’m so close I could steal a whiff… I lower my head feigned embarrassment and lean my forehead into his chest. His arms shift, allowing me closer, leading me. I can hear his heart beating wildly in his chest, feel it. I steal my whiff and almost instantly regret it. Too soon to realize this, too soon…my head swoons, need to get away…can’t move, don’t want to leave. I feel my legs weaken as I unwisely take another inhale. Words, gone. So sweet, earthy like the forest in the morning after a night of rain, but more, I can’t quantify, name…desire.
“Are you alright?” He asked. Did she just sniff me? This is almost too much, so close, in my arms, her energy is electric, pulsing through me. My heart feels like it will leap from my chest, my skin tingles where she touches. Joy.
I hear him ask like he was a mile away. My head snapped up and I jerk myself away. So embarrassed.
“Is everything alright, Luthien?” he asked again when I didn’t answer.
“Yeah, we should go back, the others will be here by now, they will be wondering where I am”. My voice was trembling, could he hear that? I walked back toward the camper as fast as I could; he followed along. Shit, now what? He called to me a couple of times but I pretended that I didn’t hear him. He finally overtook my stride and took my shoulders in his large strong hands “Luthien, look at me please, I understand it is OK” he pleaded.
“Look, Rieth, no you don’t understand you don’t even know me nor I you and this just isn’t normal. Not for me anyway and my name is Rhianna.” His hands dropped from my shoulders I could feel the hurt in his heart because it mirrored my own. Tears spilled out of my eyes no matter how hard I willed them away.
“Luth…Rhianna, please, don’t be angry talk to me please.” His face was desperate, pleading. I turned from him and ran out into the clearing where friends were waiting. I tried to clear my face as quickly as possible but it was no use. They could see I was a mess and they would blame it on Rieth. It wasn’t his fault, I am the train wreck who keeps seeing this fantasy world where I am with him, hugging trees and smelling his chest and almost fainting. I am the freak here, not him. I disappear into the camper and Rieth emerged from the trail looking very distraught and worried.
“You, of course” Tor yelled “What did you do to her in the woods you freak” rushing toward him when Raina grabbed his arm “Tor, take a breath, we have no idea what happened, we cannot assume the worst.” “I can until she tells me otherwise.” Tor continued stomping toward Rieth. Rieth did not even notice; his focus was solely with Luthien crying in the camper. I have to see that she is all right. I continued walking toward the camper when everyone yelled out “Oh, no, no, no, you’re not going in there”
“I just want to make sure she is all right” I said through clenched teeth my worry venting as anger.
“No, I’ll go” Came another voice, one Rieth did not recognize. It was a woman, about Luthien’s age with long blond hair, with kind brown eyes. “I am Zoe, Rhianna’s best friend, you must be Rieth” she held out her hand and his mood softened. “Look, I can tell that you’re pretty worried about her, so are we. Since we don’t know what’s going on, let me go in and check on her, she will confide in me, OK?” Rieth bowed his head and nodded his agreement. “Please tell her I am sorry for whatever it is, whatever.” I whispered to Zoe. She placed her hand over my heart and gave me a friendly pat “OK” and she disappeared into the camper.
“Rhiann, it’s Zoe hon talk to me, what’s going on?! Where are you?”
“Up here” came a voice so small and far away Zoe thought she may be in the astral. Zoe looked up and found her in the upper bunk above the driving compartment in the fetal position weeping uncontrollably. Zoe climbed up, “what the hell is going on, what happened, tell me right now and leave nothing out. Did he hurt you?!” she demanded. I couldn’t respond through the sobbing, I had goo pouring from nearly every hole in my head and my body was racking.
“OK, OK, here, take some tissues or a towel let’s get you mopped up. OK, now breathe, inhale 2,3,4,5, exhale 2,3,4,5, inhale 2,3,4,5, exhale 2,3,4,5 inhale 2,3,4,5 exhale 2,3,4,5”. I felt my body beginning to calm. “Good, that’s right, good: Zoe cooed calmly. “Now, can you tell me what’s wrong?”
“I don’t know; it’s king of hard to explain.”
“OK, let me ask you questions then, is it about Rieth?”
“All right. Did he do something to you?”
“Not exactly, I mean yes but no, be more specific.”
“OK, did he hurt you?
“All right, it’s about Rieth but he didn’t hurt you but he did do something, did he kiss you?”
“Do you want him to?”
I started to hyperventilate.
“All right, now we are getting somewhere… so you like him?”
