The Lion's HeirBy: Lilly Pink
“It’s not that,” Krista turned her head from side to side, “I just… I thought we’d be in the same room. I mean,” she blushed again, apparently realizing the connotation, “not like that! Just… well back home I always slept with my sisters. Or my maid, Carla, we’re the same age. I’ve never… I know it sounds stupid, but I’ve never… slept alone before.”
Kyle cleared his throat and approached her, placed both hands on her small, skinny shoulders, and leaned in very gently. His lips brushed hers, and he heard a small gasp escape from between her mouth as he kissed her. It was not a passionate kiss, but it was romantic enough that she suddenly went limp under his hands, and closed her eyes, offering up her mouth for him. But just as quickly as he’d kissed her he drew back.
“You’ll be okay,” he whispered soothingly. “And like I said, if you need anything, I’m at the other end of the hall. Okay?”
She merely nodded, a gesture that seemed endemic to her character, and he quietly opened the door of her room for her and bid her goodnight. But as he closed the door and turned back to his own room, he let out a long breath and realized he’d been holding it. What’s gotten into me? he wondered. His heart was racing against his chest, a tympanic thumping that rocked into his ears.
It wasn’t until he had shut the door behind him, pulled off his shirt, and crawled into his own bed that his heart began to quiet. And even then, it was almost an hour before it was quiet enough to let him sleep, and still his chest hurt with the effort of it pressing outward.
He barely felt another presence slip into the sheets beside him.
It was a good dream. He was a Lion again, his human form forgotten. Powerful hindquarters carried him across an open field and he could smell everything, the forest, the chafed grass, even the indistinct aroma of small animals that had left their mark on the terrain. Near a rocky outcrop, he came to a stop and lifted his snout toward the east. There was a darkness there, a storm fast approaching like smoke on the horizon.
In his fully transformed state, human language didn’t exist. But something like danger passed through his animal vocabulary. The storm was a lunged shape, curling over the mountains. He felt a chill, even through the heavy insulation of his lustrous mane, and let out a low growl. He started to run, striking out across the fields, the grass crumpling under his massive paws as he raked his claws into the earth. He had to escape the storm, it was almost on him, and he could hear thunder, a parody of his own growl issuing from the sky.
Run, he thought. But no matter how hard he ran, when he looked over his shoulder the storm was always nearing, always closer than it had been a moment before. He was trapped, he knew it, the way a hunted animal knows it has lost at the end of a valiant struggle.
Abruptly, Kyle woke from the dream with a gasp. Outside, wind had whipped one of the weeping willows branches against the window. He sat up straight and tried to soothe his breathing, and wiped at his brow and muscular chest. Just a dream.
But as he laid back down, he realized there was another body lying next to him. With a gasp he looked down and saw Krista’s supple form curled up against his side. Her eyes were closed tight and her lips were partly open. Her long brown hair was done up in the same elegant long braid that wandered down her spine and splayed itself on the sheets like some mythical serpent.
She was wearing only a thin silk night dress that rode up on her bare thighs, barely hinting at the line of a pair of white panties underneath. Kyle felt a lump grow in his throat. What was she doing in his bed? She had admitted to being afraid to sleep alone, but he had hardly expected her to wander into his bedroom. He reached out a hand, contemplating waking her, but as he did so she flinched again, caught in some sort of dream that caused her eyes to tighten even more under their eyelids.
He sighed and laid back down, watching her sleep. He could smell her breath, seeping from between a pair of round full lips, and it reminded him of honey. She is beautiful, he thought to himself, and gently cradled her shoulder.
His touch seemed to dispel the nightmare, and she shuffled closer to him, turning over on her side so that her back was flat against his bare chest. Her round buttocks drove into his pajama bottoms and he let out a little confused groan as he felt himself harden.