“So, you are having a complete meltdown because you like a boy? Come on Rhiann, there has to be more to it than that. I mean, OK you like him so what? You’ve liked boys before, hell you had a kid with one what’s the big deal?”
“This is different, I can’t explain. It’s just the way he makes me feel, like I’ve known him forever and then I smelled him and I almost fainted…”
“Wait, wait, wait, you smelled him? What?”
“Yeah, we were walking on the trail and he was ahead of me and my mind was wandering, you know watching him, his body…”
“Yeah, yeah, I follow”
“Well, I was imagining his body and I just had this overwhelming urge to smell him, you know how I am with scents”
“I know, go on”
“Well, he had stopped walking and I was lost in la la land smelling his naked chest when I slammed right into him.” Laughs
“Ok, then what?”
“Well, he turned around and put his arms around me to steady me and I thought, I’m so close I could sneak a little whiff…”
“Oh dear, you have problems”
“I feigned embarrassment, it wasn’t difficult, leaned my forehead against his chest and took a whiff”
“It was so intoxicating, my legs got all rubbery and I almost fell, he caught me of course
“And pulled me closer”
“That’s about when I freaked out, I felt myself just taking him right then and there and I freaked out”
“OK, OK come here” Zoe pulled Rhianna into her arms and consoled her. “Everyone is really worried about you, Tor wants to rip poor Rieth apart but Raina has him under control and Rieth, well, he looks like he has it worse than you, he looked like a sad little puppy standing outside.” Big sigh. “What shall I tell them?”
“I don’t know, what do you think?”
“Well, I need two stories, one for Rieth because he is not going to buy whatever we tell everyone else”
“OK, just tell Rieth that I’m fine not to worry, that I’m not mad at him, it’s not about him.”
“So, you want me to lie to him then?”
“OK, I’ll figure it out, stay in here for a bit and pull yourself together, I’ll go talk to everyone and get them working.” All eyes turned toward Zoe as she emerged from the camper. Rieth was the first to her side, she laid her hands on his chest and looking into his eyes “yup, even worse.”
“What? What’s wrong?”
“Calm down Rieth, she’s fine, it will all be OK.”
“She just needs a little time to get used to everything but from where I stand, you’ve done excellent work, keep it going.” Zoe said playfully. Rieth looked at her confused
“She ran from me weeping, Zoe, how is that excellent?”
“Try not to worry Rieth, it will all work out, trust me.” Zoe smiled playfully again and walked toward the others. “Nothing to worry about, she was doing some spell work when the moon what in the wrong aspect, silly green mistake, she’ll be fine. Now, let’s start getting this house built.” With tensions eased, everyone started working. The excavation guy arrived and ground was broken. Rieth stood by the camper door for a while before Zoe returned to him. “Zoe, I need to see her.”
“I know you do, sad little puppy,” she said as she playfully tapped his cheek. “Stop pouting, it’s all OK, it really is.”
“You’re not telling me everything”
“Of course I’m not! It’s not my place to tell you what she feels, it is up to her and she will tell you when she is ready.” Rieth sighed deeply and looked from Zoe to the camper and back again. “You’re not going in there, my friend, perhaps a walk would help you settle?”
“Perhaps. If she comes out and wants to talk to me…”
“I’ll tell her where you are, now go clear your head, pull yourself together.” His face was still so worried Zoe was afraid that it may become permanently etched. “Go” she pointed, “give it to the trees, you don’t want her to see you like this, you’re a mess, go” once again pointing toward the trail. Rieth obeyed and walked off into the forest. When he reached the meadow he shuddered “man to elf” and shifted his form. It was somehow easier to think when he wasn’t trying to maintain a form. He rehashed everything that had occurred that morning about 100 times in his head and then what Zoe had told him. His heart burned, his stomach was knotted, his brain jumbled. He was holding his head in his hands and moaning when Adella gently landed on his knee. “What’s wrong Elf King?” She whispered. I opened my eyes and saw the tiny sprite with the bright red curly hair and green and brown dress and the tiniest most delicate wings. She looked at me with such concern that I just started gushing, blubbering it all out to her. When I finished, she smiled and gave me a knowing look. “You love her deeply,” she stated. “Yes, but I have made her cry” “Tears are not always the result of unhappiness, my dear Elf King, look into her heart and you will find your answers.” “What do you mean?” I asked as she smiled and flew away leaving me alone with my thoughts in the meadow. Rieth was too distraught to understand anything, his worry made him obtuse. However as he sat, he began to feel better as if the words Adella and Zoe had spoken to him were filtering in. He decided that he should probably eat while he was here and in his elven form. He was in the deep forest when he heard the light voice on the wind “go back to her now young Riethwael, she needs you”. Riethwael shuddered from “elf to man” and ran down the trail back to her. “Luthien” he whispered to himself. He slowed as he approached the clearing not sure what he was to find. He heard voices arguing, one in particular he did not recognize. He walked into the clearing and Zoe called “Rieth, good, there you are, it took you long enough, I called you ages ago.” He was here, the man that she once loved, Sid. Standing next to my beautiful Queen talking to her like she was a child. Asshole. He turned to look at me and his glare shot through me like a bolt of lightening. He saw me; he knows everything, shit. He walked toward me; this was battle. I know my magick is stronger than his; it has to be, he is mortal, isn’t he? This can’t happen, not here, not now. It is too far from the full moon, she cannot know me yet. He continued walking toward me and I decided that avoidance was best at this point. I just want to ensure that Luthien is safe. As he marched toward me I used a little diversion magick that just veered him slightly off course and into the woods while I slipped by him and gracefully sidled up next to Luthien. “Are you OK?”
“Yes, thanks. What is he doing, it looked like he was walking right at you and then he just went into the woods.”
I just shook my head and rolled eyes “weird, I know” What I did know is that Mr. Wicked was going to make me pay for that at some point and I wasn’t looking forward to that. “Are you sure you are all right? I am so sorry if I did something to upset you”
“No” she began but I interrupted her
“Luthien, I’m sorry, Rhianna, don’t pretend, please don’t pretend with me.”
“I’m not, you did nothing to upset me, nothing wrong. It was me; I’m not used to… “ Her voice trailed off. “Anyway, please, can we just let it go? And just for the record, I like it when you call me Luthien so…” His smile was so bright and wide it was blinding. Zoe approached “ all right now, looks like Sid is emerging from his trance, brace yourselves.” Sid stomped right up to the three of them and demanded “who the hell is this?” pointing to Rieth. “This is my friend Rieth, he is going to help build the house.” I stated confidently “Oh, is he now?” Sid looked at him, scrutinizing, then looked at Rhianna, “I don’t like him, something’s not right here” gesturing at Rieth up and down. “Well, I never thought I’d agree with you Sid but I haven’t trusted this kid from the beginning” Tor jumped in.
“Get over it Sid, he’s my friend and I want him here, deal with it or leave” and she walked away to watch the excavation.
“Rhi, come on, give me a break…”Sid called after her.
I don’t like it; he’s too familiar, too close. Rieth thought to himself. Zoe quietly spoke “well, they did have a child together, what do you expect?” Rieth’s head whipped around toward her “exactly which type of witch are you Zoe?” He asked outright. “Whatever do you mean?” Her response innocent and playful. “Ha, you know what’s in my head, how can you do that?” Rieth questioned. “It’s simply something that I’ve always been able to do” was her response. “Can you get in…” She interrupted before I could finish my sentence, “Rhi’s head? Oh yeah, since we were kids. She prefers you.” And she walked away. Rieth could see and feel that his presence was causing a lot of tension. When Sid finally left Rhianna’s side Rieth told her he was going to leave. “Why?” “Things are a little tense, I don’t want to make things difficult for you, perhaps there’s something else, a different project I can work on for you?” “I’d like for you to stay.” “Thanks, that means a lot to me, it does but this is difficult. It really would be better if I went.” “As you wish, will you come back? Later or…” “I will return whenever you wish Luthien” and he gently touched his middle finger of his right hand to her forehead turned and walked off. “What was that about?” Zoe asked. “Like you don’t already know” we smiled together. “He’s crazy about you, I like him” Zoe stated matter of factly. The team worked all day and made more progress than Rhianna was expecting. They got the entire hole excavated, which was good news because the guy with the bobcat was not cheap and Rhianna did not want to have to pay him for a second day. When they stopped work for the day there was a massive hole and a pile of dirt and stones at its side. Rhianna and Zoe made dinner and climbed down into the hole to eat it. “So, he really gets you going does he?” Zoe asked Rhianna in her teasing tone. “You can’t even imagine. I’ve never felt anything like it. I thought that I was crazy about Sid but that, what I felt for him is a joke compared to Rieth” “So what’s wrong then?” “Well, first, I only met him yesterday and I don’t know him at all, he could be crazy or a deviant or something.” “Rhiann, come on, your instincts are better than that give yourself a little credit” “What about Sid? Where were my instincts then?” “Sid is a narcissistic asshole, Rhiann, just because you chose not to acknowledge that didn’t mean you didn’t know it was true. That relationship played out exactly how you knew it would, it’s time to let go of all that baggage.” Zoe, while blunt was always truthful. She never let Rhianna wallow when it was not warranted. “So what else? Why are you so afraid of Rieth?” “Do you really like him?” “Yes, I do” “Have you looked?” “Yes” “And??” “Rhiann, you know how it works, I will not interfere in your process unless you are in danger and in this particular situation, you couldn’t be further from it. He likes you A LOT, that’s all I’ll say, the rest is for the two of you to work out.” She could still feel Rhiann fretting, “Oh come on, what’s the worse thing that could happen?” “He could break my heart?” “Hmmm, unlikely the way I see it, and anyway broken hearts mend and get stronger while the memories of great sex can sustain you for a lifetime,” They both laughed so hard they didn’t hear Rieth approach. “Is this a private party or can anyone join? He asked smiling. “Well, not just anyone can join, but you, you’re all right” Zoe winked “come on down into the living room.“ He jumped down like it was one step and sat next to Rhianna. “Are you hungry? Rhianna asked, “No, thanks, I just ate.” You say that to me a lot, I’m going to start to get a complex’ she mused. “Oh, Rhi, give the man a break” Zoe joked, “Rhiann is used to feeding the world and takes it very personally when refused.” “I am sorry Luthien, I do not mean to hurt you.” “I know, I’m just teasing.” Rieth got up and walked around the hole while they finished eating. “So, what’s going where, can I get a tour?” Rhianna got up and walked over to him. “Well, this is the plan. This will be the main living space it will also be the dining room and it will be open to the kitchen, I like to have one big community family space where everyone can be together, cooking, eating, talking.” “That sounds nice, what else?” “This area over here will be my bedroom, this will be a bathroom and this will be an office for me to write and do office-y type things.” “Of course. Where will your daughter sleep, Stella, right?” “Yes, Stella bella will have her room on the second floor, which we will access from the staircase right here. There will be another bedroom and bathroom up there and another office for me to see clients and a large open space for ritual and classes.” “Wow, you have it all planned out” “The second floor will be partially above grade so Stella will have some windows, she will also have a skylight to see her stars.” “That sounds lovely” “Thanks, I’ve been planning this for us for a long time. A little place for us to be close to nature and our forest friends.” “Forest friends?” he asked quizzically. “Sure, all of the animals and otherworlders” He gave her a deep long look just then trying so desperately to read her mind. “So you see them then?” He asked probing. “Who, the otherworlders? No, we don’t but we know they are there” “Indeed” and he let it go. “So, how is this all going to come together?” “Tomorrow, we start to build the berm wall and fill the bags with earth, they will be the internal structure of the walls which will then be covered in an adobe type mixture. I thought you said that you had done this before?” “Yeah, well sometimes I say things before I think, I just really wanted to see you again and help and thought I’d have a better chance if I looked like I knew what I was doing.” He smiled apologetically. “I’m sorry”. Rhianna smiled at him, “accepted, just know for the future, you don’t need an excuse.” She looked over to him, his emerald eyes taking her in so deeply. Both could feel the magnetic charge between them from across the hole. Rieth knew that Rhianna needed time so he restrained himself. It was not easy. Just then Zoe popped back down into the hole with Rhianna’s cell phone, “It’s Stella” and she handed her the phone. “Thanks Zoe” and Rhianna climbed out of the hole and went to her boulder to sit and talk about Stella’s day at horse camp. Zoe walked over to Rieth and said, “you know your secret is safe with me, right?” “What secret is that” How I feel about Luthien?” Rieth asked slightly nervous. Zoe laughed hysterically. “No, sweet Riethwael, that fact you can hardly call a secret. I think even the pile of rocks sitting up top know how much you love Rhianna”. She shook her head “So what is this secret then?” he asked nervously. “Oh, honey, I can see inside your thoughts, all of them, she gently cradled his face in her hands like a grandmother with a child, your secret” and she playfully flicked his right ear and walked past him. He gasped, “How, I mean, how long have you known?” “I have been watching your thoughts for years feeling your love for her grow and your plans. It’s not as simple as you once thought is it?” “No.” He said sadly. “But, how…how are you still alive? I mean, they don’t allow the humans to know about us not even the halflings like Luthien. How are you alive?” “Do you still not realize who I am, Riethwael?
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